this and that

winter is here most days lately.  which is a relief, really.  then there are days like today, the nearly seventy degree short sleeves and chacos days.  and I enjoy them more easily now, (quite, quite easily) what with winter showing his face more often than not.

we are pretty much constantly boiling sap on the days that mike is home from the fire department.  he signed up for the GRE recently and started studying, but hasn't had time lately.  because of the sap and all.  I said "well, ya know honey, we cain't get other things done til sugarin' season is over".  I said it with a bit of a backwoods lilt in my voice.  I am so funny.  but seriously, that's us these days.  and I LOVE it.  I sit by that fire, topping off the sap and feeding the hungry stove and think to myself, only half jokingly, that I'd be happy to do nothing else for the rest of time.  it's those simple, monotonous sort of things that feed my soul.

so here we are.  a week and a half into this thing, this experiment, with over a gallon of syrup finished and at least as much more to come.  we had hoped (without knowing if it was at all feasible) to get a year's worth of syrup for ourselves out of this, along with some to share (of course) with the people who have so kindly let us tap trees on their property.  and I think we're gonna make it.  and if the bees rock it this year and we actually get to start harvesting some honey?  what sweetness!

but anyway.  there are other things happening, too.  Claire turns three tomorrow morning.  at 5:04am.  I put her to sleep tonight and kissed that little two year old forehead.  tomorrow it will be a three year old forehead.  she told me "I'm getting so big.  I keep thinking I'm a three year old but I'm not".  "soon" I said, "very, very soon".  and then I think.... too soon?  I don't know.  the days are long and the years are short and all that, right?  but when I look back at pictures of our year together, it feels abundant.  in love, in time, in growth.  it feels good.  I will allow three to come without fighting it off too much.

my mom and brother came out this weekend to bring birthday wishes.  birthday wishes and a pretty pink carnation, of course.

I sat and watched the bees yesterday.  coming and going.  it was good to see so much action following so many cold cold days.  on the cold cold days I think of them and hope they are flapping those little bee wings very hard and keeping that cluster nice and cozy warm.  a steady 90 degrees, I think.  maybe even 95? (I could take the second to google it but why pretend I know all the answers? I do not.)  either way, amazing.

popcorn.  lots and lots of it these days.  a big thanks to nana and pipop for the popcorn pan.  one of those whirly-twirly deals.  less burning, more kernels (almost all of them) popped.  popped in coconut oil and salt is how we usually roll.

(the pan behind the popcorn is finished maple syrup)

she never tires of doing her letter work.  sound object boxes, in particular.  there remain a few letters with very few objects in their drawers.  some unexpected ones.  like 'n'.  shouldn't that be an easy one?  

I have big plans for this wall.  involving a big, fat, black sharpie and some favorite quotes.  I figure if it's not at all what I expected, then there's paint for that, right?

we found three books at the library about syrup making and I've got another on hold.  at least one such book will have to become part of our permanent home library.

here's the sap just getting going this morning, still mostly water...  we ended up calling it quits early tonight because it started raining a little.  early is about 9pm.  see?  busy little syrup makers, we are.  we share sap collection duties and fire and sap pan feeding.  Mike finds the wood and cuts/splits it.  mostly construction site bits and pieces he begs off of builders, and pallets and other stray free and untreated wood.  we don't want to use our wood from the wood shed, you know, the good wood, especially seeing as how this is looking to be the year, the first year, that we will have heated exclusively with wood.  I've kind of been waiting a long time to say that.  a few years, at least.  (setting the thermostat to kick on the heat pump at 54 degrees while we were gone for a week between christmas and new years doesn't count..... we were hoping to keep our pipes (and cat) from freezing.... but still, I did make a case against it, suggesting maybe 50 degrees, or even lower.  Mike won and Ziggy thanks him)

pretty fruit.  thank you florida and italy.

super warm today.  and super sunny.  I even wore a hat.  which maybe was overkill, but it kind of made me feel like I was on vacation.  except for the sap tending.  that called me back on a regular basis.  and I guess I don't really want to be anywhere else right now anyway.  but still, I'll take the sunny hat day and sit with my eyes closed, briefly pretending I'm on a beach somewhere.  a mini, mini vacation.

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