Friday, April 1, 2022

Goodbye March

 March has come and gone. It was a really busy month here. The kids were all horribly sick one week but still:

We took a visit to the lake.

Took the kids to the Natural History Museum in Pittsburgh.

It was fantastic. 

Here were my goals for the month:

I finished The Collector.  

Oh, yikes, that one was a hard read. It's the "first modern psychological thriller " according to cover. It's about a lonely young man who kidnaps a girl he's been admiring for a far and installs her in a soundproof apartment he's built in the basement.  The story is told from both his point of view and a journal she kept during the time she was there.  I read quite a bit of horror and noir but this... yikes.  There's no sex or violence in the book but it still disturbed me for days after. The takeaway being: if someone really wants to chloroform/kidnap you, good luck.  The woman also had several chances to escape and didn't as she was so committed to non-violence she almost refused to help herself. It was depressing.  

So it was a while before I started another book. Thankfully,  Anxious People is a delight.

Then I got the bright idea to start a BIG project,  which is setting up my own card catalog. 

I'll be at that one a long while.

A project I did do, rather quickly, was to cut a deck of playing cards. Sections of each card are cut away and then the deck reassembled for a 3D effect. 

These were my main sections, I cut many of each of these then put the deck back together.

Here is the finished deck. I am very happy and have started a second one.

Side view:

Scraps made into postcards:

Postcrossing is still happening. Mail has been suspended to Russia and Ukraine.  I used to send a LOT of cards to Russia so it feels...  odd to have part of the world shut off again.  What a horrible time to be living in those countries. It puts a person's own small problems in perspective. 


I made maple syrup again. We ended up with a gallon for the house.

I had fun with bread:

Made a cake:

Then the cat ate half of it before I could serve it.

And there is one more thing that no one really knows except my husband. I haven't had a drink in three weeks. Which is.... a big deal. It's embarrassing even writing that but who am I kidding, I probably wasn't fooling anyone anyway.  So, there it is.

I don't know what April is going to bring. Fishing tomorrow morning, hopefully getting the camper out next weekend, starting seeds, Easter. Maybe chickens again. 

Hope everyone is well during these times. 

Thursday, February 17, 2022


Sitting down for this project I thought "why do I let on that I'm able to fix things" but working on this sweater I realized that I'm very grateful that I can still make my children's problems better

Sunday, February 13, 2022


My 1939 Royal has been cleaned, oiled, ribboned and polished to a mirror shine with turtle wax. Instead of sticking and jamming the keys move freely. The bell still doesn't ding but I think the problem is above my skill set so we will consider it part of the machine's character. I am graduating from two fingered (am I going to jam it?) pecking to full fingers moving over the keys typing. It makes a person lightheaded with excitement to find a new hobby. 

I've been typing my Postcrossing cards at night, my grocery lists and to-do lists.

Little people have been practicing spelling.

And even smaller people are quite curious. 

I finished this book at yesterday's swim lesson, and added it to my list. The stories are all over the place with subject, form and tone but there are a couple in here that just stay with you. My next book is an  Agatha Christie, who is a new author for me. It will go well with watching Murder She Wrote as I use the treadmill at night. I've never watched this show, but remember seeing it growing up. I can't figure out if Angela Lansbury is supposed to be 40 or 60. 

I've discovered the tea swapping chain on the Postcrossing forum. The center one arrived from Northern Ireland ( avocado ?) and the other two from Canada. 

It ook the kids sled riding last weekend on a warm day. Mr. A had never been before and Mr. H not on a big hill. It was so much fun. The three of us had a blast and were the last family to leave. It is behind Mr. H's old school, above the cemetery. It will sound morbid but I would really love to be buried here eventually. It is a place that is often still very much a part of living.

Our classes used to sled ride here for recess when i was little. The tube sleds really shot over the snow, even with my fat butt riding with Mr. A.

Here is the French Onion soup.

It was delicious. I accidentally ordered 2 bags of onioms from grocery pickup this week not one so we are going to be making it again.

Obligatory baby shot.

Mr. H. has tomorrow off from school and it is Valentine's day. We are going to eat cupcakes and tap our Maple trees for sap.

Monday, January 31, 2022

January roundup and a new month

Tomorrow starts a fresh new month! But that's getting ahead of myself. Today it is still January, for a few more hours. Grey, bitterly cold January.

How did I do with those goals? Pretty well.

The bad news, the walking. I only made 26.24 of my 31 mile goals. The reasons for this are obvious to me; we were really sick for a week (see the .15 mile day when I was counting walking out to feed the geese damn it) and had two major snowstorms.  It's not the cold that bothers me, but when it snows a LOT the sidewalks in town get cleared as much as people can be bothered. So, I would have to cross the street at least once for every block, zig zag around and use my cleats to walk on icy slate sidewalks. Also, my husband has gone back to teaching and it is still dark after dinner. So what has been decided is that we will be getting one of those $300-ish folding treadmills that only weigh 50 lbs and can fit under the sofa. Keeping things in perspective, the goal for the year is 365 miles so it will even out.

Globes! I did two!

This one which the kids dropped and needed a LOT of repair work and this one:

This one only needed cleaned and the globe re-set on the base. After getting some Facebook advice and taking a close look at the countries I was suprised to see this only dates back to the 90's! The base fooled me! I love it.

Reading. Folks, I read THREE books this month. That has not happened since I had children. The last book of the month ended up being this:

This is not my copy from growing up but one found at Goodwill (aka our small town bookstore). My goodness , that was such fun. It's lucky for my husband that I waited until now to re-read this childhood story or I would have lobbied HARD to name one of these children Charles Wallace.  As an adult, oh, the terrible decision making by adults that go on but, whatever. Any story that actually starts with "It was a dark and story night" is going to be a winner. I mean, imagine your 12 year old self reading this:

It's a keeper.

There are other things to report on but I'm pretty pleased with this month. February will be about fixing my typewriters and getting them in working order, finishing the Tom Hanks book Uncommon Type and walking 28 miles. The typewriters will be fun to tinker with. My oldest Royal could use another cleaning and the bell doesn't "ding", the newer 50's one needs cleaned and the keys look waxy like the plastic has off-gassing, it also needs a new ribbon.

After those typewriters are working and this book is finished,  the month will end with me sitting down at one of the machines and plinking out a letter explaining how his book caused me to cry, like a baby, at a preschool swim class. Thanks a bunch, Mr. Hanks.

Tomorrow I'm going to try making French Onion soup, something we haven't had in years. Lots of soups here lately for lots of cold weather.

Monday, January 24, 2022


In spite of mask wearing, hand washing and not socializing like normal human beings used to, we have been sick anyway. Husband and I seemed to have gotten the worst of it and, yuck. Respiratory issues, fatigue, chills, no sense of taste or smell. 

I had an appointment for a Covid test on Sunday but didn't make it there.  It snowed all day and our road was never plowed, plus turns out when you're actually sick you don't feel like driving 30 minutes in a snowstorm to reach the nearest rapid testing site anyway.  So I will be tested tomorrow.  I think it's just the flu.

When I woke with with an ear ache this morning on top of everything else it seemed a trip to the doctor to sort things out was in order.  So I called, only to be told that I would not be seen as they "were trying to keep sick people out of the office" but there was an antibiotic called in.

I'm complaining, I know. Our little family has been sick for months it feels like and I'm just so stinkin' tired of it. 

The good thing that happened today is I saw a friend that I have not seen since November (because both of families have been sick constantly). She stopped by and we exchanged late Christmas gifts as we stood apart from each other out in the driveway visiting for a few minutes in spite of it being 20 degrees outside. I guess that's considered risky behavior now but it was the nicest thing.  

It seems like this has been a really long winter and it's only January. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Riding the storm out

We got about a foot and a half of snow dumped on overnight.  It's a mess. We live on a state highway and did not actually see a snow plow until 4 this afternoon.  One had come by at some point earlier but it looked like only once. The garbage company canceled service today for the whole town and while Mr. H. had today off anyway I would not be shocked if school is canceled tomorrow. We were told a storm was coming but I blew it off. It is January after all. 

Baby P and I went to Walmart to grab a couple of things yesterday.

This is where the greens are supposed to be. The pasta secion and meats looked much the same.

We had venison last night, a slow cooked shank dish with chestnuts and dried apricots and spices from a Hank Shaw cookbook.  It was heavenly but spicy.  The deer came from my dad and the chestnuts from my cousin (the are my grandfather's trees).

I finished my second book of the year. Standing in front of the shelves all I just really wanted something comforting and chose this one. I haven't read it in 20 years but it was like spending two nights with an old friend.

Every single paragraph in this book is beautifully crafted poetry.  The whole thing takes place one evening in San Francisco.  The chapters alternate between a beautiful woman sleeping, a famous writer mourning the end of a love affair and the seperate story taking place among scraps of typed paper in his wastebasket.  There is a mysterious sombrero.  I love Richard Brautigan. 

I'm not sure what to read next. Every year with the first big snowstorm I pull out The Shining to read at night. BUT then I saw this gem at the Goodwill:

This just looks so deliciously trashy I was almost embarrassed to be seen purchasing it. 

So who knows what the evening will bring.

Mr. H has decided that today, Martin Luther King Jr. day is a holiday that involves decorations and cake. He did this:

And tonight there is chocolate cake.

I was much excited when my sister told me to go to Google and search for Betty White today. This is what has been programmed to happen:

Imagine rounding the corner on 100 years old and the people of America collectively agreeing it wasn't long enough. 

Stay warm, friends. 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

January progress

 I was trying to think of some measurable goals for 2022. Not goals for the scale, apparently I am exactly as fat as I was 12 months ago. And not for the garden or the property or the kids but for my own development.  

So: walking 365 miles, reading 12 books and finishing 12 projects I've left half-done.

January Goals: walk 31 miles, read In the Heart of the Sea and fix my favorite antique globe the kids dropped months ago.

How are we doing? Shockingly well. The globe is fixed. Here is the before:

Oh this picture hurts to look at. Mr. A had gotten it off of a high shelf one day while I was making coffee. He and Baby P were looking at it gently when I found them but he must have dropped it getting it down for it to split. The globe is from the early 50's and made of paper.

Well, it's fixed. I used a disection tool to tease the  brittle, flaking equator tape out, a syringe to pipe a line of glue, some squeezing and rotating and a lot of pleading. Also some paint. It's not perfect and will forever be "The Globe that Mr. A Bounced".

I'm thrilled.  Check one off the list for January.

This book. It's been sitting on our shelves, unread, for years But I picked it up last week and finished it today. This book blew my mind.  I had never heard the story of the Essex, a ship that was attacked and sunk by a whale, and the story of the crew's survival. That it was the basis for Moby Dick. I had NO idea that Nantucket was an overfarmed dirt patch by 1800. NO idea that the Atlantic was dead of whales at that point  from overfishing. NO idea that New England whaling ships left America, went AROUND South America and did all of their whaling in the middle of the PACIFIC. That because the men were all gone for years at a time, Nantucket was run largely by women, I could go on and on.  This book was so engaging to read that pages flew by, even when the subject matter was heartbreaking. Husband is going to read this book now and I'm dying to talk about it with him.

Check #2 off for January. 

So now we are not halfway through the month and I'm not sure what to do next. Never, ever did I think it would have gone this well. I may order Moby Dick as my next book as we don't have a copy.

My miles are on track in spite of snow, cold and rain. I'm only counting deliberate walking, most often with a mindset class playing. 

Very exciting,  this orchid bloomed for the first time in 2 years (?). It is actually faintly fragrant,  almost like a rose.

Time to pick up the oldest 2 from the inlaws.  They had a sleepover and my husband, Baby P and I all slept through the night until 9 a.m. I have not slept until 9 a.m. in years.