Our House

Our House

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Our 3150 mile vacation in 10 days

After our long sad week with my dad passing, I want to tell you about our vacation.  It is a little bittersweet, but having no idea what was going to happen on our return, we had a good time.  I won't bore you with a bunch of details.  Other peoples vacations aren't nearly as fun as having one yourself.  In a nutshell, we visited the town on the Ohio River in Indiana where my husbands family lived and worked in the cotton mill in the early 1900's,

This is the old cotton mill.  It has now been converted to apartments.

next we took a train ride in West Virginia and then drove down a 10% grade, two lane road with 25 mph curves.  We aren't used to that type of terrain,


then we visited one of my high school friends that I hadn't seen in fifty years (thanks so much Judy and Jim).  They live near the beautiful Shenandoah River.

and finally we spent a few days at Edisto Beach in South Carolina.  My daughter and her family were staying there for a week and suggested we come for a few days.

Two of our grandson's at the waters edge with my husband.

On the way home we visited the Angel Tree on John's Island South Carolina.  The tree is estimated to be 400 years old.

See how small my husband looks next to this giant Live Oak tree.

Lastly we visited one of my husbands friends whom he hadn't seen for many years (thanks for dinner Dan and Lee of Tennessee).  He had lived in Australia for a very long time and only recently moved back to the states.  He makes beautiful picture frames.  Here is his website if you want to see them.  http://www.kalbarripictureframers.com.au/products.html

All of those things were wonderful, but the icing on the cake took place at the beach.  Soon after we unpacked,  I noticed a sign on the refrigerator in the house we were staying.  I didn't pay much attention at the time.  I took this picture after our experience on the second night there.

Shortly after we arrived, we walked to the beach.  It was beautiful and the waves were clapping against the shore.  People were sunbathing and digging for shark teeth.  My daughter actually found one, but people would look all day long.  I'm not sure what they did with them, but it must be a profitable thing.  On top of the beach was an area that was roped off.  It had an orange sign that said Loggerhead Turtle Nesting Area.

We saw a small shell sitting on the sand inside the nesting area and were told that when the sand and shell starts to sink, the turtles will be hatching.  The next evening we walked to the beach again.  We were the only people checking the nest.  I got so excited, the sand was sinking.  We sat on a bench nearby and waited.  Pretty soon the turtle patrol came by.  They shouted that the turtles were hatching, and they had work to do.  They started shoveling sand to make a ramp for the babies to slide down.  Apparently the beach had eroded considerably and the turtle nest was sitting on top of a three foot ledge.

Even my husband grabbed a shovel to help

The ladies of the turtle patrol making a trail in the sand.
They blocked off the area to keep spectators to the side.
Then we saw it, little heads poking through the sand.

Now the waiting began.  We watched the sunset and waited for it to get dark.  I called my daughter to come and watch with us. 

The turtles follow the moon shining on the horizon to get to the ocean.  No cell phone light or photography was allowed.  When it was finally dark, there wasn't any moonlight.  One of the ladies from the patrol guided the small little turtles to the ocean.  They followed the light of a small flashlight.  Because there was no way of knowing when the turtles would hatch, only about 30 people were there at the time.  I heard someone say she lived there for more than ten years and had never seen this special sight.  All together there were almost 100 little turtles running to the water.  It is something we Wisconsinites won't soon forget. There were several nests along the beach, but we were so fortunate we happened to be there at that exact time.

Since I was not allowed to take photos, I found this public domain picture of baby loggerheads hatching.

The next day this is all that was left.  Hopefully a lot of these little turtles make it in the wild ocean filled with predators.

And after the tide, the beach had this beautiful pattern.  No one would guess what had happened hours earlier.

This vacation was meant to be.  It proved that we have very little control in what happens in our world.  Everything happens as it should, and we shouldn't question it even though we don't understand at the time.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Goodbye Dad

It has been a few weeks since I wrote a blog post.  Around the 4th of July, my sister was kind enough to come to our home.  She came to watch over my dad while we took a vacation.  We hadn't gone anywhere for quite some time because it was hard for dad to travel.  My sister lives in Michigan, and we live in Wisconsin.  She took the S. S. Badger: Lake Michigan Carferry from Ludington, Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  The trip across Lake Michigan takes about 4 hours, but it is much more relaxing than driving through Chicago with all the traffic and construction.

We traveled 3150 miles in 10 days.  I will share some of our trip in a future blog.  We had some awesome experiences in a short time.  I wasn't worried about dad because he seemed to be doing well when we left and I knew he was in good hands.  Dad and my sister visited, listened to his favorite music and generally relaxed and spent quality time together.  I was so grateful for this.  We returned home a couple days before my sister was scheduled to return to her home.  We also had a nice visit.  The day she was to return home, dad didn't feel very well.  I decided to stay home and my husband drove my sister to the boat.  We had a normal day except he seemed a little out of breath when he walked and seemed tired.  Then early the next morning he rang his door bell just before 6:00am.  When he needed me, he would ring his bell.  I went into his room and he told me he thought he needed to go to the hospital.  He just didn't feel well.  We had made a trip to the ER before our trip with the same symptoms, but he checked out fine.  I wasn't worried.  Boy was I wrong.  They did the usual tests and the doctor added additional ones.  He told us he was very ill.  They said he had advanced bone cancer and would need to come home under Hospice care.  That was one week ago.  He came home.  He was able to say goodbye to his brother, his sister and other family members who came right away to see him.  He was able to stay at home in his own bed with birds singing and his favorite songs playing in the background.  Then last Tuesday, six days after he rang the door bell for help, he rang his final bell.  He died at home with my husband and me present.  He hung on until my sister was home safe and sound with her family, our daughters said their final goodbyes and went home to their families, and the house was quiet like it usually is.  He passed so peacefully.  I feel a huge void in the house right now, but he is where he wanted to be.  My mom died 3 ½ years ago.  They had been married 65 years, and he was looking forward to seeing her again.  We will miss him terribly but know that he had a beautiful long life (90 years) with tons of people who loved him and his kind gentle nature.

We will miss you dad.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Our Pesky Raccoon Is Relocated

We had an exciting day.  Not very exciting for most people, but it was for us.  It all started a couple months ago.  We had a single raccoon visiting regularly.  We are used to raccoons.  We see them often on the trail camera, but they always keep their distance and never come too close to the house.  This one was very brave.  He would often eat under the birdfeeders, then pretty soon all the birdseed in the feeders disappeared.  Then one morning all the jelly we put out for the Baltimore Orioles was completely gone.  I pointed the trail camera in the direction of the feeders and soon learned the raccoon was moving closer and closer to our house.

This raccoon was checking out the feeders while we were still up.

He started coming even before dusk.

He started knocking the jelly feeder we have hanging on the window to the ground.  He would take the bird feeder we had hanging on the porch completely off the hook.  We did grease the poles with petroleum jelly which helped.  He stopped climbing the poles.  He would either slide back down the pole or raccoons don't like greasy feet, but it didn't help the hanging feeders.  Every night we had to take in the hanging feeders and plants.  He would even turn the bird bath upside down.  Yesterday, after noticing he ripped our screen, we decided this had gone on long enough.  We took a trip to the Tractor Supply store to buy a live trap.

On the way, we saw an interesting sight.  My husband said "look at the two turkey vultures eating the road kill.  I hope they move".  As we got closer, I saw they were not turkey vultures but two eagles eating at the side of the road.  They flew before I could get a good picture, but they were definitely eagles.

They flew as we approached.

When we got back home, we unpacked the trap.  We have cats in the area, and we were afraid of trapping them.  A friend told us that raccoons like sweets and cats don't.  He said we should put marshmallows in the trap, and then we wouldn't have to worry about the cats.  About 7:00 pm my husband set up the trap right next to the bird bath.  Right on schedule the raccoon came.  He stuck his paw in the trap and pulled it out quickly.  It was like he knew how to trip it without getting caught.  Then he went to the side of the trap and stuck his paw in between the metal grate.  Gradually he worked the marshmallows through the grate and ate them.  The little rascal.  My husband found a plastic container.  Even though it was almost dark, he put four marshmallows into the container and placed it in the trap.  He reset it and came inside.  We don't know exactly when it happened but before I went to bed, I looked out the window with a flashlight.  There he was, we caught him.  Since it was too late, we had to deal with him in the morning. 

The poor thing looked so sad.  His reign of terror had come to an end.  A lot of people hate the raccoons and the destruction they cause.  Many of those people destroy the animal, but I don't have the heart to do that.  We decided to relocate it to the wide open spaces far away from here.

My husband loaded him onto a cart and took him to the vehicle.

My dad wished him well and said goodbye.

He said goodbye back.

We traveled to a lovely new home, and the crate was opened.

Off he went to FREEDOM!

Tonight we will see if this raccoon was our only culprit or if he had partners in crime.  If need be, we will relocate more.  For now we will hope any others can live in harmony with us as it has been for many years.

The trap we bought came with a smaller bonus trap for small animals.  All I can say is chipmunk watch out, we are coming for you and all of your friends.  You may be cute, but you can't be digging up my potted plants and making holes all over the yard.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Making Sauerkraut In A Quart Jar

A few weeks ago my son in law took a business trip.  When he returned, he surprised me with a gift.  He knows I make kefir and believe in probiotics and fermented foods for a lot of reasons.  I have mentioned making sauerkraut for a long time, but I didn't want to mess with making large quantities in a crock.  He found a fun way to make sauerkraut in a wide mouth quart jar.

It is called the Kraut Source.  With this contraption, you can make sauerkraut in a week.  What you need to do is get a pound and a half head of cabbage.  Shred it as fine as you want your sauerkraut to be.  I used a fine shredder.  It was about the size you would use for coleslaw.  Then put it in a bowl and sprinkled with a tablespoon of sea salt.  At this point you mix it with your hands by massaging the cabbage until liquid starts to form.  Then you tightly pack it into the wide mouth jar.   Pack it tight with no air bubbles.  The liquid will rise to the top.  There should be about an inch of liquid covering the cabbage.  Most cabbage gives off enough liquid, but if a little more is needed you can add more brine made with salt and filtered water.

At this point you just assemble the kraut source lid according to the directions that come with it and secure it with the wide mouth ring.  Water is put in the top reservoir.  This specially designed top allows the carbon dioxide to escape as the cabbage ferments, but it doesn't let air into the jar which is what causes spoilage.  I waited ten days for the fermentation process to occur, but a week would be fine.

This is the finished product.  I think it will be excellent for Reuben sandwiches or whatever else a person uses sauerkraut for.  The benefits of fermented foods are so good that I will probably just eat a small amount plain everyday.  http://www.krautsource.com/blog/

There are also other videos on the kraut source page to see the actual process plus recipes for other things.

My next project will be to ferment veggies like carrots and cauliflower. I also want to try adding various herbs and spices to test out different flavors. I can't wait to see how that turns out.

Plain carrots waiting to ferment in a few days.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Summer Day With Jack

Jack with a fresh new haircut and a lost front tooth

Yesterday our daughter needed us to watch our grandson Jack for the day.  Jack will be seven in a couple weeks.  He came with his eyes glued to his Samsung tablet.  I was trying to figure out how to limit his screen time, but I think his parents were way ahead of me.  Within a short time, he came to me asking for a charger.  His tablet needed charging.  I told him we only have Apple products and those chargers won't work on his tablet.  He accepted it well, and so our day began.

Today my husband posted this on Facebook.

This is exactly what we did.  We did a bunch of ordinary things with him.  First of all Jack and I did a little cleaning up and vacuuming.  Then we went around and looked at the birdhouses and talked about the bluebirds and the orioles that were coming in large numbers to eat the grape jelly we put out.  Next we checked the hanging baskets, and Jack picked a ripe cherry tomato and popped it in his mouth.  He told us that 7 times 8 is 56 and that any number divided by its self is one.  These were taught to him by his brother Sam.  So we asked him if he knew that any number times 0 equals 0.  He was going to see if his brother knew that.

After a while it was time to help papa.  We had two dehumidifiers that would frost up and another that didn't work at all.  They were all old and were not energy efficient.  They were just sitting in our storeroom.  It was Jack and papa's job to bring them out to the garage and take them apart so the part with the cooling freon could be taken to the recycler.

Jack needed help getting them up the steps from the basement, but after they got to the top, it was free sailing for him.

We found Jack some safety glasses and a carpenter apron.  Then they started taking apart the dehumidifiers.  They would take the screws out, and Jack would put them in his apron pocket to keep them from falling on the garage floor.

Despite the best efforts to keep the screws from falling on the floor, one escaped.  That is where the big magnet with a handle came in handy.  Jack really liked using that.  He found the missing screw and then proceeded to see what else it would stick to.

He discovered a contraption in our garage that he wasn't sure what it was.  Papa told him it was for crushing aluminum cans.  Jack came running into the house to ask me if we had any cans to crush.  We don't drink much soda, but I found a couple for him to crush.  I think this was better than an expensive toy.  He was sorry we didn't have more cans to crush.

After lunch and some snacks, it was almost time for mom to come.  Imagine how excited she was when he wanted to bring home a souvenir from the day.  It was a fan from inside one of the dehumidifiers.

He had big plans for the fan.  He did a few experiments during the afternoon.  One of them included a control knob and the crushed soda cans.  He would spin the fan by hand until the can flew off.

The next adventure of the day was driving to a nearby city to see his sister play softball.  I went along because I don't get to many games.  In fact, this was the first one this season.  Papa stayed home with great grandpa so I could go.  Jack gets a little bored with the games, but he really liked playing on the playground adjacent to the ball diamond.

Our granddaughter Melissa also gets a little bored with the games.  She likes being on the team, but she will never be a dedicated star athlete.  She isn't the least bit competitive.

Melissa would rather be performing in plays.  Here she is as the Wicked Witch in Snow White.  She really does look angry because Snow White was the fairest of them all.

I wasn't able to see Sam yesterday.  Sam, Melissa's and Jack's brother, was with his dad.  They had a very hard day.  One of Sam's teammates from his football team was tragically killed in a ATV accident.  The whole team went to the funeral home visitation.  This is the first death experience for many of the boys and being it was a friend made it very very difficult.  I am very proud of them for being able to do such a hard thing.  I'm not sure I could have gone through with it at age ten or eleven.

So as my husband's posting says, we tasted the tomatoes, we cried at death and we made an ordinary day into to something special to remember.  I think Jack enjoyed it too.