Friday, December 28, 2007

Quiet days

It’s been nice and peaceful here since we returned. I have been enjoying looking at the snow, watching the birds and reading, for the most part. Although napping has a place in the hectic schedule as well.

The chickens are doing well, tucked in their house and only going out on sunny, warm days. We are getting about ten eggs a day, except for that one day when we got three!

But that was the night that Norm locked up only to find a possum in a nest box, feasting on OUR eggs! Don’t worry, the possum got a lesson he / she will never forget and he / she will not be eating eggs again, ever!

I am cleaning off my hard drive, moving all of my 2007 files onto my external hard drive for storage. This is taking longer than I had anticipated, as I also want to clean my external hard drive up of extraneous files.

I am also doing more reading – I got a lovely book from Happy Owl for Christmas (thank you, again, Happy Owl!) but have also purchased some “new” books from E-Bay and Amazon.com. I have spent a whole $25 on a BUNCH of books! I saw Agatha Christie’s “Man in the Brown Suit” and had to have it, since I couldn’t find the TV movie anywhere to watch. The TV movie, of course, is a bit different from the book, but I have put the TV faces on the characters in the book and am enjoying it thoroughly. I also purchased five (count them, five!) “Dragons of Pern” paperbacks. I have read several of them, but some are new to me – very exciting! The only one I have is the one about the young boy singer (can’t remember the name right now, and it’s tucked in the Buick that Joy is borrowing), so this addition to my library is very exiting. I am also reading the “Guide to Pern” – a gift from Moonbeam (again, thank you!).

I also purchased the series of three books of “The Golden Compass.” I have heard pros and cons about the books and movie and decided I wanted to see for myself what the fuss was all about. As purchasing books is easier than going to the local library, and because I enjoy OWNING books, I looked for the book and found the series for an extremely low price. I am anxious to start the series but am in the midst of three books so have decided to leave the Golden series for later on.

Our new heater is doing the job that it was planned for. Because we have been having such mild temperatures – hanging around the twenties most of the time - we are comfortable with the corn stove simmering in the basement and the heater in the kitchen. We have not used the propane furncace but once since we purchased the stove (except for when we were at Joy’s and turned the corn stove off and set the furnace for about sixty degrees.). Nice!!

We have about six to eight inches of new snow and it’s lightly snowing right now. Peanut will not go out to the barn with me because of the depth of snow, even though Norm used the snow blower to break a path. She goes out only to do her business and comes directly in!

We went to town last night to help Candy and Wayne celebrate their twenty-seventh anniversary. Have I told you anything about my brother-in-law, Wayne? He is one of the dearest of all the people I know. He is not only a brother-in-law, he is a BROTHER and a very good friend. We have a lot of laughs and a lot of fun together. I remember the time, way WAY back in time when we were younger … Wayne told me that I reminded him of a cow. Now, that might be an insult to most, but cows are some of my favorite animals, so I wasn’t. But someone else said “That’s awful, Wayne!” and he then said he meant that my eyes reminded me of a cow’s eyes – brown and big!! I remind him of that, often – that I remind him of a cow – and he denies he ever said it! Be that as it may, I love Wayne and enjoy having him as a neighbor and helper to Norm as well as a source of constant entertainment!



I am enjoying the “New World Symphony” on the radio; the sun is not shining but the wind is not blowing – a fantastic hardly-ever-happens event! It is a beautiful day – you have a beautiful day!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A wonderful Christmas is nearly over!

Things are nearly back to normal.

Jill and Eric are home safe, after a snowstorm slowed down their flight and threatened to keep them in the cities overnight.

We are home – the snowstorm stopped soon enough so that we didn’t have to worry about roads for US going home.

Joy and family went to Ken’s family’s Christmas today and had a great time there.

Niece Cookie and daughter Binni are home after a hectic day of snow and ice across the state – she was in the western part of the state for Christmas with some of her family. They took almost 11 hours for a trip that is normally only about 7 hours.

Candy and Wayne took care of our chickens, so they hadn’t traveled any farther than the 9 miles between houses and back.

We had Christmas dinner here today for C&W and us. Norm and Wayne played their usual game of cribbage, which Norm won, for once.

We also received 2 or 3 or 4 inches of snow with very little wind!

So, now that things ARE nearly back to normal, here are some pictures for you to enjoy.




"
It's the best Christmas, ever!



Spinning on a Turkish drop-spindle

Winter fun in the water







We were at the dinner theater - Eric's mother is with Jill and I

Yes, really there!!



Eric's grandma

Sliding down the tobbogan run

Tables are ready for dinner

Hot and heavy card game

My dear family

A frosty dogwood welcomes us home



Christmas Eve full moon

It was a beautiful day today – you have a beautiful day!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

How much excitement …………….

can one fat little old body stand?

After last night’s excitement and surprise, Jill and Eric went to a motel to sleep and we fell into bed about midnight.

This noon, we seven (Joy, Ken, Bitty, Bubba, Norm, Bill – Ken’s dad – and I) went over to the motel and went swimming and hung out in the hot tub for several hours. Then pizza was ordered for a late lunch but Norm and I were warned not to eat too much so we’d be hungry for dinner.

Jill and Eric picked Norm and me up at Joy’s after we came home and changed into fancy clothes. We were going to meet Eric’s folks and grandmother at an unknown (to us) place.

And that place? Chanhassen Dinner Theater, to see “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat!” One of my all-time, ALL-TIME favorite musicals! I will only mention that on one trip to our home town in South Dakota, I played the cd all the way there (ten hours) and half the way back before Norm asked me to change music. And I wore out one cd and had to get a second one. I have watched the movie with Donny Osmond unknown number of times, with or without the grandgirls.

The “Chan” is famous in Minnesota as one of the best dinner theaters in the nation. The talent there is awesome and I was not disappointed in this rendition of Joseph. In fact, I think I prefer this live version over the movie (although I will probably have a chance to check that out, soon, as the girls are getting the movie for Christmas tomorrow night). The meals are always good and almost too much to eat, but the show tops it all.

Thank you, Eric and Jill, for this wonderful surprise and gift. Like Bitty has been saying over and over since last night, “This is the best Christmas EVER!” I agree!!

It was a beautiful day today – fresh snow on the ground and mild temperatures for Minnesota! What does tomorrow hold in store?

You have a beautiful day!

A Christmas surprise – or “I’ll never trust my daughters again!”

I believe that I mentioned that we were going to be in the cities for an early Christmas celebration with Joy and family. We arrived yesterday afternoon in time for cuddles and talks and then got ready for the Christmas program at church.

I also believe that I have mentioned that my youngest daughter, my baby, would not be home for Christmas as she has to work on Monday and Wednesday of this next week and only has Christmas day off. This will be the first time that I have not had both girls with me for Christmas.

It made me think back to the time we spent in Australia and I had MY first Christmas away from my family. That year Norm bought me roses to help me be less lonely. So I arranged to have flowers sent to Jill and Eric to tell them that we were thinking about them and would miss them.

So ………… here we are in Joy’s house, playing Uno after watching a wonderful program at church and waiting for Ken to come home from grocery shopping. I got a text message from Jill telling me that she had gotten her flowers and “thank you.”

About ten minutes after the message, in walks Ken with Jill and Eric!! He had gone to the airport (not the grocery store) and picked them up! Eric’s mom (if you are reading this, Marie, thank you!!!) had suggested that they fly in for forty-eight hours to be here closer to Christmas for all of us. Eric’s folks are coming down from their home and we will spend the day at the hotel, swimming and playing games and having fun. Then, I have heard, Eric and Jill are taking us and his folks out for a nice dinner somewhere.

This is why Joy insisted I dress fancy for the Christmas program … so I’d have something fancier than my normal sweat pants and tee shirt for dinner tonight!

Joy and Ken have known this for over a month – Jill and Eric have planned this for about two months!

What a wonderful Christmas gift! My whole family together again! At Christmas time – my favorite family time!

We have gotten fresh snow here in the cities this morning and it is beautiful out! I will have pictures uploaded when I get home (I’m on Joy’s computer – didn’t bring mine) to show you of the program and this weekend’s fun.

It’s a beautiful day – you have a beautiful day!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cold enough for you?

The weather has turned cold for most of the country, and we are no exception. While we don’t have the extreme snows or ice that some of the country has gotten, we do have snow on the ground, have had some wild winds and pretty cold weather. I woke up this morning to +3º and felt fortunate that it hadn’t gotten any lower.



When winter comes, a young woman’s fancy turns to H*E*A*T!! Nice, warm houses, cozy fires to cuddle up to, warm blankets to wrap in. But in this day and age, that dream would be very expensive, what with the cost of gas, propane and electricity. Wood is the best, in my mind, for good, warm, bone-soaking good heat.

But, with Norm’s neck a recent thought in our minds, we decided, two years ago, that wood heat would not be the best for us. With Norm’s neck so sensitive to the lifting, chopping and carrying of wood, we needed to find something else to keep this house warm. Our first year of owning (but only staying here for a week at a time) told us that we needed something extra or we would be bankrupt by the propane cost to keep the house even mildly comfortable.

Since wood, my first choice, was out, what was next? We went to a restaurant that was using a corn stove to heat the large dining room and felt that it would be a possibility, and finally decided on the corn furnace that we now have running in our basement family room.

Now I am here to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, that I am disappointed in the ability of this corn furnace to keep our house warm. I had anticipated throwing a blanket on the kitchen floor (possibly bringing in some sand and a beach umbrella) and basking in the warm south sun while having the house a toasty 80º. Not so, children! No so!

We have a prevailing south wind in our area, especially in the wintertime. The house has no windbreaks to the south, and we mean to keep it that way so that we have the lovely blue (mostly) sky. The south of this old house has little, if no, insulation to help, which will hopefully be rectified, but not this winter.

I found that the basement, the studio and the bedroom were nice and toasty warm but the kitchen, living room and my computer corner ran from chilly to down right frigid on windy days.



Even Peanut says it's cold!

Frozen bluejeans fresh off the clothes line

What to do? What to do? I wanted a wood cook stove in the kitchen and have begged, pleaded, threatened, whined, cried and in all ways made myself very unpleasant to be around on cold days. All in vain – even a lovely gas / wood combination stove was, to Norm, out of the question. A very expensive triple-thickness stove pipe (“We will accept no substitutions­”) as well as fireproofing the walls and floor of the kitchen made him tremble with fear and unhappiness.

But, still it was cold! Downright COLD in this house in the frigid winter days and while I am willing to wear long johns and double thickness in shirts, it seems unreasonable to expect me to either wear fingerless gloves to get my work done or to bake every day (a fine idea, but there is the propane cost to be considered!).

We had a small electric heater in the kitchen to take the chill off, if you were sitting (like Norm) with your toes nearly under the heater, but still no relief was in sight!

The corn furnace keeps the temperature from falling too quickly, but when it is 60º in the morning, unless we use the propane furnace to boost it up to about 68º before using just the corn furnace, we stay about 62º all day.

Now this week, lo! and behold! Our local farm supply store had heaters on sale! An EdenPure Quartz Infrared Portable Heater, as advertised on Paul Harvey. Now, I don’t listen to Paul Harvey but Norm does, and he has been talking about them for a while. His brother, Darrell in South Dakota, got one to heat his addition and he said that it keeps them nice and warm. It’s supposed to run for “pennies” a day so the electricity shouldn’t go up in cost, too much!

So we talked and I said that IF it kept us warm enough, I would stop asking (begging, pleading, threatening, whining, crying) for wood heat. So we bit the bullet and bought one. We got it on Thursday and set it up right away. I was leery of it actually doing any good, but I’m here to tell you, I think (THINK) it might work! That night the kitchen was hot – well I was baking bread, so the oven was running, too.

Yesterday, Friday, it only got up to 10º and had a south breeze, but the kitchen AND the living room AND my computer corner were running around 70º all afternoon – without propane assistance! (And it's quiet!!) Now THAT’S more like it!


Of course, we are now more dependent on electricity (sigh) but we do have a portable propane heater for emergencies, and I have my gas (propane) cooking stove that I love so much. And perhaps (dare I dream?) we might get a wind-generating windmill to put out our own electricity and not be caught up with higher electric prices and outages. But that’s another story – another dream!

It is now a beautiful 22º with very little wind and lots of sun. The house is nice and warm and I am content. You have a beautiful day!

Cold winter sky

Friday, December 14, 2007

Don’t you just love technology?

Now, I am one of the first to admit that I love my computer, I love watching TV and I love watching movies on DVD or VCR machines!

But the plans that are in place for modernizing is ridiculous, in my mind! The fact that digital is taking over the world is driving me crazy (crazier)!! Because the media world is going digital, our faithful ten year old TV will not work in another year or so! None of you with “normal” “old” TVs will work unless you buy a converter or bite the bullet and buy a new, expensive High-Definition TV!

I don’t get it! I have watched the news (just about the only HD program in Minnesota, right now – I think) at my daughter’s house. They have an HD TV and I have not noticed any difference – at least not enough to say – “Hey, that’s great!” In fact, Norm had to remind me that their new BIG, PLASMA TV is High Definition and that I HAD watched HD news without knowing it. What’s the big deal?

And also, the media is going to go to cable or satellite only in a few years – no more local channels with rabbit ears! We are moving to Pay TV!

Now, I know that England (and perhaps other countries) have Pay TV but I object, strongly! It won’t affect me, because we need satellite to get any kind of reception here in the country (too many trees and too far from towers), but what about people who are on very limited incomes? They will now have to pinch and scrimp to find the money to go cable or satellite! Just ain’t fair!!

Now, I don’t subscribe to the theory that there should be no developments and inventions and improvements to the media system. My objection is that we are being FORCED to comply. Why can’t the old work on the new? Why don’t they figure a way to have the old work with the new without forcing people to upgrade? Those who are strapped for money don’t need something ELSE to have to buy!

And, to top it all, I just heard yesterday that my Public Radio station is going digital soon, too! AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!! Does this mean I will have to get a new radio? My radio is about 15 years old and works just FINE!!!!


T’aint fair!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Thanks are in order!

This past week, things have been coming to me and I need to mention a public thank you for everything.

While in South Dakota, Candy and I bought no food or meals. Either my folks or my brother paid for all that we ate or made what we ate.

Well, except one exception! Mom wanted me to make Steak Dianne and so I did that, feeling grateful that I had made it at home just recently so I remembered the recipe!

The morning that we left, Charles took us to breakfast at our favorite restaurant, insisting that we have a good meal to start the trip with. Then gave us money to stop for lunch, so that we would stop and REST as well as eat.

Because we couldn’t eat with ALL the money, Candy and I decided to see if we could find something to remember the trip by and use Charles’ left-over money to buy them. That’s when I found my sweet Santa that I couldn’t resist!





Dad gave us money to help pay the gas – that was really great, as the gas prices – as you all know – made the trip pretty expensive!!

Thank you, folks, and thank you, Charles!

Another thank you goes to my children in Washington. Eric and Jill got me extra memory for my computer, which was placed in it just this past week. They were disappointed, as I had already put extra memory in it this summer, but had not mentioned it. Eric said “You tell EVERYTHING in your blog and you didn’t mention THIS??” However, with Eric’s suggestions and wheeling and dealing with my local guru, Vern, I ended up with one and a half gig of memory!!! What a rush of pleasure each time I bring up a slow program!! Even the fast ones come up faster. And I don’t get screen locks anymore, either! Thank you, again, kids!!! It really is GREAT!!

And one last thank you! I got a BIG package from Canada yesterday with Christmas gifts from Happy Owl and Moonbeam!! Not only for me, but also for Norm AND the grandgirls!! Books and a painting by Happy Owl’s young daughter – her children have adopted me as a Grandma!

Here is a picture of what Moonbeam gave me, with a short explanation! Some call me “Spider Woman” because I am a spinner and a weaver – so she found this breathtakingly beautiful pin – I am going to wear it on my winter coat, Moonbeam, thank you!


The spider has a garnet head - my birth stone!

Such great gifts I have received in the past few weeks make me feel humble and grateful. Thank you, everyone.

And thank you, all, for being my friends; thank you for joining me in my travels through life. I enjoy all of you! Have a beautiful, grateful day.


And the sweet little teapot I got while home~

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Yakameshi

A million years ago, when I was a little girl, we lived in Japan for three years – my dad was in the Air Force and we traveled with him all over.

Part of being in Japan was the food. We American children didn’t have much adventure when it came to food. My mother invented an American version of a Japanese dish.

The Japanese version had vegetables and meats that we were not used to and also had soy sauce, of which we had not acquired a taste. Mom’s version is rice, bacon and ketchup (that’s right, ketchup!). Very simple, very easy on young palettes and very good. As we grew, some of us were able to add soy sauce instead of extra ketchup, but not all. At least, not me!

While home helping the folks move, all three of us “children” requested Yakameshi (not to be confused with “Yakamushi” which – we have been told – means “please be quiet” in Japanese) instead of spaghetti. When I mentioned to Norm that we had it for supper, he pouted – he hadn’t had it for a loooooooong time!

So tonight, on a snowy, cold night, I made it for him. And the reciepe is very simple. Boil as much rice as you want; fry as much bacon as you want, cut into small bits. Drain the rice, add to the bacon and a little bit of oil if the bacon is not greasy – drain the grease if the bacon is too greasy. Fry with a little bit of ketchup mixed in. Serve hot with soy sauce and / or more ketchup. Voila! A simple, filling meal!

Not all will like it, I’m sure. When I was working during a summer between college years, I served it to my roommates; they decided then and there that we three girls would fix our own meals! Fine with me! More for me and they had to fix something themselves!

It was a beautiful, cloudy, cold day today. You have a beautiful day!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Home again, home again, jiggety jog!

Candy and I got home last night about suppertime. We had a pleasant but loooooooong trip home. We were (are, still) both so tired that it seemed longer than normal. We did stop for a nice leisurely lunch, thanks to Charles insisting (and paying for it), which helped the energy levels a lot! Thank you, Charles! We managed to spend some time in the gift shop. Candy usually gets a cat for each one of her trips but this time found a “happiness” statuette. I found a wonderful Santa (on sale, even) that I couldn’t resist! I have been trying to not get cute things because I have a lack of space to put them but he was irresistible!

Today is going to be a DO-NOTHING day! My knight in shining armor has been doing chores, feeding the birds and bringing in some of the stuff from the pickup. Candy and I will divide the things we got from the folks on a warmer day, when we have more energy. It’s 25º out, not a bad temperature, but the wind chill is +12º, which makes me want to stay inside. Peanut is curled up in our chair, waiting for me to sit down and cuddle some more.


Knight in shining (warm) armor

I have been trying to take pictures of the sweet birds outside the window; I have been trying to take some pictures of Juncos but have not had much luck. Today is better! I got a Goldfinch (Norm’s “Olive Finch”) and a Junco.

Goldfinch

Junco

The temperature differences from there to here are unreal! Tuesday, it was so hot in the new apartment that we turned off the heat and turned on ceiling fans (big south windows help heat the apartment). Here it is freezing, blowing, threatening snow and overcast!! I’m about to go back down to the family room where the corn stove is keeping the area very toasty warm; I can turn on a movie and take a nap!!

On the deck in the lovely sunshine

But cold weather aside, it’s good to be home and it’s a beautiful day! You have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How dry I am!

One of the most severe problems I have been having (besides total exhaustion and aching body) is the dryness. My lips are parched and cracked and this is something I am NOT used to! South Dakota is much, much drier than Minnesota, even with a skiff of snow on the ground – which will be all gone today, as it is already forty-eight degrees out!

The weather this morning quotes a humidity of fifty-four percent for South Dakota and eighty-three percent for home!! I am drinking more water than normal because I am trying to get these lips from feeling so awful! It’s something I ain’t used to, folks! It’s been eighteen years since I lived here, and I haven’t been here for such a long stretch of time since we moved.

On a better note, we tucked the folks into their new home last night. The computers are up and running – will have Internet on Wednesday – the TVs are hooked up and waiting for cable as well. Thank you, Charles, for crawling under Dad’s desk! I had done Mom’s; she offered me a pillow for a nap but Candy, again, refused! By the time I had finished her hookups, Charles was under there saying “now what do I hook up and where?” So easy to sit and hand cords and talk him through it!

We had supper at our favorite restaurant, and then Candy and I both bought teapots. You see, they served my tea in an adorable two-cup pot and I threatened to steal it, so the waitress said that they SOLD them at their little gift shop up by the checkout. We were both going to get green (my dad is totally stunned that we both like green) but she found a sweet yellow, so got that one instead.

Today is a slower day with unpacking and possibly carrying clothes over from the closets. Then tomorrow we are heading home. We are watching the weather and praying that the “light snow” predicted for the stretch across the state will remain “light.”

We have been watching the weather and sympathizing with those that are really suffering from the storms. Jill and Eric, it looks like your creeks and rivers are flooding again – I hope you aren’t having problems driving around! Those of you without electricity (who can’t read this right now), I hope it comes back on. That is one thing that drives me crazy (not a long drive, Norm says) is the total dependence on electricity in this country. But that’s another story, another post!
It will be a beautiful day; you have a beautiful day!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Oofta!

Can you tell I’m Minnesotan? Yesterday was a massively hectic day! The movers come today so we had to get everything (EVERY THING) emptied, on top of and inside of, for them. I crawled under desks (I don’t get paid enough for that!) and disconnected wires for the computers. The worst part was that Candy would not bring me a pillow so I could take a nap! No, really, the worst part was wondering if I could get up again!

So, now the computers are disconnected and ready for the movers, the TVs and stereos and everything electronic are disconnected but my body was screaming by the time I was done!

We took several loads of boxes to the apartment, went shopping for new bathroom shower curtains and stuff. Then went to the apartment with another load of boxes and the stuff from K-Mart (and yes, we did get something of Martha Stewart – we couldn’t avoid her completely) and met my friend Nancy. She brought a thermos of hot water, tea bags and “crumpets” to celebrate.

Pizza for supper and then “home” to the motel to fall into bed.

Today should be easier – we will watch the movers move and then unpack boxes at the apartment. I am going to stay at the house and put silverware and fridge things into boxes and wait for my sister-in-law-in-law. Mavis is married to Norm’s brother, Darrell, and they live on the home ranch. She is my oldest (in terms of time known) friend – Nancy is my second oldest. She and Darrell are coming into town for errands and appointments, so they are picking me up for lunch and then D is dropping us off at the apartment to visit and tour while he goes to an appointment.

So, before Candy drags me off the computer to go get McDonald’s for breakfast, I will post this and give you two pictures.


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

Out with the old

In with the new

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Still around!

Sister Candy and I are in South Dakota, getting our folks ready to move. Brother Charles came from Oklahoma to help. We three are staying at a motel (on a weekly rate – more of that another time!) so that the folks don’t have to worry about empty beds at night. In fact, last night, I helped Mom clean HER bed off so SHE would have room to sleep!

The folks have lived in their house for at least forty years, so it’s emotional as well as difficult to get everything packed. Fortunately, the folks are not going to sell the house for a few months, at least, so everything does not have to be out this weekend! The plan, so far, is to put what is necessary into the apartment and the rest that they want to keep into storage and then sell / give away the rest. We three “children” have been loading boxes and bags of little things that are offered that are special to us.

And, no, the folks (both are eighty-seven!) are not going into a senior home. They are moving into a three-bedroom apartment in a “normal” apartment building … a very nice one, but there are also families and people of all ages living there. Dad says he’s not “old enough” for a senior home! The apartment building has an elevator, so we don’t have to worry about stairs for them any more – or for US. Getting up the stairs in a split-level house is not pleasant to any of us anymore!

We will be here until Wednesday, and then head home. This morning, we are watching the Weather Channel. There is snow or threatening snow so many places! At home, Norm and Wayne are looking at a bunch of snow and starting to think about shoveling. Both have tractors, so will use them to plow out the roads when the roads get a little deeper. Here, we are waiting for snow to come – it would be convenient for us to NOT have it.

Today we get the key to the apartment and will start moving boxes over. The movers come on Monday to move furniture and big things.


So, happy December, and keep your feet dry in this snow! It will be a beautiful day; you have a beautiful day!