Sunday, November 05, 2017


No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -
November!"     By Thomas Hood

I believe this little verse rings true to every person who ever suffered SAD. --- seasonal affective disorder, which begins for me every year in late October or early November.  I have a feeling lots of people have it who don't even realize it; until I learned about it years ago, I thought the Christmas season was the cause of my depression.  After all, December is never a great month for lower-income folks, what with gift-buying and taxes coming due, not to mention the cost of heating a house... especially with propane.  This time of year I tend to be slower to change from pajamas to daytime clothes in the morning, and you may catch me looking even more dowdy than usual (oh yes, that is possible), hair uncombed... not that I deliberately fail to comb my hair, I just don't care enough to remember to do it, plus the fact I've never been one to look at myself in the mirror.  I go days without seeing anybody but Cliff and the kid we babysit (and her parents, briefly), and I become a cave-dweller.  I play the part well.  

There are special lights, "Happy Lights", that are supposed to help with winter depression, and some of those have gotten cheaper over the years; so I may eventually get THIS ONE.  In the past, when Cliff and I walked in the pasture for about 45 minutes every day, even in winter, there was a noticeable improvement in my depression.  I could also tell a difference when I was holding down my last job at Kohl's Distribution Center, so I think just keeping busy plus being forced to interact with people was a big help, in spite of the fact I'd just as soon NOT interact with people.  Our little "borrowed girl" has been good for both of us in winter months.  This year my crazy puppy is making me laugh a lot, so he's good medicine.

This isn't something I dwell on, so I promise you won't see me harping on it all winter.  It always takes me by surprise when it hits, and then I deal with it.

The dog, Gabe, is doing marvelously well with training.  The only times he has an accident in the house are the times I don't notice him standing at the door, wanting out.  I am putting the leash on him again when I take him out because, although I've used treats (tiny pieces of hot dogs) to get him to come when I call, sometimes the temptation of chasing a cat overcomes his love of hot dogs.  That wouldn't be so bad in and of itself, but the cats will go running out to muddy or manure-heavy areas and he follows.  Gabe's little white feet get washed at the sink three or four times daily, because they pick up dirt like crazy!  We won't even talk about how they look when he's found a mole-hill to dig into.    

Cliff and I are wondering how we'll get through this coming holiday season without gaining back all the weight we've lost, but I figure since we've maintained this long while using a bread machine and my new Instant Pot, we shouldn't do too bad.  

Here's my final word on the Instant Pot:  It makes great, easy-to-peel boiled eggs, but it's less trouble for me to use the method where you put them in a pan, bring them just to a boil, cover the pan, and wait twenty minutes.  It's nice for cooking beans, but since Cliff fixed the loose handles on my old cheapo, use-on-the-stove pressure cooker, that's what I prefer.  Why?  Because the beans cook at least four times faster.  Why again?  Because that pressure cooker has a higher pressure (10 pounds).  The Instant Pot uses much less and thus, takes longer.  I'm still using it a lot, experimenting with various methods and recipes.  I understand all the hype:  the younger generation is scared to death of a regular pressure cooker and most of them haven't been willing to try it.  I learned how to use one from my mother after I was married:  I would buy a roast, but it wouldn't be fall-apart tender like I wanted.  Mother suggested a pressure cooker and told me how to use it.  It's no big deal, but you do have to follow directions closely (how full it should be, the amount of water to use, etc.) and you need to stay in the house and listen to the jiggling to keep the heat "just right" under it.  After perfecting my pressure-cooker technique cooking roasts and beans, I went on to buy a pressure canner I also used for many years.  So I have plenty of experience.

I have a pound of black beans in my old pressure cooker as I type this (because I'm going to fix taco soup later).  Once the pressure cooker comes up to pressure, the black beans will cook for two minutes.  Then I'll turn off the burner and wait for the pressure to go down completely.  I'll use two cups of beans in the soup and freeze the rest in 1 1/2 to 2-cup amounts for future use, rather than buy salty canned beans.  

If you aren't scared to use a regular stove-top pressure cooker, you won't gain much spending money on an instant pot, but there are a few nifty things it does that I wouldn't try with a regular pressure cooker (cheesecake, cooking two things at once in little pans inside it, etc).  I think the reason for all the hype is that people who were scared to pressure-cook before feel safer with the instant pot, and indeed, it IS safer.  Once you have learned how to use it, you set a timer and are then able to relax.  It will regulate itself and then turn itself down to the "warm" setting when the time is up.  

I've seen several people online saying there's no need to soak beans when you pressure-cook them, but I beg to differ.  Whether you soak the beans overnight, or use the quick-soak method of heating to boiling and then letting them set for an hour and then drain that water off them, you do away with a lot of the most notorious "side-effects" of beans, and they are no longer "the musical fruit" the famous little rhyme mentions.  I will attest to the effectiveness of this method.

We still love our bread machine.  I usually try to make bread early in the morning so when Cliff gets up we can have a warm slice of home-made bread with butter for breakfast.  I slice the rest of the loaf when it's cooled, save a couple slices for use the next day, and freeze the rest, taking one or two slices out of the freezer as we need them.  It's not the only bread in the house, though.  There are some things store bread is better for, like wrapping around a hot dog, for instance.  Here's the only recipe I use, although I substitute melted lard for oil.

Recipe By:Kathy Nowell from

"Honey whole wheat bread for a bread machine."


  • 1 1/8 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast


  1. Add ingredients according to the manufacturer's directions to your bread machine. Use the wheat bread cycle and light color setting.

I've also made some wonderful pita bread using the bread machine to do the mixing, then taking it out to form it and let it rise.  That recipe is also on Allrecipes.


  1. I've never noticed a big change in me as to winter. I do get a little lazier, sleepy and sometimes sad if rainy, cloudy weather sets in for a long spell.

    What celebrating Christmas has become is a great strain on anyone with a lower income. I wonder as Christ looks down on all the waste and extravagance of the season what He thinks.

  2. I suffer too from lack of daylight and sunshine and get SAD every year and every year seems to be worse. Glad you have something and someone there to help you get through it .

  3. my daughter has SAD too. we bought her a light and it seems to help. glad gabe is bringing a smile to your face.

  4. If I get sad it's because I cannot buy all the Christmas gifts I would like to buy for my family. Living on a very limited income is not fun. And right after Christmas, I have the insurance on my car and apartment. I still send out nice Christmas cards to those I cannot buy for. I enclose a personalized letter in each. I buy for the local little greats and Sage, Leslie and John, Jeromy and Marlene and Bob. Bob does a lot of things to help looking in on Missy when I am gone and taking care of her litter box and feeding her and keeping her water dish full.

  5. Not familiar with the "instant pot." I have very good thermos, and after bringing beans and water on the stove to boiling can pour them in and they will be cooked in the morning. Really helps. Little Gabe is showing his instincts. They were originally bred to be hunting dogs, and our Schnauzer was obsessed with hunting things. You may always need a leash with him.


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