We talked to my brother-in-law in North Dakota one day this week.

We talked to my brother-in-law in North Dakota one day this week.

He said the weather was nice at that moment, but they were expecting a good dose of winter. They were expecting 8 or 9 inches of snow and a high temperature the next day of 15. He had cut wood the past week so he was ready to fire up the wood stove and bare the brunt of the bad weather. I'm sure his tractor was all tuned up in case he had to shovel the quarter mile lane from his house to the road.

I loved hearing about his weather and I actually enjoy a short visit up north in winter, but I'm long past the romance of it. And it can be romantic. The snow can be beautiful, especially when you awake in the morning and the world is white. I also enjoy snuggling up to a fire. We have a little gas heater in our house and beside it is my favorite spot in winter.
But, if you have to go to school or work and have to get up an hour early to shovel the lane or even the driveway, the romance quickly disappears.

When we have a cold spell, I enjoying making something that takes a long time to cook. One of my favorites is a big pot of pinto beans. When I was a child, I knew them as red beans and didn't know they are officially named pinto beans. I loved pintos with corn bread and spinach or with salmon patties. My mother always soaked them overnight and the next morning put them on to cook. If it was winter, she kept them on the heating stove all day. I believe she added either a ham bone or some salt pork and a big onion.

I have a ham bone left from Thanksgiving. We put it in the freezer to await "bean weather." I try to cook beans as my mother did, but I don't have a heating stove so they go in an electric cooker or crockpot. I would put them on the kitchen range, but that means I have to turn the burner off if I need to leave the house. I'm sure you've had the pleasure of smelling burned beans. It's not very pleasant so the crockpot pretty much prevents burned beans.

I hope you had a chance to see the video of an opera singer performing on a street in Poland. He was joined, unexpectedly, by a child in a stroller who did its own version of the opera to the delight and amazement of the singer and the crowd that gathered around. It's worth your time to check it out.

Russell and I got through the week with both birthdays and our wedding anniversary. It's number 49 for us this year. Seems like only yesterday that we met in Oklahoma City. Time flies when you are having fun.

Kay Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.