All posts by mountaingmom

Away, back, away, and back again 3/2/2018

Finally settled back home from a couple of weeks of flurried activity, first with our cruise and as soon as the laundry was done and the dust settled, I was off to the winter version of the spinning retreat. We enjoyed a couple of weeks of very nice weather, enjoying the western Caribbean toward the end of their rainy season, so not too hot and only a few random showers. There were two nights of heavier rain, but it occurred after we had settled for the night. For the most part the seas were calm, though I tend to motion sickness and had one bad evening when I had failed to take Bonine in the morning, did a water excursion and back on the ship just as we were about to leave port. The ship store sold motion sick bands and a couple of Bonine and I was okay after a few hours. We had a great time on a much needed vacation.  And we returned to spring like weather at home.

The spinning retreat is an event that I look forward to, rejoining friends that I see infrequently, laughing, eating, spinning and knitting. The motel at Hawk’s Nest State Park lacks a restaurant at this time, but Tudor’s Biscuit World is just down the road and Pies and Pints Pizza is only a short drive away, so many of us go out for breakfast and lunch. Dinner started as happy hour and morphed over the years to a grand pot luck. This year the pot luck was so immense that one night we had 5 or 6 crockpot dishes, plus salads, crackers, cheese, dips, and desserts. Though I had not asked prior to the event to vend as I was unsure having been away, I took some soaps, salves, yarn, and knitwear and because there were few vendors, I did get to set up and was able to sell enough to pay for the weekend which is my goal.



This retreat did take a negative twist though as I awoke each day with a few more itchy spots, unsure if I was reacting to their detergent or if I was being bitten. Sunday morning, I was pretty sure that they were bites, notified the office as I left, washed my bag and clothing in hot water as soon as I arrived home. By Monday, it was apparent, that I had had a bed bug encounter, something I have feared in hotels, but not expected there. I have always been over reactive to insect bites and have broad itchy bands surrounding the rows of bites, characteristic of bed bugs. Now a week out, I am still on antihistamines, anti itch creams, and trying not to scratch. I am hoping that I did not bring them home with me. My spinning, knitting, and vending items remained in the tiled conference room for the weekend, but traveled home in the back of my car with my suitcase, though in a plastic box crate and in trays strapped to the top of the crate.

The week remained delightfully spring like until last night. We have howling wind and woke to snow flurries. The upcoming forecast is more seasonal. We lost our power briefly last night and again this afternoon for a couple of hours. Fires have been lit in the wood stove and fireplace in case of another failure. It is supposed to go down into the twenties tonight and we want the house to stay warm.

I am continuing to knit on the new shawl that is a design on the fly that I will probably never write down.  The yarns are lovely though.  It is a mitered shawl of a Freia Ombre Shawl ball and a craveyarn Santa Fe solid.


I am nearly to a point where I need to make sure I have a multiple of the number of stitches needed for the fancier lace that will be the bottom lace band.

Also on the needles are Log Cabin squares for a gift blanket in the works.


The warmer weather and longer days have the hens producing generously again.  My egg buying friends were all grateful today when I was able to bring them the quantities they desire.  Each day gathering 8 to a dozen from the 16 hens.  I’m still unsure whether the two with the pale combs are laying, so I may be getting them from just 14 hens.


The power has been restored and flickered off and back on again, so I should get our dinner going in case it goes out again.  Until next time.

Does Absence make the heart grow fonder? 2/18/18

The blog has been quiet.  We took a cruise with no kids, no responsibilities.  Our eldest Daughter in Law came to the farm to critter and house sit which left us with no worries. What a dear.

An early start at 4:52 a.m. 10 days ago, an almost missed flight due to delay of our first leg, a delayed (fortunately not lost) suitcase, a night in a hotel in Tampa, Florida, then off on the ship. Saturday afternoon to the following Saturday morning with 4 port stops in the western Caribbean with several excursions, swimming with the dolphins, riding horseback into the sea, touring ancient Mayan ruins.  We ate, we danced, we swam, we ate some more and celebrated our 40th Anniversary twice, once on our Anniversary, Valentine’s Day in the steak house on board, and the next night at the Chef’s Table event where we had our dessert plates especially decorated, our photo taken, and the biggest meal I have ever eaten.

The Chef’s Table includes a tour of the main galley with pre appetizers, yes, 4 of them followed by an 8 course meal.  I am not a big eater, I don’t really like most seafood, and am not an adventurous eater, but . . .  This event for 10 people is not inexpensive and they dedicate 4 chefs to preparing the special meal, so I ate all of the presentations, Salmon tartar, Crab stack, and Seabass included. Two soup presentations, one cold, one hot.  Duck, beef, and so much more.  It was enjoyable, but it one of those things that as the saying goes, “been there, done that, got the t-shirt (photo)” and would not do it again.

We got in very late last night after many hours of sitting, first to debark, then to catch the first flight leg and more sitting to wait for the second flight leg.  It was 14 hours from leaving the ship to home with the two flights only consuming about 2 1/4 hours of the time.

It is good to be home, returning to a spring like week with some rain.  We will enjoy it knowing that there will be another winter blast before true spring arrives.

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Cruise laundry is done and put away.  House is vacuumed and dusted, and I enjoyed preparing a dinner meal for the three of us, not trying to select something from a buffet or off a menu.  It is good being back on our mountain.  Maybe in a few days, I will quit rocking on the always moving deck, the vertigo like unsteadiness will pass .

Technology – 1/25/2018

My Dad was 93 when he passed a couple of years ago, but right up to his last weeks, he got on his computer and read emails, tried to forward some of the fun ones, but not always successfully.  He used to say, “I’m a low tech guy in a high tech world.”

As a brand new college grad, I worked at a local bank and one of my jobs was to give tours of the new highrise central offices of said bank including their computer area.  Half a floor of the building, raised cooled flooring to keep the house sized computer running.  Now I carry a “computer” slightly larger than a playing card that is probably as powerful, certainly more powerful that the guidance computer on the first manned space missions.  Soon after the bank employment, I was hired into education, my course of study in college and only a few years into that, the computer literacy initiative came in to being with first the teachers and administrators trained, then later the students.  It was a DOS system and I remember being so very excited that I could enter my test questions, draw from a pool of them and create multiple variations of my exams.  Soon we had a Tandy (1000?) at home, an expensive “toy” that allowed you to play some basic games by typing in commands. How things have changed in the past 4 decades.

About 3 decades ago, Jim was opening his own law practice after having been with Legal Aid for years.  He went to get a cell phone and was asked if he wanted a car mounted one or one he could carry.  Carry around a phone, really?  We got me a “portable” one, a bag phone I think they were called, the battery was the size of two bricks and weighed about as much too, but I was about to travel with 3 kids 5 states alone and felt it was necessary.

I type this on a tiny laptop whose screen can be rotated 360º to use it as a tablet.  The screen is a touch screen.  I carry a small smartphone that can use cell service or wifi to make calls, a near necessity in the rural area we live.

Though our cars are both more than a decade old, our daughter’s which is only a few years old has blue tooth build in and a back up camera.  Son the elder has a newer car and it has so many electronic screens that I just look on in fascination, not sure I could figure it out and technology generally doesn’t intimidate me.

Refrigerators that can send a grocery list to your phone.  Touch screen appliances, cars that drive themselves.  We were taxed to try to find a replacement washing machine recently that did not have an electronic control panel, even our decade old dishwasher, refrigerator, and microwave have those.

Is it making things easier?  More expensive?  Harder to repair?  We recently went for 10 days with no outgoing cell phone service and even called our local landline phone co-op to add long distance service because of it.  We have to keep a landline for internet and can’t call out of our county without long distance, even to the town 15 miles away.  Our cell phones had some incoming calls, internet, and texting, but couldn’t even call 911.  It took 3 lengthy chatline sessions with tech support with folks who I suspect were not in the US based on their names to determine that the problem was on their end, not our phones and that they were working on it.  Oh how annoying those sessions were with their scripted responses.

I love technology, but for a perspective on what could happen with technology failure, read Providence, VA by Michael Abraham, one of our local authors.

What are we becoming?

I tend to avoid politically charged issues in my blog, but the current climate has me quite disturbed.  In light of recent comments attributed to the President and the ensuing days of talking heads commentary on those remarks and their meaning, we have had a few discussions here at home.

I am a senior citizen, I lived through the period of segregated everything, the marches and riots.  In high school, as a senior, I was part of a group of students who were taken to the segregated black high school to a symposium as the schools were to be integrated the next year. I was graduated by the time it happened and had gone on to college. I guess even then I stood out as seeing people as people, not as people who were different by color or religion.  My friends as I transitioned into adulthood and employment were diverse, we went out together, ate at each other’s homes, were in each other’s weddings and celebrated baptisms of our children in each other’s churches.  Those people were and many still are my friends.

The civil rights movement at least on the surface seemed to improve race relations, but in light of recent events, I think that maybe it just drove those who were racists, bigots,  and intolerant of others of different skin color or beliefs to become silent and less visible.

There have been a lot of changes in our society very quickly.  Changes that are good for the country, good for the people.  Changes that allow people to express their sexuality openly, changes that allow same sex marriage, changes that are supposed to make all people equal, give all people equal rights without regard to gender, color, race, or religion.

We are a country  founded by immigrants.  There are few in this country that are true pure Native Americans.  Our country has embraced a statue in the harbor of New York with this quote based on the sonnet by Emma Lazarus,

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It does not say to welcome only white, Christians.  It does not say to suppress the rights of those whose belief or color are different than yours

I fear that the current climate, though not a majority, just a very vocal minority, emboldened by our leader has determined that it is okay to be openly racists and bigoted. This saddens me, I had hoped that we had grown as a nation but fear that we are becoming a hated nation, a laughing stock.


And So We Endure Jan. 14, 2018

After the nearly 3 weeks of Arctic weather, we were due for a reprieve.  Daughter and family had moved  out nearly all of their furniture that had been moved in for their period of house sharing with us and our furniture that had been relocated to other parts of the house or stored returned.  Jim and I dismantled the bunk bed, storing the full size bottom bunk in the garage until they could pick it up yesterday and the twin size top bunk set up in a corner of the basement to provide another place to put family members if we have too many for the other beds.  The smaller south bedroom was scrubbed down, vacuumed, dusted, and the full size bed, tall chest, nightstand, and rocking chair returned to it.  New Navy blue curtains were hung, but once out of the package, I realized that they are not lined, so some lining fabric will be purchased and I will make the lining and sew it in.

Monday was supposed to be the first warmer day and the grand’s first day at their new school, but Ole Man Winter decided to play a trick and instead of a warmer dry day, we got an ice storm warning.  Schools closed throughout the region in anticipation and we ended up with the grands with us.  Grandson arrived in a too small knit hat that looked like a mouse had chewed it.  He helped me pick yarns and I told him I would trade him a new hat for the one he was wearing

Though initially we thought that it was unnecessary to close the schools, we did indeed get ice.   We got the grands home before it got too bad, but Monday night Jim went out to try to get the two male dogs back in and slipped, landing hard on his hip.  I didn’t hear him calling for help until he had crawled back to the front porch in pain.  As the night wore on, his more intense pain subsided, but he has continued to have a lot of soreness, not enough to keep us from our walks when weather permitted.  Tuesday the schools were to be delayed two hours to give the roads a chance to clear, but by 9 a.m., they again closed.  We were unsure we could get down our mountain road to get the grands, so SIL had to wait for the alternative care program to get straightened out and took the kids there, going in to work late.

The week did finally warm up and we enjoyed a few nice day, enough for the ice on the creeks and the blocks from the chicken watering pan to thaw.  Each day the pan was dumped and fresh water poured in and the yard and chicken run were littered with blocks the shape of the pan or the bucket.  Friday we got much needed rain, and mud.  The dogs come and go through the front door as the deck repair is still in progress out the back.  Late Friday, the rain turned to sleet then to snow and the temperature dropped.  It was 40ºf colder yesterday than Friday.  We got no more than a dusting as the snow blew horizontally until early afternoon when the wind died down, the clouds broke but the thermometer didn’t rise.  Our high yesterday was 21.  Last night to 10.


The cold, blustery, snowy day encouraged me to continue putting the house together, the front bedroom received the same treatment that the other one got last weekend.  The walls swept down, windows and floor vacuumed and mopped or wiped down, fresh linen on the bed, the heavy quilt that has been stored for 3 years was returned to the bed and new insulated, room darkening curtains hung.



Friday night when they came to pick up their dog and two housecats, he got his new hat, just in time for yesterday’s frigid weather.


He had it on yesterday when they came to get the bed and a few more boxes.  I hope it keeps him warm as we endure another week of subfreezing days and bitter nights before the next break.  In the meantime, I am again accumulating blocks of ice from the water pans and buckets and though I thought I only got 1 egg yesterday, this morning when I let the hens out into the yard, I found 4 more, frozen and cracked in a corner of the coop, not in nesting boxes where they could be found.

The Empty Nest

When I moved to the mountains, leaving hubby to work on the coast for a couple more years, we still had one young adult at home and he and hubby shared space for those 3 years.  I was in an apartment for about 15 months, solo except for visits by hubby, son the younger,  or daughter, then moved into the house that we were building with son the elder, daughter in law, and grandson #1.  They shared the house for a couple of years then moved to town as hubby retired and moved to the mountains, leaving son the younger on his own, soon to become engaged and then married.  We had an empty nest for a few years, adding two dogs to the household.  Three years ago daughter and her two kids and their dog moved here while her husband stayed to sell their Florida house and find work here, he joined them in May of that year, bringing their two house cats.  The house has been full of life and energy for the past three years.  We have gotten the kids up  and ready school,  home from the afternoon bus and to Taekwondo a couple days a week for a couple of those years.

In November they bought a house about 18 miles from here in a different school district, but probably 30 minutes closer to work.  They continued to stay here while they got the house ready to move in and while they moved their household furniture and other accouterments from storage  and to allow the grands to finish at the school they started this year up to the Christmas break.

On Thursday, they spent the first night in their new home.  On Friday they got to go to see their new schools and grandson got to meet his teacher.  As their furniture has been removed from two bedrooms, ours has returned.  One room has been cleaned from top to bottom, the bed set up with a brand new mattress, the chest, night stand, rocking chair and lamp that have been stored or relocated for the three years , and that room has been sealed off from the cats.  Tomorrow new curtains will be purchased for that room as one of the Roman shades has been broken and the other two  shades are dirty and faded.

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The other bedroom needed new bed rails and though it has been put back together, their animals are still here until the end of this week to allow floor installers in their house without the dog and cats trying to escaping.  Once they are moved to their new house, that room will be wiped down from top to bottom and the decorations and heavy quilt returned to it.  It will get new curtains soon also as the decade old shades are dirty and faded.


With them gone, the house looks and seems empty and quiet.  I miss them though we will still see them often, but the quiet is nice.  It is going to take some time to readjust to the empty nest.

Grandson #1 will be happy to have “his” bedroom back when he visits.  For the years he lived here and when he visited until they came, he slept in the south, smallest bedroom that the resident grands have been sharing.  While they have been here, he has slept on a futon in the basement during his visits.  Son the elder and his wife prefer the 4th bedroom in the basement as it is quieter and away from the animals that aggravate allergies.

With the basement, bathroom, two bedrooms, and kitchen cleaned up and reorganized, I need to tackle the loft and our bedroom.  Since hubby got me a nice Dyson vacuum for Christmas (yes, I asked for it), a thorough deep cleaning is in order.  Spring cleaning in the middle of winter.  Come spring, screens need to be repaired or replaced and windows cleaned, but that will wait for warmer weather.



Olio – January 3, 2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

The holidays are over, the decorations packed away, but the cold has really settled in.  Cold is relative.  There are parts of the world, even the USA that have the temperatures we are experiencing every winter and are prepared for it.  There are parts of the US that are used to very mild winters that are experiencing temperatures that we consider normal for this time of year, but they aren’t equipped for it.  It is cold here.  Our nights for the past couple of weeks have all been single digits.  The days in the teens, low 20’s if we are lucky.  But it has been dry.  There is some light snow expected tomorrow as another Arctic blast hits us, but no other real precipitation due as far as I can see in the forecast.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel though, if the forecast holds true, we will climb back up into the 30’s with mid 20’s at night in a few more days.

With the frigid weather, the dogs run out and back in.  The chickens have remained cooped some days and if it is sunny and calm, let out to free range on other days.  If it snows tomorrow, they won’t come out of their coop, no white stuff for them.  The shortened days and extreme cold have seriously curtailed egg laying.  Instead of 6 dozen or so a week, the 16 ten month old hens are providing less than half that a week.  The days are beginning to lengthen and the cold will abate, so hopefully they will begin to lay again soon.

We rarely go out for New Year’s Eve, but this fall, we saw a billboard for a New Year’s Eve event at Mountain Lake Lodge, the site of the filming of “Dirty Dancing.”  As soon as they were taking reservations, we booked one.  This lodge is 5 miles further up the road  our road descends from, an elevation change of about 2000 more feet and we were greeting with snow and frosted trees, a veritable winter wonderland, where though we are cold, we have no snow.


The event included a stellar buffet dinner, a room for the night, a grand party with live band, favors, and champagne toast, and topped off with breakfast on New Year’s Day.  We met some wonderful folks, enjoyed their company, danced and partied, then walked upstairs to our lovely room for the night.  Such a great event we will probably repeat it next year.


We got home on New Year’s Day to discover that the dripping faucet in the utility room had been turned off and the hot water line frozen.  We have kept the cold dripping, the heat turned up in there and a hot fire burning in the wood stove in the basement near where the pipe enters the utility room slab.  After three days of this treatment, the pipe finally thawed this afternoon and now both hot and cold are running at a slow trickle to prevent a recurrence.  The washing machine drain is still frozen though the sink drain is not.

I was knitting a Hitchhiker scarf and hoping to wear it last weekend as my last project for 2017, but ended up taking it with me with only 8 rows to complete.  Sitting in the tavern before dinner in front of a fire with a glass of wine, I saw an error a few rows back and had to rip those rows out to fix it.  It ended up being my first finished project of 2018.



Knit with Freia Fibers Shawl ball

To get out of chronological order here, the past couple of weeks have been busy.  Daughter’s family has been moving into their new house a trunk full or our 5 X 8′ open trailer full at a time.  They have cleared the storage units that have held most of their belonging for the past three years that they shared our home with us, have moved toys, books, games, and shelving that held some of that in our rec room, and this past weekend, their master bedroom returning our furniture that they have stored.  They are still staying here until some flooring is laid, then they will move the kids dressers and part of the bunk bed and a few more smaller items and their pets.  The house is going to seem so empty after having the kids here.  They are close enough for us to still help out when needed, but in a different school district and closer to work.

The month of December had us on the road a lot.  We went to the coast to visit son the younger and his family one weekend, home the next for the second Holiday Market, then north to son the elder and his family, returning home on Christmas eve.  Son in law is from an Italian family and their tradition is pasta and antipasto on the eve and we arrived home to a delicious meal.  Christmas Day after gift exchange with daughter’s family and watching the children with all of their new things, I prepared a turkey and ham meal with all the trimmings.

The week after Christmas, our local yarn store closed for a week to relocate much closer to where I live and our spinning group that usually meets there on that Thursday of each month chipped in with other volunteers to help them with packing and actually moving so that they didn’t have to rent a truck.  A friend volunteered her pickup, I volunteered our larger SUV and the trailer and with a couple of other vehicles and two days, all of the fabric, yarn, and fixtures were moved in sub freezing temperatures.  They reopen on Friday and I am excited to see how all of the stuff we helped move will be displayed and so that I can purchase another Freia Fiber Shawl ball in another color way for my cruise knitting.  Our cruise is only a bit more than a month off.

I hope my readers have a very happy and prosperous New Year.

Olio December 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The second Holiday Market was yesterday.  It was biting cold when I got there to set up and it was noon before the sun came around enough to provide some warmth, never enough to remove my parka and hat, but I did finally remove my gloves.  It was a great market and I did very well.  It is the last event of the year for me.  The market manager told me that I should bring my spinning wheel and sit and spin.  It was too cold yesterday for me to even drop spindle until it warmed some.  When someone shows interest in the knitwear or yarn, I always let them know that it is hand spun and the knitwear, hand knit by me.  Two ladies were looking at the hats, sweater, and mitts when I told them that.  One of the ladies turned to me and said “What do you mean hand spun?”  Her companion said before I could answer, that it was spun on a spinning wheel.  Lady #1’s eyes got big and she said to me, “You make the yarn and then make the hats?”  She just couldn’t wrap her head around that idea even though I was standing behind my booth with a spinning drop spindle at the time and had knitting on the table.

The cold and wind when I had been fighting a cold for a couple days, left me totally voiceless today.   The week has been very cold and several days of  light snow.


The grands missed one day of school and had a 2 hour delay the following day because of the extreme cold.  We drove across the state last weekend in the snow, but fortunately the roads were in decent shape.  We delivered Christmas gifts to our youngest and his family and enjoyed a few hours of visit and a meal out.

When we got home last weekend, we went to one of the cut your own Christmas tree farms and got our tree for the year.  It was put up in the stand and has been watered daily.  I put the lights on it and we were waiting for the grands to be able to help us decorate it, but between school, their activities, preparing for and moving stuff from storage to their new house, it hadn’t happened.  Since I am voiceless and a bit under the weather today, I built a fire, put on carols, and Jim and I put most of the ornaments on the tree, leaving a few for the kids to hang this evening.


That finishes the decorating for this year, now we sit back and enjoy it for a couple of weeks.  Midweek, we made the Christmas dinner purchases as we will travel to visit eldest son and his family next weekend, coming home on Christmas eve.

There has been quite a bit of knitting going on with 3 little girl hats hand knit from my hand spun yarns. IMG_20171212_150448IMG_20171208_111447


I failed to photograph the third one, it was all pink.

Now I am working on a project for me, a Hitchhiker scarf, knit in a gradient merino commercial yarn that started with a soft salmon and has turned into a red, though several shades of reds to maroon.


I tend to knit blues and teals for myself, so it is fun using something brighter.

The cold and snow have the chooks on strike.  Yesterday, there were only 2 eggs from 16 hens.  One of the hens doesn’t seem to be a layer.  Her body shape is more like a guinea hen, her neck longer and thin, and her comb and waddle pale.  She otherwise seems healthy enough as far as activity.  I haven’t seen any sign of parasite activity.  And unlike her Welsummer sisters, she can’t fly over the fence.  She may have to be culled from the coop.  There are too many hens for my coop right now and the coop is requiring frequent cleaning when most winters I can just use the deep litter method of keeping them clean and warm.

Hoping you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.


Memories – December 11, 2017

Our memories of Christmas together go back 40 years and most are wonderful memories, a few sad, a few where a silent primal scream in the kitchen was in order.

As our daughter was born in late November, as soon as she had a voice and an idea of what a birthday was supposed to be, decorating was forbidden until the day after her birthday.  Usually the outdoor wreaths would go up the day after Thanksgiving whether it was the 23rd or the 29th, but the indoor decorations were left in the boxes in the attic or storage closet (depending on the house) until the 30th.

Early on in our relationship, a Santa collection was begun and as the family grew, so did the collection as it made a great gift from the kids or from hubby.  We lived in the Hampton Roads part of Virginia at the time and in the town of Portsmouth was a Nursery and greenhouse that in addition to selling Christmas trees, turned the entire property into a winter wonderland with animatronic displays of various themes, the Santa workshop, Candy factory, train displays, with one room of one building selling tree lights, ornaments, gifts, and hot cocoa.  Our first Santa and his Mrs. came from Coleman’s Nursery.


Several of the more than 100 also came from there as I discovered the gnomes of Tom Clark and they became my favorites.


At some point, a tiny village was also started and occupied the mantel when the children were small and later the corner of the hutch.


Sometime in the late 1990’s, Coleman’s burned and they lost a lot of their displays, but vowed to rebuild.  In 2003, we heard that Coleman’s was closing and selling off their  remaining animatronics and trains and though we hadn’t been in a couple of years because it just wasn’t the same after the fire, we returned and came home with an addition to the village.  Most of the Santas and village pieces are dated by me and often have either where they were purchased or who gifted them to me.  One year at Coleman’s, we discovered that daughter, then maybe 4 was breaking out with chicken pox.  I always wondered how many children we infected that night before we realized, she never felt ill and fortunately didn’t get too many pox, but another memory.

There were Christmases when money was tight and we struggled to make sure that the kids got at least one major gift from their list.  Of course our kids were of the age to want Cabbage Patch doll or Transformers, sending us on merry chases to try to locate the gift that every other child of that age wanted that year.

One year, a small animatronic Santa with a working clock and tape player that played the Night Before Christmas Story appeared.


He always sat in our foyer at Christmas, but has been stored away for more than a decade.  This year, not knowing if he even still worked, he was brought out for the resident grands and with a battery in the clock and a good dusting, he still works, including the cassette.

There were the sad Christmas times as I lost both of my parents in December, many years apart and the unwrapping of ornaments and Santas from them bring tears of love and sadness.

The memories, oh the memories.  I hope my children have mostly good memories of Christmas, I do.

Olio – Nov. 24, 2017

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things

The blog has been quiet of late, but not for a lack of activity.  Jim and I continue to strive for a daily walk, though the past few days because of extra folk in the household, prep for Thanksgiving, child keeping for daughter and SIL to get their house painted inside before they move their furniture in, my walks have either been missed or have happened on our mountain road with visiting son, DIL, and eldest grandson.  Last evening, we walked our road so that I could show them the fossil.


Grandson had been shown it before, but couldn’t find it again to show his parents.  It stays hidden and you have to know where to look to uncover it.

Today is  resident granddaughter’s  sixth birthday.  She was born on Thanksgiving and celebrated on Thanksgiving last year but won’t hit the holiday again for a few years.


Her Dad is not a fan of spiders so her wicked sense of humor requested a chocolate cake with a spider web and spider on top. Above is daughter, our resident cake decorator, molding a purple spider from Rice Krispy treat mix to go on the cake that will be revealed tonight.

Yesterday’s feast was a treat.  We worked together to pull it off, with DIL helping with side dishes,  son’s assist to spatchcock the 19.5 lb turkey.  He also is in charge of rubbing the herb butter I made under the skin and lifting the monster onto and off of the baking rack and carving it.  This process produces the juiciest, tastiest poultry in such a short time.  It only took 90 minutes cooking time with this method.


We don’t put the whole bird on the table to carve so it’s unconventional appearance is okay.  The aromatic vegetables under the turkey are pureed and added to the backbone, neck, giblets, and carcass to cook down for broth.  We ended up last night putting 2 1/2+ gallons of broth in jars for future gravies, cooking rice, potatoes, or beans.


I survived turning 70 this past week.  It was a busy day of cleaning, food purchase for the feast and to feed the 9 people currently staying here, but ended with Jim taking me for a delightful meal at a local upscale restaurant.

This morning, eldest grandson (12), resident grandson (10), and the birthday girl, helped me stack the load of firewood that was delivered earlier this week.  This required removing the old wood from the makeshift rack first, driving a couple new T posts, scrounging for a few more old cedar posts to use as the base, and stacking high enough to have room, low enough to not topple over. The old wood then piled back on top to be burned first.



It is two rows thick at one end and the chick raising water trough is full of old wood, set on it’s side behind the stacks as additional storage.

Today, being Black Friday, I won’t venture from the house.  I don’t like to shop when it is quiet, I sure don’t want to be out in the chaos that even our smaller towns seem to have.  I will support some of our local businesses later, and will purchase some gifts online next week.

I hope my readers, had quality time with family or friends yesterday or will be able to this weekend.  I am thankful for the time with my husband, children that could come and their families.  Hopefully, we will soon get to visit the one that could not come.