Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mountain Lions, Marmalade & Tech Gadgets

I haven't really been in the mood to blog for the last month. Nor have I had much time for it. I was getting ready for the holidays, catching the kids up on their schooling, sewing for income and constantly trying to keep the house running. But now we're in the new year, 2011, the holidays are over and we return to our schooling tomorrow. And, now, I have new tech gadgets. I came away from the last of our Christmas travels with a brand new 16gb iPad and a used back up hard drive. So, this is my first attempt to blog using the iPad. I wasn't expecting to own such a gadget, but it is fun and I have been busy trying to determine how it can help me with my homemaking and homesteading tasks. Perhaps I will write an entire blog on that topic soon.

Christmas this year brought us some new cast iron for the kitchen, some great books on homesteading, canning and gluten-free baking, fleece sheets and, most importantly, some amazingly unstressful and enjoyable time with family. Jamie and I managed to travel to Fresno, Redding, Valley Springs and Sacramento to see almost all of both of our families! But, Christmas also brought an unwelcome visitor to our little mountain homestead... A mountain lion. We knew it was getting closer, but we thought it would keep a distance from a human home. I thought I only had to worry about the kitties straying OUT of the yard. I was very tragically mistaken. While we were out, and just before we arrived home one evening, a mountain lion entered our yard and took our smallest kitten, Maia's beloved kitten named Batman. We found tracks in the yard that told the tale of the wee kitten's demise, as well as tracks behind our newer trailer. This makes me feel as if we're being watched closely and makes me nervous that the new visitor is going to go after a slightly larger member of our family next. We have made new rules regarding going out after dark and keeping the kitties inside more often. Batman was a tiny, sweet and extraordinarily polite kitten. He would not leave the yard and had to be invited in or out of the house. He never made a fuss unless Maia wasn't home, and then he would cry out for her and look for her until resigning himself to accepting someone else's love until she returned. He was probably distraught by how much we were gone for the holidays, and I imagine him sitting there at the edge of the yard waiting for us to get home. He wasn't fond of the dark and cold and wouldn't have otherwise been out there like that. We are all very sad and Maia has been devastated. She's an amazing kid though and is doing her best to process her grief and love the other kitties as much as she can. She asked me at one point "Mama, do ghost kittens cuddle?" I said "I'm not sure, honey" she replied, "Well, I think Batman will come and cuddle with me at Samhain." And then she seemed to be doing better.

On a lighter note, as we all here know that death is part of life and life goes on after death...

The rainy and cold winter days are keeping us indoors and we are playing a lot of board and card games, baking yummy things and yesterday I tried my first attempt at marmalade. I made Morning Cheer Marmalade from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It has oranges and carrots, and the few bits I tasted were delicious! Though the recipe says I should end up with 6 8-oz jars at the end of it, I only ended up with 2 12-oz jars (half of what it says, if you don't want to do the math). I had the same problem when I made apple butter. Why is this, I wonder?

Now it is 2011, time to prepare for a new year, make our resolutions and go on with living the life we want to be living. We're ordering seed catalogs, discussing new plans and doing our best to stay warm. I hope you few who read this blog had a lovely holiday and I wish you a great new year.

(Btw, I lost my patience with the iPad for blogging in the second to last paragraph.)

RIP Batman...

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