Saturday, February 27, 2016

Idaho Visit And Oddments of Thought

 Amy and I flew out to Idaho to see the Skrivseth family for ourselves. We found them just as we expected, taking turns gathering around this famous bar. The favorite meeting place is located at the home of Sid and Ruth Skrivseth, my parents. Each day we ate mom's delicious meals here. Each day someone of the family stopped by for coffee and talk here. We had a wonderful time.
    Mom and my sisters are a gift to me right when I need to talk about my questions. They didn't feel over-burdened with the amount words I had to offer. Nobody understands quite like family. So when I firmly and somewhat loudly said that I will not take the radioactive iodine treatment as a solution to my overactive thyroid; they listened and received and bounced the ball back kindly. 
    I have to talk to think. Elv gets overwhelmed with the sheer volume of words, understandably, but Mom assured me that she wanted to hear all of it. She might know how much that meant to me.  
  One day we girls and mom got together at Judy's little house for coffee. Perfect tulips and cookies made it special as well as being together. Judy helps us to laugh. She is a great encourage-r.

Coffee figures big in the day of a Skrivseth. It's so much more than a hot drink to us. We have our first cups as soon we get up in the morning along with Quiet Time. The next cup is with anyone else who shows up in the living room first thing in the morning. We plan our day and solve. Then there's breakfast or mid-morning coffee just before everyone goes off to his separate adventures for the day. Lunch coffee. Then a fresh pot for when everyone gathers back in for supper.  In the evening, if anyone shows up for a short visit, out comes that steaming pot and rows of mugs.
   Amy got to know a few more of her many cousins while we were there.  They're all big kids now and some of them are getting married. Most of these only have lots of girl friends and boy friends for now.  At this age we are not so much going out in the world to seek our fortunes as we are testing the weight of our words and hearts on each other. Spats and laughter and hard mountain hikes for now. 

 Sure enough, there are flowers coming up there where she knew to check. She scraped away the mulch with her gloved hand and found the first green shoots. Mom is the garden designer. Dad does the lawn care. They work together at it really. 
    Each day they take a walk. One day we walked across country to Norv and Sharon's store at 3-Mile. I felt like I was in England walking to somewhere each day.  We had breakfast at Norv's store and our second cup of coffee. 

 On another day, we walked with Dad to "The Rim". This time we had to walk across country another direction for over a mile till we came to where we could see Kooteni Valley underfoot. The river and Bonner's Ferry way down there. It was a brisk, breezy day. Perfect for clearing the head.
                                      Amy and I posing. This proves that we really were there.

  Mom and Dad made nitrogen ice cream one evening for everyone. The house filled up with most of the four other families of mine who live there: adults, youth, children and all. It was a lot of people. Sharon brought the ice cream mixed and ready to freeze. 
   Mom poured it into her largest stainless bowl and poised the hand mixer over it. Dad did his part and dumped nitrogen from the tank in small splashes and mom dug in with her mixer. Splash and scrape the sides and mix with clouds of "steam" rolling everywhere. It's exciting and dramatic and fun.  We had our own "rock concert" with all that "smoke" rolling around.

Another evening Mom pulled out her cumbersome, disorderly collection of photographs, the yield of 70 years of living.  Boxes and boxes of pictures and I remember most of it. Every one a thousand words and not enough time. I felt yanked from one life to another somehow. And we didn't see nearly all of them. After a long time, tired, we went to our beds. Later, after I was home for a couple of days I happened to think about that huge mess we made on the living room floor digging through those pictures and wondered who put them away. Sometime I am going to stay till I've seen every one!

 When I am 70, I hope to be just like my mom. What more could one ask? 
Hope you enjoy this picture, Mom. I know, the dog isn't yours, nor the fireplace, but there you sat rocking that new baby of April's, contributing to our loud discussions. Thanks Mom for teaching us truth, and how to find it. 
   This is as good a place as any to say that I was refreshed by joining Mom on her ongoing quest to learn something new everyday. The first morning I was there, she invited me to listen in to the next in line of a series of medical lectures she was enjoying about Lyme disease. Okay, after hearing unscientific ideas/ health crazes, I have to say as kindly as I can that this was absolutely comforting to me. Yes! The world is NOT spinning out of control. God still shows truth to those who seek it. And Mom seems to be able to detect truth from fiction just as well as ever. What a great mom she is.

  April won't like this picture, I suppose, but she should. She is in a bumpy part of the road of motherhood, her baby being five weeks old, and she still plays with her camera. She's been posting her camera paintings on Instagram again. Her stuff is really, really good. 
    Which reminds me. Shilah teaches school. She took off for a day to spend time with me while I was there. Precious, grabbed moments to savor. Sunday evening we walked down across the bridge over the Kooteni River into Bonners Ferry proper and visited as fast we could while we walked. Shaunti noticed an ambitious beaver far below in the water who had started on a dam. Some folks are like that beaver and set out to dam the Kooteni River not realizing that it cannot be done. But I had to admire his spirit and endeavors. At least he was busy and doing what he was inclined to do, his best. You never know, maybe our project will reach after all, if we just get started. That is certainly better than not doing anything just because it seemingly can't be done. I'm thinking about that a lot lately.  We excuse ourselves from doing what we should because "what can one person do?" Fortunately, many people have started out anyway, alone, with a vision, and pressed on. 

 When I was little girl at home, we used to take drives on Sunday afternoon just to explore and see what's down that road.  
This walk reminded me of that. They had to see what was over that hill or around that corner. I should have had a step counter on me.

Just playing with my camera and edits here. Bonner's Ferry is down there on the right. Lovely view. 
Snow covered mountains are much more dramatic than the summertime mountains, methinks.  

Live well, be kind, and don't complain. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

It's Better To Laugh Than To Cry

    Who knew that old, well-used furniture, curtains, fixtures, and our dilapidated house would become "in".  What a bonanza. My ship came in without any effort whatsoever. Thanks Pinterest! 
     I just have to laugh. While the denizens of all things popular in the world of homemaking are having a field day using markers on their too new furniture to "distress" them, I am hugging myself with delight that all of my furniture is already quite distressed. 
    All I have to do now to have the ultimate in shabby chic is to clean it squeaky. Any day now, I expect Better Homes and Gardens to come knocking on my door to do a photo shoot for the magazine. 
     I sure could use some Annie Sloan paint on the kitchen cabinets. On the other hand, around every door and under every pull is an exquisite line of the chic-est of shabby-ness already. Why bother? 
    I fully intend to update my perfect kitchen one of these days with proper lower cabinets. When I paint them, I am going to buy some "un-shabby" oil based paint and do it right, Pinterest notwithstanding!
    I admit though, that I am impressed that we've discovered that the old and even well-used might actually be better than the expensive, cheaply-built new. And now that "anything goes" for decor; I can have the nicest in up-and-coming for pennies. That's a good thing at this house. Looks great on the pictures, too. Easier on grandchildren, too. 
                                           Happy Pinteresting Day to You

Monday, February 15, 2016

Winter Blues and Thankyous

 We are not feeling bluesy really. I am just thinking about the inconveniences of sub-zero weather. There are small annoyances that happen only in mid-winter when the temperatures drop.
   One of those things is static electricity. I walk across the carpet in our bedroom and listen to the snapping. I can feel it grab my skirt and swirl at my feet. I don't like it. We use Bounce dryer sheets with vigilance when we dry our clothes. We mix a solution of softener and water and fill a spray bottle and annoint our skirts a double dose on the ironing board so that we can walk and not get tangled up in yards of clinging fabric.
    Dog hair, lint, hair hair, and fuzz clings to everything fabric. Our veils look terrible on close inspection. 
   I have never seen such a thing but they say that there is danger of igniting a fire at the gas pumps and we're advised about the location of the shut off switch and urged to be aware. 
    The other week, they had a blizzard in Nebraska where Francis and Jenny live. The lightening that they saw during the storm was static electricity, I guess. That about makes my hair stand on end to think of it.
    So it is dry and cold and snappy here in Wisconsin. 
    I am thankful for cedar firewood right now. It crackles and pops beautifully, sending off sprays of sparks behind the glass. Warm, meaningful fires happen quickly when we need them. Elv's hands smell like cedar smoke. I like that.
   I am thankful for a heritage of faith today, too. We had a baptism this morning. Is there any other ceremony that incorporates salvation and eternity and joy all at once? Elv said this morning as his opening remarks that the baptism today is a forever thing.
   I suppose every day has "forever" decisions. It makes you take a second thought, doesn't it?

    When the dirtied snow is tired but still deep and cold; the house plants seem greener and lovelier. We are really enjoying this plant again. It never flowers, it just keep growing these perfect green leaves in ivy and geranium. I don't know why the geranium won't bloom but it makes itself quite useful as greenery.

I am thankful for the light during out short days that the white of the snow gives us. Even inside the deep wells of our stone house windows we have plenty of natural light during the day.
And thankful for quiet hours by the fire in the evening, especially after busy days of work.
   I am thankful for the songs we sing on Sunday morning. I love the old favorite hymns that we've sung for a hundred years yet they're vital and new to my heart each time.  I believe that it is the old and familiar that allows us to get the meat of the message in those songs. There is power in the blood, And whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow, Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. There's soul food on a winter morning for you. And Transformed by grace divine, the glory shall be thine. I am always getting "me" all tangled up in my own supposed victories. I do need this reminder.

I am thankful for Valentine's Day, because Elv and I think about our relationship again. We didn't do flowers and chocolate this year. I told him that his kindness is all the flowers and chocolate that I need. Besides he brings me flowers and chocolates a lot of other times of the year for no reason. Except, of course, that he loves me.
Maybe this is as good a time as any to say thank you to him. I am thankful for my husband's faithfulness and integrity in our marriage. I never worry about him. I don't take it for granted, either. It's a dark and dirty world we live in and I know he makes the right effort for our marriage. I am thankful for the respect and privacy we share and protect for each other when we cause offense to each other. I am no end grateful that Elv doesn't tell the world how awful I am when we hit a bump in our road. To share the blame and the solution in private between us is a wonderful gift of commitment. 

In a few weeks when the sun feels warmer through these windows, the geranium will respond by growing quickly and blooming in reds and whites. It's just above freezing here, but because they're acclimated, they survive. Given a little warmth they'll be lush and blooming in no time.
Must be a lesson in marriage enrichment here, too, since we're on the subject today. Commitment acclimates us to about anything even to a seemingly cold and lusterless relationship. Why not add a little warmth and watch it bloom? I can initiate that all alone. But it helps immensely when two decide to tango.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cabin Weekend Just For the Record

I have an hour here to get this posting accomplished. I have a batch of pictures, and one or two pieces of scribbling. It won't be a beautiful post. It isn't meant to be, either. I just need to get it here for the scrapbook part of this blog.
Please, if you aren't interested in a mishmash of cabin living, stove installation, cats, the north woods, winter, board games, friends, and firewood, this posting isn't for you. Click to a more organized story.
There! You've been warned!
I turned these roses Friday morning. Which is to say that I hung them upside down to dry on an upstairs curtain. Another successful Wal-mart bouquet of roses to enhance our home decor for months to come.
The dear old Jeep is again functional and road worthy. We loaded it with our luggage, food, projects and the hitch haul box, heavy with a stove to install and headed north, late Friday evening. After leaving the main road, we got to the cabin by putting chains on the back tires and then spinning and slewing along through two feet of sugary, fluffy snow. Elv safely ushered our flailing presence through the corridor of tall spruces and brush. It was deeply satisfying and rewarding to land at the front door of the cabin. It would have been a crying shame to have had to sled it all in the last half mile, wouldn’t it?
 We unloaded and got the cookstove fire going for heat. Amy and I fixed beds with clean sheets and piles of blankets by lamp light, first thing. Then while the rest of us hurried off to bed where it was possible to actually get warm, Elv puttered about his stove project till 1:30 in the morning. He was too excited about it to sleep, I guess.

  Our new generator lives in this little shelter next to the outhouse for now. When we are using it, that is. Elv carefully stores it inside the cabin otherwise. It  purrs quietly giving us electricity for hours without ever complaining.    
Grandpa Elv received a letter from grandson Jube.
    He enjoyed your letter so much, Jube. We figured out that you thought of it while you were eating breakfast one morning from the pictures you drew. Your diagram of the volcano was rather interesting, as well as your under water drawings. 
 If you know what you are looking for, you can see that two guys are enjoying the "fireplace" on a very cold morning in Minnesota.
The stove is a nice addition to our little cabin in the north woods. We’ve been heating and cooking with a cookstove during our short weekend stays until now. The cookstove works well for cooking and does eventually warm the whole area downstairs and even the sleeping rooms overhead. But having a fireplace (wood stove with glass in the door/screen) facing our comfy couches and stuffed chairs is nicer.
            The two stoves stand back to back in the middle of our open plan space of kitchen, dining, and sitting room areas. The cookstove serves the kitchen side, the heating stove the living room side of things. It is a good arrangement even though the instruction manuals say that the shared chimney idea is a poor one. We’re proving that it can be done, safely and conveniently. It saves expensive pipe and space. Right now, the two stoves stand on raw cement board with nothing decorative or finished about it.The stove pipes, like two arms of an octopus reach from stoves to the ceiling, black and curved at odd angles.
There is a plan to have a hearth on the living room side of field stone or brick that starts at the front of the stove on the floor, spans the space to the wall behind the stove, and up the wall to the mantel piece somewhere just above the highest part of the cookstove. And a hearth for a nestling space for the cookstove, as well, on the other side. The hearths back to back should form one wall with in which the two pipes will be merged into the one chimney. Should be a piece of cake. We've been thinking this over for a long time.
Brad and Tim decided to go snowshoeing on Monday morning. It was cold, hard work and Brad came back quite satisfied with sitting by the fire for awhile. 
We have been playing Catan lately when we have a free evening. It has been a long time coming; but this old lady finally figured that she might as well learn how to play. I enjoy playing games around the coffee table with my family, and if they won't play scrabble; then I am going to have to be content with Catan. I'm still trying to figure out how much of winning is luck and how much is skill. I haven't had much of either commodity to date.
Sunday, after church, this happy group of people played Monopoly. It took hours, literally, till it was down to Elv and Tim and Gideon. Tim made the mistake of hitting Elv's boardwalk twice. Elv won the game again. He says that that Tim knows how to play the game well. High praise there, Tim.
Meet Mr. Collins. Yes, the name comes from that genteel personage in Pride and Prejudice. Glad you asked. He presided over our scrapbooking from the heights of Susan's paper files.

Yes, right there behind her left shoulder. She will not be happy that I put this picture here, but how else am I gonna get her back for it?!
Actually, Mr. Collins behaves himself just fine if you don't mind cats. Which I don't, as long as they're in her house, and not in mine.  We scrapbooked for hours together over the weekend. You won't know what that means unless I tell you that it involves long tables set up and our equipment: computers and cricuts,and papers and tools all spread out upon them.With the girls' projects added in we have quite an array. We have visit time and snacks and laughter not to mention the results of our efforts in the end.

I read Myra Scovel's Chinese Ginger Jars over the weekend, as well. I had started Mom Graber's copy when we were down there but left hers there knowing I had my own at the cabin. Scovel's writing prowess is part of the attraction for me, but so is her story of raising a family and being her doctor husband's help suitable for him.  They were there in China during WWII when the Communists took over. Her stories are full of the miracles of Jesus in their extraordinary lives during those days. 

Here you go, Rosie. I know you want to see this. Hope it helps. I also wish to post these pictures because it's our record. All the unfinished splendor thereof for my blogworld to see. Nothing to be proud of, really. But we love this spot and are enjoying the challenge of the journey of doing the finish work. 

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