Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I have pictures of my kids I want to post, but don't know what to say. Don't know what to say? That's not like me when it comes to writing ... But all I have to do is start writing and it'll flow. It is close to bedtime, but in cleaning up my computer's desktop for traveling (I take my Macbook most places with me), I've had these pictures ready to post for awhile.

Traveling? Monte and me are leaving in the morning. For years I've wanted to go to the Taos Wool Festival. We're going along with dear old friends (double meaning there: they are old friends and we are getting older!). Jim was one of Monte's roommates before we all got married, maybe his last one, before me. The last couple roommates readied that barbaric house for me, which has it's strange stories. (Some time I need to reminisce more with stories.) Marty was one of our witnesses when Monte and me eloped - good someone's around to prove we were married! Jim and Marty married soon after us. (I'd post pics of them too, but I packed away my Lacey hard-drive where all my photos are since they take up so much room on my computer). The Johnson's live an hour away. I'll report on the wool festival.

The first picture is of Heather and her Bill at a Military Ball soon after they were married. It's a nice picture of them I love, and the beginning of a new life for them. Just seeing her dressed up like this is so different from her typical country western wear. So this picture was probably taken almost 1 1/2 years ago. Her long blond hair is pulled back, and look at those glowing smiles!

The picture of Travis and Sarah I pulled from Trav's facebook album of recent pictures at Sarah's family reunion in Kansas. It's so cute of them, I love it. See her growing pregnant belly? what she's calling her little rutabaga. It's a big, active boy, due in January. They are naming him Emery Revere Swan (Emery after Monte's dad, and Revere is from Sarah's side).

I guess the picture of Dawson and Splarah is from Dawson's facebook photos. I love this picture too. It is 'Splarah' - her license plate says so. They've been good friends since they were little. In college now, they're still good friends and very close. If she joins our family some day, she's got to remain Splarah cuz it's too difficult when we're all together and there's already a Sarah (her friends of old gave her the nic-name).

Our grown kids are our best friends. Now Grandkids are coming. We're enjoying this season of life.

Family faces are magic mirrors looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future.
-- Gail Lumet Buckley

... families are like potatoes. The best parts are underground.
-- Francis Bacon

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.
-- Desmond Tutu

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Words and Nerds

Am I a geek or a nerd? What's the difference? I think I'm a nerd.

I wasn't feeling so well (or good?) yesterday so I was laying prone or prostrate (hmm, both those word's definitions say "laying face downward" - forget that) on the couch most of the day tho (though) I did get up to put wood in the stove since it was cloudy and raining/slushing/snowing off-and-on all day (maybe three days of gray [or is it grey - what do you use?] are getting to me!). I guess I was under the weather!

So what did I do all day? I've had this list I've developed of apps people like for their iPhone. I researched them and downloaded what I thought I'd use.

Words again ... when do we use the word download vs upload?

I'm hooked! I spent the rest of the evening into night playing Boggle on my iPhone and this morning I inputted what I ate: for tracking food calories, fat ... nutrients, and exercise. I can file any notes, help with grocery or any other lists, look for recipe ideas including my own I've input into a recipe box for when I'm not at home, identify flowers, birds, and stars, read various Bible translations, and secure important data and passwords, listen to the radio or NPR ... how's about Scrabble?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happenings including Zucchini

Heather and Will are gone. Monte drove them home over the weekend. Now he's on to Houston for some meetings. I've got computer editing and art work to do, so missing them won't be so bad. I did hear a bit of music the other morning that reminded me of one of Will's toys and had to remind myself they're not here.

Dawson and friends started logging our woods this past weekend. There's lots of dead trees to cut down, especially the aspen, before they drop their leaves and then we don't know which are dead. I prefer burning aspen in the stove over pine, it burns hotter. We don't have hardwood in our woods. The aspen were just starting to show tinges of yellow for their Fall color. Don't know what this heavy snow will do - maybe break some branches and just turn the leaves brown.

I cleaned the front porch of summer wind debris and made room for the chopped wood, moving furniture around. Our front porch gets the brunt of the wind and on the north side of the house, so total shade. Monte had made me window boxes years ago, but I gave up on real plants. So Saturday I changed out the summer fake flowers to fall's (click here to see a picture). Dawson brought a load of wood into the house, which I'm burning today. "Why" you might ask? Because it's snowing! Arghhhhhh...!!!!!!

I have been afraid to look at the ten-day weather forecast knowing our first frost was coming any day now ... but several inches of heavy snow?! It was close to 80 degrees 24 hours before, so it's melting as fast as it's coming down, I'm sure. Since I've not had a Monet wildflower garden before I don't know how many of the flowers are tender and will die. I was SO enjoying them! Saturday I put the potted plants I wanted to save in the greenhouse where they'll stay now all winter. Sunday I picked all the squash and beans, should have pulled all the basil ... can I make pesto from frozen basil? (I have a friend I can get some basil from - mine were so small - cool summer - and still have pesto in freezer from last year.) I covered some of my tomato plants. We'll see.

AND we did have a bear again - got into the bird feeders twice last week. How, with the electric fence? At first we thought it walked over the long front porch to the back. But no, the second day, Monte noticed the back wires next to the house spread apart. We didn't finish the split-rail fence there cuz we're going to do a gate. And would a little prick of pain, maybe like a mosquito bite, hurt a thick-haired bear? Probably not. Monte put up more boards and wire and wrapped some wires with bacon. That ought to hurt - so, Yes to pain and no gain (I hope)!

I started a big batch of sourdough starter today for making zucchini bread tomorrow. The recipe from the book Nourishing Traditions calls for 2 cups buttermilk to 3 cups flour (I ground kamut) to sit for up to 24 hours before making the bread. It's a master recipe for banana, apricot almond, or ... Having made it once before, I'm going to add a bit more maple syrup since zucchini is not sweet like bananas.

I went to our local health food store on my way to pick up our weekly farm share this late afternoon (snowing cats and dogs - ugghh) to get more eggs and buttermilk and they had some unhomogenized milk, so I've got it warming by the stove to make my own cultured buttermilk. It's got to set out at room temp for about 18 hours. This is an experiment from the Milk book I wrote about not long ago - I've not done it before, tho I make yogurt all the time.

I've already froze a lot of Zucchini, Potato, Onion soup (click to see the recipe). We really do like it reheated over winter. I've grated zucchini and froze it before, but found I don't use it, so prefer the soup and bread. Monte likes to dry slices of the bread, I like slices heated with thin sliced cheese on it.

Supposed to be back close to 80 again by Friday. Should I report on what survived? Now it'll be Indian Summer and Heather and Will will return around Thanksgiving for the Holidays. Dawson's hating his homework this semester. It's the Jewish Rosh Hashanah's High Holy Days and our church is celebrating it this year - a first, and I'm loving, living it!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Will movie

Dawson showed me how to make my movies smaller size. It emailed to Bill and now I'm going to try again posting it here - of Will learning to eat solid? food! I'm doing most of the talking and Will reaches for the camera.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Heather and Will

Little Will has just started eating solid foods. I've been taking short movie's of him. So since I was able to post one of my movies this morning I'm going to try another tonight of Will eating. I've not been able to email them to his dad who's in Iraq, so maybe Bill can see them here. And I've got one more week to capture things before Monte drives them back to Texas for a couple months.

I want to capture him saying "Dadadada..." and giggling ... He's quite the thinker. He watches our mouths making sounds and we can see his mouth trying to copy the same motions. Will's 7 months old now.

I give up ... for now ... it's taking too long to upload. I think I've got to figure out how to post to uTube first, cuz their videos are longer and yet upload ok.

Fruit Flies

Monte's been asking me questions - so I've been researching. He's been so tired of fruit flies and trying to attract them to get rid of them. I tell him every end of summer harvest brings fruit flies. This year's infestation came with peaches.

Question 1: "How can we trap them?"

Putting old fruit in a container and then trying to lid it and take them out, doesn't work. If you'll notice, they tend to walk around the rim of the container most of the time and once the lid comes close, they fly away. I had put a small bit of wine in a glass close by for him to see that some will go there and drown. But the BEST trap I found is to put plastic wrap tightly over a bowl with some fruit in it and poke fork holes. It's amazing how many get trapped in one day! and the sound when you get close is eerie! He empties it each day in the compost and starts over.

Question 2: "What's their life cycle? Are we just breeding them?"

Years ago when schooling the kids we did do a fruit fly experiment, but I forget the facts. I knew they have a short life span, but didn't think they grow overnight! I LOVE the internet! Diagrams, facts, tips, videos, virtual tours ... I took a movie with my little cannon elf. This is the first time trying to post my own movies! You'll notice the flies still walking the edge, so they never get back to the holes to fly out.

Some years I get soil gnats in my house plants which seem similar, but are another beast.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Domestic Books

I have two books from the library (actually ... I always have more - got audio books, and some garden books, and some DVDs)(found out once that our library limit of books-per-person is 100! "One hundred!" you might exclaim. "Yes." When leaving on a road trip, little Dawson cleaned the shelves of wild animal kid books and the librarian said, "I can't check out any more since you've come to 100" [we had some at home all ready].) One of the books I had out last fall and bought one for a Christmas present, but wanted to read some things in it again. Monte and me, while driving around Wisconsin last fall heard the author interviewed, which is why I got the book. It's called: Milk - The Surprising Story of Milk through the Ages with 120 adventurous Recipes that Explore the riches of our First Food, by Anne Mendelson.

Since I've been making soured milk/ buttermilk sourdough breads I'm wondering about making cultured buttermilk like I regularly make yogurt. And yes, it can be done. If the buttermilk says it has "live cultures" and no added gums or stabilizers, it can culture milk just like you would make yogurt, tho sitting out at room temperature for 12-18 hours. Of course REAL buttermilk comes from the process of beating cream to make butter and draining off the liquid which is buttermilk.

The other book I have, as I'm sitting outside on my pergola, is The Gentle Art of Domesticity - Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art & the Comforts of Home, by Jane Brocket, who lives in England. As a back of the book quote says, it's "A deliciously charming book crammed with garden plants, cookery, chickens, childen and all life's good things ... presented with wit and articulation." It truly is lovely, full of beautifully colored pictures and great thoughts. Like "Domesticity, not domestication", "The gentleness of the gentle arts", "The art of the possible", and "Yarnstorm". She knits, quilts, creatively bakes (or "Bizarre baking"), reads inspiring books ("The domestic library"), tells stories (like "Peas peace and laughter"). Thank you Kaye for thinking I'd like this book - I DO!

And oh ... I forgot ... I do have another book from the library I've been reading at night (finished it last night). It was recommended by one of my blog friends - Debbie from California: Clementine in the Kitchen by Samuel Chamberlain (Phineas Beck). The Beck family were living in France and Clementine was their cook. When Phineas's company called them home because of WWII rumors, Clementine wanted to go with them (so she could go to the movie theaters a lot). It's a delightful read, with spatterings of French, as he tells of Clementine's recipes and her excursions into the Boston countryside markets for food for her recipes (she can't speak English). If I had a pear fruit tree I'd like to try growing a pear in a bottle and preserving it in brandy as a table decor, which is what Clementine's father did. It was fun to experience with her, her first taste of a barbecued hot dog and beer in a paper cup, and her dislike of American's ice water at meals.

I do love books! as you'd discover if you visited us and saw all the built in bookshelves in just about every room (let me think ... Yes, every room in our home has built in bookshelves, except one of the bathrooms and laundry room ... but books are still sitting in those rooms too).

Monday, September 7, 2009

Velveteen House Again

It's Labor Day and I just looked at the past two September postings and see that I said nothing about Labor Day. I'm needing to start working on editing my next book to be published, which is Cycle of Celebrations - Remembering God-in-Our-Midst. I'll be beginning the book's calendar year in September because of the Jewish Fall Festivals' New Year beginning around September, and that's always been more of a New Year rhythm for me to. But I'm beginning the book with talking about Sabbath and connecting it with Labor Day weekend, analyzing labor in connection with Creation and God working six days and asking us to have a seventh day rest. The center of my circular calendar I drew has Sabbath in the center. I'll post more about it later ... got to give it more thought and time in crafting what I write.

BUT ... I saw that my first Velveteen House post (another link to a more recent post) was in September 2007 and I've carried that theme occasionally throughout my blog. I copied a post below from 2007, because I thought it good, and I don't know how many people actually click on my sidebar months to see what calendar stuff I posted previously. Some things I've edited more and carried on to the current year's months, but not all!

The past weeks have been a continual flow of people and our Velveteen House has more memories bouncing off the walls and more nicks, scratches and bruises, as well as well-worn, loved places. I won't even begin to name names of visitors in case I miss and offend one. But very old friends, and more recent old friends, as well as varying groups of geologists and young people have passed through the door, made use of the whole house as well as the out-of-doors since it's the beautiful summer weather season. And Travis and Sarah have come and gone with young married friends and their little kiddos. Heather with Will are still living here, but soon to go home.

I've got to go fold the last air mattress still in Monte's office and put it away. Leftovers in the fridge are almost used up. I think things are going to quiet down now. School has started, yet I no longer have kids to school. The hummingbirds will start leaving after this weekend, then the bluebirds and robins ... We could get our first frost anytime now, but then Indian Summer till the end of October or into November (but I read a wet, cold winter is forecast for us ... we'll see). The above picture is of my wildflower area that I've striven for for years, and this year it worked! Now it should be permanent as some are perennials and others reseed.

Other than looking at Dawson's computer to see if he downloaded this weekend's photos yet, I've been getting my photoblog caught up. I've got to put together pictures on a memory stick for Heather to take home with her and put on her computer for her to start scrapbooking. I'm meeting more and more people who are making digital scrapbooks ... are you?

Now for the older post on this season of life - but moreso during school breaks now. Otherwise, it's just Monte and me ... which we're loving.

Finding the Sacred in Home

My latest stage of life has been with teenagers. Everyone makes messes, kids make messes; relationships are messy. Messes of teens differ from those of younger kids--they make their messes late at night, when I don't want to be up or in the kitchen.

We've made an agreement--that they attempt to clean up after themselves. I like clean counter-tops, but they can leave their dishes in the sink. So in the morning I'm a sleuth, trying to guess what they ate the night before.

Over the years I've really tried hard to stop a moment and think before reacting. It's not been easy because my first instinct is to respond negatively! Everyday I'm faced with choices: am I going to react negatively to the demands made on me, or am I going to choose to respond in a way that could bring more fun and joy and meaning to me and those around me?

I could approach the morning mess with grumbling, but I've taken on the attitude that each second of life is a miracle. So the dishes themselves and the fact that I'm cleaning them are miracles. How?

I have a wonderful home that people seem to want to hang out at. These teens have had their licenses for a couple years now and could be driving elsewhere (which they do), but they always return to our house. They are coming and going into the night. I don't always know who's been here, or who might be asleep on the couch when I come down in the morning. They like our home.

This attitude choice reminds me of Mary, Martha and Jesus. In sitting with this scripture in Luke 10:38-42, two things touch me: "Martha welcomed him into her house." Jesus returns to Martha's home often 'to hang out'. There must be a homey feeling about the place--good hospitality (notice 'hospital' in the word? I think of health-care and nurturing).

We typically hear about Mary's choosing to sit at Jesus' feet, and that's a good choice. Yet Jesus didn't tell Martha to stop her home-keeping and sit at his feet, but he did reprimand her for her attitude, telling her that she was "anxious and troubled". She was too 'self-preoccupied,' maybe self-pity, and therefore not present to Jesus in her doings.

In the quotidian of my daily doings there is the opportunity to be fully God-conscious, bringing joy to the mundane rhythms of life. Each morning, is a new day, to choose to love God--who desires to be present to me in all I do. In the repetitive mindless activities, God invites me to play. It is in the routine and the everyday that I find the possibilities for the greatest transformation. Done in a different spirit, what I think I'm only 'getting through' has the power to change me.


"The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days.
O may thy house be my abode
And all my work be praise."
- Isaac Watts (Ps 23:6)

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble"
- Helen Keller

"Oi-i-i-i! Mrs. Preston! You make the lowest nobody feel he's somebody."
"You're not a 'nobody,' Hannah Hayyeh. You're an artist--an artist laundress."
"What mean you an artist?"
"An artist is so filled with love for the beautiful that he has to express it in some way. You express it in your washing just as a painter paints it in a picture."
-Anzia Yezierska "Artist" (short story)
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