Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Little Spring in our Step

Spring is finally coming to Northern Michigan and while we have had warm days, today as I sit here typing, I am freezing.  It hasn't been warm enough for our house to retain the heat, and without a wood fire going it feels like it's 40 degrees in here.  Forty is warm for outside, but inside I need some heat.

Yes!  We have ducks, two to be exact.  They are Pekin and since that photo was taken they have tripled in size, and I think the photo is only two weeks old.  They are so cute!  We love them.  They are mostly white now and have almost all their feathers.  They don't have names yet because we are waiting to see if we have drakes or hens.  Yep, we're waiting to see if the tail feathers curl, from what I read that's the main way to tell if it's a drake.  We're building a duck pen in the barn.  The inside portion only needs a few finishing touches to make it cozy and then it's on to the outside pen.  Can't wait for it to be done because while the ducks are cute, their cuteness doesn't cover their odor.  Their pen, which is in our breezeway, is cleaned every day but ducks are messy as they LOVE water and things get smelly quickly.  Also sharing our breezeway are six chicks who are rapidly growing out of their brooder.  As soon as the ducks are settled in their new home, we'll move our two adult hens out of the chicken coop and move the growing chicks into it.  Once the chicks are large enough to handle the hens, they'll all be put together as one big happy family.  We hope.  At least that's what we're going for.

The crocuses are in bloom and the forsythia is budding.  Happy.  Happy.  But on a sad note, a robin flew into a basement window and died.  I didn't know he was laying on the ground and I came out the basement door with a load of wet laundry to hang on the clothesline, and I stepped on him.  Eww.  It freaked me out and I don't think I put all my weight on him but if he wasn't dead before . . . well, I'll just say that I was glad to find out that he was actually stiff, so there's no question in my mind, I didn't kill him. If that's the worse thing that happens this week, life is really good.

 Thanks for stopping by.


Monday, March 23, 2015

So Long Three Syllable Words - True Story

The other day I was working at Menard's with my young co-worker.  A guest asked my co-worker if we still had artwork for sale, "Something big, you know, about three foot or so to hang on the wall behind the davenport."  My much younger co-worker was completely stumped and turned to me for help.  I located the artwork for the guest and his wife.  When I came back I told my extremely young co-worker where the artwork was now located.  She just looked at me and said, "What on earth is a davenport!?  I had no idea what that guy was even talking about!"

A frown creased my brow.  Really?  Dear reader, please tell me that you know what a davenport is.

I explained to my adolescent co-worker that it was another word for couch or sofa.  She just looked at me and said something like, 'Geesh, I use the word sofa when I want to talk fancy about a couch.  Why use three words? dav in port?"

I said, "Well, it's one word.  Say it fast, davenport"

She said, "Nope, too long.  I'll stick with couch and sofa."


I grew up with the word davenport.  My great-grandparents used it all the time.  Oh.  My great-grandparents.  Maybe that's why my teenage co-worker wasn't familiar with the word.  I am, after all, a generation older than her, and I learned the word from someone three generations older than me.  I left work that day feeling slightly old and depressed.

Later, I asked my oldest daughter, who is the same age as my juvenile co-worker, if she knew what a davenport was.  She said, "It's a college."  Why yes it is, but I'm talking about a thing, not a place.  "Nope, she says, No clue."

I explained to her what it was and she looked at me and asked why we needed another word to say couch, "Isn't sofa fancy enough?  And it's really long."

And there you have it.  Our younger generation throwing away a perfectly good three syllable word simply because its too long, choosing to use only the short and convenient.

It saddens me that once I die, "davenport" may never be used again.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Simple Pleasures

The odd places I find joy -

*  a friendly hen peeking out at me from her coop.
*  the curious greeting from the girls as they wonder if I've brought them a treat.  I haven't so they go back to what they were doing.
*  the dripping sap into my bucket.  I can already smell the syrup as it cooks down.  We're not even close to having enough sap to light a fire but there's nothing better than that smell, it's sweetness literally hangs in the air.
*  watching my dog as he travels the sap trail with me.  He's always up for keeping me company no matter where I go.  
*  wondering what is going through Max's mind when he buries his head in the snow.  I'm sure it's just a simple pleasure for him, kinda like walking in the warm sun without a hat is for me.

Thanks for stopping by, now go enjoy something.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Month Without Lights, Sort of

Hi Everyone!

For the friends and family on Facebook with me, I had announced in early February that we (my little family) were going without lights for the month.  Not electricity in general, just the lights.  As you can expect, I got a few comments.

Ah, my dad, if he reads this blog post I'll be getting a great big "I told you so!".  But I'll get to that later.

Our month without lights was interesting and kinda hard.  The candles and kerosene lanterns were nice and offered a beautiful glow but it was nearly impossible to do any activity at night.  For instance, I couldn't see to read unless I wore my head lamp, which gave me a headache and blinded anyone I raised my head to talk to.  I had a 1,000 piece puzzle going and there was no working on it in the evenings because all the pieces took on the same shade of brown. This is why (Cathy dear) it took me the whole month to finish it.  

I learned very quickly that day light hours were for the work that could not be done very well by candle light.  Which means that I did more dishes during this trial than I've done in a while.  That particular job belongs to my daughter but it was better for her to do her homework before darkness fell.  Besides, her doing dishes by candlelight left a lot to be desired, and a lot of food still on the dishes.  I didn't pick up any crocheting for the whole month either.  I have this problem where I feel guilty if I do things I enjoy during the day instead of my housecleaning and other chores, which is really misleading because by my saying this you might be tempted to think that, "oh, this girl's house must be really clean."  Which is not correct.  At all.  In fact, it's funny.  I digress. .  .

I was emphatic that the kerosene lanterns not be carried around so we found stationary places for them in what we hoped would be strategic light-filling places.  We had two on our mantel, and two mounted to the wall.  (Yes, dad put the fear in me of our house burning down which is good as you can never be too careful about some things.)  We did have a scare one night when one glass chimney shattered.  Yikes!! Everything was okay and once our heart rates returned to normal, we turned on the lights to clean up all the glass.  I had another "yikes" moment when I was lighting the lanterns one evening and thought it was funny that one chimney felt warm when I took it off.  Upon raising the wick I saw why, the flame hadn't been extinguished.  When my husband turned down the wicks the night before this one hadn't gone completely out.  So it had been burning all day.  

It was understood between my husband and I that I would be allowed to cheat and use the electric lights in the mornings.  Cheat is really too strong a word, I mean everyone in the family did know that I would be doing this.  It was understood.  Beforehand.  And it's really only fair since I get up before everyone, 3:45 a.m. before everyone.  Being a 40 something with really bad eyesight makes getting around at that time of day hard enough with electricity, for some reason my eyes just don't want to cooperate first thing.  And I really didn't want to have to mess with lanterns and flashlights and wonder if that big dark spot on the floor was a spider or dog hair.  You know?  Let's just take the guess work out of it.  Plus, I really like using the outside light when I have to go out to start the van.  I'm sure all of you understand.  

So now that our grand experiment is over, I've come to the conclusion that I like electricity.  I enjoy lights.  Candles and lanterns are nice for the occasional romantic dinner, or camping trip but night after night of it just seemed so limiting.  Perhaps if I had tried this when I was younger maybe then I would have taken to it wholeheartedly.  I still have occasions where I dream of a life off grid.  A life where we scratch out our own living without modern conveniences.  But this small, small taste of it was eye opening.  I mean they're called modern conveniences for a reason.   

If you're wondering if there a difference in the amount of our kilowatt  usage, the answer is not much.  I can track my usage with my electric company online. They bill from the 28th to the 28th.  So for January 28, 2015 to February 28, 2015 our usage was 1,009.33 kilowatts.  For the month prior, December 28, 2014 to January 28, 2015 our usage was 1,089.73 kilowatts.  And for last year, January 28, 2014 to February 28, 2014 our usage was 1,098.93 kilowatts.  So we did use about 80 kilowatts less than the prior month and about 90 kilowatts less than a year ago.  And it has to be taken into consideration that February 2015 was the coldest out of the three months I compared.  I knew my dad was right when he said that lights would make very little difference in our electric bill, but I still had hoped to see a bigger drop.  He was also right that my dryer uses a lot of kilowatts.  I usually don't do laundry on the weekends and there is a significant drop in usage on Saturdays and Sundays.  I think I'm going to have to look into using a clothesline in the winter.  I guess I still have a little pioneer spirit.  

Thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It just flew by!

Summer.  I'm talking about summer in the title.  I don't know how it manages to get past me so quickly.  Each spring I vow to treasure summer, to  s  l  o  w  it down and enjoy every. single. day.  But, it squirms out of my grasp like the not quite tame barn kitten who incidentally is closer to being a cat now that summer has taken it's cute fur-ball-ness and left the building.  I think I'm a little bitter now that I find myself on the other side of Labor Day.  At least the weather has been perfectly beautiful.  So why am I in here writing a blog post?  I don't know.  It's been on my list of "to dos" for quite some time, as you can see from the photos I've downloaded.  Most are from my garden back in late July, except for the dill, that's fairly recent.  My beans and peas are done and gone now.  I'm picking the last of the tomatoes today.  Anything left of those and the zucchini will go to the chickens now.  The photo with the tree lined road is my Youker Road.  And the final two photos are of the finished afghan that I wrote about way back here.

I love dill.

Up close it looks a little alien.

This was back when the zucchini were manageable.

I spy a lamb.
(tilt your head if you can't see it)

My Youker Road

Thanks for stopping by,