Friday, May 30, 2014

Our Load Of Wood Pellets Have Been Delivered

I try to post positive things showing the beauty of nature and all the happy times we have as a family.  However, it isn't always peachy out here in the country.  Sometimes the personalities don't align.  That's what happened yesterday.

This is not a happy face.

I should start my story from the beginning.  For those who don't know, we burn wood pellets for our heat source.  We have a gas furnace but it very rarely runs.  Every year at this time, we purchase a years supply of pellets.  Last year we got them in July, but they came ahead of schedule this year.  This is the link from last year explaining the delivery.

July Pellet Delivery

On Wednesday we received eight tons of pellets.  They came on eight pallets of fifty bags each.  Each bag weighs forty pounds.  Last winter was brutal, and we burned almost all the pellets we had purchased.  We usually have a ton left over, but not this year.  Because we have a pellet stove in our lower level, we need to have some available for use downstairs.  Usually my husband carries each bag down the stairs and stores them in our furnace room.  This year he decided to store two ton in a small area under our deck.  The problem was getting down a steep hill or walking all around the house with each bag.  Being a clever man, he devised a system for getting them down the hill.  Initially he thought he could just slide the bags down using these rollers he borrowed from our son in law.

I think these are from a grocery store roller system.

That didn't work because the bags molded themselves around the roller and wouldn't budge.

The first attempt didn't work.

Next he went in the shed and hauled out an old wheelbarrow.  He had taken the wheel off for another purpose.  He attached a rope and proceeded to lower the bags down to the bottom.

The old rusty wheelbarrow.

It held 4 bags and was gently lowered down with a rope.

It looks like we have a plan.  The only problem with this is that my dad wanted to help.  He couldn't understand why just putting it on the rollers wouldn't work.  He thought he could catch the bags and stack them.  He is almost ninety years old.  We weren't prepared for him to hurt himself.  He wouldn't take no for an answer.  Finally I explained to dad that Mike thinks things through very carefully and analyzes the situation.  Just like my dad, I tend to jump in with both feet.  Generally my husband shakes his head no before I even finish presenting my idea.  Dad finally agreed to help wrap the plastic around the bags after they were lowered but he didn't like it that we wouldn't let him risk his life.

Dad looking over the situation.

Then he thought he could help from the top.

Making me very nervous.  He thinks he is forty.

He managed to get up the hill.

Discussing the options, even though Mike had already decided.

I know dad wants to help.  He feels that he should be helpful, but geez sometimes he is like a dog with a bone.  Sometimes his ideas are just not feasible, and he gets his feelings hurt very easily.  We have to walk a fine line sometimes.  On the other hand, how many almost ninety year old people can climb a steep hill in sand without a cane.  Not very many. 

This storage place is pretty ugly but fortunately it is hidden from view, and it will be much more convenient for us this winter.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Today is Amish Ascension Day

It is already the end of May, and we still hadn't purchased our flowers to plant outside.  Somehow the month just got away from us.  There is always something to do or the weather doesn't cooperate.  My husband had some things to do this morning but around noon we decided it was time to go to the Amish greenhouses.  We thought they might be picked over, but we wanted we would try them anyway.

As we pulled into the first place, everything was quiet.  There were no customers and there was a sign in the window that said they were closed.  That seemed strange on a Thursday afternoon.  It crossed my mind that they were sold out.  Luckily there are several other greenhouses in the area, so off we went to our next stop.  Hmmm, they were closed too.  Then the next also had a closed sign on the door.  We thought there may be a funeral in the Amish community or something else was going on.  The fourth place we stopped at answered the question.  The sign said it was closed for Ascension Day.  I admit, I'm not a very good student of religion.  I thought Christ ascended into heaven on the third day.  I had to look it up.  I found that "The Amish Ascension Day is celebrated each year in June. It is celebrated to signify the day that Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven, and is observed forty days after Easter Sunday."  Now I know and that it is a very special day for them.  In this area, all of their businesses are closed.

I really didn't have time to take a leisurely drive in the country, but we had no choice.  I asked my phone to take us to a greenhouse.  Siri directed us to a very large greenhouse about 10 miles away.  I didn't know where to start.  The Amish greenhouses are small and easy to maneuver.  This one was huge and a little pricey.  I settled on a flat of wax begonias, and we decided to go home.  On the way home, I saw a hand written sign saying "hanging baskets for sale".  We decided to check it out. As we pulled up to the house,  an old couple were hoeing their garden.  They had some hanging baskets and individual plants for sale.  They were quite nice.  I felt I should buy something.  I bought a small basket, and some perennials. 

Shasta Daisy

Pink Dianthus

Hen and Chicks

This day was a little confusing and the day didn't go the way I thought it would, but it ended well.  The plants are planted and it isn't June yet.  I need a few more, but it is a good start.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chicken Apple Grape Wraps

Recently we discovered that our oldest daughter tested positive for celiac disease.  Our other daughter has had a wheat sensitivity for a long time.  This means that all the food I am used to making for our family meals has to change.  It is a slow process but I am finding some good gluten free recipes.  This is a perfect a summer meal.  To make it more healthy you can use plain Greek yogurt and sweeten to your taste with honey.  Sometimes flavored yogurts are loaded with sugar.

Chicken Apple Grape Wraps

1 cup cooked chopped skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup chopped apple
1/4 cup grapes cut in half
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt-use enough to make the ingredients stick together
Romaine lettuce

Mix all the chopped ingredients in a bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Spoon into a lettuce leaf and roll or eat it right out of the bowl.
We use pita pockets or flatbread as wraps, but those are not gluten free.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Summer 2014 Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles have been really busy the past couple weeks.  They returned to our part of Wisconsin on May 3rd.  Some of the birds stop by for a while and then move on.  Several stay to build a nest and raise their families.  I believe we have at least three pair who are now nesting.  One pair has built a nest in a white poplar tree off our deck.  Other years they like the pin cherry trees.

It is fun to see them work on the nest.  It is amazing how they wrap and weave these fine grasses into a very strong bag-like nest.

They are very clever birds.  They position the nest so they will be hidden when the leaves fill in.  Last year we had a nest in a tree near the deck, and we didn't know it until the leaves fell in the fall.  This nest will be well covered as soon as the leaves are completely out.  They think they are hidden, but I can get a very good side view from our deck.  The little worm-like fruit appears first on the poplar trees.  When the fruit bursts open, it sends white cottony plumes all over.  If it's windy, it almost looks like snow flurries.  I don't care for that stage, but otherwise it is a pretty tree with fluttery leaves.

This is the cotton that flies all over the deck and gets stuck in the porch screens.

It will be a while before the eggs hatch and the birds fledge.  It usually takes two weeks to hatch and two more weeks before we see them. Then we will have to put out a jar of jelly a day to feed the families of young ones.  I love seeing them and look forward to their return every year.