Saturday, March 25, 2023

Before Spring Time . . .

 Most often we know spring time is coming when the month of March arrives and we get inches of beautiful, wet snowfalls.

This happened last Wednesday when we woke to about 10" of the stuff.

I took this shot through a kitchen window over the evergreen boughs in a window box.  It sure was pretty!

Papa Pea had his work cut out for him.  He was concerned that perhaps our good, old (very old) Gravely garden tractor with snow blower attachment wouldn't be able to handle the heavy, wet snow.

But once again, our trusty Gravely proved its worth and saved a lot of hand shoveling close up against buildings.

The truck with plow blade was used on the driveway, of course.  Even so, it was some of the most difficult plowing of the winter.

But that's the characteristics of our March snows.  And, yes, they really do herald the coming of our spring season.  We're sure it's under there somewhere just waiting to burst forth.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Currently . . .

A couple of days ago we donned our snowshoes and took a walk around the perimeter of the 7' high deer fencing that surrounds our gardens, fruit trees and miscellaneous growing areas.
The results were a bit disheartening, but expected.  This fence has done stalwart duty for over twenty years so we can't begrudge the fact that it has to be replaced this spring or as soon as we can muckle it.
In places it's now come loose from the steel posts holding it upright, and there are a few holes that have been haphazardly patched over the years.  Now the patches need patches.

When walking along the southern most part, we made a detour into the woods to reacquaint ourselves with the markers indicating that border of our property.  Papa Pea has a desire to take out some of the underbrush and tallest trees in that area so more of the precious sunlight can reach that end of our gardens.  It's always hard for me to agree with cutting down any trees, but I can see what he means about making sure we get as much sunshine and warmth on the soil and growing plants as possible because our season is so very short.
I'm not sure why but I'm finding myself more eager for the coming gardening season than I have been in years, but I am.  It's not that I haven't, in previous years, managed to grow a good amount of our crops.  We still have ample supplies on the pantry shelves and in the freezer.  
Although I did get a surprise this morning when I went into the freezer to pull out Stuffed Green Peppers for a company dinner tonight.  Yikes, I plumb emptied the container taking out the last of them needed.  I'll have to go back in my records to find out how many I made last season . . . and make a few more this time around! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Still Here

I've been AWOL for a while here on my blog.  No excuse other than I've felt I've had nothing of interest to share.
Not that life has been devoid of happenings.  The past few weeks have been busy as usual.  Perhaps even a bit more so than usual.  Full of ups and downs as it seems to be for everyone these days.
This is a slow time of year (or as slow as it gets anyway) what with winter winding down, although warm weather is still months in the future for us here in northern Minnesota.
Nonetheless, I woke this morning thinking of garden plans.  And Papa Pea and I have begun talking of projects for accomplishment in the coming months of weather suitable for working outside.
My two biggest "jobs" for this spring, summer and fall days are painting the trim on the house and, of course, our garden.  One which will be, as always, very enjoyable and satisfying for me.  The other?  Let's just say I really don't mind painting but will be glad when the task is done.
At the same time, we're also looking forward to many more hours of relaxation and recreation when we don't have to don several layers of clothing and insulated boots before venturing out-of-doors for even the shortest time.  There's much to enjoy in this beautiful area in which we live.  Even just anticipating sitting on the deck with the sun bathing my currently lily-white appendages sounds enticing.

The sun is in a position in the sky now where it streams into the kitchen south-facing windows in the morning and lays a lovely pattern on our old, scarred kitchen table.  I'll miss seeing this in a short time when the sun climbs to a different position.
I've noticed that it's now light enough at 6 a.m. to be able to see clearly if you wanted to be outside at that hour.  Of course, that's soon to change this coming weekend when our clocks "spring" ahead one hour.
It is a time in our life when most folks would say we should be "cutting back" on dreams, goals and new challenges, but we both still feel good (as she beats her chest and proclaims, "Me strong as bull!") and haven't reached that chronological age stage yet when we feel like becoming a bit sedentary.  I have a really hard time realizing that in 6-7 weeks I will be an octogenarian.  And Papa Pea is a year and a half ahead of me.  Just think of all the wisdom we must possess at this ripe old age. 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Would You Like Some Ice With That?

 The following two shots are of our back wood working area.
This is looking to the right.
And this is looking to the left.
Ice.  Solid ice.  This is a result of our high temps this winter.  Well, maybe not "high" for some of you, but certainly not usual winter temperatures for us in northern Minnesota.  We've even reached up into the 40s a few days, and the snow we received at the first part of winter continues to melt a little each day.
This month of February has so far given us temperatures quite a bit above normal so much of the area we keep plowed has turned to ice.  It makes driving in and out of our one-quarter mile driveway interesting. 
Not especially nice for being out and around anywhere, but it has been easy on our supply of firewood. 
We typically receive our greatest amount of snowfall in the month of March, but by then the sun is high enough that much of it hitting the ground melts during the day.  And will probably make more ice when the temperature drops at night. 
We may soon be putting on our ice skates to do our outside chores! 

Thursday, February 16, 2023

More Musings From My Mind

~  This past Valentine's Day brought back a memory I haven't thought about in y-e-a-r-s.  Back when I was in 8th grade, I went to a Valentine's Day dance.  For the occasion, my mom helped me set my hair in a currently fashionable style which was very different from my usual every day coiffure.  When I arrived at the dance (with my girlfriends as at that age we weren't actually having "dates" with boys yet), the boy who I "liked" and who said he "liked" me, too, took one look at me and said, "Why does your hair look so funny?"  I spent the rest of the dance crying in the restroom.  Do you have a memory of something that happened in your own younger years that you'd handle in an entirely different way now?
~  In the past, I've fainted many times because of the unmanageable pain of endometriosis.  (Sure am glad that's all in the past now.)  Have you ever fainted?
~  I had an aunt who was a fantastic baker.  One wouldn't think something as simple an an oatmeal cookie could be so much better than any other oatmeal cookie, but my Aunt J could prove differently.  She raised four children of her own who I know benefited from her baking expertise, but she also sent boxes and boxes to nieces and nephews away at school and to other friends and family.  My uncle often said if he had been wise, he would have invested in 3M because she used so much packing tape on a regular basis.  Sadly, these days the cost of sending goodie packages to anyone is so prohibitively expensive, one almost needs to take out a small loan in order to do it.  Do you frequently mail packages to anyone?
~  I have a wide gold wedding band that I've been wearing since the day way back in 1963 when hubby and I said, "I do."  In order to remove it from my finger, it was cut totally in half once years ago when I was bitten by a black fly (nasty little devil) on my ring finger which swelled up like a balloon.  I remember my mother received a new wedding band and engagement ring around her and my dad's 20th anniversary because both of her narrow rings had worn completely through in the back.  Do you still have and wear the same wedding ring or rings you received when you were first married?
~  I call myself primarily a quilter now, but the first handcraft I learned was knitting.  I don't know exactly how old I was when I asked my grandmother to teach me to knit (around ten years old?), but I was a dismal failure at it.  Years later in college I had a housemate who was an accomplished knitter, and she gave me the push to try it again.  My interest was immediate and I was obsessed with yarn and knitting needles until many years after that when I took a basic quilting class.  I still knit a bit (mostly socks), but I do more quilting now.  If you have a creative hobby (or business) you pursue, what is it and when did your first interest of it start? 
Thoughts and memories, questions for you.  I'd love to hear anything you might care to share. 

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Saturday Morning

The day is starting to dawn now at 7 a.m.   Our days are lengthening although we have a long way to go until full summer time when I can see the sky brightening at 4 a.m.  What a different world we have in winter versus summer.
We're pulling out of our first really cold spell of the winter starting today.  Or so they say.  Yesterday morning we had a low of -17°.  That was cold.  This morning the thermometer reads 7° above with a forecast of going up to the high 20s.  And then the same warmer temps for the coming week.
I put off town errands yesterday because . . . well, because I could.   And didn't want to spend anymore time outside than necessary.  The cold temps held on right through the day before the warm-up overnight.

I was ready to start a brand new cross-stitch project but decided to be disciplined (ahem) and finish this Easter themed one I started last year and then got disgusted with myself it (early on as you can see) because I found I had goofed when doing the "e" and "r" on the right hand side.  My count was off and it took me a while to figure out why.  Or where.  (Having to know how to count correctly has proven to be a challenge for me apparently.)  
When I decided yesterday to "make it right" I rectified the problem by painstakingly taking out both letters, redid them in the correct position and am now finishing the left hand side of the word.  Easter isn't until mid-April this year so I figure I have a good chance of getting this piece finished!  Provided I use all fingers with which to count, of course.
The light we put in the chicken house continues to reinforce the fact that chickens really do need a certain number of hours of light out of twenty-four to lay a normal number of eggs.  Our eggs are now rolling in with good consistency, and we once more have enough to share.  Yippee! 
There is a problem in the hen house, however, which we think we'll have to take drastic measures to fix.  
The little black bantam Silkie rooster has been viciously attacking our full-sized Black Australorp rooster who is about four times as big as the Silkie.  The black bantam has drawn blood several times and is merciless in making the Australorp rooster's life miserable.  The banty hens are laying well now along with the full-sized birds, but come spring time we have no desire to hatch a fertilized egg with what may be the genes of this particular nasty Silkie rooster.  He is going to have to go.
As the temperature climbs today, I'm going to load my vehicle for the Recycling Center (does everyone accumulate as much cardboard these days as we do?) with all recyclables, stop for a few groceries at our Co-op, and pick up some material at the library that has come in for me.

Then perhaps spend some time on my Easter cross-stitch project.  And maybe I'll bake that Blueberry Pie my husband has been hinting for.
Hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Pay Back

All those years of having my bright, inquisitive, little daughter standing on a stool next to me at the kitchen counter have paid off.  That time seems so long ago now (it was), but I do remember how every now and then I couldn't help thinking that I could cook and/or bake anything about three times faster without my little kitchen helper beside me.
Now as a grown woman, dear daughter lives by herself, loves to cook and bake, but it's not something she does a lot with only herself to feed.  So yesterday she did wonderful things in my kitchen.
Not only did she make a batch of Black Bean Burgers for the freezer (yum) and try a new recipe for chapatties made with einkorn flour (a dismal failure -- how do recipes like that get published?), but baked six loaves of bread.

Two rye loaves which gained her great favor with her dad, two loaves of Egg Bread, one made into Cinnamon Bread -- be still my heart -- and one left plain.  Also, two robust loaves of Oatmeal Bread that had yet to come out of the oven when I took the above picture.

I really want to drizzle some white powdered sugar frosting over the top of this loaf, but that makes such an ooie-gooie mess in the toaster!  Toasted Cinnamon Bread for breakfast with an egg fresh from the hen house . . . can't be beat.
No, we didn't sit down yesterday and stuff all six loaves into our wee mooths (as my Scottish grandmother used to say).  All but one loaf, the Cinnamon Bread, went into the freezer for the benefit of having a stash of homemade bread put by for the future.
So, yes, I'd say this is definitely pay back for those years of clouds of flour floating through the air and apple peelings littering the floor along with the million questions of "Why?" from my little kitchen helper.  Now she's a big helper and I love it! 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Things I May Or May Not Have Shared Before

~  I am shy and rarely talk in a social situation in which I'm not completely comfortable.
~  I have been married almost sixty years which cannot be possible since I still think I'm thirty-five. 
 ~  I am by definition an introvert.
~  I once witnessed a man commit suicide standing ten feet away from me.
~  I've never taken any recreational drugs or been intoxicated.  At least not that I can remember.
~  I have a couple of loose connections in my brain when it comes to working with numbers.   
~  I could live on potato chips and orange juice saving a little room for ice cream.
~  I love, love, love gardening but feel momentary panic when coming across a worm.
~  I was the tallest kid in my grade school, male or female, until the sixth grade.  Then never grew another fraction of an inch.
~  I've always wanted to be an Olympic downhill skier.  I fear it may be too late now.
Okay, I've spilled my beans.
How about you? 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Mid-Winter Blahs?

No, it's not the typical mid-winter blahs.  I'm not tired of this time of year when others feel house-bound or yearn for warm weather.  Mine stems more from still working on getting caught up on all things that were pushed to the wayside since last spring, summer and fall.  This, so far, hasn't allowed me the down time I've wanted for these quiet, slow (ha!) winter months.
I think I mentioned before that I will never let any preserving or jam making from our summer's bounty go until the winter months again.
Recently I've been concentrating on making jam from berries frozen last summer.  Our supply of haskap jam is done and on the pantry shelves.  

Yesterday I worked on strawberry jam.  Gotta admit the smell of simmering strawberries fills the house with an oh-so-delicious aroma!

It was a big double batch from which I got eleven pints of ruby red jam.  My husband is very happy, strawberry jam being his very favorite.
After not wanting to even think about the gardening for this coming season for a few months, I've starting to dream of having my fingers in the soil again.  
Hard to believe but I had several minutes (about twenty) yesterday of not being able to find my garden book.  My book that holds plans for this next garden and past plans and notes of my gardens going back to 2007.
You see, last fall in conjunction with my cleaning, sorting and reorganizing, I put this tome in a "more convenient" spot.  Yesterday I could not remember where that new spot was.  Oh, come on now.  There are only so many book shelves where it could possibly be!  

Needless to say, I did locate it.  Now it's back on my desk where it was previously before I put it where it wouldn't be "so much in the way."  Sigh.
During these winter months when it has seemed to be so much darker morning and night than ever before (has anyone else noticed this?), we caved and put a light in the chicken house.  The hens were being very stingy in the meager amount of eggs we'd been getting since before Christmas.

Turns out we should have done this long before we did.  Seems chickens need a certain amount of light to continue laying during the winter months.  Who knew?  (Well, we certainly did.  But didn't do what should have been done earlier.)
I've been pushing myself too much on things other than those that feed my soul (too dramatic?) so starting tomorrow, Friday, I'm planning on taking a 3-day mental health break for myself.  Sure hope there are enough pre-made meals in the freezer to sustain us until next Monday. 

Monday, January 9, 2023

It Is Time

I finally got all my Christmas and holiday decorations put away late last week.  As I pulled out the boxes of "winter" decorations to put up next, I had a light bulb moment.
It takes too much of my time to do the decorating, and I'm not enjoying the process as I once did.  This applies to all the seasons throughout the year when I remove the past appropriate decorations and replace the bare spots with the new.
Solution?  I could stop changing decorations all together, but I can't bring myself (yet) to do that.
Compromise?  I can reduce (significantly) the quantity of the stuff that needs to be handled.

I've already got a box (plus) of the winter decorations ready to go to one of our resale stores.
It's a start.
Now, in the next several days, as I really take an objective (a must) look at those winter decorations I've put into place in our various rooms, I'll be asking myself if they have sentimental value, and/or do I truly enjoy seeing and keeping them.  What value do they have to me at this stage of my life?  This may (should) lead to even more paring down of "stuff."
It's a step in the right direction for me as I feel a need to take an honest look at how I spend my time and energy.
I suppose you could call this small but honest change I'm attempting as a New Year's Resolution, although I'm determined to make it more than that.  I want it to become a life's resolution in other areas of my life, too.  What could be more important than managing my time so my days bring me more contentment, satisfaction and happiness?  Plus, I'll be getting rid of unneeded "clutter" at the same time.
It is time.
How about you?  Have you made any changes, big or small, that will give you more time for what is really important in your life?  If you've been brave enough to do so, what are the changes? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Do You Remember . . .

This post will no doubt date me, and might not ring a bell for those of you who are a generation (or so) younger than me.  But it may bring back a couple of memories to some of you who grew up around the same time I did.
Do you remember:
~ Home perms.  Eee-gods!  The torture we girls subjected ourselves to in the hopes of attaining beauty and the latest style of hair-do.  Seems the awful fumes and tight curlers of the process frequently produced a lot of frizz and more than a few tears.  And possibly a haircut in seriously bad cases.
~ Movies in actual theaters.  In the medium sized town I grew up in, we had four movie theaters.  One of them was definitely the classiest and quite plush.  That's where we went on dates.  Going to a movie in a theater was where most of our "real" dates occurred during my high school years.  We always dressed up.  No sweat pants and t-shirts as is the garb while watching a DVD on the couch at home these days.
~ 45 rpm records.  One song on each side.  I had my own small record player and a collection of the new releases and old favorites which I played over and over and over.  Much to my father's great consternation. 
~ After dinner phone calls with best girlfriends and sometimes the latest boyfriend crush.  No computers or other technological devices of today with which to communicate.  I got into a lot of trouble with my father because of my hour-long periods on the family phone.  One phone in the house, no such thing as a phone in one's bedroom where privacy could be insured.
~ Big, plump, red lips made of paraffin at Halloween time.  The lips looked exactly like those now displayed by celebrities.  After Halloween, we always ended up chewing the lips until all the "flavor" was gone.  Yuck.
~ Skate keys that tightened your roller skates to your shoes.  The heel of your shoe fit into a metal bracket of sorts in the back of the skates and the front part was held onto your toe area by a clamp on each side.  The clamps had to be tightened by a skate key to keep the four-wheeled skates tightly secured.  We frequently had to share keys because someone had lost theirs.
~ Pen pals.  Again, before means of communicating with all the gadgets we have today, many hand-written letters would be mailed back and forth to friends who had moved away, relatives living far from you or occasionally someone living in another country that you had "met" through a geography lesson in school.
~ Roller rinks.  If we could coerce a parent to transport us to and from a roller rink, we could rent the boot type skates there and spend an afternoon going around and around on the wooden floor of the big indoor rink.  In junior high school this was often our way of getting together with the opposite sex.  A group of us girls would plan a trip to the rink and, lo and behold, a group of boys our age from school would turn up there, too.
~ Neighborhood grocery stores.  There was a small, family-owned grocery store within easy walking distance in nearly every neighborhood.  Once or twice a week, the mother in the home would walk a couple of blocks, or often less, to the neighborhood store to do her food shopping.  If only a couple of items were needed between her regular trips, a child might be given a list with some money, told to go to Mr. Neighborhood Grocer, hand him the list and money, then return home with the purchases and change.
Do you have any memories similar to mine (that have now been relegated to the age of the dinosaurs) from your childhood?  Please feel free to share!