Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Chapter

Oh. My. Goodness.

So much to say; so much going on, so many adjustments to make, so little time to get on the computer.  So little blogging going on.

In the last six days I have:

  • flown to Savannah,GA
  • watched/cared for my grand kids (K3 and Toad) while their parents and DH loaded the contents of their entire house--minus the washer, dryer, couches and dining table & chairs that were sold and picked up the day we arrived--onto a moving truck.
  • helped wash/clean their house while grands were napping
  • driven from way southern South Carolina to middle Tennessee in the middle of the night (it was after 9:30 p.m. when we all finally hit the road to start the big journey)
  • driven from middle Tennessee to mid-Michigan all day and half the night
  • (four hours of TN to MI drive spent in DS1's car with K2 because they were stressing out and kids were fussy and, well, to be blunt, those two needed to be separated until everyone cooled down, so DH and I did what needed to be done.  Just like with little kids: we put one in one corner [moving truck] and one in another corner [the car] until hot heads were cooled.)

  • had 6 extra guests for dinner and to see DS1 and his family the afternoon after we arrived at this little place here in the middle of the night (What in the heck was everyone thinking?!?  This couldn't have waited???)
  • had DS1's two dogs pee on everything in my garage the night we arrived, including 3 crates of onions from the garden I was storing there
  • had one of DS1's two dogs go on a chicken killing spree.  Of 17 birds that were in my coop yesterday morning, I for sure have 6 left, two of which are wounded but should recover.  Four were found dead, one more found so wounded we had to put it out of it's misery.  Six are MIA in the corn field, where they don't have good odds against the local coyotes and raccoons.  Dogs will be finding new homes, as they cannot be trusted around livestock.  Such a shame after they traveled so well all the way up here.  Also a shame because it adds stress to DS1 and K2; he understands about no second chances with dogs who kill stock, but it is a new concept for her.  (On the positive side, at least it was chickens.  If the dog had ran horses I would have gotten the .22 and ended that myself.  Then there would be even more tension in the house.)
So.  It's been an interesting almost-week since I last posted.  Much to do.  Many things to hash out.  New routines to be set.  Culture shock (on the part of Southern/City Girl K2) to deal with.

Hold on; it's going to be a wild ride.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Yarn Along 6: Knittin' and Kittens

It's Wednesday!  Time to join in with Ginny at Small Things for the weekly Yarn Along.

I'm not sure if I knitted as much in the past week as I wanted to or not. . .  Mom's Christmas Sock #2 isn't as close to being done as I had hoped; yet I knit another baby hat for Toad, and am halfway done with one for K3. So it's kind of hard to judge if I just didn't have as much time to devote to knitting, or if I spent that time on hats instead of socks.  Oh well.  The sock will definitely be done by next week, so I can start on my planned pair of Christmas socks for October on time (the ones mentioned here for DS2) .

As you can see, I have turned the heel on Mom's sock and am about 1/3 of the way down the foot.  Just a few more hours to go!

To the left in the above picture is the hat I am making for K3, out of some scrap yarn I had from making DD1 a hat last Christmas.  I made Toad's second hat and K3's hat using the baby and toddler sizes of Barley hat off of Ravelry.  I'm thinking to make K2 and DS1 their own 'matching' Barley hats too.  Well, matching as in same pattern, different colors and sizes.  Being a South Carolina girl, K2 is beginning to freak out a bit at the idea of moving up here and living through Michigan winters.  We'll have to keep her especially warm this first one. ;0)

The KAL dishcloth is wrapping up.  Apparently the building is a schoolhouse, as the last few days the words "Back To" are becoming apparent in the design. Fitting for a September KAL.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I bet another reason I haven't gotten as much done on that sock this week as I'd hoped to is because of these two:

Double Trouble.  They are growing well, having progressed to being able to 'eat' kitten formula from a dish instead of the bottle they arrived with.  I have begun to introduce very soupy kitten chow (soaked to mush in water, then powdered formula mixed in) in the last couple of days.  They also are able to go potty on their own now, and took to using the litter box like ducks to water.  Hooray!

With all their growing and gaining in abilities, they now spend a few hours a day playing, climbing furniture, and getting into my knitting!  Sometimes it's playing with the yarn as I knit, sometimes it's biting at the needles, and sometimes it's just plain wrestling!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Recent Scenes

red sunrise over the woods and corn field

praying mantis as long as my hand from fingertips to wrist,
and it flies!

happy foster kitties like to sleep in my lap

the morning glories that were red in August are now blooming purple in the cooler weather

seeing lots of bluebirds lately

would it freak you out if you heard what sounded like someone walking on your roof,
and you went outside and saw this?
(Buzzards--a bunch more took off before I could snap a picture.)

looking serious

Friday, September 19, 2014

Challenge #34: Get a Clear View

This week's challenge is inspired by all the cleaning and rearranging going on lately at this little place here in preparation for DS1 and crew's arrival with a household worth of stuff.

Get a clear view. . . In other words: wash your windows!  I've been giving mine a good cleaning, inside and out.  I have tilt-wash double-hungs, but I confess to very rarely actually using the tilt feature when cleaning them.  Normally it's just the insides that get sprayed and wiped clean.

This time, however, I'm remembering how to slide them down, tilt them in, and make the outside panes as sparkly clean as the inside ones.  Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I did have to read the sticker on the upper part of the frame to refresh my memory exactly how the tilt-wash works.  Thank goodness I didn't give in to DH's desire to peel off those stickers once the windows were installed nearly 13 years ago!

Hopefully you have tilt-wash or easily accessible windows too.  If so, this challenge will be so much easier.  If not, well, I challenge you to find a ladder, and a bucket, and some rags, a hose, and maybe a squee-gee too.  Wash those windows!  Wash 'em good!  You'll be amazed at what a difference washing the outside, and not just the inside, makes.

One caveat:  this may be dangerous for birds.  I had one fly into the window yesterday.  That hasn't happened in years (which tells you how long it's probably been since I washed the outsides of the windows).  Poor bird.  At least it didn't seem to be hurt much; it hopped up and flew right away.

I like to use a 50/50 vinegar and water solution when I wash windows.  I have a spray bottle with vinegar water in it that I use for cleaning just about everything.  So, when I want to clean the windows, I just grab that bottle and a couple of old newspapers.  Newsprint is hands down, the best for streak-free, lint-free windows.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Northward Migration

This time of year, the migration tends to be in a southward direction.  The butterflies, they go south.  The birds, they go south.  Even the older people, they go south.

DH and I will be heading south too, but only for a few days.  When we reverse our migratory path and return north, we will be bringing DS1 and his family with us.  This is the population explosion I hinted at in at least one post in the past week.

It has all happened very suddenly even though it has been a long time coming.  You see. . .  a few years ago, when DS1 was first faced with the option of re-upping with the Marine Corps (one year before his active duty period was completed), DH told him that if he decided not to sign on for another hitch in the Marine Corps, and wanted to go to college--utilizing the GI Bill he'd earned through is service--that DS1 could live with us while going to school.

At the time, DS1 wasn't sure he was ready to commit to college.  He wasn't sure what he wanted to get a degree, and thus a career, in.  He's a very active guy, always has been, and sitting still isn't something that comes natural to him.  Which is one reason DH and I thought that the military was a very good fit for DS1 right out of high school.  And it was.  He excelled.  He even found he had the ability to be a top student, graduating first in his class in both A School and C School. By graduating first, he was able to have some say in what his military assignment--and thus base--was.  He chose F-18 jet mechanic, and to be stationed in the Eastern half of the U.S.  Which turned out to be very wise choices: both of his deployments were of the Western Pacific kind; keeping him out of the danger in the Middle East.

In 2013, DH again repeated his offer to DS1:  move in with us, saving on housing expenses for his family, and go to college.  K2 could also finish college instead of doing a semester here and there as their financial situation allowed (she also earned a GI Bill through military service).

This summer, when Toad was born, DS1 and K2 both asked if the offer was still valid.  Apparently they have been thinking a lot about it, and had decided that once the lease on their house was up next spring, they would move to Michigan, live with us, and both enroll in school. DS1 said "you know, I'll be 25 this year, and I'd like to have my degree by the time I'm 30." *Shock DH and I!*

We of course told them "YES!!".  The grandkids would no longer be 1000 miles away, and with college degrees--DS1 going for engineering!-- DS1's and K2's futures would be much brighter. No more $10 an hour jobs being considered 'good incomes' and living hand to mouth.  Not to mention the impact on their children, K3 and Toad, that this change in finances would bring long-term.

In mid-August, DS1 called and asked "If we could get out of our lease early, what if we came up there for Christmas and just never left?  Then K2 and I could start school with the change of semesters in January."

"YES!"  Was the resounding reply.  Get them into college a semester earlier, and the whole bright future thing happens sooner.  I'm still amazed that DS1 has decided to pursue engineering.  He totally has the ability; at 17 he got the highest Mechanical score on the ASVAB that the local recruiting station had ever had.  He can look at a diagram of a machine and instantly and instinctively know how it goes together and how it works.  Yes, yes, yes!

Then, on the first Friday of September, I got a phone call.  DS1 told me he wasn't sure what was going on, but he might have lost his job.  The night before, his manager had told him that DS1 was being moved from 2nd shift to first shift, starting Monday.  DS1 had seen an ongoing dwindling in the amount of work that was available, and had figured second shift was going to be eliminated soon.  He was happy to be moved back to first shift.

However, on Friday morning, the contract house he works for informed him that HR of the company he was working at told them DS1's position was terminated.  Not switched shifts, just terminated.  Of course, this conflicted with what DS1's manager had told him the night before.  So there was some confusion on whether HR's message to the contract house was misinterpreted.  It took several days to figure out; all of which DS1 was told not to show up at work "just in case" (because this company's policy is to not have former employees on the grounds--he might get arrested if he showed up and actually had been terminated on Friday).

The first day, DH told him to forget about moving at Christmas and just to come now if he had indeed lost his job.  The second day, DS1 and K2 began making contingency plans in preparation for bad news.  The third day, DS1 had decided that after missing three days' work and pay, he was about ready to tell the company to screw themselves if this all was some big mistake and he hadn't been terminated.  The fourth day it was verified:  the position was eliminated, not transferred to a different shift.

There have been more phone calls between DS1 and this little place here since September 5th than in all of the seven years since he left home.  So many things to hash out.  So many plans to make.  So many contact names and numbers to give him and K2 for possible jobs up here, for transferring residency ASAP once they get here, what to sell if they can, what not to sell because they will need it here, accruing a few sets of warm clothes for the kids in this colder climate once they arrive. . . and please, please, find someone to take their two large dogs.  (Especially since the dogs cannot live in our house--due to allergies, it would be cruel to take the dogs from South Carolina, and expect them to live outdoors in a Michigan winter so soon after arriving).

Big changes ahead.  The human population at this little place here is going from three persons to seven, in the blink of an eye (well, after one long drive with a moving truck, an SUV, a toddler and a baby who is still young enough to quality for the title 'newborn').  When DS2 is home during Christmas Break, and DD1 comes also over Christmas, we will have an occupancy of nine.  It shall be interesting, to say the least.

There have been times when I wondered how much advice/info I have to share on this blog that is relevant to raising children since mine are pretty much all grown up.  I am realizing now that my advice doesn't run so much in the 'what to do with your infant, how to survive your toddler, how to deal with your child starting school, how to live sanely through the middle school years' category as it does the 'how to parent when your children are grown' category.

Life is always full of surprises.  I've told people time and time again through the years that my life is never boring.  I've never had a day when I've just stared at the wall, bored, because there was nothing to do.  DS1 and his clan moving in with us is proof positive that I tell the truth:  my life is never boring.  A northward migration is not something I ever thought would happen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Yarn Along 5: Early Frost

This morning I was up before dawn, loading all the meat chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese into cages (dog crates, both mine and a friend's borrowed for the task) in the back of the pick-up so they could make their trip to freezer camp.  The local processor is only about 15 miles down the road, but they only take in birds from 7-8 a.m.  You make an appointment for a particular day, but once you get there, you have to wait in line to unload your birds.  Since I am supposed to be feeding horses down at the horse farm no later than 8 a.m., I needed to get to the processor before 7:00, early enough to be one of the first to unload.

I knew it was a chilly morning; I had on a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, and even a jacket on top of that.  I didn't, however, realize how cold the temperature was until I got to the horse farm and began the morning feed ritual; which included driving out to check on the horses living on pasture (eating all grass--not yet needing hay since it was such a cool and wet summer they never ran out of pasturage.  This has got to be a first in at least 20 years that they didn't need supplemental hay by the end of August) once the dry-lotted horses had been given their breakfast hay.

It was while driving out to the pastures, with the rising eastern sun warming up the left side of my body, that I noticed this:

 and this:

FROST!!! We had a frost last night!  NOOOOOOOOOOO!

Okay, dramatics over.  It's just that September 17th is a bit early for frost at this little place here, and I was totally caught unprepared.  Luckily it looks like it was patchy, after all, there was none on the truck windshield when I started it up at o'dark-thirty to drive it to the various bird pens for loading, so hopefully the damage in my garden won't be too bad.  I shall have to go see after I finish linking up to  Ginny and the Yarn Along.

Switching focus from growing/raising my own food to what progress I've made in knitting endeavors since last week's yarn along post.

I finished K3's hood a few days ago, and decided I needed to make a little hat for her brother, Toad.  Since he's still so young (not even officially 2.5 months old yet!), I used some scrap yarn I had, and this pattern.

K3's hood looks gigantic in comparison.  I made it in the child size, based on her head measurement in June (while she was here with us for a week and a half) being right on the toddler size given by the pattern and I want her to be able to wear the hood for more than just this fall/winter.  Plus, it's supposed to be roomy, not tight like a hat.  Toad's hat I don't expect him to wear two chilly seasons in a row, being as babies grow so dang much in just a few months.  

I'm still working on sock #2 of Mom's Christmas socks.  I am about halfway done with the leg.

The September KAL dishcloth is half-done also. Looks like the design is a barn or cottage with a fence next to it.

Reading-wise, I did finish The River by Beverly Lewis before it was due back to the library.  It was close though; I was shutting the book and hopping in the car to return it just half an hour before the library closed that day!   I have not yet started another book as I kind of needed to catch up on some stuff I didn't do during my reading marathon.  (Please tell me I'm not the only person this happens to from time to time!)

What are you reading and knitting this week?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Mind, It Goes In All Directions

I have so many things I've been wanting to write blog posts about.  Yet, I just can't seem to stop all the thoughts, ideas, impressions, plans, etc from swirling in my mind long enough to write about a single topic, let alone many posts each on a single topic. To say there's a lot going on in my head doesn't even begin to describe it. . . Thank goodness for Yarn Along Wednesdays and Challenge Fridays, or I might never get anything new put on this blog!

Much going on recently at this little place here. Canning tomato juice now that I've gotten canned all the tomatoes and tomato sauce I want for the next twelve months.  We've had some cold nights lately, even into the upper thirties, so the end of the garden is not far off now.  I realized on Sunday (as I was making two gallons of tomato juice) that I have not yet made any tomato paste.  I still have a few small jars of paste left from 2013, so I think I will try to get my goal of tomato juice fulfilled first (oh, about 4 more gallons should be enough, I think), then make paste from whatever tomatoes are left between now and killing frost.  Tomato paste gets used in much more sparing quantities than juice.  DH would quite willingly drink a quart of tomato juice in one sitting if he thought I'd let him get away with it.

DH has been hauling in wood now that he got the wood-hauler trailer fixed.  That repair began as a simple changing out of tires on the trailer, but turned into several broken lug studs that had to be

  • tapped out from the hub (they were quite old and rusted on)
  • new ones in the correct size located and purchased (this took longer than anticipated)
  • new lug studs installed in hub
And then, of course, he had to take the old tires and rims up to the local garage, along with some old truck tires we'd saved for this purpose, and have the old (very dry rotted and bald) trailer tires taken off the rims and the 'new' trailer tires (ie old truck tires, worn but not bald or rotten)  put on the rims.

And after that, he had to bring the 'new' tires on the rims back home and put them on the trailer.  

Start to finish, with work travel and personal travel and family reunion and many weeks of long hours at work that brought him home after dark (yes!!  in June and July!  After dark, which isn't until about 10 or 10:30 p.m. that time of year), and many rainy evenings and weekends when he wasn't away at work or traveling or hosting relatives, this task only took three months.   I kid you not.  We were going to start hauling firewood in from the stacks in the woods in late May.  The last weekend of August arrived, and we had not a single piece of wood brought anywhere close to the wood boiler.  Now, we figure October first as a realistic date of putting the wood boiler into use for the heating season each year. And, from October first until January first is deer season in one form or another (bow, firearm, muzzle loader, late doe) so we must have all our firewood for the season brought up from the woods before October first. Because during deer season you only go to the woods to hunt.

To say we have a ton of firewood to move in the month of September is a vast understatement. One (full) cord of wood can weigh about two tons, and we went through about ten cord last winter.  Yeah, we've got a lot of wood to haul in a short amount of time.

(I figured out how to 'edit' out faces in pictures to keep family anonymous on the blog!)

first of many loads

We have a couple of 'foster' kittens that arrived at this little place here yesterday.  They were brought to us by a friend of DD2's.  I'm not sure what their story is, exactly, but they were orphaned and appear to be about three weeks old (on the phone, I was told only about a week old). 

Somehow, I seem to have become the Orphan Kitten Lady; in other words, people took notice of the abandoned kitten I brought in and fed and cared for last fall until he was old enough to go to a new home.  Apparently now that means that I am the top of the list for who to call when you have a baby cat needing someone to care for it well enough to keep it alive.

*Sigh*.  So, now I have two adorable little fuzzballs on four legs living in my dining room and needing to be fed kitten milk replacer every few hours.

These two aren't the only temporary guests we'll be having this month.  That is a post I need to write solely by itself, and hopefully I will before this week is over.  We have also been busy preparing for our other 'guests' who will be arriving later in September.  The basement has been mostly cleaned out (these guests need more space than a box in the dining room!), and I finally talked DH into getting rid of some of the old and worn out furniture that has been in our basement taking up a lot of space but not getting much use for nearly a decade.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Challenge #33: Go Bunny Hunting. Dust Bunnies, That Is.

The weather is turning cooler here.  We have begun our transition back to a life where more time is spent indoors than outdoors.  Which means it's time for me to catch up on all the housework that got let go during the busy gardening and canning season.

Time for dust bunny hunting!

In other words, it's time to stop sweeping (or vacuuming, if you have carpets) around the furniture, and do a good thorough cleaning underneath.  I don't know about you, but at my house dust bunnies seem to breed rampantly under the couches (yes, plural, there are two in my living room; got to have enough seating when the kids come to visit) and beds.

The other day I was looking for a curtain tie-back that had fallen down behind one of the couches during the high winds that arrived with last Friday's storm, and when I peeked underneath said couch I was rather grossed out by the fuzziness of my wood floor.  Definitely time for some bunny hunting.

Plus, the population at this little place here is about to increase (more on that next week, I promise!), so there will be some moving of and rearranging of furniture in the next week or two in preparation for our population explosion.  Excellent opportunity for bunny hunting.

How about you?  Seen any dust bunnies at your place lately?  Or have you been afraid to look?

Let's gather our 'weapons'--brooms, vacuums, mops--and go (dust) bunny hunting!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Meanwhile. . .

I mentioned yesterday that we had been without power for approximately 92 hours.  Lack of a full and regular electric supply (we did run the generator, just not all the time; a few hours here and there each day to keep fridges and freezers cold enough and allow the well pump to run and replenish the pressure tank) caused us to adjust our daily activities somewhat, but that doesn't mean we didn't accomplish anything.

What I didn't do:

  • laundry--uses a lot of water and power from generator
  • baking--oven uses too much power, we don't use it while running on generator power
  • canning--I have a gas stove top, so I can keep cooking through a power outage, but canning uses a whole lot of water

What I did do:
  • knit
  • all cleaning that uses manual tools (sweeping, dusting, decluttering, etc)
  • harvest onions
  • cook down tomatoes for totally fresh and from scratch tomato soup (versus canning them; they were to the point by day 3 of no power that they were going to turn to mush on the counter)
  • put up hay
Yep.  Put up hay.  That big storm might have caused widespread power outages, but it also brought in a 4-day stretch of beautiful sunny, slightly breezy, warm and dry weather.  The family who custom bales my hay stopped by on Saturday morning, while I was in the garden discovering some storm damage, and asked if I'd like my second cutting done right then.  

Would I?  You betcha!  I mean, first didn't get done until mid-July, and now it's early September and second has grown enough to be worth baling.  Besides, it's September; we're running out of hay weather, which has been especially hard to come by this year.

So, while I was finding this in my garden:

1st bean pole blown to 45 degree angle

2nd bean pole snapped off by strong winds

my hay field was getting mowed to look like this:

a beautiful sight

I also harvested most of my onions (the red zeppelins aren't quite ready yet, but the ringmasters and copras all had tops that had fallen over, indicating ripeness).

a few of the copra

row of ringmaster

I think I will just go ahead and pull out all the pole bean plants.  They aren't done producing yet, but without the poles as supports, they are a tangled mess, making picking beans very difficult.  I've got enough canned and frozen to last us until next summer's beans are ready.  Rather than considering it a loss, I've decided to think of it as getting a jump on fall's garden clean-up.

DH and I also spent quite a bit of time on the phone with both of our sons during the power outage .  Big changes coming for each of them, and also for us.  More on that in a future post.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Yarn Along 4: Between Storms

Joining in with  Ginny  for the Yarn Along once again.

We finally got power back mid-afternoon yesterday after being out since the storm Friday evening.  Approximately 92 hours of no electric service.  It wasn't horrible, being summer and having the generator to run occasionally so the fridges and freezers stayed pretty cold and we had water to use sparingly.  But, you know, when you're supposed to have something and it's just not there. . . gets old after a few days.

Especially knowing that the weather forecast for today is another big storm, supposedly similar to the one that went through on Friday.  So we're all thinking that now we finally have power restored, there's a good chance it is just going to go out again before tonight gets here.

I  have a lot of catch-up baking and canning to do today while I have the chance.

I did manage to do a bit of knitting in the past week, and start a new book too.

The book is Beverly Lewis's newest one, The River.  She is one of my favorite authors, so when I heard she had another book coming out, I requested it from the library.  Which means, when it gets to me, I have 7 days to read and return it. Last week was not exactly the best time for it to arrive at the library, but, it is what it is and I'm trying my best despite power outages, putting up hay, canning tomatoes and whatnot, to get it read before I have to return it at the end of this week.

Knitting wise, I finished sock #1 of Mom's Christmas socks  and have finished the ribbing on the cuff of sock #2.  They are moving right along on schedule, to be done by the end of September so I can cast on Christmas socks #2, which will be this pattern for DS2.

Having fun with Septembers KAL dishcloth .  The design is starting to be visible now, and I'm trying to figure out what exactly it is.  Doing a new two rows each day adds to the suspense.

Also in the picture is a new project.  Done in pink and dark grey stripes, I am making this for K3.  The pink is a little washed out in the picture, in real life the contrast is better and more girlish without being over the top girlie-girlie.  It has knit up surprisingly fast; the hood itself is finished and I have cast on for the attached scarf.  This should be a FO (finished object) by the end of this weekend.

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

We Had a Bit of a Storm

Friday was the hottest day of the summer.  Ironic, being that so many people keep saying it's fall since school is back in session.  But, it was. We finally hit 90 degrees (it's been a cool, wet summer overall).  And, of course, having a hot hot day like that meant that some volatile weather came our way late in the afternoon.

It was after dinner, actually, when I felt the wind change and pick up.  I went out front, since front is west and west is the direction most of our weather comes from.  What I saw sent me back inside for the camera.

I could tell the front coming in was going to be good for a strong storm.  Especially, as it got closer, I could see clouds not just scudding toward the east, but also see updrafts and some partial rotations form.

You say "rotation" in reference to a storm, and most people go inside to shelter.  Me, I got excited and stood in the yard, camera pointing up, trying to get pictures of the spots where the rotations would form, then break apart.  Of course I was watching for any signs of funnel clouds all the while; I'm not totally stupid.  ;0)

I did get one good picture that you can see some rotation in the clouds. That was looking straight up, at the underside of the cloud.

But it didn't develop further than that.  No funnel descent.  About then the sky broke open and I scurried indoors to shut the windows so my wood floors didn't get wet.  Inside, I did take a few more pictures, mostly of the trees getting lashed by the wind and rain.

Once the storm had passed, I started scouting around for damage.  All I found was this:

One piece of wooden siding had been ripped off the chicken coop by the wind.  It was lifted over the stuff in the foreground, and I found it resting, unscathed, on top of the brush hog.  DH and I put it back on that night (in the pouring rain which started up again half-way through our endeavor.)

Other than that, our only lasting sign of the storm is this:

Yep, power's out.  Running the generator a few hours a couple times a day to keep the fridges and freezers cold, as well as let the well pump run and refill the pressure tank so we can have some water to use sparingly.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Challenge #32: Stop Procrastinating

I almost titled this one "Challenge Yourself" as in Make-Your-Own-Challenge.  But, I figured when it came right down to it, what I was going to tell you was to stop procrastinating.

You know, that one project (or maybe two) that you kept saying you were going to get done, but so far this year it hasn't happened yet.   If it's an outdoor project, in need of warm and dry weather, you are probably running out of time.  So, you should just bite the bullet and get it done.

For example, we were going to stain the deck and the front porch.  Last year.  DH power washed the deck in preparation to stain it.  But then he never got around to figuring up how much stain we needed to buy, so I never went and bought it.  And then suddenly it was winter.  Can't stain the deck, in Michigan, in the winter.  So, we put it off for this summer.

Early this summer, DH power washed the front porch in preparation to stain it.  We were really going to get it done this time!  In fact, we were going to do it before hosting the family reunion in late July.

Uh-huh.  We were.  Honest.  But, you know, it's still not done.  Still haven't bought the stain.  DH still hasn't figured up how much we need (and I really, really suck at that kind of thing--figuring linear feet and translating that into volume of liquid needed to cover the area).

Just the other day he was telling me that we need to get the stain bought if we were going to stain the deck and the porch this year.  We're running out of good weather.  We both know once October gets here, a colder wetter season sets in.  A season in which you don't get a dry deck and a warm day to stain and a couple days of no precipitation/heavy morning fog for the stain to dry well to happen all in a row like that.

I reminded him that he needs to do the math and let me know how much stain to buy.  Otherwise I'm going to have to do the best I can with that kind of geometrical figuring (I hated Geometry in school, it hurt my brain much more than advanced algebraic functions did) and we'll either end up with way more stain than we need, or not quite enough.

He and I both need to stop procrastinating.  I really could look up exactly how to figure how many gallons and parts of gallons it would take to get the project done.  Or, he really could take all of two minutes and do the calculating himself.  Either way, we'd be able to go buy the stain, and be ready to apply it while the weather  is still favorable.

What have you been procrastinating about?  How much time would it actually take you to get it done if you stopped dragging your feet and making it into a mountain rather than the molehill it probably is.

Stop procrastinating.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Ones Left Behind

Got a child who left for college this fall?  Got more children still at home?

This time of transition doesn't just affect the one who left the nest.  It affects Mom, Dad, and younger siblings too.  The ones left behind.

Let me share with you what I found as each of my three older children left home.

DS1 left home for the military. We'd had months to prepare for his departure; he'd enlisted in January of his senior year, with an actual leaving home date of Labor Day.  When Labor Day came, DH, DS2, DD1, DD2 and I dropped him off at the local recruiting station with just the clothes on his back, and a Bible. That was all he was allowed to take to boot camp with him, as once there, he would be issued new clothing and his head would be shaved (regulation, to make all the newcomers equals and to build bonds in the platoon). Other than a phone call to let us know  he'd arrived safely, we would have no contact with him other than through letters sent by U.S. mail for the next 13 weeks.  We all gave him hugs, told him how proud we were of him, how much we all believed he would succeed in the Marine Corps, and then we left.  It was the hardest thing I'd ever had to do up to that point, and honestly, I think there hasn't been anything since that day that was so tough for me.

Back at home, DH cried (in private, with me, never in front of the kids).  He was filled with doubt, worried that he had somehow not been a good enough father to DS1. Regretting all the missed opportunities for more one-on-one time with him. I was totally unprepared for this reaction, and it unbalanced me.  I had been prepared to be sad, myself, at our eldest child leaving the nest. And, oddly, I had a profound sense of accomplishment:  "I did it, I raised one to adulthood; I am a good mother!" (Hadn't known I'd been carrying in my head and heart negative words thrown at me 18 years prior by someone who had been trying to convince my pregnant teenage self to abort the baby--DS1).  But I was thrown for a loop by DH being so overwhelmed with emotion.  I hadn't been prepared to comfort him, to need to comfort him, as the son he'd often butted heads with left home.

Chores got split up between the three kids left at home, each taking on an additional chore (DS1's share)  than they were used to being  responsible for.  DS2 became the family 'trashman'; the duty of taking the trash out to the end of the driveway on pick-up day now fell to him as the oldest child in the house.  DD1 toughened her attitude a little bit, as she thought was fitting for the sister of a United States Marine.  DD2 cried.  For weeks.  Every night.  As if her heart were breaking.  Another response I was not prepared for.  It made me realize that to her nine year old self, DS1 had almost been a third parent; the stand-in grown-up to take care of her and protect her when Mom and Dad weren't around.

Then we had four years to get ready for the next offspring to fly the nest.  I thought we'd be ready this time.

When we left DS2 standing excitedly in his college dorm room 500 miles from home, I could barely see to make it down the four flights of stairs to the parking lot because of the tears that filled my eyes.  One glance at DH told me he was having the same problem. The girls bounced joyfully down the stairs ahead of us, chattering about could one of them have the boys' old bedroom now so they wouldn't have to share the girls' room anymore, (the answer was no, DS2 would still need a place to sleep when he came home on breaks), and DD1 saying how she couldn't wait til the following year, when she would leave for college too.  In the Suburban, DH looked at me, swiped his eyes with the back of his hand, and said in a quiet voice "The hardest part is knowing that we're not leaving him; he's leaving us.  He's all grown up, he doesn't need us anymore."   And it was true.  That's what made our eyes so full of tears; knowing that our most independent child was so ready for this day, so ready to wave goodbye to his parents and tackle adulthood on his own.  It was three weeks before he even called home to say hi.

Meanwhile, back at home, the chores that once upon a time got split between four kids were revamped.  Some I took back, the rest were split two ways between the girls.  DD1, now the eldest child at home, became the family trashman.  She bore it less than gracefully, constantly reminding DD2 that it was only for a year, then DD2 would have to be the trashman for three full years before she graduated and left home.

With DS2 leaving, DH had no doubts about his fatherhood performance.  Instead, this time, he seemed to draw away from the three females in the house, insisting there was "too much estrogen" now that he was the only male on the premises.  I'll be honest, this hurt me deeply.  The girls, too, developed a little bit of a chasm from their father.  DD1's boyfriend became her priority for spending time with instead of her father, who had always held the place of honor in her life.  And, while DD1's boyfriend is about as model of a perfect boyfriend you'd ever want for your daughter, DH became almost antagonistic toward him.  (The boyfriend is still around today, and, after more than 3 years of dating DD1, is convinced that DH doesn't like him despite DH now warming up.)

The following year, DD1 got her turn.  We left her 750 miles away, happily arranging her dorm room with her new room mate.  She was excited, having finally arrived at the college she'd dreamed of attending since 1st grade.  We were excited--Yay us, another child left home and on the path to a successful adulthood.  I honestly don't think DH or I cried that time.

However, that very night DH texted her.  And the next day he called her.  And every day after that, his first words to me upon returning home from work each night were  "did you talk to DD1 today?" Talk to?  Usually. Get a text from?  Always.  Several times a day.  Unlike my sons, I didn't get a chance to miss her because she was still in contact with me.  Almost more than I wanted her to be.  The first time we didn't hear from DD1 for more than 36 hours, DH insisted I call her to make sure she was okay.  Was it any wonder she ended up moving back home at the end of the semester?

But before DD1 came home, DD2 and I had spent four whole months running the house as smooth as clockwork.  We split the chores, she and I, all those chores  that once upon a time had been the work of four children, and they all got done seamlessly.  If it was her chore to do dishes and she had an after school event that would keep her out late, she asked, usually two or three days ahead of time, if I would do the dishes for her in exchange for her doing one of my chores (usually dishes) on a different day.  If it weren't for her intense hatred of being the family trashman (and me reminding her just about every week to take out the trash on your way to the school bus!!!), I would have wondered what impostor had slipped into the role of my youngest child.

And then DH let DD1 quit the college she had been attending, move back home, and attend the community college here.  Oh, he was happy as a clam to have her home again.  DD2 not so much.  After a month of screaming and fighting, I split up the two girls, not just to different bedrooms, but to different floors of the house:  DD2 retaining the room that had always been the girls' (that DD2 had slept in since she was 5 years old and as the youngest was supposed to keep until she left home), and DD1 having a room set up in the basement for her.  That helped somewhat, but chores were a huge problem.  DD1 didn't do hers, mostly.  And she only had two:  dishes twice a week and clean the bathroom she was using.  DD2 and I had the rest.  Oh, now and then she would with much badgering, but mostly she would put them off, or completely blow me off.  And then DD2 got into the act because why in the world should she have to do chores if her sister didn't have to?  So, while DH was happy, and DD1 was fairly happy (except when I was reminding her of her responsibility to the household of doing her chores on time), DD2 was not happy and I was carrying the complaints of them all.

DD1 leaves home, take two.  She just left again a few weeks ago.  Much closer this time, only about 90 miles away.  She can come home on weekends if she wants to (DH likes this part especially).  It's been amazing how suddenly, with her sister gone, DD2 has become the sweet, responsible, and helpful person she was for the four months that DD1 lived out of state two years ago.  Chores are done, on time, no complaining.  She requests chore exchanges, in advance, for the evenings she won't be home until bedtime.  I'm happier again.  Not that I don't love DD1, because I do; I don't have favorites of my children, but everything is just so much smoother now with her out of the house.  Something about personality differences, about parental expectations, and about how DH still wanted to treat her like a child, sort of (when it came to what I expected of her as an adult in my house) and how DD1 wanted to play this to her advantage at times, but fight over it at others, that just makes her moving out a positive, easy transition for me.  And, apparently, for DD2 as well.

How will it be next August when the baby of the family, DD2, leaves home?  We will only know for sure when it happens.  But, I don't anticipate feeling lost like you often hear from mothers once their youngest leaves the nest.  I think DH probably will go through another regret phrase like he did when DS1 left, he butts heads with her almost as much as he did with DS1, but I don't see that happening with me.  I have a long list of things I've been waiting years to do, to explore, once my motherhood duties were completed.  I've spent the vast majority of DD2's life at home when she's home; I've spent a lot of time with her.  Sure, there are a few things we never did that I had wanted to do together, but I'm not filled with regret for those things.  Right now, I'm mostly trying to remember to grasp onto the senior year of high school things that I did with her siblings and make sure I do them with her too.

I hadn't intended this post to be so long, or so mostly about my family when I started.  I just wanted to bring up the point that when there are siblings still at home, it's not just Mom and Dad who have to adjust to a child leaving for college or the military, it's also the younger brothers and sisters left behind that will go through a transition.  If you have children at home, don't forget that they, too, are feeling the change, the lack of a family member's presence.  They too need a little time to adjust, and probably will need some more of your attention in one way or another, until everyone gets used to the new family dynamic.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Yarn Along 3: 2 Done, and 2 In Progress

Joining Ginny at Small Things again this week for the Yarn Along.

I finished the dish cloth that I was making for the August KAL.  It turned out to be a flip-flop, and, while I personally hate flip-flops (all that flapping on the bottom of my feet and the thong-y part between my toes--OUCH!), many people love them.  So, I can see myself making several more dish cloths in this pattern to give as gifts in the future.

Not the greatest picture in the world, what with the dish cloth lying all wonky and the color being washed out, but, well, at least you get the idea of how the design looks.

I also finished the Irish Mesh cowl.  I was surprised by how fast it knit up; being 220 stitches per row and all.  Just might find time to do another one of these to keep for myself; this one is slated to be a Christmas gift.  Since I just finished it last night, it got included with today's pictures of my WIPs  (Work In Progress, for those not in the know of crafty lingo, LOL).

Still working on the socks for my Mom; sock #1 has the heel done and about 1" of the foot so far.  It should be finished by this time next week, with sock #2 cast on as soon as this one is done.  I really like the way the colors of the yarn are working with this pattern, and I think Mom will love it.  She wears a lot of these tones, which is why when I saw the yarn it screamed "socks for Mom" at me.

My other WIP is another KAL dish cloth.  If you want to join in, you can find instructions here.

I gave up on the book I was struggling with last week.  Once upon a time, I would force myself to finish every book I started no matter how dry it was or if it turned out to be not my genre or writing style.  But then, a few years ago I realized I was reading for myself, not for a class, not for a work assignment.  So why in the world would I force myself to finish a tome I just wasn't into?!? That was the day I gave myself permission to drop a book if after a good long chance (roughly 100 pages if it's a largish book, 50 if it's short) I wasn't liking it.  Happy Wives Club, I just wasn't liking the writing style, so about page 80, I said "bye-bye" and took it back to the library.

Phew!  On to more interesting books, like this one:  Dressage Tips and Training Solutions, which is right up my alley.  Instructive, with good descriptions, not dry or overly wordy.  And lots of diagrams and pictures.  Best of all, it's sparking my interest in riding again, which is something I used to love but somehow let other things get in the way and drag me down until riding wasn't such a priority anymore.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September is Tomatoes

Despite what the media (and therefore, now pretty much everyone else you run into) tells you, summer has not ended.  Nor will it end tomorrow, when Labor Day weekend is over and all of Michigan's kids enrolled in public schools start a new school year.

Summer does not end with the beginning of September.  Summer break from classes might end, and vacation time for most workers might end, but summer is still going strong.  Summer does not end until the autumnal equinox in late September.  The growing season does not end until we've had a series of frosts in October.

At this little place here, September is still summer, still the growing season; and because it is still summer, the garden does not end yet.  Nope, not hardly. September is when the garden cranks out tomatoes left and right.  They begin, the first tentative orangey blushes, in mid-August, but the plants don't really get going with the vermilion orbs until September.  September is tomatoes.

Currently, my kitchen island (which is 6 foot long by 3 foot wide) is completely covered in tomatoes.  All of which were picked in one day, just the ripest ones, and leaving the almost ripe ones for a few days in the future (say, tomorrow since these were picked yesterday).  That's a lot of tomatoes.  But it's really just the beginning of the tomato harvest for us.

Friday I made pico de gallo. Saturday I made and canned a batch of tomato sauce and a double sized batch of salsa.  Sunday we ate BLTs for lunch, the cumulation of which used up all the tomatoes I had picked up to that point.  Sunday afternoon DD2 and I picked more tomatoes, filling the island.

Today I am making more tomato sauce to can, and canning chopped tomatoes.  I started the day by making omelets with tomatoes, and also made a fresh batch of pico for snacking on.

Pick tomatoes, process tomatoes.  This will be my two-day rotation for the entire month. It doesn't stop until the first killing frost comes in October.  September is tomatoes.