Wednesday, May 15, 2013

everyone said we'd jump into summer

Two weeks after the snow storm we had a heat wave . . . 90* and higher.  The bus route was extremely warm.  Wind whipped dirt into the open windows as we drove across gravel roads.  The fresh air of the country swirled in and students scurried to close the windows and then it felt like  there was a real danger of suffocating.  We survived. 

When it cooled down a bit, Krysta and I took a drive in the car without air conditioning.  We oohed and aaahed at the blue of the sky and the puffy white clouds.  We ended up at our friends' place where a new baby ~ just one week old ~ was admired and cuddled.  The baby yawned and stretched and peeked at me through half opened eyes.  We relaxed on the front porch.  A border of tulips swayed in the breeze.    

Krysta was surrounded by a flock of little girls.  They skipped around showing her calves, bunnies, and chickens.  They ended up at the swing, giggling and taking turns swishing through the air.  Krysta got a chance to hold the baby and all the girls posed for the camera in the front lawn with the tulips.  Six beautiful girls . . .

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mountains of laundry

I once made the mistake of grumbling to my mom about the bathroom in my house. Now Mom was raised in a family of twelve children - six boys and six girls. Part of her growing up years was spent in a house without indoor plumbing. She was the wrong person to grumble to - totally the wrong person. She set me straight with a couple of quick questions.
 "When you turn on the faucet do you get hot and cold water?"
 "Yes, of course."
 "Do you have a toilet that flushes?"
 "Then there is nothing to complain about!"
I got the hint. I have never growled about the bathroom from that day to this.

Stop laughing, Deanne. Okay, I try not to whine about the bathroom.
Moving on -- the subject today is not about the state of my bathroom. Today I am talking about laundry. If you have ever had the misfortune to grumble about doing laundry to me -- you will want to quietly back out of this blog and go to another blog where you will have peace and quiet.  I won't feel bad. Just back on out . . .
All right!
It was a pleasant surprise for me to discover I like to do laundry.
Mostly because there are so many things I don't have to do these days. I don't have to collect bacon and sausage grease and other cooking fats in crocks and tin pails and jars and store them for a whole year in the basement. Grease that gets moldy and rancid . . . Fats that need to be melted and strained and measured into a cauldron in my back yard.  I don't have to save ashes from the wood stove and pour water over them to produce potash, then measure that into the huge kettle - and what about the fire under this kettle? Who will chop the wood into just the right sized sticks so the fire will heat evenly? Who will stir and stir and stir so the soap doesn't scorch or get lumpy? All of this might be fun once just for the novelty of it, but how about every year? year after year?
Last but not least -- who will wash all of those greasy crocks and tin pails and jars and carry them back to the basement so they are handy when I start the process all over again? 
Nowadays I just traipse down the aisle of the local supermarket and choose laundry soap, buy it, bring it home and measure it into my front load washer. If I want a small glimpse of the old days I can make homemade laundry soap with this simple recipe.
Save a container that held liquid laundry soap. (one that holds more than a gallon so you have plenty of room)
Measure a gallon of hot water in a gallon pitcher.
Fill the soap container 1/3 full of hot water.
Measure and pour in:
1/4 cup borax
1/4 cup washing soda (Arm & Hammer Super washing soda)
Shake well.
Measure and pour in:
1/4 cup liquid Natural Castile soap
Pour the rest of the hot water into the soap container.
Shake gently.
Use 1/3 - 2/3 cup per load.  (more for a big load if needed)
This soap can be a mystery to me.
Sometimes when I make it there are lumps in it --
sometimes it is completely liquid with no lumps.
I will confess I am glad for the well in our back yard. And the pipes, mostly hidden, that bring water into the house. I am glad for the septic system that takes used water away. I am glad there is no more trauma with wringer washers. Those hair rising stories of people getting their hands and arms caught and wrung through the wringer . . . the countless warnings to never, ever, ever go anywhere near a wringer when your hair is hanging. I'll even confess I like to wash clothes with a wringer washer. When I'm doing load after load of sheets and bedding I know it would all get done faster the old fashioned way.
I haven't even mentioned washing clothes in a lake or river using a scrubbing board and hanging the clothes over bushes to dry. Or hauling water up from the river like Pa did for Ma in Little House on the Prairie. How about bringing in snow to melt on the stove like Anne Hobbs in her book, Tisha, when she taught school in Alaska? 

Today I can throw a load of clothes in the washer and go take a nap if I am tired.  If I feel like it I can read a book or do crafts while the washer swishes soap and water and clothes around and around. 

I am spoiled rotten -- I'll be the first to admit it. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Snow in May!

Last Wednesday evening I took the girls to driver's ed.  I bought some groceries then went to the library.  It was so rainy and miserable that I debated about going in . . . then I thought of a friend I hadn't talked to for awhile and gave her a call.  She was home and we had a delightful catching up.

All the time rain and sleet poured down the windows outside.  Inside the windows got all steamed up.  This is the time to wish vehemently for a proper fan that works in this elderly vehicle I drive.  I opened some windows and turned defrost and heat all the way up then drove very carefully to the driving school.  When the girls were done we headed to the first meeting place north of town about ten minutes.  The car that met us had SNOW on the hood.  Continued on north another ten minutes with increasing awful roads.  After that stop we travelled to our house. 

Let's just say snow is beautiful but when it is wet and coming down at a slant across the windshield in huge flakes then sticking to the road and building up in slushy ruts -- oh and did I mention that it was dark by this time? this is no longer beautiful but dangerous!  I was very glad to see the lights of home. 

In the morning we woke up to find a snowy world.  Ellis had to brave the wild roads with a four wheel drive.  When he got to Blooming Prairie and opened the door of the pick-up he pushed against snow.  They are saying this little town on the prairie got 18 inches of snow.  There was a five foot drift in front of the store.  Ellis and a friend started tunneling toward the door with shovels. 

This is the most snow we have had in May since they started keeping records 100+ years ago.
 --  the exciting things that can happen on May 2nd.