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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

Above Zero!

Today, for the first time since the 1st, we have - finally - cracked the zero degree mark! Eleven of the chickens celebrated the heatwave by sleeping underneath the chicken house last night despite the coziness of the coop now that the heat lamp is keeping things toasty in there. And, really, why not - it only got down to -11 last night! (Dumb birds . . . .)

The three schools in the district were closed on Monday and had a two-hour late start yesterday, but my poor dad . . . even though officials find it too dangerous for children to be out, the teachers are legally required to be in school on "Snow Days". Or, in this case, "Cold Days". Ah, yes, that's administration for you!

An artist friend of ours had a presentation at a local gallery this past Saturday, and we were going to go but ultimately decided against it given the inclement weather . . . especially when we were so cozily ensconced here at home. Well, turns out that we should have gone . . . simply to start up a vehicle! Stupid us, we never thought to run the vehicles during the cold snap.

So, come Monday morning - which Tom took off so that we could celebrate our 7th anniversary - no vehicles would start! We thought my little zippy Forester would be the best option, but it was uncooperative. His Outback, the one plugged in, was next. Nothin'. Then I hauled up to the Trapper Cabin to try the new plow truck. (The old plow truck has a weak battery, so we weren't even going to attempt that, and the pickup is parked at my folks' awaiting a long-ago-promised drop-off at the local junk yard.) The new plow truck w-a-n-t-e-d to start but just couldn't quite manage it.

So then, with a full day planned but no wheels, we hauled out an extra battery and the jumper cables. Try #1 on my car. Nope. Try #2 on Tom's car. Nope. Try #3 on the plow truck. So close, so close, soclose, soclose . . . ! Tom headed back down to the garage to get some starter fluid, and, with that threat hanging, I got 'er goin' just as Tom returned! Yayyy!

So, not driving the gas-efficient vehicle we had planned on, but underway nonetheless, we loaded up our emergency gear and the dogs and headed out!

After a stop at my folks' for our weekly (okay, not quite, but almost) showers and a good scrambled egg brunch that my mom whipped up for us, we were off. For Christmas, I'd asked for a new pair of Steger mukluks, but I knew I wanted to go to the store to try them on to find the perfect fit. So, this was our first opportunity to do so (and, a good excuse to take the time, too, since it was our anniversary). The day having gotten off to a late start, we didn't arrive at our destination (just over 3 hours from home) until just after 3:00 in the afternoon. So, there wasn't much time for "seeing the town". We got my mukluks, stopped into one another store, and then researched where to have dinner.

Now, this remote little town located in the far northwoods of MN is surrounded by lakes and the BWCA and is an outdoor-enthusiast / canoe-paddling / granola-eating ("our kind of people") mecca . . . in the summertime. In the wintertime, it is a snowmobiling / Bud Light drinking / Bubba / redneck mecca. Down deep inside, I knew this but had temporarily forgotten it.

So, instead of the organic greens with a gourmet meal and a bottle or Cooper Mountain organic wine on the side dinner that we easily could have gotten in the summer (from the seasonal restaurants that cater to such eaters) and that I was SO looking forward to having that night, we were given the option (from the two most high-end stores in town) of two restaurants for dinner. One, "where the tourists go" which was right on a lake, and the other "where the locals go" - a steakhouse (and they used that term very loosely) - right in town. We got in the truck and decided to drive around to A) check out both places, B) warm up the truck in the cold temps, and C) warm up the dogs who were in the cold truck.

The lodge on the lake WAS very "touristy", and it's been our experience when we travel that the places frequented by the locals are - generally speaking - the MUCH better and more unique of the two. So, it was back into town to the steakhouse.

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