Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pickles and Petticoats

These past three weekends have been the Laura Ingalls Wilder Days in Walnut Grove.  They have a pageant in the evenings (Friday and Saturday) and a festival in the park on Saturday.

Now, Walnut Grove, one of Laura’s homes, is only about 30 miles from us, so it’s easy to go demonstrate there.  We started about 4 years ago with an invitation given only a week before the festival started.  Since it was a fast decision, we told the organizer that we would appreciate having an awning of some kind so they put up one of those plastic tarp covers up for us.  Since then they have provided the cover each year, which makes set-up much easier since we don’t have to put up a tent or awning.

Most of the festival is food vendors, craft booths and music.  We are there in period clothing, our friend Wally is there with his covered wagon and blacksmithing tools and there is also a Civil War reinactor group.  Other than that, everyone else is either in modern clothes or in imaginary outfits.  (By that I mean they think they are in costume but there is a lot to be desired to make them look period correct.)

I pride myself on being reasonably period correct.  Everything on the outside is as it should be.  On the inside, however, there are modifications.  I do not wear a corset and I only have 1 petticoat.  The dresses I have are called Prairie Dresses - they have a yoke, two long sleeves and the body is a lot of material gathered into the yoke and flowing down to the top of my foot (ankles should not be shown).  This is a convenient dress because the women would often change sizes out on the prairie - either pregnant or not, losing or gaining weight.  They would not have to change dresses at all.  The waist is tucked in with an apron so that it doesn’t flow all over the place and give no form to the body.

As I said, the Walnut Grove festival is held 3 Saturdays of July.  Usually it is hot and hard on a body.  This time was no different.  We always leave Peanut at home because of the heat and noise (cannons going off many times during the day).  The first Saturday was hot and I was not comfortable.  The second day was the beginning of our horrible heat wave.  Norm had found a roaster pan that fit just right for my feet.  So I kept cool (well, sort of) by keeping my feet in the water and having a wet cloth around my neck.  Norm had a wet cloth under his hat.

That Saturday was a “2-fer” - 2 snow cones during the afternoon (each).  And lots and lots of water.  This past Saturday, the heat wave was abating so it was not as bad, but still as bad.

I threatened to strip if it got worse.  I would have taken my petticoat off (shock!!) and even taken my apron off and let my dress float in the little breeze that we had.  Fortunately for my sensibility of decorum, it didn’t get that hot.  But I HAVE taken my petticoat off on the worst days that we end up - making my layers only 4 instead of 5.

Norm is dressed as cool-ish as he properly can.  I can never convince him to button up the top button of his 2-button shirt and he won’t wear a vest.  But putting a cloth under his hat does help him, as he can’t be barefoot like I am.

Another way to keep cool, besides drink water is to eat dill pickles.  We all need salt to help us keep hydrated.  I am not sure exactly, but I think the salt makes you feel thirstier and you drink more water.  I have some pickles I made a few years ago that turned out waaaay too salty so I cut them into bite sized pieces and we ate them and drank water immediately afterward.  That helped keep us cool and encouraged us to drink more water.

I have some pictures to share.  The one of me was in the Marshall newspaper, advertising the Festival.  The others were ones that I took.  

Military Camp

Wally, resting (I was too lazy to walk over to take his picture - I took it from my chair)

Norm showing his spoons

Working on a spoon

 Spoon is nearly done

It was great to have been at Walnut Grove and I am grateful that we survived yet another year of hot weather.  The heat wave has lessened and we are now just “hot” not unbearable with dangerous warnings.  It’s a beautiful day today - you have a beautiful day.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Just where ARE we, anyway?

In case you don’t live in a hot area right now, you might not realize just exactly how HOT it is in many areas.

Here in Minnesota, we have ‘wet’ heat, compared to ‘dry’ heat of places like Arizona.  We have high humidity and also have high dew points.  I know what it means to have a high dew point, but I looked it up for those of you who don’t live in an area with that measure of temperature.

The dew point temperature is the temperature at which the air can no longer hold all of its water vapor, and some of the water vapor must condense into liquid water. The dew point is always lower than (or equal to) the air temperature.

SOUPY AIR: When the dewpoint approaches 75 ºF, most people can "feel" the thickness of the air as they breathe, since the water vapor content is so high (about 20 grams of water vapor per kilogram of dry air, or 2% of the air's mass).

At high heat, high dew point temperatures, it gets hard to breath if you have any kind of breathing problems.  It is also dangerous for those with heart problems.  Those people should try to avoid the heat by being in air conditioning, if at all possible.

Dangerous, as well, for normally healthy people who have to work outside, so those people should wear light cotton clothing, drink lots of water, have salt (we eat salty dill pickles when we are outside demonstrating) and take lots of breaks.

Last night our weather man said that our dew point of 70º was higher than the jungles of the Amazon.  Right now, at 3:00 on Sunday, the thermometer reads 93º and the relative humidity is 68% and the dew point is 79º.  That means, boys and girls, that outside my house the heat index is 109º F!  (Heb and other Canadians, that means about 45º C.)

I have a love/hate relationship with my air conditioner.  I hate the closed windows, the noise and the cold air blowing.  But I love the cool air in the house and the fact that we can sleep without melting into the bed.  It has been running nearly continually - as it gets hotter, the house gets hotter as I keep turning the air “up” so it doesn’t run the whole time.  Right now it’s 77º in the house, which is pretty comfortable - and the wooden floors are not wet - nor are the wooden chairs - which they were before I closed up the house on Friday and started the air.

This morning as I was doing chores, I swear I saw this bird laughing at me in the tree!


It’s a beautiful day - if’n you don’t have to be outside - you have a beautiful day.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Ninety-one years ago today, my father was born in North Dakota. 

Brother Earl and two of Dad's sisters (sorry, can't remember who) with Dad

Dad lived is entire childhood in North Dakota, went to college in North Dakota and then joined the Army/Air Corps at the beginning of World War II.

I think this was his high school picture

Dad married Mom in 1942 and they have been together ever since.  He fought in WWII, flew on the Berlin Airlift, fought in the Korean War and then served in the States until he retired.

Dad went back to collage to finish his schooling that was postponed because of the war.  He worked in insurance, in the Red Cross, in the Boy Scouts, and as a Probation Officer before retiring.

Dad learned to drum when he was about eight and has been drumming ever since.  His last band dispersed just a few years ago because the others were getting "too old."

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Things and such

I’ve been pretending to be busy for the past two weeks. Not that I have fooled anyone, but I’ve sort-of fooled myself into believing!

So, what has been going on in my life since I last wrote?

Well, let’s see. I’ve finished the weaving projects on “Cherry” and have washed and hemmed them all. I got the wedding present sent off (hope they like it). I’ve been weaving more on “Matilda” but ignoring “Harriet Dare,” which is not fair to her or to me but I have so many needs to finish on Matilda that Harriet Dare just has to wait. I’ve also started “dressing” Cherry for the next project -some log cabin place mats for someone who cannot be named here. (No, Glenda, they aren’t for you — have you been nice enough to me to “deserve” some?)

Our cat, Scooter, had kittens under / behind the entry way freezer. It took awhile to figure this out until one day she was waiting at the door and scooted quickly behind the freezer and I heard little kitty sounds! Scooter is the kitten that Norm picked out from his brother’s ranch when we first moved here. I had promised sister-in-law Mavis that I would get a kitten when we could have one here and Darrell kept trying to put one in the car every time I was there visiting (he still does that but I know if I brought another one home, I’d lose my happy home!).

My requirements for a kitten was a female and a calico (Mavis has such pretty kitties). Norm picked her out and named her and she went directly to the barn where she has grown to be a fantastic mouser and a great mother. Her one kitten we kept several years ago, Spunky, is also a great mouser although she will no longer be a great mother as she went to visit the Vet last summer.

Anywho, Scooter had the kittens in this weird place and we couldn’t get behind to see them. So we made sure that one door was always open so that she could get in and out easily. The kittens are about a month old, now, I’m guessing, and they are finally starting to come out to play. They are pretty skittish but we are working on taming them down. Candy was over last night and we sat outside and cuddled them and hopefully calmed them down a little bit. I think the milk / cat food mix I’m starting to give them will help with the taming down.

Unnamed male

 Muted calico, "Little Lady"

Besides kittens, we also have young pullets. We purchased some day-old ones a couple of months ago and they are growing well. We also have two banty babies that I THINK are pullets; Mrs. Banty hatched out three but I was afraid that she would lose them so I had Norm catch them. One didn’t make it but the other two are growing well.

Garden? What garden? We (Norm) planted cucumbers, lettuce and my pumpkins. We are going to go to a farmers’ market to get our tomatoes and peppers and potatoes and onions ... it’s just not working out here - Norm spends so much time and energy at the Farm that he’s too tired to garden when he’s home. I can’t kneel and I have to be aware of bees so I don’t garden, either! But I think the cukes are coming on well. The lettuce and pumpkins surely are.

Last Saturday was the first of three Saturdays for Walnut Grove’s Laura Ingalls Wilder days. A festival in the park and the open-air play in the evening. Norm and I demonstrate there but we have never had the energy to go to the play. It is normally too hot to do more than tear down and sizzle home. This Saturday is supposed to be terribly hot so we are planning pickles (for salt intake) and lots and lots of water. Plus, Norm will put a wet cloth under his hat and I will put one on my neck when it gets really bad.

And speaking of weather, starting tonight, we have a heat warning until Wednesday — high heat and high humidity will make the heat index in the 100º to 110º range all week! OOFTA! So grateful I am for air conditioning. I hope all of you that have these heats have air. I know a few friends who have broken down and bought window conditioners so that they can survive.

Yet we continue to have rain - almost an inch again yesterday morning (which is what makes the humidity so high). And storms almost every night. I have given up putting bird seed out because every time I do, the winds hit or the rains and the seed is scattered to kingdom come! The birds will have to survive without me this summer!

I have finally set up the Etsy account for the “Sisters” business. I have been promising to do so for over a year. The business that Candy and I have is small but fun. It is called “A Sisters’ Thing;” we sell yarns that Joy, mostly, spins, some of my weaving, some of Candy’s photo cards and a few other items. If you want to visit, it’s here.

Other than that, not much has been going on. I keep on weaving, reading, trying not to do housework and trying to stay away from the computer. And, lately, trying to stay cool with OUT the air conditioner - but we are going to have to break down and use it this next week. I do not like it running at night but there won’t be much choice - it will be too muggy to open windows at night for about a week, at least. (Sigh)

It’s a beautiful day, despite the humidity and threat of storms and threat of heat. You have a beautiful day, as well.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Sixty nine years later

There have been some requests for the "now" picture of my folks.  This was taken last month (June 7th, to be exact) with Bubba and Bitty before the folks left our place to head back home.  So here it is!

It's a beautiful day after the 4th .. did you celebrate?  It's a great day to remember those who have fought and died so that we CAN celebrate.  As I watch fireworks, I remember what a dear friend once said.... "We sit and watch these symbols of celebration while others in the world see similar displays in fear because they are signs of flak and are symbols of destruction.  We are blessed to be watching them here in America rather than in other places where there is no freedom." 

You have a beautiful FREE day!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Today is my parents' 69th anniversary.  My Dad got his wings from the Army Air Corps on the 3rd of July and he and Mom married on the 4th.  This was in 1942 and Dad was preparing to go overseas to fight in the War.

They have remained together all of these years and, at the age of 91, they seem to be planning on forever together.

Happy Anniversary, folks!  I love you!