Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Summer Days

We heard a notice from our electric company yesterday --
try to limit the use of electricity during the day --
from 7:00 a.m. until sometime in the evening. 
Ellis and I looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. 
No one home today so no one is washing or drying clothes,
vacuuming, running the air conditioner, fans, water,
baking or cooking -- 
the house is empty.
     (Unless another mouse joined the household)

It's been so hot and humid.  That's why they have this peak alert. 

We have joined the ranks of empty nesters for a couple weeks . . .
just trying it out for a few days.  Krysta will be back after
Labor Day - starting school again and a new after-school job.
She will be one busy girl.  That's good because she didn't really
sign up for being an only child and she's not sure she will like it.

Our lives took an unexpected twist this summer when the school
where Deanne teaches asked Jorgan if he would teach as well.
They will each have 12 students if I heard right.  Two teachers -
no first graders this year and no fifth graders.  So Miss Dea will
have 2nd - 4th and Jorgan will have 6th -10th.

What will his school name be?  Mr. Harshbarger?
Mr. Jorge?   He has been trying on different names.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

We have pickles in the kitchen.
Cucumbers, onions, garlic, salt, vinegar, spices,
jars, lids, rings, hot water

The final count: 
4 quarts Dill Pickles
10 pints Bread and Butter Pickles

It is satisfying to touch the lids the next day and sigh with relief.
Every jar sealed.  It is no fun trying to decide what to do with
pickles that don't seal.  It sort of takes the crunch out of the day
if you know what I mean.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Yesterday I rode with Ellis on a couple deliveries.  In between runs I
stopped at my parents place and helped mom clean the play house. 
Usually this is Krysta's job but she is in western MT
helping Deanne and Jorgan. 

It was very warm!

Every year the play house gets a fall cleaning in time for the fish fry at
Dad and Mom's place.  All the little girls will arrange the dishes in the
cupboard and bake and cook up a storm in that little house. 
They can pretend to wash clothes in a tiny ringer washer.

There is a picture taken long ago of two little girls posing in front of that
same play house.  One tucked her braids in her belt to look like suspenders,
the other has her hair up under a white cap style covering -
a miniature Amish couple come to visit.

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Random thoughts for warm summer days --

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Summer Pageants

The last time we were at Walnut Grove MN Ellis had to work late
then we drove across HWY 14  at a great speed to get to the pageant
in time. 

The pageant was told from Ma's viewpoint at that time. 
They have since changed it to be told from Laura's perspective. 
After the pageant we drove to a campsite and kept the car running
so we had lights to set up a tent. 

It was a diesel car and very loud at 11:00 P.M.
Our neighbors were very kind and didn't come over and ask us,
"What in the world do you think you're doing at this hour of the night?"

The next morning we were going to make breakfast over a campfire
but we had forgotten our cast iron frying pans.  We have since perfected
the art of getting food and equipment all together in one place
(the trunk of the car and transported to the campsite)
- unpacked and arranged on a picnic table -
then created into a delicious breakfast/brunch on a campfire.

The menu doesn't change much:
Onions, Peppers and Mushrooms sautéed in butter
Scrambled eggs with cheese
Bacon or Sausage
Spam (we are from Austin MN - the Spam capital of the world)
 -- Slice the Spam and fry it.  It's the only way it is edible. =)

Krysta found a T shirt that describes our experiences.
              Camping Is In Tents

A little play on words. 

There is a lot of character building going on when mosquitos whine
around your head, and there is no light of any kind,
not even the moon.  It is so much better if you get to the spot
in the day light.

This year after the pageant I followed Trenda to a bed and breakfast
down the road about 20 miles.  The doors were open for us.  The beds
were comfortable.  The next morning we admired the beautiful old house,
drank cups of coffee and had a scrumptious breakfast.

Hwy 14 is perpetually under road construction so we took a detour south
and then continued west then north again to DeSmet.

We arrived at Lake Thompson and set up the tent at our campsite.
Like I said, much better in the day time!
Trenda and Brooke didn't like the green algae in the lake.
They have better lakes up north.

Four of Laura's books took place here.
On the Shores of Silver Lake
The Long Winter
Little Town on the Prairie
These Happy Golden Years

Technically, five books because The First Four Years happened here, too.

We signed up for the tour that took us through the Surveyor's house,
two school houses and the house Pa built in town.  After seeing the
bedroom in the surveyor's house I will never again say our bedroom
at home is small.  (Our bedroom wouldn't be so small if we would move
some books out!)

After that we drove out to the homestead and got a wagon ride
out to the edge of Pa's homestead where a school stands.  It isn't the
Perry school because that one burned down, but one like it.
When we pulled up to the hitching post a teacher came out of the school
and rang a bell.  We had just enough time to go inside and find a seat. 

There were straw hats for the little boys, if they wanted to wear them,
and sun bonnets for all the little girls. 
The teacher spoke of some history of that area.  She called up
three classes and they gave some impromptu recitations . . .
nursery rhymes from the little ones,
reading a poem from an old reader for the next group. 
Two boys and a girl went up for the last class so the teacher pretended
they were Cap Garland, Almanzo Wilder and Laura Ingalls
and told interesting stories about them.

Back at the homestead there was a lot of hands on stuff to do. 
We could wash dish towels, put them through the ringer then hang
them on a clothes line. We made a corn cob doll like Susan
in Little House in the Big Woods
We saw how they twisted hay into sticks and ground wheat into flour. 
Brooke rode a pony.

By this time we needed to drive down a trail to the pageant grounds. 
We got our supper at the concession stand and found our spots
smack in the middle
and close to the front.

This summer they put on These Happy Golden Years
After the winter we endured 2013- 2014 we were grateful it wasn't
the year for them to perform The Long Winter.

There was a roll call for all the countries and states represented. 
People from Sweden, Australia, Japan, Canada and many states,
including Alaska, were there.

I was intrigued by the dates of Pa and Ma's birthdays
and the year they got married. 
Pa was born in 1836 and Ma in 1839.  They got married in 1860. 
My parents were born in 1939 and they were married in 1960. 
One hundred years apart. 
Charles and Caroline had four girls and one boy. 
My parents have four girls and one boy.

After we returned home I started reading
Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder
written by Donald Zochert.  
He wrote that - Gasp! - it was Mary who pulled Laura's hair (not Nellie)
and insisted she stay inside at recess and not go out and play ball with
the boys.  Laura didn't listen and played anyway.  But then Mary told Ma.
Ma talked to Laura and after that Laura and her friends stayed inside and
watched the game through the window.

So Laura was very kind and wrote historical fiction and didn't tell what a
naughty girl Mary really was.    The oldest girls in a family are often the
bossiest people imaginable.  I know this from personal experience
since I'm the oldest in my family. 
I was called "bossy"  many times
and - sadly - deserved it.