Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Frog Jam and Stovepipe


Menu options?  Maybe. The Christmas mice are checking out the frog jam. Kamper Martha, for whom the cat was named, stopped in with this frog jam for me. She knows me to be a lover of all things froggy. Like all men, He Who is apt to eat what ever I may prepare, was not paying attention to the women chattering. It is actually F.R.O.G. jam. The initials are the first letter of the ingredients. We are thinking fig, raspberry, orange and grape. I was looking forward to trying it.

After we exchanged good wishes and met the new dog, Annie, they continued their journey to their daughters house and we went back in to our humble abode and I finished trussing up my fat chicken for the rotisserie. He Who stokes fires was in his fave chair in front of the TV and I decided to have a little fun. I showed him the jar of frog jam and managed to convince him that it was, indeed, made from frog. He looked skeptical, but he held the jar to the light and looked closely.

What he thought he would see, I am not sure. Maybe frog parts in an aspic jelly substance? I continued my charade as I opened the jar and got a spoon for tasting. Oh,the look on his face, as I scooped the tiniest of taste and offered it up for him to sample. He was hesitant as he barely opened his mouth and tentatively offered his tongue.

I could tell he was all set to spit it out should the taste offend. He stood near the sink and I watched closely as he tasted. A look of surprise and he swallowed. Then I told him what it was.

On to the second ingredient in my title. When I started the fire yesterday morning, I got a lot of smoke in the house. I thought it might be windy and it was a downdraft. I turned on the stove vent in the kitchen and it cleared up. As the day wore on, my throat started to hurt and my eyes were irritated and tearing.

I began to wonder if I was getting sick. Amazingly, none of my grandchildren were sick while I was there, but they do attend school and are a great source for germ transportation. My seat partner on my flight north was sneezing while we were trapped in that aluminum tube in the air .....

I stood to go get some aspirin (my personal wonder drug) and that is when I realized just how much smoke was in the house. I immediately notified He Who installed said wood stove. He Who tows promised to check it out as soon as he fixed a flat for  stranded motorist.

I heard him before I saw him. He was outside checking to see if there might be something caught in the stovepipe. Every year, before the season for having a fire to warm ourselves begins, he climbs a ladder and disassembles part of the contraption that carries the smoke away to clear it. Birds try to nest in there. There are always a multitude of nests that fall to the ground. Much to the delight of the dogs, but that is another story.

I doubt that any birds have been in the stove pipes lately, but I kept my mouth shut. Until I saw that the stove pipe inside had come apart. It was like trying to drive in dense fog as I navigated to the back door to let him know his pipe cleaning had opened another avenue for smoke.

Isn't the repair lovely? Looks like the stove pipe is wearing a necklace. Stove pipe bling. I decided to call it a day and go stand in the shower and try to catch my breath. During the shower, he opened the front door and place a fan there to try to suck the smoke out. I think we may smell like we have survived a house fire ........

I went to bed without further inspection of the "fix". Saw this when I got up. I am pretty sure it is not supposed to be this way. The picture does not reflect the fact that I can see light and cold air is pouring in ........

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Feeling Sentimental

Naughty or nice? I don't know which face has more mischief ..... the child's or the dog's. Zara is 4. The baby of the family and not afraid to exploit that status. After she finished her applesauce, she promptly tossed the container in the trash ...... along with the spoon. Max, the puppy was only too happy to help me dig it out.

Max was suffering with an upset tummy. Unfortunately, Zara was aware of his treat stash and kept handing out dog biscuits. Max objected when I tried to take it away. He apparently had forgotten who I was, though. I did retrieve the treat and Max was a gentleman about it.

Laila, the Boxer (not to be confused with Layla, the granddaughter) came along with her person, Leah to help with the cookie baking event. Sweet dog Laila has been sick and I was happy to get to see her. Who could not love that sweet face?

Happy faces. Chad and Adrienne and son-in-law, Nick making a goofy face. No, wait, that is just Nick!

The absolute sweetest boy in the world. Going on 9 years old and still doesn't complain that I hug and kiss him ...... sometimes in public.

After the Vikings slay the Rams, we opened presents ....

My girls, all in pink, with cousin Layla. Wrapping paper everywhere.

My Jada having a moment with her mom.

After all the gifts and paper got picked up, we all joined in the great unbraiding of two heads of hair. Aunt Jill and I worked on Maya.

Gavin and Layla decorated and ate a giant sugar cookie.

Diane is a lot faster than I am with this unbraiding. Aunt Adrienne giving Jada's scalp a good rub.

This is not a good picture of my son, but, if I had gotten all the good photo ops, I wouldn't have spent any time with my family!

It has been a very quiet day here. I am missing my kids and their kids and even the chaos and noise! I sit here with teary eyes and a smile on my face as I look at the pictures of these faces I miss so much.

Of course, the smoke in my house from the downdraft into the wood stove is contributing to my teary eyes ...... lest you think me to be too sentimental.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Doomsday Decor

The weather has limited my activity lately. It is cozy and warm in here with the wood stove, but my sewing room is freezing. Okay, maybe not freezing, but my fingers and toes get cold. I wear long underwear and lots of layers, but it inhibits movement and creativity.

So I can justify sitting here in front of the TV, playing on the computer. While on Jigidi, putting puzzles together and exploring all my channels on Dish, I discovered Doomsday Preppers on NatGeo. Dreamed about my bunker full of food last night.

One family on this show had enough canned food stockpiled to eat for a year, while another showed how to filter your urine to drink should you not have water. He even took a sip for the camera. His wife did, too and then they toasted ....... with his filtered urine. Reality TV. Really.

The family with all the canned goods was a man, wife and small child. The cans were institutional sized. Is that practical? Will they have refrigeration available in their bug-out bunker (or, hidey-hole, as I prefer to call it)? Are they planning a party for all their doomsday prepper friends? Will they just hope for the best and eat that one can until it is gone? Do they realize how much corn is in that giant can?

On the plus side, they could always use those cans to raise the bed off the floor. They could create shelving using the cans ........ empty cans or full cans.

Another family had pre-cut plywood to fortify their house against looters. They had some cans of food stockpiled, but in regular sized cans. The ammunition, though, required an entire walk-in closet. I suppose with their arsenal of weapons, procuring food won't be a problem, especially if they loot the family with the industrial sized cans.

I think maybe I should have my own reality show,  using the necessities of stock piling survival goods with creating ways to employ those items in home decor, um, bunker decor. Maybe. Someone would watch. For sure.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sunday Football

Ready for some football? Guess which team they like. My daughters and their mates, Gavin and Layla. Ready to watch the Vikings play.

Lovely Layla hugs Gramma.

They must be bored with the game. They are watching a big zit pop .........

Son-in-law Nick simply removed himself and continued with the serious football watching.

Layla demonstrates her hand standing talents.

Gavin tries ...... We were waiting for the rest of the family so that we could open gifts. My son-in-law cooked a pork roast to perfection in the crock pot and procured some bread from Jimmy John's. Yum. Did you know you can get day old bread for just pennies? Of course, this knowledge does nothing for me, as I live in the middle of nowhere.

And, yes, our team won. Just happened to be playing against St. Louis. Not to worry, though, I am still a Vikings fan.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Seat Belts Required

I have been home for a bit, after my whirlwind visit with my kids. Just not in a writing mood.

The flight is only an hour and a half. That is gate to gate, so the time in the air is just a little over an hour. The longest, most annoying part of the trip is getting through security. There were new signs up. If you are under 5 or over 75, the taking off of shoes is no longer required. If you are over 75, you can leave your sweater on. I did not qualify. I knew enough to wear slip on shoes, though. So, after I filled 4 baskets with my carry on belongings, I got a free X-ray, then went to stand in a line to wait my turn to board.

I flew Southwest. No seat assignments. You get a group (A,B, or C) and a number. It depends on when you book your flight, unless you are willing to pay extra to get in that elite group of A, 1-16. They get to board first and choose all the good seats. They think. I have never been in the A group, which goes to 60. After this group boards, families with young children board, after which, they commence with the rest of us. I was next to last to board. I actually prefer this, the only downside being that you will be in the back of the plane and have to wait longer to disembark. But, instead of sitting there watching the last group board and wondering who might choose you to be their seat mate, I get to choose who I will grace with my sunny disposition!

I always look for very thin folks, I can always use the extra space. I avoid men and small children. Even thin men will be greedy with the arm rest. I was once trapped between two hefty guys on a flight. They both hogged the arm rests. One was restless, constantly bumping my shoulder and the other slept and snored. I also avoid those with phones to their ears.

While stuck in the tunnel thingy taking us to the plane there was a woman talking to someone in her office. It echoed through the tunnel. She forgot the "tickets", it seems and her husband, Randy, was bring them with him. I guess he was her husband. I never saw her, just heard her. I do know that he was picking her up and dropping her off and that he would join them after the ticket event for a late supper where gifts would be exchanged. We all just stood there listening. Talk about a captive audience. I knew I did not want to be her seat companion.

I was lucky, I got an aisle seat, with the middle empty and a young woman engrossed in a book in the window seat. I got my own book out and spent the entire flight reading. I was actually surprised to feel the plane touch down.

We actually landed ahead of schedule and the luggage was already coming out of the shoot when I reached the carousel. After arguing with an unseasoned traveler (such as myself) about the black piece of luggage with my day-glo green duct tape adorning the handle (he swore that the airlines had put that tape on his luggage, until I proved it was mine with my name on the luggage tag), I was ready to get started on my big adventure.

The air was crisp and clean as I stood waiting for my daughter. I breathed it in. It is different, this Minnesota air. Really, it is. It was in the 20's, but it felt good, not bone chilling. I had packed my heavy coat, and waited to pull it out of my luggage until I was standing outside. There was snow on the ground and a group of trees all lit with blue lights. I was happy to be there.

Even happier when I climbed into Adrienne's car next to my Gavin. Even though he did tell on me for not wearing my seat belt ...........

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pictures, I Have Pictures!!

Finally, Blogger has allowed an upload! I have been spending endless hours in my sewing room. It is cold in there and a welcome relief when he who stokes the fire too much is home.

It has been so cold lately, though, that mu nose and toes are frozen. The clothes and doll are for my great-granddaughter, Jailynn. She is 3. I found this panel for the rag doll in my fabric stash and decided that she would like a doll for Christmas. I gave the doll some joints and made some extra clothes for her. I attempted the pants and was so very proud that I had managed to have them match Jailynn's pants. Well, until I attempted to put them on the doll. The big feet would not fit through the legs of the pants! The jumpers fit, though and are reversible. I will try again on those pants.

I fly north tomorrow and see my grandchildren. These are for my girls. I found this corduroy for $1 a yard!!! All the prints coordinate, so they match, sort of.

See the buttons? They came off my Dad's old uniforms. Navy buttons on the belt loops.

The dogs have been annoyed with me for leaving them in the house while I sew. Mr. Martha is able to climb and jump and stay with me where ever I go. He likes baskets and he likes to stash stuff in them. His eyes are not green, they are gold, but the light hit them at an odd angle in this shot.

I am off to drag the vacuum to my luggage to suck some air out and make them actually close. I sure hope they don't decide to open my bags ......... They won't be able to close them again.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Silver Linings and Sleep-Overs

Still no pictures. I will be addressing this problem very soon. I will hand this computer to my son with instructions to "fix it". I might even let him share the process with me. Maybe. I may be too busy with some little girls I am dying to see.

I am staying two nights with my youngest and two nights with my oldest. I will be chauffeured to and fro. My son lives close to his younger sister, so I will get plenty of girl time, but Gavin is pleased to host the sleep-over at his house, then I will be at Layla's house for the remainder of my "sleep-over".

My bag packing is coming along and I have taken all the clothes out of my closet, cleaned it and put everything back. I found things I had forgotten I even had! Lots of dust, too. I confess that I am not the best housekeeper.

I reason that if the kitchen and bathrooms are clean, the rest can wait. That and I am a little neurotic about bed sheets and dog baths. But that is a story for another day.

I called my hair dresser for a cut and she was booked solid. Go figure, it is December and I didn't care that my hair was a little, um, unkempt, no, that's not the word. It lacks shape. One side has grown longer than the other. It just needs a good trim and some layers added. So, I positioned myself so the hair would fall into the toilet and cut it myself. It has layers now. I got all the split ends off and Kris can fix it when I get back. She is used to my home cuts. I see her at least 3 times a year!!

Today was a baking day. Five batches of cookies. The oven kept me warm, but the arthritis in my hands was not too happy about rolling cookie dough into balls. Then, I decided to make meatballs for supper. My right thumb joint is very unhappy about this. Spaghetti and meatballs for supper. No spaghetti in the pantry. Macaroni and meatballs doesn't sound right, but there is macaroni in the pantry and I refuse to go out in the cold for pasta of a different shape.

I finally discovered what was making me feel so bad. I was out of Zyrtec. Probably for 3 weeks, the best I can figure. I usually keep the empty bottle of pills in my basket until I replace it. I count out a two week supply for both of us at a time and make a list as I go. I was being super efficient and tossed the empty bottle after adding it to my list. I buy the generic and I buy this particular one at Family Pharmacy in town. I can get 365 pills for $30. We both take it, so I only buy it twice a year. I replaced all the prescription and other over the counter stuff at WalMart and promptly tossed the list. So, without that empty bottle to remind me, I totally forgot about the Zyrtec.

I am allergic to dust mites and mold. Like little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, I think this building is made of mites and mold and everything old. If I ever wondered about the Zyrtec, I now know that it is the drug of choice for my allergies. The silver lining to my cloud.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Very Annoyed

I am so annoyed. Blogger refuses to upload photos for me! This past week has been a sewing marathon for me as I race to get dresses and pants and doll clothes done for my girls.

I am annoyed with he who took it upon himself to purchase a ticket for me to head north without first consulting me. Surprises are great. But he knew I wanted us to go together. So, he tries to get away with gifting my airfare and act all noble. Ever the martyr, he will stay home and keep the pets and work while I go take Christmas to the grandchildren. Totally defeats the purpose of spending time together as a family.

Tomorrow will be a cookie baking marathon. I get two free pieces of luggage and a carry-on. By using space bags and sucking all the air out of everything, I might be able to fit it all in. I will limit the amount of clothes I take and just wash clothes while I am there. In the car, this would not be an issue.

I am happy to see my kids and their kids, but wanted Grampa to come with me. He says he will go in January. Not without me, he won't!

I am just going to slink off to bed. Still annoyed.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Start Of Day .......

I can feel her breath on my chin, her whiskers tickle my nose and I know she is watching me. Her full focus is on me. She waits patiently. She won't move until she sees my eyes open. She can wait as long as I can. Our morning ritual. Our game. I carefully open one eye and watch her as she watches me. Her body is still, as she waits, ready to pounce. I carefully slit the other eye ....

She sees it and her tongue springs into action. She kisses my entire face and presses her body close for a hug. So happy to see me. She is selfish in the morning and will not allow her siblings close. This is her time. This love fest goes on until I sit up in the bed. The day begins and she jumps to the floor. Toni Louise can now face the day.

I lift my old guy, Oscar, out of the bed and carry him in my arms to the back door. With all the canines out side I start the coffee, moving very slowly as Mr. Martha winds between my legs, impatient. I scoop him up and we have our purr fest as we walk to the door to let the dogs in. He leaps down to play with his favorite dog, Toni.

Fat old Oscar stands whining at the treat jar, demanding my attention in the form of a dog biscuit. Pour dog food and water, coax the cat and dog duo in from the back yard, then into the store to feed said cat. All the while Wall-E waits patiently, watching me.

Finally I pour my coffee and settle down on the love seat to check e-mail and lose myself in the land of blog. Wall-E is right next to me, his warm weight against my left leg. The others fill their bellies and Wall-E snuggles close. This is his time. He will growl at any intruder right now. Later, after coffee, he is happy to share my affections and his seating area, but not as long as there is coffee in my hand.

This is how I start my days.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ignorance Is Bliss?????

My child is home from the hospital and feeling better. I am catching up on the sleep I missed while I worried. Well, I would if my pet menagerie would cooperate.

The warm weather beckons and I sip my coffee while listening to the news. This particular station has students in the morning and the news can be pretty entertaining. Some will stumble on the words and try to blurt everything at once, some have heavy accents and are impossible to understand. This morning a young man was attempting to find his rhythm. He was pausing every few words, as if reading a child's poem. His pauses did not coordinate with the content of the news story. It was about a couple traveling and speaking to various groups about AIDS. As I was half listening I heard him say " ....and travel the world, (pause), spreading AIDS, (pause), awareness ........."  Really unfortunate timing there.

Last night, he who mows and tows had control of the remote and we ended up watching 'America's Funniest Videos'. Most of the clips showed people doing things that were really dangerous and could have ended up with serious injuries, making me feel like it was staged. That they were thinking up stunts to video just to submit. Lacked spontaneity. There was one that I just found disgusting. A toddler with a diaper full was put on a water slide, leaving a trail of brown smeared behind her. I don't know if it was "real" or not, as all the people around the child were bent double in laughter and not rushing to get out of the pool of water she entered at the end of the slide.

All I could think about was that some poor soul was going to have to clean that slide and the pool would have to be closed to sanitize the water ......
Then I started to wonder (as I am prone to do). What if they simply washed it into the pool of water and hoped the next group of swimmers didn't know about the "fecal incident".
I don't know that I will ever slip mindlessly into a pool of water again!