“…as the wind goes sweeping down…”

My oh my oh my. We have just come through a windstorm. I have never experienced this sort of thing, on so many consecutive days, in my life. The worst part was the never-ending noise. We had 100 mph winds clocked at a small airport down the road from us, less than a mile away. We lost power off and on for three days. The worst was about 8 hours straight, but thankfully we slept through much of that. The power going on and off wreaks havoc with electronics. We have to keep resetting clocks and timers, etc. One of the most affected, apparently, is the electronic thermostat on my oven. I guess it doesn’t like being messed with.

Maggie (8 months) running through the wind and snow!

Our dogs were off a little with the noise, the power being off, and the stuff blowing by. The wind chill had us at about -25f and I can assure you it was frigid outside. The dogs loved it; especially Maggie. Being a puppy, this was her first experience with wind and snow. And she loved it. She would come in with an ice beard and solid ice down her backside. She cracked me up. And she hated being toweled off – it became a game to her. We would chase her around the house to get the snow off her, but it was flying off on its own. Once she settled down, we would cuddle her and get the snow off that way. And she kept asking to go outside! Our older poodle, Kolbe, knew better. He stayed inside more often, by the wood stove. In the photo above, Maggie is running on the TOP of our raised beds – which became obscured by the wind and snow. Did not stop her! It was blowing so hard she was barely visible!! Silly girl.

I cannot even say how grateful I am for our Blaze King stove. What an amazing wood stove. Aside from being totally gorgeous for a wood stove (that shiny brown enamel just gets me) it kept our house warm when the power went out. Ed kept it running 24/7 and our living room stayed at a toasty 73-degrees! When it’s -25 outside and you lose power, warmth is a necessity! The rest of the house stayed warm enough with sweats and sweaters on to be doable. We laid a sleeping bag across our bed and slept in our sweats and we were fine. Three days of cold and noise and oh so much damage!!!

Greenhouse while trimming trees around it – we help our breath! LOL!

The photo above is of our beloved greenhouse this summer. We had an amazing growing season in that greenhouse. I had 20 tomatoes and 29 bell peppers, some dill, some indeterminate tomatoes strung along the sides. It would get to well over 100-degrees in there on a sunny day. It was perfect for our little homestead. Along with the raised beds, we had an amazingly bountiful harvest. And then winter arrived. We prayed the greenhouse would survive the rain and snow. It did. It took a considerable load of snow with no problem whatsoever. We breathed a collective sigh of relief. Well, until this weekend that is. *sigh*

Greenhouse post windstorm of ’22

And this morning, this is our greenhouse. And our raised beds – they’re buried under snow. So much debris on the snow – branches, leaves, sticks…the dogs love it. LOL. They brought a huge branch from a pine tree up onto our deck – together because it was too big for just one dog. Anyway, our skies have cleared and the wind has slowed to 40 mph gusts! Actually it has been pretty calm most of the day. Cold, but calm. With clear skies come a big drop in temperature. No clouds to buffer us. So the high today was expected to be zero (0). And the low well into the -6 range. As the sun is waning, I look out and just see a frozen mess. The cover for our little camper is shredded. My husband’s BBQ was toppled over and moved. The back deck cannot be seen – there is a huge mound of blown snow that has covered our table and chairs. And with it being so cold, everything is frozen in place.

Carrs/Safeway Palmer, Alaska

You know, as the saying goes, “It could be worse!” Above is the Carrs/Safeway grocery store. Apparently one of their fire sprinklers burst and the system pretty much exploded over the entire store. With the blowing winds, no electricity, and the cold temperatures in the -25 range, it froze inside the store. The entire store.

Carrs/Safeway Palmer, Alaska – Entryway

And the outside of the store froze, as well. I’m not joking when I say we had a major storm. The roads were almost impassable. We had whiteout with the blowing snow. Semi-trailers overturning and landing on the roads; people’s storage sheds flying across the highway. Debris was flying so much the local police department was begging people to stay home and not come out and take photos like the ones above (got these from a friend who was a patrol officer). I know God protected us – once again – and I feel blessed. Friends had their windows explode and another had her door wrung from the frame and blown inside. The governor declared an emergency and asked us all to shelter in place. I was good with that. Stayed home in my sweats, making sure everything was charged up and we had food to eat. My hubby insured we had warmth by constantly stoking the stove. We made it through the Great Windstorm of ’22 and we are doing fine. Whew. Another new experience to chalk up to living Alaska!! I still love it here. With it being so cold, the snow is glistening and it is sooooo pretty. Almost makes me forget my greenhouse and those shingles that flew off our roof…almost.

Sparkling snow…beautiful!

“…and you shall call his name Emanuel…”

The Manger of Christ

Christmas crepe up on us. This past year has been topsy-turvy at the very least. The current “president” was not so bright in his recent presser, telling those of us not vaccinated that we will have a winter of sickness and death. What a great way to complete your first year in office, Joe. Not.

This year has seen so much in the way of gains, but so many losses. We bought a new-to-us-tow-behind-camper. We were able to get two trips in it this summer and we really liked it. Our dogs loved camping, too. We also lost a dear friend to Covid. And we share our wedding anniversary with them. It still is so hard to even deal with. And then my husband and I both got Covid and were hospitalized. We lost about 12 weeks. That is 1/4 of the year! Insane. We are still in the throws of recovery. And for me, one of the biggest losses has been the death of my mom. This is my first holiday season without her. Ironically, this Thanksgiving was the first year I did not celebrate Mom’s birthday with her, and it fell on Thanksgiving. It was a hard holiday.

Our economy is in a tailspin and it has hit us, too. Prices are just stupid. Friends are without work. Items are not on the shelves. And some mayors and governors are calling for lockdowns and vaccine requirements to shop or go to a movie. The haves vs the have nots. The good vs the bad. The white vs the black. The segregated vs the unsegregated. The vaccinated vs the unvaccinated. What are we doing to each other??? When did my medical status concern my grocery store or gym? And do not even try to tell me I am not safe to be around. I have immunity and according to new studies, I cannot catch covid again – perhaps even for life! And being around someone who has had Covid, and then being around the vaccinated is not going to make the vaccinated sick. It just doesn’t work that way. Science is questioning and rediscovering constantly. Science is not static. And CNN is not a science channel. None of the MSM is science.

Turn it off!

This Christmas season, please turn off the tv. Don’t pay attention to the news. Be present to your tribe. If that is family, you are blessed. If that is a mix of family and friends, you are very blessed. If that is your community, bless you. And if you are alone on Christmas, don’t feel alone. We attended a Christmas party, with a white elephant gift exchange (it was lots of fun). Several members of our group declined to attend, citing their “un-Christmas-y” feeling. Depression during the Holidays is real – and we need to support those alone and depressed. But no one is ever alone. We are celebrating the Birth of Christ, the Savior. He saves us – we do not need to rely on others to determine our eternity. That is between us and our God. This Holiday, this Christ-mas, celebrate. Even if it is solely praying in the quiet of winter.

Winter Peace

This is the first Christmas in the past 37 years we will not be celebrating with a single family member at home on Christmas Day. Our kids are all over the map, quite literally. We will be completely alone. And so we are doing what makes us happy – we are attending Divine Liturgy for Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day, we will spend the evening with our adult kids and their families. We simplified this year in how we decorated. No lights on the house – a simple nativity scene out of a blow-up display. In the back yard we have our lit silhouette animals of a moose family, a bear, and a wolf. We love them. We also sorted all our ornaments that have the kids’ names on them, and ones that were purchased for them, along with their stockings. We’ll be shipping those to them after the holidays. We are planning to pare down and purge all through the house and garage. Simple is the way we will roll from here on out.

Snow covered ornaments

What makes Christmas? For my husband, food is definitely involved. Unfortunately I have discovered I have diabetes, a gift from Covid. No fun for Christmas baking this year – no sugar allowed. So I am skipping it. My brother and his wife sent me sugar-free peanut brittle. It helps!!! I have attended Christmas events and I have not had a problem, so far. In fact I had a crazy day this week and did not eat very much at all during the day. There were a variety of foods available to me, and I was able to make good choices, and the morning afterwards my blood sugar was the best it has been since I have been testing it. Amazing. I am pretty excited about that. I’m not cooking anything this year for our holiday meals, which is so off for me, but also a welcome change. I think I can go with it. Change is good, if you embrace it rather than fight it. What defines your Christmas? It is the food on the table? The people around your table? The gifts under the tree? For me, it’s always been a feeling; an ambiance.

Red Christmas mug on a window sill

One of my fondest memories is when we went caroling and then attended midnight Mass with my in-laws. Our boys were small. We ended up at Denny’s, I think, having hot chocolate and pie. It makes me smile each time I think of it. My fondness for Christmas is made up of precious moments, all strung together. Laying our eldest son in the manger scene after his baptism on the Feast of the Holy Family. Precious snippets of our lives. All our children were baptized on our Anniversary, which is the Feast of the Holy Family every 7 years, I believe. (Not positive). Or moments of our children seeing the lights on the houses, or decorating our tree, or baking Christmas treats together. The joy on their faces and in their eyes. I remember one year with my parents and my in-laws all together. It was so nice. It felt good. Or the many drives, late at night, coming home from my brother’s on Christmas Eve – the boys trying to stay awake to see Santa’s sleigh as he flew overhead. And as we have aged, those Christmas memories have all tangled together to give us a special Christmas ambiance or Spirit, a feeling unique to this celebration.

This year, well this year was an extension of the “two weeks to flatten the curve” mentality. And it was hard to rise above it. But we did. We served our community on Christmas Eve during the day. That felt so good. We attended Divine Liturgy during the evening. And it felt so good. We needed to be there. We lazed around by ourselves most of Christmas Day, ad then went to our eldest son’s home for Christmas dinner. We had a delightful time and the dinner was amazing. Christmas was low-key this year. Simple decorations, simple gifts. And it seemed subdued but appropriate. We are celebrating the birth of our Savior. In a humble cave, laid in a food trough among the lowing beasts, under a star. I think Jesus would approve. How was your Christmas?

Chapel in the Snow