Saturday, December 31, 2011

Yee Haw!!!!

It’s been one heck of a ride. Looking back through my posts of 2011 actually made me tired. It has been one crazy kind of year. I’ve accomplished a lot and learned many things. I supose that’s all a person can really ask for.

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

Why, Oh Why Didn’t I Get That Flu Shot?

I’m down with the plague. I’ve had to resort to stuffing tissues up my nose in order to post this without drowning my keyboard. I can barely put two words together, so this is going to be random, I’m sure.

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

Mystery Revealed: The Case of the Missing Clothespins

Three years ago, about this time of year, I tucked my clothespin bag away for safekeeping until the next spring. I can remember it like it was yesterday; my mind being a steel trap and all. So when the next spring rolled around, and I couldn’t find the darn bag, I was a bit miffed. I knew exactly where I had put it, but it was no longer there. I searched the entire room, they had to be there somewhere. Nothing.

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

God Jul (Merry Christmas)

My Dad’s family has gathered on Christmas Eve longer than I’ve been alive.  My grandfather immigrated alone from Sweden as a young man. He married my grandmother and had seven children. I’ve lost track of how many descendants there are now.  A few years ago, my aunt started decorating one of her trees with old photos of all the cousins when we were little kids. The toys under the tree are all ones we remember playing with. They’ve certainly been around longer than I’ve been alive. 


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

Barn Carolers

We’ve all been busy around here, rehearsing for the big event.

“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

Their Mugs on a Mug

Through blogging, I have met some of the kindest, most talented people I have ever known. Tonya, at Flat Creek Wool & Pottery, is one of the best. I’ve followed her for some time now, watching her little one grow up, while wondering how on earth she manages to accomplish what she does with a toddler in tow. Her pottery is beautiful, I have purchased a few of her yarn bowls as gifts and even one of her famous Ewenice mugs for myself. So, when she said she was taking orders for custom mugs I jumped at the chance.

I sent off a couple of my favorite photos and she worked her magic. First, Louise.


then Peter.


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

NOOOOO!! It just can’t be!


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

The Spirit of Giving: Why I Won't Give To Some Christmas Charities

You've probably already seen this photo. It has been all over the internet. It sums up how I feel about this holiday season in just two words.


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

Before I Kick the Bucket

A high school friend, I've recently reconnected with, has started an adventure club based on the book 500 Things to Do Before You Kick the Bucket. Each month, she schedules something from the list for the club members to participate in. The activities vary from easy to borderline crazy. For instance, I was grateful this month she wasn't able to locate a mechanical bull for us to ride and scheduled a visit to a train show instead. Whew!

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

The Story of the Three Wise Men

So, this one time, these three camelids were hanging out on the street corner, when they noticed someone shoot a road flair in the sky. They knew that should mean something to them, but they were up late smoking frankincense the night before and couldn't remember exactly.


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

Dear Cat

You will note, there is an assembled Christmas tree in the front hall. I wanted to thank you, personally, for leaving it alone for two whole days while there were no decorations on it. You have set such a fine example of willpower, restraint, and refinement in your behavior I cannot help but feel as if I might be able to trust you. In fact, I even pulled out the box of "good" ornaments for use this year.

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

Sweet Cheeks


The new camera has arrived. Now all I need to do is figure out how to use the darn thing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tick Tock, Tick Tock… Why is That Clock So Loud?

I am in mourning. I'm not sure how long it will last. When you lose someone so near and dear to your heart, it can take quite some time to get over it. My camera and I had been together for years. Like glue. My best friend. Now she's dead and I'm not quite sure what to do without her.

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

Everybody Stay Calm

My camera is broken. Do. Not. Panic. Let’s think this through.

OMG.  My camera is broken!

Kaput. Card will no longer read kaput. I used to be able to jiggle it.  Now nothing.


Somebody hand me a paper bag, I’m starting to hyperventilate.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

But It Looks Better on Me

I knit a cowl/scarf to give as a Christmas gift.


The colors look better on me. I’m keeping it.

Oh, PLEASE! Like you’ve never done that yourself!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Five Things Friday

1. The Evil One, aka Turd, peed in my laundry basket, knocked over an entire can of Diet Pepsi, and destroyed the wicker laundry hamper. Yet, he still lives. I can actually hear the brownie points racking up for me in Heaven.

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

Do I Want an E-Reader?

Since giving up my high-tech career, I have fought tooth and nail to get away from the technology world. Sure, I use e-mail and, obviously, I use a digital camera and blog, but I tried to set that as my limit. I finally got around to adding a smart phone recently, telecommunications being the bane of my existence for so long I resisted.  Over the past several years, I’ve watched as several family members purchased e-readers and thought I’d never want one. I like books. Real books. I like the smell of books, the feel of books. Why would I ever want an e-reader?

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.