Odd and End

January 9, 2014 | My Jottings

I woke up this morning around 3:25 to help Michael go potty, and I could feel the difference. It had warmed up outside. We have all been expecting it and waiting for it, but it’s interesting that you can feel it inside that it’s better outside. I think when the outside temperatures are 30 degrees below zero, every possible drafty place in the house is felt. That kind of relentless, angry cold finds its way through walls and joist gaps and around windows and gets into the house no matter what the furnace thermostat says. It might be 70 degrees in the air of the house, but stand close to an outside wall and you can feel the cold radiating from the walls. I don’t know if that’s an oxymoron or not — I thought only heat radiated. But you get my drift.

When I got out of bed at 6:20 I looked at the outside thermometer on our front deck and it said 2 degrees below zero. And I am not making this up, it felt warmer. When I let the dogs out and went out on the deck in the dark waiting for them to finish their business, I stood there in my nightgown and slippers in 2 below weather and it felt more tolerable. Today it’s supposed to reach 10 above and tomorrow the 20s above, and we’re all so happy and relieved about that. Polar Vortex, good riddance! is what I say. I read online that a few nights ago Minnesota was actually colder than Mars. There isn’t a word accurate enough to express how that feels, but here are a few tries: harrumph…gahhhh…sheesh…yikes….blech. And the best word of all for that kind of inhuman cold?


Today our two Schnauzers will make their quarterly trip to The Bad Lady. Her name is really Joyce but our dogs have called her The Bad Lady for years; they hate the loud buzzing of the clippers over every part of their sensitive little bodies and the way she plucks hair from their ears and the humiliating squeezing she does in nether schnauzer regions. They look so forlorn when I drop them off at Joyce’s house.

Here’s a picture of 12 year-old Edith taken a couple of days ago, so you can see how desperately she needs to be groomed:


When she gets this unkempt we call her Sesame Street Wolf.

This blog post is entitled Odd and End, and the photo above would be the “odd” part. Edith looks shaggy, daft, desperate and a bit odd, don’t you think? When she returns from The Bad Lady today she’ll look sleek and naked and clean and shiny — I’ll post a picture later.

And for the “end” part of the post, here are a few shots I took with my iPhone at the end of 2013. This was the Panzanella salad I made as part of our Christmas Eve dinner, minus the bread. Panzanella has big chunks of sauteed-in-butter-until-crisp French bread tossed in it right before serving, and it’s my favorite salad.


See the little julienned ribbons of fresh basil in there too? Yum.

And we also had some stuffed baked potatoes, as I mentioned in a previous post. I kept them in the oven just a little too long so they sort of melted out of their skins, but I didn’t hear one complaint all evening…


And on Christmas Eve, three of my grandchildren sang in their church’s children’s choir, and of course I had to go sit and listen and take it all in, and wipe tears and send up silent but truly spilling over thank-yous to the Lord, again and again. Mr. McBoy had a solo and his voice is beautiful and pitch perfect. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you might be able to see him in the white shirt (with the blond hair) in the group of children at the left of the altar.


And at the end of the year, Lake Superior (of course) had begun to freeze (or “make ice” as Michael always says), and our tremendous winds caused a lot of the new ice to break apart into 2-inch thick shards and pile up on on the shore. Our son-in-law Jeremy retrieved one of these tiles and brought it over so we could see it. It was about 18 inches wide and 2-3 feet long. We studied it for a while and even took a lick, because Lake Superior provides our drinking water and is some of the best tasting in the world. Not that I’ve tasted lots of the world’s water, but compared to Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and at least twenty-five of our American states, Lake Superior water is, well, superior. Jeremy quickly carved a tree on the ice slab and put it in a flower box on our deck.


Later this afternoon Michael goes in for an MRI of his brain. His neurologist wants to rule something out, so this is part of the journey, I guess.

Here are some things I’m thankful for today… the neon magenta sunrise we had this morning, a good night’s sleep last night, the promise of a warm-up to almost 30 degrees this weekend, a date at the symphony this Saturday night with my grandson, a hot cup of tea, a new book to read (and it’s set in Scotland!), a recent letter from a beloved friend faraway, Edith’s health and digestion getting better, the new home health aide assigned once a week to come in and help Michael, and the reassurance of God’s love and power.

I’ll leave with you something that made me smile yesterday. As you might know, Michael’s speech is often unintelligible and/or very muffled, but once in a while he speaks out a word or a phrase that’s as loud and clear as a bell. While I was clearing away his breakfast dishes he said to me, “You’re shapely!” Which I thought was a very kind assessment of my physical being. I laughed and responded, “Well thank you! And how’s my hair look?” (because it was wild and frizzy morning hair) and Michael said in total seriousness, “Improved.”


From your shapely and improved friend,


  1. Jodi says:

    Ben said the same thing regarding the feeling of post vortex lesser negative temps! I did not set so much as a toe outside on Monday or Tuesday, so I cannot speak to it. Lettie looked out the window this morning and exclaimed “the sun is peeking through” and sure enough, she was beholding that same magenta sky–beautiful! Sesame Street Wolf indeed–I do see it. Glad Edith is feeling better too! I miss that superior water. Everything is harder to clean here.

    Do you know the song “10,000 Reasons” (Matt Redman)? I love it and would like to make it my theme song this year. So far I’m failing.

    How did you feel about the Downton premiere? I really enjoyed it, though a few things seemed cheesy and off. This review was amusing, I thought: http://www.anybodycandoanything.com/2014/01/downton-abbey-recap-how-mary-got-her.html

    Thanks for blogging Julie!!

  2. Just Julie says:

    Hi Jodi, I have heard of that song but don’t know it. I think I’ll look it up to listen. Thank you. The review you sent was hysterically funny. I read it while in a waiting room while Michael was having an MRI and I laughed out loud. You brightened my day — I love that kind of quirky humor. I did enjoy Downton but thought it seemed like a few things were “thrown in”…but I’m not complaining. ๐Ÿ™‚ Missing you… xoxo

  3. Kay in Cornwall says:

    Oh Julie, I’m very concerned about the fact that you’re going to be posting naked pictures on your blog. I do hope that you can position artistically chosen objects in your photo of Edith so as to protect her modesty!
    As to Michael’s ‘compliments’, well, one of the first ‘compliments’ that Alan paid me was, ‘Your hair feels lovely, just like a dog’. And that was said in all seriousness! And I STILL married him!
    My hair should be improving in texture now as I have taken the bold step of growing out my dyed hair and reverting back to my natural colour. It’s been so long since I last saw my natural colour, I’m not sure what it’ll turn out like. (No doubt Alan will compare me to a tabby cat, what with all the grey coming in!)

  4. Just Julie says:

    Oh, you made me laugh again today Kay. That sounds exactly like something Michael would have said to me! I’m interested in your hair color – send me a picture. Mine is multi-colored right now — a bit of blonde, a bit of light ash brown, and some silver. And I’ll post some tasteful naked pictures of the dogs soon. ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo

  5. Ganeida says:

    Joss agrees with you re the weather. Here is his FB status this morning: Its amazing what a difference temperatures above zero make. 1 degree celcius, thank you. Thank you so much.

    I love Edith’s wild woman look but quite understand your need to have her social status a notch higher.

    Even blown up & with my new glasses firmly perched on my nose my eyes aren’t good enough to find McBoy. Lucky kid, being pitch perfect & all. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think the smoke has stopped. It’s raining instead.

    Love, hugs, greetings from across the water…

  6. Just Julie says:

    It’s starting to snow here, Ganeida, which always means it’s above zero. It looks like we’re warming up a bit and I’m so thankful. You’ll have to tell me exactly what part of Los Angeles Joss is in. Los Angeles county alone has more people in it than the entire state of Minnesota! Glad the smoke has stopped too. Love and hugs back to you, dear friend…. xoxo

  7. Lillian says:

    Hello from Jenny and Lillian of the Downton Abbey Recap!
    We are SO GLAD you found our recap, it is always so exciting to know someone who isnt related to us reads it and likes it. Best wishes to Michael from both of us and DO POST the recipe for those baked potatoes, they look so yummy!
    Very very happy to have found your blog! AnybodycandoAnything is Lillian’s blog, Jenny’s blog is http://jennyhartboren.blogspot.com

  8. Just Julie says:

    Thank you for stopping by and leaving a message, Lillian! I know what you mean about being happy to learn that someone reads what you write. You have a gift with your humor and I will visit you again! And I’ll visit Jenny’s blog too… I’ll email you the recipe for the potatoes and the link is also here: http://www.justjulieb.com/julies-stuffed-baked-potatoes/.

  9. Ember says:

    Warm enough for snow, eh? Good grief!

    Thanks for another lovely post – that salad look DELICIOUS! xx

  10. Just Julie says:

    Good grief says it all, Ember. Hoping your days are warmer and peaceful in your little abode… xoxo

  11. Ginny says:

    Question: What are those noises I hear when the temps are Mars-beastly cold??? Sounds like timbers in the attic exploding or seams in the walls popping open or flying owls freezing solid in flight and boom! landing on my roof!
    I mean serious noise that wakes me up in the middle of the night!!!
    What can it be???

  12. Just Julie says:

    I was just talking to some women in my core group at CBS about this Ginny–isn’t it alarming when our houses creak and contract in the cold? It can be really loud! I like the picture of the owls you gave us…. lots of love to you Gin….xoxo

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