Prairie Fire

We have been hearing high fire danger for a few days and there have been fires here and there in both Noth and South Dakota, mostly North. The dead grass, high winds and lack of any rain and little snow last winter has not helped at all. As I was heading to track practice today, a rare occurrence on a Wednesday, I passed a fire just off US Highway 83. It turned out to be land owned by James’ younger brothers. A neighbor, their cousin no less, was planting in the field to the south of their CRP land when he hit a rock and the spark took off. They lost six stacks of round bales in the fire, but they stopped it from jumping the road and getting the farmstead in the area. Here are some pictures I took from my phone.

   

   

The top picture is far off but gives you an idea of the stacks. The second shot is the “command” center for the fire and ambulance people and such. The ambulance was precautionary, but still needed. The bottom is a shot from on the way home.

Too tired to breathe!

This morning was all about a funeral. It was for a woman who left the area many years ag o. Sadly only her daughter and some family were able to make it back for it. The son was hit with a flare up of Rheumatoid Arthritis and so wasn’t able to attend. He was fearful that it would happen and it did. James went with me and by noon we were helping with the clean up. It was fun to work in the kitchen, but lots of work even for the few amount of people who were there. The family was invited to stay and visit at the tables as long as they needed. The workers all headed home to rest or enjoy the rest of the day in the great out of doors.

We headed off to home with the intention of planting the potatoes. James and Paulina took the pails of leftover potatoes from last year that were growing in the basement to the garden. By the time they had finished there were 90 hills of potatoes. I never knew that James throws in two to three old potatoes per hill. If we buy seed potatoes it is only one. He said the amount that we had this year would have filled the whole garden if we did one per hill. Yikes.

Potatoes waiting to be covered.

Potatoes waiting to be covered.

I didn’t actually help with this project. The potatoes have never been my strong suit. I am better with the tomatoes and the peppers and all of the seeds that need to go into the ground. James said he has planted potatoes since he was just a little tyke helping his mother. I am glad to have one thing in the ground without my assistance.

Clothes on the line again.

Clothes on the line again.

I spent part of the day going back and forth between the washer and the clothes line. There was just enough wind to twist things around and mainly it was good for drying items that normally wrinkle. If there is a bit of a breeze, the wrinkles blow out.

We also decided to do the sod thing. We pulled up the sod (AKA grass) beside the drive-way to make a bulb garden. I have been wanting to get the bulbs, both tulips and iris into a south facing area and out of the wind a bit. The grass we took out was transferred over to the walk area that we have been wanting to put in place for a couple of years. Here is the story in pictures.

The beginning of the tulip area.

The beginning of the tulip area.

Rolling up the sod.

Rolling up the sod.

I did some of the digging for this, but James and Paulina did a fair about too. I am so stiff and sore from crawling around and planting those bulbs that I just want to soak in a hot tub, but with this blog and a message to write for tomorrow, it is going to be a bit before I see the tub. Oh some smelly-soaky bubble stuff would just feel wonderful, maybe even in the big claw footed one. Anyway, here are a few more pictures.

The bulbs I planted. There were also a few crocus but I lost that picture.

The bulbs I planted. There were also a few crocus but I lost that picture.

The finished plot. Now we have to do the other end, but that will be another day.

The finished plot. Now we have to do the other end, but that will be another day. In the middle are three large hyacinths that were in a container. Hope it all comes up.

As I was walking around the house, I found a few other interesting pictures. We have some tulips coming up. Most others in the area have tulips up, but they have them with a south sun. After this year, mine should be in a better spot to come up early.

There are a few tulip peeking up here.

There are a few tulip peeking up here.

The rhubarb is also starting to come through again. I really need to divide some of this and pass on a plant or two to Victoria in Dickinson. Jaxon loves that rhubarb-strawberry jelly, and I won’t be making it forever.

Rhubarb is up.

Rhubarb is up.

Now for the picture of the walk way in the front of the area. Oh yes, I had to get a load of bricks from behind the shop to edge the new plot. I salvaged them from the school when they were taking down the old chimney. My mother was so angry when they were dumped in the yard, but I have used them in more places than you can imagine, and I saved the city landfill from having to bury them all.

The wagon full of bricks.

The wagon full of bricks.

Before we could start this area needed some raking to clear out all of the old leaves.

Before we could start this area needed some raking to clear out all of the old leaves.

The walking stones waiting to be centered and leveled.

The walking stones waiting to be centered and leveled.

The wheel barrel full of the sod.

The wheel barrel full of the sod.

The finished path with all of the sod we had today. We really need to get the rest in place soon.

The finished path with all of the sod we had today. We really need to get the rest dug out and  in place soon.

What have you been doing in your garden??

Happy Birthday to me, to me

If I would have waited just 35 minites to hit this post, I could sing about a “very merry unbirthday to me, to me.” However, I decided to get this on the computer and posted before the clock turns over another day on the calendar. Am I mixing metaphors or just facts, not sure here. At any rate, thanks to all the members of my family who have either sent texts with song or pictures, posted on Facebook, of which I am not a participant so had to hear about it from another, called, had the track team sing to me, and on and on. James, Paulina and I celebrated quietly at home after practice. Paulina picked up an Angel Food cake and strawberries which we topped off with the whipped cream from a can. See below.

My piece of the cake

My piece of the cake

Paulina also picked up some roses for James to give me and another yard ornament. He also gave me a wonderful card. One of the things about James is there are always flowers and always a card that he chooses for the wonderful verses. I sometimes get embarrassed by how nice they are, and I am always humbled by those cards. I don’t often deserve them, and I am a terrible card picker. So Paulina had my gift here on Wednesday, but I didn’t open it until today, and I didn’t even peek. I hate ruined surprises. It was the final item shown, and the one I really, really needed and wanted for a long time, and I plan to place it in a spot in the kitchen where I can reach it all the time for everything I do. Well that is all for tonight, so I can post before the unbirthday starts. Ha!!

Roses from James

Roses from James

Yard Ornament, another frog.....family joke!

Yard Ornament, another frog…..family joke!

Kitchen Aid scooper

Kitchen Aid scooper

Step 1 Cookbooks

divideAfter I posted the part 1 of my series on Life Plans, that I promise to finish before the month is over, I realized I had better put my hands and sweat where my mouth is and I got to work. The latest thing that was bugging me was the cupboard with the cookbooks. I have about had it with getting out the ladder to reach a cookbook. I suppose most of my family would ask why I bother since I rarely ever follow a recipe completely, but hey creativity is good sometimes. So here is where my cookbooks ended up.

Cookbooks in the bookshelf

Cookbooks in the bookshelf

If you can’t tell, I am a sucker for cookbooks at fundraisers or craft shows or in the teachers area where those Books are Fun displays are always set up. Another one of those things that I need to be more aware of what I am spending for what I am getting. I don’t want this to all be a pain in the drain for the daughters to divide or sell or yikes even throw out once we are gone. I have put names in a couple as to who should have them, but after I am gone, what do I know. Of course they might be afraid that I will haunt them. Ha!

So let me take you through the process of how this all worked. I even took pictures of what I cleared out. I am thinking that I will be taking pictures of these cupboards open then posting them on the outside so people know what is inside as I change arrangements so often. Lucky I don’t have anyone in the house at this time who would be unable to function with this constant rearranging.

Cookbooks in the cupboard above the stove. See the junk on the top shelf.

Cookbooks in the cupboard above the stove. See the junk on the top shelf.

The kitchen table was a mess while I was trying to decide what would go where. I put all of those paper products in the box with similar items. We actually used up some of it at the track meet on Thursday. Ya, I plan to use more at the next home meet. No sense buying those plates and cups and napkins when you have plenty cluttering up your house.

Table all a clutter.

Table all a clutter.

Cupboard empty, shelves cleaned and readjusted.

Cupboard empty, shelves cleaned and readjusted.

For no other reason than to clean out the dust, it was a good idea to move everything out of here. It really hasn’t been so many years since I cleaned this out, but it was awful. Now here is what currently lives in this area. I think it will be so handy come canning season, not to mention when we are cooking steaks. We still need to put a hood and light in that area, but we just never seem to get around to picking one out.

Large stock pots on top with a few odds and ends and the steak plates on the bottom so easy to reach.

Large stock pots on top with a few odds and ends and the steak plates on the bottom so easy to reach.

So where were those stock pots to begin with? They were in a very convenient area, but I began to think that I could do better and so here is the next step of before and after in the cupboard just to the left of the one above.

Original area for stock pots and plenty of other items.

Original area for stock pots and plenty of other items.

I moved the fry pan from the top shelf to another area that I will feature later. The bottom shelf was the issue here. Nothing fit quite right, and something are used lots, but others are not so much, but each time we take out anything, it is a major puzzle to get it back together. Here is what it looks like now.

Left cupboard

Left cupboard

The bottom shelf now has the mixer and blender and waffle maker. The noodle maker, which I desperately needed and hardly use is on the top shelf with the food processor that needs to be replaced because the shredder part is broken, but the rest works, so of course I won’t toss it yet. The middle is the “I hope” area. I moved all of my pie plates into this area. The white three tier item is a pie plate holder, and I have about seven glass plates stacked in there between the cloths. I could open a stinking bakery here. James is most excited about the strainers being closer to the sink and stove. It used to be a pain to go and find them. So, just a few ideas of how to arrange life to make things easier. Besides by moving the glass pie plates, I took quite a strain off one of my pull out drawers. The bottom cupboards are on the list for the near future. Hope it doesn’t take until 2019 before I get to them.

So what does all of this have to do with my earlier post on Life Plans? This is an example of how rearranging, cleaning out and clearing up clutter gives you an opportunity to access what you have so you know what you might need or not need. I know that I don’t need all those pie plates unless I start using them every now and again. Perhaps I should use one for a real apple pie and I can use up some of the apple pie filling I still have in the basement. Maybe next week, right now I have lots of commitments, so catch you soon.

 

Grandchildren time

I found these pictures on the iPad today. 

  

Grandpa holding Ana as she played with her new toy keys.

  

Ana packed up to leave.

   

 

Jaxon showing off the minion eggs that Paulina made for him and Ana.

  

Here he is buckling up with Paulina. He was looking at his books from Grandpa on the ride home. 

Can’t wait for the next visit here or there!

Life plans

A few years ago when I was between jobs–basically trying to figure out what I wanted to do with myself, I began putting together a folder of what I could do to find myself and still help the family survive. I was concerned about how we would make it through financially while not cheating our children of what we had been able to do in the past. The first time we pulled up roots and moved there wasn’t really a family except James and me. The second time we did it, we didn’t think much through, and thankfully our move was towards family, who were able to save us from ourselves. This final time, I was the one who uprooted, and I figured it was my responsibility to get us through. I started my blog about that time, but never really addressed the whole business of how to keep us going at the time. I think that I am now at the point where I can share some of the ideas I learned/invented/tried out with the rest of the world.

I finally got to a few points to live by. I call it a philosophy for more frugal living and how to gain a better self worth. I think that was my big deal. I felt like a total blob piece of nothing because I wasn’t able to tough out the job that would have over time given us financial security and me a decent retirement. Oh well. Instead, we moved to a rental home and kept our house and property with the big mortgage. Somehow we made it work with two light, water, heat bills, and in the end we were OK and maybe even better for it.  Below is an outline of some of the “rules” I put together for us to follow, even though I was the only one who knew they were there.

1: Purchase only what you need–in all areas. This meant a) nothing that we already had. (I was so bad at always picking up two or three of everything.) b) nothing frivolous, if you can make due with something that works don’t get something new just because it looks good or you want it. c) nothing in a size that you cannot possibly consume no matter what the cost. In other words–no waste.

Part of this became use up what you already own. Living in a rental only 30 minutes from our original place really made this a reality for me. I had to check on the house about once a week and pick up the mail there, so I was always shopping at home. We really noticed this with the toiletries. It seemed we had about 20 half used bottles of shampoo, toothpastes were never finished off and baking goods always got old and were tossed rather than used up. This is not to mention the bottles and tubes of lotions and candles and on and on. It was called use it up.

After two years back in this house, I can see the build up starting again. I almost think that I am sharing this to remind myself that cleaning out the clutter of our lives also involves using up what we have and being satisfied with those items before we run out and buy more. I began to understand that purchasing items that were not used or were under used was like taking the cash to your shredder and just running it through. No benefit is gained either way.

I have two more main points, but I won’t bore you with all of it in one post. I think I will take the entire month to drag some of this out. At any rate, I do need to get to work on some of this right now. It occurred to me that we have an overload of shampoo bottles in the bathtub area again, and I am going to see what can be done about that issue.

I will leave you with just a few pictures of the day today. It is cold and dreary. We have heard weather reports of snow in North Dakota. Victoria said they had some in Dickinson yesterday. We have a track meet scheduled for Thursday, hope that works out without freezing all of the athletes. And I was worrying about what to wear if it was too warm. I guess a few layers will work at this rate.

Robin in the roadway. It was raining briefly.

Robin in the roadway. It was raining briefly.

The new tomato seeds are now coming up. This was Sunday when the sun was out.

The new tomato seeds are now coming up. This was Sunday when the sun was out.

My rubber tree is loving the sun through the window.

My rubber tree is loving the sun through the window.

Easter visitors

This weekend we had the grandchildren here to visit. It was very short as they came on Saturday and left on Sunday. It was fun while it lasted. On Saturday afternoon Paulina had an egg hunt set up for Jaxon. Here is a shot of Nate taking a picture while Adie helped him look for the plastic eggs filled with candy. I believe she hid 42 of them. Good grief.

Egg hunt

Egg hunt

Ana sitting by Grandpa on Saturday.

Ana sitting by Grandpa on Saturday.

On Sunday after church before they were allowed to change clothes, Victoria asked Paulina to take some pictures of Ana and Jaxon. He was really not cooperative about the smile, but I guess that is what he does.

Ana #1

Ana #1

Ana #2 just love that smile.

Ana #2 just love that smile.

Ana #3. Her dress is adorable.

Ana #3. Her dress is adorable.

To me this looks like the kid version of American Gothic.

To me this looks like the kid version of American Gothic.

Here is what he did when Paulina said,  "Hug your sister."

Here is what he did when Paulina said, “Hug your sister.”

It is always nice when they come and sad when they are gone. The house will really be quiet again tonight as Paulina goes back to college and Raja goes home to Jessica.

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