Saturday, March 29, 2014

Signs of Spring

The Flambeau River still has a cover of ice, but the Chippewa and the Chief are open.
The tree buds are fattening. The snow has a different look and feel to it. It is packed and sugary and has settled quite a bit...only two feet of it now.  In a month I want to be on hand at the lake shore, maybe in a canoe, when the ice turns to candle ice and get pictures.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Rain Turned to Snow

Whatever old snow the rain melted away this morning is quickly being replaced by a new, sticky layer that has been falling in a thick curtain outside every window all the afternoon. Darkness will come early tonight despite their Daylight Savings Time. We will not mind, snug by the fire, on this wintry night.
     Brad came in at my command from whacking away at the ice/wood chip layer that has accumulated on the patio all winter. He was soaked through from the rain and happy to quit. He fired up Ranger Bill on my computer and sat listening to three or four unlikely, heroic adventures. He also ordered up fresh cookies.
    I started dumping ingredients into a large, red Tupperware bowl reminding him that he would have to stir. Turned out we were out of oatmeal, so he had to finish the project with white flour himself. He lit the oven, planted nine large lumps of dough evenly spaced on a half sheet, put them in and timed them for ten minutes. They turned out perfectly cracked, done just right.  The snow making everything white outside only makes these moments nicer. The smell of fresh baked cookies.
    Amy is upstairs sewing. I worked on Francis' quilt binding. Before that we cleaned the "jar room". Found a lot more stuff to trash. We can now see the floor and what really is on the shelves again: apple sauce mostly and a good many empty jars. All good. I have been reading a book the last couple of hours sitting in my blue, stuffed chair, looking up now and then, to refresh this cozy feeling, at the falling snow, whitening trees, and my fire in the stove. (D.E.Stevenson)
    Our Bride-To-Be is off to Nebraska with Clark's to visit the wondrous Josh. (He is a nice man, by the way.)  The wedding is safely eight or nine weeks away in the dim future, or so it seems, and we are not fretting what's to do today! Very nice feeling.
    Not to say we are not excited about this wedding. We are. But it is really hard to understand the reality of a June wedding with all this snow falling and backing up our to-do list some more. We have a list of things that simply cannot be done until it warms up and stays warmed up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Bouquet of Roses

A bouquet of yellow roses goes a long way toward alleviating cabin fever when winter will not leave. I found a dozen of them pushed down into the midst of the Wal-mart carousel of fresh flowers. I claimed them knowing full well what can be done with them.  Squeezing the centers told me that they were not nearly opened even though they were already partially open and fragrant. So we enjoyed them for a few days in a vase on the coffee table. Fully open they became a solid mound of sunshine for us.

Finally we "tipped" them, which means that we hung them upside down to dry. This is just as nice for enjoying as is the fresh flowers stage.  It takes four or five days to dry completely depending on how dry is the air. With the wood stove still in use around the clock we struggle to keep enough moisture in the air so our roses dry quickly and
completely.  After drying, each stem ought to be sprayed with an acrylic spray. But now they are ready to use for decor.

 The bouquet in the pitcher dried by accident. I gathered these from Margie's rose bush and did not add water as it should have been done to keep them alive. But the result was lovely.
     So a bouquet of roses is a great investment for this house. We use them all over the house.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Graber Offices and a Luncheon Table

I went with Elv to his job to drive home an extra vehicle. Lance was already in his office here moving wood. It was a beautiful March morning. Even though we haven't had much indication of it; we are supposed to expect Spring to show up any day now.

                                      Sunday Afternoon Thoughts

How do you suppose it happened that the church at Ephesus lost its first love while working hard, being patience, eschewing immorality, and being noted for successfully smoking out false teachers? This church had its act together. They were steadfast and dependable laborers. What was it they had lost?
    What is first love? Frankly, I think it is those very first feelings of peace and joy I experienced when I realized just how much of a lost sheep I was, wandering in the wilderness, found by the Shepherd. Comparisons are huge: I was lost, now I am found.  I was blinded by fear and sin, now I can see. I was hungry for all kinds of things, now I am fed. I was helpless, now I am carried. I was dirty and sinful, now I am clean (white as snow).  I was a miserable failure, now I am perfect in Him.  And most of all He actually can change me from that ugliness and lostness to this accepted home comer for ever.  Its an awareness of constant need, of humility remembering what a waste I used to be, and a new found alertness to danger and pitfalls.
     But time has a way of dimming the memories and dulling the senses to what used to be and we get used to this newness.  We move into the plateau and get good at the new walk and begin to enjoy the blessing. We strengthen our muscles in the new good works. All good.
   Until we start to feel pretty good about ourselves and our works. We somehow manage to look down our noses at immoral people and false teachers, and boy, do we know how to level them, and hold our skirts away as we walk by. We create boundaries and barriers to keep them away and we think we are going to somehow get "shut" of such vileness and stay that way.
    I'll just speak for myself. When I got carried away by my own cultural blessings and biblical lifestyle, so certain that I was not going to make glaring mistakes with me and mine, I had completely lost my first love. What a shock!  Looking back I think I hardly remember a time when I had such a good look at my desperate-ness as I did then.
     Facing the facts of my lostness without the shed blood, forgiveness, and grace of Jesus was eye-opening, to say it mildly. All the good parenting, good habits, and great Christian living was not going to cut it for me or our children. I aimed at perfection and got ordinary fail prone children and a failing grade personally.
    I discovered that I had to accept my lostness to understand my found-ness in Christ. It is ONLY His shed blood, forgiveness and grace that gets me "in". Any perfection/justification is what He sees. He forgave me and I am learning as I go along how MUCH it was/is, and then I live in the room of victory. I discovered that forgiveness is integral to victory. Children who do not feel forgiven have a hard time finding victory. ALL of us children are that way.
    So staying in first love keeps us where we belong. We are teachable, humble, and alert. Besides, it gives us a chance to care about lost souls the way we should. Suddenly the immoral and the false need finding and loving, just like we did. They do not seem nearly as hopeless as we used to think they were. If I can be saved; then so can they!
     First love found-ness. That's where I hope to stay.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Home Bouquets

Winter will not finish up.  The snow banks settled noticeably. As in, noticeably dirtier and more packed. For a few days it might be possible to walk on top of the snow with out falling through only now and then. Such adventures are fun if you are not trying to get anywhere in a hurry. Tentative can be defined by watching someone gingerly toe groping along mindful of an impending plunge to the knees or deeper at any moment. 
Several inches of new snow whitened the dirty snow banks nicely the last couple of days so that spring quickly retreated out of sight again. Too bad. 

So if we cannot have spring we will have flowers from the store. Daisies, carnations, mums and roses. I want everything. I made excuse and bought two bunches of them for the special luncheon table I was in charge of creating. The white daisies were especially nice.
A whole big bouquet of yellow roses came home with me next for the coffee table in the living room. Amy said it reminded her of the the descriptions of rooms in a Grace Livingston Hill book. I will take that as a compliment, thank you.
Lovely rooms at home are especially nice when spring and winter play tug-a-war outdoors.  A flickering fire, shining floors, books and family photos on shelves, and a bouquet of roses ...

My third bouquet.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Stitches and a List for March

 One quilt out and another quilt in.  Frances cut patches of our blue scraps and of a white sheet from the used shop. I sewed it together. Amy created the stencil and off we go to another quilt. We like this one because it is blue.

 While we quilt and wait for the snow to melt I make mental lists of what should get done in March in preparation for a June wedding.

 ~ Paint the kitchen white. Replace top cabinets with old barn wood boards, sanded and varnished. Black metal brackets to hold them.
~ Sew the bride's gown and other dresses.
~ Finish up the two quilts, wash and pack them into Frank's trousseau.
~ Rake and clean tight behind the receding snow: tree trash, firewood trash, trash trash, etc.
~ Get all the roles for the wedding filled with friends and acquaintances as needed.
~ Design and order and send off invitations.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Break-Up Beginnings

 Lake Superior pictures of us.  Taken on March 9, 2014. The winter Lake Superior became 92% frozen over. I wanted to see that and then get pictures of it. What a sight.
 A fishing village sprawled all over the lake. I would have loved to walk out there and talk with the fishermen. What were they bringing in? Is anybody worried about the ice pack moving away from land?

 Beautiful blue ice. We drove east along the north shore all the way to Beaver Bay. The ice pack had blown away from the shore up there and we could only see a faint white line on the other side of the blue water way out there. But one of these days the wind will change and bring that ice pack crashing up against the shore on this side and the ice chunks will fold and pile up in towers and layers like broken glass. Blue glass. I want to watch this happen.

 Someone made a wonderful dish of GF pasta just for me for Sunday lunch. I had to take a few pictures of the wonderful vignette that Susan knows how to create here and there in their home in the woods.

 It was our Sunday to go up to enjoy church and fellowship with Lattins. Just nice.

Mud is here!  Lovely mud! Our first and best evidence that God has not forgotten His promise to us that as long as the earth stands we shall have summer, winter, springtime and harvest. We are positively giddy about this sure sign that the winter is past. Why else would one take pictures of it!

Monday, March 3, 2014

What We Did Today


 It was 30 below first thing this morning. It's too cold for anything but sitting by the fire, or flat out laying as close to the stove as is safe and possible if you are Ruger.

    It's a good time to catch up on the computer stuff.  And for browsing Pinterest all curled up in a fuzzy. It was a good day to be sick with a nasty cold. Sitting and toasting by the fire was legal for two reasons that way.
It was a great morning for Elv to make breakfast of sausage and eggs delivered to me in the living room. Took my first tasty bite of cheesy eggs and sausage and was immediately transported to our cabin mornings where he always makes breakfast.
Elv is such a peach about cooking and building lovely fires in stoves and brewing coffee and bringing my breakfast to me. Yes, I am spoiled. Then he brought his breakfast and joined us in the living room to sit for a while longer. Too cold to work almost never happens even on a winter like this one has been.

 I was sick all day and so were the girls.  We totally sacked out and did nothing but one set of dishes, one all over vacuuming, and I think I washed two loads of laundry.  Wrote in my journal, read a novel, listened to music, stared into space, snoozed for a bit, and told the girls I would take no calls. Perfectly lovely way to spend one more day of winter.
Anybody who got the idea he or she was hungry had to go to the kitchen and fend for him/herself. Hamburgers My Way is pretty well what they picked. The remains are hideous: one yucky, smelly, hard-to-wash electric griddle, "The Works" which is an assortment of BBQ sauces, ketchup, cheese, butter, onions, tortillas, etc, all spread hither, thither and yon on every available surface.
Elv ran errands today accompanied and aided by Lance and Brad. They delivered a car to the mechanic, a welder to a different mechanic and brought home a big load of firewood. And at seven he attended a BLFD business meeting. A good day's work.
Tomorrow when it is only ten below zero, everyone will try to return to regular work and projects. But today WAS nice, truly.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

At Home with Holmes

In the process of cleaning her room, sorting out trash from treasure...trove of childhood birthday gift, baubles and oddments kept in boxes under beds and in the back of closets (indecision of growing up), Amy came down to me holding in her open hands four or five miniature rag dolls with cute ceramic faces wearing precious little gingham dresses and lacy bloomers, "Mom, what shall I do with these? I don't want them...They're not in very good shape."  She found all sorts of such little collections.
I don't get involved too much, if I can help it, in the sorting of trash and treasure.  I think she will miss one or two of those things that seem of little value now, someday in a quiet moment and feel a pang or two perhaps, but mostly what she gets out of sight now will soon slip out of memory, as well. And she will be less burdened with inexcusable stuff when she moves out someday.
But, among her treasures she found a little, old book, one hundred years old this year, in fact. The title of the book is Autocrat of the Breakfast Table by Oliver Wendell Holmes. It is a collection of his work and includes a bit of his biography. It contains all kinds of things from prose about a courtship to poetry about a old horse drawn carriage, all written tongue in cheek and rare humor. It is perfect for family gatherings around the hearth on a winter evening.
Yesterday evening Amy read The One Hoss Shay to us. Both she and Brad need to practice oral reading, so tonight Brad read to us, Contentment. ...I only ask that Fortune send a little more than I shall spend... And other such witticisms to spoof our brave contentment.

“The One Hoss Shay"
                by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1858)

Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss-shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then, of a sudden, it ah, but stay
I 'll tell you what happened without delay,
Scaring the parson into fits,
Frightening people out of their wits,
Have you ever heard of that, I say?

Seventeen hundred and fifty-five,
Georgius Secundus was then alive,
Snuffy old drone from the German hive;
That was the year when Lisbon-town
Saw the earth open and gulp her down,
And Braddock's army was done so brown,
Left without a scalp to its crown.
It was on the terrible earthquake-day
That the Deacon finished the one-hoss-shay.

Now in building of chaises, I tell you what,
There is always somewhere a weakest spot,
In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,
In panel, or crossbar, or floor, or sill,
A chaise breaks down but doesn't wear out
In screw, bolt, thoroughbrace, lurking still,
Find it somewhere you must and will,
Above or below, or within or without,
And that's the reason, beyond a doubt,
A chaise breaks down, but does n't wear out.

But the Deacon swore (as Deacons do,
With an "I dew vum," or an "I tell yeou,"
He would build one shay to beat the taown
'n' the keounty 'n' all the kentry raoun';
It should be so built that it couldn' break daown!
--"Fur," said the Deacon, "t 's mighty plain
Thut the weakes' place mus' stan' the strain;
'n' the way t' fix it, uz I maintain,
Is only jest
T' make that place uz strong uz the rest."

So the Deacon inquired of the village folk
Where he could find the strongest oak,
That could n't be split nor bent nor broke,
The deacon inquired of the village folk
That was for spokes and floor and sills;
He sent for lancewood to make the thills;
The crossbars were ash, from the straightest trees,
The panels of whitewood, that cuts like cheese,
But lasts like iron for things like these;
The hubs of logs from the "Settler's ellum,"
Last of its timber,--they could n't sell 'em,

Never an axe had seen their chips,
And the wedges flew from between their lips
Their blunt ends frizzled like celery-tips;
Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw,
Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin too,
Steel of the finest, bright and blue;
Thoroughbrace bison-skin, thick and wide;
Boot, top, dasher, from tough old hide
Found in the pit when the tanner died.

"Naow she'll dew"
That was the way he "put her through."
"There!" said the Deacon, "naow she 'll dew."
Do! I tell you, I rather guess
She was a wonder, and nothing less!
"She was a wonder, and nothing less"

Colts grew horses, beards turned gray,
Deacon and deaconess dropped away,
"Deacons and deaconesses dropped away"
Children and grandchildren--where were they?
But there stood the stout old one-hoss-shay
As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake-day!

EIGHTEEN HUNDRED; --it came and found
The Deacon's Masterpiece strong and sound.
Eighteen hundred increased by ten;
"Hahnsum kerridge" they called it then.
Eighteen hundred and twenty came;
Running as usual; much the same.

Thirty and forty at last arrive,
And then come fifty, and FIFTY-FIVE.
Little of all we value here
Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year
Without both feeling and looking queer.
Its hundredth year

In fact, there's nothing that keeps its youth
So far as I know, but a tree and truth.
(This is a moral that runs at large;
Take it. You 're welcome. No extra charge.)

"A general flavor of mild decay"
FIRST OF NOVEMBER,--the Earthquake-day.
There are traces of age in the one-hoss-shay
A general flavor of mild decay,
But nothing local, as one may say.
There could n't be,--for the Deacon's art
Had made it so like in every part
That there was n't a chance for one to start.

For the wheels were just as strong as the thills,
And the floor was just as strong as the sills,
And the panels just as strong as the floor,
And the whippletree neither less nor more,
And the back-crossbar as strong as the fore,
And spring and axle and hub encore,

And yet, as a whole, it is past a doubt
In another hour it will be worn out!
"In another hour it will be worn out"

First of November, 'Fifty-five!
This morning the parson takes a drive.
Now, small boys, get out of the way!
Here comes the wonderful one-hoss-shay,
Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.
"Huddup!" said the parson. - Off went they.

"The parson takes a drive"
The parson was working his Sunday's text,
Had got to fifthly, and stopped perplexed
At what the--Moses--was coming next.
All at once the horse stood still,
Close by the meet'n'-house on the hill
"All at once the horse stood still"
- First a shiver, and then a thrill,
Then something decidedly like a spill,
And the parson was sitting upon a rock,
At half-past nine by the meet'n'-house clock,
Just the hour of the Earthquake shock!
"something decidedly like a spill"

-- What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground!

You see, of course, if you 're not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once,
All at once, and nothing first,
Just as bubbles do when they burst.
"Just as bubbles do when they burst"
End of the wonderful one-hoss-shay.
Logic is logic. That's all I say.
"End of the wonderful one-hoss-shay"

In case you read this far. Don't you think it needs two readers? Narrator and deacon?

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