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Posts Tagged ‘Winter’

Where I live in Michigan, winter weather gets to be a little overdrawn.  Winter seems like it is never going to end.  My way of coping is to dive into seed catalogs and gardening magazines.  It is like feasting on dessert after you have been on a starvation diet.  All of those plants with their lovely greenery and colorful blooms just lights up the soul and lifts the spirit.  Not only that, but when you are trying to buy fresh produce you quickly realize the high cost of fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter.  Cold frame gardening can help relieve the burden on your wallet if you build a couple of frames to supplement your produce needs.
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       As a person living in the midwest, in one of the coldest, snowiest winters in the last 25 years…i have to say i was irritated when i read that since President Obama moved into the White House the thermostat has allegedly gone up.  For a man who made it part of his campaign to encourage Americans to sacrifice for the world environment and to take on a personal responsibility regarding climate changes; I am offended by an article that i read today that says the Oval office is like a tropical hot house, warm enough to grow orchids in.  Someone needs to hold this administration accountable in these types of areas…turn down the heat on President Obama.

       Across our nation right now, many Americans are without electric or typical normal heat sources because of an ice storm, that is going to take weeks to fix.  This is during some truly challenging temperatures as our country transitions between winter and spring.

       Part of the perception of the recent, more relaxed environment in the Oval office…meaning that visitors no longer have to wear suit jackets when they enter in like the former administration; is really more about personal comfort levels.  It isn’t mainly about being relaxed in that room as much as it is about it being warm; so that wearing a suit and tie would be really uncomfortable.  While I applaude the more informal feel to this Presidency…I have to say that even the White House staff and aides have commented on the temperature change; including his chief of staff, David Axelrod who  allegedly, made the statement about the orchids growing in there.

         The article I read said something to the effect that even though President Obama comes from Chicago…he was born in Hawaii, and he likes being warm.  Well, no fake…most of us don’t enjoy being colder than is comfortable…but , what about that personal sacrifice he was talking about before?  I dont want to bust his chops on this or any other issue just for the sake of it…but…this subject is a little close to home when my own family has to keep the furnace set on 58-60 degrees because of the necessity of the high cost of heating our home.

        Another, more important reason this is so maddening is that in my home state…there have been several people who have frozen to death.  A man by the name of Marvin E. Schur, 93 years old, froze to death recently in Bay City, Michigan because the electric company put a limiter on his electric service and his home power was shut off…effectively causing his heating source to stop working.  He died…come on…was that President Obama’s fault….no!  However, when i hear polyanna remarks justifying his higher temperature on the thermostat in the Oval office; it makes me angry to know that others are SUFFERING AND DYING when there are others who have so much and are wasteful with it.  It is not right.

        So please President Obama…you have so many other more important things on your plate…turn down the heat in the White House so that your actions match your words and your call for personal responsibility.   That way, those who would otherwise be inspired by you and your goals of helping our nation turn towards more green living and a more positive use of our energy sources can get on board without having to defend your conflict of words and actions!  Be an inspirational leader so that you can have a powerful impact on our country with responsibile energy use.

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         This is not going to be good.  We are supposed to be getting a series of heavy winter storms.  We are being told we are getting 6-12 inches of snow  by friday evening…then another storm on saturday-sunday with snow-ice mix which could total up to 20 inches of snow…then on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday up to 80% chance of snow.

           For many people on fixed income this kind of weather is devastating.   One thing is staying warm.  This is when we hear many stories of people who die in fires or of people who freeze to death.  Another issue is heart attacks from people trying to remove snow by shoveling.  Then there are all of the car accidents.  Another issue is the extra expense of having to have the snow removed by snow plows & home heating costs. 

          It is a huge concern here in Michigan where people are struggling just to survive financially with all of the job cuts and job losses.  You have to have heat…but, what do you do when you can’t afford to heat your home?  The agencies that help those in trouble are overburdened and are turning people away.  Businesses who supply the fuel for home heating need paid too…but, many can’t afford to pay. 

          I hear all of the time from people in other states who are feeling the financial pinch these days…but are truly surprised when they hear how “depressed and oppressed” Michigan residents are just in the quality of life.  Keep everyone in prayer.  The whole midsection of the US is going to have a very rough weekend of weather…let’s keep everyone prayed up for safety and warmth.

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     Today has been one of those lazy, do nothing and enjoy it kind of days.  Those are few and far between…but, so very necessary for the soul to rest and build up strength to do what must be done every other day of the week. 

      It has been cold and wet.  We woke up this morning to a growing blanket of fluffy white snow…the first of the season, to lightly coat the ground.  Of course, it did not stay there because the ground is not frozen yet…so, the warmth of the earth melted the brilliant, white snow early in the day.  This is just a mini preview of what is to come in the next few weeks.

       The snow brought joy to my child’s face…and, a look of acceptance to mine 🙂  Now is the time to contemplate making a nice homemade, chunky sort of comfort meal…like maybe a hot, hearty chicken noodle soup with homemade dumplings…or maybe a rich, smooth, smoky pea soup, or possibly a filling fall harvest kind of soup with some happy orange carrots, and some limey green cabbage surrounding floating chunks of the all american staple of potatoes in a nice rich broth of ham pieces or some pieces of bacon. However, this is work…and, cannot stand alone.  One must complement the meal with some fresh- from- the- oven homemade doughy, buttery rolls.  This is the treat that we offer ourselves when the reality of 6 months of cold, wet, dark and dreary winter comes sneaking upon us.  Oh, if that sounds ominous…then you will have to come back on another day when the snow is cherished and given glory…just not today when i have to grow to appreciate it’s beauty.

       Golly, you will just have to check back in a few weeks, when i paint the picture of a cheery morning; when the snow crystals sparkle in the sunlight and underscore the weight of the evergreen branches that bow under the weight of the heavy flakes of snow that have fallen overnight, much to our surprise.  Then you will see that the human spirit is flexible and has the wisdom to recognize all of the gifts in life. 

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       Here is something to think about with all of the financial crisis making the daily news.  Have you signed anything legal agreeing to rip yourself off financially?  Many people probably haven’t realized this aspect of the times yet…but, a normally smart thing to do each summer is to sign up for a budget plan with your winter heating fuel supplier…agreeing to “lock in” a price when the prices are low during the summer…just in case the price of heating oil/gas goes up, like it normally does in the fall and winter months.

        This year…against any predictable reasoning…gas prices have fallen, sharply.  Still, once people sign on the dotted line to lock in a heating source price…they truly are locked in at that price.   I think as people discover this situation for themselves…there is going to be alot of anger of being caught in this situation.  Some say, that most years it makes sense to lock in and it works out to their advantage…but, this year has really challenged that theory.

          Locking in makes sense usually; the agreement is usually accomplished in mid summer.  Well….if you remember correctly, in July…gas prices were sky high.  In my neck of the woods…gasoline prices have dropped from an all time high of approximately $4.25 down to now a $2.88 cents a gallon.  If you apply that thought process to home heating oil/propane….you can just imagine how much money that people are loosing.

          With the rising cost of food, rent/mortgage payments, health insurance, and other necessities…people can ill afford to pay extra when they don’t have to.  I, for one, am glad that i didn’t lock in my propane prices; like i was advised to! 

          Did you get ripped off by signing an agreement to lock in your heating costs this year?  If you did…you are not alone…and personally i don’t think anyone expected such a situation…but, it really is a gamble trying to predict the future with heating costs.  I am pretty sure that, next year, companies will have a hard time getting people who were burned this year, to sign on the dotted line.  Just stop and think about how many people are living on fixed incomes…i almost hate to see winter arrive because…we will see more people suffering and living in dangerous conditions, in colder climates, because of this.

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       Bye Bye September…tomorrow is October…Fall is truly here and making it’s presence know.  That only leaves one more season left this year…and it isn’t going to be pretty what with the rising cost of living… I hate to see winter come.  With any luck, winter will be mild. 

        With all of the financial uncertainty hanging over the United States…thinking about heating homes is the last thing anyone wants to do.  Yet, i can’t help but admire the beauty that is Fall.  The golden yellow, the burnt oranges, the flaming reds and the burnished brown of the leaves as they glisten in the mellow fall temperatures.  The evenings are pleasantly cool enough to be enjoyed and yet not bothersome enough to turn on the furnace.  This is the beauty of fall.  Reaping the bounty of the earth’s growing season and preparing it for the winter.  It is all a gift. 

        Even the beauty of the first heavy snow fall as it coats the trees and the ground with it’s sparkling diamond dust is a work of art.  It is knowing that it wont be the last snowfall that wears on the novelty of it all…calculating the financial cost of removing all of that frosty diamond dust!  OH well, it is time to enjoy the moment.

        Time to walk in the leaves, smell the warm earth, gaze upon the fall flowers in a final burst of color…stand around a roaring campfire…heat up some tarty spiced apple cider…roast a few dogs over the open flame and stare at the glittering silver white stars as they twinkle in the deep blue black of the night sky.  This is a moment to remember and to treasure.  Bye Bye September!

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       Today was one of those days where…i felt..i had little to contribute in my normal sphere of interaction.  Others relieved me of my duties out of a regular shifting of schedules and it was an opportunity to rest and relax.  It was nice…but…feeling a little lost as i was out of my normal comfort zone.  It didn’t help that i have been fighting sinus pain and pressure, off and on, for a month or so…today, it was right there…my constant companion.

        However, when i got home…i had an agenda.  I “needed” to clean, process, and can some tomatoes that have been sitting in a box…silently taunting me with their presence.  I was procrastinating for the last couple of days…because i hadn’t been feeling well. 

         Since the sinus pressure was not going away…i had strengthened my resolve to get those babies canned; and, to do the same with the salsa that i had prepared days ago and was letting “marinate” in my fridge waiting for the primo opportunity to put them up!  I had made a committment to myself.

          I dug in and got to work.  I feel good because i actually like canning once I get it started.  It is getting prepared and getting started that annoys me.  I just want to see progress…my impatience is showing i guess.

            When my hubby gets home from his business trip tomorrow…he will find the table littered with my accomplishments.  The jars have to sit undisturbed for 24 hours before they can be moved.  But that is fine with me…it is the “proof” of what setting your mind to accomplishing your goals can achieve.  Now, i have a bit of tomato juice prepared for the winter as well as some wonderful, homemade salsa, all ready to go!  Tomorrow is the first day of fall…that means that winter is right around the corner.  Time to get prepared for it…by being a good steward of the harvest season.

          Ahh…now on to the preserving of the squash!  Oh my…we are blessed…thank you God for providing for us! 

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