Summer Dew Point

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Look what we have. It was 7 degrees this morning with a -6 degree wind chill. And we still have sheet ice on the ground. But the sun is shinning. So it’s gonna be a good day.
Blue Sky in the Morning
Look at all that blue sky.
November Sunrise
I love sunrises.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Am So Ashamed

Did you know that November 17 is National Home Made Bread Day? No one told me. So I was out shopping instead of observing the day. It doesn’t matter that I had no idea I should have been celebrating. I had already made plans when I heard the news. So I messed up and take full responsibility.

But I will make up for it today. Today I will bake that bread, feed a bird bread crumbs and maybe even try Bread Painting.
I will make my wheat/rye bread and try Brioche again.

And it looks like it is not just a US holiday. As far as I can tell at least the UK and India also celebrate the day.

So let’s all get our yeast and flour out and go make bread. A day late is not necessarily a loaf short. brioche
Brioche. Photo borrowed from

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Just Some Rambling to Pass the Time

I’d thought I’d just talk about a few things on my mind and give you some pictures of our first “real” snow while I gab away.
Window from the grove looking south.

Definition of PROCRASTINATE: to put off intentionally and habitually. This is according the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. I was glad to read the correct definition for this word. Now no one, me included, can say I am a procrastinator. Everything that I have put off, that I have meant to do lately, was not put off intentionally or habitually. I just haven’t gotten around to it. I do not habitually (I really like that word) stop writing my blog. I definitely do not habitually stop reading my favorite blogs. But I have unintentionally done both. And although not writing for a while has hurt nothing, the not reading everyone’s blogs has kept me out of the loop and uninformed on my friends’ activities. That being bad enough, my unintentional neglect has left me hours of reading to catch up on. That means hours of sitting at the computer and going through over 2 months of postings for over 19 blogs. That’s a lot of reading. And I have no excuses and no one to blame but myself.
The opening of the grove on the southeast.

I often marvel at the scope of the World Wide Web and how people from around the world can connect almost instantaneously. Take our blogs, for instance. They are out there for anyone to see, and sometimes we are lucky enough to find out who is reading them. I was excited to have a comment from John, a man from Wales on one of my posts this summer. I found his blog, read it and then added it to my favorites (Going Gently). John is a wonderful writer and posts almost daily. So I have enjoyed reading about his life on a “farm” in Wales. But I had no idea that he still reads my blog and was even more excited to hear from him again. So….Thanks John, for the nice thought. Your blog is one I am looking forward to catching up on. I’m sorry you had so much damage from the storm.
One of our wonderful trails in the grove, heading west.

I had thought I’d told all of you about Bob. But people in the know say I never did. Bob is no longer with us. Remember the poor dropped off cat that showed up last winter. Even after all the medical attention and food, he stayed rather frail. He never got over his intestinal problems, and then he started fighting with Pickles again. Unfortunately, none of the rescues around here would take him. There are just too many stray cats in the world. So we sadly put him down. It’s probably needless to say, but I will say it anyway. I was devastated. Poor Bob, the only one that loved him was me, and I couldn’t save him. So I lost my brother, Edith, Bob and Cricket this summer. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me….

Another opening out of the grove. However, it was blowing, so you can’t see the field.

I love to bake. And on snowy days like today, there is a certain peacefulness for me when I make bread. But I just made bread the other day. So today, I think I’ll make a cake. I am a King Arthur flour fan, and unless there is none available, I only use their flour. I even buy it in large 25 pound bags and pay for the extra shipping because it is not available in our stores here. So I was very excited to recently purchase their Original King Arthur Flour Cookbook Commemorative Edition. It’s more of a bakebook really with lots of recipes for breads, cakes, pies, muffins….just about anything that you can make with flour. And a lot of history and hints mixed in. I love it. Hubby has been grumbling about cupcakes lately. So the cake I decide to make will be put into cupcakes. Later.

I just have too many types to choose from….. Maybe I need to look at some more recipes.

Remember, I’m not a procrastinator.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sorry, No Pictures. It Was Dark!

So instead, I’ll tell you a story.

I’ll start with the characters. The main character: a woman too old to be young and too young to be old….a middle aged, overweight, out of shape ex-hippie. We’ll call her Candy.
Candy’s pets: Ren, a 10 year old, 30 pound Blue Heeler cross; Obie, a 10 month old, 9 pound Papillion; Gracie, a 2 year old silver tabby barn cat. And the last player in the story: Big Buck, a large, large, very large male deer, age and weight unknown with protruding horns on his head and eyes that shoot fire.

It was a morning much like today. Dark and still. The recent rains had left the dawn damp with dew. The dogs, in their persistent way, woke up Candy and demanded to go outside. No amount of shushing would settle them down. These dogs were use to going out at 5 am. In the dark and early hours, Candy grumbled, put on her glasses and stumbled down the stairs.

Living in the country with no houses in sight, she was use to letting the dogs out the door, putting on a light jacket, and joining them to enjoy the morning. This morning started out like all the rest, with Gracie joining the group and the dogs doing their business and sniffing the clear, quiet air. But today, Obie and then Ren, started barking and growling towards the Cat House. And little Gracie went into a cat alert mode, slinking down and hiding behind Candy’s feet.

To give you some idea of the lay of the land, the Cat House is an old one car garage, converted into a shelter for the barn cats. The yard light is on the north side of it and the main house lies southwest. The bright light casts a large shadow to the front and west of the Cat House, but its east side is well lit.

Now Ren is an old expert on the farm and when she growls, everyone listens. So as the dogs were growling at the Cat House, Candy turned to look and out from the northeast side stepped a deer. A very big deer. We all know that the dark can distort our views, but she swears that deer was as big as….well just BIG. And because Ren has a habit of chasing critters from the yard, Candy grabbed quickly and put her in the house. Little Obie started to run toward the deer, barking and growling, but then stopped and backed up. This deer was not running like most of the deer do. So brave little Obie came running back to Candy, who was yelling and waving her arms, and was put into the house as well.

Now Candy has come up against a lot of questionable animals in her middle aged life. She has gone into a pen with an “evil” Saint Bernard and made a friend. She has been cornered by a “killer” toy poodle and won. She has jumped in the middle of dog fights, cat fights and cat and dog fights. She has stood her ground against mad horses, crazy sheep and annoyed chickens. All of those experiences just got her heart pumping faster and her adrenalin flowing.

But this was different. This buck, this very big buck, was not running. He was not scared. In fact he was mad. Candy stood at the back door of the house, yelling at the deer to leave, with Gracie still huddled at her feet. And the buck, after staring with angry eyes, and sniffing, wheezing and grunting for what seemed like “forever”, majestically sauntered toward the bean field. Soon he was hidden behind the tree line, but Candy could still hear him, and followed his progress by watching Gracie’s head slowly pan the dark. The last she heard of him were two very loud and angry grunts and then silence. The buck had disappeared into the shadows. And Candy took a deep breath and slunk into the house.

We’ve all heard the stories of hunters doing stupid things and getting attacked by bucks. Well, I now believe those stories. Big Buck could easily have attacked instead of walking away. So was I scared? Yes. I am still very leery of wandering outside in the dark and I now always have my heavy duty walking stick with me.

But like Hubby says…”you’re gonna need a bigger stick”.

PS. My apologies to George for always snickering when she worried about her pets being killed by deer. OK George, so maybe you were right!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Monarch Butterflies

The beauty you miss if you are always looking down; down at your feet, down in the dumps or down your nose.


The beauty you miss closing yourself in; in your house, in your mind, in your heart.

Wake up, look around you and open your heart. I think it's time I stopped mourning and do just that.

What about you?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Not Big Enough

When is a kitchen not big enough? During canning season of course.

Our kitchen, recently redone, is more that adequate for most of our culinary adventures. But I don’t care how big a kitchen is, it is never big enough when there are tomatoes to process, beans to freeze, cukes to make into pickles, with squash, elderberries, and raspberries to deal with.

Right now I have a pot of tomato sauce on the stove. I have two sinks full of tomatoes to can. I have a dozen jalapeƱo peppers that we smoked, ready to finish off in the dehydrator. I have more squash that I can use, cucumbers too big to pickle, elderberries that need to be cleaned and frozen and the raspberries are getting ahead of me. WITH NO WHERE TO PUT IT ALL. So the dehydrator will have to go into the dining room. The elderberries will stay in the bucket until the tomatoes are out of the sink. And I finally got a juicer, so I can deal with the squash and extra large cucumbers. But the juicer is big too, so it will go into the dining room too.

Tomatoes ready
Getting the tomatoes ready to pack. There are tons more in the garden ready pick.

Elderberries ready
The elderberries are ready. Anyone want some?

That brings up another problem. Do I use our dining room table for processing and not have a table to eat at? Do I bring up another table to use? Or do I take everything down into the basement, use the table down there, and run up and down the stairs multiple times a day to check on everything. All the while I am running up and down, I also have to keep an eye on the sauce on the stove, blanch, cut and pack the tomatoes, and strip and wash the elderberries.

Smoked jalapenos
Smoked jalapeƱos. After drying, I’ll grind them for chipotle powder.

I think the powers that be are having a wonderful time watching all of us that grow our own food this time of year. It’s probably their big joke that all the garden ripens at the same time. No one, and by that I mean no one that I know, can handle all that produce in a sane and timely manner. We will all be exhausted, cranky and crazy when it is done.

But we have the winter to recoup and enjoy the “fruit” of our labors. Then by next spring, we will have forgotten it all, plant big gardens and hope for large harvests. And next year I'll have apples too.

See, we are crazy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Good News

Little “Boy” has a new home. After a week of searching for owners that would not be found, and calling rescues and shelters that had no room, we have found someone willing to take in a homeless Pointer. With help from a local English Pointer kennel, a hunter with 2 other pointers took Boy, promising to find him a good hunting home. Shane took him yesterday afternoon and he called this morning. He has already found Boy a home. Boy will be living with a family that has another Pointer and will be out there hunting like he was bred to be. So my faith in the goodness of people was partially restored.

Pointer on point
An adult English Pointer on point.

We are sad and happy. We really fell in love with the little guy and wanted to keep him. But we knew that was not feasible. And like Shane said, “Why do people buy a hunting dog if they aren’t going to hunt. Just go to the pound and get a poor dog that needs a home.” Now Boy will get to do what his genes are telling him to do. Life will be good for him.

I had gotten so discouraged, first because someone dumped an 8 week old puppy out in the country with no homes for miles around, not caring if he lived or died. Then, there are so many abandoned animals out there that the shelters are full and no one would take him. So even if some sap like me picks up a dumped dog or cat, they are going to be responsible to take care of it, or humanely end its life. All this trouble because of the greedy, selfish, cowardly, despicable jerks out in the big wide world that are too lazy to care for the animals they have.

Now to top it off, Hubby has asked that I quit rescuing these poor animals. Rescuing is too costly, too exhausting and too heartbreaking to go through again and again. So when I see a starving animal, or a hurt animal or an abandoned animal left on the side of the road, I am supposed to pass it by.

If you think my heart breaks now, wait until I have to ignore a helpless dog or cat.....So now what do I do?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our Guest

Well it happened again: another probable drop off. This one was found by a nurse on her way to work. I just happened to be going to the lab for blood work and ended up bringing “Boy” home. They couldn’t keep him in a medical lab and didn’t know what to do with him. He was very hungry, skinny and VERY young.

Meet “Boy” who is looking for his owners or a new home.

We think he is a purebred English Pointer. He is about 8 weeks old, very affectionate, very smart and VERY hungry. Hubby already has him sitting on command and sitting when he comes. Of course he is food driven so treats work well. But still, being so young, that’s impressive.

Skinny, but beautiful.

We don’t know a thing about him. I have called all the law enforcement, vets and animal shelters in a 100 mile radius. No one has reported him missing. Today I will take him to town to see if he has a chip. I am also in contact with a breeder in the area, and he is helping to look for the owner too.

But if we can’t find the owner, are we keeping him? The answer right now is “NO”. Hubby is very impressed, and would like to keep him. But we are not hunters. We live right “next door” to prime CRP hunting land and have always had trouble keeping our lap and herding dogs away from there. Can you image trying to keep a born and bred bird dog out of the neighbors land? We think it would be next to impossible. And being older, retired and partially disabled, it would be a nightmare. A nightmare that we are not, at this time, willing to live through.

It didn't take him long to get comfortable.

Then you look at that face, and feel the soft muzzle nuzzling you….. it’s hard to say no. But we are trying. I’ll keep you posted.

Look at that Face
Who wouldn’t love this face?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tour de Fleece

Tour de Fleece starts today. This is a spin-a-long from Ravelry and each spinner tries to spin a little every day. There are teams to join and prizes at the end. As of this morning there are 2608 spinners that have joined up.
Tour de Fleece

I joined three teams this year. Since it is my first year with the Tour de Fleece I joined the Team Rookie. I, of course, also joined Team Majacraft (Belle is a Majacraft Suzie). Then, because I will be leaving tomorrow to go west for Friend Nancy’s surgery, I joined Team Lantern Rouge for people who want to join the Tour, but won’t be able to spin every day. I am taking Belle, and hoping to do some spinning while there, but one never knows.

I will start the Tour spinning my brown Finn and Corriedale X wool. I dyed the Corriedale several different values of mauve and sent it to Kelly at Dakota Carding and Wool Company. She sent me back a bag of beautiful “Spinners Web” that I call Raspberry Patch. I hope to get most of the bag spun.
Raspberry Patch spinners web
Raspberry Patch with red sparkle.

Then when I get back home, I will be washing and combing the new black Finn lamb fleece and try to spin up some of that with silk; something new and different for me.

Lofty goals, but then if I don’t push myself, I’ll never get anything done. It’s much too easy to sit out here and watch the grass grow.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Slammed Again

Cricket December 2004-June 2010

Goodbye baby girl.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


I know I haven’t written for a while. I just haven’t had the energy. I have been muddling along for weeks: angry, sad, distracted, lethargic. The grief process makes no sense and works differently for everyone. And every time I think things are getting better: Slam! Something happens again. First Charles, then Edith, now Nancy.

I have three very close friends, all who live west in South Dakota; Jeanie, Renee and Nancy. Jeanie has been a dear friend for over 40 years. I married her brother and was part of their family for 10 years. Her mother, Edith, passed away a couple of weeks ago. In fact, right after I got home from my brother’s funeral. Edith was a wonderful woman. A second mother to me and grandmother to my daughter Brook. She, Jeanie and I worked very hard to stay friends after my divorce from her son. We did it originally for Brook, but we also did it for ourselves. And I am so happy to say it worked. I will miss her.

Nancy has been a close friend for 17 years. We met through a doctor we were both seeing. She is tall, thin, blonde and at least 15 years younger than I. We look very funny walking down the street together, like a female version of Mutt and Jeff. But we have something special between us that neither can name. It just works. Nancy called the other day…she has breast cancer.

Someone asked me “Why is all this happening to you?” And I agreed…why all this Sh….? What did I do to deserve all this pain? And I sulked and felt sorry for myself for days.
But it hit me hard yesterday. This isn’t happening to me. It affects me, yes. But I can let it go for minutes, hours, even days at a time now. Others can’t, because the grief affects them all day, every day.

Donna lost her husband, the man she had married only 3 months before. My parents lost their only son. Yes, I lost my brother. But we had been living states apart for years. I would see him a couple times a year, and talk to him maybe once a month. I’ll feel the pain when I think “I haven’t talked to Charles for awhile”. But I won’t feel it every day. Donna will. And my parents will.

Jeanie lost her mother. Brook lost a grandmother. Edith was a friend, a woman I had known for years. But I hadn’t seen much of her lately. I knew she was sick, from Jeanie and from Brook. They keep me apprised of her health. But I didn’t go see her when we were back for Charles’ funeral. I was too busy and too distraught. Both Jeanie and Brook understood. And they also understood that I didn’t have the strength to go to her funeral. But shame on me. Why didn’t I? A close friend and my daughter needed my support. The pain was happening to them and they will feel it daily. I’ll feel the pain when I think of the kind woman that is gone. And anytime I see a piece of green glass. But I won’t feel it everyday.

Nancy is now fighting for her life. I went through this with Renee years ago. So I know how hard it will be for Nancy. The surgery, chemo and radiation take you to death’s door. Then you have to work your way back to life. She’ll have to go through this pain and sickness every day. And once she is healthy again, she’ll have to hold her breath and cross her fingers every morning that she wakes, praying that the cancer stays away. I feel her pain right now. I am scared too. But I don’t think about it every minute of every day. Nancy will.

So am I a bad sister and friend? I didn’t think so. But now I wonder. I think part of the reason I don’t have to deal with their grief daily is my distance from them. Distance in miles. And distance in emotion. I can’t do anything about the mileage, except strive to go west when I’m needed. But I can work on the emotion. I guess it comes down to…you can’t distance yourself from life. If you do, you get to miss the grief and pain, but you also miss the fun, the love, and the friendships that last a lifetime. Unfortunately, sometimes you wait too long, and your chance is gone.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mother, This One's for You.

I have some exciting news to share. Well, exciting to me anyway. It has to do with flowers and my heritage. So if you don’t like flowers, specifically peonies, iris, and old fashioned roses, you can just skip this blog.

When I was young, my mother was a very good gardener. And at the house they purchased when I was sixteen she planted a hill full of iris. It was a sight in the spring when they all bloomed. But as the years passed (40+) it got harder for my parents to maintain the hill. And the iris got overgrown with grass and weeds. Every spring there would be a few blooming, but most of them could barely make it through the prairie grass. One of the special irises was an old fashioned lavender one that smelled like grapes. So the second year we were here in Minnesota (2007), I went back for a visit and dug some of her iris to bring to Anniversary Grove. They grew and increased, but never bloomed. Then the year the folks moved out of their house and put it up for sale, I went up on the hill and dug a rhizome from every iris bunch I could find. Look what I got this year!
Iris Blooms
Just a sample of the gorgeous blooms this spring. And next year will be better.

When I lived in Piedmont, SD we were only about ¼ mile from the Black Hills. Up one of the trails into the hills, was the old Piedmont garbage dump that had been put on an old homestead. When they cleaned up the dump and moved it, the area was cleared of trees. The dirt on the hill is very shallow with limestone bedrock only about 1-2 inches below the top soil. When walking there one spring day, I found a bed of iris growing almost out of the rock. These irises were yellow and smelled like lemons. I took one rhizome and planted it in my Piedmont garden. When we moved to Minnesota, I grabbed one of the iris plants in my VERY large iris bed, hoping it was one of the yellows. And I lucked out. But it also had trouble blooming, until this year!
Yellow "Lemon" iris
Blown over by the high winds, but still blooming.

Next to roses, peonies are my favorite flower. I love the look, and the smell of them. At the same time that I took the last batch of iris from my parent’s home, I took some pieces of my mother’s peonies. This is their third year here and the first year to bloom. I took four different plants; one name I know, the other three will have to be researched. Those of you that know peonies know that it will take about 3 years for the bloom to develop into its prime. After that, if taken care of they will bloom for years and years. My mother got her original plants from a friend’s mother sometime in the mid to late 60’s. And that woman had them for years before that. So these 4 peonies should have been hybridized sometime before the 1930s. That means they are a heritage flower. But what means more to me is that they were my mother’s and I will someday give some to my daughter, nieces and granddaughters.
Festiva Maxima
Festiva Maxima (Miellez, 1851).

Unknown pink
Unknown bloom. The last two are mid to late and haven’t bloomed yet.

And speaking of peonies, I spent the last two years here rescuing small peony shoots that kept coming up around my trees and in a wood pile east of the house. I have figured out that they were planted along the original fence line. My house was built in 1910 and we bought it from the family that moved here in 1950. Her mother was not a gardener, and never grew peonies. I have a picture of the house taken around 1920 with that same fence line and some small bushes (too fuzzy to tell what kind). So I think my rescue peonies were planted here somewhere around 1920. Because of this rescuing, I have about 23 peony surprises growing. I was told by a peony expert online that given care and years to grow, someday I would get blooms. Well…..after 2 years look what I have now! And there is one more with buds that will bloom next week. The bushes are small yet, but in a few years...what a picture they will be.

Laura Dessert
Laura Dessert (Dessert, 1913).

Avant Garde
Possibly Avant Garde (Lemoine, 1907).

Mons. Jule Elie
Probably Mons. Jules Elie (Crousse, 1888).

Officinalis Rubra Plena
And finally the Memorial Day Peony that has been around since the middle ages.

Memorial Day peonies, Officinalis Rubra Plena, were carried across America in covered wagons. It is also called Old Double Crimson. For anyone that wants to research their peonies the Peony Database and the Heartland Peony Society are good places to start.

And finally Mother….It Made It!

Grandpa's Rose
Grandpa’s White shrub rose.

This slip of a slip of a slip of a slip is from the old shrub rose that grew at my Great Grandparents homestead in Big Stone, South Dakota. And I don’t know much more of the history of it, except I think it was originally brought from Germany. Mother had a huge one at the house, and when it was taken out, she put a piece up on the hill. This is the first time in all the years I have been gone from home that I have been successful growing this rose. I think it has finally found a new place at Anniversary Grove.

Hated Telephone

Right now I can say I am not happy Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. It is amazing that such a little instrument can bring so many emotions to people. Happy, sad, scared, angry. And the caller ID is the worst. You can pick up a phone expecting to hear the voice you know so well and instead hear “Aunt Candy, this is CJ.” and know immediately that something is terribly wrong.

Oh how a phone call can change your life. Over eleven years ago, I got one of those calls and it wrecked my world. My sister, Cara, had collapsed and was in a coma. Her heart had quit, but when they revived her, she was brain dead. So the family opted to take her off support and she died peacefully after 3 days. She was 50. And on May 13th of this year, I got another call. My brother, Charles, had a massive heart attack and died on a highway in Oklahoma with his wife of 3 months by his side. He was 64.
Charles and wife Donna.

Well, that spoiled this year and shocked me back to life’s realities. I was so happy in my little slice of heaven, thinking life would stay this way forever. But nothing stays the same, does it? His death leaves our family down to 4. Along with my sister Connie, both of my parents are still doing well at 90; as well as you can expect after losing a second child.

I sometimes long for the bygone days, when technology wasn’t even a word yet. The days when good or bad news came via telegraphs. At least then you could see the Western Union man coming and have time to prepare.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Catching Up

Well, I’m home again. For the next eight months. Then back to Marshall for yet another tax season. It’s good to be home. I missed my Hubby, my dogs and cats, my plants. And I missed the peace and quiet. Marshall is a great town with wonderful people, a great grocery store and some very nice restaurants. I’ll be happy to go back for some “people” time, but I also enjoy “alone” time. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones with the best of both worlds available.

A lot of things have changed since I last wrote. The snow is gone. The trees are leafing out. The flowers are coming up. All of my peonies, even the rescued ones, are up. Many of them have buds this year. Keep your fingers crossed. I might get blooms. All of the bushes are back, even if some are very short (thanks to the deer and rabbit population). We lost a few big trees this winter in the grove, but many are growing to take their place. The wild yellow, white and purple violets are blooming in great abundance. I think spring is here.
Mother's Peony
Mother, this is one of your peonies. Look at those buds.

What is it?

Black cherry or chokecherry? It’s about 10 ft tall right now.

We still have 3 dogs, but not the same three. Noah, my beautiful Aussie/border collie cross is in a new home, happily chasing Frisbees. He was just too unhappy here, living with two sedate retired people and fighting for dominance with our old Ren. So the Border Collie Rescue of Minnesota took him and found him the perfect home. My new boy is a better suited to our lifestyle. Obie is a 6 month old Papillion. He gets along with the other two and is very happy to curl up on the floor at my feet or in my lap for long periods.

Obie (short for Oberon).

The three cats are still here. Poor Bob is looking a little strange, but happy and healthy. The hair on his bobbed tail has not grown back yet. I am a little concerned that it might never grow. But at least he can run and climb with the best of them. And he and Pickles are no longer fighting, so peace has come to our little homestead.
Funny Looking Bob
Funny looking but happy Bob.

I have had some wool fun since I lasted blogged. I went to Little Red Oak Farm to help with the shearing of Gail’s Shetlands and Finns. I purchased two fleeces from her (one was Maple’s of course) and got a free Jacob sheep fleece from the shearer. I had a great time and met a lot of nice people. Then this last weekend sister Connie and I went to Aberdeen to the Weaving Weekend put on by Marie and Kelly, to spend a glorious 24 hours spinning, talking wool, knitting and watching others weave. I also took my 2010 free Shalom Hills corriedale cross fleece (washed and dyed) to Kelly to card into a spinners web. I can’t wait to see the results.

Now back to reality; house to clean, bills to pay, clothes to wash, yard to mow, gardens to weed and wool to process. It’s a lot of work, but worth every bit of it. I'm glad I'm home.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Working and Ice

Let’s see. What have I been doing lately?
Working….snow…..hummmm…..knitting….oh yeah….working, snow, knitting, frogging, casting on, frogging. Working, snow, knitting, frogging, casting on….freezing rain, slipping on the ice….not working, laying on my sore back, watching TV, knitting, frogging, casting on. Working, snow, working, freezing rain, slipping on the ice, putting ice on my bunged up arm, knitting, frogging, casting on. Working, rain, walking gingerly, finally knitting more than two rows. No Olympic medal for me from Yarn Harlot.

I guess I have been busy, doing little of nothing but working. I have however, made some major decisions in my life. I will come back next year and work the tax season again. It’s nice to be appreciated enough to be asked back. And I will not step out of the house unless it is to go to work until the snow is melted. I refuse to take a chance on falling on the ice AGAIN, and getting more award winning bruises.

So that’s been my life the last couple of weeks. I did get home once (and fell there). The Hubby, dogs and cats were all happy to see me. And I was happy to see what I could of the place. Still snow up to my …. But Hubby says it’s melting slowly, which is a blessing. That’s a lot of moisture to find someplace to go. And I did get a couple of photos before I fell there and spent the rest of the weekend on heating pads. They’re just what you wanted to see. More snow.

Gee Look!  More Snowl.
Gee Look! Another snow picture.

Bob's Kingdom
Bob surveying his kingdom.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Heading Home

Finally, there is a weekend without snow predicted. And hopefully the winds will stay down. So I am heading home tomorrow for a couple of days. I haven't gotten home since the 23rd of January. And I only live 45 miles from here. It's hard to believe, but the weather has been so bad that I would not try driving it in my little VW Bug.

So home to some good meals cooked by Hubby, a lot of dog kisses and maybe some cat purrs.
I'll have pictures to share when I get back.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

When is it Enough?

Some would guess by the title that I am going to talk about the weather…the snow, ice, cold, more snow, and now again, more cold that we have been getting in the upper Midwest. How the weather has given me some hair-raising drives home on the weekends; and how it kept me from going home at all this weekend. That I will be talking about how Hubby has been spending all hours of all the days trying to keep the driveway open, the buildings from collapsing, and the animals warm and fed in the heavy deep snow, the fog, the freezing rain and the knock down winds.
Another Drift
Another drift to move.

Nope…I’ll let others talk about the weather. Today I’m going to talk about Bob again.

Hubby posed a question to me the other day. “When is it enough? How much are you going to spend on this cat?” So I have been trying to decide…when will I give up trying to keep Bob healthy? I guess my answer would be…when nothing else will work.

You probably all remember Bob…the drop-off cat that came to our place, starving, worm-ridden, broken tail and weak back legs. We have never been able to figure out where he came from, or what caused his injuries. A person can guess all day, make up scenarios, even ask the neighbors. But the fact remains, the poor unwanted cats (and dogs) out there can never tell their story. We just have to take it on faith that they need our help, and not stew about the why.

Anyway, I told you about the fight with Pickles that left Bob with a huge abscess and the trip to the vet. That wound has healed. Then Bob got into a fight with something…we aren’t sure what (we suspect a raccoon) and he had bites on his head that needed major cleaning. That time we still had antibiotics left over…So no trip to the vet for him, just a trip for me for additional medicine to supplement what I already had. Then Pickles and Bob started fighting again. It is now the season for the female cats to come into heat, and Bob was not fixed. Pickles is, but I guess when a big male cat jumps on you, you defend yourself. And Pickles is also big, in excellent health. Bob may have started the fights, but Pickles always finished them.
Bob and Gracie Snowshoeing
Gracie and Bob snowshoeing with Hubby. Notice his tail hanging crooked.

It became apparent that it was time to fork out more money and get Bob fixed or send him down the road. Because Bob is special to me, big, scarred and disabled as he is, I decided to get him fixed. And to get his tail taken care of. Bob’s broken tail seems to have been part of his back leg problem…in fact; it seems to have been most of his problem. While trying to find information online about the structure of a cat’s tail…I discovered information on the problems broken tails can cause. I won’t give you all the details. You can check them out on this link
. But I did find out that Bob’s problem with fecal incontinence, and the problem with his back legs all stem from the pain of his broken tail.

Bob's Tail
This was as high as Bob could get his tail.

So it was decided to have them bob his tail and see if it would help him. Since I am up here in Marshall, Hubby took him into the vet (in the freezing fog) and then picked him up the next day. Hubby says he looks funny but is doing great. Poor Bob. First his back was shaved, now his butt and tail (what’s left of it) are shaved too. It’s going to be a long cold winter for the poor guy. Good thing he has a heated bed. (Sorry. No photos until I can get home).

The good news is that Bob IS doing great. He is climbing trees and Hubby says he is even RUNNING. So the broken tail was debilitating to him. It will take a while to see if his incontinence has gone away (Hubby is leery of picking him up due to too many prior incidents). But I am in hopes that it too will be fixed. Maybe when I get home, I will be able to pick him up and let him sit on my lap without a towel.

All this is wonderful news to me. However, doesn’t good news always come with a price? And this time the price was $250. Not too bad considering the results, but still…. Is it feasible to spend so much money on a stray cat (let’s see... medicine + vet + medicine + vet and medicine = BIG BUCKS)? The life expectancy on outdoor cats is not much longer that that of a feral cat (by the way Boots is still alive somewhere in our grove). And if the neutering doesn’t work and the two boys continue to fight, was it worth the money when I have to send him somewhere else? If somewhere else would take him.

This is where Hubby and I have agreed to disagree. Being on a fixed income leaves little room for extras, and he doesn’t want to spend any more money on the animals. Not that he doesn’t love them. He feels we should quit “collecting” more pets and not replace the ones we have. And that we have spent too much money on a cat that may not stay. I feel…and since it’s my blog I get the final say… I feel that if there is a way, no price is too great. Granted, a couple of thousand dollars might be asking too much…since there is no way we could come up with that. But I am working for a few months and I can afford to help Bob. And as long I can come up with the money and not take away from… say, the electric bill, I will continue to help Bob. He and I will, however, have to have a little talk so that hopefully, he will stay out of trouble and live a long life with us.

So when is it enough? Not yet. But the next time something happens, I may have to start panhandling. Is that legal in Minnesota?

Monday, January 4, 2010

On the Road Again

Good morning everyone. Isn't it a beautiful morning? What a way to start the New Year; only -20 degrees at Windom, the closest weather station for my Weather Bug online.

This is just a quick note to let you know I am heading out to work again. This time I will be working as a receptionist in Daughter Brook’s town and will be living with her. It is close enough to home that I will be able to be here on weekends, schedule and weather permitting.

If I can get my laptop computer to work, I will still be writing some blogs and getting my emails. And I will be spending my free time knitting and spinning. Yes, my wheel Belle is going with me and I’m taking Maple’s locks to spin. I only have about 800 more yards to spin before I start my shawl.

Plied and ready
Plied and ready for the edging.

And speaking of shawls, I can now show the graduation shawl I was knitting before Christmas. My friend Nancy has changed her career in midlife and is now a nurse. I am so happy for her.

Graduation Shawl
This is the Knit Pick City Tweed Drop-Stitch Shawl.

It was my first drop stitch project and I found it very easy after the initial panic. So my next shawl project is going to be the Wool Peddler’s Shawl from the Folk Shawls book. Wish me luck.
I’ll close with a couple photos of my projects in progress.

Toe Up Progress
Toe up socks using the magic loop method.

Just Starting
Just starting Bella’s Mittens, also using the magic loop method. Notice the Christmas Harmony needles.

I hope you all stay warm in this arctic weather. I’ll be in touch.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Hard Choice

The other day I mentioned our missing cats. So before I go any further I will say, happily, that all three cats are accounted for and now doing well. And....all these photos were taken at earlier times…it is way to cold for me to go out taking pictures!

Most of you already know that we had decided to feed the feral cats that pass through. Both of us (Hubby denies it) are softies about any animals. Dogs are his favorites and as much as I love dogs, cats are very special to me. If I had to make a choice, and thank goodness I don’t, I would have a couple of indoor cats. But I promised Hubby that I would be happy enough if I had a least a couple of cats around. So we have set up my little garage/shop as a “cat house” with heated beds, a heated water dish and unlimited food so my friends can be safe and warm in the winter.

Cat House in December
Cat house with barn behind it in December’s first storm.

The trouble started when we left for Christmas. Sister Connie and her hubby were going to check on the cats every other day. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas. They made it over 1 day to get the kids snuggled in before the big storm. But they could not make it back in. We don’t know for sure what happened before we got home, but we think we figured it out.

Bob cropped

The cats have a cat door so they have free accesses to the 3 beds, water and food. And there was a little cat path going in and out, so we knew they weren’t snowed in. However, when Hubby finally got the snow blown away from the “people” door and got inside, no cats were found. (Now this was the morning that we snow shoed in at -2 degrees. And our cats are not brave souls that like to be out too long in the cold.) As he was in there looking for the cats, I saw Bob from the kitchen window, coming in from the north grove. He was trying to walk in the snow but could only move a couple of steps at a time. I ran out, picked him up and took him into the cat house. He was so cold and stiff he could barely move. So we knew he had been out for a long time. I put him on the stand so he could eat, but he just sat there. Then we put him on the floor to go into a warm box, but he just stood by the door of one and stared into it. Hubby had checked all the boxes when he got in, but the bright sun outside had made seeing in the cat house very hard. So he checked this box again, putting his hand in. Out jumped the huge black and white feral cat that we had been feeding in the barn. He scrambled around the cat house and scurried out the cat door. As our eyes adjusted to the dim we saw cat hair all over the place, dishes upturned, and my office very messed up. It was apparent that there had been fighting going on. And it was now apparent to us that Socks or Boots (or whatever I call him various times) had chased out our cats and taken over their house. We got Bob comfortable in a warm bed, and continued to look for the other two. We couldn’t find them. So I went into our house to unpack, and Hubby headed to town for mail, milk and gas.


While he was gone, I decided to look again. Noah and I went out and I started calling for Gracie. I finally heard a loud meow down in the grove. So I went slowly (24+ inches of snow is hard to walk though for a 5 ft, older woman with heart problems), trudging down big drifts of snow with Noah leaping ahead of me, making a slight path. And I found Gracie in a wood pile, cold but in better shape that Bob. I carried her as long as she would allow, going slowly back up to the cat house. She immediately jumped on the stand and started scarfing down food. When I started to leave, Pickles appeared from who knows where and also started immediately eating.
Pickles cropped

So now all three are home, and last night they were locked in the cat house. It was -24 degrees and we are taking no chances that they could be pushed out again.
Noah in Snow
Noah the Trailblazer.

Our hard choice or rather my hard choice is whether to get rid of Boots. Hubby was going to head out with a gun that day, ready shoot him. I am not so inclined. I love cats and don’t want to kill any, even the ferals. And if Boots would stay in the barn with the bed in the straw and eat his own food, all would be well. But then I don’t want our pet cats to suffer either. Sister Connie says living in the country sometimes means hard choices. Hubby says Boots must go. Maybe they are both right. I will probably give in and allow him to put the big feral down. We have put too much effort in trying to keep Bob alive, raising Pickles from a kitten and giving Gracie a warm home to allow a stranger hurt any of them. I won’t like it, but I’ll make the hard choice to protect my beautiful friends.