Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Week in Review

So Christmas is over, New Year's is upon us.  Everything was good.  We celebrated Christmas with 2 of the kids who were with us from the Eve until Friday.  Saturday we left for son and fiancé's down in the 'burbs of Minneapolis.

It was going to be the highlight of the season because our granddaughter was home on leave.  We had a great time!  And soooo happy to see her!  I took dinner down with us to alleviate the stress somewhat for them.  Two of our son's friends stopped by to visit and eat; granddaughter's BFF was visiting her and stayed overnight.

Around 11:00 pm, we got around to opening gifts.  Everyone enjoyed their presents.  Lots of "oohhs" and "ahhhhs"; lots of handmade gifts.

Saturday was a gorgeous day....lots of sunshine and temp in the low 4o's.  Happy weather!   But by late evening, there was a shift in the wind.  And we got a lot of wind!  Temps started plunging, and by the time we were heading off to bed, it was downright frigid!

Sunday proved the weatherman correct....below 0 temp with a double below 0 windchill.  And it never let up.

But not to worry (or try not to) because we had our new furnace at home.  The water pipes should be just fine.

It was a "hairy" ride home, those 3 hours and some.  Arctic temps, winds, a bit of snow blowing into white outs on the highway.  So we finally arrive, grab some things to take into the house, turn on the water right away......no......water.   Oh my God!!  BH proceeds to take the closet apart....because that's how we get to the water heater.  I'm opening the bottom cupboard doors in the kitchen, moving the infrared heater next to it.  BH gets out the hair dryer....because that's how we thaw out the frozen elbow at the water heater.

After a few minutes, he says "wait....there's no cold water?  The pipes aren't frozen inside the house....it's outside where the main line comes into the kitchen".

Soooo.......on with the boots, gloves, hat, Carhart jacket...and off he goes.  Only....the trap door is frozen shut, there's 2 feet of snow in front of it that needs to be shoveled away.  And the 2 huge rocks in front of the traps door that need to be moved, are frozen in the ground.  He now goes to the shed to get a hammer.

He'll need the hair dryer outside, so....the extension cord to the deck lights gets disconnected to be used on the other side of the house.  Only....most of the cord is on a reel.....which is frozen....so that needs to be brought in the house to warm and thaw.

After shoveling the snow away and much hammering on the rocks, he manages to gain access to the water line. 

An hour later, a few breaks to warm up in the house and a bit of trouble getting the hair dryer to work....success!  We have water!

What the hell did we bother with a new furnace for??  Well, actually, all the pipes in the house were warm and as it turns out, the freeze-up was outside.  It seems that even with warmth inside, if you have no basement, just crawl space under your home and if water isn't being used for 2 days in arctic, sub-zero temps..the outside line will freeze.

Remember.....you heard it here first.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

What To Do......What To Do.......


As I sit here, mentally tapping my fingers on a table top, I'm thinking what can I do now?

It's 2 days before Christmas.  All is done.  Well....almost.  Today I will bring out all the gifts from the spare bedroom and place them under the tree, then clean the bedroom.  Easy enough.   Box up all the ones that are going to son's next week.  Easy peasy.  And a couple loads of wash.  No sweat.

Chicken soup is on the menu for today.  Gotta get that started later this morning.  It will also be on the menu for Christmas Eve dinner along with roast beef sandwiches, shrimp cocktail, potato salad, assorted veggies, pickles and olives.  For many years, after all of kids were grown and gone, my mom would fix roast beef sandwiches and shrimp cocktail for her and my dad.  Sometimes my sister would stop in and join them before they headed out for Midnight Mass.

Do any churches still have Midnight Mass?  I don't know.  But that is a memory of Christmas that is still with me.  I, long ago, switched from Roman Catholic to Lutheran.  Lutherans do not have Midnight Mass.  That's a shame.

I make special cookies every year to give to the kids as part of their Christmas presents.  I have each one's nicely packed in aluminum cake pans with lids.  Their names on the lids...because some of them have certain favorites, so more of those cookies are added.  However.....I've been craving the cut-out cookies each morning.  So.....I've been raiding one kid's pan.  I think it's down to 2 of those cookies left.  I hope I remember to replace them before we take them to him.

Oh, there's more cookies stored away for our home.  But they're out in the van....which we use for kind of a "walk-in freezer" during the winter.  Good thing we live in northern Minnesota!  We also have 2 picnic coolers on the deck..."mini freezers", if you will.....loaded with breads.  For more gifts.  We have 2 regular size freezers in the house, one upright, one chest.  These, too, are loaded with not just our monthly food supply, but more breads, cookies, fudge and candies.

We got and email from almost daughter-in-law with pictures of granddaughter.  She came in last night!  She posted a message on FB that she flew First Class thanks to a wonderful woman at the airport.  Granddaughter had to travel in her Army fatigues.  Thank you to that woman...you made granddaughter's trip even more special!

So....I want to make something to take to son/fiancé's next week for dinner.  Then they won't have to spend the whole day preparing a meal.  I think the chicken soup will go; there may be enough roast beef and turkey breast (Deli) and cheeses left; I could probably whip up a Pasta Salad; there's assorted tub cheeses, pepperoni and crackers; I'm going to make a new recipe....."Turtle Cake".....chocolate, caramel and nuts...yum!  A new recipe called "Crab Rangoon"....a hot cheesy dip for crackers.  And I found a recipe for Honey Nut twist pastries that seems very easy.  It uses the store-bought crescent rolls.  I think I'll try those, too, for a breakfast while we're visiting.

Let's see.....that'll be HUGE boxes and boxes packed with gifts; our duffel bag; boxes and coolers packed with food....we have a mid-size care......geezzz...we might have to empty out the "walk-in freezer" so we can drive it to the Cities!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone.  May the holidays bring you health, happiness, peace and the promise of better times.

It's been very busy here.  Finally, everything is done.....except for a little cooking and maybe a couple of things to bake. 

But the gifts are all wrapped; the tree is up and decorated; the lights and decorations are all about; cards and Christmas letters have been sent.

Our beautiful granddaughter will be coming home on leave for 12 days.  I can't wait to see her!!!  Have a bunch of special gifts for her.

So, we're planning on going down to son's house Saturday after Christmas and spending a few days with him, fiancé, and granddaughter.

Since son's fiancé has been in the final throws of studying for exams for her RN degree, they haven't gotten it all together for Christmas.  She graduates today!!!  So this will give them a few days to get prepared.  Granddaughter flies in Saturday night before Christmas and she will be staying with them until she goes back to the Army base Jan. 2.

This has been a bad year for me, emotionally.  I don't know why, but my sister told me a few months ago that she's been going through the same thing.  She suggested that it could be because our parents' house was finally sold (to our brother) after 2 years of jumping through hoops and a lot of frustration.  It's a done deal.  Is that the reason for this emptiness?  A feeling of loss?  Of heartache?  Maybe so.  All I know is, I miss my mother and father more this year than in the past 3 years.  I think of them every minute of every day and even imagine what it would be like if my mom was living here with us at this moment.  My dad passed away 6 months before her.

The memories of Christmases past have been flooding my heart and mind these few weeks.  Memories from being a kid, to my kids being small, to just a few years ago when mom and pop were still with us.

When my dad passed away, I was returned his pocket watch that I bought him for Christmas over 30 years ago.  He was a railroad engineer.  The watch had an engine engraved on the back of it.  I had a leather pouch made for it with his initials burned on the back of the pouch.  He wore it to work every day.  I was so proud of that watch.

Somewhere along the way, the watch stopped working.  Because he was retiring, it was never repaired.  Until this Christmas.  I took it to the jeweler.  The intention was to gift it to my oldest son, who loved my father so much and I know still misses him terribly to this day.

The watch was repaired.  I wrote a note to my son to say I hope he will use the watch and remember Grandpa, who loved him more than he could know and more than he could even show.  I also found a beautiful snapshot of my son and dad together, taken 13 years ago.  I bought a beautiful frame for it and sent it along with the watch.

My sister asked me a few weeks ago if I thought my son would like the flag that was presented to my mother at Pop's  funeral.  Of course he would!  She's giving that to him for Christmas.  BH and I bought the triangular case for it, and he will receive that also.

For all his life, but more so over the last 10 years or so, my son has been my dad's right-hand man.  Something needed to be repaired in the house.....call John.   The van needed to be fixed.....call John.  They needed a ride somewhere, or be picked up from somewhere....call John.  Snowplow the driveway....John showed up at first daylight, no call needed.   And he was always there.  He even did things for them they never expected.  Like, my father telling him that it was very cold in the bathroom; made him get chilled after a shower; never seemed to be warm.  The next day, John went out and bought a wall heater and installed it in their bathroom.  My father was soooo happy.  And John would take no money for it.. it was his gift to them.

When my dad died, my mother relied on John for everything.  She even had him go over the insurance policies, deposit the checks in her account, add them up and tell her how much she had in her bank account.  He would go over there every morning before work, bringing her a gourmet coffee and doughnuts or sweet rolls.....my mother's favorite things!

When she became very ill the last month of her life and had to live with my sister, John went over every morning to stay with her while my sister was at work.  He brought her meals, carried her to the bathroom, took her to the doctor.

I don't know what possessed me to go on like this.  Except to say that I have a son who has been a gift from God for me and all the family.  I feel I could never do enough to show him how much I love him and how much he is appreciated.  When family members say to me..."that John!  Where did he come from....he is a Godsend!", my heart just bursts with pride.  He can do anything and he is meticulous about his handiwork.  Never refuses anyone; he has a heart of gold.  He is my angel.  And being 1200 miles away from him is sometimes almost more than I can bear.

He has been our gift that just keeps on giving.  Christmas is the time I can give a little back to him.