Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Break, Day 1

We woke up to 4-6 inches of snow this morning...and it's still coming down! 

After my Dad plowed the driveway, he left
a "fence" of snow balls along both sides!

Today is the first day of L's Spring Break.  J has a 2 hour delay from school.

I built this snowman in the girls' window
well to surprise them this morning!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring is Remiss

I planned on returning home from a week away to find that Spring had descended upon Poplar Ridge in my absence.  Well, the "best laid plans of mice and men often go awry," so the poem goes.  We returned to cold weather and frozen ground.

The first flowers are blooming here, despite the cold!  My crocuses are lovely and bright, lining the still sleeping flower bed.  The bees were swarming around them in the sunshine today, since they remain the only blooming things up here!

Although I still don't feel prepared to commit the next 6 months to gardening, I was planning to plant my peas this weekend.  I am already behind, as St. Patrick's Day has come and gone, and my peas and taters are still in the house, still unplanted.  I do have 2 trays full of happy, green seedlings:  squash and tomatoes and peppers.  They have to hang on until the ground is a bit warmer out there to move into the garden!

Notice the clean window and screen!
My next project is to try to get a couple of our hens to set on eggs.  I transferred a couple of likely candidates from the chicken barge to the egg cart'n today.  These 2 ladies were sitting on nests full of eggs when I checked on them, and one pecked me when I stuck my hands in to grab her.  Their move was apparently a bit stressful.  They spent the afternoon, exploring their area and picking out all the greening grass in their tiny yard, but spent exactly 0% of the time ON THE NESTS.  I'll give them a day or two, and see what happens.

Lonely eggs!
Instead of gardening, I pulled the window screens out of storage and washed them today.  Tonight, all of the windows have been washed on the inside, and most of them have been washed on the outside as well.  The screens are in, and we are waiting for some warm days to open up and blow the stale, winter air out of the house.

There is much to do after being away for a week anyway, I didn't need to add gardening duties to my list.  The mountains of laundry have been tamed, as have the stacks of mail.  L's new Language Arts books have arrived, so I switched out the old with the new, and briefly familiarized myself with the new curriculum.  J was out on "educational leave" for the first time ever last week, so we have gathered together all of the materials she worked on last week, studied for a couple of make up tests, and discussed a brief report of her week.

It was a busy week!  We visited a Natural History Museum with friends one day.  They had a huge exhibit of Legos.  We learned, through trial and error, that the best way to build a wall that will withstand attack, is to make it thick, to stagger the bricks, and not to make it completely straight.

Another afternoon, we played at a Science Factory, where we experimented with magnets, force and gravity, and then tested our brain power on multiple brain teasers.

We visited my cousin one day, and while the girls played with their second cousins on the farm, I held my sweet and snugly 1 month old baby cousin-and-a-half.  We peeked into the milking barn during the evening milking, and discovered one cow that gave 54.8 pounds of milk!

One final Natural History Museum allowed us to learn about dino poop, (also known as coprolite),  and examine hundreds of birds and many varieties of birds' eggs.

We had Indian food with my sister and brother-in-law, and mountains of Mennonite food at the all-you-can-eat-buffet.

The week pretty much wore me out, so I guess that in retrospect, I'm almost grateful for the continuing cold weather.  I needed a breather this weekend, and I will need it even more if we really get another snow storm tomorrow night.  But by next weekend, I PROMISE to work in the garden if Spring will really and truly come to stay!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bad Dog

This is where we found Kali when L and I returned from errands today...hiding under the table.

This is why:

She snatched 3 packs of Ramen noodles from the pantry and ate 2 of them in our absence!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring is in the Air

Spring was palpable this weekend.  The sun shone warm and heavy.  The chickens reveled in it, scratching outside from dawn to dusk and giving us 33 eggs in 2 days!

The robins have returned.  Sunday morning a whole flock of them hopped around on the greening grass, cocking their heads, and hoping for the early worms.

I had plenty of indoor chores to accomplish, but I couldn't tear myself away from the hypnotic gaze of the sun.  I found much to do outdoors as well.  I even spent several hours in the garden yesterday, cutting down the old asparagus stalks, and weeding around the asparagus bed.  Someday soon I can put some of last year's compost on the bed and then mulch it well.

I stuck my trowel into one of the raised beds, which has been sleeping under a quilt of shredded leaves since Fall.  The soil was soft and dark.  My first foray into the garden was mostly positive, but I'm still not completely ready to commit myself to a season (plus) worth of toil.

The bees have awoken from their long slumber as well.  They seem a bit frantic, as they zip about.  There is nothing blooming here yet!  They swarmed around the sawdust that JP left behind as he cut wood, and they looped around the 3 loads of laundry dangled from the clothes line this weekend.

Yesterday evening, we grilled hamburgers outside, and ate them with pasta salad and devilled eggs on the deck.  After eating, I leaned back in my chair and let the sun shine on my face.  JP asked if it was reviving my soul.  "I'm soaking it in," I told him.

There is more snow forcasted for this week, but it won't last long.  Spring is on it's way, no matter what.  Most years, I almost lose hold of that promise in February and March.  Thank goodness that it always arrives just when I need it most.

I got a preview of summer this morning.  I stuck my foot into the leg of a pair of jeans that hung on the line yesterday, and were still lying in a heap in the clothes basket this morning.  Apparently I startled a wasp, who was sleeping there, and received my first sting of the year...on my foot no less.  Luckily my recharged solar batteries are permitting me to remain optomistic:  it's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiney day!

Friday, March 8, 2013

No School!

Yesterday and today were Teacher In-Service Days for the kids.  We spent the day at the Science Center in the City yesterday...and had a blast!

Outside at the Science Museum 

J s-l-o-w-l-y pedals the Sky Bike.

Girls in the Photo Booth

C on the Human YoYo

On deck of the USS Requin

L jumps HIGH on the trampoline!

Doing tasks under "zero gravity"

C climbed this wall 3 or 4 times!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

In the Wee Hours

I woke with a start this morning, having heard the beep of JP's CPAP machine turning off.  It was pitch black...another power outage.

We had warnings of severe storms overnight, dumping 3-8 inches of heavy snow in our area, with the possibilities of the loss of power.  Yesterday afternoon and evening was beautiful - blue skies, sunshine, temperatures in the 40's, so it was extremely easy to blow off all the warnings.  JP was a bit more cautious.  He showered last night...just in case, and wondered if we should fill some buckets with water to be on the safe side.  I talked him out of it.

So, the power shutting off at 4 AM sends some dire messages about the state of things outside, although I never bothered to look.  I had to scrounge around to find a non-cordless telephone to prepare for the inevitable 5 AM call from the School District to cancel classes.

I laid awake worrying.  20 minutes later, L crept upstairs with her tiny flashlight.  "It is VERY dark in my room,"  she whispered.  We found her a little night light, and got her settled.  I worried some more.  The 5 AM phone call came, but it was just for a 2 hour delay.  More worrying.  I must have finally drifted off to sleep, because I woke with another start, thinking that I heard anther beep, then the hum of the refrigerator switching back on.  This time, it was just a dream.  In another few minutes, my clock radio alarm, although the clock was not visible because of the outage, went off.  I figured it was time to face whatever this day had to throw at me.

I took water out to the chickens first thing.  Not a single one was outside, which is very unusual!  On closer inspection, I discovered that their small doorway was drifted shut with snow.  As soon as I dug them out, they piled out through the door like clowns from a tiny car:  1...2...3......20!

The trees were completely covered with snow, and it was still coming down.   Everything was hushed and dim in the early morning light.  Somewhere close by, a bird trilled. 

The power was back on by 11 AM, the sun was out by 3 PM, and most of the concrete on the driveway was not only melted, but dry.  I have survived worse, much worse.  I was imagining those circumstances when I woke so early this moring.  It proved to be completely manageable.  Thank goodness!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

It snowed on and off all weekend, but nothing really stuck.  The ground has been frozen, but it gives a little.  This isn't the same as the dead-of-winter ground freeze.  Yesterday and today have been beautiful and cool with bright blue skies and sunshine.  It's hard to believe that they have forecasted a Winter Storm Warning -  up to a foot of snow coming over tonight and tomorrow!

Sunday night I stayed up late finishing a book (and then wasting time browsing the electronic books available at the Library).  I took the dogs out just before midnight.  It was cold and clear.  The stars were huge and bright, and the big dipper was tipping out a few giant snowflakes right over my driveway.

Both cats slunk around the side of the garage to greet us.  That hasn't happened since before Bert the black kitty disappeared last Spring.  Bert and Ernie always appeared out of the darkness to visit with Kali when she came out for her late night constitutional.  Ernie had a lot to say Sunday night, but shy Lizzie hid in a corner of the garage doorway.  A few minutes later, both of them disappeared again on their silent paws.  Every now and again, I could hear a sleepy hen mutter from the hen house.  All was calm.  All was bright.

So, I made it through February.  But honestly, March doesn't feel that much different.  Winter should be over, but it isn't quite.  Not yet.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Good As New!

Several years ago, I complained to my Mom that JP always wears out the collars of his dress shirts long before the rest of the shirt is ready for the rag bag.  She told me, "Your Aunt would just turn the collars around."

Turn the collars AROUND?  I gave one a try, and it was really pretty simple.  JP could just buy new shirts, but we are inbred with Mennonite thriftiness, and that didn't sit well. 

It was getting necessary to do something about JP's latest set of shirts.  (He has long since worn out both sides of the collars from the first set of shirts.)  So I did the Mennonite thing last night while we watched "War Horse,"  I turned around the collars on 7 of his dress shirts.

They start out looking like this.

I rip the stitching out of the collar portion, turn it around, and pin it in place.
Now the frayed area is in back.

Then I stitch them back together on the sewing machine.
Voila!  Good as new!

Did you notice that all of his shirts are blue?  His side of the closet is filled with blue shirts - a couple of them have a different color pin stripe, and a couple are dark blue.  He wears a light blue button down shirt and khaki dress pants to work.  Every day.  He says it saves him a few minutes deciding what to wear each morning!