Monday, January 31, 2011

A great weekend

Joy, Ken and the girls finally made it down here for our "Christmas" party.  And a fun time was had by all.

Friday night we had BBQs with homemade sauce, home-baked buns and home-cut french fries.  Then sat around and opened the Christmas presents we had for each other (I had threatened that our gifts would go moldy if they didn't get down here soon!).

Saturday morning it was snowing (surprise, surprise!) so the girls bundled up and went out to play with the kicksled while the guys worked on the snowblower so that it would run, again (something had frozen inside it).

Saturday night the girls helped me make pizza.  Now, Ken has always loved my pizza, as I've mentioned before, and he was very excited about them being made - and was the first one to grab a piece while fresh from the oven.  In fact, Ken told me that the first time that he came to our house while dating Joy, I was making pizza.  Ken wouldn't agree that my pizza helped him decide to marry Joy but he did admit that it didn't hurt!

Cribbage games that night while Joy and I knit and talked.

Sunday the snow had stopped but Norm decided to not go to church. He and Ken played in the snow, digging out the driveway so that Ken's car could get out in the afternoon and digging out the intersection between the lane and the road as well.

We had leftovers for lunch, then more card games.  My family is addicted to games!

The family headed home about 4:30, hoping (and succeeding) in getting home before the promised snow hit any of us.  It was too quiet when they were gone!  Norm and I finished up some leftovers and watched TV to "veg out" before going to bed.

The snow did hit, about 8:00 and now (noon, Monday) we have over 6" of fresh snow and a little bit of wind which is causing a small amount of drifting. But this wind is supposed to gradually pick up to about 30 MPH which will make horrendous drifting, again.  If the 1" that we had on Saturday made a drift impossible for a car to go through on Sunday, imagine what 6" + inches and that strong wind will do!

But in the meantime, it's a beautiful snowfall and the snow is coming down, not sideways, the sun is trying to peak out and the temperature is a mild 19º.  You have a beautiful day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Another cold thought

As I was thinking of how cold it has been this winter, how cold it could be this winter and was reading about how cold it IS (this winter) in places more blessed than we are with cold, I started remembering some of the cold times I have lived in and survived.

I lived in Bemidji, MN, when I was in second grade.  I knew it was cold but never knew HOW cold – we never really discussed temperatures between we children back then.  I lived about half a mile from the bus stop and walked there nearly every day – I might have gotten a ride from my dad but I don’t remember it.  I walked on the county road to the highway were the bus picked me up and walked past snow fences holding the snow off the road.  I was bundled up; I don’t remember being miserably cold but it must have been pretty nasty.  That part of Minnesota has pretty cold temperatures when the winter hits.

After Bemidji, I lived in milder climates (Japan and Oklahoma) until we moved to McClusky, ND for a year.  My mother’s family lived (and still lives) there so we moved there while my dad was stationed in Greenland for a year.  I got my first pair of ice skates and learned to skate on my knees (big reason for knee problems now).  I also had to learn how to walk on ice (and learned that on my knees, too).  We walked to school every day and I don’t remember getting a ride to school then, either.  I do remember being cold.  I was given a nice warm scarf that winter that I still have - it’s still nice and warm - and used it every day.  School was about a mile from our house, I’m guessing, so it was a cold walk every day.

One strong memory is of being in church on cold days - we wore snow boots to church, then took them off and wore dress shoes in church.  The boots were stored in the unheated entryway of the church for that hour, so the boots were cold when we put them on.  I wore nylons (a grown-up ninth grader) so the boots were extra cold - like putting your bare feet on ice cubes.  Of course we carried our shoes in cute little shoe bags (mine was brown and black) while wearing the snow boots.  Auntie Pete lived about half a block from church and we normally went there for Sunday dinners.  It was a cold hop and a skip from the church to her house where I would jump out of the cold boots and stand on the warm register to warm my feet up (wonder if that’s why I constantly have cold feet now?). 

Another cold memory was a moving day in Rapid City, SD.  Norm and I were moving from an apartment to a rented house early in our married life.  We chose a January day to move and it was in the minus twenty range.  The friend who came to help us had trouble starting his pickup because of the cold.  Everyone had trouble starting cars in that weather!

I’ve been through snowy winters, cold winters, mild winters, “brown” (no snow in the north) winters but the coldest I’ve experienced, I believe, was one Christmas while living at Murphy’s Landing.  My folks came from South Dakota for Christmas and we spent Christmas Eve at Joy’s.  When we lived up there in the Cities, we were about thirty minutes, give or take, from Joy’s.  It was shorter, time-wise, if Ken knew I was making home-made pizza ... he could make in half the time, then!

However, this Christmas was bitterly cold.  Fortunately there was no wind!  As we left Joy’s at midnight, Norm and Dad were in the front, brave souls that they were, with only the bundled up clothes they were wearing but Mom and I were cuddled in the back with blankets (notice the plural) around us.  Norm had warmed up the car for quite a while before we went out.  As we drove past a bank, the temperature there said minus thirty!  MINUS!!!  And the cold air was so frosty and crisp and foggy that the lights of the car only went a little ways away and bounced back on us.  Plus the highway lights had huge halos around them.  It was beautiful despite the cold.

Oh, and did you know ... no matter how warm the heater is in your car, you need to put extra clothing or blankets on the door side of you because the cold will come in and freeze your shoulder and leg that is closest to the door.

Fortunately I have not experienced anything colder since that Christmas.  It lives in my memory.  And fortunately I have not driven (or ridden) in cold even close to that since.  As we have retired, we have the luxury of saying “We won’t come” when the weather is bad.   

Today it is overcast, nearing the low twenties and there are small snowflakes slowly drifting down.  It is a beautiful day, giving me hope that Spring might indeed come.  You have a beautiful day!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Is it cold enough, yet?

Full moon on -16º night

Living as we do in Minnesota, we are used to the fact that winter is cold ... January is traditionally the coldest month of the year.  But we have been spoiled by mild winters for quite a while.  These past two years, however, we have had a lot of snow and a lot of cold, especially down here in the south-west corner.  Now, the Cities have had more snow this year - an all-time record snowfall (and it’s not over yet).

I have been watching the weather in the north-east, where our friends are suffering from the excess snow and cold as well.  And there is also the south, where people are suffering from this cold.

Yes, it’s not as COLD as here, but it certainly is very cold for them.  And if you do figures (which I don’t do), you might find that they are colder, in relative terms, than we are.

 Whiteout conditions

But that doesn’t make us any less cold!  I think you might have heard that Embarrass, MN had a record low ... 5th in the books ... of  -47º.  That’s MINUS 47 degrees!  And, yes, Embarrass is a real town in the northern part of Minnesota, not too far from International Falls.  Embarrass is a  “township” because there are so few people (under 700 in 2000).

Some parts of Minnesota that are not so far north got cold, too, this week.  We had -16º one day and it was -15º this morning.  Others got down to about -21º.  That’s way too cold!

“They” say it’s supposed to warm up this week.  I certainly hope so!  We had bright sun this morning, then this afternoon (during the Packer / Cub game) it turned overcast, the wind picked up and it got even colder.  We have a high humidity (85%) on top of wind and cold, so the house feels cold even though the temperature on the wall says 67º.  

So, it’s cold, baby, it’s cold.  But this, too, shall pass and it will be Spring someday.  Until then, it was a beautiful day .. You have a beautiful day.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fiber Festival

The “Purple Iris” in Marshall is a specialty yarn shop.  The owner, Janna, was asked by the manager of a mall in Marshall to have this Fiber Festival in conjunction with the “sidewalk” sale they were having.

So Janna organized the fair and put flyers up about it.  Candy and I were at the Purple Iris one time when in Marshall (a dangerous but required visit nearly every time we are there) and Janna asked us to come.  We both said yes - I would bring my loom and Candy would bring her wheel.

However, Candy works during the tax season at H&R Block and had to work this past week.  During the weekend, it was Wayne’s birthday and he wanted her to come home to be with him, so she didn’t bring her wheel or plan on “working” the fair.  Weather did not cooperate (as normal) and Candy had to stay in Marshall so she and daughter Cookie stopped by on Saturday for awhile.

Candy stays with Cookie during tax season and Cookie gracefully allowed me her couch for the four days I was up there.

Now my faithful readers (all millions of them) know that I am by nature a hermit so to go to a strange place and meet strange people is a near-impossibility for me.  BUT .... put a thread in my hand and tell me I will teach people about my obsessions and I am good to go!  So I went up, knowing full well that Candy would not be there to morally or mentally support me and I had a GREAT time!

During this story, I will not mention names (sorry, gals!) ... I remember some of them, but not others and I don’t want to get them mixed up.  These gals from the area were totally welcoming and friendly and just down-right wonderful to me.  I not only had a great time, I had a blast!  

The plan was that customers and friends of Janna would come and do their fiber-y things to demonstrate to customers of the mall. Thursday it looked like a wash - only three of us were there all day and very few customers came through the mall.  But Friday and Saturday, there were so many people that we needed to collect more chairs; the customers wandered, did the “mall walk” and stopped to see what we were doing.  Sunday was a little slower but still there were quite a few around the tables.

So, Thursday I arrived about ten - driving through ground blizzards to get there and stayed until about five - then went to Cookie’s to be with her, Candy and her daughter, Binni.  They made a fantastic soup for my birthday present and we watched “Greatest Loser” - which I have never watched before.

Friday I went back to the mall, worked until five, again, then went “home” to spend more time with my family.  Saturday, again the same.  Sunday I packed up the car, said goodbye, grabbed a few non-freezable items from Walmart, went to the mall and worked until about three.  Then I packed up the loom with the help of a wonderful young woman, got groceries from Hy-Vee and headed home to get home before the “promised” snow during the night, again driving through ground blizzards.

So, that’s the bare-bones of the story - now for more details.  First of all, I celebrated being in a big city (well, big town - bigger than MY town) by having all lunches from fast food places and two out of the three suppers (dinners?) being delivered to the house.  What luxuries!  Now back to home-made meals!          

We had a lady come by to show us how to do Shirret rugs - crocheting strips of material with rug warp and a tool very much like a crochet hook.

We had a group of ladies come that do Viking Knitting - taking gold, silver or copper wire and wrapping it around a dowel.  The “diz” is a piece of wood with different sizes of holes to stretch the wire through; each time going through a smaller hole makes it skinnier and longer.  The finished projects are breathtakingly beautiful.

We had Alpaca fiber and yarns and finished products; Dave owns Alpacas; he wanted to bring some but the mall’s rules didn’t allow them inside.  Cookie got Candy a small white fleece.  I bought a ball of roving for Joy to spin and knit.  I said she could have the leftovers if she spun yarn and knit me some socks.  I also bought a pair of commercially knit socks - they are warmer than the wool ones I have.

Janna brought her triangle loom and worked on it over the weekend and finished Saturday night.  As she was taking it off, we were singing the “Stripper” song (“da dum dum dum!  Da dum dum duuuuuuum!” and saying “Take it off, baby!”

All in all, it was lots of fun.  I was invited to join the group that does different crafts each month - the Viking Knitting this month, paper making next month, etc.  I was also invited to go to a show in March but it’s the same weekend as Stitches so I can’t go on Saturday but might be able to go on Sunday (if the weather holds).  I gave out many Stitches in Time cards and invited many to come join us in good weather.  I met a gal who has Finns and Llamas who wants to learn to spin.  Another one wants to learn to weave.  So, not only fun, it was worth the trip for spreading the news about Stitches in Time.

I WAS going to stay until closing on Sunday and then come home this morning (Monday) but they were promising that snow so I cut my visit shorter than planned.

The weather was cold but not unbearable ... however I was so glad I was just in and out and not having to BE out in it!  Today is supposed to be in the twenties, but tonight it will “plummet” they say and the highs might make a plus degree or so!

The table runner was interesting - I had a plan and a pattern but it was not what I had hoped it would be and it was difficult to keep track of what I was treadling, so I quit after about six inches and switched to a twill, which went much faster and was prettier, in my mind.  Now that it is done, I have another project in mind to put on Cherry and still have projects on Matilda and Harriet Dare.

It is an overcast day but beautiful with all the new snow.  You have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wistful Wednesday

Okay, a look into my past.  This is a picture of Ginger, my beloved milk cow.  She was half Jersey and half Brown Swiss ... she looked more like Brown Swiss with coloring and size but she had a beautiful Jersey dish-face.  She also had the Jersey milk - she had a quart of cream for every gallon of milk.

Ginger was born in the "wilds" and had never been handled by humans until she was about three years old.  The lady who sold her to me told me that she didn't like men and that we had to be careful of her ... she was not a tame cow.

After I had had her for a while, Norm started milking her once in a while and she allowed him to.  But she never let him close to her calves!  I've seen him scale (fly?) a four-wire barbed wire fence when he got too close and she took after him.

Ginger would never allow us to pet her or cuddle her - her horns would swipe if we got too close to her face. She also would only give me a certain amount of milk, as she had to save the rest for her calf!  No matter how much "coaxing" I would do, I only got about a gallon per milking and I knew she had a lot more in her!

I had two other cows about the same time - one was her one and only heifer calf, April, and the other was a purebred Jersey, Dusty Rose, that Joy showed in 4-H and I trained to milk.  When the decision came to cut down to one I had to make a choice - the other two had been hand raised, were "cuddly" (well, for a cow), were milder tempered and were smaller - much easier for me to handle.

So what choice did I make?  No question - Ginger stayed, we sold the others!  I had - and still have - a soft spot for that cantankerous old gal!  I don't think she thanked me for keep her, but I was grateful that I did.

And, I still dream about her occasionally --- miss her something fierce!  My Ginger - giver of great milk and cream!  I even have recipes that I had altered to say "If using Ginger's milk ...... " 

I'm heading out to Marshall tomorrow for a four-day Fiber Festival where I will be demonstrating weaving on "Cherry."  It will be a beautiful day tomorrow - I am sure of it.  You have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Wistful Wednesday

Sometimes I follow the blogging gals who post old pictures on Wednesday.  Today is one of these days, as I found a picture that was taken in the early 80s.

This is my sister, Cara, and my brother, Charles.  Sitting and watching the clowns are my youngest, Jill, and Charles' son, Charles Joseph (CJ).  As you can see, a storm is threatening in the background. 

This was taken on the back porch at my folks' house when Charles, wife Robbie and CJ came to visit; they lived in the Cities, we lived in Rapid City, SD.

It's a cloudy, snow(ing) day again... but a beautiful temperature that is in the mid-twenties.  You have a beautiful day.

Postscript!  My brother-in-law, Wayne, was supposed to come for supper but made it half way and turned around .... the snow has made the warm roads turn to ice and his road was drifting shut when he left.  Oh, well ... back to the drawing board!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

From Russia with Love

........ Or ................ make sure the door is latched tight when the wind is blowing, you silly twit!

What a way to start the new year!