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Friday, September 30, 2011


Hunting season is about to open and taxidermists will find their work picking up as trophies are brought in for mounting. We've got a trophy mounted and on display in front of the garage.

We always said we drive our cars until the wheels fall off. It happened on Monday. After serving us for nearly thirteen years and taking us 200,000 miles, something suddenly went CLUNK. The suspension fell down and the steering went with it. Fortunately, it happened while going up a crowded exit ramp at 5 mph instead of a few minutes earlier when it was going full speed. We can only thank the Lord for holding it together long enough to prevent a tragic accident.
Leroy borrowed the neighbor's trailer to bring it home. He wants to look at it in the daylight before he unloads it so he can see better what would be involved in fixing it. With the other repairs it would need to pass inspection the end of October, it is highly questionable whether it's worth sinking any more money into it. Once he decides what to do with it we'll know if the trailer is the operating table or hearse.
I'm so thankful we bought another car in June. If we didn't have that one we would suddenly be up the crick without a paddle. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011


We've come through a week of gray skies and drippy weather. Monday morning was nice but the clouds rolled in during the afternoon and never went away. We got twelve inches of rain from the two hurricanes that crossed through here earlier this month so we really didn't need any more rain. I wish people in the dry parts of the country could have had what we got this week but that's out of my control. Actually, we only picked up a little over an inch throughout the week but one dreary day followed another.
The Stauffer family has an annual camping weekend at a local campground at the end of September. Cheryl and her family planned to come this year. They had a terrible time deciding if they want to come all the way from Ohio for a weekend that winds up being a washout. They finally decided to take the chance, come, and "think +." It worked!
Heavy showers moved through Friday night but by the time they got to the campground at 8:30 it had stopped. The weekend was not exactly gorgeous but the clouds controlled themselves and kept their tears inside. On Saturday afternoon the sun actually came out for awhile and we saw blue sky for the first time since Monday morning. The chicken barbq supper was held on schedule.
Everyone brings enough chicken legs and potatoes for their family and they are all done together. I always take enough for all of our children and grandchildren. The first year I did that it only meant two extra legs. This year I took 17. Two of the sons could not attend or I would have taken more. We had a total of about 60 legs on the grill.   
We are not happy campers and come home to sleep. We went to church this morning and then went back to the campground again for lunch. The gray clouds still hovered above but it did not rain all weekend, thank you very much!
 Autum arrived on Friday and with the camping weekend behind us, we are poised to fall into the new season. It's sure to bring cooler temperatures and I hope some sunshine to give us a chance to dry out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Downsizing and Upgrading

"I'm not fat, I'm fluffy." You've probably seen that line somewhere. Fluffy sounds cuter than fat. We would prefer to be known as "thrifty" rather than "tight."  The term doesn't change the fact but it does bring a more friendly image to the mind. Call it something else and it is easier to accept. Hmmmm. That might work for some more things.
The only thing I dread in housekeeping career is cleaning cupboards and closets. There are so many more interesting things to do and it's so easy to procrastinate. But eventually things reach a point where something has to change and I get at it.
Such was the case this morning. The day had arrived which I had scheduled for housecleaning the bathroom and I knew that awful closet was leering at me behind it's closed door. As usual, getting started was the worst part and the results were reward enough to keep going.
As I worked I thought maybe cleaning closets would be more attractive if I gave it a new name. Combining half empty shampoo bottles, throwing out expired medicines, etc. could be called downsizing. Wiping the layer of dirt off the shelves is upgrading. Returning things to their proper places is reorganizing. That sounds more efficient than old fashioned housecleaning. Will it help? Probably not as long as I have a computer in the next room.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life's Little Surprises

Life is full of surprises. Sometimes they are not appreciated (like when the electric is off for five days) and other times they are pleasant little interludes. One of the later popped up yesterday when a friend from Iowa I had not seen for more than thirty years stopped in for a visit.
Betty and I found each other when we were about nine or ten years old through the "Reader's Write" column in the church papers. One of us wrote a letter asking for pen pals. The fact that our birthdays are two days apart if what brought us together and we have been writing ever since. Today, most of our communication is by email rather than snail mail.
Betty and Bob were here on their honeymoon in 1970 and again the next year with their first child. The last time we were at their house was in 1979. They had ten children and we had six. I guess we were both busy raising families and had no time or money to travel back and forth. We have been saying for several years that we want to go to Iowa but other things kept getting in the way. Maybe next year. . . .
At any rate, it was good to see Betty again after all these years and their visit was far too short. But we were on the tail end of their two-week vacation and I know at that point it starts to feel like it's time to get home again.
Here's Betty and I, together again after more than 30 years. We'll make sure it's not that long the next time..

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back to Normal

After surviving two back-to-back hurricanes, I hope life returns to normal this week. Irene left us without electric for five days and Lee dumped eight inches of rain on us last week. We had electric but flooding disrupted the normal flow of life. The forecast for this week looks sunny with the chance of a spotty shower once in awhile but no hurricanes are on the horizon.
Although my plans for the past two weeks had to be adjusted due to the weather, we were very fortunate. Our hearts go out to those whose homes were flooded or who had family members swept away in the floods. One was an eight-year-old boy who was playing in the water and another was a man who was trying to help someone with a flooded basement. We had only a small wet spot in the basement and we canceled some plans and stayed home because of flooded roads. That is minor compared to what some people are dealing with.
At least the electric stayed on during Lee and I was able to harvest the Concord grapes in the back yard and wrap up the 2011 canning season. We had a bumper crop of grapes this year, better than we've had for years. I decided they must thrive on neglect. They were not pruned, sprayed, or watched. I was astounded when I picked a five-gallon bucket full and saw I had hardly made a difference. In the end I got three buckets full which became 17 qts. juice concentrate and two batches of jelly. With great joy I put the canner away for the season. I am ready to do something different and start eating out of the freezer again.
At the top of my new list is cleaning the patio. I like to do that the end of August before it gets too cool to slop with the hose. The job was postponed two weeks due to the hurricanes but it looks like the beginning of this week will be perfect. By the end of the week we will have "a touch of fall" with temperatures struggling to reach 70.
Sometimes when life seems to be the same-old, same-old, we might begin to feel we're in a boring old rut. But when life is upset by unusual circumstances that old rut starts to look rather attractive and comfortable after all. I'm happy to slip back into my comfortable old rut this week and get back to normal. Someone said, "A rut is a grave with the ends kicked out." Not necessarily. A rut can be a blessing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Apple Butter

Our Labor Day activity was making apple butter the old fashioned way in my sister's copper kettle. Last year was our first attempt and a learning experience. We had a larger crowd this year and therefore a bigger batch of apple butter. We shorten the process by starting with applesauce instead of raw apples. Rain had moved in overnight and threatened all day so my brother-in-law set the furnace in his implement shed where it would be under roof.
With so many of us taking turns stirring, no one had to stir long at a time. We started at 10 a.m. and the apple butter was pronounced finished approximately 1:45. We dipped it from the kettle to a big dishpan and divided it among us according to how much applesauce each of us had contributed to the kettle. I wound up with 3 qt. of apple butter for my 4 qt. applesauce.

I always made apple butter in the oven. Baking for three hours or slowly simmering in a crockpot will turn applesauce into apple butter just as well as cooking over a wood fire. But the apple butter made this way has a different flavor. The best part of apple butter day is swapping stories and catching up with each other's lives. The memories we make while we stir and ladle the stuff is the secret ingredient that gives old fashioned apple butter its superior taste---and maybe a little of the wood smoke gets stirred into it too.
I still have some apple butter in my freezer from previous years and really didn't need any more but I wouldn't have wanted to miss the day. I can always give it as Christmas gifts. Maybe by next year my older stuff will be used up and I'll be ready for a fresh batch.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Power Woman

Hurricane Irene is finally history in these parts. After 122 1/2 hours without electric, power was restored at 1:30 p.m. yesterday. I quickly unplugged the frig and freezer from the generator and into the wall receptacle again. Then I got rid of the tangle of cords running through the hall and kitchen and down the basement steps. Next I happily returned the coal oil lamps to their decorative positions and the gas lamp to the garage, poured the bucket of water on the plants, flushed the toilet (!), and reset clocks. Ahhh! We're back to normal.
As unhandy as it was to be without electric for five full days (plus a few hours), we are still fortunate. Leroy left at 4 this morning to go to New Jersey with a group of men who are doing flood clean up work. All we needed to do to put Irene behind us was have the electric restored. We did not lose anything in floods nor do we have to repair anything.
Still, I feel as if I sat by the side of the road all week unable to do much. Today I'm a Power Woman; all the electric I need to do anything I need to do. My sister knows me well. She warned me not to try to do everything today I was planning to do all week. The urge is there to do it all but I know that's impossible. I'll do what I can today and the rest of it next week.
I told Leroy I hope I never take electric for granted again but I probably will when the memory of this week fades. Today it still seems like a miracle to have light at the flip of a switch and water at the turn of a knob. It feels like being born again.
Power woman, start your engine! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!! And away I go!