Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back To School

Yesterday was Zach's first day back to school. He is now in 7th grade,which means he is in Jr High. I have always looked forward to Zach going into a new grade,but this year it's different. I have mixed emotions. Part of me is excited for him,and the other part is feeling like this is the beginning of the countdown to the high school graduation. My baby is growing up!

When I was going to school,we always started school the day after Labor Day. It seems strange to me that kids start when it's still August,but I suppose that's because there are more days off,and they have to go to school 180 days. Zach gets days off for teacher conferences. Growing up we never had teacher conference days. If parents wanted to discuss their child's progress with the teacher,they made an appointment,which was after school,or talked on the phone.Now a slip is sent home and you make an appointment on conference day. Teachers encourage all parents to visit,if possible,regardless of how well the child is doing. I think we may have missed one or two semesters. It's a nice way to get to know the teacher and discuss how Zach is doing one on one,rather than trying to slip in a word or two on Open House night. Happily,Zach has been consistently on Honors or High Honors,so we have never been real concerned with his grades. It's nice to get an idea of what the teacher is like,how Zach is in the classroom,etc. This year will be interesting as this is Zach's first year with more than one teacher. We are anxious to meet them and see what their impressions of Zach and his classroom work ethic are.

Off to the first Muffin Date of the season.Have a great day!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

...And We're Back!!!

I have finally had the time to download photos from our trip. Since I have dial up,even a few pictures take a while,but...cough....I have a more than a few. In fact, originally I had about 30 out of the 85 pictures I had taken that I had planned to download,but Rick convinced me that 30 was a wee bit too much. As usual,my enthusiasm for the subject had taken over,so I cut back. This post will be long as it is! (My apologies))Those of you who are Little House fans will understand.Those who are not will probably shake your heads and wonder what the big deal is all about!

We left early on Monday morning,and I wish I could say it was bright and early,but it was raining. The forecast did say that by the time we reached northern Vermont and NY,the rain would've already past and it would be sunny. We stopped twice along I-89 in Vermont to stretch our legs.The first stop was not long after White River Junction,where they had a memorial for Vermont Vietnam Veterans. It was a lovely monument,with an eternal flame,and we stood in the pouring rain and paid our respects. The next stop was in Milton,Vt,which was actually the birthplace of Almanzo Wilder's father,James. There we saw a sign that that said the stop was on the Purple Heart Trail,so of course, I had to take a photo of Rick under it. Our next stop was just over the bridge from Rouses Point,NY. We ate our picnic lunch,and Zach tried to see if he could see Champ, Lake Champlain's version of the Loch Ness Monster. He used Rick's scouting scope,but no luck. The sun was shining,and it was very pleasant. We then hopped back in the car,and proceeded to Malone,NY.

After being on the road for 6 1/2 hours ( not including stops) we saw the sign that said we were in Malone. Rick gave Zach a high five. The area is farmland,lots of corn fields and cows. We could see right into Canada and the silver of the St Lawrence River. I was excited. Here we were,going into the town I have only read about since second grade! What was it going to be like? In my mind's eye I pictured a small town,nothing like when Farmer Boy takes place,of course,but still small.

Malone is not a small town. In fact,when we pulled in,it was very busy and had three lane traffic running down Main Street for a bit.I had failed to remember that even back in 1866-67,Malone had a population of 3,000,and it is the county seat. I chuckled when I saw the sign " Entering the village of Malone." This was not what a village was to me! This was a city!

We got settled in the Econolodge ( paid for with lottery tickets and our spare change that we save up!)and our first night in Malone we ate chinese food from the mall across the street. I was so tired that I was asleep by 7:30 and slept like a log.

The next morning we were up bright and early,about 6:30. Our plan was to have breakfast,check out the cemetery,the fairgrounds,and find where Franklin Academy was,then head over to the Wilder Farm in Burke. For breakfast we went to this little diner we saw on the way in on Rt 11-Countryside Diner. The food was great and reasonable. We then went to Morningside Cemetary off of Raymond St to find the graves of Almanzo's grandparents-Abel and Hannah Wilder.

We drove around the cemetery at first,then got out in an area where the graves were all older,and walked. I did see some names mentioned in Farmer Boy-Paddock and Thompson. There were alot of graves-how were we going to find them? Shouldn't they be marked with a special sign or something? We split up,and after a few minutes,I thought I heard Rick shout. I started walking toward the sound of the shout when I heard Zach yell,"Mama,we found them!!!" I ran down the hill,and sure enough,there was a blue sign along the road that said simply,"Wilder gravesite."

Hannah is buried to the left of the photo,Abel to the right. They travelled from Maine,to Vermont,and finally to Malone where they built a log cabin and raised their family. There are a couple of other family members there,but not Almanzo,his parents,or brother or sisters. The whole family moved to Spring Valley,MN in the mid 1870's,then went to different states. Almanzo is buried in Mansfield,MO with Laura.We took several photos of the site,and after I said a quick prayer,we were on the road once again. Zach was very proud of himself for finding the site. I had about given up.

The next site was the Franklin Fairgrounds.

It was here that Almanzo entered his blue ribbon winning milk fed pumpkin and was frightened by the first mules he ever saw. It is right on Main Street,and when we came out of Raymond Street,it was right in front of us.
Though we did not get to the site of the orignial Franklin Academy,where Royal,Alice,and Eliza Jane go in Farmer Boy,we did find some old brick buildings near the high school that we think may have been part of the Academy at one point. One building said " Science Building". The building that the Wilders attended was a single stone building,which has been torn down and is where the Jr High is now. I don't know when it was torn down. The cluster of brick buildings must've replaced this building,though I don't know when. I know the Wilders never attended them,however.
Next stop was along Mill St,to the old Horton Mill on the Salmon River.
This is the building where the Wilders brought what grains they had to be ground up into flour. As you can see,it is falling into its self,and is fenced off. The waterfall is right behind it. I hope that Malone can restore it as a historical site.

Next was the Wilder Farm on Stacy Rd,in Burke. This is the sign that greets you as pull up.
The day was perfect-sunny and just warm enough,the perfect day to explore the past. Once the car is parked,there are apple trees to the left,straight ahead is a picnic pavillion,and then slightly to the left is the visitor center and museum. No one is allowed to go the barn or house area without a tour guide,and,sadly,no photos are allowed in the barns,house,or museum. They had us wait in the museum until it was time for our tour. The farm opens at 11:00,and we only had to wait until 11:30. So we explored the museum. There were Eliza Jane's school books,pieces of Rose Wilder Lane's dinner set,Almanzo's reading glasses,signed books from Laura,and some artifacts they found at the farm when they were renovating it. Among these things were pieces of pottery,a shoe buttonhook found under Mrs Wilder's bedroom floor,and various hand made nails.There was also the sketch of the barns,with dimensions,that Almanzo drew for Laura when she was writing Farmer Boy. While the house is the only original house standing that is mentioned in the Little House books,the barns were reconstructed. They burnt down sometime in the 1950's or 60's,but when they were digging in the site they found the original foundations,so the barns were built on the the foundations and made to Almanzo's specifications.

Our first stop was the pumphouse.
Our tour guide,Rebeckah,was a lovely young lady who was nice enough to let Zach test out the pump. Mr.Wilder was very ingenious. Instead of having to pump water into buckets and bringing them into the barn,the water ran down a series of small troughs,as above,into a large water trough in the barn. Very clever.This was Almanzo's job each day-to fill the large trough.

Here is the set up of the barns.

To the right is the South Barn. It was here that the sheepfold,manger,cattleshed,calf pens,hog pens,and feed room were. The first section we went in was the sheepfold,where the Merino sheep were sheared. They had fresh wool and washed wool there to show how the fresh wool still had the lanolin in it,so it felt oily. Straight ahead in the photo is the Big Barn,which housed the cows,oxen,hayloft,haybay,horses,and wagons.The barns were very impressive. They had buggies,a sleigh,a cutter,harnesses,and anything else one could think of that the Wilders would've used. Naturally,all these items were donated,since everything was taken when they moved to Spring Valley.The barns were set up so the barnyard was protected by the barns on three sides-a fence protected the fourth side. One could walk from each section to the next in each barn and never have to go outside. I was very impressed by the ingenuity of the barn set up. You did have to go outside to get to the Big Barn from the South Barn,however.
Here is the view from the Big Barn to the South Barn. The door is to the Sheep fold,then the large opening is the where cattle,pigs,etc were kept.

You can see Rick and Zach on the left,a couple from Ottawa in the middle,and our tour guide,Rebeckah,on the right.That was it in our tour group,which made it very nice. The Canadian couple were very friendly. The gentleman served with the Canadian Air Force and had been retired for 19 years. When Rick shook his hand and thanked him for his service to his country,the gentleman said the same to Rick then remarked,"It took me 19 years and to have to come to America before anyone has ever thanked me."

Here is the view from the sheepfold door,looking to the end of the Big Barn.

They could drive the horses and buggies right out of the doors. To the right,though you can't see it,is the chicken coop.This barnyard is where Almanzo trained his oxen and his horse,Starlight. It was amazing to think he walked in that very place.

This maple is next to the house,and is over 170 years old,which means that it was around when Almanzo lived there. I took Zach's picture in front of it,and told Zach that Almanzo probably ran his hand right on bark where Zach was leaning against.( Again, I had to edit which photos I posted). All the trees across the street were not there at the time of Farmer Boy. That was all pasture. This tree is the only original one left.

Rebeckah took this pic. Directly in back of us is the kitchen door,and to the right is the door to the woodshed and the window in the woodshed. Behind the house they have a small garden.

Another view of the house,this door to the left of the kitchen goes into the dining room.The window to the right of the door,and right around the corner are in the dining room as well. The window to the left of the door is in the parents bedroom. The small window on the second floor is in Almanzo's bedroom.
When I walked into the kitchen door,I inhaled sharply,held my breath, and put a hand to my heart. Here I was,in the house that the Wilders lived in. How many times had Almanzo come in this door after doing chores? This was his house...he had slept,ate,worked,breathed here. It was overwhelming,to say the least.
I do admit the rooms were smaller than I had thought. As you walk in to the kitchen,on the right wall is the door to the woodshed,the cookstove,and the door to the pantry. Directly ahead was windows, an outside door,and the kitchen table against the wall. To the left was the door way to the dining room,then there was a closed door that we were not allowed in. Rick and I assume that was the cellar door.
The pantry was wonderful,very simple and functional.It had a long table on the left wall,under a window,then shelves for canned goods,etc.At the end was another window. They had a drying rack set up with herbs.Aprons and other items were hung on the right.The dining room had photos of the family,and had wallpaper. Off on the left side they had a cobblers bench set up under the window,just like in Farmer Boy. The door to the parents room was ahead,and that room was TINY. The bed was pushed right in the corner,under the window,and there was room for a bureau and a wash stand. That was it. A quilt that Mrs. Wilder had made which was discovered laid on the bed. A piece of plexiglass waist high was in the doorway,which prevented anyone from going in the room. When I commented on how small the room was,Rebeckah said that bedroom were just for sleeping in,so they didn't need much room. That made sense. Just to the right of the bedroom was the parlor,where Almanzo threw the stove blackening brush at Eliza Jane. Rebeckha pointed to a spot diagonally across from the stove,and said that when they were remodeling the house,they had gone all the way down to the plaster and lath,and there was a black spot in that area. They believed that was where Almanzo had hit the wall with the brush,since there were no other spots like that in the whole house. They had a blackening brush on the stove,so one could get an idea of what had happened. Again, the house is fully furnished,no detail is gone unchecked. There were more family portraits in the parlor as well. This room was wallpapered,and what folks would do would be to keep the first two rooms of the house papered,and shut the doors to the rest of the house,so it would appear that they had more money than they did. Only people who were well off back then had wallpaper in their homes.
There was a small bedroom off the parlor,which was the birthing room. Here Mrs Wilder gave birth to her children,and would keep this room while they were little.Since the woodstove was in the parlor,this room would be kept warm. It was also used as a guest bedroom.
When you come back out of the parlor into the dining room (which was only used for company) directly to the left was the stairway to go upstairs to the bedrooms.These stairs are very narrow and steep,so they had railings to help. Poor Rick was a bit slow in climbing them,but he did it. The top of the stairs opened right up into the boys bedroom. Directly to the left was the attic,where Mr Wilder had his workshop.( We were not allowed in there,since the nails are all sticking through and one could not stand up straight) The floor in the boys room is the only original floor in the house,so it is the only floor that Almanzo and his siblings actually walked on.There was a small window in the room.You had to go into through the boys room to get to the girls room,which had a couple windows and was nice and bright and sunny. They had a weaving loom set up in there,and I wondered if Mrs Wilder's loom was in the girls room,or the girls and the boys shared the same room. There is a section in Farmer Boy where Almanzo goes upstairs to visit his father,who is working in the attic,then goes to his mother's weaving area,a room which is" nice and bright and sunny",then he goes back downstairs. So the loom was either kept in the girls room,or the girls and boys shared a room.There were two closets in the girls room,and one of them had mongrammed towels from Rose Wilder Lane.

Here is the plaque directly in front of the house.

This is the front of the house . The front door goes into the parlor,and the window to the left of it is in the parlor as well.There is a window to the right of the door ( which you can't see) that is in the baby/guest room. The first two windows closest to the corner are in the parlor,and the third one back is in the dining room,at the foot of the stairs. Farther back the first window,door,and second window are in the kitchen. The furthest window back is the in pantry.The two second floor windows are in the girls room.

This is the path to the Trout River,which is across the street from the house. It's a very nice,cleared path. The trees that are around it were not in existence then. It was all field and meadow.
Here is the Trout River,with the view going up stream. This is where they fished,washed their sheep,and swam. Futher up there is a pond,though we did not go there,where they cut their ice for the ice house.It's a nice walk from the house,with different types of plants marked.
I had to take one last shot of the house as we were leaving. I felt sad to leave,as this is the type of place I would love to live in. We all had a wonderful time. Rick said it was the most relaxed he had been in a while. For him,that is saying alot,since his PTSD gets worse when he is in unfamilar surroundings. He wants to build a fence like the one above with saplings on our property,and got some great ideas for the house. We felt like we were home there,and will treasure our memories always.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

....And We're Off!

This weekend has been a fun one. Yesterday I went to a get together of people I went to high school with. While it wasn't well attended,I did see very good friends.It's wonderful to see these people again and just pick up like no time has passed. There have been marriages,divorces, children,good times and bad times these last 24 years. Rick and I had a great time chatting. Though he didn't go to our school,he knows my friends and they are his friends as well. People were very pleased to see how well he is doing compared to our get together last year,and were happy to see how well his knees are working. They were shocked to learn he was 48. They kept saying,"No way!!!" Clean shaven,he looks much younger than he is,no more than 40,max. I probably look older than he does!! :)

Today I am going to my Gardener's Roundtable potluck. We have to make a dish from something we have grown ourselves. I went back on forth on what to make. At first I was going to make a zucchini casserole,but thought better of it since I have never made one before and wasn't even sure how it was going to taste! So I am going to make brown sugar glazed carrots.

When I get back we are going to start packing for our trip to Malone/Burke NY to visit the Almanzo Wilder Farm. I am a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. I love her books,and have read them hundreds of times since my second grade teacher,Mrs.Whittier,introduced me to 'Little House In The Big Woods." The year before,when I was in first grade,the TV series had started. So I was already a fan. People may think it's weird to travel six hours to visit a farm museum,but to me, it's not. I can't wait to step into the house where Almanzo grew up. While I have always known they were actual people,they were long ago and far away. This will make them ...well.....real. I re read "Farmer Boy"and Zach has been re reading it as well. Besides the farm, we are going to visit cemeteries,the Fairgrounds,the grist mill,and take a lot of photos. It's going to be a great trip. We leave bright and early tomorrow morning. It is going to rain,but by late morning up in Northern VT ( where we are going to have a picnic by Lake Champlain) and Northern NY the rain is going to be cleared out. Tuesday when we do our exploring it's going to be nice. We are all quite excited to be going away for a few days,and see a part of American Literature,as well as American History!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Being Still

Day to day life can be busy. Sometimes it can be stressful. Things can come up at the same time and one can feel they are going in a hundred different directions ,but not getting anywhere or accomplishing anything. Frustration and being overwhelmed sets in and life seems like it is all about tasks and little else. There have been times when even sitting down to relax with a good book didn't work. My mind would be in ten other directions and I would forget what I read as soon as I ended a sentance. Even mindless TV didn't work. What did I do?

I was still.

There are times when I would just go outside,by myself,and sit. No book. No company. Just me and the world around me. I would sit and observe. Not just look but really pay attention. I would watch the bees on the lilac blossoms and be surprised at how many different kinds of bees would be there at once. I would watch the butterflies gracefully flow through the air,and think how bright and beautiful their colors are. Little garter snakes would slither through the cool green grass. I would sit and listen to the symphony of birds and get excited when I would see a bird we have never or rarely seen.I would marvel at the the blue of the sky,the white of the clouds,and the various green of the leaves on the trees. The sound of the wind whispering through our trees is relaxing.Then I find peace.

Peace can be very elusive,but when it washes over me,it's very soothing and clears my mind. I remember what life is all about,and how we are a part of this beautiful place called Earth. I feel connected to all that is around me and it re energizes me. I appreciate things around me more. I am more mindful of things. I would like to say it lasts for a long period of time,but eventually things wind up catching up with me again,and I have to go and be still to refresh my spirit once more.

Sometimes it's on my steps. Sometimes it's in my screen house. Other times it's in the woods or on a mountain.Nature soothes. Just be still.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Misc Catch Up and the Death of My Soap

I have been fighting headaches and allergies since the weekend,so my motivation has not been at an all time high. One Benedryl and I am ready for a nap. If anyone out there has taken Benedryl,they know what I mean. It wipes you out.

I have two cabinets left-my pots and pans ( which is more or less just straightening and wiping down the inside of the cabinet) and the dreaded under the sink area. Yuck. Today will not be the day,however. Zach and I are meeting My Dear Friend Michelle and her boys at the lake,then later this PM Rick has an appt with his PTSD counselor,Ken down at the VA Outpatient Center in Somersworth. He hasn't seen Ken in a while,not since before he had his knees done,so it should be a good visit. I think Ken will be pleased to see Rick doing so well physically,which also helps him mentally.

Rick is now in the midst of stopping his morphine. He is lowering his dose by 15 mg each week. He was at 120 mg a day. Last week he started at 60 mg in the AM,then 45 mg at night.This week it is 4 5mg and 45 mg,next week it will be 45 mg and 30 mg,etc., down to nothing. It is not easy. He has been on it for two years,and as most people know,morphine is physically addictive.Each time the dose is lessened he has some minor withdrawal symptoms,but it only lasts for a couple of days until his body adjusts. At least we know it is temporary each week.He is happy to finally not have to take it anymore and is anxious to stop altogether.

Yesterday Brother B canned 9 pints of blackberry jam. He had gone down to North Hampton to help out his Dad and there is an area loaded with blackberry bushes. He picked 9 lbs,so needless to say we still have quite a bit of berries left! He hadn't canned in years,so I just helped him out a bit on the first batch.

I am not loving my homemade dish soap at all.We had a nice ham dinner on Saturday,and when Rick washed the dishes there was about an inch of grease on the dishes.He went up to the neighbors and borrowed some detergent. I am glad it worked out for some people,and hope it worked out for you. Not here,I am sad to say. I will stick to my laundry and hand soap. Tomorrow I will return to the land of Grapefruit Ajax. At least I gave it a shot.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Organizing Has Begun

Thursday I finally started my cabinet and drawer organization. As of now I still have four cabinets left:my dinnerware/glassware,cookware,misc dishes/glassware and under the sink cabinets. I figure it is easier to do a few areas at a time than try to do it all at once.

My goal is to streamline what I can. There are glasses,pyrex and corning ware that I never use. Those will go. I did get to clean out one of my lower cabinets and I have put all my candle and soap making supplies in it,finally getting all that out of my bedroom closet!

I never realized how dirty drawers and cabinets can get. It's amazing. It's great to do a little sprucing up.

Here are some photos of what I have done. The first couple photos I mixed up the "Before and After". They are "After and Before."

After of pantry cabinet


Before baking cabinet


Before junk drawer

I had all my sewing items in the junk drawer,until it dawned on me that I could put everything in the drawers of the antique sewing machine. The machine doesn't work,but the drawers do!
The fun continues....... :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Homemade Dish Soap

One of the things I have been hoping to learn is how to make my own dish soap. I could put whatever scent I wanted in it,probably save a few dollars,and cut back on plastic consumption. I have looked at various blogs,such as Karyn's over at Lizzy Lane Farm,and Rhonda Jean's at Down To Earth. The basic ingredients seem to be the same,though there are variations.Some folks use liquid castille soap instead of soap flakes,for example. The following is the recipe I used.
You can use this one,or find another through various blogs. This one can be used for hand washed dishes or for dishwashers. I don't have a dishwasher,so I had to make sure it was hand friendly.Like any other homemade cleaning item,you have to try it out and see if it works for you.

Handmade Dish Soap

2 cups soap flakes ( I couldn't find any flake Ivory Soap or Lux,so I grated an Ivory soap bar.One bar made 2 cups)
1 gallon warm water
2 tablespoons glycerin (optional- I got mine in the First Aid aisle at WalMart)
1/2 cup of lemon juice or white vinegar
Scent if desired

Combine flakes and water over low heat,until soap is dissolved,stirring frequently.Stir in glycerin and remove from heat.Allow soap to cool to about room temperature,then add the lemon juice or vinegar and add soap scent. Mix thoroughly and put in containers. Use about 1/2- 3/4 cup per load of dishes.

The first thing you will notice is that the mixture will be very watery,nothing like store bought dish soap.There will also be no bubbles. Bubbles do not determine how clean something gets,so don't worry about that. From what I have read,lemon juice will mold if you don't use the batch in about a week's time,so I used white vinegar. Until the vinegar was added,the soap was the color of gray water.It then turned a very pale white ( you can see it in the above picture in the clear water bottle). For scent Rick picked Eucalyptus soap scent. Instead of a full gallon,I reduced the water to 14 cups,and I think I will have to reduce it more next time. Most blogs with these recipes say they wind up bringing down amount of water quite a bit,and though it won't give you as much,it will be a bit more concentrated,so you may not have to use as much in each load. The second thing you may notice is grease residue. This is also an issue I have read about-some people have a problem,others claim they don't. I did. The vinegar acts as a grease cutter,but it brings any grease or oil from what is on your dishes to the top of the water,which gets on your dishes and hands. I don't know if hard water makes a difference-we have well water,so it's hard. At first I thought it was the glycerin,which is used as a hand softener,but this AM I washed out our wok from the stir fry we had last night,and I could see an oil slick on top of the water. My only thought about that is perhaps upping the amount of vinegar a bit,and maybe using more soap ,as well as less water.

I admit,even though I had read of this possibility,I was disappointed. It got me to thinking about what folks used back in the day when they didn't have grease cutting dish detergents,which we are all so used to.They would have had to use regular soap,would they not? Grease would form in the water,wouldn't it? Am I being too critical because I am comparing this to store bought detergents with different chemicals in it? Maybe it's like comparing apples and oranges.

I hope this doesn't discourage you from giving it a shot. I think playing with the initial recipe may produce something more pleasing,and if one doesn't expect Palmolive,Ajax,or Dawn as the end result,it will be OK.

For those of you who are making dish soap,could you please send me your thoughts regarding the grease? Have you had this problem,and were you able to remedy it?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trying To Get Organzied

One of the things ( the many things,actually) that is the bane of my life is my attempts at organization.

I love the thought of having everything in it's place,nice and neat,shiny and perfect. However,I know I will never accomplish that. It' s just not in me.

I have the best intentions,please know that. I look around and say..."OK,I really need to organize the kitchen cabinets,and the drawers.The closets in the bedroom are screaming for help. I can kick clutter to the curb....I CAN DO THIS!" I then make up a weekly cleaning chart,go to FlyLady,and begin.

Then real life kicks in about two weeks later,and it all goes to hell in a hand basket.

If I lived by myself,I have no doubt that the house would look...well...not perfect but much better. But I have two men,a boy,two dogs and a cat in this 918 sq ft house. A floor washed doesn't look washed long. A clean kitchen table tends to become a catch all. Things are left where they shouldn't be. I get tired of telling people to put stuff away...who wants to listen to a nag?

And I am not perfect,not by a long shot! My stuff winds up where it shouldn't be,such as the kitchen table. The computer desk is cluttered with papers and books. The winter coats I was going to wash and store away for the season? Still hanging on the hooks in the kitchen. Yep.

Growing up,all my Mom did was work 8 hours a day at her job,then come home and clean. I remember naps on an occasional Sunday afternoon, and sitting watching TV at night, but most of my memories involves her constantly cleaning. Our house was spic and span. Except for my room. There were clothes on the floor ( at least they were all piled in one corner).Actually,it wasn't' that bad. Clothes in a corner aren't such a bad thing. It drove my Mom nuts,though. I wasn't messy,just.....untidy.

Remember,I do have good intentions! But somewhere along the line...I don't know what happens. Things come up. I know it's harder in the summer,with the garden,canning and what not. I shouldn't beat myself up like I do. But I do. I feel the need to apologize to people who visit-"Uh...we are going to clean out the garage this Fall when it's cooler.....I am planning on repainting the kitchen....I need to find homes for all my canning jars..."

Then I say to myself," This is a home,not a museum! People live here,and I don't want to spend my life straightening and cleaning every day.If I have a chance to do something with my family and the house is a bit worse for wear,the hell with it. I want to spend fun time with my family."

I bring this up because I am feeling the incentive to actually organize my cabinets and drawers. I have been eyeing them for a few weeks,but haven't done anything about it. Now I am feeling like I HAVE to. It NEEDS to get done.What hasn't really bothered me for a while is driving me nuts.Maybe incentive isn't the word-compulsion is! That's more like it. That's the answer! I am a compulsive organizer,not a consistent one. A compulsive organizer. I will organize the cabinets and drawers and not think about for months. Yep.That's me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mmmmm...That Smell!

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in good old New Hampshire. Zachary left for 5 days for Boy Scout camp up in Raymond,ME,at Camp Hinds. It's an old fashioned style camp which the boys all love. The lake is beautiful,and the shore is surrounded by nice shade trees.They vote each year where they want to go to camp,and apparently the last three or four years they all want to go to Hinds. This is Zach's second year. He signed up for his Swimming,First Aid,and Carpentry merit badges. Swimming and First Aid are requirements for Eagle Scout,which Zach wants to earn. Rick and I drove Zach and his friends Ethan and Shane up. We didn't follow the rest of the group,we took a different route which consisted mainly of country roads. It was the perfect day for a Sunday drive,and we enjoyed looking at the old farmhouses,Colonials and small towns. I wanted a lesiurely ride,and that's what we had. We were missing Zach as soon as we left camp,however. It seems strange not to have him around.

( Our finished chicken coop,with our garden in the foreground)

One of the things I was enjoying on the ride to and from the camp was the smell of fresh cut hay. It is one of the most pleasant smells I know. One cannot help but breathe deep and take a moment to savor it's sweet aroma. All of a sudden,we would pass by a farm and the smell would hit the car. It was wonderful.

We were lucky last week that we were able to get a small amount of hay for free. Our neighbor cuts the grass at the park ball field,and Rick and I had commented a couple weeks ago that the ball field was turing more into a field than a place you could play ball. Then a week ago we heard the mower at the park,so we knew the ball field was getting mowed. Later, our neighbor showed up with a truck bed filled with the cut grass,AKA hay.

Apparently our good friend Kelly had run into this neighbor and told him we could use the hay! So Rick,Brother B and Zach put it on a tarp and started making small bales of it. They posed for the above picture. After I took the photograph, I went over,grabbed a handful,and buried my nose in it. Mmmmm...that smell! Who doesn't love that?
We are off to the Manchester VA today.Rick has physical therapy,and I think his therapist will be even more surprised at his progress. He can ride the elliptical really well,and I haven't seen him use a cane or crutches for a bit now. He faithfully stretches and exercises each day,sometimes twice day,especially if his knees get stiff. He can now bend his knees even more,and has kneeled a couple of times,but it feels strange when he kneels,because he can't tell how much pressure he is putting on the knees. That will just take some getting used to. Everday brings more healing,and that is wonderful!!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Say Hello To My Little Friend

I woke up this morning and, as usual,the first thing I did is wander bleary eyed into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Rick is always up before me,and he makes the morning java. I was at the cabinet getting my coffee mug,when Rick called out to me from the living room," Look what's on the counter."

With coffee cup in hand,my eyes started wandering the kitchen counter,trying to focus. The 6 pints of bread and butter pickles were still sitting in place. Some dishes in the sink...what was different? Since I didn't have any coffee in my system,nothing was dawning on me right away. Then I noticed this monstrosity :
Of course, I had to immediately take a picture,coffee be damned! I propped up a smaller zucchini and a 1/2 pint canning jar for size scale. I took out our digital kitchen scale and weighed it. It weighs 4.54 lbs.

My immediate question was " Where in the garden was it?" I had just picked the smaller zucchini on Weds,and never saw this beast! I even looked under the leaves to make sure I didn't miss anything. Maybe I need to start wearing my bifocals full time instead of just when my eyes are tired or I am reading! How in the world did I miss it?

Brother B had checked the garden early this AM and found it nestled under zucchini greenery outside the raised bed.

That's a big honking zucchini!

He also reported that we now have about 20 ears of corn coming in. It's really something how just a few days can make all the difference.We also have a new pumpkin growing. All over the course of two days. I didn't get out to the garden yesterday,so I am anxious to check it out today. When it is terribly humid,I stay inside as much as I can because it makes breathing harder. The only time people should breathe hard is either during exercise or sex!!! :)

Today Zach is going to spend the night at his friend Ethan's house,and My Dear Friend Michelle was planning on bringing them to Water Country (a water park in Portsmouth,which I affectionately call " Urine Country") and since she has to pay to get in,she figured she would go on the water slides,and wanted to know if I wanted to play as well. Sure! I haven't been to a water park in about 32 years. Why not? So we are going to their house later this AM,will have pizza for lunch,the boys will set up their tent outside,then we will go and play. We agree that we may very well be among the oldest,if not the oldest,people there,but what the hell. The humidity is breaking and today the dew point is going to be down in the 30's,so it will be a nice,warm,dry day. It will be a good time!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I blogged a few weeks ago about a torrential downpour we had that laid our corn down horizontally. Rick and Brother B set it back up with string and stakes,and we held our collective breath to see if it would die or grow. Here is what it looked like on Tuesday:
Nice and green,and pollen was flying everywhere! A good sign. Then,we noticed this little guy nestled in the stalks:
Corn silk! After a closer inspection,we noticed 9 more silks popping out. So we have 10 little ears of corn growing. We were quite happy. Even if we get only those 10 ears out of the 98 seeds I planted,it's better than having the entire crop destroyed. As Ma Ingalls used to say, "There is no great loss without some small gain." We are still keeping our fingers crossed that we will get more ears,and judging by how nice the stalks look,I think we will.
Today I made 6 more pints of bread and butter pickles after we went school clothes shopping for Zach. Last year he picked out most of his clothes,and this year he asked me if I could refrain from buying him a polo style shirt. "I don't want to look like a geek," he informed me. Both my Mom and I had each bought him a collared shirt last year, which he only wore twice-the first day of school and on picture day.Actually, I think he wore them for Easter and Christmas too. I remember arguing with my Mom when we went school clothes shopping,and I don't think it's worth the aggravation. I did ask him to please get a T shirt without any funky graphics on it for the first day,and for picture day. So we got a striped t shirt,which he picked out. As long as he is happy with his clothes,and they are decent, I really don't care what he wears. I do draw the line at huge baggy pants,however,and thankfully he doesn't like them either ( at least,not so far). He got three pairs of jeans, 5 t shirts,a sweatshirt,and new sneakers. We will get long sleeve shirts later in the season.Any clothes from last year that are looking worse for wear or a bit small will become his "bang around" clothes,and anything that is way too small but decent we will donate. He does still have a few things from last year that fit,so he can still wear them to school.
It has been brutally humid today,and we just had a thunder shower roll over us,so things should start cooling down,or at least drying out some. At least I don't have to water the garden!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Never Ending Battle

Besides having an ever ending battle with dirt and sand that gets tracked in all day long,there is another nemesis that I have a constant struggle with. For a few months a year,it's worse than usual,and it causes me great frustration.

This is the main culprit,our chocolate lab,Sasha. Here she is in all her glory on my recliner. What could this pretty little girl do that is sooooo annoying and frustrating,you may ask? She looks harmless enough. It's actually nothing she has control over.

It's THIS......................................

HAIR! Hair everywhere. Of course,she is not the only one,since we have a black lab/bull mastiff cross named Samson and a tabby cat named Omar. However,I could spin the amount of hair our dear Sasha sheds twice a year into a huge old ball of dog yarn (can one do that?). This pile is just from our living room. Another pile is swept from the bathroom and kitchen. Bear in mind I sweep daily. As soon as the sweeping is done,it looks like nothing got accomplished at all.
It's a good thing we love her! Sigh.