Wednesday, March 4, 2015

We (Women) Can Do It!

This morning that cute little gal over at A Farmish Kind of Life wrote a post about the latest romantic date she and her husband just had.  (This gal knows how to plan 'em!)  Deciding it was time she learned how to use a chainsaw, she asked her husband (with fluttering lashes, no doubt) if their next date could be giving her instruction on how to use one.

Her post brought back a flood of memories for me.

The year we moved up here in the late fall, we faced our first winter living in an uninsulated a barely insulated old, old mobile home.  The furnace in it was non-functioning (we had no money to buy fuel anyway -- seriously) so we installed an old Ashley wood burning stove.  (Anybody remember those?)

The big problem was we had nary a stick of firewood readied for winter time heating.  So every morning after Papa Pea left for his teaching job, I would bundle up our then two year old to the extent necessary according to the outside temperature, put her in her designated area with play things (safely away from the wood working area but where I could still keep an eye on her) and go to work cutting wood.

I had a chainsaw I could handle (of a smaller size than the biggies my husband now uses) and I would cut enough wood to use for that day's heating.  On weekends, if we could find the time working around even more pressing tasks (and other crises of which there were many), hubby and I would work together prepping a pile of wood.  That would free me up for some of the days of the coming week.

Was trying to stay warm all winter burning green wood to heat an uninsulated tin can a good situation?  Well, no.  (Nor did it keep us warm.)  But we survived, and I can definitely say I know how to use a chainsaw.

Hey!  Maybe that's why I still have impressive biceps.  Aren't we women somethin' else?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Overdue Show and Tell

It just occurred to me that I don't think I ever posted pictures of the finished winter wall hanging I showed in progress.

Yes, I did finish it and even found enough suitable fabric out of which to make the binding, but it was a close one.  Sometimes I think using only fabric out of my stash is not such a wise idea.  But unwise ideas have never stopped me before, so I'm already well into my next full-size (king-sized) quilt using only already-have fabric.  It is a scrap quilt though (very scrappy) so if I can find a piece big enough for the backing (I have nothing against pieced backs), I'll be able to do it.

But back to the kitchen wall hanging.

It's very difficult for me and my little point-and-shoot camera to get a photo of the quilting I did on this piece. 

I hope you can see it a bit better here.

Annnd . . . as it is mounted on the kitchen wall.  "January Wreath" that didn't make it up until sometime in February.  But with our slow, slow-to-come spring up here, it shouldn't be out of place for a while yet.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Being Eaten Out Of House And . . . Log

Many years ago, my dear husband made this log feeder for the birds.  I fill the holes with peanut butter and the birds really enjoy this goodie we provide for them in the winter.  Some days when the weather is exceptionally cold, a filling lasts only one day.

Up here we have little red (pine) squirrels who take great pleasure in devouring the sunflower seeds we put out in feeders for the birds, and they would do the same to the peanut butter but the feeder is in a spot they can't get to.  However, I do have to watch the level of the peanut butter at the end of each day because we have what seems to be a platoon of nocturnal flying squirrels who can access the peanut butter filled log and go after it at night with great gusto. 

And as you can see in the above picture, if the peanut butter is gone, they gnaw at the wood around the holes to get every last, little, tasty bit of goodness and flavor they can.

Slowly but surely, our log feeder is being consumed by the flying squirrels . . . who must be getting a build-up of wood splinters in their bellies.  Or maybe they've heard a certain amount of fiber is good for them.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Repeat of a Past Post

A couple of days ago I got a wonderful handwritten letter via snail mail from a cousin I hadn't heard from in a while.  In his letter he enclosed copies of some pictures he had come across from the childhood we shared.

One of the photos was a picture of my maternal grandparents' house.  Jeff and I both spent our early years living there with our mothers when our fathers were in Europe involved in World War II.

Seeing that house I loved so much brought back memories of both my grandma and grandpa.  Following is a reprint of a post I wrote way back when I first started blogging.  I'm sure it will be new to most of you because I think I had a grand total of two readers back then.  Here it is.

My Grandma Maggie

I almost named my daughter McLean.  That was my grandma's middle name (it was pronounced "MacLain"), and I thought seriously of naming our daughter after her great-grandmother.  But I knew it would get shortened to Mac, and I wasn't crazy about that.

Grandma was born in Beith, Scotland, in 1893, and immigrated to the U.S. with her family when she was fifteen years old.  She remembered whole winters in the Old Country when they had very little to eat but potatoes.  Hardy stock, but certainly not well-to-do in a financial sense by any means.  She met and married Grandpa when she was just sixteen years old (he was twenty-five), and they raised seven children, a boy born first and then six girls.  I remember being shocked when my mom told me Grandma had had so many miscarriages that she didn't actually remember how many.

Grandma was an excellent example of making do with what she had.  Grandpa kept a huge vegetable garden, and Grandma canned and preserved everything.  She cooked anything my grandpa brought home whether it be fur, fowl, or most of the time, fish.  When they were raising their family, what he brought home for the table constituted a large part of their diet.  Since he was such an avid fisherman, there was nearly always live bait in her refrigerator, sometimes not as contained as she would have liked it to be.

My mom worked outside the home, and Grandma took care of me and my brother during the day.  She came to our house each week day, cooked, cleaned and cared for us.  After that she went home and did her own housework, got a meal for herself and Grandpa, then a couple of nights a week, got "gussied up" (a favorite term of hers) to go out for the evening.  Most often these evenings were spent with other lady friends at the local bingo hall.  What fun they had for the price of a couple of dollars.  I know because she took me with her many nights, and the socialization involved a lot of chatter and much laughing.

She and Grandpa had a solid but teasing/bickering relationship.  He referred to her as "The Old Battle Axe," and she constantly complained about him spending too much time with his "girlfriends" in the neighborhood.  Grandpa retired from his blue collar job early because of health problems but was constantly on the go, if not working around their house and yard, then off somewhere doing good deeds for anyone who needed help.  Often the women Grandma jokingly referred to as his "girlfriends" were elderly widows, single mothers, or those whose husbands were too lazy to do maintenance around their house or yard.

I can vividly remember sitting in our old German doctor's waiting room (I was probably only six or seven) with my mom and Grandma after Grandpa had been brought in there to be checked over after he had fallen out of a neighbor's plum tree he was pruning.  I can still see Grandma sitting there turning the broken parts of his glasses over and over in her hands while muttering words about the stupidity of the old coot, and why couldn't he stay home rather than running all over town (he'd only been next door) risking life and limb falling out of a tree and landing on his head.

Grandma believed you should never go out in public without your spurs on (by this she meant make-up and hair done and in nice clothes) because you never knew when you might need them.  She was a petite, little woman and being short, she liked to wear high heels (she had really nice legs!), and she loved keeping polish on her pretty fingernails.  She had beautiful snow white hair from an early age, and it always looked nice although I doubt she ever saw the inside of a beauty parlor.

When Grandpa died, Grandma found she didn't like living alone.  Each of her children, to the last one, wanted her to come live with them. Grandma decided she would just float around for a while, a month here, a couple of months there, but always ended up spending the longest times at the house with the most or smallest children as she adored wee ones, and wanted to be kept busy and feel helpful.

She died one day shy of exactly two years after Grandpa did.  That was in 1965 when she was 72 years old.  Cause of death was listed as leukemia.  Not that it wouldn't have been possible, but no one else in our large family has ever had any form of cancer (for which we can be very, very thankful, needless to say) and I've always wondered if she missed Grandpa more than anyone realized.

I have a strong feeling that if I had been blessed with more children, there would have been a boy named McLean or a girl named Maggie.  With hindsight, I can now see that by giving a descendant an ancestor's name, it's not only a way of honoring that person but possibly even carrying on their spirit.

The end.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Wanna Sit On The Deck And Get Some Sun?

That, my dear readers, is NOT what would happen if you sat on our deck today.  First off, the wind chill would instantly turn you into a human ice cube, and then the wind would blow you plumb off the deck into the woods.

We currently have sustained 41.4 mph winds gusting up to 50.6 mph according to our local weather source.  There are times when it looks like a white out, but it's not snowing.  The wind is picking up the snow on the ground and blowing it all the way to Canada, I do believe.

This morning we saw a strange weather phenomenon.  We had what looked like large clouds of low hanging, rapidly moving fog.  It wasn't the blowing snow but rather masses of what must have been tiny ice crystals.  The "fog" didn't seem to settle anywhere, just kept blowing across the land.

I know some of you in "the south" who don't normally see snow and cold weather but are currently are not happy.  Those of you in the northeast are getting a little ding-batty what with all the tons of snow you've had to handle this winter.  We up here in the northern mid-part of the country are used to the temperatures in the deep freeze but this winter's continuing winds are starting to get through to us.  I don't mind it as much during the daylight hours when I can walk from window to window inside and observe what's going on out there, but at night listening to the wind howl is not a comforting feeling for me.

If we ever got a serious snowfall with the winds, we could be experiencing one humdinger of a blizzard like we read of in tales of long ago.  ("Wait a minute, Pa.  Let me tie a rope around your waist before you go out to do the evenin' milkin'!")

Yesterday we woke to a temp of -19.9 degrees.  This morning it was -20.4.  But tomorrow it's supposed to be above zero to start the day.  Gee, if the wind dies down and the sun comes out, maybe it will be warm enough to sit on the deck and get some sun.

No?  Okay.  I'll just keep taking my Vitamin D3 for another month.  Or two.  Or three.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

We Had Snow Yesterday!

Yep, and we celebrated by going for a hike.

I know many of you (especially some of you living where you don't usually even get snow in the winter) think I've slipped a cog or two for rejoicing at snowfall, but we've continued to be short of the stuff which could mean the threat of forest fire this spring in our heavily forested area.

Although we had a high temp of only 10 degrees (but above zero!), around noon time we bundled up, tossed granddog, Tucker, in the car and drove about two miles from home to experience the fresh air and exercise while beautiful, large, fluffy flakes fell.

Hubby had just received a new pair of insulated, slip-on chore boots he badly needed so decided to try them out. They felt fine while we were out, but then last night when he slipped them on for a last outside check, he noticed some very sore spots on his feet and legs where the boots had rubbed.  Turned out to have not been a good idea to wear them for the first time on a hike, but haven't we all done a similar thing in the past?  I know I have.

On our hike, the snow did stop about halfway through, but the covering on the ground was still gorgeous.  Got a total of maybe 5-6" which isn't much for us, but we're glad for what we can get this late in the season.

We followed a snowplow part way home, but you can't see it ahead of us because of the light and fluffy snow blowing behind it. 

This is on our driveway part way in to the house.

* * * * * * * * * *

As I wrote in an e-mail to a friend earlier this morning, I'm having trouble with guilt creeping up on me and spoiling the time I've been spending knitting lately.  I'm nearly done with my second pair of socks, and am already thinking of the skein of yarn I want to pull from my stash for the next pair.

My *&$%^! guilty conscience keeps reminding me of all those inside household-y jobs I could/should be working on now during this last month or so of winter.  I think I'm going to have to employ the ol' timer trick.  Set the timer for one hour when I will work like a busy little beaver on a project from the "should do" list and then reset the timer for another hour in which I can sit and knit.

Okay, I'm off to get the timer . . . but not before I check both wood stoves.  We had a low of -16 this morning.  Winter time is still with us.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Good / Bad

GOOD - We've been seeing whole nearly whole days of sunshine.
BAD - The temperature barely makes it above zero anymore.

GOOD - It's the coldest first thing in the morning, but warms up from there.
BAD - The coldest is in the range of -20 degrees.

GOOD - I've been able to spend hours before an open fire knitting socks.
BAD - I wake up in the night from a bad dream in which I have to knit warm socks for everyone in the county.

GOOD - Our house is staying warm and cozy.
BAD - We've worn paths from the wood box on the porch through the house to the racks by both stoves.

GOOD - We're eating almost exclusively out of the pantry and freezer stores.
BAD - I'm on my last jar of Bread and Butter Pickles.  (Do you know how much I love Bread and Butter Pickles?  This is serious, people, serious!)

GOOD - Wearing long johns these frigid days makes all the difference in the world and keeps me warm and comfy.
BAD - I don't have enough long johns to make it from Monday to Monday laundry days.

GOOD - I've been wearing old, discarded long johns of my husband's.
BAD - He has approximately 18" more leg length than I do.

GOOD - Food tastes sooo good!
BAD - All my pants are mysteriously shrinking.