The house is surprisingly quiet now that Bill's gone. It might just be the newness of Bill's death or me missing his deep purr and his ability to keep up a conversation, given half a chance. As head cat, one of his jobs was to announce every night around 11 pm that all was well by going up and down stairs giving a pretty good housecat imitation of those deep lion calls. Most people describe this as "yowling" but I always imagined that Bill was saying what the lions say to each other -- I'm here and from what I can see, everything seems to be as good as it can be, so enjoy the evening.
The other cats are not so talk-y, but they are pretty friendly. Deirdre hops up on my lap and follows me around. She likes to pounce on my toes at night. Gus will snuggle for a few minutes but then hops down to pretend that he's not my baby afterall. Nosireebob he's a grown up cat now, a pretty big dude and nobody's baby. Boopsie, well, she's what you might expect. Perhaps a little less social but not bad for a cat with a feral background many years ago. She's carved out her own little routine and she keeps her own counsel except when there's food involved.
Tonight well, it's just plain old cold, and has been for several weeks. The cats all have beautiful fur because the house is relatively cool. Myself I had to don a few layers and some gloves to take out the trash. The snow was crunchy and sparkly. I remember how exciting "special blue wax" snow was in a past life . The birds have emptied the feeder. I wonder where the 20 or so robins are that I saw in the trees on Saturday. Bad weather for birds that eat worms! All is quiet except the crunch of the snow. The moon is full and bright above. It's quiet and I miss the nightly message that all is well and I miss the messenger.
When I left for work this morning, the car had a couple inches of snow on it. The roads were slicker than you'd expect. There were cars in ditches, cars who had encountered other cars up close and personal and then, my personal favorite, the cars driving along at like 30 miles an hour just because the driver is so afraid it might be slippery that they're not afraid of getting creamed from behind.
Anyway. Tonight I came home and the roads weren't too bad. As I pulled past my driveway to back in, I paused to see how deep the snowplowed pile might be. Gotta gauge how fast to back in so I can get through it, you know!
But what was this? No snowplow pile? How can that be? And what was that down further in the driveway? A little lump of snow. I back my car in easily and get out.
Someone has carefully plowed my driveway back to where I normally shovel it. And shovelled my walk?
Are there snow-shovelling elves?
I don't know but I'm grateful to them and their plow-equipped truck, whoever they are! Many thanks for the good deed sent my way. May all your roads be salted and non-slushy.
BLIZZARD WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 12 PM EST SUNDAY
Tonight...Snow...Locally heavy at Times. Blowing snow after midnight. Very windy. Snow accumulation of 10 to 11 inches. Lows around zero. Northeast winds 15 to 20 mph...Becoming north 25 to 35 mph after midnight. Wind chill values as low as 25 below.
Sunday...Mostly cloudy in the morning...Then becoming partly sunny. Very windy. Blowing snow. Snow likely in the morning...Then a chance of snow showers in the afternoon. Snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches. Storm total snow accumulation 12 to 15 inches. Highs around 10 above. North winds 25 to 35 mph...Decreasing to 20 to 25 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation 70 percent. Wind chill values as low as 25 below.
Sunday Night...Mostly clear and blustery. Lows around 5 below. Northwest winds 15 to 25 mph...Decreasing to 10 to 15 mph after midnight. Wind chill values as low as 25 below.
Not quite the 20-30 inches of snow that the overly-excited TV weatherboys are interrupting our regularly scheduled broadcasts to talk about... But it's quite an impressive storm so far.
It was also quite impressive when during my regularly scheduled grocery shop, it appeared that entire families had been forced to the grocery store by panic over running out of such necessities as pop tarts and Coke. I saw one woman with about 20 3 liter bottles of Coke. Most of the family-based carts were literally heaped with necessities like Blue-Box mac & cheese, pop tarts, frozen pizza, chips and oreos. Should we get double stuffed oreos or not? One gallon of milk or two? Wonderbread or artisan?
There were no parking spaces and no shopping carts or baskets. You literally could not get through some aisles. I kept going through the baking aisle. No one was there. Apparently everyone was all set on flour and sugar and yeast, but a lot of people needed salsa.
I know. You're thinking, is she ever going to quilt again? Well yeah. Someday. But in the meantime, BREAD. Fruitcake season is over and now, it's all about the yeasty boyz out there doing the backfloat in their little indoor aquarium.
And last night it was me pulling a pretty successful batch of "Vermont Sourdough Bread" out of my eastern NY oven. This is a batch made from the so-called liquid rye starter that I've been feeding. First off the pre-ferment or "build" was SO active that I decided not to add even a whiff of regular yeast. This time I was able to pretty much follow the recipe as given in St. H's book and stay on course. It was so late though on the night that I mixed the dough that I wondered what to do. Too late to stay up and bake it! Luckily I remembered reading that you could put it in the refrigerator for up to 18 hours. Cool.
Imagine my great surprise when I pulled it out the next night and it had risen! Despite a few logistical glitches, it baked beautifully and I thought tasted great. Nice amount of air holes and good texture. Took a couple slices to work today and a couple people got some tastes and they also pronounced it good. So -- more of that!
Let's see, first the good news. Made bread from my stiff levain starter and it worked. Yes, bread that had no added yeast to it, other than what was perking around in a small amount of the starter. Pretty amazing stuff. I think it would have been improved by a little warmer environment during the final rises, but that's for another day. Other good news: Looks pretty awesome and tastes mighty fine. Yes, I would have liked it to be a little lighter, but the oven spring (that lovely puffing you get in the oven) was inhibited a bit by not-deep-enough slashing of the loaves prior to going into the oven.
Bad news: well as I said, could have been a little airier inside I thought. One big hole longitudinally through the one loaf which I can attribute solely to how I formed the loaf. Note to self - you have done that for years - go with what you know and do quite ok!
Other bad news: My mister refused to mist after I slid the loaves onto the stone in the very hot oven. Time's short for that and the oven's hot and the door's open. Yikes. After a moment I put my hand under running water and flicked water into the oven and made steam. That was good. What was bad was the oven light cover shattering. Apparently hitting that with water isn't so good, go figure! Glass went in many directions but I only found one piece on one of the loaves. Needless to say, I'm not sharing these loaves with anyone, but I had to try them myself.
More good news: went to my new desk and put my hand right on the owner's manual for the oven and voila - it was the light cover that shattered, not the bulb although the bulb isn't working either.
Final good news: under the first reference in the manual to the light, there's a bit about adjusting the oven temp. And it's easy and doesn't involve crawling behind the oven. Hallelujah! This oven has always been a tad overshooting in temp and here's the solution to that! yeah!
And since George asked for pictures of our favorite mugs, show your appreciation for all the laughs (and his daily brew of great stories ideas and links) and send your mugs along to him now. Here's mine: