We moved to our little farm in 1985 after spending a lot of time rebuilding and adding a bathroom and kitchen. We lived in a home with a woodstove and a fireplace, and decided we would live without either and rely on electric baseboard heat and several kerosine heaters.

Well that lasted for three years before we decided we wanted a fireplace that burned wood. We decided to live with baseboard heat, but over the years, we added two ceramic heaters and a heat pump keeping our electric bill below 200 dollars.

We burn the fireplace whenever we’re home, and it heats part of the house. The glass doors can close at night, and over the years, we’d added better windows and a lot more insulation. But in the far corners away from the log fire you can still feel the chill on cold winter nights.

I like to keep the tree lights lit and sit in a chilled corner with a blanket and book around Christmas. Some of the books are old favorites, and some I’ve found in back corners of book stalls or forgotten shelves at our library’s Book Nook. A few came from the summer house in New Hampshire and some are new that I ordered online.

I used to keep a pile on the corner of the hearth, but there are too many, so now I keep a shelf filled with favorites. Sometime after our first New Year’s snow, I’ll empty the gun cabinets and spend some time cleaning all the shotguns and rifles. After that I’ll bring in a folding table and set up my fly tying vise.

My fingers don’t work quite as good as they used to, so I try to tie simple, easy imitations even though I’d still like to tie some of the Catskill patterns with their upright wings and fancy tails. I can still tie many of the larger patterns I learned to tie years ago, but the tiny patterns on tiny hooks baffle me.

Even there I learned to compensate by tying several imitations on the same hook. A lot of times, insects float in the current together, so it makes some sense.

My collection of books include the Big Red series about Irish setter hunting dogs, The shotgun and shooting series by Michael McIntosh, the old Gene Hill books, books by John Gierach, any books about Alaska and any outdoor books that catch my eye on the used bookshelves.

Merry Christmas!


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