Do You Miss Home? Part 4 – Winter.

A true child’s story of winter.

When winter finally set in the snow would start.  I am sure we must have had snow-days due to the heavy snowfalls, but I don’t remember them.  I do remember spending almost every daytime second outside.  We didn’t care how cold it was; it didn’t matter.  You know how they dress the kid from A Christmas Story all bundled up – that was how all of us looked every time we went out to play.  My little sister and I would just flop down on the heavy blanket of snow and roll all the way down the hill.  It was a blast and a beautiful memory – even the struggle trying to climb back up to do it all again.

kid in full snowsuit (Yes – we looked EXACTLY like this every winter!)

Christmas was a wondrous time, but winter itself was (still is) my thrill.  Snow drifts would build over six feet high and get a frozen, crusty layer on the top of them.  That was always our snow forts.  We would start hollowing the drifts out and make tunnels, doorways, windows all along the drifts.  As long as the weather stayed freezing, the drifts would stay in that shape from playtime to playtime.

These pics give you the idea. However, we were never such woosies that we had to use portable fire pits. (Mainly because we did not have them back then.)  Oh, and NO DRINKS of any kind.  When we got cold enough, into the house, we would go, and mom always had hot cocoa on the stove waiting.  A bowl of marsh mellow’s on the side, please.

The kids on top of the snowbank are exactly what we looked like.  Not so many trees, more steep rolling hills.  When dad came through the driveway, around the barns and sheds with the tractor and front end blade;  the snow would really pile up on the banks, and then the fun would begin.

old tractor and plow

(Yep, this was like ours but no Quonset, we had a machine shed -bigger than a Quonset – that kept all of our farm equipment.)

We also did not have sleds we had saucers and one huge bad-ass toboggan.  The toboggan held the whole family if we squished together, it was huge!  The saucers were the most fun for us.  Not only did they go downhill the fastest, but they were lighter/easier to lug back up the hill, and could easily be hooked on ropes behind that little tractor and pull us all over the place.  Our large field off the yards and gardens was our favorite.  Plenty of room to swing way out when sledding.  Think of water skiing only sitting down on a big metal saucer (yes, our original ones were metal – never grab without gloves metal), hanging onto the heavy rope handle that was tied to the tractor.  Dad’s job: Take corners fast enough to swing us wide and try to dump us off our sleds – happened every time.  Dad 3, daughters 0.

Kids saucer-plastic      This is a new version of our old favorite, and yes, if I had the opportunity to try one today – I would!

kids saucer-metal   This one is almost exactly like ours – but no tow-rope or connectors for it, and the handles were a heavier rope type, not floppy like these nylon-cloth ones.  Man, could it fly down the fields and across the snow!  Think about your car sliding around on icy roads.  That would be us only laughing about it all the way.

When it gets right down to it, I still believe that winter is my favorite of the seasons.  The others have their merits, but winter is:

  • Family
    • Christmas
      • Fun
        • Warmth
          • Sharing
            • Playing
              • HOME

Tis the season to remind us that snow is here specifically for the kid in us all.

winter-time for home

(Oh, and a Merry Christmas to all!)

You can also check me out on:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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WHAT’S YOUR CHRISTMAS LIKE?

Hi, Ho All!  And a very Merry Christmas to you.

So, what’s on your agenda for Christmas?  We are traveling to Aurora (for those of you not of this area – it is a suburb of Denver – bigger than Denver now I think?) to spend a night with our other sister and her husband.  This night of Christmas Eve will be the first time we have ALL gotten together for Christmas, on Christmas, in about ten years.  It seems there was always someone working or something messing up the plans.  Since it falls on Saturday and Sunday this year – wooo hooo!

The festivities will include:

  • Drinking beer and setting up stuff.
  • Eating food created by all the families and friends.
  • Drinking beer and sharing the funnies from 2016.
  • Laughing, LAUGHing, and then more LAUGHING (it is a MUST every Christmas!)
  • Drinking beer and yelling at the kids to settle down (ya, like that’s gonna happen?!)
  • Trying to keep the kiddos busy until it is time to open presents (yes, we do it on Christmas Eve – however, also on Christmas day …the ones that Santa brings are on Christmas day).
  • Drinking beer – always before calling relatives, it’s a must!
  • Calling out-of-state relatives and sharing fun memories of winters and Christmas past.
  • Drinking beer while eating.
  • Torture the kids by telling them we will open presents when the 15 minutes is up (note: we started the 15-minute countdown about 60 minutes ago – hee hee)
  • Drinking beer and moving to a fun present opening spot (preferably one good for pics too for me)
  • Open presents. Now this part REALLY drives the kids nuts.  We do name exchange with the adults, and they must wait until the said adult has opened the present, I have gotten a picture, and then they get to open something. (ok, more giggling here is required!)
  • Drinking beer – to steady the camera of course!
  • All presents to family and friends are opened, now it’s time for the kids to play and adults to laugh and talk more. Sometimes we do games.  Usually dice games (we love Yahtzee!!).
  • Drinking more beer while eating more food – gather strength to say bye to friends and family for the night. It maybe another year before we get to see them all again – boo hoo hoo!
  • The food starts to disappear into to-go containers as the crowd starts to dwindle. Eventually, we will all drift off to sleep on a piece of furniture (or maybe the floor since her downstairs level has a heated floor – niiice!!!).
  • The next morning consists of Coffee, a homemade special breakfast, packing up the goodies and heading home.

Once home, chores must be accomplished first (at which point the animals all make it a moment to let us know that they know we were gone!  Pecking, squawking, biting…the norm.), then into the house to see what Santa has delivered.

My grandson has not been at his best this year, especially in the last month.  I have warned him that Santa does not like this, to which he replied: “I’m not sure I believe in Santa anymore?!”  To which I responded with – “Oh, really?  So I can send him a letter that you do not need anything or maybe just some coal for the outdoor cooker this year since you don’t believe?”  He immediately reneged on his previous statement…hmmmm?!?  So, I may have to find or make some small boxes and put a chunk of coal in each one.  Then lovingly place them under the tree – hee hee, yes, this warms my heart!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL!

(My Christmas cacti are bloomin fools this year!)

OH NO – NOT ANOTHER COOL DAD STORY?

To properly explain this one, I am going to have to write you a picture:

  • Two sisters, one about four the other about six.
  • It is early1960’s in Wisconsin.
  • Our farm is several miles from the nearest major highway, so a trip is required for everything.
  • The main road: County Trunk W.
  • The type of road: 2-lane, HUGE hills (cannot see the other side until you are on top of them type hills).
  • And so our story begins:

It is a beautiful fall day.  The leaves are either turning or falling, and this part of Wisconsin has such an amazing variety of trees that you are awestruck by colors.  The air is crisp, even in the mid-afternoon.  Dad decides we have to go to the grocery store in Adell (not the closest city, but a larger selection) to pick up some stuff.  We are taking the farm truck (I have no clue year, make or model – have to ask my older sister since she totaled it – but that’s another story).  No seatbelts (neither in it or required to have it- go figure?).

Dad grabs the girls and throws them into the front seat of the truck, then slides in on the driver’s side and starts her up.  Varoom, rumble, rumble, rumble (yes, this is how an old farm pickup truck sounds) and off we go.

From the end of our driveway, you turn onto County Trunk W and go east toward Adell.  We sit at the top of a hill, so the start is fun picking up speed on the way down.  Now remember, it is early 1960’s so cops really didn’t look for speeders on all the county roads (most of them were still gravel anyway – now ours.)

Down the hill, up a smaller one, and over – picking up some more speed.  Down again, up again, down again; this continues for about five or six miles, and THERE IT IS – SKUNK HILL.  The reason for the name is because of all the dead skunks on it.  You cannot see over to the other side, so there is no time to slow down.

  • Once over,
    • you see it,
      • it’s dead – and
        • your car/truck will stink for a month

It was the tallest hill around.  Dad was beatin feet to get up that puppy.  Hit the top and it happened, up we went off the seat into the air!  Squeals of joy and laughter rung out!  Dad was laughing even harder at us and our excitement just over a jump on a hill.  Great joy in the little things.  The laughter did not stop for another 3 or so miles until we got to the store.

NOW, some of you will be seeing the danger here.

Some of you will be seeing bad parenting here.

But some of you, just some of you will see this:

calvin-n-hobbes-laughing

  silly-minion-1

silly-minions-2

farm-dad-1

     great-dad2

Our parents were great!  Loving, funny, caring, sharing, encouraging, outstanding.  So please do not judge too harshly the decade we grew up in because it was all good. 

They were not rich, but our lives were.  If I could, I would wish that all children would have at least a couple of summers, and maybe a few falls, on a farm.

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THE FIRST TIME I TRIED TO DIE (no, not on purpose!).

To this day I cannot keep my hands off baby animals.  Don’t care what kind of animal it is, just as long as it is in baby form.  Adults, not so much.

On a farm, there is always some type of babies being born.  If it wasn’t my 4-H rabbits, it was the cousin’s pig.  Well, one fine year we had a Welsh Pony, her name was Dolly.  She was a booger!  The meanest pony I ever met.  Once you got the bridle and saddle on her, she was fun to ride.  Trying to get them on without her stepping on your foot or trying to nip you was another story.  I don’t know where or when it happened, but she got pregnant and had a colt.  A beautiful black and white spotted thing just like her.

dolley and baby

I can’t tell you how many times dad warned us NOT to go near Dolly.  She was very protective of her baby, as a mother should be.  Did I listen?  Nope!  I would go out there for hours and try to get close enough to touch the baby.

There was a small shed out in their pen with the door and window blown out.  Dolly would hide in there with her baby, and I knew it.  I would crawl up to the side of the building and try to reach in to get to touch the baby.  Never worked.

One day I decided I was just going to do it!  Just who did this pony think was the boss anyway?  So, I put on my little cowboy boots, grabbed my coat and off I went.  I marched right into that pen, right up to the pony and that was the last thing I remember of that encounter.

Apparently, she knew she was the boss and the moment I got too close, she decided to show me.  Swung her butt around and planted a hoof square on my head – knocked me out cold.  I was lucky for two reasons:

  1.  Dolly did not want to come after me for more damage once I was down.
  2. Dad saw the whole thing.

He managed to get me to the house (back then you didn’t just rush off to the hospital or doctor, you tried to handle it at home first.) where mom took over and eventually I came around.

Now, I’m not going to say I was okay.  As far as “ok” – that is still left to be determined (sure hope not)!  However, I was an idiot back then, and I will continue to prove this to you in my future family stories. (FYI – Dad’s nickname for me was “Dumb Shit” for a reason.)

headache dog

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I JUST HAVE TO BRAG UP SMART FARM/GARDEN PEOPLE!

The fact that these smart people also happen to be some of our dearest friends is purely coincidental.  We love to think- outside-the-box; you know, look at a stick and see a staircase type of thinkers.  Maybe this is why we have the best close friends in the world, we all think like this.

First example, our own greenhouse.  When we (my sister and I) initially thought about our new farm life, one of the things we knew we had to have was a greenhouse.  If you have the money and the space I highly recommend getting one.  It does not have to be as big as ours, but you need a place to grow your own foods. DSCF5121

I picked this picture to show you that we did build it ourselves (you can also check out my posts from 2012 for a lot more details).  This also gives you an idea of just how big it is.  The out-of-the-box thinking here (Kudos for our friend for thinking of this) is why it is 3 feet in the ground.  You actually have to step down 2 steps to get into it.  The friend also discovered a stellar insulated siding to pour the cement into that gives it a triple insulated side wall on all 4 sides.  The reason for this (for those asking) is to keep it warmer in winter and cooler in summer – on its own – with little to know help needed sometimes in the year.

Well the friend that helped us with this is ALWAYS thinking outside the box.  He came up with a couple of amazing simple things to help on their beautiful gardens.

HAIL – a harsh topic for anyone that loves plants.  You can spend days, months, and years working on your plants, trees, bushes, lawn, gardens and in an instant – HAIL – will destroy all or most all of it – grrr!  Fortunately, (knock on wood) we have not been in the path this year (yet), unfortunately our friends have been for the last several years (major bummer!).  So, Mister Think-Outside-the-Box came up with this nifty idea:

knj garden1

He is (they are) just so ingenious!!  (deserve many, MANY more exclamation points here but my writing checker won’t let me do it – boo hoo!)  Take a good look at this pic.  Not the raised beds, not the walk ways but the top and the slanted boards.  They placed wire hog/field panels (like this):

field pannel

The hole size in the squares is about 4”x4”, some have narrower holes toward the bottom to keep baby pigs in)

All over the tops of their garden spaces.  Then covered that with a finer mesh wire like this:

rabbit wire

Some people call it rabbit wire because the square holes are smaller than the holes in chicken wire and rabbit feet won’t fall through.  These are only about the size of a dime.)

NOW HOW BRILLIANT ARE THEY!!!

Then (like the top wasn’t enough smarts), check out the boards that are slanted in the raised bed.  They also have the hog panels attached to them – FOR THE VINING PLANTS NO LESS!  HOW DO THEY KEEP DOING IT?

They just keep coming up with these outstanding ideas.  How many years have my sister and I cried over lost crops to hail damage, but we never once thought of something so simple (almost seems like it should be common sense – LMAO), but so right?  We have hog panels all over our place, mostly for fencing.  There are some that have been damaged to the point of not hanging on a fence anymore, so they are just lying around – OH DUH!?!  (OK, can’t stop giggling at myself now.)

We have seen the panels used for gardening at this angle:

field panel in use

But never once thought far enough outside-the-box to come up with the perfect ideas that they did (yes, a bit of jealousy here – but just a bit because they are dear friends!).

I know that some of you (my Blogging Buddies) have seen some pretty nasty hail this year (maybe in past years also), so I wanted to share their smarts with those of you that have the same issues with your gardens.  I also wanted to brag up how beautiful their work is:

knj garden 2

Makes you want to just grab a lemonade, pull up a chair and watch the bees and butterflies do their thing.  AND THEY DID IT ALL THEMSELVES! WOW!!  This is not the work of a landscape specialist, it’s just them and their marvelous brains (more exclamation points – can’t help it – I’m just so excited for them)!  They work hard but they also work smart.  They deserve this Kudos!

I love my friends

Grandma, Why Do You Walk So Funny?

Out of the mouth of babes, Grandma, why do you walk funny? (It should be noted that he is now mimicking me – I want to growl, but started laughing instead – little jerk! LOL) Since he has ADHD, and since he thinks computer games are way better than gardening; I decided to show him in pictures:

This:

dried footer

Became this:

DSCF5135  DSCF5121

And now is this:

20160605_091933 (1).jpg

This:

rasp before 6-5-16.jpg

Became this:

raspberry row after 6-4-16

This and so much more was all done with the help of things like this:

my R shoulder xray-after.jpg 

Several great doctors, modern technology, and some really strong metal and plastic parts (hope I don’t rust – hee hee).

Before the new body parts, I could not lift my right arm without my left arm’s help.  Both knees were sitting bone-on-bone (cartilage totally gone in both), and one foot had bones that shattered as my beautiful doctor tried to fix it (and NO – none of them were named – Frankenstein).  The other foot is yet to be determined, but it is useable on most days, so I’m ok for now.

On good days, I walk upright.  On fun days, I walk like the Hunchback of Notre Dame (of course, then I have to chase him around the yard yelling “Where’s my bell?  Give me my bell?” with a lisp of course.)

So, my answer to my grandson is – I HAVE EARNED IT!

My walk came hand-in-hand over time just like my wrinkles.  The real answer is: just too much fun growing up, so now I pay the piper.  With any luck, by the time everything gives out, I will have it all completely replaced and then have a great excuse for not knowing who that lady is in the mirror!  He is only seven, so he didn’t get the joke.  It was too hard to explain why I couldn’t stop laughing at this point, so I just tickled him for a while.

Then I proceed to tell him all about the reasons why Grandma is so silly all the time – but that is a whole other story.

goofy frankenstein

 

 
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GARDENING RESOLUTION #1- MORE FUN!

The last 2 years have been really rough for living and gardening, so I just have 1 resolution for 2016…

HAVE MORE FUN AND LAUGHS IN THE GARDENS!

This is what doing yard and garden work should be about – fun! There are only 2 reasons, I believe, for having an outdoor space: 1) To grow your own food, 2) A place you go to for relaxation and enjoyment.

garden fun-claymation

My parents used to have a great saying “you play, you pay”, which seems to fit almost any/every situation. None more so than your own personal outdoor space. You want something that, on your worst days, you can go to for your own personal karmic relief. A place that you (or with a bit of help from others) created and that you are content and proud to be in.

So, for my new year – and I hope yours – why don’t we try making it more fun? We all have to pull weeds somewhere, at some time – why not use that time to take you’re your frustrations?

pulling weeds

Beat the snot out of them – rip them out of the ground – or do it an easy way as my friend does…grab a pair of old scissors (make sure they are long), grab a shady hat or maybe you have a portable umbrella setup for shade, load a few of your favorite drinks in a small cooler, sit down by the area you want to attack, and begin: With gloves on (because she is allergic to some of them), she holds a weed up to accurately locate the base of it, maneuvers her scissors down the shaft into the ground and SNIP – it’s gone! Now this may seem a bit unusual, but she has a very valid reason to her madness. She stops the weed without bothering the good plants she has near it.

silly weed

Now, step back for a minute and think about this! She did not disturb the roots of the good growers. She stopped the weed from getting any sun and/or water. Yes, it will come back – but not for quite a while. This relaxed method also gave her several moments of peace and contentment. All she heard was distant sounds and, once done, she sat back and was proud at what she had accomplished. I was in awe of her great natural gardening discovery! So I tried it! It was wonderful!

If you have to be out there doing the nasty with the weeds anyway, why not enjoy it? Why torture your back or shoulders with wrestling with the monsters, when you can use that same time – with less energy – as a type of “Zen” experience? Become ONE with the butterfly (appreciate the Monarch if you see it – endangered species) and all the fun things in your space!

monarch on a plant

So, this is my major New Year Resolution – to make it all more fun and enjoyable. I hope you will too!

WHO WINS THE RACE?

If your days are anything like mine, they get full pretty fast. Rushing from here to there, worrying about tons of different deadlines for different projects all at the same time. The mind is racing and somedays it’s really hard to get focused – or worse – to sleep at night! Well, we have found a most excellent way to draw our minds back into brain-dead status – TOAD RACING!

Now, this is not your fancy frog racing adventure. No race track, no fast moving frogs, and only 2 rules…1) Who ever makes it to the finish line is the winner, 2) NO CHASING THE TOAD! This last includes tossing a stick or stone to try to direct or redirect it in any way. It has to be all on the toads’ own will power.

toad 1  toad 2

This may sound stupid to some of you but picture this: It is a quiet cool evening. You have had a long hard day of doing too many mental and physical chores. You find yourself sitting in a comfortable glider rocker chair next to a nice glowing fire pit. The stars are our, the crickets are chirping, you can hear the howl of the coyotes in the distance – but you just cannot relax!

Frustrated, you go grab a cool drink, sink back into your chair and then happened to glance around at your environment. You see a toad hopping about. It seems to be on a mission – but – no – wait, it turned around bolting in a new direction. Your screaming brain just came to a screeching halt – “what is this critter looking for?” You now start to see other toads of all different sizes and shapes, popping out from all different places. You lean over to the buddy sitting next to you and say, “I bet that one can get to that stick first!” Your sister/friend/significant other looks at you, selects their own specimen smiles and says “you’re on!”

You shuffle your feet to try to make it turn another direction, but you are not allowed to get up and chase it in any way, shape or fashion – it must move totally by its own will. It stumbles over a small tree branch, travels about a foot toward your goal and you start to get excited – oops, wait it turned to face you now. Pretty sure this toad knows that I have pegged it as the winner so it just decides to squat right down and stare at me – jerk! The other fellow’s toad is now racing, has caught up with mine and actually rammed right into it.  Now they are both just sitting there like bumps on a log (ok, now you know where that phrase came from – you’re welcome!).

You and your buddy begin laughing uncontrollably – can’t help it, the whole idea is goofy! But then, that’s the point…your mind is now totally blank except for how to get this toad to move, your body has become physically relaxed except for the hysterics pouring out of you. Ahhh, job well done!

The unplanned plan worked perfectly! Totally by chance of a perfect night, perfect conditions and stopping to notice the surroundings – relaxation was found!

A couple of months have now passed since that glorious night, and we found ourselves sitting on the east porch contemplating Saturdays chores that we had accomplished. There was still a large amount to be done, so the “list” began to bounce back and forth between us. Do this first, do this by the first deep frost, finish processing the veggies, and my sister slipped in the house to get a couple more drinks. That’s when I spotted them!

ladybugs

(Look close and you can see the 2 at the siding edge trying to come over to beat her, however she is also traveling toward them?)

Not toads this time, but ladybugs! Dozens of them crawling all over the porch railings, ceiling, along the house wall, everywhere. They were moving so fast I thought that they must have a plan? As one moved close to me I set out a finger – she climbed right on it – now this is silly! How will she get where she is going while perched on my finger? But, again, moving non-stop she reached the edge of my coat cuff, bumped it and immediately flew off and reconnected with the house again. These were not sluggish toad, these little puppies cruised! When my sister came back out with fresh drinks, I pointed out the lady bugs and stated; “I believe that one of mine (the one spinning in circles) will reach the end of the porch ceiling first!” She started giggling and said “You’re on!”

So who won the race? No one, everyone, who really cares? The whole point of this is not who wins the race, or how they won the race, but the fun we found along the way. Yes the ladybug is faster, but she is just as dizzy as the toads were.