Monday, December 31

December wildlife

Wildlife Seen in December

* 6 deer

December's Backyard Birds

* bluejays
* cardinals
* chickadees
* northern shrike
* white-breasted nuthatches
* hairy woodpeckers
* downy woodpeckers

Books read in 2007

* Square Foot Gardening
* Hamlet
* The Apple Grower
* Type 2 Diabetes Basics
* Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal
* Letters from a Nut
* This Country Life
* An Unlit Path
* Jayber Crow
* When Love Is Not Enough
* Cane River

Food preserved in 2007

* 15 quarts apple pie filling
* 5 quarts tomatoes
* 7 pints green beans
* 28 jars apple butter
* 42 quarts applesauce
* 14 quarts corn
* 12 oz. juneberry jam
* 18 pints gooseberry jam
* 24 pints blueberry jam
* 16 cups rhubarb

Thursday, December 27

This is the best year yet!

This is the best year I've ever had in the sense that, I got wonderful gifts! I got:

  • 5 pairs of clip-on earrings (3 from Michael, 2 from Grandma)
  • A diary (Grandma and Grandpa)
  • A beautiful purple shirt (Grandma & Grandpa)
  • A violin pin that goes well with the shirt (friends)
  • A Nancy Drew book (friends)
  • An Elsie Dinsmore book (Mom and Dad)
  • A picture frame with pics of my best friends (Mom and Dad)
And that's not even including stocking stuffers or family gifts! The funny thing is that I wanted all those things except the pin, which is so pretty that if anyone took it I would want it back right away, and there's nothing I really wanted that I didn't get. My favorite is the picture frame because it reminds me that my friends are still real, and still want to send me letters, and that helps me write the way that I would speak to them.

Well I need to get to bed. Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 24

Last minute plans

When I was growing up near here, there was an older couple who bought land across the creek from us and built a cabin there. B and E lived in the Cities and came up on weekends for years, until their cabin was built. We used to visit back and forth every weekend, and my mom kept in touch with them over the years.

When we came to MN on vacation, B put a fire in the stove for us before we arrived at the cabin my parents built. We stopped in to visit with them for a while (except a couple of the boys, who played in the snow the entire time).

Between then and the time we moved up here a year ago, B died. E sold their cabin and moved to town. I knew where she lived and thought of her every time I drove by, but never did call or stop in. I'm not good at that.

This afternoon, as usual, I got a call from Loren when he got off the interstate near her house. (From there, it's 10 minutes home on a poorly plowed road, so we know where to look if someone lands in the ditch.) I told Loren to stop at E's house, and if she was home, invite her to dinner tomorrow. And so he did. She was planning to spend Christmas home, alone. Instead, we will pick her up and she'll be here with my chattering, hollering, headstanding, somersaulting crew!

Sunday, December 23

Slender young hare #5

Was caught yesterday. I saw a slender young hare (SYH) trail through some high brush, so I put a 1 1/2 long spring trap right in front of where the good hiding places are on Friday. I caught an SYH the next day. Ever since then it has been snowing, and there are fresh tracks in that area, so I hope to catch another soon. I replaced the steel trap with a snare, because snares work better for SYHs.

In addition to slaying evil SYHs seeking to possess my high brush, I have learned some new songs on my guitar. I have learned to play "I'm for You" (Toby Mac), "East to West" (Casting Crowns) and "What Could be Better" (33 Miles).

Dog training is going pretty well. Alvin gets bored really easily, but he now alerts Mr. B at the sound of:
The smoke alarm
The telephone
Me calling Mr. B
Me knocking on the door.

Last night we made gingerbread houses. We got done around 10:00 p.m. and Mom said "OK, everybody put on your hats, gloves, coats, and snowpants. 2 hour snow romp". Well, we were out there till midnight. I would have checked all my traps, but it was too late because the law states that trap setting and tending hours are between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Saturday, December 22

Welcome to my world

As winter descends upon us, the dry air leaves skin chapped. We are newly arrived at a point where the littles can apply lotion themselves without much risk of mishap. Jon's hands were so dry that when he first began applying lotion, they would burn. I told him to apply a small amount after each handwashing, and reminded him over the course of a few days with little acknowledgement. One evening he was remarking to Loren that his hands were very dry. Loren told him he should apply a small amount of lotion after each handwashing. His response: "That's a good idea, Dad!"

One afternoon, I took Lynae to volunteer at the nursing home. Since the hospital waiting room was empty, I took Jon and Michael in there to do school work. Between assignments, I got them a cookie and broke it roughly in half. I gave Jon the smaller half, broke a tiny bite off the larger half to even it out, and gave the rest to Michael. Later, I heard Jon telling Lynae about it... "Michael got the biggest piece, then her, then me. So I got the smallest piece."

Earlier this week, we found ourselves at a non-Arby's "fast" food restaurant. As I filled a cup at the drink station, I saw something I wish I hadn't seen on a soda head. I showed it to the cashier and let him know, very politely, that he might want to make sure the soda heads were cleaned well that night. Loren piped up from behind me, "Yes, just take them off and soak them." (I don't know what the standard is now, but I did that every single night when I worked in a restaurant. How about you?) Anyway, Jon's comment as we walked away was, "You're good at that, Dad!"

This morning we were enjoying doughnuts with our coffee. Toby hadn't had much to eat, so I told him he could make some toast, and even sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar if he wanted. Jon chimed in, "I know, we could make cinnamon toast!"

Thursday, December 20

December Days

Written and directed by Lynae

December Days on YouTube

Don't try watching this if your connection is slow.

Monday, December 17

A snapshot of 14

"I can't control which nose I get, but I can control what I do with it. I have ambitious goals for my nose."



Saturday, December 15

Movie Recommendations

Lately, I've been surprised at the movies I've enjoyed the most. I guess you'd expect to find them on the Hallmark Channel, as they're relatively slow, simple, and sentimental.

The Last Sin Eater - Author Francine Rivers paints pictures so vivid they bring tears to my eyes. This movie adaptation, showing the need and power of forgiveness and Jesus' sacrifice, was no exception. Special effects were pretty corny, but I was able to look past that because the story grabbed me.

I Am David - The plot of this movie was fairly predictable, but it was still a joy to watch this boy discover so much that we take for granted on his journey from a prison camp, across Europe to Denmark . I was unexpectedly moved by the ending.

Sweet Land - Quirky story of a German mail-order bride who finds herself in a community of Norwegians, full of strong and memorable characters. This story moves slowly enough to let you savor the subtleties.

The Straight Story - This movie progressed at the pace of a riding lawnmower. All the better for appreciating its simplicity, beauty, and charm. Great portrayal of relationships, with plenty of wisdom between the lines.

Thursday, December 13

Wednesday, December 12

Glitter snow

This morning I looked out to see what appears to be a beautiful layer of frost coating the trees and bushes. That's when I noticed it's actually snowing. The flakes are so small and sparse, and the sun so bright, that the snow can only be seen as it reflects the sunlight, making it look like glitter is falling from the sky.

Tuesday, December 11

There's too much to do, and not enough time.

And if I'm not careful, then soon I'll write to a friend and receive a note from her mother saying 'She got married and moved out, but you can reach her at _____________,_____________.'
Well, at least I have a few more years 'til that happens (Thank goodness!).

We have been fairly busy lately. Toby has been setting traps hither and thither, I have been delivering banana bread and pumpkin roll to all the neighbors, and Mom has been trying to make the house look nice for those times when people come unexpectedly.

We finally got presents and cards out, a large and debatably fun task, and we are successfully doing a Jesse Tree with our little tree (something we have never done).
Well, I'm going to go take a shower and find out how ornery my discman wants to be. Thank you for reading!

Friday, December 7

Lesson learned in hindsight

I recently received a precious Christmas card, poem, and letter from a woman named Becky. For nine years, I have admired her. She embodies the "Titus 2 woman":

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (Titus 2:3-5)
I watched her nine children grow up, and the oldest get married. I remember when she became a grandmother. I received many gifts from her over the years -- plates of Christmas goodies, a cookbook, Above Rubies magazines (back issues I didn't already have), a catalog I'd never heard of full of great homeschooling tools, grapes, cherries, and green beans.

Becky was my neighbor. We had a bond going on through the little patch of woods between our homes, lots of prayers and thoughts and bits of news passed between the children at the fence. And yet, in the weeks before I moved from Kentucky, Becky and I realized how much we were losing. We wished we had taken more time to get to know each other over the years. We were respectful of each other's time and privacy, but at a cost. There was a great friendship potential there, and we'd barely scratched the surface. In fact, we'd only visited with each other a handful of times, and those were brief. We spoke on the phone sometimes, but neither of us had the time or inclination to be chatty. And now that season of our lives has passed.

Lynae and Regina had a similar experience, but did spend those last weeks visiting and leaving notes and gifts for each other at a special spot in the woods. And they still write to each other.

When we arrived in Bruno, then, Lynae and I were keenly aware of the importance of getting to know our neighbors. Unfortunately, I'm as socially awkward as I ever was, and it takes a lot of effort for me to talk to people I will be likely to know for a while. (One-time interactions with strangers, however, are not a problem. I'm just that weird.) Fortunately, Lynae takes after her father. She loves making friends, and is very good at it! I will admit, Toby and Lynae met most of our current acquaintances in town before I did. I'll also admit I'm ok with being in the shadow of their great reputation. But I don't want to repeat the mistake I made in Kentucky. That would be too much to lose.

I'm waiting

(I just found this drafted post of Toby's from 11/20 -- Mom)

For something to get caught in my trap and not slip out of the jaws. This is really irritating, because the foothold traps I set for cottontails are attracting the rabbits, and they eat the bait, and get caught in the trap, but the spruce needles I cover the trap with are slippery enough and abundant enough that the little stinkers keep pulling out and running away.

So I pulled those traps today and added them to the other 5 watersets I have that make up my trapline. Haven't caught anything there either, but at least the mink and raccoons aren't pulling their paws out. They are just stealing the bait from the pocket. And I think I fixed that today.

Later this year, when the ice freezes, I will probably find some muskrat push ups and stick a trap in each of those. Muskrat skins are supposed to be worth up to $3.50 this year. I also hope to catch a bobcat (worth about $100), so I can pay for all that stuff I need.

Mr. M said he would let me snare rabbits on his farm, 'cus they are abundant there. But I can't ride my bike that far every day, so if that were to work out, he might have to check the traps for me.

Thursday, December 6

Out of the mouths of babes

This morning Grace told me, as she made my bed, "When Jesus was a little boy, I don't think he knew he would die on the cross."

I agree. He knew before he was a little boy, and I'm sure he knew again as he got older and studied Scripture. As a little boy, I bet God made him blissfully ignorant of the details of his sacrifice. But I don't doubt he was full of love and compassion and sensitive to evil and pain and destruction.

It does my heart good to know my daughter ponders such things. I have learned not to take that for granted.

Monday, December 3

It's the holiday season

With the whoop-de-do and hickory dock

Tonight we attended the Christmas concert at my old school. The man who encouraged me to learn trumpet as a shy little 7th grader is still in charge of the music department. Toby and Lynae noticed a big difference between public school music programs, in which some people "participate" solely because they need the credit, and the fine arts program they were part of in Kentucky.

The whole family enjoyed the concert. It proved to be a bit much for Jon in the end, though. I had to help him through the predictable meltdown afterward. I feel bad for him each time he goes through that, but it is a good reminder that we've done the right thing for our family in keeping holidays low-key.

I'd like us to make some goodies to give out to the neighbors later this week. Maybe we'll have a chance to do that tomorrow.