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When I was a child, I didn’t mind January. Going out to play in the snow or on the ice was great fun.

Now I’m not so fond winter, especially January. The days may be getting longer, but right now night hours are just too long.

To fight seasonal affective disorder (SAD), we changed the lightbulbs in our kitchen, dining room and living room. We went to bright LED daylight bulbs. At first we tried a couple bulbs because they cost more than our usual bulbs, but we quickly found they are worth the added expense.

Bob and I loved the bright lighting we received in the evening from the first four bulbs, so we bought more. Bob put those additional bulbs in right away, too. This lighting change seems to have helped me cope better with January’s darkness.

Another thing that helps me survive winter is living with Bob. He is the best medicine I have.

Bob has morning chores, even in winter. My husband walks outside every morning to tend to our five chickens; once in a while he even brings back an egg or two.

After checking on the birds, Bob goes to the machine shed, where he feeds our barn cats. There are somewhere between 10 and 14 cats living here these days. A few new ones joined the mob this winter, and after all the food we give them, they are all looking pretty good. I guess that’s why the cat grapevine has brought us a few extras.

Usually after lunch, one of us goes to retrieve our mail. Not today, though. Ice has coated our yard our driveway, and the road. Neither of us wants to fall, so I called to the cats to come to the house to eat. They come to the porch every evening for supper, but only a few came for breakfast. Bob wasn’t happy with the change in his routine, but still, he stayed put, which surprised me.

When Bob does his winter chores, he carries a 5-gallon pail. Inside the pail, he carries containers of food and water to dispense. He also carries the pail even when it is empty, using it as a walking aid. If he does slip and ends up on the ground, he has something to push on so he can stand again. Bob’s pretty smart. I’ve starting carrying a bucket on my few treks outside, too.

A while back, I came home from the grocery store to an odd smell in the kitchen. It was kind of a pleasant smell, and I thought I had gone away leaving a candle burning.

I looked around the kitchen and bathroom for a burning candle, but didn’t find any lit.

The scent still confounded me. Eventually, I mentioned it to Bob as we unpacked our groceries.

“I didn’t see any candles burning,” he said.

“Than what do I smell? It seems to be strongest here in the kitchen.”

Bob gave me a sheepish smile. “Well maybe it’s something I did. Does it smell like furniture polish?”

“Now that you mention it, it does smell like polish.”

“I polished the kitchen table,” he said. “I thought if the cat jumped up there again, it would go sliding across the surface, and then maybe it wouldn’t try that again ... it didn’t work though. The cat didn’t slide ... maybe if I waxed it up real good.”

See what I mean about Bob keeping me — and the cats — entertained. He’s really something.

Jan. 17 was Bob’s 74th birthday, and I baked him a cake. I don’t do cakes often because we tend to eat them — too much of a good thing can be bad for our health.

Icy conditions kept us home, but soon weather will improve, and we’ll go out to celebrate. Maybe we’ll go to an early movie and stop for a bite somewhere.

Today all I can say is, Happy Birthday, Bob!

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com

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