Wednesday, December 31, 2008
On December 25, 1913 Far Guys Grandparents were married in Iowa. They were headed for Minnesota. The brides entire family was going. Her parents and her siblings. Land prices in Iowa were very high. The gumbo soil was hard to farm anyway. The price of farm land was much lower in Minnesota. They sold what they could, and then loaded what animals, equipment and household possessions were left on a boxcar for the trip North. The women and children rode in the passenger section of the train.
They arrived in Park Rapids, Minnesota in the winter of 1914. Far Guy's Grandpa H. was disappointed when he looked at the farm land that he had purchased. It was nothing but Jack Pines and sand. He rented a different farm for two years until finally trading off his parcel of Jack Pines for some land he could actually farm. Of course he had to pay extra to make the trade. They bought good land this time, and spent the rest of their lives on the farm. It is still in the family and still known as "The Farm" Far Guys Uncle owns it and it is just four miles down the road from us..or two miles as the crow flies. What this young couple liked most about Minnesota was the trees.
On January, 01 1914 Far Guys Great Uncle and Great Aunt were married. When they got to Minnesota, Great Aunt Emma said " There were no roads, only trails winding through the woods and the wolves howled every night."
I love Great Aunt Emmas head piece. She was always a colorful woman..she probably designed it herself.
Far Guy and I had always wondered why the move from Iowa to Minnesota, two relatives were kind enough to answer our questions. So that we could put more of the puzzle pieces together. It must have been some adventure:)
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Perhaps that is the approach I should take for the entire year of 2009. Forget making resolutions, what do they do for you anyway, other than a wonderful feeling if you do accomplish them. What if you are an underachiever this year, then you have to carry the quilt of not meeting or even addressing your stupid resolutions. What if you are so busy taking care of other people in your life, that you don't accomplish a darn thing.
How about some one word intentions ..Like mine! Laugh, Smile, Hug, and Dance. Easy to remember, easy to do, I can have that accomplished a few seconds after midnight, and be free the rest of the year. Easy..peasy!
2008 in Review
The children are all employed, and reasonably healthy. Trica our oldest daughter still struggles with Pancreatitis.
We still struggle with Doctors and Far Guys Trigeminal Neuralgia.
No new Grand-babies..No divorces..a few deaths (two cousins and a very dear friend)
No new pets, and no pet deaths.
Biggest Adjustment..Far Guy's Trigeminal Neuralgia and how it affects our day to day life.
Biggest Change..Closing the Greenhouse business, a very wise decision. I miss it, but I am getting over it.
Biggest Frustration.. Doctors that don't know their butt from a hole in the ground, and the phone ringing.
Happiest Moment..a very nostalgic Ferris Wheel Ride last August with Far Guy. Playing a little "kissy face" stopped at the top!
My New Motto For 2009 : One day at a time ..with a little dancing! :)
Monday, December 29, 2008
This flu really sucks, I have no appetite..for me this is really strange. What is even stranger..one time when I surfaced from my fever induced delirium I could smell pizza from Pizza Hut. I swear it was the aroma of a thin crust, pepperoni with extra cheese with just a hint of the warm cardboard box. I decided it was just a revenge delirium, I wanted Far Guy to be as miserable as me. He is allergic to some ingredient (more than likely meat tenderizer)that Pizza Hut uses, it gives him the Hershey squirts for days. I have come to my senses..for now..he brings me jello, chicken soup and popsicles.
Far Guy is taking a daily dose of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to boost his immune system. I do not know how he swallows it, and keeps it down, but he does. It just might be working too..as he is not sick yet! This idea comes from a fellow blogger and friend Buffalo Gal! Thanks B Gal!
I hate all the over the counter cold and flu medications that just mask your symptoms and bust up your normal bodies rhythms, which makes you sicker longer. Did I get a Flu shot..NO..It seems I have been the most miserable those years. The last time I got a Flu shot, I got the Flu so bad I told Far Guy to just drop me off at the Funeral Home..just in the driveway so they could roll me in when they came to work the next morning. It seemed practical to me at the time, it would have saved a body pick up fee.
I am feeling better, today I am going to venture outdoors and take some photos, throw the Frisbee for Chance and document the snow before the next snowstorm comes on in tonight. The snow fall record for the month of December will be broken with the snow they predict for tonight:)
Sunday, December 28, 2008
There is another reason I get flowers today. It is my one year blogging anniversary! I made it! I know for all my blogspot readers that I have only been here since September, but there is a link to my archives if you scroll down to the very bottom of this page.
I wrote this last night before my long nap:
I am curled up on the couch scribbling this with pencil, times have not changed much. I still love my pencil and I find it a comfort to form words with. Pretty Strange HUH? A year ago I made a New Years Resolution to begin this blog and keep up with it. Mission Accomplished! I missed only three days this past year, the day niece Meg got married, I blogged twice the day after, and two days when daughter Jen was in the hospital with her almost famous Kidney Stones. I am still not the kind of writer I want to be, but I am more comfortable after a year of writing almost everyday. I still do not have a primary focus, I bounce around a lot, maybe that is the very unorganized me trying to take over the organized me. One of my goals was to leave some small part of me behind for my Grandchildren. Now they have some stories.
I like writing about people I have known, and about animals I have met, and memories from my childhood. I will continue to write my truthful point of view. Now a question for my readers..are you up for another year? Or have you heard enough? :)
Saturday, December 27, 2008
The very first time I met her she said "Hi, Welcome to the neighborhood, I am Mrs. B and I hate dogs." I tried not to burst out laughing when I replied "Nice to meet you, I love dogs." I don't beat around the bush much either. Each of us knew immediately where the other stood on that issue. She did not want any of our dogs at her place. We only had two dogs at that time, Misty and Moses both Shetland Sheepdogs or better known as "Shelties." There was a big patch of woods and brush between our properties, if Far Guy walked over there without putting the dogs in the house, they would follow him, and then eagle eyed Mrs. B would holler "Your Dogs are here." She really did have an eagle eye too and ears. She hated red squirrels at her bird feeders and would blast them into to oblivion, sometimes if I was outside I would hit the ground until the shooting stopped. If she baked something for us, she would call and say I am delivering something to you right away, put your dogs in the house. Only then would she walk over, I used to meet her outside and walk part way back with her. She was a really good baker.
Her gardens were all perfect, weeds were not allowed to grow anywhere. Their lawn was perfect. We liked dandies over at our place they are partly green and a wonderful cheerful yellow. She had a hat that made her look like someone lost in the Amazon. It was beige and wide brimmed with mosquito netting sewed all around. The mosquito netting tied up around her neck, not that too many mosquitoes would actually have the audacity to bite her..but just in case she wore her get up anyway. The mosquito netting was so dark you wondered if it was really Mrs. B ..it was the long sleeved white gardening shirts that gave her away, and the gloves.
In the spring when it was muddy, they left their car at the end of the driveway and hiked in so their driveway wouldn't get all full of deep ruts. Their car wouldn't get muddy either. Our drive was muddy and rut filled, I refused to hike carrying bags of groceries, and our vehicles looked like big mud balls.
One Christmas Eve, we were at Church, a blizzard warning was out. We left for home, Mrs. B and her husband were just fifteen minutes behind us. She walked in front of the car for the last two miles, because they could not see the road. That was the Christmas Eve Blizzard of 1993.
I tried my best to get into Church after they were seated, because sitting in the pew behind or in front of them could be your worst nightmare. If we got into Church first, they often sat behind or in front of us. On one such occasion, our teenage girls got the giggles, you know the kind of giggles that you just can't stop. I prayed for them to be able to stop, It did not work. Mrs. B turned around and scowled at the girls and me, which made the girls giggle even more. After Church I had to remind Mrs. B that children are gifts from God and in my case giggling gifts from God.
She called to complain on a regular basis, the people in the campground were too loud at night. She heard them talking after eight at night. If the girls had their music on too loud outside, the phone would ring off the hook. We had an outside bell that rang when the phone rang, she could hear it from her place, she would never leave a message on the machine, she would just hang up and call again..until I finally answered. I was tempted to buy her earplugs.
She would have her Grandkids for a week during the summer, we would ask them over for Campfires at night, but they were never allowed up past seven, she had them on a strict schedule for their entire visit and there was no disrupting the schedule.
Everything was neat as a pin inside her house. "Everything in it's place." There was no dust, the windows were always sparking clean, not a speck of dirt was on the floor. She had a rigid schedule, of washing, ironing, baking, and cleaning all which happened on the appropriately chosen day.
I think that Mrs. B was a perfect Lutheran Pastors wife, she had a picture of what that was and aspired to it everyday of her life. I know she loved her children and grandchildren..but did she really enjoy them? She loved her husband, but she kept him in line. He ate what and when she said. He often would sneak a piece of candy or a cookie with his coffee at our house and tell me "Don't tell Mrs. B" He walked over to visit quite often, he liked the dogs, the cats and the teenagers. He always had some funny story to tell or have words of encouragement to share. He was one of the few people that used my shortened name "Con". He and I shared a saying "sounded like a bunch of dying quails" ..we both would share that with the Pastor that would pick out one of those totally unsingable songs found in The Lutheran Hymnal.
I thought about that this past Christmas Eve, when we were supposed to sing "On Christmas Night All Christians Sing." Now that must be such an old hymn that only a few really hard core Lutherans have ever heard it much less sung it..especially on Christmas Eve. And yes it did sound just like dying quails:)
Friday, December 26, 2008
The Grands all seemed to enjoy their gifts on Christmas morning. I always make them show me exactly what was in their stockings! We always take turns opening packages youngest to oldest. The kids all got a big charge out of the biggest box, that had many other smaller boxes to unwrap that finally revealed a picture..of a unicycle. Adam and Noah were both very excited about the revealing of this package that they obviously helped their Mother wrap for their Father.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
First there was a thermostat that wouldn't shut off, It was a balmy 85 degrees in here. Then the "New" one would not turn the furnace blower on. So I froze to near death.
Then there is the water circulating pump that brings the warm water from the wood boiler outside, it began to make funny noises. Some special stuff that only cost one arm was added to the boiler water. A replacement sits at the ready all warm and toasty to be rewired and installed if need be.
Far Guys Bunn coffee maker sprung a leak, not all the time, but intermittently..sometimes it would leak and sometimes not. ( I did not try any stop leak either) Often the counter top was full of clear water. We went to town and since he is the coffee drinker, he chose a different kind of coffee maker, one that dispenses a cup at a time, no carafe to break..and this one does not leak ..yet.
One morning last week the "Ghost" got my computer monitor. It was fine at 2 AM and black at 6AM. We hooked up Far Guys monitor to my computer and it was definitely a monitor problem (Sylvania). I got a new HP 19 inch, it is OK, takes up about the same amount of space as my old 17 inch monitor. Far Guy nearly put out his back trying to load the last one on the shelf into a cart..they are wired down. It seems some people grab them off the shelves and run out of the store.
Far Guys Christmas gift ( the one I wanted him to want), might be coming on time..hooray! At 7:30 this morning the phone rang, it was the mailman "You have a package ! What should I do with it?" Luckily I got to the phone before Far Guy, I replied "Deliver it!" HA! That's what the Postal Service is supposed to do! Our mail man is lazy, he would rather we pick up the offending package at the Post Office. Fooled him!!
Then I checked the email, it was from the company that I ordered the what I want him to want gift. It follows :
Thank you for shopping with us.
Due to a technical error, the wrong item was sent out to your address.
We have since corrected the error and reshipped the item out to you at ***.You will receive it by approximately some time next week, or very latest the week after.
Our sincere apologies again for this error, please let me know if youhave any further questions on this order.
My Reply: What am I supposed to do with the item that YOU sent in error? Is it Like a Merry Christmas thing? The Mail Man just called and he is delivering the wrong package this morning. End of message, nope no Christmas Hugs and Kisses or Wishes from me.
People not doing what they are supposed to do irritates me to no end. Equipment that must be disposable and not working when I want it to work irritates me. If I were a drinker I would be three sheets to the wind today. What kind of throw away, lazy, good for nothing society have we become???
On a lighter note, I am baking, Pumpkin Bread cause my Grands love it, and I will wrap some up for the neighbors and smile this afternoon when it is delivered. Oh yes, It snowed again..another four inches to add to this wonderful winter wonderland we call Minnesota.
Pumpkin Bread : A wonderful recipe from Joyce! 4 eggs, 3 Cups of Sugar, 2/3 Cup Water, 1 Cup Oil, 2Cups Pumpkin or a 15 oz can ( I like Libbys), Mix and add 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1, teaspoon Nutmeg, 1 (plus, I like cinnamon and use about two ) teaspoon Cinnamon, 2 teaspoons Baking Soda, 3 1/3 Cups of Flour..Mix well. Bake 350 degrees for one hour ...will fill two loaf pans. Will also fill 7 small loaf pans..bake time is decreased to about 35 minutes with the smaller pans. Try to remember to spray your pans before you fill them..if you don't then sometimes they stick to the bottom of the pan.. and you are left with half of the loaf in the pan..that's what happened with my first batch..the Grands won't mind..I tried my best to put the bread together like a big ole puzzle.
Now IF I could just get everyone to tell me what time they are coming and going, and for what meals they will be here for..I really could smile and enjoy the rest of the day. Oh ya, I am just the Mom, I am supposed to know this stuff.:)
Monday, December 22, 2008
A tradition continues. I have squeaked by for one more year. I began this tradition back in 1990. This year we made 60 ornaments. You can check out my view of Pyrography and this mission here, I wrote about it last summer.
Now for a little bit about the ornaments in our collection, that we share each year with family members.
1990, A Loon, cut out of wood...everyone else has one but us. No Photo.
1991, Santa, Mrs.Claus or Elves... a wooden painted ornament. I didn't keep one for us that year either. No Photo.
1992, A pair of wooden mittens, hung on ribbons. Same story. No Photo.
1993, The Toy Soldiers, Wooden and hand painted. (the first photo!) I am finally keeping one for us!
1994, Shotgun Santa's, a spent Shotgun Shell decorated with cotton balls and fabric.
1995, Big Red Sleigh Bell, I had no imagination this year, bought some bells and put names on them.
1996, Bird Houses, Wooden and hand painted..my first adventure with splattering paint with a comb.
1997, Turned Snowmen, Far Guy turned them on his lathe, they were painted and adorned with a scarf.
1998, Sea Shells, Where are mine? Someplace in my Garage in a box. No Photo Available! We spent the winter in Florida. that year. It was just a plain old shell with your name on it. I heard they smelled too, even though we did soak them in bleach, the sand was a extra bonus.
1999, Clothespin Angels, Hand Painted and decorated with lots of tinsel!
2000, Spoon Santa's, A spoon bent, painted and sculpted with some snow stuff.
2001, Black Walnut Tree, decorated with buttons.
2002, Black Walnut Gingerbread Man, I went nuts with a Glitter Sealer and added some buttons.
2003, Decoupage Pictures on Ovals, everyone's was different. Individuality ruled that year!
2004, Country American Flags, Wooden, this pattern came from the Internet.
2005, Little Light Bulb Santa, they were small bulbs that look like the flame of a candle. Painted and Sculpted.
2006, Candy Canes, Hand Carved and painted. I needed lots of bandaids that year.
2007, Beaded Angels, I had beads all over that year, all different colors!
2008, A Snowflake burned into a piece of basswood. With a bit of blue color from a colored pencil.
We finished the last of the woodburning, coloring in the lines and sealing last week. It is not our best work, Woodburning is an Art Form in itself. We need a lot of practice, however we did manage to work with several of the different tips, and sustained no burns. Names and the year were burned into the opposite side, some contain the greeting Merry Christmas..some do not. It will work! It certainly isn't as lame as the Red Sleigh Bell (although it is one of my favorites) or the stinky shell. Some years when I get discouraged, Far Guy steps in with some big idea or some help. We usually decide together, what the design will be, work up a prototype and see if it will work. Some of the failures are pretty funny, I have them on my tree too. I have some clay loons that do nose dives. I have some wooden stars, they were too plain..so I wrote the Grandkids name and date of birth on them..they are Grandma and Grandpa's Stars!
I have also learned, that I will never work with a breakable ornament after the Little Light Bulb Santa, they are too fragile, some will be broken. I tell myself every year that I am going to start on this project earlier, it is a good idea..maybe next year.
I make ornaments for Dogs too! Chance got his and Miney, Dakota, Daphne, Hooch and Ernie all got ornaments this year too! When dogs are members of the family they should be included:)
Sunday, December 21, 2008
The Christmas Letter has been written, Far Guy was dragging his feet so bad he was making heel marks all over the floor. So I wrote it and read my version out loud to him, he did rewrites. Now I tell ya, he told someone on the phone " Yes, the Christmas Letter is all done." Fine, and it was however there were still address labels and return labels to put on the envelopes, envelopes to seal, and the US Postage Stamp affixed which I consider an acceptable form of highway robbery. At least I do not have to lick the little buggers anymore. I only got a few nasty paper cuts..and they are healing nicely.
The tree is trimmed, and the stockings are hung. The tree still needs it's crowning touch the Angel on top. "It's my turn" "No, it's my turn" "'You got to do it first last year, I remember " "MOM. it's not fair, she always gets to be first." One year Far Guy held them both up one in each of his arms so they could put it on simultaneously. Then he actually kept track of who did it what year, then they got too heavy to lift, and then they left us alone, and now it is his job again. I am not doing it, I decorated the entire tree myself. He sat in his chair and said "Good job, honey" "The tree looks so nice, it is really pretty, just like you" " You are not in your Bah Humbug mood yet are ya sweetie?" Men..:)
Sunset on December 20, 2008 Offical Goodbye To Fall
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Still time to back out?
Walk slower Dad! This is not a race, they can't start without us!
The Wedding Party
Far Guys Grandma H, and My Grandma D in the background. Both wonderful Grandmas who we miss every day.
Thanks for coming along on a trip down memory lane:)
Friday, December 19, 2008
We got married in December to drive our Mother's nuts on purpose! Not really, we had originally planned a September wedding. warm weather, beautiful fall colors! Then we thought about just eloping. All of our ideas were met with much negative discussion. Far Guys Mother chose the wedding date, as she was insistent that Far Guys sister be present.
So we got married in December, a day so close to Christmas that we never celebrate it. We have never had a party or a gathering of any kind. Some years we make an effort to go out to dinner. Most years we just say ..well we made it through another year, and we are still best friends and soul mates, forever in love until death us do part. It was not the day we had imagined, we are both plain people, it all got out of hand. It was not as fancy as some, but still too much hoopla to our liking. We would have been just as happy with a small church ceremony, and our marriage would have lasted just as long if we had eloped.
Far Guy was 19, and I was 18, young and in love! Holy cats we hardly recognise ourselves..thirty nine years ago tomorrow. :)
Thursday, December 18, 2008
We bought our first bright red string covered Styrofoam Christmas ornaments that year, I have several of them left. They were the kind that if you snagged them they began to unravel..once they started to unravel there was no stopping them, until you are left with a naked ball. Who ever designed them obviously had never put them on a real tree, or tested them in a household with children. Maybe they were designed to unravel, for repeat customers. They were a safe ornament in our house with a curious small child, unraveling string can be great entertainment.
I loved Christmas in Florida, it was warm. Far Guy went swimming in the Gulf that Christmas Day, just because he could. Trica and I fed the gulls on the beach! She loved them, and giggled the entire time.
Some of our memories from back then include two local TV commercials that were favorites of Trica's. She loved words. She was not quite two years old. She was quite enamored with two commercials and would recite them for us. "Chick Smith Ford in Sparkling DownTown Clearwater" and "Learn to Play Guitar with Kenny Rogers." We know how things went for Kenny, but I have always wondered about Chick. Memories from a long time ago, moments in time. Just like the memory of making this ornament out on a patio in the warm weather just before Christmas in 1973:)
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Note the very shiny wood floors, the somewhat "wild" drapes and the venetian blinds. That is one heavily tinseled tree!
Aww..Far guy is upset! His sister seems less than sympathetic to whatever monumental plight he is suffering that is causing him to cry. His cousin clearly does not want to deal with a little boy crying ( in the New Year..she gets her own little brother.)
I chose the follow up photo because it made me smile. ( Not just because he was crying.) Far Guy must have been learning to walk. There are pieces of tape on the bottom of his shoes. Mothers often put pieces of tape on the soles of shoes to help their newly walking children get more traction on very slippery floors..like hardwood floors waxed to perfection!
There are lots of interesting objects in this photograph. A photograph of a special couple is on the end table, I believe this is Auntie E's parents. There is also a record player. On the right there is some sort of boat on the table, perhaps a sail boat? Auntie E had some beautiful doilies. I am thinking that the lovely old chair was either beige or that dusty pink color?
I love the way the children are all dressed up. Saddle shoes, Patent leather shoes and some very slippery shoes with tape on the bottom:)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
In 1976, I was taking a ceramics class at night, it was my one night of sanity every week. I brought home some ornaments to paint. Trica wanted to paint with me. Finally when I could not take the whining any longer, I let her paint the little mouse and write her name. She got all the letters right, sure her I looks a little funny, more like a t with an extra line, and she ran out of room for the C and the A so she just fit them in where she could. But I do believe that every Christmas mouse should have big green ears a silver face and a red nose. She was four.
ART by my eldest daughter, on the tree every year. EVERY year she had to listen to me tell the stories about her ornaments before she could hang them on the tree. She knows the stories well. I have the ornaments..and they still go on the tree:)
Monday, December 15, 2008
We are definitely having a White Christmas, as if there was a doubt! We got about 13 inches of the beautiful white crap. It snowed and swirled around creating drifts so hard packed I can walk on them. This morning I braved the 38 below zero windchills to get some photographs.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Last evening we attended two Hockey games. The grand-girls were playing. Paige and Madison play Girls 10 and under Hockey. Paige was the Goalie last night. The Coach feels that everyone should rotate through the Goalie position. Madison is a Wing. Madison is not real thrilled with Hockey at the moment. Last week the Coach hollered at them. Trica reported to us that she could hear the Coach screaming at them from where she was in the stands. Madison gets nervous when she is hollered at. Hollering does not phase Paige in the least.
Paige The Goalie!
Madison number 20!
Savannah number 13 in action!
Savannah plays in Girls Hockey 12 and under. She plays the same position as the "star" on the team who is also the Coaches daughter. Savannah spends a lot of time on the bench.
Coaches... do they all have their heads so far up their butts that they cannot see how discouraging their harsh words and favoritism is for ALL the girls they are Coaching? I have never understood why some kids are played and some are not. Why can't they all play as a team, take turns and learn to work together? How are the kids that never get to play supposed to learn and grow in a sport? Sitting on the bench..the only thing kids learn there is how unfair their Coach is.
I do not begin to understand the game of Hockey. It is cold, they chase the puck around. They have face offs, they skate, they fall down and get right back up again. I tell ya, they skate their hearts out on that rink. Then some Coach who thinks he is God's gift to Hockey hollers at them or has them sit on the bench. It does not make sense to this Grandma. So I award my lump of coal to the Youth Hockey Coaches in Bemidji.
We are in a winter storm warning. Floyd in the west reports 11.7 inches of new snow in Bismarck with wind chills of 38 BELOW ZERO. (His email made me smile..he reports that usually this time of year they are enjoying beach like conditions in Bismarck...I think maybe he is delusional.) Bob at Duluth is expecting "Face Ripping" winds. All roads that lead to the great shopping mecca of Fargo/Moorhead have been closed. Too bad too as I was so looking forward to going shopping today..snooze and you lose. I am taking the day to work on Cheerful Christmas Cards:)
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Included with the pickle is a story that apparently is a myth. The myth goes something like this..the first person to find the hidden pickle gets a special gift. This story was supposed to have originated in Germany. It seems few Germans have heard of it. So we are hoodwinked again..by a great marketing story..to sell ornaments.
I am not too upset, I still like my pickle ornament. I love pickles, I have lots of good memories associated with women who made fantastic pickles. My Mother, my Mothers Mother, my Aunt Anna (she brought me a jar of pickles for my birthday!) my Aunt Marie and my dear friend Arvilla. So go ahead and say my pickle has no meaning. I have one ornament that reminds me of five very special women.
So I will stick that pickle in the tree, and smile. It seems I have a better story than the pickle people perpetrators, and mine is true. :)
Friday, December 12, 2008
Now just so you know I am not one of those weepy broads. Nor am I able to "Fake Cry" like my granddaughter Paige. I did not bawl my eyes out like the entire movie theatre did during "Love Story." she croaked..big deal..and he knew she was going to croak..it was not a huge surprise or anything. Yet I cannot make it through "The Magic of Lassie" (dabbing at eyes) or "Old Yeller" or "Where the Red Fern Grows" ( almost sobbing.) Now I will admit that if I do not feel well, and I have not slept well I can shed a tear or two.
That Christmas Eve scene on "Days of Our Lives" where Alice Horton (Frances Reid) hangs the Horton family ornaments on the tree is a tradition. I no longer watch "Days" but I try to catch that Christmas Eve episode every year. I was an avid "Days" watcher from it's early days, watching in the summer and on days off of school. Then as a young stay at home Mother I watched every day. Later with the arrival of VHS recorders I could tape it and watch it later. I taped it almost everyday for the girls when they were in high school, we watched it together. It was a Mom/Daughter thing. Plus it made great fodder for some good "life" discussions in our household.
I loved Alice's tradition. Each year adding new ornaments for new family members, reflecting on family members that were no longer alive, or their whereabouts were unknown (that happens a lot on the soaps.) She was a spunky kind of Grandma, doling out advice and doughnuts in her kitchen. Some of her doughnut capers were simply hilarious..like the time she caused a diversion with them to help John escape from jail. She was a perfect Mother and Grandmother. Frances Reid is the only actress to have ever played this role, I believe she is irreplaceable. When she dies the role will die also. She has played the role of Alice since 1965.
A number of years ago, daughter Jen gave me an ornament. It was a "Days" type ornament, a beautiful sapphire blue with my name on it. I loved it. It was always displayed in the center of the tree. Whenever it was time to trim the tree I admired it and made sure it was attached to the tree bough securely. Enter: A rambunctious puppy. That year I knew we should have tied the tree to something. Chance was only doing what he does best. Playing ball, the ball went under the tree, and he went after it..tipping over the tree. It was not Chance's fault, it was just an accident. There was glass everywhere. Lots of old glass ornaments bit the dust that day. But there was only one that I shed a tear for.. my "Days" ornament. I have been looking for one just like it for a replacement, with no luck :(
Thursday, December 11, 2008
We have one strand, they are not the old, antique ones but a little bit of nostalgia we were able to purchase at Ben Franklin a number of years ago. Noma, who was the King of bubble lights introduced a string of seven bubble lights, they do come with some cautions. Always use bubble lights in an upright position, allow several minutes for the bubbling action to start, if any fail to bubble a light tap with your finger will start the bubbling action immediately. Contents: Methylene Chloride. If a vial breaks, open windows and do not breathe.
The bubble lights were on the tree for a little while, they are headed back into their box. Far Guy can get them out again just before Christmas. The vials are glass and anything glass can break, as I have discovered in previous years. Chance! He has a big fluffy tail, that he wags with wild abandon. Sometimes he gets into a little trouble with the Christmas tree. So for the safety of all..the Bubble Lights bubbled for just one evening:)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
It looks like I got two dolls and shared one with my brother. Would you look at those new wheels! I can imagine I did some fancy pedaling throughout the house during the winter. Note the fancy head bonking devices in use. My brother is sitting on a blanket and there is a pillow directly behind him so if he falls over, he won't hit his head on the old hardwood floors.
There was lots of room for the Christmas tree in the "front room." The tree has tinsel and some very fashionable glass ornaments. We did not spend very much time in this "front room" it was sparsely furnished, there was a table in front of the window that faced east, plants were on that table. There was a big old rocking chair, my favorite part of that room was a huge old furnace grate in the floor where I could sit covered with a blanket and be warm as toast.
The big old farm house we lived in was drafty and cold in the wintertime. We hardly ever used the upstairs, there were three or four large bedrooms up there, with a different linoleum on the floor in every room and huge windows with thread bare curtains. My Grandfather Y. and my Uncle Andrew may have been the only people to sleep up there and I think they slept on army cots. Children were not allowed upstairs. There were lots of flies in the windows upstairs. We had no bathroom indoors..only the outhouse..outdoors:)
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
The hunt for a perfect tree is short. I just tell Far Guy to bring down the box from upstairs and he spends an afternoon putting it together, fluffing out all the branches and tips.
Some years we do not put it up. If we are going to be gone it hardly makes sense to decorate it and then leave. This year it is seeing the light of day. The children and their children are coming here for Christmas.
Our tree holds no surprises, it is perfect on all sides, I do not have to turn it all different ways to find the best side. It is always the same height, it always looks fine.
I have always been a bit of a Conservationist, I hate the after Christmas scene in large cities. One year in Chicago, the week after Christmas, the amount of trees stuck out with the garbage was sickening.
If you have enjoyed a real tree this year, consider putting it out in your yard. It can still provide shelter for the birds this winter, perhaps you could hang some bird food on it. In the spring you can hang up bits of yarn on it for bird nesting material. In the spring the tree can be shredded and used for mulch.
Mine of course just gets put back in the box, if Far Guy has done a good job of fluffing out the branches he says the same thing every year " Are you sure this whole tree fits in just one box?" :)
Sunday, December 7, 2008
My first real appreciation for Christmas trees began in my fourteenth and fifteenth years. A summer job, on a "Shearing Crew." The days were hot and the sun relentless as we made our way down the plantation rows with shears in hand, cutting of all growth that did not make a perfect Christmas tree shape. The tree boss would watch our work closely and come by with his machete and correct our mistakes. These trees were all going to be harvested and sent off to city folks who required perfect trees. I remembered thinking..who in their right mind would want a perfect tree anyway..and pay for it too boot.
My Father would always bring a tree home for us, I never asked where it came from. It would just appear, probably from one of his brothers woods. It was never perfect, one side would be bushier than the other. There seemed to be some comfort to me that it might not have been perfect in the woods, but once decorated it was perfect.
Far Guys Father owned a Christmas tree plantation. He wanted everyone to have a fresh perfect tree for Christmas. We enjoyed many of those trees after we were married. Perfect. He was both a harvester and a planter. Perfect.
Last year we vacationed in Indiana, when we returned to Minnesota, we wanted to bypass Chicago (where there are more than two cars on the road at the same time.) When you are in Mishawaka, Indiana your choices are limited. We had never travelled into the Lower Peninsula of Michigan before, it is a beautiful area. However the Christmas Trees were being harvested there, in OCTOBER. Funny colored Christmas trees, wrapped in nets being loaded onto semi trailers. Feelings of sadness enveloped me, Christmas trees are big business. My sadness lifted as I watched more of the landscape and by doing so I realized that there was as much planting as there was harvesting..field after field of trees stood testament to that as I viewed trees in different stages of growth.
Real true Christmas tree connoisseurs will be both armed with a saw and a shovel, tools you need to be both a harvester and a planter:)
Saturday, December 6, 2008
We headed south, across the big highway (two lane) into the Smoky Hills Forest. Our mission to become more cheerful and to find an old road..the old Corduroy Road..and from there to find the old CCC camp hidden near Bottomless Lake. Far Guy posted part of our adventure over on his blog I Didn't Do it! He took his camera, and it even had batteries in it!
Then I see it, something that angers me to no end. I was too mad to even photograph it. It was a Christmas Tree Hunter, no, luckily for him he was gone..what remained was the bottom part of a very nice Spruce, it had been beheaded..chopped off at it's feet, then at it's waist..then beheaded. The bottom part of the tree was left lying at the edge of the road. Someone stole a Christmas Tree from the State Forest. I hope that Asshole has a miserable Christmas. Then I think, maybe he has kids, and is unemployed. Maybe he really needed that tree. Maybe when things get better for him he will come back and plant two trees.
Far Guy has pretty good eyes for an old guy. The woods have been silent, no birds, no deer, no deer sign, no tracks of anything in the new fallen snow. We know that one person has been here before us today, one of the other vehicles has stopped at a hunting shack. Far Guy slams on the brakes and says "Would you look at that!" Then I see it! A Mink, I have not seen a Mink in a long time. We watch it scampering around on the forest floor, it goes up a tree and comes down again. Far Guy gets out and takes a few photographs, while I hold Chance by the scruff of his neck in the truck. Minks are normally nocturnal, so seeing one in the daytime is a real treat. It is a rare gift we have witnessed. I feel my bad mood lifting.
We wind our way to Bottomless Lake, low and behold we find the remnants of another tree hunter, of a different sort this time.
What kind of things improve your Christmas mood?:)
Friday, December 5, 2008
Never ever count the number of Christmas trees in the entire house..it is impolite and tacky. You should only count the real trees..zero. It is also impolite to rearrange the decorations on those trees. You should not count the number of chaffing dishes on the buffet table, or exclaim "Love your Christmas China, everything is so matchy matchy."
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Just because some wise men from the east brought some gifts to a special baby in a manger, does not mean we should be assaulted with Christmas Carols and Christmas Shopping way before Halloween. How and why did Christmas become something I believe it is not? Christmas has become a shopping nightmare. Some stores invite you to Christmas in July. That is just SICK. I would like to forget Christmas shopping all together. Does that mean I would forget Christmas? NO, I would just like it to mean something again, on a non shopping level. I yearn so for the simpler times...perhaps with the recession now a certainty (for the past year) and a depression on the horizon more people will "GET IT." Some will be forced too get it and realize a pair of socks under the tree or something homemade or handmade and from the heart is the real treasure, that and the Christmas Story read out loud from the Bible. ( end of sermon.)
I guess I should take a class in shopping, like remedial shopping, or maybe shopping for dummies. I am a female, shouldn't I have been born with some type of shopping gene? Or am I deficient in some type of hormone? What is wrong with me?
Believe you me, I have pondered this for years. If I could find all of the Christmas gifts I am required to purchase in a Bookstore, Antique Shop, Auction Sale or the local Thrift Shop or even a Garage Sale..I would be the best shopper around. When I realized this, I realized it is not me that has the problem..but the gifted, you know the people who get the gifts. The gift I choose that will say I love you, you are special misses something in translation. I am a failure, I always get the wrong gift in the wrong size, wrong kind, wrong color..wrong, wrong, wrong..like a big old buzzer going off in my head. Then one day I just said to myself "Self, this is madness, stop the shopping cart."I also told Far Guy if he wanted to shop he could, far be it from me to hold anyone back from shopping. I did assist him for a few years until he finally saw the light, and it was a blue light special.
CASH! In a Card! Low and behold, it might not always be the right size, but after Christmas you can buy twice as much with your cash. I do buy a few gift certificates at local restaurants. I do not purchase gift cards. I will shop for Far Guys gift online, I know exactly what I want him to want ..he has not mentioned it for years..but I just know if I can find it..he will declare me the best shopper ever! Chance will probably join right in, cause he is easily bought with a few yummy treats:)
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Far Guys Dad told these stories to us many times:
"Mother would get lonely for her family in town. Plans would be made for a trip. Dad would hitch up the team of horses to the sleigh and we would make the trip to town. We used blankets to stay warm. The trip took about three or four hours. Dad would unhitch the team when we got there, and he would take them over to the livery stable. We stayed overnight and would return home the next day. When I was a little older Dad rigged up a cover for the sleigh, we stayed cozy warm then because there was a wood stove in the sleigh."
Of course there is probably much more to these stories, these are only the bits and pieces that we both remember:)
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Finally the day came when the teacher would bring out the strips of green and red paper and the paste. Helpers were assigned their jobs, some pushed desks together for a makeshift table, some passed out the strips of paper, some passed out Popsicle sticks, some moistened pieces of brown paper towel and folded them into squares and delivered them to waiting children. The paste was in a big jar, a big glob of it would be placed in the center of the make shift table usually on a metal plate. The Popsicle stick was to be used as a tool to snare some paste. You had to snare enough to properly glue the ends of your first link together. Too little paste and your link would not hold, too much and it took too long to dry. If you gave up on your Popsicle stick and used your fingers to apply the glue, your fingers would begin to take up the color of the strips and stick to everything you touched. The smell of paste and wet brown paper towels filled the air.
The paper chain was supposed to be red, green, red, green. Someone would mess up, and get two reds together, sometimes they would cry. With the paste we were using mistakes were easily corrected. Our goal was a chain as long as our classroom, when it was together it was laid on the floor to dry completely overnight. Everyone helped with clean up, the desk tops and our hands were washed.
The next afternoon just before school was out, everyone would take up part of that paper chain and hold it gently off of the floor. The tree was ready and waiting in the middle of the classroom. Our teacher stood at the tree and accepted each students part of the chain, weaving it in and around the branches. When all of our paper chain was on the tree, we would sing "Jingle Bells" stand around the tree and admire our handiwork.
A simple tree trimmed by students, who learned cooperation, patience and teamwork while creating simple paper chains for their classroom Christmas tree:)
Monday, December 1, 2008
1996 Moses, G 'Day Mate and Captain all Shetland Sheepdogs or Shelties
The only advice my parents gave my husband-to-be Far Guy was "Never let her have a dog, you will save yourself a lot of grief if she never has any." It was the truth.
As the Christmas Season approaches, anyone that is thinking about adding a dog or even a cat to your household, or giving a grandchild a Christmas puppy or kitten. Please stop and think. If you want to give a live gift to a child..are they ready for the responsibility...are they old enough to care for an animal? A gift certificate or a promise of a new puppy when school is out seems much better to me, time for kids and puppies to bond and make connections.
I have had three Christmas puppies in my lifetime. Frostie when I was three. G' Day Mate who was part of a litter of our Shelties and was already in our house, I gave her to Far Guy as a Christmas gift because I could not bear to part with her, she was part of our family for eleven years. And Chance, we got him the day after Christmas four years ago. It worked out well for these Christmas Puppies, but usually that is not the case. Puppies should be more than a good photo opportunity on Christmas morning:)