Thursday, May 31, 2012

First Day of Summer

I know the calendar doesn't say it's the first day of summer, but today is the first day that the kids are out of school.  So, I guess it's really the first day of summer vacation.

I had a lovely morning with my daughter.  She got up and joined me for my usual 5 mile walk.  Not that she had much of a choice; I did wake her up to come with me, but she came willingly and cheerfully.  We enjoyed the cool morning, lively conversation, and then on the way home, she enjoyed a blackberry Italian soda from the coffee shop we go right by (I enjoyed just a sip of said soda).  By the time we got home, we'd walked 5 1/4 miles in about 90 minutes time.  I hope she will continue to do this on a regular basis with me.  It was nice having my walking buddy back!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Welcome Back!

In the spring of 2006, construction began on my mother's addition to our house.  My father had died the year before, and their house and yard were too much for my mom to take care of by herself.  She didn't live very far from us, but my husband, Chad, spent quite a bit of time over there helping take care of things. 

One February day, we were all out for lunch at a restaurant, and the food was taking a very long time to reach our table.  While we waited, mom was talking about selling her house and trying to find something smaller, with a smaller yard.  Lightning, or something, struck Chad and he said we should just add a mother-in-law's apartment to our house.  It seemed like such a simple solution to the problem!  Mom liked the idea, so right then and there, they started drawing the plans on a napkin.

As we found out what would be required by our town to do such a thing, the plans morphed a bit, but things moved very quickly, and work started just three months after the idea was sparked.  As the construction went on,  one of the things that had to be done was digging up the front yard to put in new sewer and water lines, and they had to go through part of my perennial flower bed.  When all the digging was done, one of the things I noticed was that there were iris corms scattered around; I'd had three varieties of iris in that section of the bed. They weren't necessarily anywhere near where they had been, some of them were mixed in with the dirt that was now in the middle of where the lawn should be.  I gathered up what I could find, and put them back in the flower bed we were reconstructing.

Over the next couple of years as the irises grew back and began to bloom again, they were all mixed together, but I was only seeing two of the varieties.  I was kind of sad that I was missing the third type, because it was my favorite.  But there was still some hope.  There was one very small chunk of iris root that grew a few little spikes, kind of off by itself.  Since there wasn't much root left, its recovery was taking longer.  I have watched it all of these past six years, and wondered if it would ever bloom.  I was so excited this year to see a couple of bloom stalks growing, that I could hardly stand to wait for them to open!

When that first bloom finally did unfurl... yes!!!  It was my favorite burgundy and gold variety that had been missing all of this time.  Now I will have to be patient as it continues to grow and spread so that there will be more of them.  Welcome back, my beautiful friend; I have missed you so!



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More Progress

We are getting closer to finishing the Rose McLaughlin Memorial Garden! You can click here and here to see how it all started.  The work has been delayed by cold temperatures and rain, but today is warm and clear, so mom and I got to work.

Mom putting in some of the new little plants.

As soon as we finished for today, I watered all the new little plants.  I put up the hose, and turned around to see a visitor had already stopped by.  Gorgeous!

Our first visitor; a beautiful swallowtail butterfly!


There are a few more things we want to get planted, and I'm sure this garden will continue to be a work in progress...I find that all of my gardens are!

It's coming right along!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

After the Rain

We have not seen the sun for several days, and have had quite a lot of rain.  While it makes gardening and other outdoor activities difficult, this arid land becomes parched very quickly in the summer, so we are thankful for every drop of moisture.  These last few days have brought us 1 3/4 inches of rain, but I am so happy to see the sun and a cloudless blue sky this morning!  Thank you, God, for the blessings of rain, and the sunshine that follows.



And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises,
A morning without clouds,
Like the tender grass springing out of the earth,
By clear shining after rain.

-2 Samuel 23:4

Truly the light is sweet,
And it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun.

-Ecclesiastes 11:7

Friday, May 25, 2012

Crazy Cake: Gluten Free & Regular Recipes

My mom has been making Crazy Cake for as long as I can remember.  In researching Crazy Cake, I found that it is also known as Depression Cake, Wacky Cake, and No Eggs, Butter, or Milk Cake.  No matter what you call it, it's amazing, and YUMMY!  Mom often made this for church potluck dinners, and it was always a hit.

Developed during the Great Depression, and also popular during World War II when certain grocery items were hard to come by, this recipe is not only tasty, it is versatile and very easy to make.  It magically makes a wonderful, moist cake without eggs, milk or butter.  The secret is the vinegar; it reacts with the soda to make the cake rise and have a nice texture.  Though this version is for a chocolate cake, I have seen variations for spice, carrot, vanilla, and lemon cakes, all made from the basic recipe.  Many people just mix all the ingredients right in the pan, but I prefer to use a mixing bowl.  I am not a neat enough cook to mix everything up in the pan and not make a mess!

I made a gluten free and very low fat version of this cake, and it would be very easy to make it vegan by using vegan sugar.  I will add the original recipe below my "tweaked" version.  Enjoy!



Crazy Cake: Gluten Free & Low Fat

3 cups gluten free multi-purpose baking flour (I used King Arthur Flour. It is wheat free, soy free and nut free, but any gluten free baking flour blend should do nicely)
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (if you want a darker chocolate flavor, use up to 1/2 cup cocoa)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup natural unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar (I have used cider and white, and it doesn't seem to make a difference)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups cold water

Mix everything together, but don't over mix. The batter will be fairly runny.  Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

I like to simply sprinkle some powdered sugar on the cake, and it is delicious with some fresh strawberries.  If you wish, top it off with your favorite frosting.

Original Crazy Cake

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (up to 1/2 cup for darker chocolate flavor)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup vegetable oil (or to make it low fat, use 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce and 1/4 cup oil)
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups cold water

Mix everything together, but don't over mix.  The batter will be fairly runny. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Top with powdered sugar or use your favorite frosting.






Thursday, May 24, 2012

Band Award

As the school year wraps up, my daughter, Megan, has been very busy with band activities.  Two concerts this week, and playing for the high school graduation on Sunday.  School is out Monday for Memorial Day, then back for the final two days on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I can't believe how much she's grown this year, both inside and out!  On the outside, she's grown 6 1/2 inches in height, 2 shoe sizes, and while she's still a couple of inches shorter than me, her hands are bigger than mine.  Sometimes I look at her and am amazed at who she's becoming, wonder who this beautiful young woman is, and where's my little girl?!?

Sorry...got off track a bit there.  This is supposed to be about the award Megan received this week.  The first award for the ninth grade band members was for most improved, and started out with the director talking about the person he was giving it to.  He said this student started out in beginning band last year, and had done so well that he had moved them up into an ensemble group quickly.  As soon as he said that, I knew Megan was the recipient of this award!  She'd never been in band until last year, and she did advance quickly.  He continued to say how much work she'd done to improve, then announced Megan as the winner!  She was totally surprised and never imagined she'd receive such an award.  She was presented with a very nice engraved plaque and certificate.  Congratulations, Megan!  We are so proud of you!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sparrow Family

For the past several years, we've had sparrows nesting under the roof of our covered patio.  I read that the male sparrow selects the site for his nest, builds it, and then woos a lady to share it with him.  Sparrows are monogamous, so once they find a mate, they stay together for life.  Once a nest site is chosen, he will usually keep it his entire life.  This particular sparrow has wintered in his nest for at least the last four years.  The females don't necessarily stay with their mates during the winter, but come back to the nest in the spring.  We've had to modify things a bit here and there to make this nest a better home.  The white board in front was added two summers ago, because the babies kept falling out of the nest.  Sometimes we'd just happen to be around at the right time and get them put back in, but mostly if they fell out, they died.  This was heartbreaking for all of us, so we've helped the sparrow family by making it easier for the babies to stay in the nest.

This mommy and daddy usually have three or four batches of babies each summer.  This is their first brood of the season, and we've been watching the nest and keeping track of how the babies are growing.  Once the eggs are laid, it takes a couple of weeks for them to hatch.  The babies hatch with no feathers, and their eyes are closed.  We know when the babies have hatched because we'll hear soft cheeping.  But they grow fast, the cheeping becomes louder and more insistent, and soon they're coming to the front of the nest for feeding.  They get very noisy when a parent is back, trying to get enough attention (each trying to out-yell its siblings), to get that juicy bug.  Amazingly, it only takes a couple of weeks for the hatched naked and blind babies to be ready to fledge and leave the nest!

Mother Sparrow, mouth full of bug, making sure it's safe to proceed to the nest.  Each parent sits on the power line for a moment to make sure nothing dangerous follows them home.
Mother feeding her babies, with Father impatiently waiting outside for his turn to feed the babies.

Finally, Father Sparrow gets his turn. In and out so quickly, he's a blur.

In watching the parents take care of the babies, I've noticed that the mommy bird is much more nurturing than the daddy.  She flies in and carefully feeds the babies, taking time to poke bugs in each little mouth (she will often have several bugs in her beak at one time), makes sure everyone is settled and kind of tidies the nest, then she flies off to find more bugs.  Daddy, on the other hand, greatly differs in his parenting style.  He usually comes back with one bug, is sitting outside the nest waiting his turn to feed the babies, and is squawking at the mom to hurry up.  When she finally flies out, he quickly goes in, pokes the bug into a mouth, and flies back out.  He's so quick, it's hard to get a photo of him!  No fuss, no muss. Straight to the point and efficient. 

The video is mostly to share what we hear, not so much what we see in the nest.  It shows just how noisy a nest full of baby sparrows really is!

video

We look forward to seeing our sparrows raise their babies every summer.  It is amazing to watch what God created, and put into motion, at work.



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ring of Fire

We got to watch the solar eclipse this evening, and even though it really wasn't a "ring of fire" for us, the sun did have a large bite out of it.  It was a little odd to have the sun so high in the sky, but the light was significantly dimmed.  To view the progress of the eclipse safely, we put a pinhole in a piece of paper, and let the sun project onto the side of the house.  It was easy to see how the sun looked, and we didn't have to go blind in the process.  I snapped a couple of pictures...ok... a lot more than a couple, but when you can't look at the sun to aim at it, it's a little bit tricky to get a good photo.  One looks Pac Man on a wire, but there was no way I could get the sun and not have a tree or wire in the way from our yard.  So we made a quick trip to a nearby park, where there was a more open view.  The eclipse was nearing the end, but still, a piece is missing.  Very neat, and lots of fun to see this celestial event!




Friday, May 18, 2012

And Me Without My Raincoat

I went for my walk this evening, instead of this morning.  I should have gone this morning!  I was nearly 2 miles from home when it started to rain...


Me, slightly damp. Ok, a lot damp.

The wind was blowing pretty hard, so maybe I got a little bit of drying action along with the shower?  Nah, not much.  My jacket and jeans were soaked.  Other than being wet by the time I got home, it was a lovely walk!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Yoga Anyone?

As I was checking out the Yellowstone National Park webcams this morning, I came across something I'd never seen before.  The cameras update every so often, and they capture a lot of animals and people doing different things, but this morning, the camera at Mammoth Hot Springs captured a morning yoga routine.




My first thought was, wow, that's a brave person.  I would never do that in public. Especially in that spot, since I know there's a camera trained on it.  How embarrassing!  When the picture updated, there was a new pose, and I continued to think about the type of personality it would take to do yoga in such a place, where lots of people are constantly coming and going.

Curious, I watched as the camera updated again.  No, I'm not a creepy type of stalker person, but I was still thinking about public exercise.  Then it hit me...I exercise in public all the time!  There may not be a camera watching every move I make, but plenty of people see me doing my morning exercise, and probably don't think anything of it.  I know I have never thought much about it before today, and have never been embarrassed by it.  I have been walking several miles every morning (yesterday, I did 5 miles), and really, is that so different than doing yoga in the park?  My first instinct was, yes, it is different.  This probably comes from my introverted personality.  But after thinking about it more deeply, I don't think so now.  If you're going to do yoga outdoors, and why not, I can't think of a more beautiful place to be than in Yellowstone!  When my family visits there this summer, I'll be doing my choice of exercise there as well.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Beyond A Facelift

On my walk today, I went by a house that makes me sad.  It has been abandoned for many, many years, and it sits on the corner of a very busy street.  Several times over the years, my husband and I have discussed this house and yard, usually when we'd driven by it.  Who owned it?  Why was it simply abandoned and why hadn't anyone fixed it up?  Would they mind if we mowed (the grass and weeds were out of control), or maybe we could find out who owned it and see if cleaning up the place could be a youth group project?

A few months ago, there was a fire, and the house was pretty much destroyed.  The home and vehicles next door were also damaged.  I haven't heard the official cause of the fire, but arson was suspected.  Now the poor thing just needs torn down, but there it sits.  A burned out mess.  And we are still asking questions, just slightly different ones.  Who owns it?  Why are they just letting it sit there?  Will the city step in, and will they tear it down before someone gets hurt?



It is so sad to see something like this house, unloved and unlived in.  Houses are supposed to be homes, but this poor old thing is far beyond a facelift, and just needs to be let go to dwelling heaven.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Progress

The work continues on the Rose McLaughlin Memorial Garden!

Grandma grumped about people landscaping with rock, but when it's all finished and beautiful, I hope she can see it from Heaven, and will enjoy the irony!





Monday, May 14, 2012

Gold Medal

Bright and early on Saturday morning, Chad and Megan ran a 5K.  It was a chilly 39 degrees at starting time, but they warmed up nicely during their run.  They stayed together until near the end, when Chad's knee started to bother him, because he was running with a much shorter stride than normal (Megan's legs are not as long as his...yet!).  Needing to stretch that knee out, he ran on ahead for a bit, then ran back and finished with Megan.  I think it's very sweet that he sacrifices his own running time, and possible win, to stay with her so she doesn't have to run alone.  When the results were announced, Megan had won the gold medal for her division. Way to go!  After the race, they had breakfast together.  It was a special daddy and daughter time for them.

This was the first in a series of five races throughout the summer, ranging from 2 to 4 miles in length, and I wish them both continued success!

Chad and Megan, wearing their race shirts, and Megan with her medal.

Friday, May 11, 2012

We Bought A Zoo

We just watched a wonderful movie:  We Bought A Zoo.  It is sweet, funny, sad, and touching, and I think I will need to watch it again to let it all soak in.  It is based on the non-fiction book of the same title, but there are some differences between the real Mee family, and the movie Mee family.  The movie takes place in California, while the real family lives in England.  There are a few other things changed a bit for the screen, but the basic story of their lives is there.  I have not read the book, but I will, as soon as it is available in our local library.  Someone has it checked out right now, but I've reserved it, and can't wait to get my hands on it.  I have read enough about the Mees online to know that life has not been easy for them, but still, there are wonderful messages, and beauty, in the chronicle of this family's love, loss, and ultimate perseverance.

If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it.  I will let you know how I liked the book, when I've finished reading it.





Thursday, May 10, 2012

Groundbreaking

Work on the Rose McLaughlin Memorial Garden has begun! 

This is a garden I've been planning since last summer to honor my Grandma Rose.  She loved gardening and flowers, and passed that love on to many of her descendants, including myself.  What could be a more fitting way to remember her?

I will post pictures as the work progresses.








Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An Evening in the Park

Friday, as we traveled to Sheridan, the day was clear and beautiful.  We had a nice drive and saw plenty of deer and pronghorn along the way.  But not too long after we got to Sheridan, the weather turned windy and rainy, so we ran some errands, had lunch, checked in at our hotel, then headed out to find where the race was being held the next day.

By the time we had done all of that, the skies had cleared again, and the late afternoon and evening were perfect.  My husband's parents had called, and decided to make the short drive over from their home in Buffalo to meet us for supper.  We had a nice visit with them, talking about the upcoming race, and the properties around the area that they had recently looked at.  When it was time to go, we stood outside the restaurant visiting a bit more, and somehow, my daughter got into a dandelion war with her grandmother...the fluffy seeds were flying everywhere, and a sort of truce was called when grandma ended up with a mouthful!  It was pretty funny, and the two of them about laughed themselves silly.

After we said our goodbyes and left the restaurant (and the dandelion ammunition), it was far too nice to go back to the hotel, so we decided to take a walk.  We headed to Kendrick Park and Wildlife Refuge, where there are miles of beautiful walking paths.  We saw deer, bison and elk, and I'd wished I had a better camera with me, but I didn't, so the cell phone camera would have to do.  Near the end of our walk, we came to a spot on the path where there was a clearing, and we could see over most of the town.  The moon was out and nearly full; this was the night before the "super moon", and was pretty spectacular.  The cell phone picture definitely can't do it justice. 

Bison, Kendrick Wildlife Refuge
They were kind of far away, but these are a bull and two cow elk.
Moon over Sheridan, Wyoming
After we stood and looked over the town, pointing out buildings or places of interest below us, it was starting to get dark, and we had a pretty good hike back to the car.  So we headed out, and went back to the hotel for the night.  It was a relaxing end to a very busy day.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A (Wet) Day at the Race

As I said in my last blog post, my family traveled to Sheridan, Wyoming on Friday, in preparation for the half marathon my husband, Chad, was running on Saturday.  The weather was clear and beautiful for our little road trip, and we had a lovely day.  I'll write more about our Friday adventures tomorrow.  Today, I'll skip right to the events of Saturday.

Saturday dawned cold and foggy.  Chad had to be up early so he could get his breakfast eaten, and drink water and Gatorade, at least two hours before start time.  We knew the weather forecast was not that great, calling for wind, rain and a high of about 50 degrees.  Not great when you've got 13.1 miles to run out in the country, over dirt roads and through pastures!  Chad had a hard time deciding what to wear, and how many layers he might need to help keep warm, in case it did start to rain. 

We packed up and checked out of the hotel, and made the 30 minute drive out of town, to the starting place, a residence out in the country, surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, with a great view of the nearby Big Horn Mountains.  By the time we got there, the fog had lifted, but the clouds were heavy and dark.  Before long, the mountains began to disappear, and we knew the rain was coming!  We prayed that the bad weather would hold off for the runners.

Hmmm...which shoes are going to be better?
The race began at precisely 9:00 a.m.  My daughter and I settled in the car with our books, knowing it would be a couple of hours before we'd see Chad making his way toward the finish.  I said some prayers for his physical health, and for safety, and watched as the sky got darker, and darker.
A few minutes before start time. Chad is standing behind people, so isn't visible in the picture.

And they're off! Chad is next to the lady in the bright jacket.
About an hour in, the sky opened up, and it began to pour!  The wind kicked up, and it got cold enough in the car that I started it so we could have some heat.  I was worried about all of the walkers and runners being out in it, and just hoped they weren't too uncomfortable.  Later, after we'd gotten home, I checked the temperature log for the day in Sheridan, and as the bad weather moved in, it had gotten down to about 45 degrees before the race was over.  With the strong wind and rain, that had to be no fun.

The lovely view from the car.
Finally, at about 2 hours and 15 minutes, we saw Chad coming up the hill above where we were parked.  Another two minutes, and he'd crossed the finish line!  His official time was 2:17:37, which was actually faster than what he'd managed in training, on flat, paved surfaces, and good weather conditions.  Not bad for his very first half marathon!  So proud of him for his accomplishment!  I had wanted to get some good pictures of Chad as he finished, but with all the rain and wind, it didn't work out well.  The best I could do was either take pictures through the open car window, or hop out and quickly snap a picture before the wind blew rain all over the camera lens.  So, alas, the photographic evidence is not great, but I think the memory of the entire experience will last a very long time!
Here he comes!

Just crossed the finish line! Can't tell from this picture, but the rain is still coming down.
After the race, there were prizes and food.  The hosts of the event have a huge building that normally houses a very large motor coach, that they had set up for the "after run party".  After some food and water for Chad, it was time to get him into a hot shower and dry clothes.  He was very cold, totally soaked, and muddy.  His parents live in Buffalo, about 30 minutes from Sheridan (an hour from where the race was), so we headed that way, and finally got him taken care of. 
There were lots of runners crazy enough to go out in the bad weather!

Congratulations, to a very cold and wet, Chad!
Thank you, Lord, for keeping Chad, and all of the other participants, safe!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Off to the Race!

Today, we are traveling to Sheridan, Wyoming, in preparation for the half marathon (13.1 miles) my husband will be participating in on Saturday morning.  It will take place at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains, and is a cross-country.  No flat pavement for this run!  It's his first time running that distance in an official race, although he's done it here in town during his training.  I will write about the adventure when we get back!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Walking with Sam

My friend, Gwen, is out of town.  She's on her way to Texas, where she will go on a two day, 153 mile bicycle ride, to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  While she's gone, I'm taking care of her house and pets.  One of her dogs is a golden retriever, named Samantha, "Sam" for short, but I usually call her "Sammy Roo".  Don't ask me why, because I don't know.  I just always have.  She doesn't mind, and even seems to like it, as evidenced by the wagging tail when I call her that.

Miss Samantha, ready to go on a nice, long walk.

Sam is the sweetest girl ever, and I love to take her for walks.  Today, we left her house, walked to the town cemetery, walked all around there, then back to her house.  The walk was wonderful, the weather exactly right for a long walk, but the neatest thing was the distance; exactly two miles!  I know this because I was wearing a GPS watch that keeps track of my walking distance.  I've ever managed an exact mileage before, so that was fun.  Another fun factoid, for me anyway, is that part way through today's walk, the watch started beeping at me.  I thought I'd done something wrong, but, no.  It was beeping to let me know that it had reached a total distance of 100 miles!  Now before you get all excited and feel too proud of me, most of those miles belong to my husband.  He's a runner, and the watch is really his, but he sweetly lets me borrow it.  Sammy Roo was absolutely jubilant about being part of the 100 miles reached!  Ok, maybe she was jubilant because I sounded happy as I told her about it, and she got some extra scratches behind the ears out of the deal...

Perfect day, a perfect walk, with a perfect companion dog.  Doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

White Summer?

I'm dreaming of a white summer.  Just like the ones I used to know.....waaaaaaaait! What??? 

Yep, 'fraid so.  This is most definitely going to be a white summer.  We've had such a dry and warm spring, that the cottonwood trees have been, er, fruitful with their pollinating.  We are going to have a bumper crop of cotton this year.  I'm kind of worried it's going to be the worst cotton season we've had since we moved here, ten years ago.

Young cotton pods in our tree. They will grow and swell, and then burst open, unleashing their cottony terror upon the innocent citizens of the neighborhood. This particular tree is not alone. It has many pod-bearing friends nearby.

We've had heavy cotton seasons in the past.  Some were so bad that you'd swear we were having a major blizzard in July, and it was a blizzard, but not the cold, snowy kind.  Drifts of cotton will pile up in large drifts against buildings, fences, and on lawn furniture.  The cottonwood cotton is not just soft puffs floating through the air, oh no.  The strands that make up the little puffs are very sticky.  They glue themselves to everything, clogging window screens,  and air conditioners, and it will get in your eyes, nose, and mouth if you venture outdoors.  It sticks to shoes, and your pet's fur, and gets tracked inside.  My flowers and vegetable plants, tops to the ground, will be completely covered and choked with cotton.  The stuff is so sticky that even trying to hose it off doesn't work.  And the seeds inside this sticky, yet fluffy stuff, are very eager to grow new trees.  Every inch of the garden, and every pot and barrel, even puddles, will be sprouting new baby trees within hours.  In heavy cotton years, I've pulled the sprouts, by the handful, while making up my own little jokes about the deforestation that I'm performing.

Cotton covering the lawn and piling up under my neighbor's swing, summer 2007
Cotton blizzard as seen from up on our deck, summer 2007

Time will tell if my fears of the worst cotton season ever will come true.  Until then, I get the joy of watching the pods in the trees mature, and cringe at what it will mean for us in about a month.  So, I guess I'll try to look on the bright side, and keep singing, "I'm dreaming of a white summer...".