Friday, September 28, 2007

Alvin's First Casserole

From a card sticking out of my Country Living magazine (also on a tv commercial, I understand):
Alvin's first casserole!

The recipe calls for just 3/4 cup of uncooked rice (1 1/2 cups cooked). For FIVE people? Next time we'll double the rice.

He made it completely by himself, while I took Blackeyed Susan to ballet last evening.
Great job, m' boy!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fall Color of Another Sort

I found a corned beef brisket in the freezer, and Blackeyed Susan got excited! Cabbage is one of her very favorite vegetables, and I am one of those who can definitely Take It or Leave It. I "put up with" the smell of boiling cabbage for Saint Patrick's Day, when I make New England Boiled Dinner. (that's corned-beef-and-cabbage with potatoes and carrots added, for those of us cabbage-haters...)

Anyway, I made a NEBD yesterday, and as I cut up the veggies, they were so pretty I wanted a picture:
I think this is so cool: God's colors never clash!

I finished my shawl (found on Jewel's blog !) I made it for "just over" $1.00. After finishing four of my 25 cent thrift-store skeins of red wool, I started a fifth for the last two rows and the binding-off:

This is what I used to pin it...
One of two large plastic hair-pins. I found a card of two for ten cents at a yard sale:
That will do until I get a shawl-pin, as shown on Jewel's blog.
Well, Violet is coming into town this morning, so the school-day will be adjusted accordingly. We still need to get math and some other things done, as we like a lighter day on Fridays. Alvin Fernald called a "home-ec day!" for today (meaning No School/Clean-and-Bake day). Sorry, Alvin--Marco Polo is waiting for you in Kublai Khan's courtroom, and Means and Medians is your math lesson today, tho' I'm thinking about putting Science off till tomorrow. The grands are coming over for lunch. It will be a great day!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Good Thoughts from Violet

My daughter Violet wrote this as an assignment while studying for her master's degree:

"Personal statement about literature:

When I think about what literature is to me, I find
generalization difficult and cliches rather offensive. The best way to explain
how I feel about literature is to use examples.

Literature is Confederate and Union soldiers reading Les
, experiencing the miseries of the French underclass while
waiting in fields and forests of Pennsylvania or South Carolina or
Georgia, for what might be their last battle.

Literature is the New Yorker's William Maxwell writing a letter to
Sylvia Townsend Warner about his experience with the city-wide blackout--the
whole of New York, moving eerily and quietly through the streets
in moonlight, candlelight, flashlight.

Literature is in the gas-lit, pea-soup fog of Victorian London, where
Holmes and Watson hunt the Napoleon of Crime and plumb the grotesqueries
of humanity.

Literature is Wodehouse amusing with his absurdities, Havel protesting with
his plays, Herbert praising with his poetry.

Literature is in the voice of the post-"colonial," long unheard, growing
stronger, opening the ears and eyes, minds and hearts, of people across the

Literature reaches through time, across space, between people. E.M. Forster
said, "Only connect." Through literature I make a connection with other people I
may never meet. I connect with people who died centuries before I was
born, with people who live thousands of miles away, and with people I might
ignore or dislike in person. Literature-in-translation lets me connect not only
with an author, but with a nearly-invisible translator--a two-for-one gift. I
also connect with myself; I find I meet myself and people like those around me
surprisingly often when I read.

Only connect. That is what literature means to me."

So. This is why we read. I knew there was a reason...

Today I am thanking the Lord for the gift of reading, of writing, of

p.s. I don't know why this printed the way it did (more like a poem than prose)--it didn't look that way when I composed it!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Great Molasses Disaster of 1919

Well, I promised yesterday that I would tell you about this!

We got a book from the library once, about Disasters. You know, the San Francisco Earthquake. The hurricane early in the 20th century that took the lives of thousands and thousands in Texas. (could you imagine living without the Weather Channel and radar???) The Johnstown Flood. But they pale next to The Great Molasses Disaster of 1919.

You can read about it here. I'll wait while you read about it.

My first thought, after reading it, was to, for once, thank God for OSHA and all of the government agencies that, though we hate their interference, do actually give us a measure of safety. The huge tank (holding 2.3 million gallons of molasses ) had never been tested to make sure that it would hold.

The molasses ran five feet deep through the streets. Horses and humans were stuck. I wondered how the rescue workers made their way through the mess.

But my biggest wonder was, How did they clean the mess up? I could really identify with one statement the book made: Many basements were filled to the top with the stuff.


When we read the book, we had just cleaned up from our second basement flood. The first had happened a couple of years prior. I don't remember exactly what happened, but there had been a few inches of water. We threw out tons of stuff. Two of my boys slept down there, so we made a project of getting stuff off the floor--nothing stored on the bottom shelf of the several sets of shelves down there. I was planning to store fabric in one of the rooms, so transferred all of it to rubbermaid tubs.

We had a terrific rainstorm one night a couple of years later. Eight inches fell in a few hours. The weatherman said it was "train-ing"--imagine the storm running along a track, and when it reached the end of the track, it "jumped," and went back to the beginning and started over, and over, and over.

We didn't flood because of over-running creeks, or whatever. The sewers backed up. Recently the EPA ( grrrr) had mandated that all water (and sewage) must run through the same sewers, which go to the treatment plant. Our city had had a system of storm sewers, which caught the rain water and sent it directly to the river. (gee, sounds reasonable to me. I mean, I learned the Water Cycle in grade school...) But, no, they had to close those, and everything went down the sanitary sewers.

We live in the section of the city which has the second-oldest sewers. I don't know when they were installed, but the oldest set of sewers was pre-Civil War. So, guess what? The sewers weren't able to handle the "train -ing" storm.

We heard sounds of water in the basement. When I went down the stairs, I saw a Geyser coming out of the basement drain, and an old toilet, as well. (I didn't even know the toilet was still sitting on sewer pipe...) Water was covering the second lowest step (eventually topping off at about two feet), and was up to the top of the bottom bunk mattress.

I learned several things in the aftermath:

1) If you overlook a box of books from the first flood, but find it after the second, don't open it. C-L-O-U-D-S of mold spores will POOF out at you. I don't suffer from allergies, but that one made me sick.

2) Rubbermaid tubs will not protect your possessions if the flood tosses them around so that their lids come off.

3) I don't know if there is anything in the known universe that is as heavy as a mattress soaked through with water. Two hefty teen boys almost gave up a number of times before they wrestled that bad boy up the stairs and out to the trash pile.

Bad as it was, the water receded, leaving a Big Cleanup. But at least it wasn't Molasses.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ya' Learn Something New Every Day

The last time I was at the Post Office, I picked up these stamps. They feature *pollinators*--creatures that help pollinate plants while going along their merry ways. Pictured are lovely birds, bees, butterflies and...BATS???

What a funny picture? I thought. Around here (in Indiana) we mostly see Barn Bats, who are supposed to eat their weight in mosquitoes every day. (we LOVE our bats!) But mosquitoes as an entree would make those babies Carnivores, right? What's with the sissy pollination stuff?

A quick look on Google tells me this:

In the desert, and in tropical regions, bats are important both for pollination
and seed dispersal.

The article is here.

Sure enough, if you look at the postage stamp, that little guy is pollinating some sort of desert specie.

How wonderful if we can learn something every day!

Next time: The Great Molasses Disaster of 1919....

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Lovely Week

Oh, oh, OH, I am loving this fall weather!! It really energizes me, inspires me, fills me!

I began my own version of the simple shawl featured on Jewel's blog. It is simple enough to carry around without having to keep track of instructions.

I've wanted to make a shawl for just years and years. I almost never get "cold"--I wear a sweater outside for much of the winter. However, our computer desk sits in a corner surrounded by two walls of windows, and, being an old house, it can get drafty. I think a shawl will be perfect:
A couple of years ago, I found about ten skeins of wool at a thrift store, for 25 cents apiece:
I think it's "sport" weight, (tho' the label doesn't specify). But it is thinner rather than thicker, and the label says "8-ply." But, hey, for 25 cents a skein, who's asking?

Now, let's talk about this little guy: He's been having a tough time--his record is 0-2. Today he plays U of Michigan, also 0-2. I'm not sure which planets are out of alignment for this to happen--I don't think such a happening has ever taken place in this universe, anyway. The scary thing is, tonight *somebody* is going to be 0-3....

Yesterday, my sister -in-law had to travel 100 miles to come to our city for a test. Charming's mother (Queen Darl) and my dear, sister-friend Kay came with Mary to keep her company. I made a Luncheon (darn, I didn't take any pictures of my pretty table...) and we had a wonderful two-hours visit. Questions such as "why don't we ever do this?" came up several times. Queen Darl commented *three times* on the pretty table. We talked about how women love to surround ourselves with beauty, and how women take mundane things, and make them as pretty as they can. I love Edith Schaeffer's book, "The Hidden Art of Homemaking," and the point she stresses that God is a Creator, and made us creative, as well. It reminds me of a quote I read taken from a pioneer woman's diary:

"I make quilts as fast as I can to keep my family warm, and as pretty as I can to keep my heart from breaking."

So now the plan is to have a lunch Twice a Year. That way, we'll "fer sure" hit Once.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Repurposed Tablecloth

As you can see, I have been needing a new ironing board cover for A Long Time:
Pitiful. Just Pitiful.

I had a vintage tablecloth I had bought a number of years ago for a dollar or so. Since then, we bought a dining room table that was too large for it, and I thought it would make a cute cover.
I decided to make it easier on myself, so I bought a pattern (McCalls 2723) at the $1.99 sale at JoAnn's. I centered the pattern piece smack on the center of the design. Ooh, this went against my Mom's scotch-ness! (Remember drawing a picture right in the middle of a piece of paper, and your mom having to teach you to start in a corner, so you could get several drawings on a paper?)

I wanted it really thick, so I cut a piece out of cotton batting (warm and natural, $4.99 a yard on sale. I bought a yard and a quarter for this project.) Then I centered the batting on the ironing board, and traced around the actual board with a sharpie. I then folded and pinned the batting to the "new," smaller size, and cut two more pieces out of the batting...
...and sewed them to the bigger piece, using the marker-marks as a guide:
I then attached the batting to the fabric:
The pattern called for double wide bias tape, but I had a package of quilt binding in my stash. The color didn't matter, because this part is under the board:
The pattern called for 1/4" elastic, and I didn't have enough. I threaded crochet cotton through it, and here is the finished product:
I did my Saturday night ironing, and it was glorious! Of course, the thicker the pad, the better the ironing is, so this was heavenly, compared to what I had been dealing with.
I did pay about $6.50 for the batting, but since super-deluxe ironing pads are about $16.99 at Target, I still made out.
I was a little disappointed at the crochet cotton--I can't seem to pull it tight enough for my taste, so I may re-do it with elastic. I could have also done a layer of Insul-Brite (the stuff you put in potholders) for a heat-reflective thing, but I didn't have enough on hand, and didn't want to go back to the store.
With all of that tablecloth left over, I cut a few napkins--the designs are not centered, but for everyday lunches they'll be fun. I also cut a few pieces with individual "fruits" for future apron pockets.
I loved this because it was a one-evening job, and I got it done and put away before Charming came home. This is always a Good Thing!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Oh! Frabjous Day!

Callou, callay!

Peter Pan is back on my local grocery shelves after being recalled since February. Actually, around here, we all thought it had been off the shelves for at least a year or two....

Life is worth living again.