Winter Solstice with family 12/22/2019

Eldest son and eldest grandson made a very quick visit, arriving yesterday afternoon and leaving this evening. I traditionally prepare the Christmas Day dinner, turkey, ham, and all the fixings, but since they couldn’t be here on Christmas Day and since they arrived on the Solstice, we had Christmas/Solstice dinner with all the fixings for them and daughter and her kiddos. Brother and sister got to spend some time together as did the cousins, and they shared gifts, I got some help in the kitchen, and we all ate well. I even spatchcocked the turkey all by myself. Doing a chicken isn’t too hard, but a larger turkey is difficult for me to do.

Yesterday morning, two of the young men who are part of the team who mow our farm and get a share of the hay for a small herd they share, came over with chain saws, a hydraulic log splitter, dump bed truck, and a big tractor and cut up a red oak tree that fell into our hay field winter before last. They had hayed around it for two summers. They brought the entire cord plus of wood up to my woodpile and dumped it. They even offered to stack it for me which I refused as I hadn’t expected the entire tree. The three grands got out there while dinner was being prepared and spent a couple hours stacking firewood.

This morning, this is what I found. The kids ate well and I’ll bet slept well. This morning after fixing biscuits and gravy with grandson’s help, sharing gifts with son and grandson; grandson and I went out and did some cleanup of the last little bit, hopped the short stack on the right over the pile on to some cedar poles on the opposite side of the big stack where we had also stacked the clean up amount.

Son was in the house nursing a finger he had seriously cut about a week ago and finishing grading the papers from one of his upperclass University classes he teaches. To try to keep grandson out of his way and away from too much TV time, I also got his help finally pruning back the dead asparagus tops and getting spoiled straw from the compost pile over it, getting about a foot of hay into the chicken run for them to peck through and to keep it less slippery for me when it rains. The big round bale was wedged between two objects that made it difficult for me to peel layers off of it, but with his help it is now more accessible. I asked son if I could keep grandson for a while. He jokingly asked me how long. My response was as long as I could still get good help out of him or until he started treating me like a parent instead of grandmom.

Son got his grades done and submitted in time to have hot turkey sandwiches and other leftovers before heading home this evening.

We will go to daughter’s house on Christmas Eve for dinner and back for a bit on Christmas Day give them their gifts. Christmas morning will be quiet, just us. Jim will primarily get a stocking as his gift was “the chair III” which arrived Wednesday and he has been enjoying it for a few days now.

On Thursday afternoon, daughter came over and she and I were able to get the two deteriorating pleather loveseats onto our trailer and off loaded at the local trash location. After Christmas decorations are down, we will consider what to get to put in the living room. The loft got a rocking chair that had been in our bedroom and had become a place to dump things instead of putting them away. Maybe I will be better about keeping that area organized now.

Colonial Christmas 4th grade style – 12/20/2019

The fourth graders at the local elementary school have just finished up studying about Jamestown and today is the last day of school before winter break. There are 3 classes that rotate with 3 teachers for Science and History with one, Math with one, and Language Arts with one with a 4th teacher that is support. To end their unit and try to have some level of control on this last full day, they planned a Colonial Christmas celebration. In one room they dipped candles, in another they made pomander balls, the third room had a Christmas movie playing, making herb coated ornaments, and me in Colonial clothing with a lesson about colonial clothing, textiles, spinning, and weaving. I always take many “toys,” several different types of spindles, lucet, combs, carders, my wheel, and this time a borrowed rigid heddle loom. I love this type of event.

The children had an hour in each room, so I had 6 groups for about 30 minutes each to talk about a brief history of spinning, history of homespun, and some weaving. Some groups watched and asked a few questions, the most common one was, “Do you wear that every day?” Some groups wanted hands on and I allowed carding of wool and playing with the various spindles that I demonstrated first. With the number and age of the kids, I didn’t let them handle the sharp combs and knew that letting any of them use the wheel I was asking for trouble. And as the rigid heddle was borrowed from a friend, I only demonstrated on it.

There were photos taken by various adults, but none by me.

My favorite question though, was as I was packing up to leave, a tiny little gal approached and very quietly asked if she could ask me something. Of course, I replied. She asked, “Where you around in Jamestown?” I laughed my way home with that one. The old lady with her spinning wheel.

Another great opportunity to teach the youth and maybe interest some of them in pursuing an interest in fiber.

Olio – 12/16/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Yesterday was spent in recovery from the long, cold, wet day on Saturday, but wasn’t totally idle. The craft display stuff was returned to the guest room closet where it is stored, the inventory checked, sorted, and put away this morning.

The pop up tent is still slightly open in the garage drying, but will be packed up soon and tucked away in the garage with the weights and cart. My next two events are spinning demonstrations in Colonial costume on December 20 for the local elementary fourth graders, and at Wilderness Road Regional Museum on January 6 for old Christmas and the burning of the greens. Neither of those events are vending events.

I have written about “the chair” and “the chair II.” At some point, once all of our furniture was moved to this house and the basement had been finished (several years after the house was completed), we did some rearranging. We had a leather couch and club chair that had been our living room furniture for years that moved with me. A Lazy Boy couch that is leather on the seats and back and synthetic leather on the low wear areas that stayed in the apartment in Virginia Beach until hubby retired and it moved with him and was added to the living room here initially. We had an oak futon that was in an office/guest room when we sold our home in Virginia Beach and it moved with me as a guest bed in my apartment in Blacksburg and later into the loft of the house. When the basement was finished we moved the Lazy Boy couch and the futon to the basement rec room leaving a huge hole in the living room, so we went to a local furniture store and bought a reclining loveseat to fill the hole. It didn’t match the color of the leather couch very well, so we decided to move the loveseat to the loft, and get another love seat, just like the first one but a better color match. One of the loveseat purchases generated a Father’s Day Sale coupon that resulted in the disposal of “the chair” and the purchase of “the chair II.”

“The chair II” was heavily used and the phony leather deteriorated pretty quickly. The loveseats which we thought had leather on the sitting surfaces were gently use, but once our daughter and her family moved in with us for a couple of years while they sold their Florida house, saved for the down payment for their local house, the living room loveseat started getting lots of use and it didn’t take long for us to discover that the leather sitting parts were not leather.

It was soon cracked and shedding pleather so I bought a stretchy cover to try to slow down the progress. The upstairs one was doing fine, but again, it received little use until “the chair II” was discarded. It only took about two weeks use for it to begin breaking down as well.

The living room one is going to be discarded and is currently sitting on the front porch to make way for the Christmas tree. After Christmas, a second rocking chair will be added to the living room. The cover will be put on the second one to try to get more use out if once the new chair is delivered mid week. It seems almost like fraud to sell furniture that wasn’t inexpensive junk (we thought) that can’t hold up to basic wear over a couple of years.

This morning, I had another check up at the hearing clinic to raise the functionality closer to 100% effectiveness on my hearing aid. While we were out and about, we drove to Joe’s Christmas Tree Farm, about 10 miles from home, hoping to get lucky like last year and find a precut reasonably sized tree right near the store, but not this year. We didn’t want a huge tree this year, nor did we want to spend a long time walking the farm in the rain. They had some 7 foot trees near the store and as we were the only customers at the time, the young man working the yard brought out his chain saw and cut down our tree for us, drilled it for the stand, tied it and put it on our car while we shopped inside and paid for the tree. The tree was small enough for me to handle once home and it is up and decorated.

This gave me the incentive to finish decorating with my Santa collection and the snow village. This weekend, eldest son and eldest grandson will arrive to spend two days with us. I will prepare Christmas dinner with all the fixings on Saturday for them and daughter and her family.

This is an impromptu Christmas decoration. This begonia has bloomed better since I brought it in for the winter than it did outdoors all summer.

And to close today’s post, “Esplain to me Lucy,” why does a box of raw sugar need vegan and gluten free labels on it. My science background tells me that sugar is a plant product, not a gluten bearing plant.