Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Did you know that technically speaking, your PC shouldn't be able to run on less than 20% of free memory?

That was an interesting little tidbit of information my Dad gave me over the holiday. Lest you think my Dad just sits around blurting out random nuggets of trivia, let me just say, we found out ours is running on a whopping 3% right now.

Eeeek! My dad said he couldn't figure out how our PC was even turning on, and it showed what a good unit it is. That is reassuring, but knowing we are skating on VERY.THIN.ICE is not.

I got a call from my stepmother yesterday letting us know that she just mailed a hard drive for our tower. Doesn't that make it sound like I know what I'm talking about? I do.. now. Initially, when my Dad first discovered our lack of memory he offered to send an extra hard rive to bump it up with plenty room to spare. I told Dale later that I appreciated my Dad's thoughtfulness, but how on earth were we going to fit another tower by the computer? There is no room for so much a piece of paper. Well, I guess there is room for some paper, judging by the debris leftover here at the desk from a certain 5 year old's adventure in paper crown making.

Dale looked at me like I had 3 or 4 heads.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"The tower... how are we going to fit another one? The one Dad is sending?" I prodded his understanding.

Those of you who know Dale know what I am talking about when I say, he gave me a goofy little grin and said "we'll just hang it from the ceiling or something."

It was the goofy little grin. I knew it. He was pulling my leg.

Come to find out it isn't a TOWER that is the hard drive, but a little thingie that goes IN our current tower to boost the memory.


My stepmother also told me she put a cork in the package. Now some might think that is a not-so-subtle hint from my father to "put a cork in it", but there is an explanation that is less insulting to his favorite "dottah".

A while back, one of our gremlins left our fancy smancy Pfastgraff salt shaker on the stove while they were baking. The shaker is make out of ceramic, so that wasn't a problem. The cork, that holds all salt in from seeping out the bottom hole, was made out of plastic. We found out, that is a problem.

I love my salt and pepper shakers, so there was no way I was going to retire them because of the lack for a cork. For Thanksgiving I got four bottles of that yummy sparkling cider. Yes, I love the stuff, but my real motive was for the corks in the bottles. I was thinking I could whittle one down to fit the hole in the salt shaker. By getting four bottles I had some for error. I'm not the best at whittling.

All went well, and on Thanksgiving we opened the first bottle. My face crumpled up into a frown. That cork wasn't a cork! Not in the traditional sense. It was a plastic screw in cork. So much for my cleverness!

Anyway, my stepmother assured me they had REAL grown up corks and sent me one with the hard drive (not a tower! whew!).

"A Series of Unfortunate Events" is a book series by Lemony Snicket. Okay, seriously, think that might be a non de plume?

These books are for kids, but come with the disclaimer, in the first chapter in the very first book.

"If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle."

The dedications all go something like :
"To Beatrice- our love broke my heart, and stopped yours."
"To Beatrice - my love for you shall last forever. You, however, did not."
"To Beatrice- I would much prefer it if you were alive and well."

This series has been one of my children's favorites over the summer. It is about three children and all their misadventures. I read the first book and understood why the title of the series. My kids laugh at the happenings. I don't know if that means they are mature enough to understand the satire of the story, or that they are just hard hearted little beasts.

Though our life hasn't been as unfortunate as the Baudelaire siblings', I felt like the last couple days could be titled with their book series.

Monday, I realized I had only two days left to finish my novella challenge. I knew from my writing on Sunday, this would be possible, yea, even probable. I was confident I could accomplish the goal I had been working for so hard all month. I didn't take into account Mr. Isaac.

Isaac decided to start the day at 4a.m. Monday morning. He didn't start it pleasantly either. If he had been content to play and just burn off some energy with a happy countenance, I could have set up the lap top in the living room and taken some advantage of some unexpected writing time. I have the sorry little story saved on the word processor there instead of the PC for portability. In others, I can duck and hide to write in whatever corner is quiet when Dale is home.

Isaac was C-R-A-N-K-Y and had to be held, rocked, walked and finally he managed to fall asleep snuggled up to me in bed just before Dale left for work around 7a.m.

Not a good start to the day.

As a result, I overslept a bit, and with Isaac snoozing on our bed, I couldn't just get up and walk away for fear he would roll off, despite the barricade of pillows and blankets. I had to direct activities from our doorway. I did putter about a bit in the bedroom, and would have one of the twins come in to keep an eye on him while I did the wood stove or ate breakfast quickly and got thing rolling in the right direction.

So, I planned on writing like a mad woman last night. However, I could tell Dale needed to go to bed so I shoo'd him and the kids off to bed in a timely manner after supper, fully intending on writing while Isaac (the night owl) played for a while in the living room. I blocked off the big entrance way, got out the lap top and was ready to type.

Well, that didn't go so well. I think I got about fifteen words typed. Isaac is at that age where is into everything. Including my two flute cases. He got them unlocked and opened and the parts and pieces to the two flutes all mixed up while Benjamin sat right next to him, distracted by whatever he was doing on the computer. Since my tall teenager wasn't being helpful, I sent him to bed.

Then I shifted my agenda again. I figured I would play with Isaac, wear him out, and he would be in bed by say, 10p.m., and I could write for a while and still get a decent night's sleep.

Once again, Sir Isaac had other plans. He was WIRED last night. I changed diaper, snuggled up, rocked and rocked, and sang, stopped singing when he cried harder, and tried desperately to get him into a state of drowsiness.

Finally, after a very long session of rocking and crying, I stood up, and his eyes slammed shut.

Seriously? That was all I had to do?

I swayed/walked into the bedroom and after about five minutes of standing and gently rocking him, I felt Isaac get very heavy, and was able to put him in the crib.

By now it was almost midnight and I was too pooped to even think about writing. Two intense, late nights in a row were taking their toll, and I admitted defeat in the writing challenge. There is not a very good chance I'll be able to finish it by tonight, and have it validated for the 50k word count.

This is extremely frustrating to me because it makes it feel like all the hours I spent writing were for nothing, and just a big waste of time now. Plus, to fall short just a little over 5k from the goal is like kicking a body while they are down.

Oh, and just when I got into a nice deep sleep, guess who woke up? What is with this child? He must be allergic to sleep. Around 3 a.m., he was awake, but not bright eyed, so he thankfully fell back asleep quickly in our bed, snuggling with Mama. I was getting a kink in my back from whatever odd angle I was at, so I slipped off the bed, surround the child with pillows and extra blankets on one side, and told Dale I was going out to the couch. He got the part that Isaac was still in bed with him, but mumbled something at me incoherently. I have no clue what he said.

Before Dale left this morning he told me two things. 1) Isaac was in his crib so I didn't have to worry about him rolling off the bed. And 2) to try to get some writing time in today and when he got home I could write like crazy to try and beat the deadline.

Yeah, well... homeschooling 7 children doesn't leave a whole lot of time, but, hey, you never know! I am dubious but think I'll give it the ol' college try. If you see a cute little button on my blog tomorrow on the sidebar then you know I accomplished my goal. If not... well, best not to mention it. I may have to have an over tired, over caffinated, first class melt down.

Either that or a nap. :D

I know what you are thinking. All the time I spent here typing all this out I could have been writing on my story.

Yes and no. The problem is that I have been interrupted a billion times by kids and by someone at the door who wanted Dale, but ended up chatting with me for way too long. Whenever I am interrupted, it isn't a matter of just starting up again. There is lost momentum that has to be recovered, and my train of thought redirected. No offense, but for blog writing, it doesn't really matter. But for a story line, you kind of have to pay attention, if that makes any sense.

Before I go and check on Sleeping Beauty and maybe get a little while of writing in, here are a couple of awesome freebies this week.

This first one GET IT NOW. It was actually for yesterday, but I downloaded it this morning because of some puter issues I was having yesterday. It actually had nothing to do with the scant 3% free memory. Much to my embarrassment, it was pilot error. .

The Hiawatha Primer for grades 2-3. Could be tweaked for any age, really. This is a fantastic resource. Make sure you RIGHT CLICK and SAVE AS or you may not download. Usually the links on that page you can just click and it will automatically download, but this link didn't and I thought there was a problem with the site and tinkered and tried and finally figured it out this morning. I strongly encourage you to try this primer.

For Jerusha I have downloaded the Cinnamon Bear coloring book and the little online stories you can listen to are available until Christmas. Each chapter is about 15 minutes long. What a great little treat for the littles!

Okay, here is a great idea that I am going to do as soon as the writing crisis is over. An encouragement journal! You can make them for Christmas presents to give as family gifts, or just use it in your own home. One of my favorite bloggers, Abbi at Proverbs 31 Living has the tutorial on her blog, here.

Have a blessed day, ya'll.

I'm going to get more coffee.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY November 29th...

Outside my window... A very heavy frost after visiting the single digits overnight. The sun is coming up, and it looks like a gorgeous November day!

I am thinking... Mostly about finishing my NaNo challenge in two days.

I am thankful for...Time with family over the holiday.

From the learning rooms... Back to our normal schedule this week!

From the kitchen... Oatmeal for breakfast, and I need to clean the stove and figure out what to have for supper.

I am wearing...hunter green corduroy skirt, turtleneck, cranberry tweedish sweater.

I am creating... Sewing a church blouse for Jerusha, and church skirts for the twins. I'm knitting a BSJ for Isaac, and starting on a secret project. Shhh!

I am going... To be catching up on some of my sewing pile (hopefully) this week after the NaNo challenge is over. Whew!

I am reading... Ummmm..... hmmm.....

I am hoping... To be able to catch my breath before the rush before Christmas.

I am hearing... Children doing chores, and getting ready for the day.

Around the house...Laundry, general picking up, menu making, school work, and writing like crazy!

One of my favorite things... Sitting down with my laptop and having a good excuse to just write with abandon.

A few plans for the rest of the week:Basically just getting back to our routines, and working on some sewing and knitting.

For Guidelines go to: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Game Plan

Like almost every other American family, for us, this will be a busy week. At least up until Thursday. How do you prepare for Thanksgiving? Do you wing it? (No pun intended... maybe) Do you have a list, or lists to keep you on track? Or maybe you have lists but ignore them an just do whatever comes to mind? No matter how you do it, it gets done, and I'm sure you will have a lovely holiday.

I'm a list type person for the most part. I like to keep a "Ta Da" list. Not a "To Do" list, a "Ta Da" list. I like to see the tasks marked off. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. I've also learned that it helps to keep my expectations more realistic. I tend to plan way more than what Super Woman could do in one day. I don't always get everything crossed off. Truth is, I almost never get everything crossed off. But, I almost always get most of it crossed off. That is where the sense of "Ta Da" comes in.

I won't bore you with the details of my list for everyday but the basic game plan for this week is:

Monday: Detail clean the kitchen, laundry, start some cleaning downstairs, take the turkey out of the freezer.

Tuesday: Do the rest of the cleaning, laundry, prep the guest room, make dinner rolls, bake squash for a squash pie, check on the turkey and see how the defrosting is progressing.

Wednesday: Pie making day! This year we are making 2 apple pies, 2 lemon meringue pies, 1 french silk chocolate pie, 2 pumpkin pies, and 1 squash pie (my dad prefers squash over pumpkin, but I've noticed he's never refused pumpkin if the other wasn't available). Also, I make sure all the finishing touches are done on the cleaning, and poke at the turkey and pray it is defrosted for the next day. Wednesday evening after church I prep the turkey so I can shove it in the oven at O'darkthirty Thursday morning.

That is the basic plan. We try to eat between 1 and 1:30 or so. The rest of the fixings I make while the turkey is doing it's thing in the oven and driving us all bonkers with the smell.

We are looking forward to lots of family time this week with grandparents coming in for a few days.

Oh, before I forget, I finished Isaac's scrappy Forrest Soaker last night. I can check another project off my list!

I will lanolize that today while I am cleaning in the kitchen. After the kitchen is clean, I'll reward myself with some sewing time. I was hoping to finish Jerusha's blouse over the weekend but that didn't work out. We had a certain birthday to get ready for on Sunday. Happy birthday to my sweet heart!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Just for My Dad

You know what that is, don't you?

::::: Big, Cheesy, Grin :::::::


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Stuff

How is everyone? I know we are entering a wicked busy season of the year. Lots of stress (good and bad) and lots of fun, and lots of work to do! But that's okay. Maybe it is good to have the holiday rush so you feel burnt out. Maybe that is why I don't mind winter so much. Those January days when I still feel like I need some recovery time from the holidays are much appreciated. I am so thankful then I don't have our garden to tend to! LOL. Of course, by March, all bets are off.

I have a few "special" projects I want to work on this winter. My list keeps getting longer and longer. There is NO way I will have time to complete everything I have in mind. I'm going to have to prioritize after the holidays.

In the meantime, I am tackling my sewing pile. I finished Jerusha's moleskin jumper for church, and am in the process of making her blouse. She is such a girlie girl that I am doing the gathered long sleeves and peter pan collar with lace trim. I haven't done anything this trimmed up in a few years. The twins are outgrowing that "little girl" type style, and like more classic lines, which means quicker, simpler sewing for me. A good thing, as it gives me more time for my thousand other projects. But Jerusha is still into "pink" and "frilly" and "fluffy". For her everyday stuff I never put that much time into it. She may like all that frilly stuff, but she also likes to play outside. I'm not into the muddy ruffled look.

When get her blouse done, I'll have her get all dressed up and I'll post a pic. Immediately following the blouse are church skirts for the twins. Yes, I'll be posting pics. Of course, after that... QUILTING TIME!!!! Woot! I have fabric for my nephew' wedding on the 13 of December. I'm doing a disappearing 9 patch, cuddle quilt sized, machine pieced and quilted. Anyone think I can get it finished, wrapped and sent to Ohio in time for the wedding?

I won't bother with the list of things I have to make before Christmas. I am not going to be able to do it all, so I am working on formulating "plan B" for now. I may actually have to spend the rest of the winter catching up on my "pre-Christmas" list!

Without applesauce to do this week I almost feel at a loss of what to tackle. Almost. As I already said, I've been working on my sewing pile. Today has been a smorgasbord of tasks. This morning we did some picking up, laundry, the usual for us. I also decluttered my closet. Four bags of clothes are leaving this house. All clothes, that thankfully, I have outgrown... the right way! They were too big and it was time to get rid of them. It was refreshing. I need to do a major decluttering in the basement, but that is for after the holidays. That is on my radar, very brightly, I might add. I've already done some sewing today, which is nice. I plan to do more this afternoon.

I'm still working on my novella for the NaNoWriMo challenge. I missed writing yesterday, so I'm just a wee bit behind. No biggie. I can make it up easily tonight. Here and there around the other stuff when I have a few minutes I am still knitting, and almost done with another soaker for Isaac. I'm in a hurry to finish it because I am making a surprise for Dale for Christmas. Shhhhh! Can't say any more than that right now.

We have been tortured today with the smell of a sirloin tip roast cooking in the crock pot. It is making us salivate with anticipation. The wood stove is burning merrily along, keeping us all warm (too warm!) and cozy.

So, that is how things are here at the Beehive today. Hoping everyone's day is blessed and that you are thanking God for those blessings!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tea Time Black Mail Picture

We were supposed to be doing chores. I thought everyone WAS doing chores. I went along in my blissful ignorance until the quiet (well, relatively quiet, at least for us) morning was interrupted by gales of laughter.

Esther, Jerusha, and Isaac emerged from the girls room, going to tea (as I was informed). I least I think it was Isaac. Unless we recently adopted a little girl, I now have another wonderful black mail picture for later.

Oh, and Isaac was renamed "Charlotte" in honor of the tea party. Lovely.

Of course pictures aren't enough. He could claim later that he was forced and didn't have a choice. I think the following is evidence enough to prove the opposite.

When Josiah was Isaac's, excuse me, Charlotte's age he used to dress up in the twins special dress up clothes. Boas, heel, hat... the whole nine yards. Anyway, you see what happens when you have older sisters who play with you like you are a little doll.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, November 15th....

Outside my window... cloudy with some very brief patches of sunshine.

I am thinking... about a situation that has come up at church and is taking all our emotional energy and thoughts right now.

I am thankful for... Being done with the applesauce. WE did 230 quarts in 4 days. Whew!

From the learning rooms... We are back in full swing.

From the kitchen... split pea and ham soup cooking, and smelling wicked good and causing the children to pester me every two minutes with: "Is it done yet?"

I am wearing... black denim skirt, green t-shirt, cranberry tweedish sweater.

I am creating...a church jumper for Jerusha made out of a pretty printed moleskin.

I am going... to be writing this evening.. I hope!

I am reading... Ummmmmm.... errrr.....nothing except the Bible at the moment.

I am hoping... to have enough energy to exercise later this evening.

I am hearing... "Hey Mama, is it done yet?" Again.

Around the house... we did some cleaning this morning, some laundry, some folding, I did some organizing of the menu and shopping list.

One of my favorite things... A lazy afternoon with nothing to do but drink tea and knit.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Quarterly reports due, sewing, and getting ready for Dale's birthday this Sunday.

For guidelines to the Simple Woman's Daybook go: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Applesauce Update

After doing 94 quarts in two days, we are taking a break today from canning. One reason is that we have to do some baking. Also, Benjamin had an appointment at the orthodontist's this morning, and it wiped out a huge chunk of time.

If you are looking at that close up picture thinking something looks funny, it's because it does. They are RED braces. And no, he doesn't have them on the bottom. Yet. That will happen a little later. His top teeth need to be shifted a bit before they deal with the bottoms. He has a lot of instructions, and lot of what he can and cannot eat, but I noticed that most of the "Don't" eat stuff is junk food that we normally don't eat anyway, so no loss. He does have to be careful with something like apples. He isn't supposed to bite into it whole, but can cut it up to eat.

I've been puttering around this morning working on some odds and ends with picking up, laundry, folding, putting canned applesauce away, and making bread. Well, Elizabeth actually made the bread. Esther will be making some cookies later, she assures me. She is my chief baker. I did manage to finish Jerusha's other corduroy jumper this morning.

Isaac took one look at Benjamin's braces and laughed. Then while I was taking Benjamin's picture (what a good sport he is!) Isaac kept saying the toddler version of "cheese!" and trying to get me to take his pic. I guess he wanted to show off his cute little teeth.

We had a pleasant read aloud time listening to the old radio drama based on the book "Captain Courageous" by Rudyard Kipling. We listened to it at The Homeschool Radio Show. Every week or so they have some new freebies to listen to, and we enjoy drawing, coloring, knitting, or playing quietly while listening to the dramatic performances based on classic stories. Some of them are very humorous... like the version of Pinocchio we recently listened to that starred what'shisname who did the voice of Bugs Bunny.

It has been a regular type day for us, which is nice, since we haven't had one of those since before we left for vacation! I've forgotten what our normal routines feel like. It feels all comfortably predictable to be in our usual schedule again.

At least for today. Tomorrow it's back to the ol' grind... of the Squeezo.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY November 9th...

Outside my window... Gray, gray, and oh, did I mention it was gray?

I am thinking... Sunshine, where are you?

I am thankful for... 14 bushels of apples we got cheap.

From the learning rooms... A somewhat abbreviated schedule for school since we are doing up apples.

From the kitchen... The canner is processing quarts of applesauce.

I am wearing... brown corduroy skirt, green embroidered shirt, somewhat applesauce- splattered.

I am creating... Applesauce. Lots of it.

I am going... to be doing applesauce for the foreseeable future.

I am reading... Are you kidding? Who has time to read?

I am hoping... to finish up the apples inside of two weeks.

I am hearing... The timer go off, so I need to get off here and go tend to the canner.

Around the house... piles of laundry, and toys, and books that need picking up.

One of my favorite things... Seeing all the applesauce canned and ready to use this winter!

A few plans for the rest of the week: I'll give you three guesses.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

For guidelines to the Simple Woman's Daybook please go to: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 8, 2010

An Exerpt From My Travel Log

I didn't do much writing while we were gone, but I did some. What follows is an exerpt of my multidirectional musings. Nothing profoud, but just hopefully some fun. Grab some tea, and hopefully you'll make it to the end. If nothing else, it will serve as an effective cure for insomnia.


Getting away.

Taking sabbatical.

Leaving it all behind.

Hiding out.

Whatever you call it, the words used usually bring first off a overwhelming sense of awareness of everything that need to be done before you go. After that… just a sense of peace and wonderful enjoyment.

It’s the American way. The family vacation: a time to get away from it all, to take a breather from the break-neck pace of life we all seem to lead, no matter what kind of walk of life we are living.

As I write this I am in New England, where I grew up. We were in Maine for the first week, and enjoyed gorgeous fall weather. Walking the beach in the early morning, I am reminded that it pays to stop and smell the sea roses and take it all in. There are such a thing as sea roses. They flower in the summer, I believe. They have a fruit attached to them that is made typically into jam. I was hoping to find some for the kids to try, but it is sold at the cute little shops open only during tourist season.

I was very pleasantly surprised and overjoyed to find that a relative I grew up with was in town visiting overnight. It was a spur of the moment visit. So good to see her again! As we grew up, we ended up on opposite sides of the country. We live very different lives, and I love to hear what things are like for her. Not that I want my life to change, that isn’t it at all. People in general interest me, and since we haven’t seen each other in a long time, it was wonderful to catch up.

What can I say about the coast of Maine? It is gorgeous. Exhilarating. Calming. Fascinating. Restful. So many things it can be! I enjoyed jogging the beach in the early mornings. I enjoyed playing on the playground with the kids and hunting for shells later in the day. I even swam at the Y with my stepmother a couple mornings. There is no place like Maine, no matter where you go, you’ll never find its equal for beach combing, roaming, and swimming. Yes, I said swimming. At the end of October, almost November for crying out loud, my crazy children went swimming in the cold ocean. One of the locals told me the water was a mere 54 degrees at that time. I was wondering if he thought us all insane but he said it was good to see someone else enjoyed the cold water besides him! Spoken like a true native!

We came down to Massachusetts in time for my Grandmother’s 90th birthday party. It went well, and the kids did a couple of songs for her. They did a fantastic job. It was good to see a lot of extended family, most of whom I haven’t seen in years, if not since I was a kid about my 4th son’s age.

We drove around a bit on the way home as Isaac had fallen asleep in the van and knew if we didn’t keep him that way as long as possible he would be one very cranky little boy for the rest of the day. We showed the kids many of the places I had been growing up, including my old high school.

Well, not “old”. Apparently a few years ago they tore down the OLD school and put up a brand new shiny building, complete with an indoor pool (so the rumors go) and new tennis courts, baseball field and who knows what else. They probably have a new track too, I imagine. Back in the old days when I went there, we had a pretty good outdoor track, but for training we ran the back roads in the area because of the hills we had to take. We would run some decent 3 mile routes, and then go back to the field to train in sprints, or whatever events we were specializing in. I wonder if now those snotty nosed suburban kids would ever be caught dead running on the actual street. Surely they couldn’t be that spoiled! It was good enough for us. We ran outdoors in the sun or rain… barefoot… uphill… both ways…

Okay, maybe not. But the changes in the general area surprised me a lot. Old Sherman Bridge was renovated several years back. I remember when it was the old bridge. Well, not the old “old” bridge, but the one before with the uneven boards that jangled your joints when you rode your bike or drove your car over it. I noticed when we drove over it, it looked like they actually constructed it with extra boards elevated, like little speed bumps, just in case we missed the horrendous teeth shattering washboard effect of the old bridge.

It’s funny how when you grow older (not old! Not me!) how nostalgic you can get. It’s funny how I remember everything that is good about when and where I grew up, and not all the scandals that hit the school. Let’s face it, when you are in High School, there are lots of scandals. I’m not trying to date myself, but I remember a time before the internet, and online communities. No cell phones. No ipods. We actually talked with one another. Texting was called passing notes, written with our actual hands. I used to type on a word processor, and I don’t mean one on the computer. I mean the old Texas Instrument things that had a two line memory and automatic white out capabilities. I also had a stereo that had a LP player, two cassette players, AND an 8 track player. That was cutting edge technology. Those of you who don’t know what an 8 track is, just look intelligently at the writing in front of you and ask your parents later what it was. I’ll give you a hint: it has NOTHING to do with trains.

Remember the old Betamax video players? We had one of those for a while. Okay, show of hands: How many grew up with the wonderful electronic game of Pong? How about Atari? I mean the original, not the spendy vintage stuff that sells for a mint on places like Ebay.

Remember when one of your favorite programs was on, like the Cosby Show (one of mine to this day) and you would move mountains to make sure you were done with supper and chores to make sure you could be in the living room watching it? No Hulu. No Netflix. No YouTube. When it was on, it was on. Either you caught it then, or you had to wait for reruns in the summer. Or you tried to tape in on your Betamax.

Obviously, some things have changed. But, some things haven’t.

Children still love to hunt for shells, and make sand castles, and play tag. My children, like many in the long line of generations before them, love to sled on the fallen pine needles on the hill out back my Grandmother’s house. They, along with several generation before them, love to grab the lolly poly in my grandmother’s basement, and twirl around it, making a distinctive squeaky noise that can be heard through the entire house.

The old neighborhood has developed a lot since I was a kid, and even more so since when my mother was a girl tearing around the little back streets and fields. The fields are gone, made into affluent little cul de sacs and streets lined with million dollar homes. The little soccer field not far from my grandmother’s house, and practically right next door to where my great aunt lived is still there, and in use, I am glad to say. There is a little children’s playground right next to it now, but it looks like it belongs there, and is the best improvement in the area I’ve seen so far.

This morning I noticed something else that hasn’t changed. I was out for a walk in that wonderful crisp, autumn air, and suddenly I smelled it. It is a very distinctive woody odor, indigenous to this area. I have no clue what makes it. Maybe all the pine trees. But the only place I have smelled it is in this area of New England. It is pleasing, and comfortable, and fills the heart with warm memories.

Seems like we have been very busy doing things. Most of them together as a family, some not. I realized I haven’t even had much time to write, and while I was out walking this morning, I realized how much I needed to sit down and do that. How can one NOT want to write while in the stomping grounds of some of the greats like Louisa May Alcott and Henry David Thoreau. Seems like their spirits are lurking around here just urging us to stop, take time to THINK and get away from all the cares, electronics and just let our minds wander for a while. Why are we always plugged into our cell phones? Our Blackberries? Why do we live every moment attached to the internet? How did that happen? Computer games and Facebook or Twitter take over our lives. We live online. Let’s unplug it all, and get out a good old board game (they still make those ya know) and play something with REAL people.

It is a fast paced society we live in. I bet most people can’t bear to sit still long enough to play a board game anymore. No updating status, or clicking on the screen, or doing the hundreds of things online that you can do even while playing a game on the internet. I bet most people can’t handle the fact that yes, you have to sit at the table and actually do ONE thing at a time. It is allowed. There is no law that says we have to multitask in everything we do.

It has been very thought provoking to me to go on a nice long walk and think about some of the above and then some. I listen to a Vivaldi CD when I am by myself and not jogging. If I plan to jog I can’t use my CD player because it makes the CD skip. I know.. I should use my Ipod, but I have NO clue how to get the music from my CD to the Ipod. Plus it is full with a book for the kids to listen to in the van, plus a bunch of music Dale likes.

I love listening to classical music. I’m no expert about classical music, and really, don’t know much about it. I love Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. It is my favorite. What I have noticed about the classical genre of music is that rock and roll and pop or country music is to classical music, what TV is to real life. Think about it. In popular contemporary music, it is basically a single thought or emotion promoted in about 3 to 5 minutes time. It is introduced, emphasized, and maybe, or maybe not resolved. It is basically about one little snap shot of emotion. There is no real evolution of contemplation, or depth of emotions. If you listen to the Four Seasons, for example, you find a very wide range of emotions and thought provoked by the music itself. There is rise and fall, fast and slow, bouncy and smooth as silk portions throughout. You can imagine a story line, picture expression of posture and face all because of what the orchestra is doing. In a pop song, it’s a quick flash in the pan. I’m not saying one is right and one is wrong, just pointing out a difference. Contemporary music isn’t really my cup of tea anyway.

At the time of writing this, we have several days of vacation left. I may add to it, I may not. We’ll see. I do know I have plenty to think about. Obviously, this little missive is evidence that at least my brain has been working at some capacity.

Oh, one that that was brought to my attention was that November is National Novel Writing Month. There is a website for it and everything. The goal is to write a novella during the month. It amounts to 1677 words a day. I seriously considered participating, but the person who told me about said you really need to spend 2 to 4 hours a day writing. Well, I can’t dedicate that much time right now, but maybe next year. Ha.

Maybe when the kids are grown.

That’s more like it.

In the meantime, I’ll be cheering all those writers out there trying to complete the challenge next month. May your plots have depth, your characters be realistic, and your words compelling.

Viva La Pluma.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hello? Anybody Home?

We're back! Did you miss me? :D

It has been a whirlwind 3 weeks or so. I left everyone hanging with the drama of getting my Grandmother's quilt finished in time. Guess what... I did it! With a day or two to spare. Enough time to whip up a jumper I had already cut out for Jerusha before our trip out East. I was going to post a pic of the quilt right away and then decided to wait until I could get a picture with my Grandmother in it.

So, without further delay (there's been enough of that already!) here is my Grandmother's quilt I made in honor of her 90th birthday:

Here is the jumper I did for Jerusha before we left:

While we were away I finished this Forrest Soaker that I had started a few days before leaving:

I still need to lanolize it, but I'm working on a second one just like it with the leftover yarn.

Esther knitted a dishcloth for Grandmother for her birthday, but I never did get a picture of it. My bad... sorry! She did an excellent job. Maybe my Mom (hint hint hint) could take a picture and email it to me so I could post it here.


We have already pretty much jumped back into the swing of things here. The day after we got back from our trip, we went up North to visit some family and get apples for making applesauce. Monday morning, the Post Applesauce Factory will be open! We were hoping to get about 20 bushels, but only ended up with 14. We may have to make another trip up for more apples in a few weeks.

We also received an invitation to a wedding for our nephew. Since my sewing list is only a mile high right now, I decided to make a cuddle quilt for him and his honey for a wedding gift. The wedding is December 13th, in Ohio. I doubt we'll be able to drive out there for it, but I can send a gift. So, it's off to the quilting races AGAIN.

On top of that, I still have Isaac's birthday quilt to finish. I barely got a start on it when I decided to do my Grandmother's birthday quilt. Now my nephew is getting married, and what's an aunt to do? I will also soon have another baby quilt to make as I have a niece or nephew due soon. I love making baby quilts. :) Also on the sewing list are church skirts for the twins and a church jumper and blouse for Jerusha, as well as finishing the second fall jumper for Jerusha. I had started it before we left, in hopes of finishing it, but just plain ran out of time.

If you think that makes me busy, remember home schooling? Yeah, we do that from time to time. That will be picking up again this week. Oh, and I decided to participate in the National Novel Writing Month challenge. 50k words by the end of November. I'm at 10k. According to their stats I'm right on track. I'm using the time I usually use to knit in the evenings to write. I have to say, I'm enjoying it, but not getting any knitting done at the moment. I've been putting off writing a novella for over 20 years. Time to give in to my hidden writing compulsion and just do it. So, if I'm not around much until the end of the month, I'll be pegging away at my little story, which, with any luck, no one will ever read.

You have to understand this challenge is not about spelling. Not about grammar. It's not about good plot development, or realistic characters, or anything that makes for good writing.

It is about WRITING. It is about jumping in, full bore, to the act of creative writing. The editing and rewrites can happen after the challenge dates are over. But right now every participant is giving in to the joy of just writing and not fiddling around. So, if you need me, I'll either be making applesauce, quilting, or shut up in my bedroom with the laptop banging out a 50k word novella.

Viva la pluma!!!