Sunday, November 25, 2007

Is your Thanksgiving over?

We had two, thank you very much! And, since I don’t over eat like some I won’t mention (but he always complains that he’s not hungry for several days, not that I want to name names!), I don’t mind several thanksgivings if the food is “right.”

I love turkey but I love the extras, as well: mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing (dressing), scalloped corn, fruit salad. As well as soft white rolls! Ymmmmmmmmm!

But, I usually only have a little bit of each (not that I’m bragging – I do get pretty full) so that I can taste everything. I am not on a diet so that I eat less but I remember how I feel when I over-eat and I don’t like the feeling and can’t eat a little bit of everything!!

Well, as I said, we had two – but Norm and I bought a turkey so that I can have another turkey dinner, just the two of us, later on this month. Of course, Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat, but our goose has nothing to worry about – we usually have ham or turkey, so I can enjoy another great holiday meal, with all the accessories that are required.

In MY family, I have two girls that insist on the essentials. Scalloped corn and fruit salad are my “forte” – if I don’t make them, both Joy and Jill fuss. This year they chose to have “snicker salad” instead but I know that deep in their hearts they really wanted fruit – especially Jill! And I did, too.

We had a small dinner at Candy’s with only six of us there. The turkey was not humongous but it was big enough. Wondrously soft, moist, tender dressing, good mashed potatoes and great gravy. But no scalloped corn or fruit salad, so I’m going to have to make those for myself someday.

While there, I watched the dogs watching the kitchen help. Candy’s kitchen is small enough that several of us simply set the table and watched. Candy, Wayne and Brook have cooked together long enough so that their movements are like a waltz as they slide around each other.

Please, Mommy, we want some, too!

A beautiful table in a beautiful house

I finally got a picture of Candy’s icebox. Now, as most of you know, electricity is not that old, in the history of time. Before electricity, to have cool food, you needed ice. The ice was cut out of frozen lakes in the winter and stored in icehouses under sawdust until needed. The iceman brought ice to the house and placed it in the icebox.

The icebox is lined with zinc to keep the wood from getting wet and had a hole in the bottom for the thawed water to drip. Some people had a hose running outside, others had a pan to catch the water.

Our icebox has several doors and several different sections to keep food cool or colder, depending on how close to the ice. It has been restored to a lovely finish and makes a wonderful piece of furniture. There are not many left around in the country, considering how many there used to be – every family had one! So we feel that ours is a treasure and I enjoy looking at it when I go to Candy’s and she enjoys having it!

A thing of beauty is a joy forever!

This next week, Candy and I are going to our hometown to help our folks move from their home of 40+ years into an apartment. Our brother is coming from Oklahoma to help, as well. It should be a fun time, as well as a working holiday.

It is a beautiful sunny day today, even though it’s windy! You have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Today is the second anniversary of Norm’s new life.

Two years ago, a ladder slipped in the garage, Norm fell and hit his head on the cement floor and broke his neck. We spent several days in the hospital while my folks and my brother took care of our animals and got ready for a late Thanksgiving.

Norm and I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital – not a good place to be at any time, but a not-gooder place to be during holidays. But we were filled with thanks, all the same. Norm, while in pain, was thankful that he HAD pain and I was thankful that we were IN the hospital, not somewhere worse!

This was a life-changing event in many ways! Norm was through working full time – and through working for over six months – and went on Social Security Disability. He learned to take it easier than before and not work quite as hard. He learned to ask for help. He learned to slow down and get things done at a slower pace. He learned to have patience with himself and give himself a break, a nap, a cup of tea, a foot-up book reading session.

I learned that Norm is not invincible and can’t do everything. I learned to have patience and realize that things will get done, but at a slower pace. I learned to appreciate my husband even more than I had before and be grateful. I learned what it was to be afraid .. really afraid.

And we both learned to “stop and smell the roses” – to enjoy watching birds for an hour rather than doing something “constructive” – to enjoy being together And we learned to be very, very grateful for life.

In the "halo" he wore for 3 months

There's a hard collar underneath his neck scarf - but he's back to "work"

Nearly normal - only minor neck aches and twinges unless he's too active

Which makes every day a beautiful day. You have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Precious!

Here are two pictures!

My precious little girls (can't tell you how long ago, they would kill me!)

My precious young ladies!

I love all three of them. I am proud of all three of them! They have grown from sweet girls to wonderfully sweet and intelligent wise young women!

Bless them all!

Early Thanksgiving

Youngest daughter, Jill, and husband, Eric, now live in near Seattle and do not come home as often as I would like. This year they took a week off for Thanksgiving but have to visit Eric’s folks. Now, I don’t care for this arrangement – I feel they should spend ALL their time with US, but for some reason they insist that his family is important, too! So I allow them to break their vacations up (do I really have a choice, Eric?); this is what they did this time.

So we had our “thanksgiving” this Saturday – and a great time it was, too. Niece Cookie came with grandniece Binni – they followed us from Sister’s house all the way here. It was great to have them here, too. The girls (the three “B’s” – Binni, Bitty and Bubba) had a great time together – they slept all together in the same room (when they DID sleep!) and played hard the whole time.

All the girls requested that I use their nicknames for my blog, from now on, so that is what I promised I would do. They enjoy seeing their pictures on my blog and enjoy reading about themselves. These are three little girls that have no embarrassment about seeing their own pictures or reading about themselves. They are being raised to be proud of themselves! Good going, Moms … you are doing a great job!

Joy and Jill and Cookie spent a lot of time together, too. They grew up together back home but Cookie hasn’t been around my two girls other much as adults. It was great to see them together again, reminiscing about “old” times and watching the three “Bs” playing.

After a huge meal, we had our early Christmas – at least the gift giving. Eric and Jill will not be here for Christmas (sigh) so we had gifts for them and they had gifts for us. I also got a few small gifts for Ken and Joy and the girls so they wouldn’t feel left out. E&J also got lovely gifts for Cookie and Binni.

After presents, it was bedtime for the three little ones and the rest of us sat and played cards and drank apple brandy that I had made.

Sunday was a “take it easy” day. Joy and Bitty went to church but the others stayed home, as we had been to church on Friday. (Joy had to count money that day and Bitty was going to help in Sunday School).

We played and / or watched people play Eric’s new game – a WII (“wee?”). I have seen ads for this game but it always seemed to be a dumb idea. However, some of the games (sports, in particular) are pretty good. The remotes are very sensitive to movements so whatever the hands do, the hands on the screen do as well. The gang talked me into playing bowling and tennis and forced me to do a boxing round. The boxing is HARD. The movements have to be strong; you can’t just poke lightly. So you get a real workout!

Cookie and Binni headed home as Binni needed to be in school on Monday. The rest of us watched (or slept through) football and more WII games.

Sunday night was another card game that ended in the wee hours of the morning.

Monday was head home day for Norm and I. We left after noon, stopped at a Menards to get some siding for the kitchen wall and got home close to suppertime. Blessed husband stopped at our little café in our little (379 population) town for supper. This café is small and the prices are inexpensive but the food is GOOD and the service is marvelous! I cannot tell you the name of the town OR the café (either one would give the location away) as I do not want more people swamping the place – it’s busy enough as it is!

Home to unpack and put seafood in the freezer. E&J brought salmon for Norm, scallops and crab cakes for me, crab legs for Joy and I to share, shrimp for Joy and Ken. Such thoughtful children I have!

So now it’s laundry, unpacking, and planning for the next few days. Tonight is the last spinning class (I have had four instead of two – the girls wanted more classes); tomorrow is a visit to the heart doctor and a stress test. Dr. O wanted me to have a test after my last bee-sting episode. I told everyone that the stress is over, but I guess the plan is to see if my heart HAD been stressed enough to cause damage. I doubt it – in fact I KNOW it has not, but I will make Dr. O happy. I don’t like the look on her face if I don’t do what she asks!

It is a mild day with little wind – not much sun but NO WIND makes up for everything! You have a beautiful day!

Getting the turkey ready (Joy's father-in-law, Bill, is helping)

Kid's table is set (Mom, notice the dishes?)

"Heart and Soul" played by a trio

A vicious dog attacking -- his stuffed moose puppet

The moose puppet really had trouble staying alive!

Remy is really a sweet dog


The game is awesome on the big screen TV

Jill and Cookie boxing it out
Eric entertaining us
The first snow that actually was enough for snowballs
A foggy drive home

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How do you mend a broken heart?

We are having an early Thanksgiving at Joy's ... my niece and grandniece have joined us.

Have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


In the fall of 2000, I lived at Historic Murphy’s Landing; one of the buildings at the Landing was the Lumberyard, a huge building that held all kinds of lumber as well as being storage for many of the artifacts that had been given to the Landing but had not been “assessed” to a house.

The tools for building and repairing were also kept in the Lumberyard. This was the home of several cats that helped keep the mouse population to a dull roar.

One day I was visiting Norm when I heard a kitten crying at the top of it’s lungs. We had a litter of kittens there, but none of them were crying. I started looking around and ended up on the top level, crawling through dust and spider webs and old wood. And finally found a nest of three kittens that had been abandoned by the momma in one of her many moves (she had four others). By the time I found them, one was dead and the other two were pretty weak. I tucked them into my coat and crawled out, told Norm I was heading home and had kittens in my coat.

The one little girl died that day but we managed to save the other one – who was then called “Lucky.” She was about ten days old, at the most and fit in the palm of my hand. We raised her on kitten replacer with a kitten bottle. We kept her in a box with a heating pad to help keep her warm. As with all baby animals, I had to be the momma and clean her. Most babies need stimulation to eliminate waste (all right … to poop!), so I would take a warm washcloth, turn her upside down and rub her tummy like a momma would clean her after eating. She hated it and would yell bloody murder every time I turned her upside down. I would then take a fine-toothed comb and comb her coat to get mats out.

When she was big enough to climb out of her box, she figured out how to climb the stairs to the bedroom and cry until I picked her up and put her in bed with me. Norm did not like her under the covers, so I put a heating pad at the foot of the bed and that’s where she slept.

For seven years, now, she has slept at the foot of the bed, except for the times she slept on my pillow, as a fur hat, arching herself around my head.
But a few nights ago, she was not on the bed. I figured she was too lazy to come up from the family room where the corn stove was cooking her hide, as she likes. But by morning, she still was not on the bed, so I started opening doors and calling, thinking she had gotten locked in somewhere. Finally, Norm found her under his dresser, lying on the heat vent.

From that time forward, I worried and watched her – she would not stay on the bed, she hid in corners or lay on the floor and didn’t move much. I tried to get her to drink some tuna water or just plain water but she showed no interest. Monday night I found her upstairs in the girls’ suite and brought her down to where she belonged – on the bed – where she slept all night. But then got off the bed and laid in the studio all day.

By the time Candy and Wayne came for supper, she had moved to the computer room. Candy and I sat watching her and talking about what could be wrong. During supper, she moved into the bathroom, so Norm got a box and put an old pair of coveralls in it for her.

Sometime between my many visits during the night, she passed away. We don’t know what was wrong but it could have been related to an earlier bout of pneumonia she had developed as a young kitten or she could have had something wrong from birth (which was the cause of her abandonment).

Whatever the reason, she is now gone. She was a sweet cat – when she wanted to be. Since she had no siblings, she did not learn the lessons that most kittens learn about biting – you bite, you get bit back! I was her sibling and she fought and played with my hand, to my distress. So as an adult, if she were mad (sometimes more often than not), she would take it out on me; it was raining? It was MY fault and I got a nip on the leg to tell me of the fact.

But despite the nips and scratches I got, I loved her and she loved me. She WAS a sweet cat and I will miss her dreadfully.

Rest in peace, Lucky!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pork Chops

Missy asked for the pork chop recipe that I made last night. It's easy as pie. Take your pork chops, fry them as normal until nearly done. Take them out of the pan, splob some balsamic vinegar into the drippings - just covering the bottom - not too much. Cook and simmer for a few minutes until the juices of both are mixed. Put the pork chops back into the pan and finish cooking, swishing them in the juices. If you like, pour some of the juices onto the chops as you serve them. Season as you will and chow down!

Enjoy this beautiful day!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

And what have you been doing this week?

Let’s see – I think I’ve been busy but I’m not sure at what at.

Monday I had to go to town for errands and deliver some eggs to my best customer. He would take two or three dozen eggs a week if I had them!

I also discovered that my camera was not flashing at all! I called the company (I have a lovely little Canon Powershot A540) and the magic man on the phone told me to set my settings back to default and it should work, which it did! But the lens cover doesn’t always open – in fact rarely opens and I have to manually “pop” it open, so he offered me a refurbished, updated camera for only about $120 (of course plus tax and shipping), so I declined. I can get by with “popping” the lens cover!

Tuesday night was Spinning Class. I had done two classes in October and the girls requested two more classes. Norm had the same happen to him with his Spooncarving class so we could both go in with no one sitting on the sidelines being bored. Candy went with us; we went over and collected her and the spinning wheel and then headed to town. It was late that night for us as it takes quite a while to put everything back in the van, take Candy home, drop her and her wheel off and then come back here.

Wednesday – where does the time go? Don’t know WHAT I did that day except stay home and do something! I am organizing and planning and working on Christmas gifts. This next week will be an early Christmas and an early Thanksgiving. Jill and Eric are coming from Washington for Thanksgiving but cannot be home for Christmas (sigh – first Christmas without my baby!!) so we are having both holidays together. I would tell you what I’m making but I have two children who read my blog!! I did manage to find some time to sit and watch the birds – it’s amazing the ones that I see, now.

Wednesday was very windy, however … VERY windy. I have a wooden bird feeder hanging on a “shepherd’s crook” hanger and the wind blew it clear to the ground – the hanger was laying on the ground as well as the feeder! The birds fought the wind but managed to find the seed that had blown out of the feeder and be on the ground.

We had supper at Candy’s Wednesday night. Now that fall is really in session, we have re-started our weekly get-together. Wayne and Norm play cribbage and Candy and I do crafty things.

Off and on during the week I was going out to help Norm at the barn. He has really done a fantastic job. This “barn” was originally designated a “tear-down” building because it looked in such bad shape. Norm felt it would be better if we bulldozed it to the ground and burned it. But I discovered that we had working electricity and working, running water so decided our chickens would be housed there until we figured out what we wanted for a chicken house. We cleaned it out, divided it, put in nest boxes and moved the hens back and forth from one section to another until we found what we wanted.

This summer, Norm started tearing down the east one-third of the building; this had been an addition that was put on very poorly and was falling down.

Tearing down the east end

This past week, Norm started on the south side. This has been the worst side, since the wind is predominantly from the south in the winter in this area (go figure!). He tore down nearly the whole side then put plywood up. This next spring, he promises, he will put new siding on it.

The wall is coming down, but you can see the light going through what siding is still there

Most of the wall is now down

New wall is almost up

From the door over (to the right), the plywood is up and waiting for caulking and siding

"Baby" pen is cleaned out and being used for the feed bins for the winter

Friday night we went to a concert in town. Since I do the newsletter for BARC, I work closely with Fritzie who, with her husband, “runs” the building and all the activities that are on going. Fritzie bought Norm and I tickets to Gordy Pratt, a comedian / singer / guitar player from South Dakota. Thank you, Fritzie!! We then went over to friend Katie’s for hot chocolate and conversation. Katie was surprised that I had come to the concert. She knows me – I very rarely go out of my lane!

On Saturday, I had a visit from my soon-to-be-neighbor, Jody. I have talked to her and emailed her often, but haven’t seen her much, as she rarely comes down from the cities. We sat watching the birds; she was crocheting a lovely blue acrylic blanket and I was knitting gray and white mittens. A lovely time, all too rare, but hopefully there will be more of them when she FINALLY moves down.

Today? Back to the barn on a lovely day to caulk seams and put cement on the floor where the cement had been broken out. Pork chops with balsamic vinegar and homemade applesauce for supper finished off the day.

So, that’s my week. How about yours? Have a beautiful day!

A fire-y sunset at Ash Lane Farm

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Today is my baby's birthday! Thirty-four years ago today, I first laid eyes on the third love of my life! (Norm and Joy were the first and second, of course!). I have never wanted to take my eyes off of her, since.

Baby was named Jill Naomi - "Jill" means "Little Girl" - and she has always been my little girl, even after she topped me in height. (Why does every one use me for a measuring stick?)

I cannot wait until she wakes up - she is in Washington, two hours difference in time, so I have to wait longer until her normal weekend waking time to call and sing to her.

With Joy (left) and cousin Brook (right)

On another note, two days ago, Jill's bestest friend and my adopted daughter, Karla, had a little girl of HER own - Morgan Rian! Jill was hoping Morgan would wait two more days so that she would have a birthday buddy, but it's pretty close, I would say!

Happy Birthday, sweet Jill!

Welcome to the world, Morgan Rian!

It is a beautiful day to have a birthday - you have a beautiful day!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Once upon a time ….

There was a family who had a cabin in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This cabin was deep in the forest with no electricity or modern conveniences, which was just like this family wanted. Many vacations and weekends were spent in happy simplicity, with a wood stove for cooking, a fireplace for heat and an icebox for cooling food.

This cabin was built in the area that Custer traveled when he went through the Black Hills on his expedition of 1874. This was the time that gold was found in the Black Hills which caused the illegal rush into the Hills only a little while later. The cabin is in a rather large valley with hills all around it and a creek running right by its side. It was built in about 1888, as far as the family could tell.

The men in the family would go out during hunting season for a weekend or two; several of the family, with children of their own, would go out for winter vacations – even one Thanksgiving was held there. Summer was the time to spend a week or two in the peaceful setting, watching deer, woodchucks and birds come into the “yard.”

As time past, there was less and less time to visit, stay and play there. Then the cabin was sold. Many hearts were broken, but the family had scattered and no one had time to visit this lovely cabin in the Hills.

Before it was sold, the icebox was taken out, given to a restorer for work and put in the parents’ household to be admired. “Baby Sister” had admired and loved this icebox from the first day it was put in the cabin. It had been “given” to her in the understanding that it would stay in the parents’ house until they no longer needed it.

And now … the parents are moving to an apartment and the icebox has come “home” to “Baby Sister.”

The logistics of moving this huge box has been putting sweat on the brows of the manly men who would be responsible for getting it from one house to another. Several strong young men were hired to put it into “Baby Sister’s” van. Then it was driven (van springs low to the ground and groaning with pain) to the new home.

Then it was put on a trailer and pulled by tractor to the front door of the house. Ramps were put in place and it was rolled into the house. “Baby Sister’s” husband had put new rollers on the bottom – the old, original ones had been pressed flat with the weight of the icebox – so that once on the floor, it rolled beautifully in place.

As we “speak,” the icebox now has its doors on and I will get a picture of that soon to show you. And “Baby Sister” is pleased as punch. “Oldest Sister” is pleased, too. It’s a lovely piece of furniture, a wonderful memento of the past and a great gift from the parents.

It’s a beautifully crisp, sunny day today. You have a beautiful day.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Busy Week!

Where does time go? Seems like it was just yesterday that I said goodbye to the girls and Joy last Monday, and here it is Monday, again!

Well, let’s see …. Monday the girls left and I was tired (Can we say exhausted? I love my girls but they do keep me hoping and I am worn out when they leave!) so Peanut and I curled up in the recliner in the armchair and watched the birds at the feeders.

I have finally gotten more woodpeckers to come to the feeders – I have seen and taken pictures (although not too clear) of a Flicker, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker and a Downy Woodpecker. I also have a picture of one of the many Blue Jays that visit now. I have seen but NOT taken pictures of Nuthatches (I have wanted them so badly and now have them), Goldfinches (Norm calls them Olivefinches since they are not “gold” in the fall / winter), Chickadees, Sparrows and Juncos.

Again, I appologize for the fuzzy pictures - they were taken from inside (would never have gotten the pictures if I was outside) and zoomed so I could GET them!

Norm and I went over to Candy’s to help move an icebox in the house (but that’s another story) on Tuesday. Norm went back over on Wednesday to help take off the old counter top – they got a new one on Thursday, after a very long wait.

Thursday, Candy and I went to the Cities; she has drooled over and dreamed of a spinning wheel since sometime last year when we first saw it at Detta’s Spindle.
Now, perhaps some people are thinking – “Why buy a new spinning wheel when Connie has three?” (Actually five, but two are not working!) Well, Candy HAS used, and has learned on, one of my wheels, but I needed it back when I had classes in October. And wanted it (and had it) when Joy was here – all three wheels were working at one time then!

Plus, every woman wants her own wheel, so she’s been saving since she first saw the wheels (there are many, many of them) at Detta’s. But the Castle wheel was the one that caught her fancy; it was still there this time when we stopped to get some wool and look at wheels again. And this time it was ON SALE (and every woman understands those words!) so they made a deal, Candy went home to think about it again.

So this last Thursday, we went to collect it. And, because Joy is home from Florida (HOORAAAY!), we went to her house to spend the night and visit some. And home, again, on Friday.

Catch up for energy, then working in the studio to get ready for the second set of spinning lessons that are this Tuesday.

Yesterday (Sunday) we spent out at the barn. We had to fix the south side before winter comes for real!

So, that’s been my week – busy and hectic. Plus, I’ve been working on my two newsletters, one for Sons of Norway and one for the Business, Arts and Recreation Center (BARC). They are done only about once every two months but they always come about the same time. So I have not been very energetic for my own writing!
I will write about Candy’s icebox soon, and then tell you about Norm’s work on the barn in another post. Now it’s time to head to town for supplies and chicken food. It is a beautiful, chilly, windy, sunny day. You have a beautiful day!