Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Taxes are so complicated!

Our taxes are done, now (whew!). I started out with throwing all the needed info (bills, etc) into a box throughout the year. Then in February, I started collecting them together and putting the information in an Excel spreadsheet. I then scanned in the tax information for mortgage, property taxes, income, etc.

Then the tough part! I sent all the information via email to my niece, Cookie, who works for H&R Block (as does my sister). She would call or email me with questions and I would fill in the blanks.

I packaged all the stuff up into a folder with a rubber band and put it in the file drawer, labeled 2009 Taxes. Whew! What a chore!

Monday night, Norm and I went up to Marshall to meet Cookie and Candy at the office and sign the necessary paper work. The tax information was then sent electronically and we will get our refund from the State and Federal in about 10 days or so.

What a chore! What blood-sweat-and-tears I went through for this annual chore!

Thank you, Cookie, for all your competent work. It saved Norm’s life (I get very testy when I have to do the taxes myself) and saved my sanity (what little there is left)!

It’s a beautiful day today – up in the 50s already and very LITTLE wind, which makes it so much better. I am wishing you a wonderful relative or friend who will do your taxes for you and am wishing you a beautiful day!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Good-bye, Arthur!

There are times in the life of a farmer when tough decisions have to be made. Today was one of those times. Norm and I took Arthur to the auction house to sell.


Yes, Arthur was Jody’s beloved baby; I rescued him from the Farm two years ago as a child of an unwilling mother who managed to break his leg while rejecting him. Jody fell in love him and adopted him; she mended his leg, fed him and loved him. When he was large enough to be outside, we moved him here to keep Soot, (my black lamb) company. When Jody was over to visit, she would go to the fence and talk to him and pet him.

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We got a lovely fleece from Arthur last year that I gave Jody to spin. We also got a lovely fleece for Jody this year.


However, sometime during the summer last year, Candy started complaining about Arthur’s attitude. He started pushing her around when she went in to do chores, so she refused to go into the sheep side of the barn but asked Wayne to do so when it was needed.


Then Arthur started to push me around. It got so that I would take a bucket in and whack him on the side of the face to keep him from flattening me against the wall. I started worrying about the girls and warned them never to go in with him, but to pet him through the fence. But he started to butt at them through the fence.


It got so that Norm and Wayne were the only ones who could get through to him. If he got pushy, they could smack him with a stick or a bucket or a hand and he would back off.


We discussed this problem with Jody who, at this time was living in the Cities with her Mom; there was no way that she could take him home with her. Jody told me late this fall that we should sell him and take the money for the work that Norm has done to care for him.


We chose to wait until shearing was done so that we (Jody, actually) could have his fleece.
PhotobucketToday Norm and I loaded Arthur up in the trailer and traveled to the auction house to deliver him for sale tomorrow. Unfortunately he will be sold for meat. I feel very badly about that, but also feel that in a way, it’s his fault. Arthur could have had a long and happy life here at Ash Lane Farm if he had behaved himself.


It was difficult loading him in one way; we had gotten a small bucket of feed to lure him in and put some in the trailer to get him to jump in. I held the bucket and he spent more time trying to push ME than to eat the grain in the bucket. He finally got into the trailer with Norm’s encouragement.


When we got to the auction house, we backed up to the gate to let him out of the trailer. He would not get out because he was too busy trying to get at me instead of hoping out; the auctioneer assistant had to lean in and hit him on the rump to get him out of the trailer. After the gate was closed, Norm and the assistant opened another gate to put him into a pen and had a bucket of grain to encourage him.


Arthur turned to me, standing on the outside of the gate and raised on his hind legs and banged into the gate, trying to get at me instead of following a bucket of grain.


Selling him was a wise choice but I still feel badly about it.


Poor Soot is alone, now, and lonesome – but hopefully she will have a little one in less than a month to keep her company. After all, she and Arthur were very often butting heads and trying to prove who was boss, so it will be less stressful on her without him around.


Good-bye, Arthur – we enjoyed you while you were here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Three birthdays in one

Today is the birthday of 3 very important people.

On March 25, 1883, Carolina Anderson was born in Norway. She moved to America when she was somewhere between 8 and 10 (we aren’t sure exactly when). She grew to be my beloved Nana. Nana died in February of 1984, very close to her birthday, so I always say that she was 101 when she died. I think of her often. She taught me many of my homesteading skills and a lot about life and love itself. Nana taught me about unconditional love, which I try very hard to emulate.


On March 25, 19XX, Norm’s niece, Glenda Peterson was born. Now, sometimes you have in-laws that you like, sometimes you have in-laws that you dislike. My sister-in-law-in-law (my brother-in-law’s wife), Mavis, became a very close friend. We have a lot in common besides the fact we were married to Peterson boys. When Glenda was coming, I was almost as excited and anxious as Mavis was. Back in those days, you had to be a close relative to get to the baby floor and see the mother and child. I snuck up when no one was looking to visit Mavis and to see Glenda at the ripe old age of 1 day.

Glenda is the oldest of 4 children who ran around together – Joy, Wade (her brother) and Jill. We did a lot together when they were children and Glenda, as oldest, was naturally the leader. (Glenda, remember “Pete’s Dragon?”)


I won’t disclose her age today – perhaps she is sensitive to age now, but when she hits my age, she will be proud to announce it.

On March 25, 19XX (again), my favorite niece (alright, my ONLY niece!) Cookie was born. I was not there for her birth as I was in Australia when it happened, but I watched eagerly from a distance. Because I wasn’t around, I had to depend on stories from my mother as to the circumstances of this event. Mom told me that Candy was determined that Cookie would be a girl and would be born on Nana’s birthday. (Am I right?) She was also named for Nana – a variation of Carolina (again, am I right?). Well, Cookie IS a girl (woman, now) and WAS born on Nana’s birthday and she has a sweet name that is more than likely that variation.


When we moved back to South Dakota, she joined Joy and Jill for many family outings and experiences. When her mom moved to Oklahoma, I was extremely unhappy. Now she lives an hour from me and I can see her often, which makes me very happy.

So, on this beautiful Spring day, I’d like to wish a Happy Birthday to 3 special women in my life. A very happy birthday to you all. I love you all!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Prayers, please

My very dear friend and Partner in Crime (PIC) Jody of Good Shepherd Farm has been missing from the blog roll for many many months.  


Jody moved from her beloved farm 2 1/2 miles from me into the Cities to live with her mom and help her.  Jody's Mom, Marie, was dealing with sudden retirement and having to move from her apartment she had been living in.


Jody and Marie moved into a house owned by Don, Jody's partner in Good Shepherd Farm and started to settle in.  Jody has had computer problems so has not been able to get on her blog.


Then Marie started having health problems, so Jody has not had the TIME or ENERGY to get on her blog.  Hence the long absence.


I just received a call this morning from Jody, telling me that her mother died early this morning.  Marie suffered a stroke and her heart stopped several times.  There is high water everywhere so the ambulance that came to get Marie was rerouted away from the normal route, which made the trip longer.  But Jody says it wouldn't have mattered how long it took to get to her, the decision had been made that it was Marie's time.


Jody is grateful that she was there when Marie collapsed - Jody had been scheduled to go to the doctor yesterday and says she would never have forgiven herself if Marie had died while Jody was gone.


Jody is at peace, though grieving, because she knows her mother is now at peace.


On Thursday (which I was going to originally write about today), Jody goes into the hospital to have the same type of surgery as Ken.  She has an acoustic nerouma and it will be removed that day.  I am asking for prayers for her speedy and safe surgery and speedy recovery.  


Perhaps Marie chose to go at this time so that Jody could recover from her surgery without having to worry about her mother.


So, on this beautiful spring day, hug the ones you love and send prayers to those who are grieving.  And send prayers to Marie and to Jody and her family.

Jody has a Caring Bridge site set up if you want to visit and leave her a message.


Jody, I love you .....

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Trip down memory lane

I was working on our passport applications today.  I decided (Norm "poo-pooed") that we need to have updated passports, just in case we win the lottery and go traveling.

Yes, Heb, the biggest reason is so that we can come visit you SOMEDAY.

I needed the old passports so I dug them out of our safety box and was looking at the pictures.  My, that was a long time ago!!  Our pictures will look a lot different this time!


It's a very mild day today but overcast.  It's a beautiful day ... you have a beautiful day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sunshine!!!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone who is Irish or who wishes to be! I have about a thimble full of Irish blood and I would love more.

We are celebrating several things today. Sunshine, St. Patrick’s Day and Shearing Day (yesterday).

Today is the first day that we’ve had sunshine in I-don’t-know-how-many days. We had sunshine when I was in the Cities, IN the Cities, but there was no sunshine here. I have been home for ten days and have not seen sunshine since I have been home. My brother-in-law, living nine miles north, has not seen sunshine for longer than that! Probably since the middle of February. I’m guessing.

But today … Today!! … When it got lighter this morning, the SUN came up! Not covered with fog or clouds, but in a bright blue sky! I had almost forgotten what it looked like!

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How did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? I have enough Irish blood to fill a thimble, but I still feel Irish! I wore a green shirt and sang Irish songs all day. I was going to make some steamed cabbage and ham (don’t have any corned beef on hand, so ham had to do) but Norm remembered that he had a supper waiting at church so I just heated up some ham for my supper and watched “Tale of Two Cities.”

Yesterday, Norm and I caught Arthur and Soot and he took them to the Farm for shearing. The shearer had good news; he feels that Soot is definitely pregnant! We weren’t sure, so now we have something little to look forward to. But on another note, we are going to have to send Arthur away. He has gotten very pushy and shovey – I had hoped that he had stopped being that way but when I went in to push them into the trailer; I had to beat him off and slide out to let Norm do the pushing. Arthur was trying to flatten me against the wall, and he’s stronger than I am! He technically belongs to Jody but she is the one who told me to sell him. I hate to do it but it’s a matter of safety; I can’t trust the girls to go in with him and Candy won’t do chores with him around! Soot, however, will have (hopefully) a little one to keep her company and if we don’t have to bottle-feed her / him, the little one will remain aloof and not get pushy like Arthur and most other bottle lambs.

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It was a beautiful day – it got up in the fifties and stayed sunny most of the day. You have a beautiful day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Shame on me!

I forgot to take pictures this weekend!! I had the camera out and ready to use, but never grabbed it!

This weekend was fun, though. We arrived on Friday and got our things unpacked from the van. We have a special corner in the basement area; since it is the two of us demonstrating, we have two tables. There is a bar in that corner, in a little “room” – since it isn’t used during our weekend, we put our beds up in there. The manager, Virginia, remembered, last year, that we sleep there, so she left some curtains up from some celebration so we had a private room. Last year I had to take several naps since I had just had my knee surgery.

This year, the curtain was up again. I don’t know if Virginia put it up special for us or if there was another celebration, but it was nice to have … we keep out cooler on the bar counter and tuck our boxes and bags in corners. I brought a hot pot and plugged that in for tea in the morning.

We took Peanut’s crate in and got that set up so she was comfortable in finding it and sleeping in it. Peanut likes to wander around when it’s quiet but heads for the crate when it gets noisy. It makes it easy for me to lock her in when we leave the area for any reason.

On Friday, then, we set up, went up to have a potluck with chili (I don’t get it, as it’s always too spicy for me) and visited with friends. After going back down, I let Peanut out and visited with friends downstairs.

Our dear friends Tom and Kitty from Pepin arrived; Norm helped them bring their things in and set them up. They started coming last year but think they will not be coming back as the sales are so small that they don’t cover travel, much less the cost of the tables.

It was a slow year, according to most people; Norm didn’t sell as much as he normally does but I sold four of Joy’s handspun skeins and got two special orders for her. This helps her and helps the business, “A Sisters’ Thing” – the business that Candy and I are doing. It’s a small one and will remain small but will help (hopefully) feed our habits. It’s helping Joy, as she gets a large percentage of what she supplies. Joy has become a “production” spinner and her quality is above excellent!

At ten that night, lights were put out. The laughter and talking around the room stopped as everyone went to bed, if they weren’t already in bed. I’ve mentioned in years past about the “Great Minnesota Sleep-Over” – and it is. Most of the people who sell or demonstrate sleep under their tables, in the walkways or (in our case) in corners. Some splurge and stay in motels; some have friends and stay at their houses. One dear friend, Lynn, stayed with a friend last year but mourned that it wasn’t as much fun – she missed so much and tucked herself under her table this weekend, a much happier camper.

Saturday morning the lights came on at seven, as people started moving around. It’s almost like a camp – lights out at a certain time, rise and shine at a certain time. Some people bring breakfast (Kitty and Tom had cereal and milk), some go to a fast food place, some go to restaurants, and others pop upstairs and get rolls and coffee. Norm always goes up to get his coffee and brings me down a donut or roll. We had fruit in the cooler to add to the breakfast. I had my tea while Norm drank his coffee.

Guests start coming in about nine so we need to be dressed by then. Some have jammies they wear (neighbor leather gal wore red and white flannel cuties)’ others wear part of their costume.

I (and other gals) just take my skirt and drawers off and wear my chemise as a nightgown, as the women “back then” would do. The drawers (unmentionable in decent company, but mentioned here to give you more details) are ankle length. The chemise works as a petticoat as well as a blouse as it’s worn under a skirt. Some women wear very fancy skirts and over-blouses or jacket called “short gowns” - I have never been comfortable in a short –gown so I am now wearing my working woman’s shawl which works as a jacket of sorts. What the woman needs is to cover up her shoulders, back and front with something, as the chemise IS an undergarment and the only things “legally” allowed to be seen in decent company are the sleeves and the top of the garment. Although if you look at pictures or see an older-age movie, a lot of the women show a lot of their fleshy front (to be conservative in words, here) and that was allowed and encouraged. There are some gals at New Ulm that show a lot of their “assets” and I have a hard time looking at them as they pass as it is embarrassing to me to see them. There are fewer and fewer each year, as the ones that used to show a lot are getting older and not willing to corset up as much.

So, here we are at Saturday and the guests are coming. It was hot upstairs (as always) so they left the front door open and the cold air came DOWN – I ended up getting a shawl to wear as it was so cold. Peanut was in her crate with a blanket covering it – not only to disguise it as a gray plastic modern dog kennel but to help keep her warm in there. I let her out several times to go outside but I usually had to reach in and PULL her out!

Norm and I had good questions – not many stupid ones that make demonstrating so much easier on our mentalities!! I had many, many people interested in the weaving this year. I had several that were going to contact weaving guilds to find teachers and / or looms (some had looms gifted them already).

Saturday night we had “our” traditional potluck – the small group of close friends who have chosen to eat together rather than going out to eat or eat alone at the tables. This year it has grown to ten people at the table so we had to find a long table to fit us all on. We each bring something from home that has been fixed and is able to be either re-warmed or chilled, depending on what it is. We sat around visiting and having a good time but headed “home” to our little places early as the time change was that night. I was in bed by nine (old time, ten by morning’s time – have I mentioned that I HATE time changes?). Norm went to the bar and got a beer and picked a “screwdriver” up for me, which helped me go to sleep quickly.

We all slept in a little bit later on Sunday; lights didn’t come on until eight (new time – seven, old time). We then got dressed, did our hair (doesn’t take Norm long), and got ready for another day.

Sunday was a slower day as far as sales and guests but a wonderful day for me because so many of my non-New Ulm friends come to visit all of us. There was Deanna – past owner of new (still unnamed) loom who brought more magazines for me to drool over; she was our boss when we worked at Historic Murphy’s Landing. We had Connie J – my criminal other half; while we were both at Murphy’s, most people didn’t want us together as they felt the “two Connies” would get into trouble – who, us? Sweet little Connies get into trouble? Her daughter, Catie, came down with her. The Murphy’s folks raised Catie. She started at about ten and has really grown; she graduated from college and is in the process of finding a job – she has a part-time job that might grow to full time. Kevin and Julie (no, wait, they came on Saturday) are Murphy’s friends, too. Kevin is a woodworker like Norm and was my neighbor many weekends while we were out there. The daughter, Melissa, also was a Murphy’s child that we raised: she is now in Washington State at college. Patience and Harley – the weekend would not have been complete if they didn’t come. Norm and I met them at Murphy’s (wait, ALL our friends that came to visit were “Murphy’s” people!) when we lived there. They convinced Deanna to allow them to camp (period correct, of course) the whole summer and they spent their vacation there. They were our closest neighbors (a quarter of a mile away from our house in their tent) so Deanna and we would stop over after supper for a visit around their campfire. The friendship has continued; we don’t see them often enough but we still stay close.

Then three o’clock came and it was time to tear down. Norm had taken the beds out before opening in the morning so was just a matter of putting things in our plastic tubs (which are hidden during the day) and hauling them upstairs to the van. Peanut’s crate was one of the last things taken out so she would be enclosed and safe with all the traffic. Within forty-five minutes, we had said goodbye to everyone and were on the road home.

What a great weekend! Although I don’t have current pictures, I did dig up some from last year to share … actually the people stay the same, the booths stay the same, for the most part.


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On a weather note, we left on Friday in pouring rain and drove in heavy fog. New Ulm (down in a valley) was overcast and cool but no rain or fog. When we left yesterday afternoon, it was sunny!!! But in fifteen minutes, the sun had disappeared and we drove in heavy, heavy fog. Norm even missed our turn off because of the fog!

It was a beautiful weekend; it will be a beautiful (less foggy) day today. You have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

“Home is the sailor, home from the sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.” 

This is part of a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. It expresses what I feel when I come home. I am HOME.

I love being with my family and I love traveling but I love being home the best.

Being with my granddaughters for nine days was wonderful. Being able to spend time with Joy and with Ken was also wonderful. I am sure that most of you know that my family is the most important thing to me and I love being with everyone.

Coming home, though, and being home, is the best thing in the world. Now, if I could have family HERE, I’d be happy as a clam.

Ken is slowly getting better. He’s stronger and can do more things but is having trouble sleeping. He can’t really get comfortable with the staples in his head and the holes in the back of his head. They screwed bolts into the back and the front of his head to hold his head still while doing the surgery. They are tender and bother him when pressed against, even with a very soft pillow. He has gone to church and also to “Small Group” – a small group (of course) that meet once a week for bible study. He goes for short walks on nice days, if Joy is available to go with him. Joy does not allow him out of the house by himself.

While at Joy’s, I helped Bitty get her loom fixed … it had problems that needed severe work on. Norm has promised if she works on her loom, he will re-vamp it from a 2 harness to a 4 harness, which makes her very excited.

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Two-harness loom - making a pillow cover

I also collected my new floor loom from friend Deana (and had a nice lunch and talk with her at the same time). I set it up at Joy’s and the girls helped me dress it. 

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 Starting the set-up
Now that I am home, I have been getting my new loom put in place. I want to name her but haven’t come up with a good name. I thought “Pixie” because she’s so petite for a floor loom but I think Candy’s little wheel has that name claimed. Any ideas?

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Please excuse the mess in the studio.  I am NOT a tidy person!
 
I have the first towel going along nicely. It took a while to get into the rhythm of the pattern but it’s looking nice. I have about six inches done. I’m still struggling with the tension, but will get it better the next time. 
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I love the colors
 
Cherry was emptied, due to the Olympic place mats being done. So I’m threading up another pattern. I think I’ll make a table runner with this – about twelve inches wide and about three feet long. Any suggestions as to color? Blue (dark or light?), yellow, yellow / orange, red, brown, tan, green? Suggestions would be gratefully received. If I had a person in mind, right now, I’d have fewer problems.
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Threading the heddles

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The pattern that I will be weaving ... color ideas would be appreciated


I gave the Olympic placemats (Blooming Leaf) to Ken to use on the TV trays and lap tray that he uses when in the recliner.

Matilda is going great guns … a Bird’s Eye pattern. That is designated for my dresser / sideboard in the living room. I’ve started many projects to go there and always end up giving them away. THIS time, it’s for ME!
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Bird's Eye on Matilda

This weekend we will be going to New Ulm for our annual “Great Minnesota Sleepover” and Rendezvous Trade Fair. Norm is working on spoons to sell and I’m starting to get my boxes repacked for the weekend. Norm has already got the beds out and into the van so that they will be last out. We take a lot of stuff for just the two days but it’s worth it. We enjoy going there very much; a lot of good friends are there to spend time with, as well as all the guests who come by to see what we do and (hopefully) purchase something.

It’s a foggy / rainy day with the weather just above freezing. It sounds like it will be the same for the next three days or so.

It is a beautiful day to be home. You have a beautiful day.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Catching up

First, as I said, Ken is home. He spent a quiet night and is resting comfortably now. He watched TV – the taped Olympics that he has missed – and had a good supper before going to bed. Joy and I “tag teamed” for his pills during the night. Joy said he slept all night until she would wake him for pills; that is better than at the hospital when you get NO sleep because the nurses are always checking on you.

So, Monday was Norm’s birthday – we celebrated Sunday night, and then went shopping for some groceries Monday morning before he and Peanut headed home. I wanted to keep Peanut here but Norm said it would be better for her to go home with him. It would keep it quieter here for Ken – when Tasha and Peanut are together, they both tend to bark more. Also, I think Norm wanted her home so he wouldn’t be so lonesome.
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Norm got a new welding helmet for his birthday
 
We all (Joy, Bill, the girls and I) went up to the hospital to spend time with Ken. It was the first time the girls had seen him since he left for the hospital on Friday morning.
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Girls in the waiting room as there were too many people in the hospital room at that time
 
Bill drove everyone (except Joy) to Martial Arts. Bitty has a yellow belt and Bubba has a white belt. Joy called close to quitting time to tell us that a friend was going to take her home so we didn’t have to go back to the hospital to pick her up. Great for us!

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My favorite granddaughters
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One of the routines they practice

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Bitty with her routine

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Punching bag to strengthen them

Tuesday morning, Ken called to say that he was able to come home that day so Joy and Bill went up after lunch, expecting to have to stay until about suppertime. But at 3:00, in came Ken, exciting the girls very much.

So, that’s what’s been going on. Bitty is working on her loom – we’ve had problems with it but it’s getting closer to actual weaving. I am dressing my loom that I purchased from Deanna and the girls are helping me with that. They are also doing their schoolwork and housework.

Joy and Ken are resting in the bedroom. Ken is probably sleeping and Joy is knitting and keeping him company. 

Norm will be back on Friday and then we will go home on Sunday. So, that’s the news from Lake Woebegone, where the women are strong, the men are good looking and the children are above average. 

It is a beautiful sunny day and the temperature will be in the lower 40s. You have a beautiful day.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

News flash~~~

Ken is home!  He got home this afternoon about 3:00!!!  Almost a record as to how long he was in the hospital.  The doctors were the ones who said he should go home!!!

More updates later.