Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Ya know, it's funny. Well, not really funny, but ya know, funny. We've moved this stinking woodstove (actually, it's a great woodstove, but ya know.) twice since we moved here. This makes 3. Times. (most people might move their couch around. Not us. Well, we do move the couch. Everytime we move the woodstove.) And everytime, it's been COLD. We have nice, beautiful, warm weather while getting ready to move it. Then, just when it's disassembled and unusable, BAM! Cold. Last time --I shudder to think of it-- we heated with a kerosene heater for weeks... or months... I dunno, then put the chimney up on the west side of the house in a roaring west wind. It was... horrifying.
This morning, when Nathan took the chimney down from that same spot, he had to be on the roof --at the highest point, picture two stories plus and attic-- and reeeeach over the edge ever so slightly to take down the sections of pipe. Jonah looked up and saw him and began to bawl unconsolably until he came down. I kinda wanted to... So we prayed for angels. And they came, and there were no disasters.
And there was much rejoicing.
So Nathan and Enos put up the new chimney today, and Nathan is currently readying it for inspection tomorrow.
We, being law-abiding citizens (oh... is raw milk really illegal?), bought a permit to move the woodstove across the living room. And they hit us up for 75 bucks. Phoo.
Enos brought along his two little girls to play with Jonah this morning. They're so stinkin' cute. at one point, the men had to leave for a little while and left the kids with me. Then I realized that the girls don't speak any English. Hmmm... but it was fine. They seem to be able to understand most of what I say, and when they babbled (try baby-talk with a German-English combination... whew!) I just smiled and said "Mmmm-hmm!" And they thought, in baby-talk German-English, "What is up with this rather slow and mentally challenged big person, anyway?"
So here I am, being a Bad Boring Blogger and rambling about my day. Well, I plead desperate illness. Okay, not desperatly ill, just desperate not to be ill anymore.
Okay, it's not that bad. Just a warm-up for winter. And I'm whiny. So, if my connection will co-operate, I'm gonna go try to finish Sense and Sensibility on Hulu.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Here's an excerpt from a great interview with the author:
Eating less animal fat hasn't made us healthier or thinner. We have reduced the amount of animal fat we eat, but statistics show the total amount of fat in our diet has increased. Vegetable fats have been replaced by animal fats, which has resulted in a huge increase in polyunsaturated fat in our diet (which can depress your immune system). We've also added man-made trans fats to the mix, which everyone now agrees are not good for us.
It's difficult to blame obesity on one thing. But it is definitely not consumption of animal fats. I think there are many causes -- the way we eat, alone, in the car, walking down the street, the constant snacking. Increased consumption of low-fat, fat-free "foods" results in us eating more sugars and carbohydrates. These products don't satisfy our hunger and leave us wanting to eat more. Eating good animal fat does, so you eat less.
Yes. Yes, yes, yes! I am so excited about this book! Go read the article. Lots of good stuff there.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Hey... What's going on here, anyway?
What is he DOING?? Aaaaack!
It's another project. Yes. ANOTHER project. There truly is no end.
Excuse me while I cry and bewail my fate in life. And cry. I'm gonna... cry.
A'right. I'm better. SO. Nathan decided that today is a good day to knock out the old brick chimney that has stood from the basement to the roof, passing through the downstairs, upstairs and attic. It was royally ugly. And useless. The people who lived here before we did were deluded enough to actually use it and guess what? They had a chimney fire. So we've had this eyesore here, but have not used it. So today, it came out. The plan is that we will run the double-wall insulted pipe through this area and put the woodstove there, but without the old chimney.
Nathan started from the roof, and knocked it down, brick by sooty, old brick, and dropped them all down through the opening into the wheelbarrow parked in the livingroom. Ever seen how fast and hard a brick falls from the roof into your living room? No? It's quite something. I was feeling a little shell-shocked.
I hung around near the wheelbarrow to clear brick-blockages and such. I made Jonah stay far away because I was having nightmares of him getting clocked by a flying brick.
And slowly... the chimney got smaller.
Nathan had help from an Amish neighbor toward the end.
And... The chimney is gone!
And! I have a skylight!
As well as a fine layer of soot and mortar dust coating everything in the entire house, upstairs and down.
P.S. Look at the pretty horses! In my yard! Horses!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
"There was a slight error on our signage. Other countries, such as that one they have in France, reading our slogan, if they can even read real words, might be all, like, “Hey, bonjour, they are saying we can put our country, France, first!” Non, non, non, France! What we are saying is, you’d better put our country first, you merde-heads, or soon there will be so much lipstick on your pit bulls it will make your berets spin!"
Here's the link: My Gal. I'm still laughing.
Taps his head again, "I say, 'Pink, pink, pink!' AH- HAhahahaahaaaa!"
Hilarious giggles and laughter at his own cleverness.
"Lellow, lellow, lellow!"
More cackles and chortles.
"Blue, blue, blue! Heeheheheeee!! Hahahaaa!"
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
A little wild animal.
He snarls and bites.
He likes to eat.
This is reading like a second grade primer.
See the dog. See the dog run. Run, dog, run!
But it isn't a dog.
No, just a wild, little animal and I feed him carefully through the bars.
Alright, he doesn't really snarl and bite.
But he sure does scowl.
I think I'll keep him.
Maybe someday, I'll let him out. But only if he doesn't run away.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
All we have to play with at our house is an old tire swing.
And some days that just won't do.
So, I thought to myself, I thought, "Summer is almost over. And hey... We're paying taxes for a school district that we'll never use. We should get something out of that."
Wanna go to the playground?
So off we went.
The slide is tall, but not too scary after the first time with Daddy.
And... hey... What's up with this?
What a narcissistic mommy... taking pictures of her own swinging feet... Hmmm... Those toenails need painting...
Daddy enjoyed his ride on a purple dinosaur.
Life is good.
Me: "Uh. Maybe."
N: "I thought you're not supposed to buy those. They have nitrates in them."
M: "Shh! It was on sale. And it's not for eating. Right now. It's emergency food. You know, so that when I don't have time to make something I can just--"
N: "Emergency food? So when nuclear winter descends on us, you can wave it around and say, 'It's okay! See? I have a summer sausage!'"
Saturday, September 20, 2008
"Wait!" he said as I pulled his shirt over his head "I wanna see the puddle!"
"The puddle I slept in!"
"You slept in a puddle?"
"Yeah! With my toe!"
Friday, September 19, 2008
Give him another 10-15 years and he'll be making beautiful music... better than I can make, for sure. AND he probably won't have so much snot and strawberry jam on his face. I hope.
He saw my dusty guitar in the corner this afternoon.
"Mom, can we do that violin?"
"That's a guitar."
"Yeah. Buhcar. Can we do that Buhcar?"
So I got it out and tuned it up and we made a little noise for a while.
I can't actually play it. OKay, I can play "Red River Valley" with chords and a basic scale. Sort of. But that old thing stands in the corner as a symbol of my dreams of playing it. (Heh. I can play other instruments better, and yet I make little music. Shows how far my ambitions go.) I inherited it from my uncle when he died. My Dad set it out for me, but I still had to fight my Mom for it.
("Mom, you have two guitars and no time to play them! Why do you need another?"
"It's a classical guitar and mine are western! You don't even play!"
"But I want to! I'm gonna learn!"
"If you don't learn in 10 years, the guitar defaults to me."
So maybe I never will play. But I'll play my Irish whistles with Jonah on the guitar someday.
Or perhaps his interests will go in another direction entirely. And I won't complain (or I'll try not to).
(But I still hope he plays my classical guitar...)
It is sad that we don't live closer to our family. Jonah sure has fun with his uncles/buddies.
When we were visiting family in August, Peter and Samuel sure tried to make a TV head out of Jonah. But they were so cute, snuggling together in their pajamas watching cartoons in the mornings.
They worked hard, too, though, doing the kind of work that boys do.
I'm not always sure exactly what that work is, but they did it and they did it well.
All Jonah really needs is playmates. He still asks all the time if we can go play with Sam and Pete. But it's a bit of a long distance to go and play...
Sometimes, life just isn't fair...
Thursday, September 18, 2008
So for the last two days, it's been beautiful outside and I have so much work to do, and I'm laying on the couch with a blanket and a bucket to catch the snot. (Gross, isn't it? I just kidding. But I'll tell you this, I'm not saving any trees this week.)
Did you know that if you eat a bite of chocolate right before sneezing, it makes the sneeze taste better?
Anyway, I've still had to get some work done. I have a pot of tomato sauce cooking down on the stove. I still have to make food for my guys. (Although, Nathan banished me to my bed with the laptop last night after supper. Ain't he sweet? I'll keep him.) But I have this list of work to do that I'm not getting far on. Most of it is computer work, and I can't think because my head is full of snot and who wants to sit at the computer when the sun is shining, anyway?
Also, if you go into my extra bedroom upstairs, you may get lost and die. It's a mess, full of things that need organizing and getting rid of. I have good intentions on this score. I'm gonna go up there (when I'm not sick, but understand that this has been going on for months. The mess, not the sickness.) and I'm gonna tackle it! I'm gonna give it a left! and a right! and conquer my foe before I get lost and die. But then I walk into the room, and I pretty much always get lost and then I run away screaming before any dying happens.
See, I have a horror of collecting stuff and junk that's just going to make itself at home and then lead a hostile takover. So I keep things in order downstairs, but things have a way of congregating in that room and holding underground meetings about what they'll do when I'm not looking. I regularly take stuff to Goodwill. I like to think that I'm good at making the tough decisions about "do I really need this? Do I use it? Will I? Reeeally? No. It goes."
My downfall is the sentimental paraphranalia. Here's what happens. I go up the stairs, hang a right, and face my nemesis. Deep breath, open a box. Peer inside. Wait for it... and... "Oooh! I forgot all about this! Look at that! I remember that time..." and then I put it back in the box because, what if I wanna show my grandchildren someday and tell them about the time I...
And so it goes.
And I read Unclutterer. I try to arm myself with steely reserve against the things that are having power over my resolve. So I totally KNOW what's wrong with this picture. Totally. The real trouble is that I can't give that stuff away. I have the throw it away. And that is sad.
So my new plan is to open those boxes of travel memorabelia and scan everything (that I can actually remember what they are) and save the images on a disc and label it and put the disc away (where I'll still never look at it, but at least it will take up less space.) Okay. So I just need to do it. Do it. (See, I'm sick, so I'm formulating all my plans and pretending they won't soon go awry.)
Now, on to the boxes of county fair ribbons and... gulp... trophies. What in tarnation do I do with those? When I left my parent's house, I "accidentally" left those things in the storage room in their barn. Haha, I live 2,800 miles away. But no, they found their way to my house and now I don't know what to do with them. There's... uh... a lot of them. I've seen where people sew ribbons into a quilt, and that's a great idea for using them, but honestly? What would I do with a quilt made of stiff and itchy fair ribbons? Hang it on the wall? Um, yeah, NO. And the trophies? Like I'm gonna display them, yeahright. My friend suggested I lay them all out and take a picture. Great idea, that's exactly what I should do. But... then... what? Send them to the dump? Groan.
Yes. I will do it. Do it!
And then... there are all these things that I made that won me many of those fair ribbons. I was a crafty kid, and I made stuff all the time. And some things, I got quite good at. (and between making things and keeping up my menagerie and then taking it all to fair, I accumulated some ribbons, see?) I learned a lot making that stuff and now I frequently use what I learned. But what do I do with the stuff?
What will I do with all of Nathan's childhood stuff? Granted, he has much less than I do, and it's actually easy for me to toss it, but them I'm not sure if he might be sad about that... and what if our grandchildren want to see it and... oh dear.
So I guess I need to start with the things that I can easily get rid of. All the kitchen stuff that's been packed up for two years while I've had a temporary kitchen and guess what? I haven't missed more than a couple of things. It can go. Wedding presents I haven't used? I think it's been long enough now. (I know it sounds awful, but that's the way it goes sometimes...) The steam cleaner that Nathan got for me at a sale... and I don't have any carpet in my house to use it on. It can probably go now.
Yes, I'll start there. I even have a few things that I might be able to sell... if I ever get around to it.
This is making me tired.
First things first. Stop the brain goo flowing from my nasal cavity. Then I'll get to work upstairs.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Are you telling me that houses have to... pass gas? Like a trouser trumpet but for roofs?
Yes, apparently so. And in order to pass our plumbing inspection, we had to have a household barking spider.
Now, I'm mature and sophisticated, so I don't usually talk about mexican jet propulsion on this public, family-friendly blog. But this is serious business, folks, so I'm just letting you all know where we're at.
So, Nathan spent Sunday and Monday cutting holes through floors and ceilings and walls and roof to run a twisting, 3 inch pipe from the basement, through the laundry room, under the upstairs floor over to the closet, up through the attic, and out the roof.
And today he's been in the basement hooking it all up, and we have no use of the toilet. Yes, I know how to use the tall grass behind the barn.
But he's almost done. So from now on, our house will be able to sing along with Brittney, evacuate the GI hostages, and buy a bowel with the best of them.
Whooo-eee! Who stepped on a duck?
Monday, September 15, 2008
"THE MUFFIN MAN!"
Well, yes, I know the Muffin Man...
ETA: Consequently, those are the "Plum Coffee Cake Muffins" from the Martha Stewart Baking Book that Mom gave me. However, I used peaches because that's what I had, and half sprouted flour and less sugar because I'm nutty that way. Just more proof that I can't ever leave a recipe alone.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The pie turned out kinda yuck because I was too lazy to prebake the crust. I never prebake crusts and they always turn out fine. Mom, stop reading now and skip ahead a few paragraphs. I mean it.
You see, this pie recipe was actually a tart recipe and I figured that since I was baking it in a pie plate, I could treat it like a pie. So I did. And the crust was mushy. Mom! I told you not to read this. I am a lazy cook/baker. (My gourmand mother should be ashamed of me, and probably is because she's reading this even though I warned her.)
My poor, longsuffering husband knows this about me, but he still lives with me. But everytime something doesn't turn out right, he asks me if I followed the recipe, and I say "What recipe?".
Actually, the main thing I was interested in about this pie/tart recipe was the struesel topping on the pear filling. It was fantastic. Why can't we just eat struesel? Why does it have to be on something? Anyway, that's what you see Jonah shaking beaucoup cinnamon into in the photo above. It made his day. And that's what this post is actually supposed to be about, but it got hijacked by my pie/tart thing.
Er... where was I going with this? Oh yes, work ethic training. (Bet you didn't know that's where I was going, did you?)
I have a hard time with the intensity of the 3 year old who lives in my house. He plays all your favorite hits and turns them into golden oldies-- "I wanna help!" and "Can I see?" and "Why?" and "Let ME do it!". Lather, rinse, repeatrepeatrepeat
I know this is a normal and healthy part of development. I know he's gonna grow out of it and I will (presumably) miss it when he does. I also know that it would be horrible of me to squash it. He's learning everything from me and his daddy. I want him to be a cheerful, hard worker. Now is the time.
I get so caught up in all the work that I have to do that I loose sight of my first job- training this little person to be a capable adult. Shooing him away so I can do my work is not going to accomplish this training. But it's sooo tempting because it's so much easier to just do it myself.
But guess! what! I! learned!
When we work together, and my focus is on his learning instead of my accomplishment, we're worlds more cheerful. He whines less, I yell less. Win, win. Less frustration all around. I don't get quite as much done, but who cares? It's not like I'm always that productive, anyway.
I always give him little jobs to do, and he's usually great about doing them. But some of my best memories with my parents are of when we worked together, and that is certainly how my sibs and I developed our work ethic. So more and more, I've been trying to take a deap breath, let go of my ideals, and ask him to come help me. And it's fun. I gave him his own little "helper knife" and cutting board to "chop" nuts. He watched me intently trying to do it just like I was. He got his own rolling pin and we tool turns rolling the crust. And when I get board to tears waiting for him (like yesterday, turning the handle of the food mill for pear sauce), we start singing.
Oh, I still suffer frustration from the extra messes and tedium of some jobs, but I'm trying to learn to be patient. Maybe I'm training myself more than I'm training him.
Now, I'll just have to remember to train a little more prescision into him when following recipes...
Friday, September 12, 2008
"No, quiet time is not over yet. I'll tell you when you can come down."
"But! But... I. Am the man. I am a man of God. And He loves me."
"Yes, He loves you so much that he gave you a Mommy to obey. Now go back to your bed."
"I am a MAAAN of GOOOOD!" as he goes back to his room.
This is his newest tactic. It's his excuse for everything. He is a man of God. And somehow, in his mind, that gives him total control.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I don't really know what that had to do with anything at all.
Anyway, I've been canning pears all day. Okay, since lunch-time. I ended up with 16 quarts, which really doesn't seem like all that much considering how long it took me. The pears were small, and I was working by myself... Oh, and it would have been 20 quarts if I hadn't had four jars break in the canner. Three in the first load! *Pop, pop, pop* and three were broken. I growled and howled and kicked a chair. Not my finest moment. Look, I'm a little hormonal, okay?
This is part of the kitchen mess that ensued (and is still waiting for me as I write this).
On the counter there, that's the beginnings of supper. I found some hummus and pitas in the freezer from the last time I made those things. I made some garlicky Tzatziki and boiled some corn-on-the-cob and took some fermented things out of the fridge. I threw it all on the table and called it supper. It was yummy, even without meat for my poor, wood-chopping-all-day husband.
With all the canning I've had going lately (all by my poor, lonesome, batty self), Pandora has been my best friend for internet radio. Love it. Sometimes it's a little weird though... Today, I typed in "Jack Johnson" (play the Banana Pancake song!!!) and got mostly Bob Marley. Whatever. It keeps my brain from going bonkers.
I have to turn the volume up really loud in order to hear it in the kitchen. Nathan just shakes his head and reminds me not to blow the speakers. Sorry, "speaker" since there only one left functioning.
It wasn't me.
Anyway... I still seem to have an awful lot of pears left. All these ripe ones on the table, plus bagfuls of green ones in the fridge.
I do love pears. One of my favorite fruits, they are. Just a lot of work. I'm crabby about work, lately. I need to get a better attitude. I am very thankful, I just need a better attitude.
Anybody got one to spare?
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Trouble is, it means that winter will actually be here.
I don't think I can handle that.
I hate winter. I think I may have mentioned that before.
This is a problem because I live in Michigan. I might have mentioned that, too.
Also, I have a bigger problem this year.
I can't find any slippers.
Every winter, I burn through two pairs of slippers. I wear them non-stop. My floors are very cold. Last year, I had the thought that I should buy 28 pairs. I wish I had. Cuz I love me my slipper in the winter (and a good portion of "spring" and "fall").
And not just any slippers, they must be special slippers. They absolutely must have a flexible rubber sole. I can't stand stiff, plasticky soles, but anything cloth-like will wear through in no time at all. Also, they must be fairly dark-colored. Definitely not pink or... pink. Or fluffy. And they must be slip-on, clog style, with no backs.
This year, all I can find is froo-froo, fluffy, freaky things that I would end up throwing in the woodstove after a day if I even tried to wear them. They're just awful. Oh, and there are these weird fleece-lined croc things that I'm not even going to think about because it makes me throw up a little in my mouth when I do.
For the last two winters I've gotten slippers that meet my criteria and were cheap, too. I loved them. And now, I can't find any for sale.
And that simply won't do.
So, Hawaii it is.
They're pretty birds. Scrappy, though. We've got all the chickens cooped up together in the "chicken tractor" for a few days to get to know each other and their new home. They're not happy about this arrangement.
I've been googling around because I had never heard of "Eyes o' Brown" chickens before. I tried all different spellings... I finally tried "isa brown" and learned that it's a hybrid sexlink type. Duh. (I'm such a dork) I thought they sure looked like Red Sexlinks... :-D I told Nathan, "Their name doesn't have anything to do with their EYE COLOR!" and he said, "Uh, yeah. I know.. ISA Brown... what did you think they were?" OKay, I'm a little slow sometimes... And to think that I was a "chicken champion" in 4-H...
I was very sad to see that they're debeaked, though. (That's where they cut off the end of the beak in battery chickens to keep them from picking at each other in close confinement.) How barbaric! I thought these were farm chickens! I'm really praying the beaks will grow back. I've read different things about it this morning-- sometimes they grow back if they weren't cut too far, but often they're cut past the growing point. I guess I'll have to consider them "rescue chickens".
These are the original birds of our flock, the Black Silkies. They're very cliquish and not keen on making friends. We call them the "black supremacists." (Can I get in trouble for blogging that?)
My sweet (primadona) Sussex hens were not up for a photo shoot this morning.
And this is the Momma that I have right now. She sat on 7 eggs and only one hatched. (That's the way it's been going all summer. I don't know why.)
Aren't they cute?
I love my chickens. I could watch them all day. --insert contented, self-satisfied sighs here--
Sunday, September 7, 2008
They were in pretty rough shape... but the price was right.
They had these woven seats that were falling apart. This was the best out of the four, the other three were really holey:
So earlier this summer I got them out and took off the old seats and sanded off the finish. By hand. With several chunks of sandpaper. Yeah, fun. And then they sat around for the rest of the summer.
But this week they reappeared! I primed them and applied FOUR coats of paint (NEVER again will I succumb to the temptation of cheap paint. Never.) and a coat of clear sealer.
Today, I made new seats for them. I was stapling on heavy canvas and pretty fabric with a utility stapler. Problem is, about every other squeeze the stapler would shoot out it's guts instead of just a staple. It was taking a long time. Nathan said, "Why don't you just use the air stapler?" "Because I'm afraid of it." (I'm really tough and badass. Really. Except with power tools. And cars. And saws. And chains. And... you get the idea.) So Nathan stapled for me with the air stapler while I held the fabric, and he did a way better job that I was doing with my little hand stapler. That, my friends, is exactly why I keep a man around.
So here's the result:
For less than 10 bucks (and a lot of time) I have a nice (and unique) set of stools!
Saturday, September 6, 2008
This is our very old and way-too-tall apple tree. Jonah likes to "climb" it. Here's he's balancing on a little stump of an old trunk. Pay no attention to the poison ivy making it's way up the crook of the tree. Sadly, summer is ending too quickly, but there's still fun to be had for a little boy...
That's ONE plant. Covered in 6-10 inch flowers. They have long, straight stems so they're great for cutting. And it's nice to have so many that just keep going all summer. I have a giant seed variety that produces one gargantuan head and it gets so heavy that it droops down and faces the ground. The birds love it, but it's not quite as pretty as these.
They just brighten my day when I see them from my window!
Now... if only I could get a kind that blooms in February...