Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Today is the day set aside for remembering our soldiers fallen in battle, dying in hospitals, surviving but suffering throughout their lives. 

Many have returned from wars but none have been the same afterwards.

In my family, in recent years, there have been:

My father:

My husband:

My brother-in-law:

My brother - rest in peace

Please take time out today to remember those that have given everything so that we can enjoy our lives in FREEDOM.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Serendipitous Weekend!

This last weekend was spent in Iowa, of all places! Jill and Eric have a friend who had rented a cabin on a lake near Forest Lake, Iowa, but couldn’t keep the “appointment,” so we were gifted with the opportunity to spend the weekend there.

The cabin is about three hours away (if you consider stopping for lunch and things) and was a very pleasant drive.  We drove in rain for awhile but as the day went on the sun started shining and by the time we got to the cabin it was about 75º out and just slightly breezy.

The cabin is a small one-room one with a nice large handicap accessible bathroom, ramps up to and into the cabin.  There is a bunk bed that sleeps two on each level and a futon couch that opens into a double bed.  I forgot to take pictures of inside, sorry!  There is no phone, no TV and no Internet service.  Very quiet, indeed.

There is only the one cabin and only a few campsites, which are across the lake from the cabin.  There were a few boats on the lake - but only electric motors are allowed.  There were also a few parties of land fishermen.  

But, for the most part, we were alone.  I took my computer for some writing, a DVD for watching a movie (“Lady Jane”), my Kindle for reading and some knitting.  Norm took his fishing gear and his Kindle.  I read too much and knit not much at all.  Did get some writing done but not as much as I should have done.

Peanut enjoyed wandering around (under supervision, of course) in the tall-ish grass and sniffing the good smells.

We grilled steaks one night and hamburgers and brats the other.  We also ate out on the picnic table on the deck and enjoyed being outside.  

We left here Saturday morning and got home Monday evening.  A short amount of time gone, but because it was a distance away and totally away from any kind of work, it seemed longer.  Norm did N*O*T*H*I*N*G but fish, read and cook the meats on the grill.  It was good to see him so inactive for once.

We had a lot of birds around - the staff has bird feeders near the kitchen window.  We had swallows that swooped so close to the window that I thought they were coming in.  They had a nest above the window!  We saw Goldfinches, Rosy-breasted Grosbeaks, Warblers, sparrows, crows and grackles.  I heard a turkey - we had ducks and geese that flew around overhead.  We saw two swans but they were too far away to take pictures of.

The staff had arranged to have the combination lock set to our password so we went directly to the cabin and didn’t see them until we checked out.  I didn’t see or talk to anyone but Norm.  However, Mr. Social Butterfly talked to several groups of fisher-persons.  All-in-all, a wonderful weekend.  Thank you to Jill and Eric, thank you to their friend, Ann, and thank you to the staff of Thorpe Park for having such a wonderful spot to rest and relax in!

When we got home, we found sunshine and trees blooming.  All four apple trees and my lovely Flowering Almond were in bloom.

It’s a beautiful day today - you have a beautiful day!

Can you see Norm under the arched branch?

It was chilly in the morning so Norm needed to bundle up some
 From the other side of the lake

 Coming home to our blooming apple trees

And my Flowering Almond

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wistful Wednesday

The news that I've heard about the South losing millions of dollars because they can't plant rice --- too much water in the fields --- makes me yearn for the "good old days" ... when it didn't seem to matter how much water was in the fields.

The Japanese did it... Not that I'm saying that we go back to hand planting, but still ... it has its appeal!

My Dad took this picture in the early 50s (1950s) in Southern Japan

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I don’t need an aviary!

For as long as I can remember, I have loved birds.  When I was only about four or five, we lived in Texas for a while.  A neighbor had an outdoor aviary with lovebirds in it.  I would go over and watch for hours and wish I had one like it.

When I was in Junior High (Middle School for those not old enough to remember Junior High), I had a parakeet called Brenda after a friend of mine.  I kept her in my room and was allowed to let her fly in the room when I was home, if I cleaned up after her.  My mom would put her in the kitchen in her cage sometimes to entertain Candy when she wasn’t in Kindergarten.  Brenda would sing like a canary (she was raised in a large pet store with canaries and other birds) when Mom would fry meat ... Brenda must have loved the sound of sizzling meat!  I had to leave her behind when we moved but never forgot her.

When we lived in Australia, we lived next to a man who had an outdoor aviary (maybe I should move to a mild winter climate to get MY aviary?) with native Australian birds, including a twenty-five year old Cockatoo that he had raised from the nest.  Norm (who does NOT like birds) let me get a lemon yellow parakeet for the girls but she would not tame down and was actually rather mean.  I gave her to a young girl who felt she could tame her down.  My neighbor said he could get a nestling Cockatoo for me; if I owned it for more than a few years, I could legally take it home with me to the States.  But Norm (of course) said “No.”

When we were home from Australia, I was visiting my brother and his wife (no, not Donna, but Robbie, mother of my nephew, CJ).  Robbie was working for a pet store and could get me finches and supplies at cost.  I asked Norm if I could bring some home and he said “No” (of course).

But a few years later we were in Keystone - small town in the Black Hills - shopping for Finches.  I had broken down his resistance!  I made an aviary of sorts - a cage that was about four feet long, two feet wide and about three feet high.  I had two pairs of finches and they actually laid eggs.  But (with my great skill as a breeder) the eggs never hatched.

Gradually the finches died of old age and Norm wouldn’t let me get any more.  (Sigh)

When we moved to Minnesota, Jill and I moved first; Joy and Norm stayed behind for a year for Joy to finish High School.  While I was foot-loose and fancy-free, I purchased a Cockatiel .. a female that wasn’t supposed to be noisy.  I loved to have her sit on my shoulder while we watched TV.  She even ate popcorn from my lips!  But Jill threw socks at her to keep her quiet and Norm objected when he moved in from South Dakota.  So I traded my sweet bird for the harmony of the family and got a pair of canaries.  They lasted for awhile the female died and Norm accidentally let the male out while feeding it and the cat got him. (Sigh)

But I have never stopped measuring any new home with my eye and figuring out where I could put a cage (large, of course) of finches.  Always planning just in case Norm would ever weaken again and say “Yes” instead of “No.”

But now?  I have admitted that I don’t need an aviary or inside birds.  I have one just outside my window!  I have been feeding the birds since we moved here and finally we are getting them to come in numbers!

Norm likes them, now, as long as they stay outside.  And I have, at the last count, seven pairs of Goldfinches who are going mad in the sun and warmth (a FaceBook friend says that they are “twitterpated,” which describes them to a tea.  I also have at least one Baltimore Oriole and two females which I think are Grosbeaks, but could also be Orioles.  Then we have our woodpeckers, our Nuthatches, our Blackbirds, our Blue Jays (which are in hiding right now), our Sparrows and a pair of either Purple Finches or House Finches ... can’t tell for sure.

So, I’m enjoying the outdoor “aviary” and so is Norm.  I love birds!

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

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Is it Spring, yet?

The birds seem to think so .. the flowers seem to think so, the animals seem to think so.  
So why am I so hesitant to say so, myself?

It’s been a while since I’ve told all my thousands of fans just what I’ve been doing (besides hibernating).

Mother’s Day weekend, we went up to the Cities.  Yes, dear ones, we actually left our little safe area and traveled up.  It’s been since November that we’ve traveled up there!

We arrived on Friday afternoon and spent time with our favorite granddaughters.  My, they are growing.  I don’t want to say it out loud but they are taller than I am!  

Saturday, Joy, Norm, the girls and I went to the Shepherd’s Harvest.  This is an annual event that is held in St. Elmo; it celebrates fiber of all kinds.  There are llamas, alpacas, sheep, goats.  There is fiber from almost anything imaginable - camel, yak, buffalo, cotton, corn, sugar, rabbit.  You name it — natural - it’s probably there, and for sale!

Plus finished items - felted, knit, crocheted, hooked.  Mittens, hats, scarves, shawls, sweaters, purses and much, much more.

I only got a few pictures taken - too busy visiting to think about pictures.

We came home, exhausted - well, at least me!  

Sunday, Mother’s Day, Norm and I went to see Jill and Eric.  They live only about 25 minutes from Joy’s so it’s just a hop, skip and jump to get there.  We spent the afternoon visiting and eating.  Eric was cooking on their new charcoal grill; between trips to the grill, he worked on some of my computer problems.  

We watched the new Star Trek movie – I don’t know how “new” it is, but it’s new to us, and we enjoyed it.  Even Norm, a non-Trekie (yes, there are some out there), enjoyed it!

Back to Joy’s for overnight, then headed home on Monday, stopping at friend Jody’s to visit and see her German Shepherd puppies.  At last count, she only had one left to sell, which is pretty good for such a large litter.

Then home!  It was great to be home - I love traveling, even for a short time, but I love being home even more.

Tuesday and Wednesday were school tours in Windom.  The museum pairs with the legal system for the third graders in the county.  I portray a pioneer woman (wow, what a stretch for me!) and get the kids for about 10 minutes at a time to talk about life on the prairie back in the 1800s.  One of the fun things is that the next “station” is the Victorian lady who is right across the isle from me.  So the kids just turn around to look and listen to her.  We both bring up the comparison, especially when she says she would not let me into her parlor!

When I came home from the museum on Tuesday, I had a surprise.  Soot finally had her baby - a sweet little girl that we have named “Tinker.”

Thursday we went to Sioux Falls and purchased my greatest desire (well, for now).  We got a wood burning stove for our living room!  Norm and I will re-arrange the studio to put my large corner cupboard up there and then put the wood stove in a corner of the living room.  This should help take the chill off on cool days and help keep the house warmer on cold days.  It should also help with propane.  I’m anticipating very little use of that next winter, what with the pellet stove in the basement and the wood stove in the living room.

So, now we are home and enjoying the lovely weather - well, at least today - we will have frost or freezing tomorrow morning but the weather people “promise” at least 4 days of sunshine and normal temperatures!  Right now it is about 60º with a breeze and sunshine — SUNSHINE!!!

It’s a beautiful day today - you have a beautiful day!

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Brother

Today is the anniversary of my brother's death.  He left us a year ago.

It is hard to believe that he's been gone a year, yet it seems like forever since he left.  There are times when I think: "I need to ask Charles this...." and remember.

Even though it's hard to have him gone, my heart bleeds for my "good-sister" Donna, who knew him and was married to him for such a short time.  I had him for 64 years.

I have a few pictures of Charles to share .. the first two are of him in Japan - he was very active in sports as he was growing up.

The last one is of Charles and Donna; Candy and I met them in St. Joe just a few months before their wedding so that we could meet Donna and (hopefully) approve of her.  And we did!

I also have millions of memories ...
   Like the time he was playing in a garage and threw a metal pipe - which hit me on the forehead; I needed stitches for that, and I can still find my scar.
  Like the time he was playing Tarzan and threw a spear - which hit Cara on the forehead; she needed stitches for that and she took that scar to her grave.
  Like the time he decided to have a picnic with hot dogs in the woods - the firemen brought him home to Mom and told him that if he did it again, they'd put him in jail.
  Like the time a friend stole some cigarettes from his dad; he and Charles talked a bunch of us into trying them.  I tried three puffs and threw mine away (never smoked again!).

But then there was the time that I was in desperate financial stress; Charles stepped in and paid my bills for 9 months until I was able to get back on my feet.

Silly memories, wonderful memories.  

Charles, you are loved and you will be missed.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Wistful Wednesday

Hey!  It's Wednesday!  And I remembered!

This is a picture that was taken in Japan.  My dad liked to stage pictures and he calls this one "Three Little Maids" (from the Mikado).

The walls behind us were of bamboo, cut in half and nailed to the walls.  It lightened up the room; you can see that the original walls were almost black in their darkness.

The kimonos that we are wearing are actually our bathrobes.  We  had the traditional umbrellas made of paper and held open by bamboo sticks.

We had a great time in Japan.  It was only when I was an adult and saw pictures that I realized how dirty the village was.  We lived off-base for a while, then moved on-base (which was secured by guards at the gate and fences all around).  

The adults were busy with their lives and as long as we didn't get caught by the base guards doing something wrong, we children pretty much had free reign.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Weaving Weekend XII

This weekend was our annual trip to Aberdeen, SD for the fiber weekend.  This, as the title shows, is the twelfth one and Candy and my third one.  Aberdeen is about four hours or more from us, so having the weekend extended to two nights made it much nicer for us.

Since we have been going for three years, now, it’s “old home week” when we see our friends.  A lot of people seem to think that you can only be friends if you communicate or see each other often.  But fiber friends CAN be friends even if you only see them once a year. 

Even though the weekend is called a “weaving weekend” it has morphed into mostly spinning but there are many knitters and many crocheters, as well.  Everyone had a project or two (or three) to work on.  There were also new people for me to meet and enjoy.

I took my loom, Cherry, along.  I am now almost finished with my project and have another ready to start as soon as I finish this one.  I also took a knitting class from Kathleen Taylor  which was pretty enjoyable.

Candy took her wheel, Belle, and was spinning some green that Kelly had dyed and blended for her last year.  She also brought four (I think) fleeces to be dyed and blended this year.  However, she found, and fell in love with, some fleece that was already dyed and blended that Kelly had brought along.  I gave Candy flak for purchasing some more when she complains she has too much.   But as she spun it, I could see why - plus she figured out a reason for it, which I approve (but can’t talk about right now).

We were at a camp on Lake Richmond near Aberdeen.  They have dorms for the students who come which we slept in and then used the large main building for gathering and eating (and eating and eating and EATING).

Friday night was a potluck; Saturday morning was an egg bake; noon was leftover potluck; Saturday night was a bring-in meal; Sunday morning we had fruit and cinimon rolls that Ann made on Saturday night.  No lunch on Sunday - we packed up all food and took home anything that was left.

My “neighbor” on my left side was Annikki - a woman from Finland who is very skilled.  We visited quite a bit about looms.  She fell in love with Cherry and wanted me to take pictures for her to show her son (I think) to make one like it for her. 

I also met a fellow weaver, Julie.  She does recycled weaving - the only thing new is the rug warp she uses.  

Then there is Kelly and Marie - daughter and mother who “run” the group.  Marie has a store in Groton and Kelly works there - Kelly also has a wool processing business at her home.  They both raise sheep, spin, knit, weave, etc.  Marie fell in love with Cherry and has asked Norm to build her a loom just like her.

When I got home, I made arrangement to watch the news at ten to see if the world was still standing, only to find that it’s pretty much turned upside down right now because of the news that President Obama gave us. Norm and I went to bed with joyful hearts. I don’t like to “celebrate” someone’s death but knowing that one less monster is living in our world makes me pretty happy.

This morning I was watching my birds and planning on going out to re-fill the bird feeders that had blown empty or even blown off their stands; lo! and behold! There was a Brown Thrasher on the suet feeder. And another one came while I was watching! What a gift!

It’s a beautiful day, today, despite the wind and cold. You have a beautiful day.