February 28, 2013 – I’m Voting for “Lion”

Last year at this time, we were tapping maple trees for sap.  This year seems a bit more normal.

We’re on about 36 straight hors of snow after the prediction was for “occasional flurries” with some places getting up to an inch.  The closest town to our west measured 14 inches and to the east 10 inches, so we probably got a bout a foot.  Last week they warned us three days before about a major storm that turned out to fizzle.  Now this one, they did not make any warnings until hours after the storm started.  More of the same predicted for the first week of March, so I’m going with in like a lion, out like a lamb this year!

February 15, 2013 – Sometimes a Candle isn’t Enough!

Today was a milestone day in Linda’s seminary studies.  Our denomination has a “weed-out” point where a committee can say 1) you cannot be a minister, 2) go ahead in your studies, or 3) go ahead, but work on these things and check back with us at a later date. The interview was in San Francisco, and the committee looked at the results of her 2.5 day psychiatric evaluation, references, and course work.  It was similar in feel to a prelim for a Ph.D. candidate.

Many of her friends and colleagues told her they’d be thinking of her and lighting a candle for her during her interview. Of course, I have a much bigger stake in her success than her friends and colleagues, so I decided, a candle would not do for me.  My best option was to have a really big fire instead of a candle.  So, it was time to light the back pasture on fire!

This area hadn’t been grazed for about 4 years, so it was full of dead grasses, waiting to have their nutrients returned to the soil. There was still some snow along the fencelines, I had perimeter firebreaks burnt, and always burned against the wind, so the fire didn’t move too fast.  Kids, don’t try this at home – I am a professional and used to get paid to do this in a former life.

The resulting perfect rectangular burn.

This certificate that Martin made for Linda shows that the result for Linda was positive.

February 9, 2013 – Time to Get Out

On a day that felt more like mid-March than mid-February, Martin and I headed out to Ledges State Park a bit southwest of Ames.

At the end of the day, we headed to an overlook over the Des Moines River and the cloudiness broke for a time, giving us an awesome view of the river valley.  It’s still rather shocking to see the river this low.

We spent most of the day exploring up a small creek that enters into the river.  Knowing that it is only a few inches deep made for great fun trying to stomp through the ice and listening to the glistening sounds of the ice as it cracked and splintered below our feet.

In some spots, a clear layer of ice situated on top of the whiter fractured ice gave an optical illusion of floating on air with out boots.

The ice was particularly slippery today and was good for running and sliding, especially downhill where a bit of slope gave us even more speed.

On this 35 degree day we were surprised to see many of these bugs scooting around on the surface of the ice.  Any ideas what they are or what they are doing on the ice in winter?

Finally, the obligatory self-portrait.   Thanks to Martin for letting Dad have an excuse to go out and play in the woods for an afternoon!

February 1, 2013 – Baked Alaska!

It’s cold and hard to do much outside, so what better  than throw some ice cream in the oven at 425 degrees.

Martin and Emma made a Baked Alaska recently.  This the finished product, seconds before slicing it open.

First step is to make a cake, throw it in the freezer, then top it with ice cream.

Then as quickly as you can, cover it with a thick coating of meringue.

Finally, throw it into the oven to cook the meringue. Voila!  The ice cream in the middle remains frozen and the dish that sounds impossible comes out of the oven!