Thursday, July 31, 2008


My new friend, Kari, is a fascinating person. She has been studying runes, Nordic legends and women’s spirituality for over twenty years. She is totally awesome.

She has a book, “The Runes: A Human Journey” for which I traded a linen mat. She also has a cd (which I got at the Sons of Norway Convention) of some of her songs.

Kari portrays a Völva Stav (pronounced “wolwva” – difficult to get your tongue around, but cool sounding), which is a Stav (staff) carrying woman. A Völva travels from village to village, singing, healing, teaching. Her Stav is used as a musical instrument – Stavs were rhythm instruments before drums. The Stav is also used for protection as she travels from village to village. Now, I am sure that even the most depraved person would not attack a Völva – imagine the curses that would fall on his head! But there were wild animals that could possibly attack. The Völva will pound the Stav end on the ground and use a small stick of some kind as rhythm, striking it on the side of the Stav.

Kari wears clothing that dates back to the Vikings or even before. She has a string skirt that she wears that dates hundreds of years before the Vikings. She wore, on Friday, a Viking age Norwegian Völva costume; on Saturday, she wore an Eastern Swedish one – this one was based on the influences of Rome and the MidEast.

When Kari is ready to sing, she will put down what she is doing (she has learned to spin on a spindle), stand up with her Stav and start pounding it. If she is on grass, she has a board that she uses to help resonate the sound. So, you hear the “stomp click click, stomp click click” of the Stav and her little rhythm stick as the beginning of the song. Her voice carries, so everyone in the area could hear her singing, which drew a crowd every time. After the song, she would announce what she was and what she was doing.

This weekend, the Völva Stav was visiting our little “village” and since I was the only female in the group, she was visiting with the “head woman” of this village. A part of her duties was to teach the midwives of the village (I must have been that as well, this weekend) and help heal anyone who was sick. Part of my duties was to feed her – which was easy to do. She brought her own food and put it with ours for the noon meals (and snacks).

It was fun and educational to have Kari under my tent this weekend. I hope to be able to visit with her another time – she has promised to come visit me here at Ash Lane Farm sometime in the future!

Kari reads runes as part of her “duties” so I had her read mine. She has buckthorn pieces that she has written the runes on which are lying in a shallow basket. Of course, they are upside down so you don’t know what you picking. You pick three pieces, one at a time, and turn them up, one at a time. At the same time, you are asking a question. Kari reads and translates the meanings. My question was – what runes should I put on MY Stav (mine is buckthorn and I use it like a cane). She came up with the meanings of my three

Briefly, they mean that I have a relationship with my community, but I am pulling away from it to center on myself and re-organizing myself, then pulling the community back around me with a different purpose and meaning for all. (Kari, is that right?)

I took a marking pen and wrote them on the Stav. It took a while to decide WHERE to put them, what angle to put them, etc. Now, this week I hope to get Norm’s wood burner out and burn them on.


I might also put my name on there, as well. Kari wrote my name on the fly of her book so I can remember that, as well.

A great time with a great lady! Go to her web page and meet her. She has some songs and samples of some of her “plays” on U-Tube, as well.

On another note, I have "tweaked" the mirror that David Johnson made so that you can see details. I took out the background (not very well, I will admit) so you can see the dragon head. Wouldn't you like a mirror like this one?


It was a great weekend – it’s a beautiful day – you have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What a night!

Yesterday was stinking hot (and it will be so until Sunday, I’m told – thank you VERY much!), so we had the air conditioner on. Now, I keep my air set at about 77º during the day – it feels way too cold for me if it’s cooler (and it DOES save a little on electricity!). So the house is not very cold when we shut the air off at sundown.

I cannot sleep comfortably with air running – I want (need) that good fresh country air flowing into the bedroom when I sleep. But last night was hot throughout the night. We normally get down into the 60s during the night but it hung around 75º all night.

We have, in our bedroom, a ceiling fan – and it is a god-send on these hot nights to help stir the air and convince the outside air to come in. But, but, but, the fan has been set so that the air is pushed down and Norm objects to that.

(Would you believe that 40+ years ago, I was the one who was always cold and we fought about heat and cold back then, with opposite views than we have now?)

So, comes the night – ready for bed. Norm went to bed later then I, as his bath was the last (the dirty one gets the last turn so the cleaner person has cleaner water!). I had the fan chucking away, almost silently when he came to bed. He turned if OFF! I got out of bed and turned it ON!

Now, admittedly, the window was open, but there was no breeze and it still was ranging close to 80º. So I wanted that air moving so I wouldn’t die of heat prostration in the middle of the night!

Now Peanut is a strange little dog. There are times that she sleeps soundly all night long and never moves a muscle. There are times – like last night – where she is restless. We turned off the lights (with the fan gently blowing) and Peanut NEEDED to go outside! Well, fine – she probably forgot that putting barn animals to bed means, “Last time outside, kiddo! Do your duty and come inside!”

So I crawled out of bed, took her outside and sat on the porch, watching her “do her duty.” But nothing – she sniffed the air, sniffed the tires of the van, sniffed around, sniffed the air and said, “I’m ready to go back to bed!”

FINE! Back to bed – and the fan was turned OFF! I turned it on, tucked Peanut into her bed and went to bed, drank a sip of water and cuddled down to sleep.

About midnight, Peanut jumped out of bed, barking! She ran to the door, I toddled to the door and we went out so that Peanut could sniff the air and turn around and come BACK in! (What is going ON here?)

I went into the bedroom and the fan was turned OFF! I turned it back on (see above for routine) and went back to sleep.

About 1:30, here we go, again! There must be something out there (deer?) that is making just enough noise to wake Peanut and disturb her (and my) sleep. I went BACK outside, only to watch Peanut sniff the air and wander back inside.

Walking into the bedroom – the fan is AGAIN turned off! At this time, frustrated with all the fussing around I’d been doing, I woke Norm up and said “WHY? WHY? WHY?”

“I’m cold!” he whined! COLD???? The temperature had dropped to 72º outside, still no breeze and fairly muggy out. And he’s wrapped in a sheet AND a wool blanket!

FINE! FINE! I decided that perhaps the fan needed to have the blades switched to suck UP the air and circulate it from above (after all, I’d been told that the summer setting is as such). I got a warp stick from the studio and turned my light on so I could see the switch, which was invisible to me. I hit the fan (now turned off for safety reasons) in several different places.

Finally, Norm got out of bed, turned on his light, stood on the bed and found (and flipped) the switch. When I turned the fan on, it wouldn’t move! So Norm pushed the blades and it finally started moving.

Turning the fan to a medium speed, we went back to bed. I did not feel cool air blowing on me, but I COULD feel air moving around the room.

Norm stopped fussing, wrapped himself back in the wool blanket and went to sleep. Peanut stopped wanting to go outside to sniff the air. The fan chucked nicely and quietly. I went to sleep (finally) for the rest of the night.

At 6:30 this morning, I got up, turned off the fan and started my regular morning routine.

Now the house is closed up again in anticipation of the heat of the day and I am confident that tonight will be much quieter, much cooler!

Now, if I can only convince Peanut that she doesn’t need to go outside every 2 or 3 hours.

And I think I’ll go take a nap! You have a beautiful (restful) day.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Nordic Fest!

What a great time we had this past weekend at Decorah, Iowa! The weather was really great – Friday was muggy and warm but Saturday was wonderful! Breezy, no humidity and not very hot! What a way to have a festival!

The Nordic Fest at Decorah is really, really big. I heard someone say that they preferred coming a great distance rather than stay home and go to the one at their hometown!

So, we got there about 3:30 on Thursday afternoon. David Johnson was there before us, for once – we are usually the first ones there. His lovely wife comes to help set up and then goes home – they live “only” an hour away, so David goes home every night rather than camping with the rest of us.

Tom Latenė showed up with his blacksmith equipment and the guys helped unload the heavy stuff.

After we got set up, the Johnsons and we went to eat. Tom said he wasn’t ready or hungry, so he stayed “home” to continue setting up. We went to the Mexican restaurant just up the road – it’s excellent for food and for prices. Norm and I shared a steak fajita – they serve such big portions!

When we got back to the tents, Jasper Bond was there, setting up his pottery. I am sooooo addicted to his pottery!


A mirror that David Johnson made
Jasper at his wheel
Jasper's cart
Tom's forge


Candy sent some pictures and greeting cards to sell

I have, here, some pictures of my “home” – some people have asked if we sleep on air mattresses or what? Well, we try to be as “period correct” inside as well as outside the tent. Our beds can be torn down to be totally flat in the van but set up quickly. The bedsteads LOOK like something that would have come from the 1870s and are very comfortable. We use twin size mattresses and I always try to cover the pillows with the blankets when there are possibilities of people looking in.





We have a privacy curtain around my “bathroom” – and the curtains are also period correct (by “period correct” I mean that the look is as if it were back in history – even reproductions have to look like they came from that era). I have a reproduction commode so that I don’t need to go outside in the nighttime (or in the rain or snow) and a nice box that carries all my stuff, period or not – and can close it when we’re not using it to hide the modern stuff. I like my mirror! I don’t need to look at ME, but I need to see if my hair is tidy when I fix it in the morning.

The tent is canvas, of course. Canvas tents have been used for centuries, mostly by armies, but also by people who traveled from the old home to a new home.

After supper, Norm decided to go join the others at the opening ceremony. I washed up, put on my nighty and went to bed with Peanut. It was muggy but not too bad. It ended up to be an “only a sheet” night

In the morning, it was wash up, dress and get ready for the day. Jasper joined us for breakfast at a nice (but slow) restaurant Tom was still setting up and David had not arrived from home yet.

We set up, put up a sun curtain (the sun hits me until about noon) and started working – demonstrating to those who wandered by.

Kari (pronounced “car-ee”) showed up, so Norm helped her bring her things up – she set up beside me and we put an awning up for her so that she didn’t need to be in direct sun. Kari was such fun! She tells the stories of the Norse gods and goddess, reads runes, sings and entertained me.



Peanut discovered squirrels this weekend and therefore was always on the alert to chase down and catch one, if possible. This led to attempting to catch a cat, a bird and several large dogs. One dog came close to my spinning wheel and Peanut rushed out from under my skirt with teeth bared and vicious growls, ready to kill a Boxer about 50 times bigger than she!

One of the several delightful happenings this weekend was meeting Anne (pronounced, I’m told, as “Auu-na”) from Norway. She was spinning flax in the museum – I was spinning flax out on the lawn. Anne came to see me and was very politely horrified at the flax I was spinning and asked where I got it- I had gotten it on the Internet several years ago. She said I needed to be spinning what I had grown and processed myself. She was in the process of fine-tuning a spinning wheel that had been loaned her so Norm went to help her work on it – and then she brought some of the flax that SHE had grown and processed back in Norway and taught me how to dress the distaff and showed me the PROPER way to spin flax. I tell you, boys and girls, it was like a light bulb going off! THIS is the way to spin and create linen thread! THIS is more like it!! The difference between the two threads (my old and my new) is like day and night, with the night being the best!







Friday night we all went out to supper at the Mexican restaurant, again. I LOVE those fajitas! Kari joined us and enjoyed her meal, as well. We had Jasper, Tom, and David joining us as well. Makes a fun group.

Saturday morning is always a pancake breakfast at the fire hall. Kari joined us for this – the boys were not quite ready to go eat when we were.

Saturday was a more delightful day, weather wise, so it made the day go faster. All of a sudden, it was 5:00 and time to tear down, the hardest part of the whole event!
While saying goodbye to everyone, I talked to Tom about seeing him in 2 weeks in Wisconsin. Duran has a celebration that we have been asked to come to. Tom lives just a hop and a skip from Duran (in Pepin) so he offered beds for us for the nights we will be there. That is fantastic – means we don’t have to take as much stuff – the set up and tear down will be less, as we will only have to take an awning and tools, rather than sleeping and living equipment!

Heading home after a sandwich at Subway and home about midnight! Oofta! The going home is the hardest!


We found our animals well taken care of by sister Candy (who is FINALLY back from South Dakota for the summer) and neighbor Jody.

Peanut was sssooooooooooooooo happy to be home. She ran around outside for a while, then ran around inside for a longer period, from chair to bed to kitchen to water dish to food dish. When it was time for bed (as soon as we COULD after getting home) she raced with little pitter-patter feet into the bedroom and LEAPT into her bed from about 4 feet away! Leap, land, turn around and roll her tummy up for a scratch before being covered up for the night! Home again – nothing like your own bed for great sleeping!

Yesterday was wet and stormy – awesome clouds but no real storms hit us.Today is a beautiful, if hot and muggy day! You have a beautiful day!



Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy Owl is back!

I just got word from Happy Owl! She says that she is starting a new blog!!!! So here is her link - and I'll put it on my side-bar soon.

Norm and I are headed out this morning for Decorah, Iowa. The weather sounds like it will be mild , which is a relief! Two years ago (if any of you remember), the temperatures were up around 110º and we nearly died of heat prostration! This year, we are hoping that it WILL be mild like they are promising.

It will be a beautiful day - you have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I touched her!

My lamb, Soot, has always been a wild child – when Norm went to catch her, she jumped fences and did all kinds of crazy things to avoid capture. When we put her at Jody’s, she thrashed around and tried to escape the fence we had put up. Now here at our farm, when I approach her, she takes off for the high country (as high as you can get in a small enclosure). However, she is buddy-buddy with Arthur Godfrey, who is a pig in sheep’s clothing that wants to sit on your lap and cuddle, even at six months of age! When I go up to the fence to check on them, he comes running, hollering his head off. Soot will follow, but at a safe distance, in case I have a knife in my hand, or something as dangerous, with which to slaughter her!

However, last night, I went up to the fence to check on the water level in their bucket and Soot came over close enough for me to stick my fingers through the fence and TOUCH her! Without her jumping away! Of course, Arthur was there, immediately for his nose rub and pushed Soot away! But there is hope that someday I might be able to walk up to her and rub her on the head! (Hope springs eternal!)

On the home front, things have been going busily, as normal. Yesterday I had friend / co-conspirator Jody
come over to show her how to make a blog – and she now has one. Drop over to see her blog - “Good Shepherd Farm.” For some reason I get a “content warning” when I pop over to see her – don’t know why but there is nothing on her blog to be wary of!!!

On Friday, Norm, Wayne and I went to Pipestone to meet my folks for the Hiawatha pageant that has been on-going for sixty years, but this is the last year. My dad wanted to go, so arranged for us to meet him and my mom there for supper and the pageant. Norm called and made arrangements to get bars for the luggage rack for our van, so we went early to get them from the salvage yard, then went to the motel where the folks were staying. After a lovely supper at a very nice family restaurant, we went back to the motel where Norm, Wayne and Mom played a hand of three-sided cribbage, I did some embroidery and Dad surfed channels on the TV.

I am not sure how many know this fact, but Pipestone is where the stone is quarried for Native American pipes and only those of Native blood can quarry it. This has been an historical spot where many tribes would gather to collect the stone – it was traditionally a peaceful place, as it was a holy place for many tribes, so even warring tribes could gather together safely.

We went to the pageant, found our reserved seats and settled in to wait until sunset for the pageant to begin. The setting was awesome – it was in a quarry with a small lake – there were chairs on the slope leading to the lake so that you could see the pageant from almost everywhere. The lighting was awesome and the scenery was great. However, it was a “canned” play – the speakers were prerecorded and the actors mimed the words – and very poorly, in my opinion! The story was excerpts of Longfellow’s “Hiawatha,” a good story but very long, so we were all pleased that the story had been cut down dramatically.


Waiting for sunset

Awesome lighting

It was late when we got home, only to turn around and head to Walnut Grove in the morning. We had some rain, threats of storms but had a great time, anyway. There is a potter that does wood firing and has excellent work. Last year Norm traded a spoon and a spatula for the promise of a bowl but we got separated by time and never saw the potter or his wife until this weekend. But they had remembered and the wife came over to tell me to come pick out my pottery. I ended up with a small bowl and a handle-less mug.





Peanut joined us, of course – she goes to almost every outdoor event we go to. Because of the threatening storms, she spent most of her time under my dress, so very few people even knew she was there.

Niece Cookie and daughter Binni came down from their home to spend some time with us. They each got a funnel cake and, as I was oooohing and ahhhing over them (I had shared one with Norm earlier), a guest was asking what I was so excited about. It turns out that she has not only not HAD a funnel cake, she had never HEARD of funnel cakes. So Cookie got into the educational mode and offered the woman a bite. She went, immediately, to the funnel cake booth and got one of her own!

On our way home, as both of us were totally exhausted by the late night on Friday, we stopped at the local café for a light supper before heading home. Fortunately, the storms and rain had cooled the air so that we didn’t worry about Peanut in the van while we ate.

So, home again – the past few days have been rather restful, as we look forward to next weekend in Decorah, Iowa, for the Nordic Fest there. If you are around, stop and see us! I will try to get pictures of the events there.
It was a beautiful, semi-non-humid day today – you have a beautiful day!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Need help, here!

As you may remember, I got a KitchenAid mixer this past winter. I am looking for something to squeeze cooked apples into sauce as well as make tomato sauce and it’s getting harder every year for me to manually do so.

I have been looking at the stuff you can get for the KitchenAid and wonder if anyone of you has used anything for this purpose.

What I’m looking at is the KitchenAid FPPA Mixer Attachment Pack for Stand Mixers –
Amazon has it listed. At least I THINK that’s what I want.

Any clues? Anyone? Anyone?

Thank you – and have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! I’m on Steroids!!

Well, not medication that makes me raving-ly starving (right, Jill?) or pumped up like a football player. I had a shot in my knee yesterday.

My knees have had problems since I learned how to ice skate in high school. I learned on my knees, not my bum! I also learned, at the same time, how to walk on ice the very same way. I had not been really used to ice before then.

This past year, my right knee has been giving me problems and I think I aggravated it when we did so much hiking in New Mexico. By Eric’s graduation, I knew something had to be done, so I went to the doctor to have her look at it. After x-rays, I was told to go see a specialist, which I did, yesterday.

She told me that, yes, I will have to have knee replacement (sigh) but I can wait until this winter, or later, if I wish – and so the shot. There are two choices – one is the “simple” steroid – one shot every three months, as needed, until the necessary replacement. The other choice is a gel type solution that takes three injections and is a type of cushion for your knee bones. My dad is taking this solution because he has out-used the effect of steroids – but he’s eighty-eight years old and probably will not have his knee replaced.

My doctor showed me a drawing of the knee bones, took a pen and scratched all over it – “This is what is damaged on your knee – this is what is missing in your knee” – YIKES!! Lots of pen scratches there. Ah! But my tendons are fine – no damage there! She also showed me a drawing of the “prosthetics” that is the replaced knee. Metal and plastic, melded to make a new knee! Strange looking but acceptable, I suppose.

So, here’s the plan – we wait (if I can) until this next winter, when things are a little bit slower. The shot she gave me should last for three months. Already my knee feels better. Not pain-free, but a lot less pain!

But the shot!!! Yeeeaaa gods!! I will not lie to you, boys and girls – it was PAINFUL!! The needle was bad enough – she used one about the size of my pinky finger (no I didn’t look, but I could feel it) – but the medicine oozing, forced into my knee was worse. If you think of Novocain at the dentist? The needle hurts, but the Novocain going in is worse. However, she was as gentle as she could be, Norm held my hands so I could squeeze them into putty and I survived. Now all there is to do is wait until the steroids take effect and hope that the pain really IS less. Perhaps cane free in a day or so? One might hope, mighten one? How nice not to have to use a cane everywhere one goes!

On another note, I have a picture of a silly lamb that wants to join the chickens (and hopefully get more than a mouthful of corn from the feeder) and the picture of the missing old garage.


Spunky says "This is MY territory, these are MY hens!! You stay out!


Today, Don will come and dig post holes for the buildings – both Wayne’s and ours. Then the mover will come sometime (hopefully) in the next two weeks put place the buildings down. Norm and Wayne staked out the building lines for the postholes – that is one big building that we are getting!!! It’s so exciting! Then I will have room in the garage to actually PARK my van, possibly store the plastic tubs with my tools and supplies that I take to events, rather than in a corner where we hopefully don’t trip over them.

Walnut Grove, again, on Saturday – I didn’t take pictures last week, but will do so this week. It actually is a group of people meeting in the park and selling wares – sunbonnets and prairie dresses, baskets, crafts, etc. We are the only “period” people there. This time, I will have Candy’s ‘craft’ to sell. She has made beautiful greeting cards and small prints of her lovely Minnesota views that she has collected on camera. I might put them on Etsy later this month.

I also plan on collecting some catnip, drying it and selling (hopefully) in bags for cat-lovers. It’s in seed, now, and Jody says that she read that catnip is more potent (kitty marijuana, she calls it) with seed heads added. I might test it on MY cats.

Cats!!! How fun to lock them up in the evenings! They all want to go into the barn for night, now (including stubborn Toby), but they are not actually happy about sharing the barn with others. So, last night, for example, I opened the door to put them in; Spunky (Tiny, Tuffy, Brat – some of her names) flew out. Toby went in; Scooter was nowhere around. I called Scooter and Spook came, as well. Scooter went to the door; Toby flew out. I grabbed him, popped him in with Scooter, shut the door and went to grab Spook. As I opened the door for him, I had to grab Toby and turn HIM around! Then, in the darkening night, I had to find Spunky, scooting around in the grass like a little rat. She attacked Peanut, so I could find her. I grabbed her, gave her a night-night kiss, cracked the door open and threw her into the haystack. WHEW!!!

Today should be a cooler day than yesterday (over ninety seven in Sioux Falls yesterday) but still humid – we will probably need to use the air conditioner again today (sigh). I love / hate that convenience. It uses electricity ($$$$$) but cools the house, but also makes it stuffy – I LOVE open windows and fresh country air!!

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

Friday, July 11, 2008

Busy week!

This week has been the hottest week so far this season … but we kept busy, anyway. Joy and girls came down Monday night and surprised Norm; they met us at the café in town where we, Jody and Wayne were going to have tacos on Taco Monday.

Tuesday morning, Wayne came over to help get the old garage cleaned out. This is the spot where we will put our new (to us) steel building – I believe I mentioned that in another post. The girls, Joy, Norm and Wayne did most of the work. I was “waterboy,” errand girl, chief cook and bottle washer.


Hard working tractor

Starting to clean up

In two mornings, we went from a messy, full, full, FULL building to nada – zilch – nothing. And the old garage is down and gone! All that is left is a small pile of wood that needs to be moved.


VERY full


Bitty was in charge of the small tractor


Bubba was in charge of nail removal


A maul helps tear down walls


Even karate kicks will knock down a wall!


Chaining up the tractor



Going down?


Tough buildings need a push


And it's down!

On top of cleaning out and destroying the old garage, Norm had hay to be raked, so I showed the girls how to make windrows and they went to town. Even Joy got into the act! Now we have more hay for the critters this winter!




Looking for shade


A HOT dog!





Wednesday, we went to see Cookie and Binni – the girls were so excited to be together that they were hysterically silly all night! We took 115 pounds of pop cans (the girls smashed most of them) and 21 pounds of copper. A good haul to the recycle place and we got prime dollar for them.

We got home about 11:00 that night with 2 very tired girls who were supposed to go straight to bed but didn’t. Bubba wanted to finish plying the yarn that Joy had spun for her on the drop spindle and Bitty wanted to do some more weaving on the sample loom that is set up for the summer demos.


Using my new wheel, "Bonnie"


Bubba loves to ply

Up early in the morning and the 3 girls and Tasha headed home. It was pretty quiet when they left!

Now, today, it is “cooled off” to a heat index of 100º with a very strong wind. We have the air conditioner running for the first time this summer (would be nice if it’s the last time, too, but I doubt it). We are packed for tomorrow – going to Walnut Grove for the Laura Ingalls Wilder festivities there. A flea market / antique / craft show is in the park during the day and we have been invited there for the second year. I hope it will be as cool as promised tomorrow (about 80º) so it won’t be so miserable as today.

In fact, Wayne called and said it was too hot to cook so we met him at the café in town for supper. Now to get my olive spread made for tomorrow to go on the flat bread that I froze from the Sons of Norway event and then to bed early.

It was a beautiful (if hot) day today – you have a beautiful day!