Tuesday, August 31, 2010
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
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.
Next was the Wilder Farm on Stacy Rd,in Burke. This is the sign that greets you as pull up.
Our first stop was the pumphouse.
Here is the set up of the barns.
Here is the view from the sheepfold door,looking to the end of the Big Barn.
Here is the plaque directly in front of the house.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
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
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
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
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
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
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
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
( 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.
Friday, August 6, 2010
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
Nice and green,and pollen was flying everywhere! A good sign. Then,we noticed this little guy nestled in the stalks:
Monday, August 2, 2010
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.