Friday, January 31, 2014

How High's the Propane, Mama

(A take on a Johnny Cash song), but really.....$4.69/gallon and rising.  Last week it was near $3.00.  I ask BH  "isn't this price gouging??...and isn't that against the law??"

He checks our tank every other day.  So far we're doing ok.  Provided the "Polar Vortex" doesn't last into April.  Fingers crossed.  It's Minnesota, after all.

It figures, doesn't it....our first year with a furnace and we have unending days and nights with the coldest temps in over 30 years.  Murphy, you son-of-a-gun.

Well I've been on a muffin binge these past few days.  Probably not the best idea....the oven going for hours....using more propane.  But sometimes you just have to look adversity in the face and say "screw YOU!"  Although....who gets screwed in the end remains to be seen.

Oh, yes, muffins.  A couple of weeks before Christmas, I told BH what I would really like is the big, honkin', "Texas" muffin pans.  I'm sick of puny, teensy, tiny, little bitty muffins and cupcakes.  What a waste of time and energy.  I want BIG ones.  So....while out shopping one day, I picked up 2 pans.  Because one makes only 6.  I almost choked on the price...a little over $6.00 each.....but I guess that's the "Texas" price tag, too.

Anywho,  I decided this was the week for muffins.  I'm going to freeze a bunch of them; I can make all different kinds; give some of them away; have a quick breakfast for family.  And so...the freezer is just about full of bread, streudels and muffins.

Banana nut, blueberry, brown sugar streusel and apple cinnamon.  Next up is raspberry/blackberry and then I want to try strawberry/cream cheese.  There are a dozen plus 2 or 4 of each kind.  I found the recipe for basic muffins on the internet.  It's a simple recipe and works great for adding whatever you want.  Maybe things really are better in Texas!

So Sunday is SuperBowl.  Big deal.  Son who lives nearby will be coming over to watch the game with BH.  And staying until Tuesday.  Because on Tuesday, he and BH are going to the Casino for an overnighter.  WooHoo!!  Hallelujah and thank you, Jesus!!  I'm getting him out of the house for a couple of days.  I've got so many things planned to do!  I can stay up all night!  Do whatever I whatever I whenever and whatever I want. 

I haven't felt such freedom since...well, I don't really know when.  But it's been way too long.

I used to have a bit of that freedom throughout the summer when BH was still fishing.  He would leave at 4 am and not come home till 6 or 7 pm.  The whole day!  To myself!  I'd get up with him, see him off, do the housework, laundry, prepare dinner, run errands and be done by 11 am!  Solitude!  Love it!

It would make winter bearable just knowing that as soon as the ice was off the lakes, he'd be out enjoying his only hobby. Well, he gave up fishing a few years ago.  So, aside from cutting the grass all day or out chopping trees down, he's with me all day.  Every day.  Every hour...of every day. 7 days a week.  Winters are almost unbearable.

Our son used to call him and invite him to come over for poker night.  No. He didn't want to leave me alone in the evening.  Whhhaatt?!  Get real!  But he wouldn't go.  Damn.

Oh, he's not a bother.  He lets me do whatever I want anytime; never says a negative word about anything.  But it's just the fact that he's a man...and he's here.  I keep telling him we all need our space, our alone time; this being together 24/7 isn't what it's cracked up to be.  And then I feel bad because I've hurt his feelings. 

But, anyway, he's going away for 2 days!!  I'm going to love every minute.  Until it gets around 10 pm.  It's dark.  It's quiet. I'm alone.  I miss him.  I can't wait till he gets home tomorrow.

And that is what love and marriage is all about.  Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cold Enough For Ya?.......

Ok...that's a sentence that is no longer funny.  Or needs to be repeated everywhere you go.

So we're in our 35th day (it sure does seem that many) of double digits below zero...daytime, doesn't matter.  Cold is cold.  Freezing is freezing.

Thank God for the furnace this year because I don't know what we would've done.  Between the wood stove, 2 electric heaters and the furnace, we manage to keep it somewhat comfortable in the house.  However...BH has informed me that there is a couple more days of wood left.  UhOh.

He normally would have enough wood for all this season and some for next, but the Spring and Summer threw a couple of monkey wrenches into his wood gathering calendar.  So we wound up with less than we've had in many a year.

And we've been trying to keep the furnace a minimal operating capacity because he's leary as to how much propane it's going to use.  And the fact that propane prices have doubled in the past week.  Being as frugal ( as he is, he just about has a cow when thinking we might have to buy more to get us through the "vortex".  Me....any cost to keep my butt warm is fine by me.  It is what it is.

Yesterday he was out shoveling, bringing in wood, getting the mail, feeding the birds, etc.  When he came in for a break, I said..."don't you want a scarf around your're nose is turning dark".  Well, that scared him enough to agree to the scarf.  Men.  Just mention a part of their anatomy might have to be cut off...or fall off.....and they're as meek as a lamb!  You can really get your way.   Mind you....this whole winter with frostbite so prolific....he has not had anything cover his face.  I consider myself lucky he wears an insulated hat, his Carhartt jacket, long johns, wool socks and heavy boots.  But the face...gotta cover the face.

What's been going on inside?  Well, a big pot of ham/bean soup on Sunday; 2 days of baking Apple Streudel (4 streudels); a pan of brownies; many wool dyeing experiments, with more happening today.  And I finished the poncho...almost.  The collar needs to be knitted on, but first I have to try it on because it looks like the neck opening is much narrower than I remember from previous ponchos.  May not need the "shirt collar" style...maybe a "Mandarin" style will be enough.

And spinning.  I don't know why, but I can just about manage an hour's worth of spinning a day.  Just can't get into it full bore.  I want to.  Just can't get that mojo going.  And there's a lot of spinning to be done! 

Of course, it doesn't help that my sister has gotten me hooked on playing scrabble games with her on the internet.  This from a person who "poo-pooed" the thought of getting connected on a "social media" website.  Well, she's hooked now!!  I couldn't possibly play that many games!! There would be webs from ceilings to floors, dust 1/2 foot thick, nothing to eat and no clean underwear.

Speaking of which...there's a load of laundry waiting for me...and a ton of fiber calling my name.  Gotta go.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Oh...forgot to post the pictures of the rolags created with the blending board.  I'm finally getting the hang of it; just gotta practice not making the rolags so tight and big when rolling the fiber off the board.  Good tool.

Shetland wool in batt form, blended with iridescent "Firestar".  Sure beats trying to separate and spin the strands of firestar with the fiber while spinning.

That's all.  Have a great day!


So the green experiment turned out beautiful.  I'm so happy with the results; can't wait to get it spun up.  2 pounds of each, the painted and the mottled.  I'm planning on blending both together on the blending board; maybe add a little black wool to make the colors "pop"!!  And then....knit it into an Aran sweater....for myself!

I'm calling the colors "shades of Ireland".


The top picture isn't color true.  The shades are actually much darker green.  Don't know what happened there.  When I downloaded them, they looked just fine.

Anywho, the brown mottled didn't turn out as brown as I thought.  It's more of a peachy/gold ombre.  That's ok.  It is beautiful.  And will be blended with a solid light brown.  I hope.  But that's the fun with experimentation.  Never know what's really going to come out of the pot, but as long as it's within the same color range, I'm happy!

So the peachy/gold is just about dry.  Pictures to come soon.

Now....onward and upward.  Gotta get out the other tote of white wool.

Wishing you a day of fiber fun!!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Nope.  It's Merino.  6#s.  Dyeing the last 2 today.  Trying for light brown with splashes of light pink and maroon. I'm doing the overall brown with tea bags; never dyed with them before.  Fingers crossed.

I'll post pictures of the green....2#'s painted and 2#s ombre soon.  Gotta download them from the camera.

I think I've got about 5#s of white Border Leicester yet.  Ooohhhh, envisioning more colors!

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

All is Right with the World....

Well, here in my world.  Things are starting to get better. shoe to drop?  I pray not.

I found the buttons!  Yay!  About the 6th box, there they were.  Happy dance.  Quickly got them sewn onto the vest.  Another project done.

The socks are finished, washed and should be dry enough to put away today.

I'm dyeing.  Wool.  The tote says "Shetland", but I'm thinking it's Border Leicester roving.  It's not hairy like Shetland.  I know there's a lot of BL, maybe in another tote.  I haven't taken the time to go look.  I really need to keep my tags on the totes updated better.

Anywho, I've been dying (pun intended) for a green yarn.  So yesterday's batch is a pound of painted roving.  It turned out pretty good; I do like the colors.  Today is kettle dyeing another pound of solid dark green.  At least, I hope it'll be dark green.  It looked dark green when I poured it into the kettle; the roving looks dark green as it sits there waiting to be warmed and simmered.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

But if it comes out lighter than expected, well, there's a beautiful black roving that will just be blended in or plied with when spinning comes around.

Granddaughter called Thursday night.  She's feeling much better; the meds are working and she's been scheduled for physical therapy, which she says made her feel much better.

The issue with the new sargeants has been resolved.  The Sargeant Major confronted them and read the "riot act" to them.  Their attitude towards the soldiers has tempered down quite a bit.

Funny story she told seems last Saturday they all got 1 hour of personal time.  A bunch of the guys had to get their hair cut at the base barber shop.  Being that there's quite a few of them and 1 hour wouldn't work, they started called their CQ, saying they would be late because of the wait.

This one nasty, cruel, ruthless sergeant  (one of the new ones) goes to the barber shop and starts screaming, cussing, degrading and belittling his men.  Lo and behold, there happens to be a Captain standing by...from a different platoon.  He makes a phone call to the company commander and then calls Brigade Headquarters and reports this a**hole.  Then he confronts the sergeant and in no uncertain terms "lays him out in lavender".

Everyone was so happy when they heard this.  Finally.  Justice.  So, needless to say, this particular sergeant has an attitude adjustment towards the company!

Don't you love it when those who seriously need it get their come-uppance!!  Thank you, Jesus.

So, back to granddaughter......she's feeling better, her company got their "green status" back, which means they can leave the base on the weekend, and her aviation instructor is giving her leaway to complete her course at her pace so she can graduate on time.   Thank you, Jesus.

I still pray every night.  Always have; always will.  Prayers for help, many prayers of thanks.  I pray for everyone and everything.  And sure enough, most of them are answered.

Well, Tuesday, BH and I are off to the Casino!!!  For an overnighter!!  It's going to be great getting away for a couple of days.  Knitting will accompany me.  I love it when I can go up to the room, relax, watch TV and knit.  BH can play all the BlackJack he wants, as long as he wants.  Me.....give me the peace and solitude of a comfy room and I'm happy!  Oh, I'll play the slot machines for a few hours, but then it gets boring and the surrounding noises start fraying my nerves.

Now....if my prayers could be answered for a.......jackpot!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Downfall of Being Earnest......

So.  As has been mentioned many times in this blog this past summer, our house is up for sale.  And in the summer, whilst cleaning, painting, repairing and replacing, I thought it a great idea to start packing away all that was not pertinent to every day living.

Now I pay the price.  Actually, I've been paying since the Fall.

When we were getting ready for our trip to South Carolina, we mapped out the course in the Atlas and road maps.  BH says..."you've got the Garmin, right?"'s packed away.

Wanting to make son and fiancĂ© a quilt for Christmas, I sorted through and picked out the material.  Ehhh......the quilt patterns and books are.....packed away.

So, preparing for Christmas.  I could really use the 1 qt. slow cooker to keep the nacho cheese warm for snacks.  Packed away.

Can't hang any decorations on the walls because.....all the nails, screws, hangers were removed.  Holes were filled in and painting was done.  Don't want to go through that again this Spring.  Decorations cut to a minimum.

Now I take out the last vest I made in the Fall.  It needs buttons.  I have a good sized can of larger buttons.  All kinds.  Metal; stamped metal; iridescent; 2-hole; 4-hole; square and round; anything from 1" to 2".  Buttttt.....yep.  That can is packed away.

This wouldn't be so bad except when boxes were being packed, I marked each one with the room it would go into at the apartment.  You know, to make it easier for our boys who were going to help us move.

Yes.  The boxes are marked for the room.  But they're not marked with what's inside. Why did I do that??  How stupid was that!  Now as many boxes that say "Craft room" (maybe 3 - maybe 8) have to be opened, searched and resealed.

To add to the aggravation, the boxes are in storage at the old farmhouse.  Yes, it's just 50 feet away, but it's cold, no heat.  So with winter coat, bulky hat and gloves, packing tape and scissors in hand, we will venture over and start the search.

Why did I do that??!!  It's not like the thought of sewing didn't cross my mind many months ago.  Crap.

There's also a mystery.  While cleaning the curio cabinet before Christmas, all of a sudden it hits me.  "Where the hell is the little rocking chair that my granddaughter gave me for Christmas one year, when she was about 8 years old.  She bought it at "Santa's Secret Shop" in school.

Why on earth would I pack that little knick-knack, that wasn't taking up any room at all....inside the curio cabinet?  Just that.  Nothing else was packed.  Or.....did somebody steal it??

Well, it'll probably show up when we unpack in our new apartment....whenever.

I do know I will think twice when it comes to wanting to do more packing.

Or....I'll just say the hell with it all.....unpack and put everything back where it was.  Until the day.

And that's what being too earnest will get you.....3 steps forward;  8 steps back.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Waiting for the Next Shoe to Drop......

I am so upset, I just want to sit and cry all day.  My insides are in a twist. I feel helpless and extremely anxious because I want to do something; I need to do something.  I need to get this off my chest.

Our granddaughter called Saturday night.  She has been having an issue with her right hip since Basic Training.  But Friday, she was in such pain, she said her legs started shaking uncontrollably.  Her back has been bothering her for a month or so also.

She's been resisting going to the base clinic because she didn't want to be put on medical leave.  Her schooling would suffer, she wouldn't be able to complete the required courses within the time frame, and she would wind up staying longer than April in order to finish her training.

But Saturday she went to the base hospital and saw the doctor.  Xrays were taken and an examination was done.  She has 3 vertebrae that are turned inward; the results of the xrays won't be in until today.  The doctor put her on bedrest and prescribed Ibuprophen and a muscle relaxer; told her to use a heating pad as much as possible.  No marching; no PT; no bending or lifting.

And here's the rub.  Her platoon received 2 new sargeants after Christmas leave.  Apparently, the new sargeants are on a power trip.  Besides their breaking rules/regulations as far as the soldiers go, it seems the one (a female), is totally disregarding the doctor's orders.  She will not let our granddaughter go back to her dorm after chow or formation.  She insists that she partake in the hikes, marches, and PT.  She would not allow her to go to the PX on Saturday to buy a heating pad.

Now granddaughter says she is in more pain yesterday than she was when she went to the clinic.  And she's scared.  Scared to death that this is going to turn into something serious enough that she'll be discharged from the Army.  Scared that she won't be able to finish her courses on time and her training will be extended. 

She is in the Aviation Regiment.  She's training to repair the helicopters.  This means parts that weigh 50# + and her tool box that weighs 60#s; it involves torque wrenches that are 5 ft. long.  And that each trainee works by partner. 

She is also 3rd in her class, she is smart, respectful, disciplined and "gung-ho". 

I want to rip somebody's face off.  The female sergeant first.

The whole company (3 platoons) have been complaining about their treatment since Christmas leave.  Saturday night they had a meeting with the Commanding Sargeant Major and voiced all the complaints.  He was pissed about the new sargeants to say the least.  Granddaughter said he apologized to them, said a lot of the actions the sargeants were taking were against regulations and that he would take care of the situation and the mistreatment would end.

So far, nothing has been done.  But she did say that yesterday the new sargeants were being very obvious is their different demeanor towards the soldiers.  Not a 360, but enough to know something was in the wind.

I feel so bad for her, it's like I'm so keyed up I need to DO something for her.  And all I can do is pray, pray, pray that everything will get right, she'll get the proper treatment for her back and be healthy.  And in the meantime, just keep giving her words of encouragement and positive thinking.

You may think I'm a little over the top on this.  But there's a bit of history here.  It would take another hour of writing to tell you all, but suffice to say, she is the oldest of 4; she was a straight "A" student in high school; she is kind and compassionate.  However, her mother, our daughter, has had mental problems almost all her life.  Bad life choices, bad relationship choices, nasty, vindictive and hateful.  4 days before high school graduation, she threw her daughter out of the house.  Why? Because our daughter was now pregnant with her 4th child, by a 3rd man, at age 41; by a man she barely knew in high school, that she re-connected with by Facebook.  A man who did time in prison for bank robbery, is a known drug dealer and user and lives 1/2 way across the country in New York. 

Our granddaughter was so upset when she heard the news, and then her mother tried to talk her into postponing her Basic Training so she could stay home and help with the new baby.  She refused.  So....she got thrown out.  The police were involved, so that she could get her personal belongings out of the house....she still had a few days of school left and a couple of exams to get through.  She went to stay with our son and his fiancĂ©.  Her mother sent her off with this: "well, good luck getting your head blown off in Afganistan", and hasn't spoken, or had any contact with her since.

There are other bad, even horrible incidences that she has been through this past year and a half that would've broken any 18 year old kid with less stamina.  And yet, she doesn't smoke, drink, do drugs or chase after the guys.  She's focused, knows what she wants with her future, and is trying so hard to achieve her goals. This is definitely the last thing she needed.

Thank you for "listening".

Thursday, January 9, 2014


** So, we're in the 10th (20th?) day of sub-sub zero, arctic temps.  It's supposed to be getting better tomorrow.  Like the song...."Tomorrow".  It's always "tomorrow".

** Now that all the Christmas finery is put away for another year and the house is relatively clean and in order, thoughts of getting back to spinning have been reeling in my head.

** I still consider myself on hiatus.  Therefore, it's difficult to actually sit down and spin.  Everything is set up....the wheel, the wool, the bobbin awaits where I left off.  Now just to find the "umpf" to get at it.

** Granddaughter left to return to duty at the Army base on Jan. 2.  We could not be there to see her off.  This causes me some anxiety and sadness.  Even though we said our "goodbye"s to her in person as we left son's to go home 2 days beforehand, there is still an emptiness in my heart.

** She will graduate from Army tech school April 10.  We plan on being there and bringing her home.  So, at least that brings excitement and joy.

** We were planning on picking her up and making a trip to New York to see family.  Unfortunately, that will have to be postponed.  She told me she has to report to the base in MN. within 72 hours of leaving the base in Virginia.  That makes me sad.

** Getting back to the weather.....there is probably 10 tons of ice on our roof.  I estimate it's about 6 - 8 inches thick.  With no sign of melting.  This is something I really can't spend too much time thinking about.  Just pray.

** On the other hand, when it does start to melt, BH will have to get up on the roof to push the ice blocks off.  This causes me anxiety.  We haven't had much snow; ice melting causes it to be quite slippery; his balance leaves something to be desired; he's 77 yrs old; this is one of the reasons why we were supposed to be in an apartment this winter!

** BH and I have been talking about going to the Casino for the past week.  He wants to make it an overnight getaway.  That's ok by me; just need to find the right time.  Hopefully before "cabin fever" sets in with a vengeance.

** Talked to the youngest son the other day.  He is working at a medical device manufacturing company.  He was hired through a Temp agency.  The second temp job he's had since losing his job of 3 years at an aeronautic device manufacturing plant.  Now he's worried because there have been rumblings that this place will be laying off workers very soon.  He worries that this is going to be a trend.....getting work through Temp agencies permanently hired jobs.  No benefits.

** I'm worried.  Because at this stage of our life, we really don't want anyone living with us....again....and again......anymore.  There's a reason why birds nests lay in a heap on the ground after the little ones have flown the "coop".  A lesson from nature.  Where did the mom and dad fly off to?  Do you suppose they've moved in to the "kids" nest? Yeah. I don't see that happening.

** This son has been plagued with severe depression and anxiety for well over 10 years. He will be 35 this summer. All manner of physicians and medications have not given any long term reprieve.  Asked one time if any medical person suggested to him that he has Bi-Polar illness, he quickly retorted no.  Years ago this condition was called "Manic-Depression" it's "bi-polar".  Does that make it sound better?  Less threatening?  Less serious? Easier to treat? More socially acceptable? 

** How much fiber does a person need?  I'm 64 yrs. old.  I know my ride on the elevator is almost at the top.  So I toy with the idea of selling most of it, as well as a couple of wheels and some other supplies. fast can a person possibly spin and knit?  In my case, not that fast. 

** Which brings another realization.  There are 6...yes, bins of material - yardage - awaiting the scissors and sewing machine.  They've been waiting for.....oh.....5 years or so.  Quilts.  Quilts.  Quilts.  Oooohhh, the blocks......the colors.......the finished beauty.....dancing in my head.

** A rough estimate.....I would have to live to 120 years old in order to complete all the projects envisioned.

** Many, many years ago I was going through a time when I just wasn't feeling right for quite a lengthy period. Knitting my first attempt at an Aran sweater for my dad and creating my very first quilt for my mom as their Christmas presents.  I remember praying every day "please God, let me finish these gifts for them before I go".  Well, He did; I did; I'm still here.  Apparently there's another sweater or quilt or both that He has in mind.  Personally, I hope it's a few of each.

** I think I better hang on to all the fiber and sewing supplies for now.

Friday, January 3, 2014

This is The Day.....

So the holidays are over.  2013 is another notch on our chronological watch.  What does the new year hold in store?

Well, for is the day the Christmas decorations come down.  It is the only day in the foreseeable future that will be above zero for daytime temperature.  Tomorrow the sh*t hits the fan again....and will last until......well, maybe until.....hell freezes over.

I like taking down the decorations as much as putting them up.  The house gets cleaned, it looks less cluttered, furniture gets put back in place, and the spinning wheels come out of hiding!  Then big plans are imagined.

Oh...then there's all the goodies.  Cookies, candies and fudge(s).  Yeah.  They need to be packed up and put into the freezers.  This is the job I do not care for.  I'd rather just chuck it all in the garbage.  First, BH would have a hemorrhage; second, this stuff costs a ton of money to make.  I do not like wasting money.  So, I will consider it all a jump start to next year's Christmas baking and making or we'll pick at it throughout the year.  Either way, it's all good.

There are numerous storage totes full of wool.  All kinds of wool.  Not to mention a 1/4 pound of silk purchased about 2 years ago and a 1/2 pound of iridescent "firestar" for blending.

Just before Christmas, I went to the storage house and brought the box will the dyes and equipment over to the "living" house.  I do so want to dye some wool!!

Right now I'm working on a pair of socks; the first one is just about done.  Then there's the poncho that's been sitting in the knitting basket since Thanksgiving.  A couple more inches and it should be finished....if memory serves correctly.

Tuesday I have to go to daughter's.  She has a dietician appointment Wednesday morning.  So we will undress her apartment Tuesday night and put the everyday back in its place.

We were going to go to the Casino on New Year's Eve day.  Didn't happen.  Then we thought maybe New Year's Day.  Didn't happen.  It's too friggin' cold.  It takes all the courage and strength we can muster just to get to the grocery store and post office.  Providing the car battery isn't dead.  That's another hassle you have to think twice about tackling.

So maybe our little jaunt will have to be postponed until Spring gets here.  Should be just in time for our wedding anniversary.....June 24.

Stay safe; stay warm; stay happy and positive.  "This can't last forever" (probably the  words spoken right before the last Ice Age hit).