Sunday, January 4, 2004
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The Miss Kitty Letters*
By Miss Kitty
Winter Solstice: It's Cold And It's Dark
December 23, 2003. Last night we celebrated the longest night of the year -- Winter Solstice -- with a crackly fire in the fireplace and toasted marshmallows ... and Hanukkah music from a local FM station on the radio. I didn't get to taste the marshmallows, so when Miss Jerrianne left the room for a few minutes, I absconded with the whole bag ... she caught me right by the bedroom door, where I was planning to hide them, for later.
The sun rose at 10:14 a.m. We didn't see it, because it has been snowing every day for a week, with the sun hiding behind thick clouds. Even on sunny days it takes at least another hour before the sun peeks over the Chugach Mountains and casts bright yellow sunbeams into the east sun room. After half an hour or so, the sun ducks behind the neighboring house's roof. The sun shows up on the other side of the house for an hour or two until sunset at 3:41 p.m. on the shortest day of the year.
Yesterday we lost 4 seconds of daylight, compared to the previous day, but today we gained 9 seconds ... so we made up yesterday's loss and gained 5 more seconds, too. The sun is very low in the southern sky this time of year, scooting along just above the horizon. Around St. Valentine's Day it will rise high enough to skim along the top of the neighboring house's roof, instead of ducking behind it. We look forward to that.
Still, we aren't complaining, because we get a lot more winter sunshine than the cats in Barrow, Alaska's northernmost village, do. The sun set there in mid-November and won't rise again until mid-January. They call winter the long dark up there ... and they have polar bears, too! But we'll get more daylight than we know what to do with when summer comes, and we really do love living in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Meanwhile, warm full spectrum fluorescent lights keep our spirits sunny side up.
According to Miss Jerrianne, last winter was very mild with very little snow. I don't remember, of course, because I hadn't been born yet. She said the previous winter was that way, too ... right up until St. Patrick's Day when a tremendous storm dropped about three feet of snow in one huge dump, breaking all records for 24-hour snowfall. This year the snow came late (November 8) but it just kept on coming. Now it's piled up over five feet deep ... a little more than double the seasonal average. It's snow up to our ears now ... and that's with me riding on Miss Jerrianne's shoulder!
The snowplows have been busy, busy, busy on our street ... they're fun to watch, but they are having trouble keeping up. Miss Jerrianne brushes snow off our front steps once or twice a day and then our snowplow man takes it away. Some of the neighbors have been shoveling snow off their rooftops and Miss Jerrianne will probably have to find a roof shoveling service to do ours soon. The spruce trees could use a shake, too.
We are warm and cozy indoors, now that the furnace is working again. Dozing in a double recliner in front of a crackling fire with soft music playing is my idea of an evening well spent. I wouldn't even mind not sharing in the roasted marshmallows if Miss Jerrianne would remember to keep that film canister filled with shrimp and salmon kitty treats handy ... and I know she wouldn't expect me to share them with her.
BTW, if you'd like to see and hear a jolly little preview of some animated music that I think is worth waking up for, click here, choose your viewing method, and wait patiently ... it's a fairly long download for each tune; the DVD would be a lot faster:
For more Miss Kitty adventures visit my web log:
A Garden Center in the Netherlands
by Ary Ommert, Jr.
Greetings from the Netherlands,
In this episode I will tell you more about house plants. Here in the Netherlands most people have many house plants year around. It's a part of their interior and some people even change the interior for extra space for plants. Most of the plants are grown here and that makes the prices not expensive.
In our garden center we place all the plants with flowers together on a number of tables and the green plants we put together in groups. These groups are: plants that love sun (cactuses, etc.), plants that like a light place, plants that are easy to grow, plants that love water, plants for a dark place and plants that can hang.
On the tables of those groups we have signs that give information about watering, where you can place the plant inside your house and more group information. Also on the stickers where customers can find the price we give the name and more information about the plant. In this way most customers can find plants for their houses by using the signs in our shop.
Most green plants are grown year-round; only in plants with flowers you see seasons. At this time of year people like to buy plants with flowers because at the moment fresh flowers are very expensive. We sold more of those plants than in the same period last year. Next busy time for us is when the Christmas tree is removed from the house. It leaves an empty space and also in wintertime some plants don't look fresh and perhaps people want to make a fresh start of the new year, so many of them come to us. Last week I ordered many green plants and also big ones. A truckload came in and it took us two days to get everything into the shop.
How our standard work in a week looks:
Monday: This day we use to look over all the plants. The tables are wiped clean and we get hold of every plant on that table; we check for dead flowers or leaves and remove them. If a plant doesn't look fresh, we throw it away. Everything that's thrown away is listed. It takes all day for two persons to do that. After 4 p.m. I start to water the plants; it takes 1.5 - 2 hours, depending on the season.
Tuesday: My day off and my colleague starts to water all the plants that are potted. This day the first plants that I ordered come in. This day we get 20% of the ordered plants, so it's not a very busy day.
Wednesday: My colleague's day off. This day 50 - 70% of the plants come in, so there is much to do. When the plants arrive, other people check if all are there and also unpack them and put price stickers on the pots. When that is done, I can bring them into the shop and put them on the tables of the different plant groups. If there are many plants, some of them have to wait till tomorrow. At the end of the day, I'm watering the blooming plants.
Thursday: This day we are open 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. My colleague works the afternoon and evening and I work the morning and afternoon. Most of the time we start cleaning the floor with a machine; after all the work on Wednesday bringing in the new plants, it can be messy. This day we don't get many new plants so we have time to work on the displays. Here we have the potted plants in glass, ceramics, etc. At this time we have about 15 displays. We make new combinations for filling them; after 4-6 weeks we change the displays.
Friday: Also open 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. My colleague works the morning and afternoon and I work the afternoon and evening. In the morning we work on the plants that came in and in the afternoon make combinations. In the evening I water the plants on the tables.
Saturday: We start cleaning the floor; this is our busiest day with customers so everything has to be clean. My colleague waters the potted plants and most of the day we are advising people or potting plants for customers. This day I have to order the plants for next week. I walk along the tables and make notes of what I need. Ordering is done by computer.
Hope this gives you an idea what has to be done before you see what's on the picture. This picture is only a small part of the blooming plants -- 5-6 tables visible and we have 46 tables.
Coming weeks will be very busy with customers shopping for plants and we will be in our counter many times to pot plants for customers or for keeping our displays filled.
In the next episode I will tell you about the influence of magazines on our products and how we advertise.
Ary Ommert, Jr.
The Bolivian Beat
By Kjirsten Swenson
Here's most of an e-mail I sent to some friends telling them about my experiences in Morochata. You already know most of it, but here it is in print!
A lot has happened in the past 5 weeks.
What I Did:
played anthropologist for a month. whee!
helped deliver babies
ate kidneys, liver, stomach, and other Unidentifiable Internal Organs (UIO's)
contemplated a lot
graduated. I think.
If you're intrigued, read on. for accompanying photos, check out the Morochata album at http://community.webshots.com/user/kjswenson
I've decided that Morochata, Bolivia, just might be the most amazing place anywhere. It's located around 50 miles from Cochabamba; getting there involves bearing a dusty three-hour bus ride that first switchbacks up a rock/dirt road to an impressive pass and then descends into a deep, narrow valley that is greener and lovelier than Cochabamba's.
The town itself is home to around 4,000, most of whom grow tasty potatoes that are served with every meal. Every meal. Nearly everyone speaks Quechua and maintains a fairly traditional lifestyle. The only Mestizo inhabitants to speak of are the teachers and shopkeepers. I lived with one of them, a teacher at the local high school and relative of my Cochabambina family.
The place is quiet! I woke up around 6 every morning without an alarm, due to chattering birds and sun in my eyes. There is nearly no traffic of the mechanized sort. A few buses arrive around 9 every morning and return at noon. Very occasionally a truck loaded with produce passes through on the way to the city. But mostly I heard birds and intermittent protests from disobedient pigs during my walks to the hospital each day.
Every morning I walked the surrounding dirt roads for an hour or so before tackling the nasty climb to the hospital. Due to the altitude, guarding enough air to spit out the requisite "Buenos días" to anyone I happened to meet was sometimes a challenge. More challenging was the incomprehensible dialogue that always followed, in which the campesino would ask me something in Quechua. I'd do my best to guess what he or she might want to know, and reply in Spanish. After a few such exchanges I'd continue and hope I hadn't said anything ridiculous.
The Morochateños decided to oust their corrupt mayor while I was there and the process was great entertainment. From the hospital window I watched as most of town gathered in the soccer field below. They waved flags, shouted, and crowded into trucks headed for Cochabamba, where they protested and demanded the resignation of the mayor.
He had already fled, but they blocked the doors of the town hall with two massive tires and a group slept on the steps every night just in case. In a display of typical Bolivian protest, all of the roads surrounding town were blockaded with trees and boulders. So Morochata was even quieter than usual, until the mayor resigned nine days later and the blockades were dismantled.
This and That
by Elaine Wold
A while back this letter ran in the Letters to the Editor:
Here's a request for Doug. Does he have the recipe for those pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting? Or were those Donnie's specialties? I'd love the recipe.
Janie supplied the name of Muriel as having an excellent recipe. We got Muriel to supply her version... Here you are, Marlene -- and for the rest, too.
Just checking my mail -- so, hope I am not too late with the recipe for
2 cups sugar
2 cups (or 1 can) pumpkin
1 cup oil
2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup nuts
Bake in greased and floured 9 x 13 pan at 350 until done (40 - 50 minutes).
3 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
Sprinkle additional chopped nuts over top (if desired)
From the Files of 5
Hetty Hooper --
the Family Snooper!
I told myself that I was not going to play second fiddle to a cat -- BUT here I am again. It has been such an exciting year writing for The Bulletin that I just keep coming back (even though the cat has gotten the title space and talk about SPOILED!)
I sure get my tips in some out of the ordinary ways -- this week I was paying a visit to the boss... (We went to school together, you know...) And there was somebody called Don Smith visiting her (I guess he is a preacher -- but he seemed pretty ordinary to me.) He mentioned to her that he had met her Grandson Ben at a get-together in Kansas City -- seems there was a Heather there, too, and they did seem to be together (so this Don preacher told us).
Now the boss wouldn't tell me for sure if that is a steady "two-some," but my educated guess is that it is. If anyone should ask how you know about it, say Hetty told me! (and a preacher told her!)
Now a second item came about this way. The boss has a bulletin board of grandkids. And I noticed a Xmas unwrapping at Beaver's house. (A while back I was wondering how he got that name and was told his Mom said, "As a kid, he was always as busy as a beaver." -- I think it still covers the facts pretty well.) -- Oh, yeah, back to the gift unwrappers. The one sitting by Becky was called Kenny on the title below the picture. Hmmm. so that is what her new friend looks like!-Seems pretty clean cut (and kind of cute) to me.
The Boss seems awfully excited about her move back to Minnesota. -- I sure don't know why she wants to move back so close to the North Pole -- almost to Alaska where that spoiled Miss Kitty lives! I guess she doesn't want to miss out on any of the family romances!! Please, How about Helping Miss Hetty? I need more info!!!
+ LETTERS TO THE EDITOR?
Thanks for the neat "2004" e-card! And Happy New Year to you, too. It has snowed here in Portland every day since Sunday night. Today there is about two inches of snow covering everything with big flakes still coming down. Some has melted afternoons of other days, but it doesn't look like it will today. Good luck with your move to Minnesota!
Hello and a Happy New Year
And, our hope for peace and understanding among all people on earth. Sure wish you the best in your move. Will you still have the same e-mail address? I imagine so. Yes, we will.
Russ and I have, over the years, really backed off from as much hullabaloo around Christmas, too, as we have felt the true meaning has really gotten lost in all the glitz. We do decorate and exchange gifts between ourselves, but always keep the true meaning as our theme.
I'm learning more about history from the book I mentioned than I ever did in school ... a fun book to read and educational, too. Happy New Year and have a safe move and trip!
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY: "Words are windows to the heart."
EDITOR'S POLICY: If you wish to subscribe to The Bulletin, simply send me a statement of that fact. If you wish to keep receiving it I hope you will contribute to one of the columns that are running in this family epistle (at least occasionally!). My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
This Bulletin is copyright Dorothy M. Anderson; the contents are also copyrighted by the authors and photographers and used with their permission, and the contents are not to be used for any commercial purposes without the explicit consent of the creators.