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"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful."
- Unknown

"That which does not kill you, makes you stronger."
- Handed down through the ages.

"Life's tough. It's even tougher when you're stupid."
- John Wayne

9 January 2007

Good morning from the Canadian border where the sun hasn't even thought of rising yet, and the temperature is still dropping. Mother Nature has finally decided to throw us some realistic temperatures, although I'm sure it won't last long. But, as I write, it's a balmy 0.3 degrees with a steady wind. I've had all the windows in the chicken house wide open for several weeks due to the mild temps - I'll bet they're fluffed up and huddled together this morning to stay warm!

Tom's birthday was Saturday, and he got to celebrate over a 3-day stretch. On Friday night, him driving straight from work, we met at my folks' in town for a truly scrumptious meatloaf dinner with all the fixins (his birthday meal request). I provided the requisite chocolate cake with white frosting. I think I finally hit on a good frosting, but I'm still searching for the chocolate cake recipe that will be "just right". Although, considering the birthday cake of his childhood came out of a cardboard box on the grocery store shelf, perhaps THAT is the perfect chocolate cake recipe for him, you know? I might just have to go that route next year . . . .

Anyway, the birthday boy was gifted with all sorts of "outdoor stuff" from both my folks and me and the four-legged "kids". I guess we know him pretty well! :) From my folks he got lots of reference materials for nearly every single outdoor situation one could expect or anticipate . . . from how to properly sharpen a knife to navigating by the stars. From me, he got a motion-activated digital camera for wildlife trails. We can't wait to see what kind of shots that will (hopefully) produce!

After a quick night's sleep for Tom at our cabin just east of town, he and my dad headed down to Duluth on Saturday, Tom's actual birthday. They had a good day, and Tom picked up some feed for me (for the chickens) and loaded up on insulation for the 2x4 interior walls in the house. After a stop at Mom and Dad's on the way home for a shower and a re-adjustment of the load (including the addition of a cabinet from Dad for the workshop), Tom headed out. He was due home around 7:00 PM.

Now, to continue with the story, you need some background information. Due to the horrible lack of snow, our yard, driveway, and the 4-mile length of road leading out to the main road that we maintain has been steadily transformed into an ice skating rink. Truly. That's no exaggeration. There is, at least, 1" of ice on every single level surface. So, driving (not to mention walking) is treacherous, to say the least. Driving on any downhill or uphill must be approached with the utmost of planning and care . . . and your speed well thought out. I.e., on even the slightest of downhills, you must - quite literally - inch your way down. On uphills, you cannot stop for love nor money. So, fast forward to Saturday night again.

Having expected Tom home about 1/2 hour ago (but not too worried since I knew he'd be driving slowly), the dogs began howling outside. Howling! Obviously, something was "afoot". I stood out on the front porch and listened for a long time . . . but nothing. So, I went back to my work. Shortly thereafter, I was startled by Tom walking in the back door! "Oh! I didn't hear you drive up," I said. His reply? (You guessed it.) "I didn't. I walked." Aaaaah.

What an end to his birthday! But, it couldn't have hardly happened in a better spot.

There's a fairly steep little hill right before our driveway. Halfway up the hill and slipping, Tom stopped to put the truck into 4-wheel drive. That was his downfall: he never should have stopped. Losing the forward momentum, the loaded truck just immediately started sliding backwards. So, in the dark with a very full load, Tom just wisely let it slide right into the (fortunately not deep) ditch.

We went down and unloaded all the little stuff that night and placed an orange highway cone at the top of the hill so that any potential snowmobilers wouldn't fly over the blind hill and crash, head-on, into the truck in the night.

Then, on Sunday morning, we attacked the problem at hand. (See pictures.) As I've said before, life here is never boring! ;)

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