Cider Press Hill


Saturday, 4:13 pm

By Kate




snow flurries, 29°

We’re having a quiet day today. I finally got a fire going and I’ve dried out a liberal supply of wood. It’s warm in here and I am happy knowing it’s not going to cost me a fortune at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, on the New Year’s Eve front...I’ll hang home tonight, making my end of the year lists while enjoying the fire’s warmth and candle light. My To Do Lists for the coming year seem to be a way of informing my subconscious of the expected program. Quite often the lists get tacked to the bulletin board with little more than a couple of cursory glances during the year, but it’s rather amazing to me how most everything on the lists manage to get done. My brain does pay attention.

The lad will probably go over to a friend’s house tonight. Although that’s still up in the air. He is parked at his computer desperately trying to hammer out the last essay for his last college application. The most important one—his first choice college.

He is a very good writer and I’ve seen ample evidence of that. Writing is what he loves to do most and he has a substantial portfolio of writing to his credit. Some of it just astonishes me. But this essay. It’s a killer because it is so important. He’s scared of it. The harder he works, the worse it gets. And then he starts over. And starts over again.

He asked me to read a couple of his efforts and that was hard. I had to tell him that the essay was not up to his usual standards. And, finally, I simply said, “It’s choppy, it sounds young, and it doesn’t sound like you. You’re trying too hard. Write from your heart, not your head. And show, don’t tell.”

The essay question is: Think about your history. How have your past experiences influenced who you are today and how will this shape your future?

In one page, if you please.

That question would give me a panic attack. I imagine it must give the people who have to read the essays a headache, too. Institutionalized torture all the way around.

He’s working his way down to the bottom of the pit of despair. Once he’s there, he’ll be fine. He’ll have a clearer head and all the crap will have already been spent. Then he can write clearly from his center.

Oh wait...he just came charging into the room and announced he’s on a roll and he’s excited. Breakthrough! Oh, I hope so. The angst in this house has been thick enough to cut with chain saws. Suddenly there is lightness of being skittering all over the place. Stay tuned.


My day in a few words

Friday, 7:11 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

cold stove
wet kindling
screw it

Some days are like that.


Simple workout

Thursday, 4:08 pm

By Kate




light rain

Three or four Christmases ago, the lad presented me with a small black brocade box. Inside were nestled two moderately heavy cloisonne Chinese Worry Balls. Inside each one is a ball and sounding plate—one chimes high tones, the other low tones. They are pretty to look at and they sound pretty when manipulated, but I’d viewed them more as a display item than anything particularly useful.

I happened by Margaret’s site (JSB Work and Play) where I saw a post about Chinese Worry Balls. A pianist friend offered her the tip that rotating the worry balls in your hand is an ideal exercise for musicians who need strength in their hands, palms, wrists, and forearms. The worry balls give a good workout.

Now that’s an interesting tidbit for me to know. Since I had carpal tunnel surgery a handful of years ago, I’ve lost a noticeable amount of strength in my right hand. Most weight lifting exercises worked muscles in my arm, but few did much for the muscles in my hand or wrist.

The worry ball therapy seemed worth a try. It took me a few minutes to get the hang of rotating the worry balls in my hand, but then it was easy. Oh my what a workout. You wouldn’t think rotating a couple of worry balls in one’s hand would *do* much. But they worked the muscles in my fingers and hand and wrist like nobody’s business. Exhausted them to the point of total muscle fatigue—which is a good thing.

We’ll see what the results are in another week or two. If the muscle workout this afternoon is anything to go by, I should be able to rip phone books in half with my bare hands in a couple of weeks.


Cultural Creative

Thursday, 4:02 am

By Kate




light rain

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View? (updated)
created with

This was an interesting little quiz that I found over at Orcinus. I would say it’s a fair representation of where I stand now. Five years ago, I am certain that I would have scored much higher in the Idealist category. It’s clear to me that I’m still being shaped by the world around me. Considering the forces in play, maybe the change is a negative.

The quiz creator was kind enough to post a list of category definitions to explain what each one means.


Wish I was a carpenter

Wednesday, 6:27 am

By Kate




partly cloudy

The issue of book cases reared its head again as I tripped over a book on the floor in the dark two nights ago. The floor, as we all know, is the largest shelf in the house, but it’s not ideal for roughly half of one’s library.

I had been thinking about buying some book cases from IKEA, now that a store has opened an hour or so away. But, really, I’d need at least 6 bookcases and that begins to run into a little jingle. Besides, I’d like to be able to break the shelves down and move them easily.

And then I recalled a book shelf design I’d fallen in love with—in a book entitled Living with Books. Kind of a coffee table book for book lovers who are nosy about how other people store/display/cram their books in small spaces or large ones.

The shelving I have in mind is supported by upright posts, braced between floor and ceiling (spring tension, I think), with cantilever brackets holding the shelves securely with the wall as additional support. Nothing is screwed into the wall or ceiling.

Below is a badly photographed image from the book, but I think it shows you what I’m talking about.

See larger pop-up image

I don’t think I’m up to building anything quite that detailed, but it seems to me the idea could be scaled to a novice’s talents and still be sturdy and look nice. I’m kind of working that around in my mind. Nothing else is going to appeal to me now that I’ve rediscovered this design. It’s elegantly simple and practical and easily moved about. Just makes me drool to think about it.


Practical matters

Tuesday, 5:57 pm

By Kate




light cloud

After all the celebrating and holiday lounging, today we were back to practical matters. In a word—or two words—dry wood.

There were a couple of logs left from the last time I brought wood in the house, probably a week ago. The weather has been relatively warm so I haven’t used much. In fact, I let the wood stove die out on Sunday evening and I haven’t needed to start a fire until this afternoon. The house maintained heat pretty well. It wasn’t until around noon-ish that the house temperature started to fall into the low 60s.

The lad and I trooped out to the woodpile to bring a load in and we discovered that the tarp had sprung several rather massive leaks what with the rain water pooling and freezing. Lots of sharp edges on the ice, which sliced several sections of the tarp. Layers of wet, soggy wood underneath. That made my heart sink to my toes.

Fortunately, I’ve learned, over time, to keep a two day supply of bone dry wood in the rack by the stove. It’s my emergency wood and it serves double duty. First to heat the house and, second, heat to dry wet wood.

We’ve had an assembly line going this afternoon. Wet logs go on top of the stove to dry out. When they’re mostly dry, they go into the rack by the stove to dry out some more from the ambient heat. More wet wood goes on top of the stove. And so it has gone all afternoon. There is still plenty of wet wood to dry, but I think we’re on top of it now.

Next year, I have to come up with a better plan than tarps over the woodpile. What I need is a wood shed.

Otherwise, there’s not much else going on here today. Just a little cooking. Since the lad announced that he was hibernating this week and doesn’t plan on going anywhere, he was hoping I’d make all his favorite dishes. Pretty easy request to fulfill. There’s a pot of chili simmering now. Last night I made Shepherd’s Pie. His other requests include Grandma’s Macaroni and Cheese, stroganoff, and beef stew. Good winter comfort foods. There has also been some fresh homemade bread and more still to come. It smells wonderful in here!


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