It’s been lovely warm weather here since mid-week up until yesterday when the temperature made it to 53F/ 12C. I am laughing right now because when I googled to convert fahrenheit to celsius, one of the list of expandable Google questions that appeared on the results page was “Is 50 degrees Fahrenheit cold?”

James and I biked to get groceries yesterday morning and I wore sneakers, medium weight sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and a windbreaker, no gloves, and I was quite warm. So my answer to the question is no, 50 degrees is not cold, a little cool, but definitely not cold. However, when I expand for the answer it says that 50 is considered cold and below 70 is cool. 

I consider anything over 60 warm and over 75 verging on hot, and over 80 it is heading towards being really hot, it is clear the person who wrote the Google approved answer is not from Minnesota or other northern location. I suspect, given my mom in southern California thinks anything below 65 is cold and 50 warrants a scarf, mittens and winter jacket, that the Google approved answer is sourced from someone who lives in southern California or possibly Florida, someplace where frost only happens a few times a year.

Since I have been enjoying a 4-day holiday weekend, the chickens have had the pleasure of being allowed to roam the garden and enjoy the sunshine. In spite of the warmth, there is still patchy snow on the ground and the top layer of soil is a bit frozen, so there is not much for the chickens to do. They find warm thawed patches here and there and can get some scratching in, but there aren’t any insects to eat. Mostly they come up on the deck and look in the sliding glass door or just hang out in the run.

four chickens huddled together
Chicken huddle

Today it is sunny with wind blowing cold from the north, a chilly, not cold, day of 40F/ 5C. The chickens don’t much like the wind ruffling their feathers and letting out all their body heat, but they are determined at times to not be in the run where they are protected from the wind. I think they sometimes worry that if they are all in the run at the same time, James or I will sneak out and close the door. So they get as far from the run as they can and huddle in a nook protected by house, deck, air conditioner, rain barrels, and witch hazel. 

Wednesday I left work at noon so I could go get the second dose of shingles vaccine. I planned long ago to do this before the Thanksgiving holiday because I knew I was not going to feel well. Did I ever plan that right! At first it was only a bad headache and an increasingly sore arm, and I thought, wow, this isn’t so bad after all! 

But by the time I crawled into bed at 9, I had chills so bad that 3 quilts on top of the bedspread couldn’t warm me up. I tossed and turned and shivered, and sometime in the wee hours, just as the chills were beginning to not be so bad and I was finally feeling almost warm, the all-over body aches started. And it wasn’t just my joints, it was everything. I eventually managed to doze off from exhaustion, but was up for the day around 5 because being in bed and tired and not sleeping was just making me miserable.

Bless my dear James, he got up too, made us coffee and pancakes for breakfast. I took a hot shower and finally felt warm. Then I wrapped myself in a blanket on the couch and read. The chills were gone, but the aches lingered until early afternoon. Then I was just tired for the rest of the day. It did not, however, keep me from enjoying our usual Thanksgiving enchiladas and pumpkin pie.

James has always worked in retail, which means he always has to work after Thanksgiving. Early in our relationship when we lived in California and closer to family, we tried the family Thanksgiving dinners, which were always a juggle. And then we got married and turned into vegans and when you have to bring most of your own food and subject yourself every single time to all the questions, jokes, and insults that only your loved ones would dare say out loud, we made up excuses that we could no longer come to dinner because of James’s work schedule.

Since then, Thanksgiving has only been the two of us. Every year we make vegan enchiladas, refried beans, rice, and pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin. The recipes have evolved over the years. We used to buy enchilada sauce but several years ago came across a recipe that was really good and have made it from scratch ever since. And the pumpkin pie used to have silken tofu blended in but when we bought Vegan Pie in the Sky that has a tofuless recipe the already tasty pie got even tastier. It is three days of feasting and then it is all gone and life returns to non-holiday normal food.

But, Solstice is coming. It is my one day a year to cook. One of the things I have been doing is scouring the recipes to come up with a menu. Last year I made ravioli e fagioli, this year I am aiming for something simpler, an easy soup, a main course, dessert. Since dessert is the most important, I have already finalized that menu item: homemade biscuits with chocolate “gravy.” Oh yeah!

One of the things I have been working really hard to do over this holiday weekend is buy nothing. With practically every place I have ever made a purchase sending me emails—Save!!! This Weekend only!!! While supplies last!!! Time is running out!!! You still have until midnight, don’t miss out!!!—it makes me anxious and desirous both. But I don’t need any winter gear from REI or Patagonia, I don’t need any bike kit from Primal, I don’t need any yarn even if that is a really good price for sock yarn because I have enough sock yarn to make probably half a dozen pairs of socks already. I also don’t need any more fountain pens or ink even though the shimmer ink called “witch by starlight” is very pretty and has a name that makes me want it really bad.

The hardest to resist though has been the barrage from my go-to seed supplier. They are offering 15% off the whole order, which in seed catalogs is a really good discount. I fell for it last year though and all I saved on the seeds I had to pay back for shipping. That was disappointing, which has helped me to resist. What has also helped is knowing that there are a couple seed catalogs I have not yet seen that might have some bean and squash varieties that I would rather have that are not sold by this particular supplier. So I wait and see. 

I realize there is much irony in James’s working in retail, currently books, that relies on people buying stuff. We comfort ourselves, or maybe we are making an excuse, that at least books have redeeming qualities unlike battery-powered gadgets that will break in a few months, clothes that will be worn only a few times, and all the other truly useless things that are being pushed right now. 

I do have a few small gifts to buy, but I am waiting until the frenzy of this weekend passes. Then I will be able to be more thoughtful instead of just choosing something because of an email yelling at me that this may be my only chance to save big. 

If you have gifts to buy this holiday season, I wish you good shopping. But I also wish you care and thoughtfulness. Make sure you aren’t buying plastic crap that will go to a landfill in a few months just because you need to get a cheap gift for someone. And whenever you can, consider making something, like cookies or homemade bread. I have never met anyone who doesn’t love homemade bread.

  • Book: Inciting Joy by Ross Gay. I love Ross Gay and this book of essays is truly joyful reading.
  • The usual podcasts. Nothing of particular note
  • Movie: Bullet Train. I like Brad Pitt, he’s good at comedy. The movie was so-so and very violent. I had to look away frequently because there were lots of people getting shot in the head.
  • Christmas Special: Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. The acting was terrible, but the story was funny and the jokes were mostly good, and yeah, it was a sappy Christmas thing and maybe I got a little teary but sometimes you have to let yourself succumb to the sap no matter how predictable and stupid it is.
  • TV Show: Monty Don: Mastercrafts: Weaving This was so good! I’m pretty sure I don’t ever want a big floor loom, but I wouldn’t mind trying one sometime.

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20 thoughts on “Not Buying It

  1. 12C in December is very warm for us here in Calgary, Alberta. A few days ago we were down to -20C but yesterday it was 4C thanks to a Chinook (wonder what Google will say about that). Anyway, it’s all relative. But I agree with your ‘definitions’ of the cold to hot spectrum. One thing about making all these temp. hard to bear is moisture. And I understand Minnesota has lots of that. We are very dry here so that makes even -20C bearable however not if you add in the wind factor.

    1. Minnesota does get humid in summer when the jet stream dips low and pulls moisture up from the Gulf of Mexico. The moisture combined with the heat sometimes gives us dangerous heat indices. Winter though, because it gets so cold, and the jet stream pulls in cold dry air from Canada and the arctic, we are drier than the desert. Keeps things interesting 🙂 Stay warm, and have a happy Christmas!

  2. When I was at the University of Notre Dame you could easily tell who was not from the Midwest. I recall a student who was wearing a big puffy jacket and snow boots in October, and I wanted to laugh at the poor dear for what was to come.

  3. Now I’m afraid of the shingles vaccine. I don’t know when I could fit that one in… but then shingles… much worse. One of my employees was especially prone to it. In her eyes! I hope never to go through that.

    And as to gifting, me and the boys are a bit poor these days, so shopping is not a temptation. Though I’ve never been a shopper… Feral, raised by hippies… was thoroughly perplexed by the allure of malls when I was a teen and it never improved. Neither of my sons have room for stuff and I’m at the stage of life where you give things away. So gifting is pretty much pointless. In any case, we’ve stopped buying “surprise gifts” just to buy things. If there is something needed (and there usually is for them, not so much for me), then we buy that.

    I do have problems with seed catalogs though. 🙂 And a late January birthday… so…

    1. I’m 37 and have encouraged my mom to hurry up and get her shingles vaccine. I keep repeating stories I heard about ten years ago when I was in a library book club that consisted of me and several women in their 80s (the club met in the middle of the day on a weekday). They said their girlfriends got shingles inside their ears, vaginas, in their scalp (meaning they couldn’t comb their hair for ages), etc. So, I suppose what Stefanie said about not feeling good is pretty mild compared to vagina shingles! Ack!

      1. Oh lord, Melanie, vagina shingles! I don’t even want to think about how painful that would be. Both my parents had shingles before the vaccine became standard and it was horrible. My dad suffered for about two months. All the kids these days who get the chicken pox vaccine won’t have to worry about shingles I suspect. But yeah, keep pushing your mom to get the vaccine. Feeling like poo for a day is better than being sick for two months!

        Also, I’m laughing at the puffy jacket in October. I saw a few people wearing them in September this year and I felt really sorry for them.

        1. You’d have to wear mittens so you don’t scratch your vag-ingles.

          Early in my teaching career I had a student who had gotten shingles in high school who missed an entire semester. It really affected her mentally and socially.

    2. Shingles is a two dose vaccine, and I would rather have suffered for a day-ish after each one than get shingles and suffer horribly for weeks or months. Getting in your eyes, wow, that would really suck!

      I suspect even if you weren’t a bit poor, you would not be a big shopper 🙂 I might be biased, but I think seeds are ok to splurge on since they actually grow into flowers and food and what could be better than something that feeds you and other critters and makes your patch of earth a better place in the process? 🙂

  4. Definitely Southern California or maybe India. But on the other hand my ability to tolerate heat is pathetic. I’m sorry you had such a rough reaction to the vaccine, but glad you were able to enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner! I had no idea seeds could cost quite so much to ship…

    1. heh, Julé, as I get older it gets increasingly more difficult to tolerate heat, which is not a good combination with a warming world. And thanks! I always have a rough time with any vaccination, but shingles was harder than most. Still, much better than actually getting shingles. Both my parents suffered through it and it was horrible. As for the cost of seed shipping, I seed companies sell more than seeds so they set a generally shipping price, which mean when I buy only seeds, I am subsidizing the shipping cost for someone who bought tools and boxes of fertilizer. Not fair in my opinion, but it also is poking me to get better at saving seeds then I don’t have to buy seeds or pay shipping.

  5. Good to know about the singles vaccine. I haven’t yet reached that milestone but it will be here in a few years.

    Homemade bread! That’s a great idea. I think I’ll use that for a few people.

    Books as gifts are awesome. I did support my local indie on Saturday for Christmas gifts so I feel good about that (local, small, not Amazon!)

    My James and I will have to watch that Guardians Christmas special! Woohoo!

    1. Something to look forward to Laila when you get over 50! 😀

      Have fun gifting bread and books! And I hope you enjoy the Guardians special!

  6. Imho 50F is not cold outside if you heat a little inside. The problem over here is the huge increase of energy prices, so people don’t heat much if at all, and then 50F indoors IS cold, right? At least the energy prices has people look at their bills and initiate a lot of changes and economies, I would say it’s a viciously good consequence of all the bad coming from Putin regime. Vicious because unfair.
    My position on shopping is a bit stingy I’m afraid. I’ve cut most notifications by emails and phone texts. When I have something I want I can wait a long time until i’ll get a discount on it, or some cash cards to spend it on (so yes I took advantage of black friday, or black weekend…). I’m glad I got my relatives to agree on a white elephant with a capped budget this year. It will curb the shopping frenzy.

    1. We’ve had a huge increase in energy prices in the US too, but not like in the EU. We keep our indoor temp at 62F during the day and 56F at night during the winter, which is a lot colder than most people know set theirs. Heating the person is much more efficient than heating the space. I don’t think you are stingy on shopping at all! White elephants with a budget cap are the best sorts of situations especially for when there’s lots of adult people.

      1. I like that phrase: “heating the person is more efficient than heating the space” GOT IT! And yeah, the shingles vax hit me but not too hard, definitely had fatigue and just weird brain-fog.

        Happy upcoming Winter Solstice!

  7. Glad you’re feeling better! Vaccines can be rough but worth it! We got COVID booster and flu on the same day (same arm!) and it wasn’t too bad, although it took a couple of my coworkers out for an afternoon. We usually don’t do too much holiday shopping except for the nephews, but they get stuff like Legos, art supplies, and books (usually used) from us. Apparently one cannot have too many Legos (and they DEFINITELY get used!). I usually make a batch of something for friends and neighbors (soap, pottery, granola, cookies…). This year I think it will be granola, that was pretty popular a few years ago. Speaking of chickens (was I?) this morning I had a scare. I went out in the morning to check on them and the coop door was WIDE open, no chickens in sight. WHAT?! No idea what happened. However, the girls were happily scratching around the fir tree that’s next to their coop, apparently completely unharmed and very pleased to be out so early. Not sure how we escaped without any casualties, but I’m grateful! It’s a Thanksgiving miracle! (Yes, double-checking the latch every time now!)

    1. I always have some kind of reaction to vaccines and for some reason this year I didn’t have on with the flu shot and it really freaked me out! Yum, granola is a great gift! A Thanksgiving miracle indeed! How scary! I’m glad all your girls were ok!

  8. I didn’t know there was a Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special! Thanks!
    I don’t consider it really warm enough until the temps get up to 80 F. But yeah, I’ve always lived in the south before moving to Ohio.
    Those shingles vaccines made me react the same way. Intense 24 hours.
    We buy mostly books for gifts.

    1. I didn’t know about the holiday special either, James surprised me with it! If it’s not warm enough until it’s 80, that explains why you dislike OH winter so much. Even though I grew up in California, I think MN and winter were in my blood since that’s where my dad and all his family moved from when he was 17. Shingle vaccine is drought, but much easier than having shingles so it was worth it. Yay for buying mostly books as gifts!

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