Saturday, January 21, 2023

A Change and a Parting

The title of this Blog Post comes from a book with that title that my mother bought while on a bus trip to the Amana Colonies in the early 70's or 80's. I didn't read it, but she thought it was beautiful and sad...  And that is what this blog is about...  things that are both beautiful, but a little sad. First...  I just have to show you the improvements/resorations we've had done to our farm. It really is improving the land, as far as value, utility, and aesthetics. But there the denotation meets the connotation, and the reality meets the memories. I have a wonderful renter who approached me about the conditions of the waterways/ditches/gulleys, etc on my land. This young farmer is really kind, and both my mother and I have sold him some acreage from this farm in the past. What for years was a 240-Acre farm is now a little over a 100-acre woods...  but we really needed to do that, and my mother was harder like nails in respect to keeping the land up or letting it go.

So he talked to me about an idea to have some dozing done to improve the erosion and fix some of the passes between the fields over some of the creeks. I agreed, wondering how much that was going to cost me, but realizing it was all a part of the word, restore. I say a person needs to be careful of that Word of the Year. It can manifest quickly! 

Next I got a happy phonecall that he had sold some of the timber among the brush he had to bulldoze anyway. He wanted to know if I wanted to do the same on my land. The logs might just pay for the bulldozing, and that sounded "better than good," as my Dad used to say. 

Having a local sawmill made this easy work. The man in charge hires two Amish gentlemen to cut the trees. He told my renter that he could spend several grand on one of those fancy tree-cutting pieces of equipment like the Power Company uses...  or he could buy the best chain saws he could find and hire these Amish men for several hundred dollars...  The Amish woodcutters can fell 200 trees a day, although most times, such as this one...  they only needed to cut about 18 or so. My payment was only about $100 to $150 dollars per tree because they were not really the kind of wood for furniture or houses..  more the kind they use to make pallets...  I wouldn't sell more for that because the druids and fairies are still pretty made about it anyway... I don't want to press my luck or anything. However, I was thrilled not to have that big bulldozing debt!

Here are my old friends, those beautiful trees that I always have protected with my fiercest being.  It makes me sad, but the land produces more trees if the environment is cleared responsibly. Plenty remain to take their place, whether in my lifetime or the next. I think I will use anything extra  for a whole house humidifier for our new furnace. 

And then... the real sadness...  But oh, it had to be done. My grandfather's barn is being excavated. A few years ago I stopped on the way to school (making myself late, but worth any gruff I got) and snapped this picture of the barn as it was becoming a ruin. In its day, this was a showpiece. I spent the happiest afternoons with Pawpaw in here...  We told stories, played in the oat bin, used an old rotary corn sheller for grain to feed the chicken...  I carefully chose 13 straight ears of corn each for his old sows in a muddy pen behind the barn. I was allowed into the holy ground of newborn calves, of hand feeding those babies whose mothers had not survived the birth...  It was just a magical place that always bore the aroma of his Beechnut tobacco. Pawpaw taught me to spit really far, and I can remember the day he let me in on his secret of why he could spit even farther. He reminded me that he had a big wad of chewin' tobacco while I only had saved up saliva...  Of course, I clamored for some chaw...  but he never gave me more than a baby pinch... just a smidge of a taste. I guess he knew that my grandmother would kill him dead if she caught on to ANY of our shenanigans. We could take his German Shepherd dog there, unleash her in the corn crib portion, and say, "Rrrrrrrrrrrrats!" Pat would tear into those rats in there, and in less than two minutes she would have tossed out eight or ten at our feet. Paw-paw took the "stunned-but-not-dead-enough" rats and put them in a bucket tied with a rope. He drowned them in the pond for a few days and then threw them out into a big pile of wood he planned to burn...  I won't tell you that one time I threw a rat that had been in the water too long, and its tail came off in my hand...   I won't say it because I haven't stopped screaming to this day! I don't make any noise any more, but I still scream! lol

Time was not good to this old barn, and through the past few years it has grown more and more sad. In fact, one of my friends recently shared that she and her kids always called it "the sad old barn" as they watched for it along their way home from a trip to Moberly, a town to the south of here. She said they always knew they were over half way home when they saw it. I can say I always knew where I was when I saw it, too...  and that was ALL the way home. However, I have come to terms that it had to be torn down. It was no longer beautiful, even to someone like me who LOVES old barns and ruins...  there is a moment when it becomes pitiful...  and my barn was past that point. My lawn mower is wonderful! He texted me with the idea that he would take it as a Winter's project if he could have the materials..  There would have been the corrugated metal siding and then the pretty barn wood ( if you like that look, and I'm one who does). That's all he wanted...  the materials he could salvage.  I said, "Yes!" of course.

For most of my adult life I always knew my first money spent if I ever won the lottery (Unlikely since I didn't buy lottery tickets) would be to salvage this old barn. Now I will need another dream because honeys, it's gone.  Or nearly so. My renter sent me these pictures the other day. Time, you ticking villain...  

I won't see this probably until February 10th, when I have to go back to see the doc... So the shock of not seeing my trees or the barn is kind of on hold... I know these are improvements.  It's a good thing, as Martha says...  It's a very good thing.

And I will say that in that big box? Well, half of it was broken! 

Unfortunately I thought only one-fourth was broken, so that's what I got refunded from the Ebay seller...  This is what it was supposed to be...  Folk Art Pfaltzgraff canisters. I had always loved this pattern, and I bought the whole set in the 80's. Mine got away from me, so I repurchased some more there...


Packaging can be very difficult...

However, I really do love the ones who survived...  They look quite at home, little familiars on my cabinet shelf. 

I have decanted a lot of my groceries, and I really enjoy the ability to look at what is left. I always repurchase brown sugar, so I really need to either make a ton of stuff or...  stand down on that. 

Have a fun weekend...  My next post will have Cookies in it...  How's that for a teaser? I wish I could bake them up all warm and delicious for you and sit here at my table with a hot cup of coffee and you...  You could tell me about your "barn" stories or something dear to your own memory palace...  I can dream...

Whimsy and Hugs!

Thursday, January 19, 2023

January is Moving Fast!

It is really hard to imagine that five seconds ago we were ringing the New Year into existence, and now we're on the downhill half of its very first month! I for one, am really always amazed at that old ticking villain, so I guess I might as well stop marveling and just accept what is and isn't possible to comprehend. Welcome back to Oatmeal and Whimsy. I'd like to say I'll be a bit more visible this year, but I guess I just won't make any promises. I have made two journals this month. This one, which I just listed in my little Etsy shop, and then one for a sweet little lady who just turned one hundred years old. She lives in our local rest home, and unfortunately came down with Covid the week of her hundredth birthday. She was quarantined, and her party had to be rescheduled. I made the journal for a friend, who is her niece, to give as a gift. I hear the birthday girl is doing fine and has no symptoms! That's good news.

I love to start every season with one of my sweet Precious Moments seasonal girls inside my cloche. It is a tradition I've accomplished for several years, even if I usually sneak her in there a couple weeks late! I think Winter is my favorite girl. The others I keep in a china cabinet in my bedroom.


 I rearranged the movable furniture again in the kitchen, but someone wouldn't let me touch her window throne... She is like clockwork, sitting there, welcoming every morning, and watching the dawn's bird situation or whatever it is she cherishes. We think probably that she doesn't have really good vision during the darker part of the night. She seems more distraught then, and by that I mean LOUD.... lol..

I do love a good rag rug or a sweet Sturbridge plaid. I bought several rugs from a shop on Etsy called Vintage Young 'Un... I really love her rugs, and she names each one... The surest way to my heart and my checking account is to give something a name! I was really smitten by paint chips and car names... Do you remember the time during the nineties when they didn't have names for cars, but they used numbers? Yeah... I don't remember even one of those numbers, but I'll never forget a Biscayne or a Firebird... or a precious BelAir.

My dear friend found these amazing tea bags for my Christmas gift... They sit balanced on a teacup while steeping! It reminds me of the little cats on the YouTube videos I watch from Japan. I love to see those young Japanese girls clean their already-immaculate apartments, steep their tea, slice their vegetables... It really calms, restores and inspires me...  

I have tried a lot of tea, but I really can endorse the rather inexpensive teas from Aldi. I like this peppermint as well as its more costly cousins, and I also like their Chamomile better than some, although chamomile itself is rather an acquired taste with me. What I really wish I could find is a sassafras like I used to drink with my grandmother. I guess it thins the blood too much, and they took it off the market. We must have had really thin blood back then because we drank the dickens out of it!

This was one of my gifts from my son. I really love it. I had really been dissatisfied with the microwave I purchased a couple years ago. I went for cheap, and it was actually terrible! Nothing really fit in there, and it was always off the center and unable to rotate. I had to run it twice as long to get things warm... This is a professional one, and it makes me happy... As you see in the "window."

I am anxious to try this seasoning. Farm Dust? I have some of that everywhere, but I wouldn't necessarily want it on my burgers, huh? This bronzed/silvered picture frame thing was my grandmother's, and the large picture is of my mother, and of course, those are her shoes. I'm the little miss in the upper photos, and my son is the cutie bug in the ones on the rug (yep... another from Vintage Young 'Un.)

Sometimes Callie just wants to be restored all day long!

This box arrived today... I will let you guess what's inside... Not what's pictured! Hints: It is vintage. It was purchased on Ebay. I sold mine a few years ago, which I had also purchased on Ebay... And I didn't need it, but... I wanted it back... It may just be more than one item... a set, so to speak... Stay tuned for the big reveal in a day or two... or three... Have a great week.

Whimsy and Hugs!

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

New Year Wishes

Whimsy and Hugs!

Well, it's now past Christmas, and I know all of you are experiencing that post-season lull....  unless you're in high gear toward the rest of your parties and family get-togethers and New Year ideas...  in which case, you are in a flurry of preparations and what not.  Either way, the old order changeth, yielding place to new, and it will soon be 2023...  Throughout this post are little photos of a quilt I purchased on Etsy this summer. I love all the handwork!  I don't think it actually does itself justice on the bed, so I plan to put it on my quilt rack, but I did want to start the year with the soft blues and whites that I so dearly cherish. I made the granny afghan a few years ago from a yarn I found online. I'm not sure what brand it was, but I really liked that dark color-change. I love doing things in that because I'm not in love with tying in my loose ends... in life or in crochet! lol...  See what I did there?

I'm discovering part 2 of the unexpected pleasure of not decorating very much. I don't have anything to take down really...  a few festive touches here and there, but mainly. I need to clean! That never fails. I can't believe how much dust happened... Could it have been my furnace repair?  Yeah..  I'll go with that...  ha! ha! 

I am having a bit of my favorite, though not overly healthy breakfast. I love strawberry pop tarts. I prefer the unfrosted version, but I can't find them at Aldi's. So...  I love strawberry poptarts warmed in the microwave with a daub of butter...  And I can justify all that because it is quite hard to find things I can eat with joy...  My dentist /surgeon was highly recommended. In fact, he had the caveat of being the NUMBER ONE dental surgeon in Columbia, MO.  I am wondering just who named him that? I mean...  Nobody that I know has had all her teeth removed more than once, so...  how would a person compare him to anyone else?  I guess he was fine. He charged so much that I will probably never ever "love" him...  That's a sad but true thing about my spirit...  And it's hard to say he did a good or a bad job when he sliced into my palate/roof of my mouth and stitched it up like a crazy quilt...  I don't feel very good about all of it... YET...  blisters on my gums and all kinds of weird thoughts about the whole aging process just make me unhappy...  So I don't really plan to think about them after today...  right now.  Aren't you all the lucky ones to catch this last bit and bob of negativity...  lol...

My cousins and I had kind of a memory-fest on Christmas Eve. They all provided some photos of family dishes they were preparing. As children we spent every Christmas Eve together with our family in our grandparents' lovely home in Excello. I actually didn't prepare any of the traditional favorites from those day, so I provided this photo of the actual door to my grandmother's front porch. As you see, I haven't painted it in all these years. It spent the majority of time since the 1970's in Daddy's barn loft...  What doesn't show well is an etched light house in the glass, which has thickened at the base and bubbled through the years.

We are all cozy and happy with our new furnace, newly fixed plumbing...  That expanded (of course, to include a frantic search for a plumber at the crest of Minus 34 degree windchill.  Those guys are in high demand. Our problem was located by the nicest 25 year old furnace installer.  He was a jewel. He even uprooted an old phone down in that dark dungeon of a basement that belonged to my dad. He asked if he could have it, and I gladly said YES! He took a video of the leak on our main line. Who knows how long that's been happening. All fixed now. The young man was really, really kind.... and I thanked him. Then he said it. "I always like to be good to the elderly." What? My son didn't blink an eye. That child has had so many health problems I'm afraid he has felt elderly most of his life.
But I sure didn't like that thought very well...  A few hours later, my son burst into laughter when he heard me mutter under my breath: "ELDERLY!!!" 

We had a white Christmas, and the weather warmed up a little, so I think families could better get together. I will say my love of Winter has its limits, and that windchill with the accompanying 30-35 mph icy blasts really pushed those limits!  Our windows play haunting melodies, and I tried to capture them with my phone recordings, but it just wouldn't pick them up...  All that led to my believing it is entirely magical, which made me start rethinking if I want to replace these old windows at all...  Ahem! And all that brings me to my typical post for the end of the year! I have to discuss my word of the year for the next trip around the sun.

As any of you who've followed me know, I delight in choosing a word of the year, and I usually struggle quite a bit, settle, change it, and then pounce on what seems perfect. This year was not an exception to that pattern. I started with a pretty good feeling for the words MINDFUL or INTENTIONAL. I thought I needed to ground myself and plan, maybe get a groove going to become, at last, that kind of person who could actually benefit from planting some well-thought out goals and reaping an expected harvest.  I reminisced and chided myself for some of my other words of the year from my past, such as Whimsy and Sparkle. "That's what you get for those kinds of words... You are mumble mumble years old...  Grow up and be intentional!" I was pretty self satisfied...  for a few days. Then, alas! I just couldn't do it. I do want to be intentional and mindful, but I just don't want to read it into my every waking minute.   Much like a little miss I had in my English 1 class. I asked her if she liked to read, and she wailed, "I guess I like to read, but I just wouldn't want to make a habit if it!" I've never stopped laughing about her...  Sweet Kelly....  I will get to the point (and the word) fairly fast. I promise! I wrote down about 30 or 40 words that my friends had used in years past. I loved them all. I could honestly see myself with Create or Imagine. I loved the idea of JOY and a year dedicated to its pursuit.

Finally, though, I just gave it all up. 2023 would be the year I just didn't choose a word of the year. It wouldn't matter. I have often forgotten what my word was the year before, and I've had to look up this very post from prior years to figure it out. I chose Encourage for 2022. I'm glad I chose that, because boy-howdy! I have needed it. 'Take Heart, Daughter." was my scripture, and I needed that one, too. As my lack of posts has shown, my little spirit has been tired this year. And I really hated that tiredness of spirit.

Then... VOILA! A word crept into my heart, and I began to sing it loud and clear. I love the word resonate...  And my word of the year for 2023 resonated with my soul.  My word is RESTORE.  I love that! I have needed restoration. My life needs it, my faith at times, my health for sure, and my home.  My goodness. How could I be so lucky as to find this word? It covers anything and everything. I'm totally happy with it. I can see it playing out no matter what dumps into my path... and hopefully as the path clears a little, restoration can continue for a long time to come. There are no shortages to the good scriptures about restoration. I like them all.  I think this one is new to me, and we are just now studying Amos. So I'm starting the year with Amos 9:15, "And I will bring my people Israel back from exile.  'They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit.'" 

So, dear friends, there you have it...  My word... my mis-matched bed...  all of it. I am off to explore the wilds of my Studio. I plan to get some journals done and listed in my Etsy shop. Valentines and other wintry things sound good to me right now. I'm a little over Christmas... although those lights on my tree still are magic to my soul!

If I don't see you before Sunday, Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2022

So this is Christmas!

Season's Greetings and all the best of everything to the dear ones who clicked on my blog today. I have understandably been kind of awol for a couple of weeks,but I'm back with all the best intentions for a lovely, quiet, cozy Christmas on Meadowlane. We have not been awol from our ongoing quest to spend every penny this year we can. Ha! 

For quite a few months both this year and last I kept telling my son that I smelled something like car exhaust. At first he'd go to the window and see if there happened to be some stray vehicle idling away in our drive while its occupants strolled around somewhere. But that seemed dumb after a bit because we live in the middle of nowhere, and to get here, you drive down a very long driveway in clear view of our  front picture window...  He has the sensitive olfactories of the family, even to the point that he cannot tolerate most of my beloved candles. I have missed that familiar scent of vanilla and banana bread and caramel pecan, but of course, I love him a gazillion times more, so I have most of my candles put away until maybe a miracle comes to cure him of this asthma. So I figured if he didn't smell that awful pervasive exhaust, I was probably just being weird. But finally last Monday, I got the furnace guy here to check it out. Ya think?

He went to the basement and then I saw him flat out running to his panel truck. I have to admit that I have always felt just a little rich when there is a panel truck in my drive.  And oh, my goodness, if it's a truck with a piece of furniture or an appliance? I'm in over the moon with button-bustin' pride! LOL... I think all that is due to my angel daddy who was a do-it-yourselfer with a fierceness unknown to common man. That man could do anything and did. He would never call in a professional. I know if he would have had access to YouTube, he would have been unstoppable. Anyway...  the guy comes to the door and announces, "I don't have very good news for you." I was not surprised, actually, given the amount of cash these teeth have cost us. He told us the dampness in our basement had rusted the burners on our twenty year old furnace, and we needed a new one at the tune of four grand. Of course we did. So I am hopeful to see it in the near future. It's ordered, supply-chain nonsense  has ensued, and we are awaiting a phone call for that. One man said don't run it, but the other one said to run it low due to Carbon Monoxide!!!  eeek!

Meanwhile, my son's toilet has backed up AGAIN. Did I ever stress just how old this house is? It could just be the typical backup, or it could be frozen because we've had the furnace set as low as we dare until the new one comes. I am actually not as chilly as my son. He really has taken the colder house to heart, and he spends his days divided between his room with its new computer and frigid temps and the living room where we are running a space heater.

Oh, yes. The space heater blew a fuse and we had to call an electrician. He announced that we really should start looking into rewiring our house which is peg and knob or pillar and post or something I've heard said on renovation shows. I am pretty sure he tossed out the figure of maybe 30 thousand?!!!  What? oKAY.  I will start thinking... and then I'll probably stop.

And then just this second my phone rang, and the plumber has a stomach ache. There were a lot of details, but my mind thankfully has an off switch. I haven't told my son he has to traipse through the house another day at least...  

Oh, did I start this post with Merry Cozy Christmas?  I really do mean it. All this stuff really doesn't bother me very much. It's just part of a funny story or expected string of misfortunes that don't really matter in the great scheme of things. Health issues and life and emotional well-being.... they matter.  Money and broken furnaces don't. I am truly glad that I finally had some sense and had that smell checked out because it was actually carbon monoxide... although our detector has yet to screech... 

I will be posting again soon, maybe before Christmas. Our house is welcoming and I made a huge dutch oven  of delicious chicken noodle soup. It was super easy. 

Winter's Chill Chicken/Noodle Soup

1 package curly or straight egg noodles. (Mine are short and straight)
I boiled these in a minimal amount of water, and I didn't drain them...  Use your own judgement and stir a lot. I didn't salt my water either due to the salt content of what follows:
2 large cans Swanson Canned Chicken
1 pound cubed Velveeta
1 can Cream of Chicken Campbell's Soup
I can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can green chilies
generous black pepper.
1-2 t. cumin
1-2 T. chili powder

Stir all together until cheese melts

1 scant carton sour cream. Don't boil after this.
1 splash of heavy cream or milk. I had cream just sitting in the fridge after a quiche.
I didn't add salt because there is a lot of sodium happening so far due to the soups and the cheese. 

This would have been great to have other spring vegetables in there, but I just added half a bag of fresh spinach.  It sort of soaked up the extra liquid and added some color. I think frozen peas would have been amazing.  I even had some, but I just didn't add them.

Well...  I have been thinking of candidates for my word of the year 2023.

You would never guess in a million years!

I'm here to tell you there is nothing like being done with Christmas really early and then taking a figurative nap and seeing that old tortoise chugging by! lol...  Six days until Christmas!

I didn't get Callie a sweater. She couldn't have moved a muscle in it anyway. I've tried clothes on her, and she acts as if she's been shot with a machine gun. Boom.... flat on her side! lol...

Whimsy and Hugs!