Saturday, December 31, 2011
My hope for the new year? Just a tad bit of serenity. I don’t see it on the calendar so I’m going to start penciling it in. Next week, for instance, do not call, write, or stop by. I will not answer. I have a week-long date with the loom room. If you bother me, you’d best be bleeding profusely.
After that, all heck breaks loose again. I’ll be back to school part-time. I’ve committed to blogging for GRIT magazine at least once a week. My son is graduating. My daughter is getting married. And that, of course, doesn’t’ even begin to include life here on the farm.
Buckle up and hang on, this ride doesn’t stop.
Happy New Year, everyone.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
May I present, the quilt I made for my brother for Christmas. I carefully chose each fabric to match the paint colors in his condo. Now he’s moving. It’s a good thing I like that guy or else I’d think he’s been trying to annoy me lately.
Another, smaller quilt I made during that retreat back in November. My friend, Michelle, did a fabulous job quilting it with her new long arm quilting machine. She has talent I’ll never have and I’m okay with that. I’ll just mail all my tops to her from now on.
While I’ve been sick, I’ve been sitting on the couch knitting. I’d have two hats to show you, except I got half-way with two before ripping them out. Together that qualifies as one, and then there is this one, which I made with my very-first homespun yarn.
I’m not even sure I can knit today. We’ll have to wait and see if my head explodes.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
These aren’t just any clothespins. These are the old-style clothes pins. Ones that actually work. Ones that you just can’t go out and replace now days. Some were my grandmothers. I wanted these clothespins, not to mention the handy little bag.
I expanded my search. First, just focusing on the first floor of the house. I mean, why on earth would I have taken them upstairs, right? Nothing. I finally gave up and put the clothes in the dryer.
For three years now, every spring and a couple other times throughout the year, I’ve left no stone unturned in my house in an effort to locate the missing pins. I inspected every surface and every hole, no matter how small. If I couldn’t see into the space, I poked a stick in it to feel around. From the attic to the basement I looked EVERYWHERE. At this point it was a challenge. A quest to find the holy grail.
This summer, I had resigned myself to the fact that someone had broken into my house and stolen my clothespins. I mean, they are irreplaceable after all. I’m sure I’m not the only one who understands the value of a proper working clothespin. They probably stole them and sold them on Ebay. What other explanation could there be? I can remember EXACTLY where I put them, they were on a hanger in the mudroom.
My in-laws are visiting this week. It is snowing today. When my father-in-law put on an extra pair of work overalls to go out in, he found this inside. Exactly where I had left them three years ago.
I’m glad to have them back, but if I ever figure out who hid them from me in the first place, they’re a dead man. Gah!
Saturday, December 24, 2011
A shot of apricot brandy has always been part of the evening’s entertainment. It is passed around by the patriarch of the family. He hands you the shot, and you salute him with a hearty “Skol” (cheers) . Not sure how or why it was ever started or if it is even a tradition in Sweden, I just know it goes down smoothly, warms you up and it wouldn’t be Christmas without it.
Things change. Children grow. People pass on. I hope to carry these traditions on though, so my children can say they remember them for as long as they’ve been alive. I think it is important.
Does your family have Christmas traditions you still practice?
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
“The first Noel…”
“the angel did say…”
“Was to certain poor shepherds in fields that they lay…”
Louise? Louise, you’re up. It’s your turn.
“Do I look like I want to sing? Louise, doesn’t sing no stinkin’ Christmas songs.”
Some of us are in a more festive mood than others this year. Hope everyone at your house is in a caroling mood.
Come on everybody once more from the top.
“The first Noel…”
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I sent off a couple of my favorite photos and she worked her magic. First, Louise.
How cool is that? I now have their mugs on a mug and can enjoy their company anytime I want. Next best thing to bringing them in the house.
Tonya even sent along Peter as Christmas ornament.
And included one of her super-cute note cards.
The woman is crazy talented. Check out her etsy store. You’ll find good things there.
Monday, December 19, 2011
It’s the G word. I mean. I love the little kid that will soon be part of my daughter’s family, but Grandma? Grandma”! Are you kidding me? It doesn’t really hit you until you see it on a package.
We celebrated Christmas at my mother’s house yesterday. I walked away from it knowing two things.
1. I’m officially old.
2. My daughter and her fiancé are made for each other.
Here they are, sporting the gifts they exchanged. Clearly, it was meant to be.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
I've never been a fan of all the hype and grotesque consumerism that goes on this time of year. Well, never is not the right word, I'm sure I was all about it when I was a little kid.
There are two Christmas seasons in my past, that stand out more than any others, that have greatly influenced my distaste for the excess. First, was the year my parent’s divorced. I was in the fourth grade and struggling to learn my times tables. My Dad had taken an apartment in town, above a flower shop. You had to climb a rickety stairway on the outside of the building to reach it. The stairs were only treads, with no back to them. I always thought I was going to slip through them and fall to my death. Luckily, I never did, and looking back now I realize the worse that could have happened would have been a sprained ankle.
The apartment was very small, but had an open kitchen/dining area and living room that made it comfortable. It was sparsely furnished with cast-off furniture that friends and relatives had given Dad. I can remember he had old wooden barrels that he turned upside down to use as end tables. There was plenty of room left to put up a Christmas tree, just no money to buy one. I didn't know that at the time. If you would have asked me then, I would have told you my Dad was rich.
My Dad often piled us kids up into an old Chevy passenger van and went out driving through the countryside on safari, making up stories as we drove. This Christmas was no different, except this time we were hunting the perfect Christmas tree. Anybody could go to the store and get an artificial one, or go to the tree farm, but not us. We were going to go out into the woods and find our own. Just like the pioneers! We drove and drove--probably in circles--faces plastered to the windows, hoping to spot "the one". Finally, we stopped, Dad pulled a saw out of the back and we started tromping through the woods. We found the straightest, tallest tree in the bunch, cut it down and dragged it back to the van. Boy, were we ever proud of ourselves.
When it came to decorations for the tree, Dad had none. Not a single one. One of my aunts gave us a tree stand, a strand of lights and some funky turquoise ornaments; I'm sure she was thrilled to get rid of them. She owned a gift shop in town and we picked out a beautiful angel tree topper. I don’t remember if we paid for it or if she gave it to us. Then we popped popcorn and strung it for what seemed like hours. When we were finished, we had the gaudiest looking Charlie Brown tree you'd ever seen.
But you know what? I still think it was the best one we ever had. It wasn't the quality or quantity of the decorations that was important. It wasn’t the number of presents under the tree. It was the process. The can-do attitude. The memories made.
The other Christmas that stands out in my mind, was the year my daughter was born. I was only 19 years old and dirt poor. I mean there were weeks I couldn't scrape together enough money to buy a box of macaroni and cheese ,let alone a loaf of bread, poor. I mean, if it weren't for the Women Infants and Children’s government program I don't know how I could have fed my baby, poor. Had to make the choice of buying gas to get to work over eating, poor. These were not good times.
Somehow, I don't know if it was because of the WIC program or what, but somehow our name ended up on one of those adopt-a-kid for Christmas lists. I had no idea. So when someone showed up the day before Christmas with a huge box of gifts for my 6 month-old, I darn near died. You'd think I would have been grateful or overwhelmed by the generosity, and I guess in a way I was. But more so, I was humiliated. Absolutely humiliated. I swore right then and there my name would never find itself on a list like that again.
It wasn't that I was ungrateful, please don't think that. We just didn't NEED it. Sure, the diapers they included were helpfu,l but the toys? She was six months old for crying out loud. What I needed was a better job. I needed an education. Or some other method of improving my situation. We didn't need toys.
There are plenty of folks out there who donate to these Toys-for-Tots type programs, and I would never want to come right out and discourage this. If you are feeling generous, and this makes you feel good then by all means continue. However, I choose not to participate. I have done it in the past. I guess I felt obligated to give back or whatever. Now though, I don't feel that encouraging consumerism is the right way to give. Having been there/done that, I'd much prefer to donate to a cause that provides the children with books, for instance, or the adults with a scholarship or teach them to grow their own food. Something, anything that will help them become self-sufficient and gets their name off that list. Things happen. People fall on hard times. When they do, they need a helping hand, not a box of toys. There are a lot of people out there right now that don’t want to be on that list any more than I did. Give. Just give wisely.
Friday, December 16, 2011
When I first read the book, I was surprised how many of the things I could already mark off my list.
2. Learn to waterski.
4. Go tubing down a lazy river.
5. Go kayaking.
6. Paddle a canoe.
8. Take a helicopter ride.
9. Take a hot air balloon ride.
18. Jump off the high dive.
22. Ride a motorcycle.
23. Ride one on the worlds fastest roller coasters.
28. Ride in a limousine.
36. Try caviar.
38. Make bread from scratch.
43. Order only dessert.
45. Plant a garden and grow your own produce.
51. Create a family tree.
61. Tell your life story to a stranger. (I believe this blog qualifies, yes?)
63. Buy your favorite childhood story.
64. Watch reruns of a television show you loved as a kid.
65. Climb a tree.
66. Ride on a tire or tree swing.
68. Twirl a hula hoop.
70. Attend your class reunion.
88. See the circus.
91. Attend a laser light show at a planetarium.
99. Sing at a karaoke bar.
103. Start a collection.
105. Make a snow angel. (I confess I do this a lot.)
113. Look at the moon through a telescope.
124. Write a letter to your political representative.
125. Volunteer on a political campaign.
127. Shake hands with a U.S. president. (Bush, Sr.)
132. Buy a membership to your local museum.
134. Witness a solar eclipse.
142. Skip in public. (Doesn't everybody?)
143. Have a pillow fight.
161. Learn to can fruit.
163. Take a first aid class.
164. Learn CPR.
170. Attend a Renaissance festival.
183. Visit Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
197. Visit the Lincoln Memorial.
200. Visit the Capitol Building and watch Congress in session.
270. Read a classic novel.
272. Write a children's book, even if it's just for your own children or grandchildren.
274. Learn how to play "Chopsticks" on the piano.
280. Visit the Grand Old Opry.
284. Attend an opera.
287. Attend a performance of Cirque du Soleil.
359. Take a cruise.
366. Snorkel in the Caribbean.
410. Attend the Indianapolis 500 (well, of course).
413. Learn to drive a stick shift.
431. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride.
433. Ride an elephant.
451. Adopt a pet from a shelter (ahem, got that one covered.)
454. Tour an aircraft carrier.
455. Visit a historic battlefield near your home.
459. Visit the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.
463. Visit the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
464. Visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.
473. Make an anonymous donation.
483. Gather friends and sing at a retirement center.
495. Break a bad habit.
499. Be kind to a stranger.
I was also surprised at how many things will NEVER happen, such as skydiving and bungee jumping. I guess that rules out “facing my greatest fear” of falling as well, whittling my list down to a mere 497 things to do. So what do you think? Have you marked all these off your list? No? Well, then are you up for a challenge? Let me know and maybe we’ll try a virtual club.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
But, this camelid dude named Harold knew. It was a challenge to take over his street corner. He was tired of being in charge anyway, so he sent the three home boys out to initiate the new leader...
(ring ring, ring ring)
I’m sorry, I need to interrupt this story, I'm getting a phone call.
“Hi Mom. Huh? What? What do you mean they RODE camels? Ohhh…”
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
However, now that it is decorated, I spotted you eyeing it this morning. Please know that each ornament was carefully chosen and placed in an eye pleasing arrangement. It pleases ME. I don’t care where YOU think the ornaments should go. I have also counted them. I know exactly how many are on that tree. I WILL notice if they go missing. The lights, you will notice, are working perfectly. I would prefer they stay that way.
Each package under the tree was wrapped with the utmost care. Do not chew on them. Do not shred the ribbons. Do not use them as launching pads to the upper branches. It is just a small tree and you, um, are not.
Human family members will be arriving on Christmas Eve and staying until New Years Eve. That is only nine days from now. Surely, you can delay any tree climbing activity, such as you have done in the past, until after that time, Yes?
Good, I'm glad we've got that covered. I'm proud of you. Keep up the good work. I fully trust you will make the right decisions.
“Yeah. Whatever, lady.”
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
It seems I'm a visual person. I need the photos in order to write. They are my inspiration. Sure, I could tell you about how Little Joey rubbed noses with me this morning and then tried to eat my coat but, it just isn't the same, because a picture tells 1000 words. Without the photo, you can't see how stinkin' cute he is. Or how much his nuzzling made me swoon. I'd have to use words for that. I'm really more of a picture book kind of gal.
I've placed an order for a new best friend. Not of the quality of the old friend. I cannot afford her greatness (good grief have you priced a DSLR lately?) It seems like it is taking forever for the UPS man to get here with it. That's probably okay. It gives me time to mourn and adjust to the idea. And is certainly a better option than going out and fighting the Christmas shoppers this time of year. Those people are crazy. I'll try not to scare the delivery guy when he gets here by pouncing on him. I can't guarantee anything though.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
OMG. My camera is broken!
Kaput. Card will no longer read kaput. I used to be able to jiggle it. Now nothing.
OMG!!!! MY CAMERA IS BROKEN!!!! WHAT AM I GONNA DO NOW?
Somebody hand me a paper bag, I’m starting to hyperventilate.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
2. The writing suggestions you all have made are excellent. It was exactly the kind of feedback I was looking for. It is difficult for a writer to know if what they have in their little pea brain has translated to the page. Now that I’ve read the comments, it is all blatantly obvious. Thank you. There will be more coming. (Did anyone else, who knows my brother, get a little freaked out by how much he looks like Stephen King?)
3. Did you know that the Kindle can read to you? So you could sit there and perhaps knit or sew and not have to hold the thing or even turn the pages? Where has this device been all my life?! Why didn’t anyone tell me? Imagine how much more I can get done! Oh, Santa…may I please have one?
4. I’m still waiting to hear back from the nice people at “The Farm” commune in Summertown to see if I’m in or not. It seems like it is taking a long time. Maybe I shouldn’t have sent them a link to the blog?
5. Thanks to The Crazy Sheep Lady at Punkin’s Patch, I’ll be spending my weekend in the barn choreographing a holiday extravaganza similar to the one in this video. (Click on the picture for the link.)
Cutest thing EVER.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
I have since come to realize, I consume large amounts of books. I’ve always resold them after I’ve read them, but the post office recently increased its shipping rates, while Amazon didn’t. Now, to resell books there, you actually lose money. Without the outlet of selling them, I’m getting buried in books. As I type this I have three books on the sofa with me, six books and a magazine on the coffee table, what looks to be about 15 or so books in a basket on the floor, and about 50 lbs of magazines in an old apple crate. That doesn’t include what is on the bookshelves, or the sack of books my mother gave me that is sitting in the corner, or the box of quilting books left over from retreat for that matter. This is just what I can reach from the sofa in the living room. I’m starting to see the value of an e-reader.
But which one? I don’t just read novels. I read everything, children’s books, how-to books, non-fiction, fiction, photography, quilting, cook books – No, I don’t like to cook but I do like to eat. That’s not the point. What I’m getting at is, I don’t think the el cheapo e-reader would be the right one for me, but do I really need to go to a full-blown color Kindle-Fire or Nook Tablet?
Thoughts? Opinions? Tell me your experiences.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
One of my ancestors settled in a town called Summertown, Tennessee, after the Civil War. That sounds nice doesn’t it, Summertown? Conjures up images of porch swings and lemonade.
I Googled it.
Population 3,552. It has 4 gas station/convenience stores, 3 resturants, 1 bank, 1 variety store, 1 grocery store, 1 auto parts store, 1 used car lot, 1 golf course and absolutely no traffic lights.
My kind of place! And then I read more…
it also has a
Shearing sheep and spinning yarn wouldn't seem at all weird there! But wait, there’s even more…
Average temperature in the winter is ABOVE FREEZING.
I believe I have met my destiny.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Most of which are not appropriate for a family friendly blog. But most often I just call him Turd.
My brother is moving. Not just down the street, he’s moving all the way to Florida. While he juggles the job change, locates a place to live and packs his belongings I’m keeping Turd and his brother Loki. It is impossible to get anything done with Turd around. He’s not a normal cat. I think he’s brain damaged. It’s really the only explanation I can come up with.
The night of the hay delivery for instance. I was beat. All I wanted was to sit down and relax for a few minutes in my favorite chair. I set my glass of wine down on the second bookshelf nearby, making sure not to put it on the top just in case Turd showed up since he likes to knock things over. Then I sat down in my comfortable chair with my ‘dinner’, a plastic cup of fruit. As I settled in Loverboy Loki arrived to curl up in my lap, that being his only desire on earth, to be adored. As I lifted the plastic cup and spoon into the air to allow him room, Turd rounded the corner of the hallway and immediately noticed a little orange bug in the corner of the ceiling directly behind me. It happened so fast I can hardly describe it, but I’m sure there was terror in my eyes as I realized my mistake. He came flying through (almost literally) like a bat out of Hell across the room, up my legs, the fruit and juice landing squarely on my head and chest, the spoon disappearing to who knows where, while he leapt from the chair to the bookshelf in an attempt to reach the bug. Unfortunately he had underestimated the distance from the chair to the top shelf so instead of landing on top, he grappled with his font legs while his back legs kicked over the wine glass among other things I had safely stowed away. It was red wine. Sticky red wine. And there were books. Lots of books. And bloodshed - all of the commotion caused Loki to freak out and insert his claws into the back of my hand, his signature move. I stood there stunned, fruit juice dripping from my hair, chunks of fruit stuck to my glasses, splatters of wine and blood across my shirt as my son shouted up the stairs, “Are you okay?”
“No,” I replied. “Not exactly.”
A week later I am still cleaning up wine splatter but I finally found the spoon under my sewing table.
There will be no holiday decorations around here this year.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
He wore a can cozy as a hat, puffed up and strutted about like he owned the place. It is every girl’s dream to have a turkey come to her slumber party. An event that will be talked about for years to come. Even decades thanks to the power of Facebook.
Not every kid at Oxford Elementary had a pet turkey that would follow you around like a dog. I had two. Tom’s wife, Maude, was not quite as flashy him but had a more demure personality all her own. I was the envy of the neighborhood after that night Dad brought the turkey in the house. I’m sure of it.
Tom lived a long life, his destiny unfulfilled. I am thankful to have known him. He helped raise me and shape my worldview. As I sit down to the table today, I’ll remember him fondly.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I bought this winter’s supply of hay back in July. Before the drought. Before I knew I was going to have to start feeding it three whole months earlier than I expected. It was starting to look like it would be famine around here come February. I was nervous. Very nervous.
I had another 100 bales of hay dropped off yesterday afternoon. My mind is feeling better. Can’t say as much for my lower back. The kid wasn’t here to help this time.
I’m not complaining though. I’m glad to have it. It’s getting scarce and very expensive. The auction prices are enough to make your eyes bulge. People are already talking about having it trucked in from other states. Having it stacked in the center isle isn’t ideal, but nobody will go hungry and that’s all that matters.
Let the Thanksgiving feast begin!
Monday, November 21, 2011
You might not have picked up on this, but I kinda like animals. I know, I know, I tend to keep it to myself but it is true.
I generally like all animals. I don’t discriminate. Except this one.
I am convinced he is the root of all evil.
My brother’s cat has some serious issues. He bulldozes everything off every surface.
EVERYTHING. And he never stops moving. It’s worse than having a toddler around.
Does Ritalin work on a cat? I’m seriously thinking about calling my vet. Surely there is some sort of kitty chill pill?
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Deep inside the Enchanted Forest is a very special place. A place where magic happens.
Where the trolls who live under the bridge and other woodland creatures come out to play.
It is a place where a few lucky crafters from across the country meet to make special things. Sometimes, if not watched closely, the trolls might curl up and take a nap in the quilt blocks.
Or the bunnies might try to run off with a drink.
If you are one of the lucky crafters to meet in the hollow, you really have to keep your eyes peeled. Or else you could run into a cold, hungry monkey from Texas.
Or a reindeer with a nose that lights up from Minnesota.
The food is fabulous. It is never a dull moment. The projects are incredibly inspiring. My only complaint is that is is always over too soon. *sigh*
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
While I’m off retreating, I thought I would share a little chat I’ve had on the farmhouse porch. You can link up with Everyday Ruralty to join in on the chatting fun! Just click here!
1. Where would you take the blogger group for a chat, if they came to your house?
The porch of course. After we paid a visit to Popcorn and the others. Wouldn’t want them to feel neglected.
2. How do you handle "toxic people"? They're the ones that are very difficult to be around and generally don't bring out the best in us.
Don’t even get me started… I tend to ignore them. Cross the street to keep from running into them. Whatever it takes to avoid them at all costs. I don’t like negative people or thinking. It ruins my natural buzz.
3. In high school, were you the athlete, the cheerleader (actual or just your personality), the geek, the social butterfly, or lost?
“This one time at band camp”… Yep, I was a band geek. Played the flute and oboe. Quit when they forced us to participate in marching band. Have you ever shoved a reed up your nose? Not fun. Not fun at all.
4. What's your favorite thing made from apples?
There is this little Amish farmer’s market down the road a ways that sells apple dumplings in the fall. They are FABULOUS. I’ve asked the old guy there to adopt me. He never responds. Just takes a step backward and looks at me as if I’ve lost my mind. I don’t think he understands my enthusiasm.
5. Do you do most of your shopping in stores or online?
100% ONLINE, I’d rather stick a fork in my eye than go to the mall. Seriously. Like, twice. Once in each eye.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
So I’m reading The Domestic Manufacturer’s Assistant and Family Directory in the Arts of Weaving and Dying. The book was first published in 1817. It is an interesting read for anyone interested in history and or spinning or weaving. It is nice to have this reference for any demonstration I may perform in the future. There was one section though I fear may not be popular with the public. Let me quote…
“In the first place fill the kettle two thirds full of water and one third of urine, that which is old if you can get it. You will then heat this liquor as warm as you can bear your hand in for one or 2 seconds without scalding. Then put 5 or 6 pounds of wool loosely into it and keep it turning round for 6 or 8 minutes, or perhaps longer. You may ascertain when it has been in long enough by often squeezing it with your hand, if the grease starts, and the wool appears loose and clear, it has been a sufficient time.”
Yeah, um, I think I’m going to stick with Dawn dish soap.
It even goes further and says…
“never throw away the liquor, in time of cleansing; unless it should stand for two or three months in the summer without being used.”
Oh, Hell no.
I’m headed for the hills!
Well, they’re not really hills. More like slight elevation changes. Not a lot of hills in this part of the state.
But I’m outta here none the less. Off to refuel my creative juices. Off to commune with like-minded individuals.
Scary when you think about it, huh? There’s more people like me out there. And we’re all getting together in one place. A meeting of the minds!
Or okay, maybe not.
We are going to eat, and sew, and eat, and shop, and eat and laugh, and eat.
I’ll need to diet for three months afterwards, but it will be worth it.
I’m leaving Thelma, queen of the stink-eye, in charge.
Willa will take over on night shift.
I doubt they’ll even miss me.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Little Joey had no issues at all fitting right in. Even with the new guy the boys, not having any girls to show off or generally makes fools of themselves for, get along quite well. For the most part anyway. They are of the males of the species though so some horseplay can be expected.
“Peter wont’ let me in the barn again,” said Frankie.
“Why won’t you let him in the barn,” I asked?
“He won’t say the password,” replied Peter.
“Well then you’d better say the password, Frankie.”
“I don’t want to, it’s stupid.”
“Just humor him, Frankie.”
“Okay, fine! Little pig, little pig, let me in,” said Frankie.
“No, not by the hair of my chiny, chin, chin!”
“See! I told you!”
“Stop being a jerk and let me in.”