Monday, November 28, 2011

The Days Between

   We have three short weeks between the two holidays in which to have good school, bake Christmas cookies, listen to Christmas music, and plan and prepare for our family Christmas events. I enjoy these days.
   Today is Monday after Thanksgiving and the boxes and bins of Christmas decorations have been dug up and are sitting here in the living room. My radio is tuned to Chris Rice's Christmas Album Living Room Sessions, thanks to the link Dru sent to me this morning by chat.  The children are studying while I putter about the laundry,dishes, scribbling, and boiling and baking more pine cones for wreaths.
    Downstairs in the pantry lies a large trash bag full of cedar boughs. We're hoping to make a couple of wreaths soon. Frances wants us to bake cookies very soon...something about a Children's Ministry event.
    Thursday evening we will be singing carols at the nursing home for the old folks. And at church for the next few Sundays some of us will request Christmas hymns during worship time. Sometime this month we will bundle everyone up of an evening as a church family and go about the neighborhood singing carols on front porches where ever we are welcomed.  After the evening of getting worn out with running between cars and houses, and hoarse from singing the carols, we will gather somewhere for hot chocolate, finger foods, games, and fellowship.
   All of this to say that I am thankful for a country that openly celebrates the most wondrous event in history, that of God sending his Son to earth as a baby. "His name shall be called Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins."
   And Handel's Messiah strains will again soar into the vaulted ceilings of cathedrals and auditoriums shouting out the facts of the matter of God's purpose and plan in sending Jesus to earth once and soon again to gather us home. I pray again, that this year those singers and hearers will pay attention to the message of the grand and gracious words being sung out of God's own Word. It seems to me that every new Christmas season is another opportunity given to us from God to turn to Him. I feel like the little Herdman girl in her angel costume yelling out to the congregation, "Hey you, Glory To God In The Highest, And On Earth, Peace, Good-will Towards Men!"

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving (News for Grabers)

          But you can listen in if you like even if you are not a Graber.

          We spent our Thanksgiving at the cabin. On Thursday we had dinner at Lattins along with the Martins and Kathy.  I don't have any pictures of that day because last minute I left my camera sitting on the kitchen window sill after thinking about what a pain it is to be responsible for taking a few pictures.  My dear old camera doesn't work right anyway. I have one good setting and it is for outdoors unless you don't mind blurry pictures and I do mind. 
         So there it sat while we enjoyed long hours of visiting and sharing delicious food with friends.  Gideon made the sweet potato hot dish. Good job of it too.  The marshmallows slid on the top a little as it was being lifted out of the cook stove oven, but we didn't mind at all.  There was a turkey, and numerous vegetable dishes, salads, mashed potatoes and gravy, pie and cheesecake.  Plenty and more of everything a Thanksgiving dinner should be. Yes, I should have had pictures of the table of young people playing games, and of the lace covered serving table and of the circle of older folks visiting. 
        All of following is of the rest of our "three Saturdays in a row" as Dena said in her text to us commenting about Thanksgiving celebrations. 
Benny was good as gold the whole time.

 We had not only one puzzle to work, but two. At Lattins on Thursday we started a Kim Jacobs puzzle. Susan says they've finished it.  Then we started a lovely 1000 piecer at the cabin where it lies unfinished for anyone who wants to work on it. I would give you a link for that puzzle too, if I could remember the name of the artist.

     On our list of things to do during Thanksgiving vacation was to take away the opening in the living room ceiling to the upstairs of the cabin. The idea to add more light to the living room by having an opening turned out to be a waste of floor space upstairs for the most part. So we have been wanting to put the floor in since the beginning. Elv and the boys got it done. Presto, we had more sleeping space upstairs, as well!
     AND we got our family picture taken. Evidence comes later. That is, we took a family picture of those of us who live here at home now-a-days. For this year you married children will have to be off the picture, I'm sorry to say. It is terrifically hard to get a whole family picture when some people live in Thailand and others in  Wisconsin while even others live in Nebraska.
Elv worked on the plow truck again. The hope is that there will be a way to plow snow on Joshua Rd this winter.

Lance keeping Frances in line, as usual.

   Yes, we took our usual walk to the tippiest -top of Buck Mountain that overlooks the world as we knew it on the North Shore.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

What's For Dinner?

   Especially for Thanksgiving dinner.  I remember when we were first married I didn't have to think about that.  Our family was young and small and we were still getting together with one or both of our family's homes for the day.
     All I had to do was fill out my one-dish assignment and made sure everybody had clean clothing, an extra set and "orange" to wear for walking, and maybe skates if it there was good ice.
    Arriving at home the familiar dinner smells met us as we got out of the car.  At Elv's folks home there was turkey AND ham from which came the two choices of  gravy. Then the sweet potatoes that had been julienne d in plenty of margarine and brown sugar, mashed potatoes whipped to a typical Mennonite creamy smoothness, (none of your lumpy mashed potatoes for us) and numerous side dishes.  And pie. Elv's mom makes good pie and always has plenty of them for lunch and supper and snack and take home. You would think that at 85 years old someone else could do all that work, but nobody wants to try to match her brown sugar pie. Don't look at me.  Jenny has made a successful Brown Sugar Pie, but that's another subject, completely, and one that Kay ought to take up again.
   At my mom's house the meal is simpler and not necessarily in the traditional fashion.  For one thing she doesn't bother with cranberry anything since nobody likes it much anyway.  And I don't know that we ever have sweet potatoes either.  The turkey is always perfection and plenteous.  Mom makes plenty of a simple meat n taters meal, but she goes all out for a perfect table.
   The glassware sparkles spotlessly on a white table cloth.  Mom taught us girls that you don't wipe glassware dry, you wash it in the hottest water you can stand and then hold the clean glass under the running hot water, the cold tap off, then tip the glass over onto a clean tea towel. And wait. When they're dry in a few minutes you hold them up to a light and with a clean lint-less towel you may gingerly and carefully touch up for any left over water spots.
   Mom is a great one for center pieces. And hers are always very pretty and pleasing.  A collage of candles on her own crocheted doily is probably one of my favorites.
  And now it's my turn to plan and please for Thanksgiving since my mom moved off into the sticks of the Northwest and Elv's family doesn't always get together anymore since we all have our own children coming home. Now in case you can't tell it, here's where the plot thickens in my story.
   I told you before that I'm not a good cook.  What I mean is that I don't like to cook. Hypothesis:Good cooks like to cook.  So ideas, inspiration, and the yen about cooking all evade me, always. My favorite line for a planned carry-in is this: You tell me what to bring and I'll be happy to do so.
   Thanksgiving is next week and I am trying to get excited about cooking up a traditional (boring if I do it) meal again for my loved ones. If one of the children offers to plan and prepare a snack bar or a salad bar or ice cream only instead, I'll jump at it. So don't do that unless you're serious.
   Meanwhile I have been planning ahead and there is a ham AND and a turkey carcass residing in the freezer even at this time, a whole week ahead.  I have been riding high on that little triumph for a week already. But we're skidding to a landing now with the knowledge that along with baking one or both of them up in the cook stove, I have to do the potatoes, Mennonite creamy and candied like Mom's respectively. What for side dishes?  Elv will suggest/expect baked beans.
   Salads and deserts must be thought up and created. I wonder if I can get Frances to make cheesecake and Charlotte to make salads.  Now there's an idea.  No, I don't care what kinds. Please don't ask me.
   The ideas I CAN come up with for Thanksgiving are about visiting and playing. We could play board games and visit.  There are hikes to take and wreaths to make. Sometime we ought to exchange names for Christmas. And there're pictures to take of all the activity and babies to hug and tease. And songs to sing. And coffee to drink. And books to read. And letters to write. And traditionally we must have a new puzzle to put together.
   I know you can't really have a proper Thanksgiving without food; but for me it's more about fellowship around a puzzle with the cold being held back by fires in the stoves and snow falling outside.  That, my friends, makes a perfect Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Thankful List

For balmy November days. No snow, no rain, no ice. Just sunshine and a few cloudy days in between. Amazingly warm, sweater days.
For one, dead, old fridge sitting on the patio.  Because it stands for the new fridge in our kitchen that God gave us for free.
For quiet school mornings.
For brainstorms. The current brainstorm is to make our own wreaths this year of spruce boughs, mountain ash berries, and pine cones.
For red crochet yarn that my mom left behind and I found several days later. It is being crocheted into an Amaryllis Christmas doily.
For stacks of line-dried towels after a long weekend of growing piles of dirty laundry.
For Thanksgiving vacation just around the corner.  Three days to eat, make wreaths, fix a floor, visit friends, hike, and play.
For prayer. How would we live without it?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wherein I Tell Shilah What My LIfe Is...

My life is mostly keeping home for Elv, me and the children that still hang around here most of the time.  I still don't like to cook.  I had this neat idea that I would pretend I have a cook who WANTS to do the cooking.  And we would sit down, she and I, and find recipes and menus together.  Then I would make a grocery list for her and send her shopping and each day I would sit with her and tell her what kind of meal our family wishes to enjoy in the evening including the table setting and decorations.  I would order up anything I wished to enjoy.  Then I would turn around and tell me I am get on it now. I thought maybe it would help all the blahs I am enduring with wheatless food and meals.  

Besides the meal battle there's homeschool hours.   I have two of them in school and the three of us have fun, bookish discussion every day on all sorts of subjects from hydrogen atoms to adjective phrases.  And we're reading Ben-Hur for story time.  
There's the home management part of my life.  I have been going to paint the ceilings for years.  They're still not painted. Maybe next spring now after we're done firing the stoves.  I noticed yesterday that I need to dust my bedroom and sitting rooms badly. Several months ago I thinned out a whole bunch of books that didn't mean anything to me and gave them to Salvation Army and the big old bookcase to Charlotte.  That makes more room in my house.

Then I took Grandpa Skrivseth's old bookcase to the cabin where it fits perfectly under the windows in the front room upstairs and  holds lots of books.  Each time we go up we take a few more. 

Yesterday, I stopped at the SA store to look for a big heavy covered soup kettle. I envision a red pot wherein you can cook up two gallons of soup and serve the army.  Is there such a thing?Something like this. What I did find was a blue teapot and a bluer coffee carafe for the cabin.  

And there was an ugly wall sconce with a candle inside a lamp chimney for a dollar.  I wanted only the lamp chimney, the rest can go in file 13 for all I care.  Lamp chimneys seem to cost about six dollars a piece around here.  I have 14 lamps at the cabin and three more that need chimneys so I always am on the lookout for such things.

 We have been feeding a few armies lately because we have been helping our friends move their business out of town to home and it is a huge undertaking.  I can't really lift or scrub much but I can cook and play hostess and innkeeper.  I'll be doing that again Friday and Saturday up at the cabin near to where our friends are working. Thankfully, I have had lots of good help from other friends in preparing and serving food.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Projects And Snow

     Today I have been entering names and addresses into an Exel Document.  I have almost 400 more to enter.  There are last names like Sve, Johnson and Halstread.  I found Lundgren and Olson, but no Yoders, Millers, or Hostetlers which tells its own story.
     I started a new Christmas doily today.  I am on round four and it already looks like something. I can hardly lay it down.
    The carrots should finally have been dug today. Bummer, now it might snow. :)
    The laundry dried quickly outside for a change.  I have been resigning myself to a two day wait till I can bring it back in dry. Not today. All done in one day!
    So let it snow.  I have projects aplenty. And plastic to put on the windows. Winter's a-coming.
   Our ordered hardcover copy of Ben-Hur arrived today in the mail.  I read the first two chapters to our school children today.  When I laid the book down Brad said, "Uh, I know who they are." :) 12 year old boys are so smart!
    I am looking forward to cozy reads by the fire at break time far into the winter.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Thankful List

    Elv gently reprimanded me yesterday.  You're a different woman now that we've decided to change the schedule back to fewer hours.  Okay, I admit it.  I'm pleased about that decision, inordinately so.  We had further bantering discussion about how he ought to have married a woman who wanted money more than time together.  We're both happy that he married me!
    Those of you my friends who were in the back ground the last four months tsking over my "unnecessary" stress over his long hours can go ahead and do that.  I am shamelessly delighted to have it over with.  Yes, that sentence is ungrammatical. But "over with" is what I mean so it is what I write.  Elv's theory of language usage works for me in this case. Which is: as long as I am communicating to you what I mean, it doesn't really matter about grammer, so there.!
   But, back to my list.  I am thankful for these lovely fall days.  October weather is reaching in to November and not letting go. I suppose we'll pay for this, but while it lasts, we are enjoying it.
    I'm thankful for Saxon Math for our 15 year old.  I have taught Math for almost 8 years with Abeka.  This new Math is just plain fun.  Not only do you learn the how of Math you get to finally learn the why of Math.
    I am grateful for a new computer, too.  Lance walked in and handed me a new still in the box computer the other day saying, "I love you, Mom."  No, Aunt Amy, he didn't do it to impress anyone.  Just me, I guess.  And I am.  I have work stacked up to do on my I can do it.
   I am thankful for dry pine for firewood this time of year.  There's nothing like a snappy fire in the stove on a grey blustery day in November.
   I am thankful for work for Frances, at last. She gets to teach two first graders several days a week and three other children piano once a week.  Yes, it means that I have to get out of the house and chauffeur her about till she gets her license in January, but that's okay.
   Then there's the usual things that people generally say they are thankful for like a good husband, our children, the wonderful grandchildren, health, home, friends, and Salvation.  I AM very thankful for all these things, too.  But most of all I am glad to FEEL thankful again for all our blessings.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ramblings From The Scribbler

         Gone are the blue skies of October. And now are the grey skies of November. Lawn chairs and outdoor grillings have been abandoned. It's too cold for evenings of patio fires.  The flower foliage stands dead and soggy in the garden. We're in that inbetween time of putting autumn away and before taking the holidays out for the 2011 rendition. 
        We went shopping last night in Rice Lake. Can you believe it? Christmas has already arrived at KMart and Farm & Fleet, at least the commercial version of it. What a waste.  We haven't had a go at Thanksgiving yet! I still have carrots to dig. All their hurry won't change a thing about the calendar.  We'll take the proper amount of time there is to savor today and the rest of fall, so there.
         Here are some leftovers I found on picture files of this fall.

 Have you all seen this one before? I like this picture. The only way to get a really great picture of Elv is when he has no clue it is happening.  He was quickly fueling the machine prior to a walk in the woods with the family. 
 And a random picture of our front door a few weeks ago.  Now the geranium is inside gracing the entry with lots of blooms.  The trick to blooms is Miracle Grow for Blooms. Thought you might like to know that.
 This one is just to show you that dead foliage has a certain beauty, too.  You can find beauty almost anywhere if you care to look for it.  Same is true for the eye of the beholder, you know.
 More.  Okay, so I was playing with ordinary Arla caliber pictures on Picasa 3 and discovered the warmify and saturation options.  Ummm, you camera geeks...isn't that a little lame?
 Just like a magazine picture.  This is from our annual Copper Falls excursion.  Clark got a lot more and better pictures than I did with my relic of a camera.

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