Friday, April 30, 2010

Four Feet

I just couldn't resist this. Our younger daughter sent me a photo of her little pregnant self last week (They're expecting their first baby, a boy, in August) and I cropped out her feet just so I could show you this contrast. (Lovely feet, by the way, Honey, with those darling little strappy sandals!)

So, here it is:

Daughter's feet:

Mom's feet:

One week from today, plus an eleven-hour drive, and I'll get to see  Dänika's cute feet in person, talk with her about the baby, look at baby stuff, and go to the fabric store so she can choose the flannel for Baby's blankie. Oh...and I believe John lives there too. :-)  It will be great to see them both! We haven't spent time with them since New Year's Day, and that's far too long ago.

Hope you have a nice weekend. We're going for a second weekend in a row to visit our family in The Big City. We're looking forward to Lydia's confirmation and Elisabeth's ballet recital!

What are your plans for the weekend?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bath, Somerset Part II

More photos of Bath Abbey. I thought this was so beautiful. Think of the craftsmanship involved.  And the stones are not just sheets of fake facing stone and the door wasn't purchased at Menards. Sorry. Not that I don't like Menards, (Lowes, Home Depot, etc.) and actually do shop there, but there's still nothing like real craftsmanship.

I have another copy of this photo which I doctored in order to 'pick up the trash' and remove it from the photo. Then I decided to show it just as it was - littered with paper. The black Labrador Retriever didn't seem to mind, but to me it was sad that such a beautiful place, especially, would be subjected to the humiliation of litter.

The abbey again.

The view of the courtyard from our B&B window. How would you like that view into your backyard? The B&B we stayed at was a very narrow 3-story building and oozed charm. We loved it. The Henry in Bath.

A corner pub where Angela and I ate supper.

Angela reading Rick Steves' guide book as we waited for our fish'n'chips. (Of course we ordered fish'n'chips. We were in England, weren't we? And it was safe, kinda like kids here ordering a hamburger and fries. Except for the mushy peas sometimes served with it, there's not too much that can go wrong with fish'n'chips - in my limited experience, that is.) Look at the undercroft (?) of this building. What a bomb shelter!

Roman and Medieval Baths

When Kevin and I were in Bath, we were there for an overnight only, for the next morning we took a taxi a few miles from town to rent a car and head for Wells Cathedral and then to our next B&B and three days in the Cirencester area. Cirencester is for another post, and well worth the three days spent there.

Street in Bath.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Summer's Comin'

Perhaps it's rushing the season a bit, but when I saw these strawberries at Sam's Club, I just had to bring them home. True, they're not the same as the berries ripened on the vine and warmed by the sun, but they do still have that great strawberry taste. Later in the season, I might be a bit pickier. For now, I'm just glad to have strawberries at all!

Unless you're an asparagus lover like me, you just can't imagine how exciting it is to walk out to the asparagus patch and find spears of asparagus that have braved their way through the cold soil. True, there aren't many of them for this first picking, for you can see that I was too impatient to let them grow any longer.

I was always hoping that the children wouldn't like asparagus, for there would be more for me. Unfortunately, every last one of them loves asparagus, just like they all like black olives. I'm not feeling quite so selfish these days, but maybe that's because all but one of the 'kids' have left home. Maybe it's because I didn't give them enough asparagus.

This is my lone tulip, bless it's little tulip heart. As you can see, the leaves are being chewed by something. It's probably the same thing that makes sure that I have no success raising tulips no matter how many bulbs I plant in the fall. How this one escaped certain death is a mystery.

I know...I keep posting photos of the daffodils. But you have to understand - until the flowering crab or lilac or iris bloom, daffodils are the only thing blooming around here (except for that single tulip). They're so brave and faithful and resistant to rodents that are on a mission to sabotage my gardening efforts.

I think this is the last of the daffodils, but the flowering crab comes next. I can't wait!

What are you looking forward to this spring?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Visiting the New Baby

Biggest brother, littlest brother. We got to see the new arrival today. Little Glenn Franklin was born last Wednesday the 21st. He is such an alert and cute baby!  Little surprise that the other kids just can't get enough of him.

Every family with a baby needs an Elisabeth to help take care of him. She is a huge help to her mom!

Mother and child. They both look very contented, don't they.

Lydia with important things to do online. I realized later that I didn't get a single shot of Anna. Actually, I think most of the time we were there she was preparing for the SAT to be taken next weekend. This is the time of year when there's so much going on!

If you ever need a house fire put out with a vacuum cleaner hose, this is the man for you! Soren in his firefighter boots, hat, and equipment. I love it when kids take ordinary things and use their imaginations to have fun playing!  Brogan was running around with a digital thermometer in his pocket and a pair of binoculars. I know the thermometer was for a reason, and was some piece of important equipment, but haven't quite figured out what it was supposed to be. Now and then he would pull it out, put it into a place on the binoculars, then check it and put it back. Who knows. But I'm sure it was important!

Glenn and Daddy.

Grandma and Glenn. I think it's my glasses he's most fascinated with.

Grandpa, trying to convince Soren that boots belong on hands, not feet!  I love it when kids have fun with teasing (the nice kind) and enjoy the silliness. I love to hear Soren giggle. It reminds me of his dad when he was little. :-)

Grandpa and Brogan playing the 'catch the quarter' game. Brogan has to hold his hands out and at the count of three, Grandpa drops the quarter. Can Brogan slap his hands together in time to catch it??

Soren getting in on the quarter game too. Fortunately, the boys had fun and didn't just get frustrated!

It was so much fun to spend lunchtime and afternoon with the family. It's a lively and fun household!

Thinking of Soren's vacuum/firefighter hose and Brogan's digital thermometer, how did you use your imagination for play when you were little? Got any specific memories?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wisconsin Barn - Farm Visit

On Saturday, some of my brother's family arrived from Denver. It is always so much fun to spend time with them!!! A friend had arranged for us to take the kids to see a real dairy farm, and I was also eager to go, for it had been a long time since I was a kid and lived on a real farm - the kind with dairy cows that have names, not just numbers.

The first exciting thing the kids encountered was the kitty, one of about thirty who live in and near the barn. This little tabby is going to be put on a plane next week and flown to a waiting home in Washington State!  Annie lugged that kitty around the entire time we were at the farm. You can see that little Ruby was impressed with the kitty as well!

The owners of this farm were so accommodating, taking time at milking to give us the grand tour of the place, showing us the milking cows, the heifers, and the calves. This was a beautiful farm and reminiscent of my childhood, although we had Holsteins when I was a kid. These are Jerseys, such docile and beautiful creatures, quite a bit smaller than Holsteins, but their milk has a higher butterfat content. The milk from this herd is used to make mozzarella cheese. (Think of Orchid the next time you eat a slice of pizza!)

What a sight! Another cute tabby cat, stretching up to reach the cool water in the cows' drinking cup.

Milking machines. Aren't cows amazing creatures! They calmly stand there morning and evening to give their milk and never go on strike for higher wages. Maybe this photo is an invasion of privacy, but I just think cows are so cool. When I went to take a picture of their udders, my niece asked, 'Why??'  :-)

Annie, getting brave enough to put her hand out to touch the cow.

Kevin, Ruby, and Stess, trying to engage the calves in conversation.

Away in the manger.

Looking out the back door of the barn toward the pasture. What a beautiful view!

Cows in the pasture.

This was a great field trip for the kids, and a fun time of reminiscence for Kevin and me, for both of us grew up on dairy farms. Sadly, there are not many of the small operation farms around any more. The animals on this farm are treated the way they should be - with care and gentleness. You can tell the owners really love their farm and their animals. It was a fine example of good stewardship of God's creation!

I'm wondering how close your connections are to the family farm. Did you grow up on a farm? Have an uncle or aunt or grandpa or grandma or great-grandpa and great-grandma who lived on a farm? or have you never been to a farm? 


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Friday, April 23, 2010

Parakeet Competition

It wasn't until I started reading aloud from The Lord God Made Them All, that the parakeet got upset. At the nursing home where my dad lives, there is a cage that contains two parakeets. The blue is the prettier of the two, in my opinion. Anyway, I had wheeled my dad to the community room so we could have a bigger space in which to visit and drink Diet Coke and eat dark chocolate, always a popular pastime. That also happens to be where the birds' cage is located.

I read Scripture to Gpa, and all was well. At least the bird has enough respect for Scripture that he kept quiet and listened. But when I started imitating the accent of a frantic, half-drunk Yorkshireman who was convinced that his dog was dying, the blue parakeet went crazy and started chattering very loudly. So loudly, in fact, that my dad and the others in the room began to laugh. Truly, that bird was trying to drown me out! I would stop and the bird would stop. I would read and the bird would scold. Either he didn't like me or he's a little bird bigot who has a problem with badly done Yorkshire accents.

I persevered, and toward the end the bird gave up and quieted down. I'm sure I had no right to burst into his territory and start squawking, but my dad and a few others enjoyed the humorous story, my very feeble attempt at the Yorkshire accent, and the competition between the two bird brains.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Needing a Transplant

Tuppence inspected the tomatoes and peppers and decided it was time for a transplant. This is always such a tedious business, but it means that summer really is almost here and it's only a few months until we get wonderful REAL vegetables fresh from the garden.

 I transplanted a few at a time because the sun was pretty hot and I didn't want my little seedlings to die on the spot. While I was kneeling at the wheelbarrow, the postman drove up the drive to deliver my box from Gurney's nursery. I have a deal with Gurneys: they send me six new blueberry plants and I spend the summer and fall killing them. I even pay for this privilege! Sigh! I still dream of getting fresh blueberries from plants in my own garden...

As the postman handed me the box through the open car window, he said, 'Aw, isn't that nice - she's praying to her flowers.'  Yeah, isn't that nice. If I'd been thinking, I would have found some cushion to kneel on, rather than kneeling on the gravel. Anyway, we both got a laugh out of that...but it remains to be seen if get any blueberries out of it.

When I returned to the house, you-know-who were lying on the window seat in our bedroom, next to the open window. It's as close as they get to the outdoors - for their own good. I'm glad they like lying there. I'm hoping that it keeps them away from the sunny east window where my plants are going to live until June 5.

It's always scary at this point, for I wonder how many of these will survive until planting time - about seven weeks from now. They look so happy right now. I hope they enjoy their little lives, no matter how short that may be.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Remnants of Christmas Past

I blame it on January and February being such long, cold months. Okay, February isn't long, but it's usually cold and by the end of it, we've still got a lot of winter ahead of us. It cheers me to have the Nativity sitting on top of the piano in the living room, even though Christmas was a few months ago.

Now that we're having summertime in April, it seemed appropriate to put the Nativity in the Christmas closet and get the old pottery washed, dried, and back on top of the piano in its usual spot.

The sad story behind the quilt on the wall is that it belonged to Kevin's dear grandpa. When he gave it to me, back in 1971, he told me that his grandma had made it. Just to give you a time frame, Kevin's grandpa was born in 1892.

I was thrilled to get that beautiful old log cabin quilt. It wasn't that I was into antiques, but I loved Grandpa Roy and thought it would be so cool to have this quilt that was being passed down through the family. 

Some time later, because it had been stored in an attic for years and needed cleaning, I reasoned that no one at the time it was made would have dry cleaned it, so [and here's where the story goes bad...] I filled up our toddler's kiddie pool with cold water and Woolite. Doesn't that seem reasonable?? I thought so, in my younger years. If I'd only seen Elinor Dashwood in the new Sense & Sensibility...

What I didn't know, of course, was that the fabrics used at that time were not color fast, that quilts were not washed but were hung on a line and beaten. As soon as the heavy wool-centered quilt sank below the water, all the turkey red centers disappeared as the clear water became a dark pool of swirling dyes rising from the once-vivid colors of the quilt. I was sick.

I don't feel quite so bad when I realize that the fabrics were also simply deteriorating. Yet I couldn't throw the thing away, so I framed the best part and keep it on the living room wall. It reminds me of Grandpa Roy, his many kindnesses to me, the fact that he didn't seem the least bit annoyed with me for being so stupid, and that every generation just might be able to learn something from the previous one, if they would only ask.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

British History magazine

It's always nice to get my dad out on a beautiful, sunny day. He gets cold easily, however, and because it was quite windy, I suggested he wear a coat. As usual, Kevin and I took him to the BP where we can get a donut and coffee or croissant..  I took along the February issue of British History magazine and read the article about the Royal Navy. Dad has always loved ships, so I knew he would find the article interesting.

We all enjoy reading, so we often sit with each other, drink coffee, and read.  I feel more engaged with my dad when reading to him.  Gus will have to get us more of those 'conversation starter cards.'  :-) British History magazine gives us many varied and interesting articles. I try to pick up the latest issue when we get to the bookstore in Eau Claire. Unfortunately, they don't carry many copies, so sometimes they're all gone by the time I get there.

Kevin engrossed in a newspaper article.

It was such a beautiful day that I decided to push Dad's wheelchair the block back to the nursing home. Kevin drove ahead of us and managed to snap this picture as we were coming up the drive. For some reason, Dad's chair doesn't have those little foot platforms, but he managed to hold his feet up the entire block. Way to go, Dad!! (He is a remarkable man!) 

...and my biggest fan. :-)


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