We've been absolutely blessed with great November weather this year with temperatures often in the fifties and even in the sixties and seventies. Given that our October was so cold and wet, November has been a pleasant revelation.

One of the nicest things about the great weather has been that we've been able to Garrison outdoors on a routine basis without much hassle. We've been out hiking several times over the past few weeks and have been out in the yard with him often on the weekends. He loves to swing in his swing, practice walking around the yard (with our help, of course), hold on to the chain-link fence and practice standing, and sing out to the world around him.

We've been busy getting the yard and the house ready for winter. The yard has been raked a couple of times now (thanks for your help, Mike), the leaves have been spread on the gardens, the gutters have been cleaned, the summer yard tools have been put away and the snow shovels have been taken out of storage. The lawn mower is empty of gasoline and the snow blower has been checked for service.

While we were out and about this weekend we saw many guys out in their driveways enjoying the sixty degree weather and getting their snowblowers ready for winter. We made sure to get the oil and the gas for ours so that when the first big snow falls, we don't have to shovel out the drive so that we can go get all the requisite fluids for the snowblower to function. It's somewhat depressing to think about the long, dark months of winter that lie ahead of us, but that's the price we pay for living where we do. If we wanted gentle, easy weather year-round, we could always join the hordes in Florida or Southern California.

Our freezers are stocked to their capacity at the moment as we got our yearly 1/4 bison and 1/4 hog in the last two weeks. This is the fourth or fifth year we've gotten a 1/4 bison from a local farmer and it is unlikely that we'll stop next year. We like the taste of bison; we enjoy the healthy eating aspect of consuming bison; we like supporting a local farmer; we think that raising bison is more environmentally sound; and we truly enjoy opting out of the e.coli lottery that is the US food supply. This is the second year that we've gotten a 1/4 of a hog and that's something else we'll likely continue into the future. The ham, bacon, and chops you get from a locally produced and slaughtered pig just taste better than whatever you might get from Oscar Meyer and their vast processing plants. It might have nothing to do with the pig, and everything to do with the processor, but we're not all that interested in what separates one product from the next, we just know that the local pig tastes better.

This run of nice weather gave me the opportunity to brew up another batch of beer before I put away my big beer brewing system for the winter. Saturday I spent a few hours brewing up a batch of golden, fairly hoppy English Special Bitter in the garage. It can join the Mild brown ale in the basement until I have a chance to bottle them. At the moment, my beer brewing is outstripping my beer drinking. I've got almost ninety bottles of beer ready to drink from my last three batches alone, plus the 100 represented by the Mild and the golden Special Bitter, plus leftovers from numerous other batches. There are also somewhere around 80 bottles of mead in the basement that either soon will be or are ready for consumption. Clearly, I'm not going to go thirsty if we get snowed in for a week this winter.

Garrison is battling through his third ear infection in the last two months. Pretty much every time he gets a cold his ears get infected and this most recent cold was no different. Fortunately, the antibiotics are working their magic and he's already feeling much better again. We just can't wait until he grows a bit bigger and he loses the physical traits that make him prone to ear infections.

He's a real hurricane of destruction these days as he tears around the house. He mastered crawling in the last month or so and he can make surprisingly good time when he's properly motivated. In recent days he's taken to practice walking by pushing chairs around while he's standing or by walking and holding on to stationary object. He really enjoys walking around the house and yard while Sarah or I hold him upright. It will likely be at least a month or more until he's actually able to walk and stand on his own without assistance.

On the dental development front, the word is: no teeth. Periodically we think that he's teething, but nothing ever pops out of his gums to prove us right. The doctor confirmed that there are teeth in his gums so we're waiting and assuming that when they're ready, we'll see some teeth.

Garrison is definitely a binge eater. Since he's started eating more solid foods, he's shown a real preference for certain foods, often preferring one food over all others. For a while, he would eat nothing but bread. Then he got hooked on puffed rice. Recently, he'll discard those two and eat only toasted oats (a Cheerios knock-off). The only problem with his addiction to toasted oats is that it takes a long time to eat a serving when you eat them one at a time. You've really got to plan on spending forty-five minutes or more in the dining room with him when he's eating so that he gets enough time to eat all his cereal.

He's starting to string more syllables together. Sarah thinks that he may be trying to say "Dalla" at times when the dog walks into a room where he is. He can't actually say "Dalla" yet, so it comes out more like "ahh la". Could be coincidence; could be deliberate.

He had me laughing pretty hard the other night when he demonstrated, out of the blue, that he understands how to turn pages in a book. As part of his bedtime routine, we read him three our four books. One of those books "Goodnight Moon" is probably a bit long and advanced for a boy his age, but we read it to him anyway. I had just started reading "Goodnight Moon" when he started flipping the pages as quickly as he could. Clearly, he just wanted to be done with the book. Since then, he's demonstrated several times that he knows how to turn the page, he just doesn't know when yet.

Both Sarah and I started curling in the last couple of weeks. At the end of this week she will have already curled five games while I will have curled in only one due to a bye, a bonspiel, and some crazy circumstances well outside of my control.

Our plans for Thanksgiving are fairly modest. I've got to work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday we'll make a ham from our pig and go for a walk in the woods somewhere. Friday is a mandatory furlough day for both of us, so we won't be working or getting paid. I'm sure that we'll find some way of keeping busy.