One of those gray, foggy days. The fog lifts to reveal low, gray clouds that settle in for the duration. Dark Sky says it’s 46 degrees, feels like 46 degrees. So, December. But the solstice is behind us and the light is on the way back.

This is a story about an obsession. Larry, who has been diagnosed by his wife as borderline OCD, has set about the learn the art and craft of bread making. While of course I support this challenge, the on-the-ground take away is that we’ve had to eat a lot of learning curve. “Oh dear God,” I have been heard to say, “you’re baking another loaf?”

See, he’s been in thrall to Paul Hollywood — he of the Great British Baking Show — okay I just looked up “thrall” and learned that a thrall was a slave or serf in the Scandinavian lands back when. Did you already know that? Anyway, Larry’s journey eventually took him to the world of sour dough. We took a field trip to watch a demonstration at a flour mill/bakery down the way in Junction City. It was interesting, though neither of us particularly liked the bread the artisan created that night. We bought some of the mill’s bread flour, and the following attempt was fairly dismal.

Then Larry discovered Michael Pollan’s book, “Cooked.” His procedure is somewhat like that of the Junction City fellow and Paul H, and the next iteration by L was comical to watch, but damned if the bread wasn’t good. Really good!

A few more tweaks and here we are:

As usual, the computer won’t allow me to correct the orientation of the photo. I apologize, but this was awesome bread. I have not, by the way, been able to find a person in the area who speaks Word Press, so we just have to live in a sideways world.

Changing the subject, here’s another photo. Sideways? I’m about to find out:

This is Mitch, our new “hand.” He’s an employee of our landscape guy who’s looking for extra work during the landscape slack season. He recently married a woman with three small children, as in 3,4, and 5, and the two of them added one of their own to the tribe. So yeah, he needs the work. He’s amazing. Strong, hard-working, and he actually shows up. Here’s the result of the last two day’s labor:

Right. We needed more firewood, but here’s what the tree looked like on the ground:

It had crashed into and broken one of the internal fences and its farm gate, so it had to be sawn in order for the fence to be repaired.

I note that these photos arrived right-side up, so whatever.

As it happened, we were going to be here alone over the Christmas holiday, as our 3 families had plans that did not include the farm. Jenny and family would be in Palm Springs with the Ederers (their turn), David and Caroline would be in New Zealand, and the Peter Viehls at home in Pasadena. We’re fine by ourselves, but at dinner with friends in Portland, also alone over the day itself, we made a plan to see a movie and then go eat Chinese.

We got tickets to see Little Woman, the only film that we could fit into the schedule. Probably not the best movie ever, especially not when viewed from 4 rows back, the best seats we could find. But we all looked forward to dinner at P.F.Chang’s. Closed. Really? The next two restaurants in the area were either too busy, or out of food already. We finally found a spot in a bar that had just opened, two tables in the kitchen area, nice, super loud music, and, surprise, great sliders, wings, fries. Christmas dinner? We can do better, but it was fun and funny and the Pierces are good friends.

Speaking of Christmas, here’s my present from Larry this year:

It looks like the same stone that provided the wall. The birds should be happy — I know I am.

We leave tomorrow for Black Butte. Snow? We’ll see. See you next year!