Thursday, September 27, 2007

Winterizing in Anchorage

Cook Inlet near Anchorage, AlaskaBefore I get into this week's list, which may or may not be exciting depending on how you feel about compost, I have to point out that I haven't done ANY of the items on this list. Why not? Well Lillian decided it was a good time to get sick and when she does sick, she does it good. Apparently the doctor believes she has viral meningitis, as opposed to bacterial meningitis which is the especially nasty kind, and she's been laid up for going on a week now. High fever, low spirits, highly contagious which means I've been stuck in the sick room nursing my baby and worrying until she shows signs of improvement--what are the chances she'll get better in time for me to go to Bouchercon this week? Two years I've waited to go to that conference and that's the week she decides to get sick.

In an unrelated news item, and to the disillusionment of anyone who might have thought I had any kind of cool going on, here's a story for you: I was getting ready for bed two nights ago and was brushing my teeth. I had the medicine cabinet door open, with the thin edge of the cabinet door pointed at me, when suddenly and completely out of nowhere in the middle of my rinse cycle I let go with an ENORMOUS sneeze.

Now this wouldn't be newsworthy except that my head flew forward at Mach 10 with the force. You remember that cabinet door I mentioned? Well I head butted it straight on that skinny edge with the force of an atomic blast. All Andrew heard was a loud "AAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!" as my forehead made contact with door, which I had hit so completely solid and head-on that it didn't have anywhere to go, it was like head butting a concrete wall.

After picking myself up off the bathroom floor and clearing the stars from my eyes ("Am I dead?" "Is this heaven?") I determined that I had, in fact, survived the ordeal but was now sporting a world-class knot in the middle of my forehead from the encounter.

So if you see this freakishly tall woman at the grocery store with a large purple goose egg on her forehead you'll know it's me. Moral of the story? Make sure you don't brush your teeth while facing an open medicine cabinet door. They should put a warning label on those things for idiots like me.

On with my list, "Things I Should Be Getting Ready for Winter":

1. Time to put the trampoline away. Not that it really needs to get put away, it can handle snow I suppose, but something about stashing it away and bringing it out again in the spring makes it feel new every time. Plus, with my crew, there's aways a patch job to do on the dumb thing so it makes sense to fix it when it's down for the season. Another hole, another $50 trip to Alaska Tent and Tarp. Sigh. Boys are so hard on things. In the dictionary when you look under the term "destruction" it says: "See 'pre-teen males'."

2. Time to get rid of the annuals. I save this for last every year because I hate doing it so much but you want to know a secret? When I clean out the pots of annuals on my back deck I throw the mass of plants and roots and soil under our deck. Heh heh! You can't see them or know they're there, but that's what I do. Makes me feel wicked but it's not like it hurts anything to throw them under there.

3. Time to wash the cars. Yea, better wash them 'cause they won't get another soaping until after the spring thaw.

4. Time for one last mow. I used to rake the fallen leaves up but then I read Jeff Lowenfels (our local gardening guru) say it was better to just mulch them into the grass and that was all it took for me to cut out raking from the agenda. Any excuse to be a little lazier and I'm okay with it. Many thanks Jeff, you're my hero.

5. Time to bring in the herbs. Actually I already did this, I forgot. The last two years I've tried to winter all my herbs in the garage (nothing like fresh rosemary in January to perk you up) but things haven't gone so well. So I've rigged up this space-age-super-cool-oxygen-tent-thingy on the workbench with grow lights above and wrapped all around with those silver space blankets to keep the heat in and reflect the light. I'm so darn proud of the design I'd almost post pictures of it if I didn't think it would drive everyone to insanity with boredom. You won't be thinking it's boring when I've got fresh sage for my turkey at Thanksgiving! No siree Bob.

6. Time to wrap the trees. Okay this is kind of funny, I've had this ongoing war with the local moose who ravage my lilac bush and crabapple tree in the front yard each winter. They strip the bark, bite off the buds and make me want to hire a sniper (I've wondered if I'd get caught if I poisoned the branches). One year I'd heard that there was this product guaranteed to keep the moose away so I bought some. It was this brownish powder that was to be mixed with five gallons of water. Once it was mixed it smelled kind of funny. Nasty actually so I looked at the ingredients and turns out it was deer blood mixed with oil. Oh well, I shrugged and began painting it all over the branches according to the directions but you can imagine how that the tiny branches and remaining leaves might make things rather messy. When I was done I didn't realize it but I was covered head-to-toe in blood splatters. I could have been picked up by a CSI team and I scared my neighbor when she got a look at me. I didn't understand her reaction until I saw myself in the mirror once I was done. Heh, it was pretty bad.

End of the story? After all that work it kept the trees safe until about January, so this year I'm trying bird netting--I'm going to win this battle in the end I'm telling you. Stupid moose.

7. Time to harvest the rhubarb. I need to get it picked before the frost kills it and makes it all schloppy-jiggly. Of course this means I have to chop it once it's picked. And that means I'll need a place to put it once it's chopped and in freezer bags. And that means that I'll have to clean out the freezer to find extra space. And that means I'd have to actually get up off the couch, stop blogging and do some work. I'm not ready for that kind of pressure so it may have to wait.

8. Time to change the tires. I hate this chore because it's a pain to wait for your car to get the snow tires on and then to have to pay $67 on top of that for the job is just irritating. A necessary evil and better than getting in an accident later this winter but irksome none the less.

9. Time to put away the hoses. Oh I'd better get this done soon, or those pipes will be in bad shape.

10. Time to secure the gates. The ground freezing makes it shift up and down so that if I don't unlock the gates to the back yard and secure them they rip right off their hinges. Got to have them closed so those moose don't get my back yard but have to be open so they don't get torn up. Ah! The joys of Alaska. I could write a post on permafrost and frost heaves . . .

11. Time to put away the deck furniture, swings and bikes. Anyone want a bike? Yours for free if you come and get it. Over the years we've collected four extra bikes so now there are ten. TEN BIKES under the deck in the bike wrack. It's like they're proliferating under the deck and there's no way to stop it--like rabbits or gremlins or something.

12. Time to stock up on ice melt, antifreeze. Oh and hot chocolate. Though I'll drink that all year round actually but it's good to have lots of extra stuff for the cold days ahead.

13. Time to wash out the trash cans. What is that smell? Oh, just the garbage cans. You know that Windex outdoor window wash stuff? It's perfect for washing out garbage cans too, but the trick is remembering to do it after the trash has been collected before anyone sticks more trash into the cans. Very tricky timing.


See, I told you the list was exciting. If you're looking for more excitement check out the new Winter Bazaar that's starting next Wednesday. It's gonna be great . . .

Technorati tags:


MissMeliss said...

It seems early to be prepping for winter, and then I realize that you're in Alaska, and have serious winter, not the passing cold spells we have here in the South.

All your talk of the prep seemed very cozy, though.

Loralee Choate said...

I haven't even thought about my winter prep. :S

That herb thing sounds amazing. I have a major passion for fresh herbs. I haven't had success with wintering them either. I hope you give an update on how it goes.

Life on the Edge said...

Hey, I think I have that same list myself....except for the frost heave! We do have a moose, but they stay out of the yard so far--90 pound dogs help. And although we don't have frost heave, we do have rocks that pop up each spring---kind of like the crocus!

Miscellaneous-Mum said...

Lordy girl: sick kids, yourself injured, comprehensive list making plus all the other posting....... you positively are my blogging hero :) ;)

Robin said...

I'm not laughing at all about your injury, nope, not at all. It's just that my kids just did something funny. I just can't remember what. Seriously though, ouch. Do you keep arnica (montana) cream in the house? That's exactly what it's for - putting on bruises, etc. By the next day you often can't tell anything at all happened. It's great stuff.

I hope L recovers quickly. That sounds scary. And you know, if you've been trapped inside all week caring for a very sick child you're well within your rights to suggest to Andrew (with the assistance of a shotgun if necessary) that he take a sick day and stay with her and give you the break you so desperately need to go to the conference.

I'm ignoring all the winter stuff - just the thought of it makes me shiver.

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

I still want to move to Alaska. Nice Field of Dreams reference....

Nap Warden said...

Winter prep...We are moving in Dec. I don't even know where to begin. Ouch BTW!

Chris said...

Sorry to hear about Lillian.

I'm sorry but your injury makes me laugh, mostly because it's something I would do. And I'd love to see you explain it to people!

Your winterizing list sounds like mine (except for the moose- deer and rabbits though), but hopefully I still have another month to do mine.

Megan (FriedOkra) said...

Oh I'm sorry about your poor head. I cannot express to you, though, how comforting it is that there's another soul out there who does things like that. Because I? Am a world class buffoon.

And, on the contrary, I am positively on the edge of my counter stool to see pictures and read how-to make a snuggly warm place for my herbs over the winter. Is it something I could perpetrate in my basement???

Julie said...

I hope Lillian feels better soon. It doesn't sound like any fun for either of you.

Interesting to read about prepping for winter -- in Baltimore we're probably six (maybe more) weeks away from our first frost. And a moose eating your lilac bushes? How cool is that! I love lilacs but moose in my garden would be worth lilacs. :)

chelle said...

aww poor Lillian I hope she feels better soon!

Ouch on the noggin!

ugh winter is fast approaching!

Darla said...

You sound so organized! I generally leave most things until it's too late... and then I don't have to do them. *rolling my eyes at myself*

Beth said...

Seems so odd to hear about winter prep in September. I'm in NC and we are still having highs in the low 80's. UGH!! It's very nice to think about snow and cold!

Hope your head and your daughter feel better soon!

Lynn / vigilant20 said...

Wow, now I'm almost glad I'm an apartment dweller. All I have to do is put the cover on my air conditioner...hehe.

Happy TT!

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

I hope Lillian is feeling better soon! Poor thing... And I hope your forehead is better soon - one of those idiotic things that everyone does because you never think that you might sneeze while brushing your teeth with the medicine cabinet door open. Or some other similar combination of odd circumstances all at the same time. :)

Your list reminds me of all of the things that we need to do before winter - and with Ron's long work hours, I have no idea how or when they'll get done... Hmm, that gives me an idea for my next T13 list since Ron reads my blog! :)

Maddy said...

Ooo I feel quite light headed now - 13 things that I don't have to do.

Dedee said...

Winter prep? It's barely fall here.

Good luck with all that.

Hope your girl gets well soon!

Mercy's Maid said...

I hope Lillian feels better soon!

I had what my doctor thinks might have been viral meningitis a few years ago and it was NOT fun. I was off work for at least 3 weeks, but I got tonsilitis on top of mine, so maybe hers won't last so long.

JAM said...

Wow, almost time to stop mowing?

We have to mow year 'round in this part of Florida. When we first moved here, I'd make a point of mowing AND swimming in the pool on Christmas day and New Year's day. Then later when we would have the obligatory calls between us and family back in Louisiana and Utah, I'd casually mention that I mowed and we went swimming.

That was always a hoot hearing their reactions.

You can go ahead and make photos and a post of your winter plant/science project setup and one day when you least feel like blogging, you can just post that.

Back when I was ahead of the game in my blog posts, I tried to keep one in reserve for days like that when I really didn't have time or the inclination to blog. Then I could just post it and be grateful to myself for my forethought.

Alas, those days are over for me now. I have enough trouble just posting each day, much less the luxury of having a post that's ready and waiting in reserve.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I'm so glad you reminded me to put Hot Cocoa on my shopping list. You can never have enough hot cocoa in winter. Which reminds me, I also need to stock up on mini marshmallows. First we need to finish up our last bag of big marshmallows. Time for oven smores.

Thea said...

Winter, my goodness. I guess you do need to start thinking about it earlier than most.

And I decided that I will now fit "schloppy-jiggly" into converstaion whenever I get a chance.

Melissa Garrett said...

Oh, poor poor Lillian. Here's wishing for a speedy recovery.

I'm always a little sad at the end of summer ~ thanks for the reminder about bringing in the hoses!

PS - hope your knot goes away soon!

The Preacher's Wife said...

Rollin' on the Rhubarb - Every project I endeavor has at least 27 more hinging on its being able to be wonder we are so stinkin' tired! :)


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Michelle, you had BETTER make it to Bouchercon. I want all the details and I'm counting on you!!!

Babystepper said...

Sorry to hear about your poor little sweetie. Sick kids are the absolute worst.

Hmmm. Winterizing in Oklahoma. Umm. Pull out the winter clothes, put away the shorts. That's about it. Oh, I do have one little plant on the porch I'll probably bring in sometime in November.

Lei said...

No winter prep here, it's the only trade-off for living in heat most of the year.

Mike said...

I remember the time when I left the hammock all winter.



Shalee said...

Hey - you totally forgot "Time to make the donuts."

(Please tell me that I'm so old only I know to what I'm referring!)

My list would be more like this: Time to bug Mr. Right that it's time for stuff to be done. Whole lot simpler!

An Ordinary Mom said...

Your poor head! I hope you are feeling better.

Maybe I will take my car to get washed and while I am waiting splurge on a hot chocolate :) !!

Daisy said...

Your winter prep sounds a lot like mine. I need to bring in the basil and sage, and I need to deal with the pots of annuals on the deck and cut back the perennials, too. Not to mention putting away the deck furniture...I have plenty of rhubarb in the freezer already, though. Maybe Grandma would like some.

Joan said...

My word, Michelle -- we're expecting to hit close to 100 again this weekend. I'm sick of the heat but I'm mindful of all the things I don't have to do because of it!

Good luck with your to-do list... I hope you manage everything before the cold really descends.

Overwhelmed! said...

My goodness, Michelle, that's quite a to-do list! Good luck on getting it all accomplished!

Okay, since you participated last year, I’m stopping by to let you know that I’m hosting a 2nd Edition of my Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style recipe exchange!

I hope you can join me again this year on 5 October. And, would you mind helping me to spread the word by publishing a post about my holiday recipe exchange before next Friday? I’d sure appreciate it! I have the button in this post.

Thanks so much!

Me and Them said...

I really hope your daughter is feeling better soon! (and your head!)
I have enjoyed your blog SO much. What a fantastic collection of thoughts, ideas, recipes, links, contests and people. I love it! Thank you for taking the time to do this (despite all the other things you do!)

Anonymous said...

Hope your daughter gets feeling better soon.

OUCH! on the head! Hope that feels better(and looks better) soon!

Love reading about your winter prep!We live in AZ and I so miss cold; having grown up in the midwest.

edj said...

I'd love a free bike! Do you have one for Elliot, boy, age 12? The picking it up myself might be a bit of a challenge though...
Great list. I'm having fun being in a cold place again. Today I had to wear a coat!! It's a long time since I really needed one. Have a happy winter.

Damselfly said...

Geez. I guess Lilian gets it from you. And I hope you both feel better!

PS I didn't know you can't wash your car in the winter!

Karen_thrifty said...

I hope you get to go to the conference.

I cleaned out my trash can this week too. After the trash was picked up Monday, I took the trash can and put about 1/4 gallon of bleach in it, put some water in, let it sit for a while, and then rinsed it out. No more stinky, rotten chicken. lol

my4kids said...

Love the preparing for winter thing. Never really had to worry about it but apparently there are a few things we have to do even here in the rainforest of Alaska...
First off don't forget to set up the service to keep your oil heat going cause when you forget and it runs out its cold....yeah learning the lesson today...and its only early fall....hmmmm
With the rain I'm not worrying about washing the cars its just not worth it, darn it!
Also you talk about garbage cans? We don't use an outside one. Kelly takes it to work every other day instead....I do not want anything to possibly atract bears, thank you very much!
Also I can sip hot chocolate year round the stuff.
Also I laughed to hard at your misery with the medicine cabinet. Your description didn't help. If it makes you feel better I have a huge bruise on my leg from a tool of Kellys that he has sitting next to the door and keeps forgetting. Which means I keep forgetting its there and my leg is paying the price!

Kendra said...

wow do you have your work cut out for you. my TT this week was things i should be doing instead of blogging, but it's all pretty basic stuff. nothing compared to all the winterizing you need to do!!!

carrie said...

I remember very well how dirty our cars would be until "break up". And that enormous pile of muddy snow in the median of Fireweed Lane (I don't know if that is even there anymore?).

Thanks for reminding me how much work my mom had to do to prepare for those Alaskan winters!

And -- good luck with those moose!

crazy working mom said...

Gosh, I'm tired just from reading that post...we've got some tasks to do around here too, like taking down the kid's swimming pool. Ugh! u

Val said...

You need a second set of rims for your tires... it makes life much easier.

lace said...

oh my! I laughed and laughed. How is your head? I have done a similar thing also. I can't remember all the details though so it's a good thing you can remember how you ended up on the floor.

SAHMmy Says said...

My husband grew up in Alaska--that's quite a prep list! Thanking my lucky stars right now that he's happy in sunny California!

Anonymous said...

I guess I’m more lazy then you, or just cut corners. Call it what you like.
I don't believe in Studs, except my husband.
Trashcans are for trash, no need to wash the darn thing.
I wait till spring to pull up the dead plants from the season before. They seem to come out much easier after months of being dead and frozen.
I've given in to the moose, take what you want, but please no need to leave the brown piles in return.
I don't have a green thumb, so I don’t have plants to winter or produce to prep for food storage.
The hoses and mowing the grass, I have kids to do stuff like that. (Good thing to know about the leaves. Makes me feel good that we don’t rake ours either)
Wash my car? I don't do that anyways. My husband every once in a while takes it down for me to get it washed. I feel like it's a waste of money up here. I tell him why don't you just go throw $12 in the mud puddle. (But for those of you that don't live in Alaska, we do have people who use the car washes year round.)
Well, that's enough. Just thought I add my two cents, or more.

Susan said...

Exactly how big is your deck? 10 bikes?! ;)