Tuesday, July 31, 2007

We’re back and getting ready to go, again.

Decorah was great this year. We spent a lot of time (too much, sometimes) comparing this year to the last. Last year it hit record highs – up to 110° at times. This year it was mild-ish and the humidity was not too bad.

We had a storm on Thursday night with about 2” of rain and lots of thunder and lightning. But we were tucked into the camper trailer, nice and dry and cool … as we had had the air on most of the afternoon.

We decided not to take a chance at the hot nights and brought the trailer – and Steve, the museum man who had originally invited us to join the Decorah gang, invited us to park in his driveway and use his electricity for the air conditioner, lights and refrigerator.

Set up was Thursday afternoon in muggy but sort-of tolerable weather. We hugged our ‘almost-family’ (as Jasper calls us), caught up with 9 months of news, and then gathered in a bar for beer and hamburgers.

We had left Peanut in the truck in the shade where she was safe and cool. We headed back to Steve’s house and got there just as the rain dumped on us, so we got very wet running to the trailer. We crawled into bed and listened to thunder and downpours of rain for several hours before it quieted down.

Friday was a little muggy but tolerable (again). It was overcast most of the day so that the heat didn’t climb too high.

There was a Viking "encampment"

Our spot as seen from Tom's space (you can barely see Norm)

A woodcarver with a modern tent - we can NOT convince him to go "period"

Norm with one of his spoons

Tom and Dick, both woodworkers

Dick made this bobin winder from an antique - Tom did the metal work (he's a blacksmith, too)

In the museum, this teacher from Norway was working on a traditional coverlet

It is very time-consuming - maybe someday I can do one (sigh)

Playing a traditional Norwegian Psalmodikon

This one belongs to one of the artists - it is his great-grandmother's

Saturday was much cooler with a nice breeze; even though there was more sunshine, it didn’t have the oomph that it could have had.

There was a class on timber framing in Decorah the week before the Fest.

Tom was one of the students
Because the weather was so much nicer than the last year, the crowds were crowd-ier and the spoons went like hot cakes. Norm is doing lovely box elder spoons with unbelievable red coloring; the spoons can NOT stay on the table – he finishes one and it leaps off the table into someone’s hand! He had started the weekend with 3 spoons, worked on 3 more and ended up with one little sugar spoon left unsold! Other spoons, spatulas, breadboards and leather bags were sold as well; however, no black walnut spoons were sold this time, which is unusual. I think it was probably because of the box elder ones.

I did my normal spinning; I spin flax while in Decorah, as it is a traditional Scandinavian skill. Peanut assisted, as always. She would sleep in her basket or on the “floor” (we have upholstery cloth laid down as a carpet) under my skirt or on my lap. But I am not using my spinning rocker with my new spinning wheel (another story) and there isn’t as much room for a long little doggie to fit on my lap when I’m using a straight chair.

I love this sign - posted on a wall on the "main" street of the museum area

The trip was successful, as I have said, and very enjoyable. I added to my collection of Jasper-ware. I am addicted to Jasper’s pottery and feel very fortunate that he gives me the “almost family” discount so I can afford it. This time I got some Red Wing commemorative articles – a mug for Norm and a miniature crock for me. I also ordered a honey pot for my niece as he didn’t have anything that he and agreed on (I was willing to adjust but he wasn’t); this will be done for collection at Pepin in September.

My neighbors from 3 miles down the road showed up for the weekend.

Jasper tried to sell his wheel and equipment to Art

Dave does dove-tail boxes

Roger does bowls on a spring-pole lathe

Tom was working on more timber framing boards

He found some driftwood and carved it into an awesome dragon

He wanted it to look like it was taken from a ship

One unhappy note for this meeting of the “almost family” – we had many thoughts of Jamie, who passed away in November. For some of us, this was the first meeting since that had happened. We missed the rest of Jamie’s family and wished they were with us. We discussed having some kind of memorial for him in Pepin, which is where the whole “almost family” meets and is where we all became “almost family.”

We got back home on Sunday night – we decided to spend the night Saturday and head home slowly on Sunday because the transmission was giving problems (will get fixed soon, I think).

Then I had to start getting ready for another Victoria’s Garden camp for 4 girls, which started today (Tuesday) and will run until tomorrow evening.

Tomorrow we will be getting our baby broilers, but will also be heading up to the Cities on Thursday … the kids are there for a while and we also have Murphy’s Landing to demonstrate at during the weekend.

However, I wanted to get this posted so you know where I am at for the present. It was a beautiful day today – you have a beautiful day.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

And we're off!!!!

The season is now beginning. These next few months are our busiest.

Today we head to Decorah for the Vesterheim / Norwegian celebration. I will take pictures and post them when I return. We will be back on Sunday.

Next weekend, the first in August, we will be at Historic Murphy's Landing for a Woodworker's weekend.

Then there is the State Fair, twelve days in August and September, until Labor Day. The weekend after is Pepin, Wisconsin. Laura Ingalls Wilder days there.

After that, a break until the first weekend in October, which is in Albert Lea. This ends up to be a five day event as there are several days of school tours.

So, it's nearly time to hook the camper up to the truck and head out. It will be a beautiful weekend. You have a beautiful day and weekend.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

We have a miracle

It was 3 ½ weeks ago when I put 13 eggs in an incubator. This incubator is a loan from a friend and is an old manual one – you lift the cover to control the heat, manually turn the eggs every day and make sure there is humidity in the incubator at all times.

When I first started it, I got the temperature up to the optimum temperature of 100°, put the eggs in and marked them for turning (you put a 1 and a 2 on opposite sides so you know where to turn to, and make sure they are turned once every day). I had carefully chosen the biggest brown and green eggs, some nice eggs from layers that were consistent in their laying, hoping to get some lovely pullets.

Within several hours after putting the eggs in, the temperature spiked to 110° and alternated between 110° and 115° for several hours. I got it down to the 100° I needed, then it dropped to 90°. I had killed the baby chickens!!

But decided to leave them and pray for a miracle. Thursday the miracle came. As I was checking and turning the eggs, I heard a peep! Then saw a microscopic hole in an egg.

Thursday was the day that I had chosen to have my sister and her family over for supper. When grandniece came, I took her out and showed her what was happening. After I cautioned her to not lift the lid any higher than it was (she could see the egg through the crack), I allowed her to go check any time she wanted. She managed to drag everyone out to see the progress and I got reports nearly every 20 minutes.

That night while closing up the hens, Norm came out with me and we watched the chicken pop out of the egg. The next morning he / she was dry and ready to move to a heated area. I made a corner for her (she IS going to be a pullet, I am SURE), gave her food and water and heat.

Grandniece said her name was “Peep” … a very fitting name, don’t you think? We feel sorry for her because she is obviously lonesome all by herself.

This morning I buried the other eggs and am going to try again. After the first several days of spiking and dropping, the temperature maintained an even 100°. I am starting to collect my choice eggs, again. So maybe this next time we will be luckier.

We are also getting new broilers next week so little Peep will not be lonesome for long.

As far as the broilers, this group we just butchered was a total success. They survived severe heat, didn’t die of over-eating and are very tender and great eating. So this experiment was more of a success than last year and we will continue to raise our own each year.

Our Buff Orpington pullets have been moved in with the big gals. They were pretty nervous for a while, but are managing to blend in and are enjoying going outside into the big wide world.

It will be hot today – hope you have beautiful, comfortable day!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It’s getting hot, again!

I know that July is supposed to be hot and muggy, but I really can never get used to it. I hate having air conditioning but I love it, too. I love being able to cool off when the temperatures are so hot and steamy but I hate the idea of closing up the house and shooting cold air all around. My ideal summer would be to have 80° as the tops and slightly breezy – no bugs, of course. My “utopia” would be to have the windows open constantly, day and night with no uncomfortable-ness at all.

We have had many days that way – I wake up to wonderful breezes and go to bed with the windows wide open. But today it is sneaking up to 90° with that humidity that is so well known for Minnesota and it will be so for about a week, now.

Did you know? In the 1840s, 50s, 60s, there was a rush to get people from other countries to come settle in America. There were advertisements, pamphlets and newsletters sent over, especially to the Scandinavian countries and Germany to entice settlers to come to Minnesota. The ads promised mild weather, winter AND summer – no bugs, no diseases. To quote an article about this very fact, “The climate is endowed with extraordinary healing powers for tuberculosis and other pulmonary diseases.”

Can you imagine? Can you picture? The Scandinavian people lived in a climate where they wore wool clothing most of the year. They would wear linen shirts but most of the rest of the clothing was wool, even in their summer, as most of the summer was cool compared to our country. Women, especially, wearing petticoats, heavy shirts, wool skirts trying to survive in 80°, 90° or higher, with high humidity. Mosquitoes, gnats, “no-see-ums”, ticks; there were all kinds of unknown bugs to make the hot weather even worse. In the winter the log cabins that were built were not as snug and cozy as the houses back home. “It wasn’t this way back in the old country! Why didn’t someone tell me how miserable it was going to be?”

When I dress in period costume to demonstrate, especially in the hot weather, like yesterday, I am very conscious of what women went through back then. The women wore all those layers (and I wear as few as are legally possible and am still extremely hot) and working hard, cooking, cleaning, caring for children, gardening (and I only sit and spin) no matter how hot the weather is. THAT is when I am grateful for air conditioning … THAT is when I come home and strip all the layers off and take a nice shower and dress in something modern and COOL and put my feet up in the cool air. And think of my ancestors and feel grateful that they survived this horrendous heat so that we can now live in comfort.
It is a beautiful day today, even though it IS hot. You have a beautiful cool or air-conditioned day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New Friends

I have met more people in the blog neighborhood and would like to share with you.

First of all is the Yarn Harlot - one very busy lady. She has more comments in one day than I have visitors in a week. She is involved in all kinds of knitting projects. My daughter Joy is knitting a mystery stole that Stephanie and Melanie are "pushing."

Then there is Renee .. she has lots and lots and lots about herbs!! More than I know and people "think" I know a lot!

Jan is a doll maker and I have ordered one from her. I love her dolls - they are like what I WANT to be able to make!

The Pickering family has lots of old fashioned recipes, including how to make buttermilk and sour cream from raw milk.

And last but not least, Manerva - with a love for chickens and gardens and things.

Visit my new friends and leave a comment for them.

It's a beautiful muggy day here in Minnesota; you have a beautiful day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I have not wanted to complain about our lack of rain, lately. There are so many people, including my brother-in-law and many friends, suffering from seven, eight, nine years without any rain. We here in Minnesota shouldn’t complain because the moisture has been less than normal.

Admittedly the corn is wilting, the cracks in the lawns are growing bigger, the lawns are turning brown. The dust behind cars on gravel roads billow for over a mile as a car goes by. But this is nothing compared to those who are crying daily for rain.

But last night the good gods gave us RAIN. We got a half an inch last night. The dust storms behind the car were gone; there were puddles on the road and mud, REAL MUD, in spots on the road! Our flowers were perking up as only a rainstorm can make them do, the trees were shining with clean leaves and the air smelled so fresh and clean.

Last night was a “Block Party” for the Arts and Recreation Center that I volunteer for. This was the annual meeting and the sixth anniversary of the beginning.

The rain started just about an hour before we were to be there to set up. Norm and I had gone into town to deliver eggs and pick up some birdseed before we went over to help get picnic tables organized, food and plates, etc. out. I was driving and had to stop on a side street to let Norm take over. I do not LIKE, can NOT drive in downpours like we were having in town. So he dropped me off at the door of the store and waited for me to come back out so he could drive back to the door of the store. A cashier offered assistance to get the birdseed to the car. However, she was offering to have a young lad do the carrying for me and he was thrilled to know I didn’t need help. The lights went off in the store just as I was going out because of the storm!

The Center is fortunate (for many reasons) that it is housed in the old high school. By the time we got there, energy had been put into moving things from storage into the gymnasium. The grill was put into a garage close to the gym doors so they could grill the burgers and brats under shelter.

The gym was filled with the smoke of the grill but nobody was complaining. The smiles of joy on faces shone through the smoke and haze.

After the supper, there was a presentation to the retiring Board members, the annual meeting and the drawing for the raffle. The gifts were from local businesses and were all very nice gifts. Norm won a $25 gift certificate for gas at one of the stations; I won a gift certificate for a local steak house that we have been PLANNING on going to for a long time. Now we have a reason!

Then home to the lovely wet porch, driveway and grass. A busy day but worth it. A good meal and good company.
It was a beautiful day yesterday; it will be a beautiful day today. You have a beautiful day!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Flowers to lighten moods

It’s hard to be depressed when I have such lovely flowers around here. I don’t have many, so I enjoy the ones I do have immensely!

Besides the beautiful daylilies (that aren’t open yet this morning), I have:

A volunteer sunflower from the bird feeder

Hollyhocks that are just now starting to come

Have you ever smelled a milkweed? It reminds me of lilacs, but is much stronger.

I have my ever-faithful Asian Honeysuckle that is supposed to attract hummingbirds, but isn’t big enough, yet.

I love my Snowballs – they are so splashy in the afternoon sun!

Jill’s rose that she gave me for Mother’s Day is blooming one sweet little rose!

On Thursday I was invited to my grandniece’s first baseball game; our little town has a team and it plays other little towns in the general area. The team one and she got on base all times hitting but one!

Yesterday Norm and I went to Walnut Grove for a farmer’s market. The market is just starting up this summer and we were invited to join – Norm took his spoons, I took some eggs. It was a failure for monetary purposes but a success in other ways. I love meeting new people who have like interests.

And we were invited to come back to demonstrate in period costume today in the park. July is the month of Walnut Grove’s pageant, so there is a flea market / antique show / whatever in the park each Saturday of the month. The organizer wanted us so badly that they offered to not only supply a tent but also set it up for us, so we won’t have to do that – which, to me, is the worst part of demonstrating at a show. And they will let Peanut come, which makes HER little heart beat faster – she loves going to demonstrations.

I did not take pictures of the little farmer’s market that hopes to grow, but I will try to take some pictures today.

It will be a beautiful day today – you have a beautiful day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Farewell to friends

This has been a week of sadness. Two days gone, only, in this week and two friends are gone as well.

Yesterday was Bentley’s last day. He was Candy’s Newfoundland and a gentler giant I have never seen. He was kind to smaller dogs and cats and loved all animals equally. His greatest fault was that love – he would find baby birds that had fallen from the nest and would love them to death.

Bentley was old for a “Newfie;” his heart was damaged and his hips were starting to give out. Candy and Wayne decided that it was time for him to go, as he was beginning to suffer. Wayne took him for one last walk in the grove he loved so much and laid him to rest in a soft grave.

My sweet Goldie was Candy’s Golden Retriever; she raised her from puppy-hood. Nearly two years ago Candy gave her to me, as Bentley, sweet as he was, thought Goldie was his toy. Candy and Wayne were afraid that Bentley would hurt her already sensitive hips and back with his play.

I got Goldie as a retirement gift; she was the big dog I have always wanted. Goldie had no faults and was the best dog I have ever had. She was as close to perfect as a dog can be. Candy and Wayne had trained her very well!

A few weeks ago Goldie developed a hot spot on her head. This grew to more infected hot spots on her head and one close to her eye. At the same time her foot became swollen and was very painful. I took her to the Vet, knowing that we could not afford a major dose of medication for her. The Vet gave us a break on the price of steroids and antibiotics but warned that if the problem came back that it was not just a case of allergies but the signs that her body was starting to break down. Despite the medication I was giving her, she began to show signs of that dreaded break down this last week.

Tonight was the night that we chose to let her go. Norm took some meat scraps for her to enjoy on her last walk and then he laid her down for her final sleep.

Both sweet dogs will be missed dreadfully. Nothing will fill the hole in our hearts for these gentle friends but we know they are waiting for us to join them when we pass over.

Rest in peace, dear friends.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Have I told thee how much I love thee?

I love my window, I love my window, I love my window!!!

These pictures were taken with my zoom lens on my camera while I sat in the recliner with Peanut on my lap! Thank you, again, Mom and Dad!!!

Daddy Oriole is feeding babies from the grape jelly feeder

There were two babies with him

And showing baby where the grape feeder is

Sweet Goldfinch is hanging on to the rope that holds the one feeder

This is either a: Purple Finch, a House Finch or a young Redpoll. Anyone? Anyone?
It's a hot but beautiful day; you have a beautiful day!

Well, the 4th of July week is almost over

The celebrations around here started last Sunday and have continued on … at least the fireworks and sales.

I have found someone else that agrees with me about the 4th of July. Kati from Alaska has written about her feelings on what this country does on Independence Day. It makes me feel like I am not the only one.

I KNOW I’m not the only one and I know that sometimes I rant and rave too much, but I do get irritated at the way this country seems to be moving and I feel helpless to do anything to stop it. Except, perhaps, to rave and rant to everyone.

And for that, I apologize but maybe if someone else feels the same way, we could spread the feelings around and actually change some of these things!

So now the week is over. We can get on with our lives. Charles and the folks left on Friday – he took them home then headed home, himself, to Oklahoma. He should be home by tonight. And now is the time to recover, relax, re-group and enjoy the rest of the summer.

The chickens are almost 7 weeks old and will be butchered on Tuesday. I am ready for that. I love the chickens and they are so cute and cuddly when they are little, but now they are just eating and pooping machines. With the hot weather this past two weeks, I have had to check on them 3 and 4 times a day. They are going through their feed like crazy and need that topped off at least once a day. The waterers need to be refilled at least 3 times a day. I have a large box fan blowing in the barn and pray continually that I will not go out and find dead bodies. A co-worker of Norm’s found 40 dead chicks just a week ago. They were allowed outside but these 40 went back inside and scrunched up and suffocated each other. How tragic and what an awful thing to discover!

After they are gone, I’m going to try to put a fence up for the 6 Buffs to go outside, clean up the pen and get ready for another batch later this month. Friend Katie wants a bunch more as well as the rest of us, so another batch will come. I need to figure out what to do with the pullets then. They are not big enough to go with the hens – maybe a small cage-like thingie that they can hide in? Hard to say – I would rather wait until they are nearly 3 months old before introducing them. Maybe a board from the new chicks can separate them until they (babies) are strong enough and then the pullets can be with them for that length of time until the new batch is butchered. It’s something to experiment with and think about.

I got a new refrigerator, finally! I need two fridges because of the eggs and when we have fruit and veggies. I am not very organized and have way, way too much stuff in my main fridge but I can’t seem to get rid of any of it. This way I can make sure the eggs are in a safe, flat place of their own. I have moved the pickles and sauces to the new fridge; friend Katie is storing some meats in the freezer part so that we have our State Fair foods collected together.

Yes, friends and neighbors, it’s THAT TIME of the year again to start planning for the State Fair. (Sigh) It is also the time of the year that I start wondering if I really want to DO it again this year!

It was hot this past week; it was 102° heat index yesterday, so I checked on the chickens every two hours. It will cool off somewhat, I’m told, this week. Today will be a beautiful day; you have a beautiful day.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy Independence Day (yesterday)!

Well, the 4th has come and gone, and it was a beautiful one. It was also my parent’s 65th anniversary.

Charles drove from Okalahoma to Rapid City to pick the folks up and drove them out here. They are staying at my house and taking turns visiting here and at Candy’s.

The morning was very exciting for me; Norm, Wayne and Charles put in a new window! I have had a “foggy” window since we purchased the place 3 years ago. It’s a double pane and the seal has been broken for years. It got dirty inside and also gets very moist and hard to see out of when the weather is humid or wet. Our Christmas present this year from my folks was money to help purchase a new window; we ordered it several weeks ago and it arrived at the shop this past Monday.

Yesterday was the reality of it all. Wayne came over with his granddaughter and the fun began. Mom and I sat and watched the whole process with increasing delight!

Norm is taking the putty out of the cracks - notice how foggy and yucky the window is

The new window is so clear you would think you could go right through it! Yeah, right - no window at all!

Let's get the window in to keep bugs and big monsters from coming in

Here comes the window!

Simple as pie! Smooth as silk! In it goes!
An outside view of the supervisor
Fingerprints made by a smart-alecky brother-in-law
Even with fingerprints, the view is awesome! Thank you, Mom and Dad, for helping in this wonderful event.

Last night we had a picnic here with friends Katie and Wally. However, the humidity was pretty high so we decided to eat out picnic inside. It was very enjoyable with good food, if I might say so myself. We had hot dogs and hamburgers that were grilled outside by 3 excellent chefs. Potato salad, cole slaw and Busch’s baked beans as well as pickles for Charles, who is addicted to homemade dill pickles. No desert was planned because we were heading to an Ice Cream Social, program and fireworks at a local area church.

The fireworks display was very good for a little church and the ice cream and pies were plentiful.

Notice how still the wind was!

We 3 “children” gave the folks a Memory Frame for their anniversary. For those who don’t know what it is, it’s a cool electronic picture frame. You insert a camera memory card into the back of the frame and can watch pictures. It looks about like the slide show option that Windows has for the screen saver. You can have as many pictures as you want, depending on the size of the memory card. Really snazzy, this machine! Mom and Dad had never heard of one – well, neither had any of us 3 until Katie had mentioned it to me earlier this summer – and they were just fascinated with it. A good choice, if I don’t say so myself!

I would like to take a minute to comment on the celebration of our great nation on this great day. As with most celebrations in the US, it has turned from remembering what special day it is to just a day for picnics and fireworks. I am surprised that Congress, in it’s inestimable powers, have not made the “4th” into a generic “first Monday of July” holiday. You know what I mean – like “Memorial Day” – “Columbus Day” and all the other ones. I am afraid that it won’t be too long before that happens.

Also, the amount of money spent on fireworks is horrendous, in my mind. I found that my friend On the Shores of Carpenter Creek agrees with me. With all the poverty and distress in the world, why are we spending $$ billions on something that burns and blows up?

Now, I am not one to say that NO fireworks should ever happen, but the small amount we saw at the church were pleasant, awe-inspiring, and very cheap, in comparison with other events. The general public donates to help pay for them at this church. There are no city, state or federal government funds for any of the fireworks. My tax money is not being burned up for someone else’s delight.

I normally do NOT like to go to firework displays … the noise is usually pretty bad and there are normally bugs, wind, cold or heat to deal with. But this year, the weather was perfect, the company was great and we all had a beautiful day. You have a beautiful day!