Cold, with a chance of salad

In the outdoor world someone forgot to pay the utility bill and the heat has been turned off.

frosty fernBut I have been very jealous recently of other frost images, so,
due to the New Weather, here at last is the Cotinus, iced up. [Cotinus?]

Cotinus frost

Energy costs are astronomical. We’re heating with wood and letting the oil tank sit, most of the time.

Burning oil reminds me of one of those mob movies where the guy in the double-breasted jacket lights his cigar with a fifty-dollar bill…

We try to be more like cave dwellers who hauled in ginkgo trees, or whatever they burned–dry fronds from giant ferns maybe, over which to boil water for a coffee press made from a hollowed out stone…


Sometimes I bake something in the kitchen and get a shot of guilt-free heat from the oven, in addition to the resulting bran muffins or cinnamon rolls.

Max and I brought in some of the last of the apple crop yesterday. It was a sunny and cold afternoon, but we wandered across the pasture for fun  (I do so envy Fay and others who have endless lovely walking places in their neighborhoods).

We found some lingering fallen apples beneath the two old trees in the pasture, trees from when the house was still part of a big farm. Because initially the land was what was called (in 1852)  a “donation land claim,” which was 640 acres given to people just for showing up in the Oregon Territory. I doubt the trees are so old as that, but they look plenty ancient for apple trees.
winter apples

Nice big apples though. (“Perhaps I will bake some, to warm the kitchen,” she rationalized, because she was a little hungry.)

In other news, there has been murder in the greenhouse.

cucumber plant corpse

The stems weren’t cut and the mobile crime lab found nothing in the substance testing. There were however traces of gardener neglect evident in the lack of recent fingerprints. There have been no arrests, but the detective on the case suspects a conspiracy between the sun and the broken thermostatic lifter things that are supposed to open windows when the temperature goes up. . (There Kininvie. Terse and to the point. Won’t happen again though…)

Okay, no cucumbers this winter. But the other stuff in the greenhouse looks fine.


I cut leaves from the lettuce for salad– it just keeps going.

pots of spinach

I do the same with the spinach.

Sometimes I will plant the spinach outside in early spring, and it does well, but bolts rather soon, worn out as it is after growing inside all winter.


In the gardens it is almost time to cut evergreen boughs for my holiday decorating enjoyment. I make a few wreaths early, and store them on the cold porch until closer to Christmas. I trim the small parts off the big limbs outside, then bring in these short pieces to use in the wreath making, which happens in the kitchen.

Yes it makes a terrible mess, with needles everywhere, but it smells nice and I have a good time, which of course is the Prime Directive.

apple pieWell I really must go now, I have important things to tend to–
the funky-crust apple pie is out of the oven…

computer bug…and my computer has a bug.


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in greenhouse gardening, my 19th century house, trees and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Cold, with a chance of salad

  1. Holleygarden says:

    Hope the pie warmed you inside and out! Sorry about the murder, but your lettuce and spinach are looking great!

  2. kininvie says:

    The cotinus looks sickly – I find they do well if fed now and again with Blood.….

    I envy your flourishing salad

  3. Alberto says:

    Linnie thanks for this post, it has been a hard day today and this is my first smile.
    Did you try to shut the computer and then reopen it? Hum restart it? It should fix the bug, even though you might have some problems with a sticky keyboard after that…

    That funky-crust apple pie looks yummy… Are you going to post the ‘making of…’?

    Sorry for the pole dancer cucumber.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Alberto
      Sorry you’ve had a hard day. I hope the puppies are behaving and Mina is feeling better. Yes I did restart the computer and the bug was still there. It’s gone now so I guess McAffee works.

      I don’t think I should write my apple pie in a cooking post– I cut so many corners with it: don’t peel apples, fold crust over instead of making proper top crust… just lazy sometimes. As to the pole dancer, I think living on the edge like that is hard, takes a toll on one’s life, wilts one…

  4. Sheila says:

    Good way to start the day – I think I’m envious of everything in your post, even the frost. Well, except the shriveled cucumber. It all looks so cozy – wood stove, perfect apples (who ever heard of perfect windfall apples :)), apple pie, wreath-making. Remarkably wholesome for a murder mystery writer ….

    • linniew says:

      Hi Sheila
      I was surprised at the condition of the apples too. But they fell into deep grass, which pillowed them nicely. There were a few bruised ones– I used them first in the pie– lots of apple left outside the bruised parts. But really I am a VERY wholesome person. It is Kininvie’s bad influence that has me writing a murder mystery, and my writing is not that crime genre style at all so it is a rough fit at times… The woodstove is lovely but you wouldn’t like the temperature in our upstairs bedrooms–two down comforters at night or die… And I am already getting a little tired of hauling wood. So we all have our challenges.

  5. b-a-g says:

    No chestnuts roasting ?

    • linniew says:

      Nope. I think that might happen more on that other coast. I don’t know anyone with chestnuts, roasted or otherwise–I think of it as a color mostly. I have made popcorn over an open fire but it tends to burn and stick on the bottom of the popper-shaker-pan thing.

  6. Grace says:

    I roasted chestnuts once. They sound better than they taste. My son burned popcorn in the microwave the other day. Not a pleasant scent. I like the idea of folding over the pie crust. I might have to try that. Pole dancers really like Florida winters. The salad fixin’s look wonderful though and really seem to like living in the Pacific Northwest. That is until about July. And those apples. See, you knew there was a reason not to mow the orchard, didn’t you? I love your frosty fotos. Glad that bug wasn’t a virus vector. I have seen its cousins around my neck of the woods but so far they’re behaving themselves and adhering to outdoor pursuits. Stay warm!!

    • linniew says:

      Thanks Gracie! You know, I always kind of suspected that, about chestnuts. And you should definitely try the folded crust for casual eating– like a huge dumpling. I hope all is cozy at your house.

  7. Bridget says:

    We gave up oil heating 3 years ago and have not regretted it. Our multi-fuel stove warms the house and hot water too. I love wood collecting and the heat from it is so nice. love the look of your stove…apple pie not bad lookin either!

    • linniew says:

      I do love wood heat. The stove in the photo is on legs, a little semi-modern cookstove really. Sometimes I warm things in its small oven, and sometimes I cook on top of it. It puts out a lot of heat though, better than a fireplace-insert stove we have in another room. Keep cozy Bridget!

  8. Alistair says:

    Hope you are fully heated up by now Linnie. If our friend Kininvie has whetted your appetite for blood, ask him about black pudding, yummie. Well perhaps its already a delicacy in your part of the world. Have a great Christmas..

    • linniew says:

      Why no Alistair, I know nothing of black pudding… I do make a Christmas pudding from an old recipe. But no blood. No figgys either…. Very nice though, flamed with rum and served with brown sugar & butter icing. Happy Christmas to you– I hope you get everything on your wish list…

  9. WE used to have peat or wood in Orkney. The first Christmas the power went off ans we made our dinner on the stove! The cost of oil is prohibitive..

    • linniew says:

      Once I was in the middle of a dinner party at my house when the power went off. We used the little woodstove oven, and the barbecue grill on the porch to finish heating things. We ate by the light of an oil lamp– it was fun. The electricity came back on just as everyone was leaving, and I was actually accused of rigging the entire incident. Can you imagine?

  10. cynthia says:

    We, too, try to heat mostly with wood, thought we have central heat (electric) as a backup. I really wish I had a down comforter – but it seems rather a luxury in Texas. We have no apples fresh off of trees; yours look lovely, as does your pie!

    • linniew says:

      Hi Cynthia
      You totally need a down comforter. A medium weight one. We use one in summer, two in winter. They are wonderful. Around here we call them “foofs” — in our very local dialect.

  11. The pie crust looks gluten-free, is it?

    This is the second time I have stumbled across pictures of insanely gorgeous apples in your blog postings. I have the thought Mr. O, the orchardist, is responsible for them? What is the secret? I have been trying various organic methods to no avail. I get the impression you are not bothering yourselves overmuch with the result being wondrous. Magic?

    • linniew says:

      Wheat flour pie crust, just rustic like everything in my life!

      Yes indeed Mr O is the orchard person around here. (“I want a birch,” she says. “But we only have fifty apple trees,” he says.) He never sprays the trees, and the apples aren’t always perfect but they taste great and many of them are lovely. (I only photograph the lovely ones of course.)

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