Thursday, April 29, 2010

Whereupon I Agree That Mr. Keillor is One Wise Fellow

I noticed today that the lilacs are in bloom. Lavender. White. Purple. They're blooming. The tulips are about done. The daffs, too. My flower beds are calling for me to come out and play do some early weeding.

After a winter of such deep snow it is good to hear lawn mowers, to see Janice down the street digging amongst the flowers in her front yard, to see the young dad next door digging out a dead shrub and setting in a new one. I think he's wasting his time. The dead shrub is dead because his dog peed on it. And I'm certain his dog will pee on the new one, too. I'm just glad they keep him on a long leash while he is outdoors. He can roam his own yard but he can't reach our shrubs. Our shrubs look healthy. So far.

I'm thinking the rhubarb must be just about ready to pick. The problem is that we don't have any growing in our yard. Our friend Tim has a rental house around the corner and down the street and I'm certain the renters don't use the rhubarb. So I think I'll ask if he minds if I pick some.

For more on rhubarb (pie, crisp, sauce, jam) you can check out what Rebecca has to say over at her blog, Rebecca Writes. She mentions 8 ways and more to eat rhubarb! With links to recipes!

Yep. Have to get me some rhubarb! I need me some Bebop-A-Reebop Rhubarb Pie. (That Garrison Keillor guy is one wise fellow!)


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Where Can I Find Morel Mushrooms!

Where is the best place to find morel mushrooms, you ask? Some of you ARE asking...I see that you're googling for that information and are reading what I wrote about morels last spring.

So here is the link to last year's post about finding morel mushrooms in western Iowa.

Anyone who has eaten morels knows they are a delicate treat. The locals sell them by the sacks full to buyers who transport them to the big cities.

I'm hoping someone local will read today's post and remember that Hubby and I don't go mushroom hunting...we depend upon the gracious offerings of friends and neighbors. Very gracious offerings. Lovely thoughtful offerings. You are such nice people!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

If There Is Laughter In the Moment

I like to keep 'em on their toes. Those medical people, I mean. You see, life seems to be so serious in those clinics and beds and chairs. And although Nurse Diana and I do a lot of talking and laughing when I go out for bloods or for chemo, there are still a lot of patients there whose health is seriously not good. I recognize that.

But sometimes there is good cheer and laughter as we visit and encourage one another. Diana knows how to empathize and takes her patients seriously, but she also knows how to kid them a bit and get them to talking and laughing. (If they have employee of the month out there, Diana should be so-named every month of the year.)

So next trip out, I'm going to take along the most recent CT scans (Cat scans, if you please) from the home of my Daughter. Her kitties like to play on the puter desk...on the scanner...and, well, you can see the results. Two perfectly funny CT scans.

I think I'll take one of these with me when I see the Oncologist and ask him if he will please explain to me this latest CT.

But maybe not. I was so cheerful last time that for the first time ever, he gave me a good prognosis in terms of years. Nobody...neither in the Big City to the south nor at Mayo to the northeast has done that before. I think they know we cancer patients have already browsed the net and are quite clear on the statistics. So they are hesitant to make promises or, on the other hand, dire predictions.

I really do want to see his face when I hand these photos to him and ask him to "Please tell me what this means in terms of my longevity."

And Nurse Diana? She'll be showing the photos to every patient in her area. And laughing. And causing them to laugh as well. If there is laughter in the moment then it is a good moment.

Thanks, Daughter, for the scans. And tell those kitties to not take their health so a little...enjoy the day. Get off the scanner and go mess up the living room!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Don't Sell Me "Hype" and Spell It "Hope"

I guess you could say I'm a skeptic. It seems to be my natural propensity to look at things carefully. I want to know the "why", the "wherefore", the "how come".

And so when I read about "cancer cures" on the internet I'm a bit skeptical.

I've read about the Budwig diet, anti-oxidants, the use of special Essiac tea. The internet is full of claims for cures.

In addition there are books, books, books by cancer survivors (some of whom have since succumbed). Some of those books are written by Hollywood glams who claim to be an expert on cancer and surviving same. I seldom go to Hollywood for words of wisdom about those books are already deleted from my "to read" list.

It annoys me no end that advocates of so-called natural cures have never submitted their "cure" to clinical trials. Or, if they claim to have done so, the number of participants is a handful. Maybe twenty people. Anyone who has done statistical studies knows that you have to have a large enough number of participants so that one aberrant result does not mess up the that you can duplicate the test and find the same results in a second population.

It annoys me no end that these advocates receive income from their espousal of the "cure". Book sales. Vitamin sales.

It annoys me to read their multiple testimonials from people who survived cancer. They survived for awhile. I don't know how long they lived after writing their fine testimonial. I don't really know if they lived any longer than if they had never used the supplements/cures/remedies.

It annoys me that they never give you statistics...such as..."we have had 50,000 people follow our methods and 49,999 have survived cancer a full five years beyond the life span of the 50,000 who were treated only by chemo." I never see the numbers.

No...they sell "hype". Only they spell it "hope".

The hype spreads like wild fire. And here is how it spreads. Someone on chemo also takes a supplement. They feel well. So instead of attributing that to being one of the fortunate ones helped by the chemo, they swear that it is the tea or the cottage cheese or the flax oil or name it.

You see, I would be saying the same if I had been adding one of these regimens to my chemo. For you see, I "feel" exceptionally well. I'm in my 60s and I feel "well" in spite of doing chemo on a weekly basis. I feel good physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. And if I had been using one of these protocols along with the chemo, I would be giving all the credit to the "remedy". It would be a false conclusion for I am (currently) doing well WITHOUT the supplements.

On the other hand...if you have investigated carefully and have run this past your oncologist first, go for it. If Essiac tea is your thing, great! If eating cottage cheese and flax oil gives you a feeling of hope, go for it. Hope is not a bad thing. Just try to read beyond the hype.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Encouragement in the Moment

A quick-shop sixty miles from home is not exactly the place where you might expect to have a mini-confab with other cancer patients. But there I was...and there they were.

I was at the register, paying for a couple bottles of juice and a handful of snacks. The clerk asked if I had "membership savings" or some such thing. I smiled and said, "No. But does that mean I get no special considerations?"

For the life of me, I can't imagine why I blurted out my next words. They were unplanned and certainly not serious, for I was laughing when I said them. I had tugged my scarf a bit higher on my bald forehead and said, "What about cancer? Does that count?" In terms of special consideration, that is. And, then, I thought to myself, "Wow, that was a silly thing to say!"

The clerk, a young woman about 35 years old, looked me straight in the eye and replied, "I had cancer. Three times!"

And then, the woman behind me added this, "My daughter had leukemia when she was nine months old!"

We looked at each other in amazement. The clerk was in remission. The daughter was well. I reassured them that my hair-destroying chemo was treating me kindly.

As she gave me my change, the clerk grasped my hand tightly, sharing her heartfelt "Be well!". The three of us looked at each other one last time as we parted.

I left, thinking, "Wow!"


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Littlest One Wants Cheerios This Morning!

There are times in life that we might call an "Era". Times that are long in years, in sorrows, in difficulties. Times that turn into an "Era".

This week, our family has ended an Era and begun a new one.

You see, there were six of us kids. Four boys. Two girls. I grew up in the middle of four boys, in the middle of Iowa farm land, in the middle of my father's life. He was 46 when I was born. Mom, thankfully, was much younger!

My dad worked hard for us. He wasn't a genius in the ways of "today" and he would never have held down a white collar job. No, my dad was a man of the earth. Born in a log cabin (yep, he was and I am, that old!) on a homestead in Midland County, Michigan. His twin sister died within a month. Dad was the scrawny twin but he lived.

On a homestead you worked the earth. And survived. Dad told us stories of fishing when the fish were plentiful and of his grandfather (my great-grandfather, fresh here from Germany) following honey bees to troves of honey. He worked. He worked hard. When they moved to Nebraska it meant more work. By the sweat of the brow.

My parents had two sons born in Nebraska. Then they moved in the midst of winter to a new place in Iowa. There were four more moves when farm ventures proved not enough to take care of his family. But he stilled worked. And still by the sweat of the brow. And even though we were poor (we kids didn't realize that!) he kept a roof over our heads and food on a sometimes skimpy table.

But what I began to write about this morning is what happened later.

My oldest brother graduated from high school and attended a business school in Minnesota so that he could get a job and begin his own adult life. My brother met his wife there. And they married. And they moved to Michigan where their children were born. Their family grew to seven children. And then life fell apart. My brother spent a year fighting lymphoma before dying as a relatively young man. His widow was heart-broken. His children as well.

I won't go into the "how" of it but we lost contact with my nieces and nephews. They, in turn, were too young to know how to contact us in Iowa. They lost us. And we lost them.

Over the years we wondered where they were. And since we could not find them, we hoped one of them would find us. The story is too long.

Suffice it to say that this week my oldest brother's oldest son walked the farm ground where his father grew up. His children are seeing where their grandfather was raised. They're seeing old photographs and hearing old family stories and meeting their grandmother (great-grandmother), aunt, uncles, cousins.

That era of being lost from each other is over. We're in contact with five of the seven. This week my mother is seeing her grandson and her great-grandchildren for the first time. It is a tearful and a joyful week for all of us.

And now I need to get up out of this chair for we are going to drive to Nebraska to view the farms where my mother and my father each grew up. We will look out over the hills where they spent their childhoods. It will be a good day.

In the kitchen I hear the littlest one. He's saying, "I want Cheerios!". Gotta go!


Saturday, April 17, 2010

One Last Touch --- A Very Old One!

You might like to read my version of This Old House. That's where I salvaged these glass handles (four of them) from the kitchen. With my brother's strong help. The bolts were rusted. Just click here.

The handles were covered with old paint so I soaked them in ammonia and simply wiped them clean. Must have been latex paint as I'm not certain that would work on oil based paint. But I'm no expert, so if you wanna try that, go ahead.

Found some fittings at the hardware store and installed these on the four cupboard doors behind the tub. I love that these are "originals" from "Our Old House" and not modern, new ones from the store.

Nobody else knows but me (and you) but it pleases me to know. I'll have good memories every time I open these doors.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Google Earth and 1944 German POWs in Iowa

There's a treasure trove in that building. At least, there used to be when I worked there.

For thirty-three years I worked as a secretary at the local Soil and Water Conservation District. My job was paperwork. I was the expert on paperwork in our office. I knew the manuals, the guidelines, the correspondence. I created files. I purged files. The files were my territory.

Housed in the office were several sets of aerial photos of the county. We had complete county coverage for the years 1936, 1940, 1949, 1954, 1960, 1966, 1973, 1980, 1985. It's been awhile, so I may be off a year or so on one or another.

Some years the photos were smaller in terms of miles to the inch. These smaller sets were stored in drawers or boxes. Others were larger, eight inches to the mile, and were housed on shelves in a small storage room. In our work with farmers we used photos nearly every hour of every day.

The 1936 photos had soil survey information inked thereon. They provided valuable soil information to farmer and technician alike and one could look at a field and know that corn would do well on this area but the soil over in that corner would be full of clay, too wet in the spring, too dry and cracked in dry season. Knowing your ground is valuable to a farmer. We gave him that knowledge.

The 1940 set gave stereoptic coverage. The photos were taken with two cameras on the plane, placed just the right distance apart that two side-by-side photos were just slightly different. One could place the two photos on the desk, overlapping them just right and with a special stereoptic glass, view them in 3-D. It was fascinating to look down on housetops and trees and hills and ditches. Leafless trees of a winter in 1940 still cast their shadows. One could even guess what time of day the photo was taken by orienting north/side and by analyzing the shadow. One could say those maps were the "google earth" of that time!

One day a lady came into our office and asked to see the 1949 aerial photos. Her father, who had been the town doctor during the 1940s-1960s, had been the "camp doctor" at a German prisoner of war camp west of the small town of Onawa, out by the Missouri River. As a young girl she used to ride with her father when he drove out to provide medical care to the men.

I helped her find the location on the maps and she pointed out to me the buildings where German POWs lived prior to the end of World War II.

I wish I had asked more questions. According to this article, the men were working on stabilizing the banks of the Missouri River. The camp, as a branch camp of the one at Algona, Iowa, probably housed fewer than 100 men at any one time, and most times, fewer even than that.

The buildings of the camp are now long gone. But their presence is still on the maps.

I hope the Soil and Water Conservation District never lets go of those aerial maps.

And I wonder what kind of aircraft flew that 1936 flight!

Disclaimer: This photo is not the actual aerial of the camp mentioned herein.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Dare You to Say that Ten Times - Real Fast!

Eyjafjallajokull, pronounced ay-yah-FYAH'-plah-yer-kuh-duhl. (Ooops, another website says to pronounce it AY-uh-full-ay-ho-kul.) Take your choice. I dare you to say that real fast ten times.

That's the name of the glacier in Iceland beneath which a volcanic eruption is currently spewing a plume of ash up to 7 miles into the atmosphere. You can read more here.

A huge cloud of ash has spread over northern Europe, halting all air traffic, leaving thousands stranded. Aircraft do not do well flying through clouds of volcanic debris. It's just not safe. And so people are stranded.

Funny how this ol' "earth" keeps us on our toes. We go along, thinking life is routine, that we are in charge of our daily affairs. And then some volcano erupts, spewing darkness, destruction and disruption into our lives. And all the while we thought we were in control of life's events.

It is true that there are some things in life that we control. For the most part our decision to get a job, pay the bills, create a home can be carried out by due diligence and perseverance. In my early working life I worked in a plant that manufactured electrical components for the space industry. Then a move back to Iowa took me to a job as a check-out clerk at the local grocery store. Then a friend encouraged (badgered) me into applying for a job that I worked for the next 33 years...a job that provided good benefits and good retirement. But at the time I didn't think of the retirement...I just wanted a good pay check. But not everyone is fortunate enough to find a good job, no matter how diligent. Look at those areas of the world where poverty abounds. Life is uncertain.

As for the volcano? This earth is groaning. Volcanoes. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Hail. Floods.

The earth we live on is not a constant planet. Things happen. Volcanoes erupt. Life is not easy. Even to those who seem to have it all. The young, the beautiful, the blooming. No, life is not easy. And it is good to recognize early in life that without the provisions that God provides (divine providence), we would have nothing. Not an ounce of clear air to breathe. Not a single stalk of wheat to eat. Not an acre of ground over which to sweat as we beat back the weeds of life.

The words that God spoke to Adam, spoken as due penalty to his sin of disobedience, were to him and to all his descendants. That's us. We're in this with Adam.

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:17-19

And in context of the world we live upon we see our dilemna more fully spoken by Paul to the Romans.

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. Romans 8:22. All of creation deals with chaos and catastrophy. And we live in the midst of it.

Thankfully, someday...Some Day...the destruction will be done. And all things will be made new.

Rev. 21:4-5 ..He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.".And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new " And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true."

In the meantime we live here and now. Take care of the matters of today. Take care of your loved ones. Be kind to one another. Recognize that God is the one in control; and not you.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It Pays to Be Cautious Out There. Real Cautious!

There are six of us in the room. The waiting room. We're each there to see the eye doctor. Except me. I'm the designated driver.

I'm not conducive to conversation this day...last Friday I had the heavy dosage of chemo (three drug combo) and my body feels tired and heavy. I'm motating okay. I'm just a bit quiet. And a tad grumpy.

The room is tiny...only 10 or 12 chairs and a tiny shelf holding magazines. A small room makes for conversation.

The older couple across the room (older than I by perhaps two decades) are conversationalists. They have already mentioned that the hubby has been getting shots in his eyes for macular degeneration. He's been doing that for some time. His driver's license is up for renewal soon. He hopes he will be able to pass the vision test.

Wifey reassures us with, "Bob is really an excellent driver." And then she adds this bit of information about herself..."I'm the sign reader. I see them good."

Bob feels he needs to fill in the blanks. He adds, "I don't want to take my eyes off the road." While she reads the signs, that is.

They like to drive to San Antonio each year. I checked it on mapquest. That's 982 miles due south of here.

If you're on the road between Iowa and Texas it's probably a good idea to be cautious on the highway. Real cautious. Just sayin'.

P.S. Today's word is "motate"! Can you believe "motate" is not in the dictionary? I've been using this word from way back. I can't believe it's not in Webster's! I found the definition in an online "unword" dictionary. Go figure. Then motate on down the highway.
  • (mō'tāt)

1. (v.) To leave.

Origins: From Latin movEre, to move, and -atus, to act upon; possibly related to the use of a motorized vehicle.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

There's a Large Pile of Dirt in our Garden

One of my favorite "green" things to do is to compost. And while there are numerous "technically correct" ways to compost, I do it the simple way.

Here's my method.

Toss veggie waste, coffee grounds, tea bags, etc., into a stainless steel bowl or other container. Empty that bowl daily in a pile somewhere in the garden. (If you don't empty it daily, mold will grow...that's up to you but I don't like to do that!) Now and then shovel a thin layer of soil over the plant material. If the summer is dry, give it a good shower with the sprinkler. The microbes who do their work need a bit of moisture. If you find a stray earthworm or two in your garden, toss them on the pile, too. They'll burrow down and enhance the composting.

Now and then dig into the pile and turn some of it over to allow the outside areas to get into the composting going on in the center of the pile.

Once you have a sizeable pile, begin a new pile in a new location. Generally it takes a couple months or more to mellow down to compost. In the fall of the year the pile will need to sit there over the winter. By the following spring you should have good compost.

Never add oils or fat or meat products. Use only plant matter (which includes coffee grounds, filter and all).

Be wary of tossing old tomato plants onto the pile due to the diseases that may introduce to next year's tomato crop.

Be wary of tossing in seeds from squash, etc., unless you are ready to spade under the new plants...which isn't a bad idea...they will enhance the pile.

Even in the winter, we'll continue to toss material onto a pile...usually a new pile, letting the first one mellow. But last winter we were unable to do that...the compost was buried under several feet of snow drift. So last winter I was sad to have to toss all that good veggie waste in the garbage! Sigh!

There are all kinds of things you can do to enhance our method...using boards or wires to build a larger pile! Purchasing commercial composting barrels. Using the small "indoor" composting buckets. But I like to keep life simple.

We often compost leaves this way, putting them into a large pile, layered here and there with a bit of garden soil.

P.S. We Never use Oak leaves...those leave are practically indestructible and take a long time to compost. We have no oaks but our neighbor lady does...and we wish the wind did not blow from her direction. Sigh!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Head On Over!

I'm selfishly hoping you will pay no attention when I tell you that John Bird over at While We Sojourn is having a book giveaway.

(Yes, I admit that self-centeredness is a sin, and truthfully, I will be happy for anyone who wins this book.)

The book? Eric Metaxas’s new hardback biography, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

On April 9, 1945 (65 years ago), Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor and theologian, was executed at the Flossenburg concentration camp for daring to stand up to the evils of Hitler and the Nazis. His death came just three weeks prior to May 2, 1945, when the Germans surrendered in Berlin.

So head on over to John's giveaway. Click here to leave a comment on John's blog to be eligible for the drawing. He has two copies to give away.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tossing and Turning and Words in the Wee Hours

It is a consistent thing in my life that in the wee hours of the morning, somewhere around 3:36 AM, I awaken. I glance at the clock. Sometimes it's 3:34 or 3:38. But I awaken consistently within a ten-minute time frame. And when it is the later time I note that I have been tossing and resisting the awakening.

I don't know why. It's not train time. There are several trains that go through town during the night with most of them hauling Wyoming coal to the power plant up near the city. Trains with coal cars that are sometimes decorated with graffiti. Colorful graffiti probably painted by gang members and so even though it is colorful I try not to admire it too much. (Am I the only one who cannot read what they are writing?)

Early this morning, while lying awake, I was thinking of several things, several people, saying prayers, reciting Scripture in my head. And one of the verses that popped into my head was this one:

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Surely, with the splendid awesomeness of our natural world, one's mind must be drawn to the fact of a Creator. Something cannot come from nothing. Even the most astute scientist cannot say something comes from nothing...although I have not spoken to that man, whoever he may be, so perhaps he might try to explain how something CAN come from nothing. But I bet not. The science world always explains how things were created from SOMEthing.

But to my way of thinking there has to be something before "the beginning". Something outside of us. Something beyond us. And so I believe in a Creator God and I believe in Him as explained in the Bible.

This verse talks about the man who wishes to draw near to God and that he must first believe that there is God and secondly that God rewards those who seek Him.

I want to say that this "reward" is not the reward as promised by the "health, wealth, and prosperity" gospel, that promise of some famous or infamous TV preachers that if you send in your seed money of $58 or $75 or $15 and promise to do so monthly that you will reap a great financial harvest. It seems to me there is an aura of "Gimme" in their words. Doesn't it seem funny that they always want you to send your money to THEM and not to your LOCAL church or even, indeed, to the local FOOD PANTRY or even to a family member who is losing their home.

The promise of those things (riches now) is of too short duration. In fact Jesus tells his disciples (and all followers) they will undergo suffering and persecution in life. (John 16:33) Life on this earth is hard. There is not a single solitary soul who escapes the trauma, the tragedy, the loss of loved ones, the struggle just to survive and to make life a decent place for self and family. Yes, there are days and seasons of "good". But we all go through the tough seasons as well. (And since suffering hits all, we should be compassionate to others in their time of need.)

Now I do believe that God does indeed bless us with the things of "here and now" with each of us being blessed in different ways. Our forebears certainly were not blessed with the knowledgeable medical care that we have available. Nor did they have such comfy homes as we have, with dishwashers, laundry machines, warm furnaces, and hot water available at the spigot.

Even in my life time, as a child, we never went to the doctor unless our temperature hit 104 and that was only because Mom knew that having a fever that high or higher could cause brain damage.

Even in my lifetime we lived in homes with no electricity or inside plumbing and using an outdoor facility called an "outhouse".

Even in this lifetime many around the world live in poverty and starvation and joblessness and you name it. I challenge you to preach to them the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel and tell them to "name it and claim it". I hope they boot you out the door, if they have a door through which to boot you.

No, the rewards of this lifetime may simply be existing another day. And sometimes that is the prayer of the day..."Give us this day our daily bread."

I've come to believe that when the writer of Hebrews wrote "that he rewards those who seek him" that the reward spoken of does include the things of now, the "daily bread"", the things I need now to live through the day. It includes peace of mind in the midst of good and bad. But more importantly, it includes an eternal reward, a knowledge that there is more to this life than the "now", that eternal life (which begins now.. see John 5:24) awaits those who have faith in the Creator God and what He has provided us through Christ's dying for our sins... forgiveness, salvation, justification, and the robe of righteousness that we will wear when we stand before the throne of judgment.

That verse, Hebrews 11:6, is short but it is powerful to the one who reads and hears.

The photo? A small reminder of the creative power of God. My granddaughter took this photo in Oregon last week. Thanks, Mel!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring is a Daffy Time of Year

Finally. The time has arrived. The snow drifts are gone. The air temps are kind. The first daffs are in bloom.

Spring has arrived.

If you've been paying attention you will know that thanks to another round of chemo, I do not presently have hair atop my head. The photo is from two years ago. But the daffs are the same. Only the hair has changed. Er, Um, disappeared entirely. (Sigh!!)

In my experience, daffodils are much more likely than tulips to come back year after year after year. Oh, I like tulips well enough...I like the variety of color and differing heights and just plain loveliness. But I do not have good luck with them. Each year they seem less prolific than the year before.

But my daffodils! Oh, my, how they do love to bloom every spring. And how I do love seeing the first bloom each year.

P.S. I am doing really well in regards to the chemo. Other than hair loss. For the most part I suffer no other side-effects other than slightly low blood counts. God is blessing me through this time. And I am grateful.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Whereupon I Notice Strange Things Today

It's not that I know everyone in our small town by name but I do recognize most faces as being "locals". So it seemed a bit unusual today at the grocery store when I saw nothing but strange faces...strangers. It seemed so unusual that I actually looked around me to see if I were imagining things.

One young mother in particular caught my eye. She was dressed like a hippie or a Mother Earth type. Not that there's anything wrong with's just that we haven't had any hippies around here for decades. She had two delightful toddlers in tow. The younger of the two wore a leash that was attached to a loop on her mother's pants. Nobody around here uses child leashes although it seems like a reasonable and sensible thing to my way of thinking. Easy to keep track of a kid that moves quickly. The two little girls appeared happy and well loved.

Her grocery cart was filled to the max and a second cart held six gallons of milk and six gallons of water. I wondered if they were traveling or perhaps lived way out in the boonies somewhere in the hills on the far side of the county.

We left at the same time so out of curiosity I looked for her license plate to see if she were local or "out-of-town". No license plate on the back of her old Toyota. As I exited the parking lot I noted no license plate on the front either. I wondered how long she'd been driving without plates. Strange.

Then I stopped at the thrift shop. A young mother was checking out a large stack of jeans and shirts. Her young daughter was happily carrying a blue stuffed dog which she told me was "Sado Abigail". Her mother explained that what she was saying was "Sarah Abigail". Nothing unusual about that...a young Mom saving money by buying clothes and a stuffed dog at the thrift shop. Then I overheard the mother tell the clerk that she should probably head on home as she had left a pan of eggs boiling on the stove!

I haven't heard the fire sirens so I suppose her home is still standing.



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Old is Made New

One of the benefits of last week's window replacement was that the upheaval put me into "clean deep" mode. That mode is where you vacuum more than the main portion of the move furniture; you use the brush attachment to clean along the edges of the room; things get put away where they belong; the cleaning goes deep. It takes time to deep clean but when it's done? Oh! how good it feels!

The worst room in our house is my sewing room which also serves as my office and which contains a twin bed for the occasional guest. Last week this room got a much-needed deep clean. And to celebrate I put away the heavy quilt and put a light-weight vintage quilt on the bed for the summer.

About ten years ago I found a vintage quilt top (a Double Wedding Ring pattern) at a yard sale in the City. Judging by the fabrics I'd say this quilt was pieced together in the late 1930s or early 1940s. And then, for whatever reason, the quilter placed this top aside, folding it carefully, keeping it safely on a closet shelf for the next 60 years. There it lay, hidden away, waiting for me.

The quilt top became mine. I wanted it to be as authentic to the 1930s as possible so I used a very thin cotton batting and hand quilted it in the style of that time.

I was mildly surprised to notice in these photos that I missed completing the cross-hatching in one white area. I thought this quilt was finished! But, no, it needs a couple more hours of work to be done. If you click the photos you can get a closer view.

I won't show you the old version of this corner of the room. No, I'm reluctant to do that. But I do hope you enjoy the new, cleaned up version.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Glimpse of the New

I have serious things on my mind this morning. And not enough time to develop those thoughts into a post. So today...for your viewing the "after" of our living room window. (Ooops...already posted's a pic of the kitchen "after" as well.)

We were amazed that these two fellows could replace NINE windows (and one of them a large picture window as shown here) in a day and a half of work. They were meticulous and tidy. And when the job was finished I merely did a light vacuuming (they had already vacuumed using their shop vac before leaving each room) and the larger task of putting things back in order.

The old windows seemed sound. They were air tight...that is, we never experienced wind moving through them even on days of the worst blizzard. But they were single pane and anyone living in Iowa knows you need double panes to prevent heat loss through the glass.

Oh, we could have installed aluminum storms and been done with it. But we wanted windows that we could open...the old ones were "stuck" and every spring, in order to open a window in this room or that, we had to use a block of wood and a hammer to assist the cranking mechanisms.

We're pretty happy with this new energy saving addition to our house. And we're pretty happy with Jeff and Paul, the installers for a job well done.