Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tapping for Maple Syrup

Today Hubby and I volunteered at the Michigan State University Extension Service Tolgate Farm. We were tapping the Maple trees for Maple syrup. They tap about 200 trees. The volunteers would drill the holes and then insert a stile with a tube to a collection bucket. Most of their trees are connected by tubing to a large container. We just needed to make a new tap and attach the tubing. The sap is clear like water until it is boiled down. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. The farm has, what they call. a sugar shack. In it there is an evaporator which separates the syrup from the sap as it boils down. I am sorry I don't have pictures of what we did today, hopefully I will have some of the later process. It was a brisk morning but this had to be done before the sap flows. The sap will start to flow when the daytime temperature is in the near 40 degrees and the nighttime temperature is still well below freezing.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Every year about this time I start my spring cleaning(along with a spreadsheet to chart my progress). I wish I could say I complete all the cleaning projects but alas...the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak(I'll bet you haven't heard that one in a long time). I have finished all the kitchen cupboards and the light fixtures in the kitchen (yech). I also completely did the lavatory, walls, cupboards and floor. I was going to start on the guest room bath when I decided the caulking around the shower base needed to be done. Unfortunately for Hubby, I say "Would you show me how to get that old caulking off?" and he takes the clue and does it. I hate manipulating women.

Arnold was under the weather for a couple of days. He mostly slept and shook his ears a lot when he was awake. We were pleased yesterday to see him be his old self again. He played with his toys, chased Fervor, got into my sewing and rattled the Venetian blinds.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Baby Yarn

Today I went to Michaels and bought Baby yarn in unisex colors. I bought enough for a blanket and two sweaters. I really hope the new grandchild is a girl because girls are fun to dress and buy things for. I know that when I was pregnant with my first I really wanted a boy. I wasn't unhappy that the second one was a boy, but by the time I was at the sixth one I really needed a girl.

Monday, February 23, 2009

An Academy Award Party

Last night I went to an Academy Award party. I am not much of a movie person and the only nominee I had seen was Frost-Nixon, which I thought was very good. There were about 25 women at this party, most in their late 30's and then a few of us old ladies. The food and wine was spectacular. They had several TV's on but the women talked so much you couldn't hear any of the dialog we could just read the award assignments. They had ballots and there was a prize for the one with the most correct guesses. I wasn't even close. It was a really fun night. The hostess does this every year. I hope I get invited again.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Phone is Ringing!

We have three cordless phones and a base with a speaker phone only. However we can seldom find a phone. Sometimes we can't hear it ring because it was left somewhere in another part of the house and the only way we know it is ringing is because it is announced on the TV set. When we do find a phone and answer it, it almost immediately sounds low battery or just goes dead from the strain of being answered. At one point we put numbers on the phones to find which one goes dead the most frequently. We found that phone was number three. We have also found that number one is missing, presumably dead by now. When we do hear the phone ringing and go frantically searching for it, we usually find it is from "Out of Area" or "Hilton Grand Va" which we had no interest in answering anyway.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lion Pancake Breakfast

Today the Lions had their annual Pancake Breakfast to benefit the Penrickton School for the Blind. Our turnout was huge. We all had a lot of fun. I was busy flipping pancakes when they announced the winner of the 50-50 raffle. I won $90. That was a real first for me. I have mentioned many times before how much I enjoy the Lions. A great bunch of people who enjoy themselves helping others.
Well it is snowing very heavily. I am adding a before picture to yesterday's blog and I will add one today when the snow stops.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Snow Forcast

Around the middle of January Hubby went to Sears to look at their snow blowers. He wasn't sure he really wanted one, so he decided to wait until we came back from the inauguration. When he did go back he found that he couldn't get one. Sears had sold out for the year. Then he knew he really wanted one. Today the weather forecast is for 5 to 8 inches of snow tomorrow. Hubby stopped at Sears and found they had a snow blower which had been returned. He bought it. We were sure we wouldn't get any snow tomorrow. Then he found he didn't have an ignition key. We were sure we would get blitzed. He found a dealer who sold him a key so we are back to very little snow tomorrow. It is amazing the control one has over the weather.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Visit to the Dentist

I must admit I have never really had a tooth ache. Maybe that is why I have never feared going to the dentist. I had a lot of dental work done and now my teeth all look pearly white because of the porcelain crowns, but there has never been a lot of pain. My parents took me to the dentist regularly and I always looked forward to the dentist's toy chest full of prizes for good boys and girls. My own children always felt good about going to the dentist. I think part of that is the attitude that this is something you just do. My dentist is my sponsor for the Lions Club and he has become a good friend. Today I had a wisdom tooth pulled, the last of the wisdom teeth. It wasn't infected, just was not worth a crown.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Criminal Leanings

I found out that my daughter, Gretel, has a face book game in which she has a club. This club or gang robs convenience stores. One of the gang members is "Cupcake Longs." I don't know the names of the other members, but I know it includes three daughters and a son-in-law. I also found out that one of my daughter-in-laws was detained by the police in the Milwaukee area for loitering outside an after hours knitting joint.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hubby's Early Birthday Present

My Mom got a little mixed up and sent Hubby a card and birthday check on my ex-husbands birthday. She told hubby to go ahead and spend it. He bought a simulator for radio controlled airplanes and a radio controlled airplane. At the rate of success he has been having, it will be a long time before he is ready for the real thing. Hubby had a pilot's license when he was young and he has a simulator for regular airplanes but the model airplanes work quite differently. With a real plane simulator you are seated in the cockpit with a radio controlled plane you are on the ground and a right turn to you might be a left turn for the plane. The graphics are very realistic and the controller looks just like the one you would use with the model plane. The software is fun because when he makes a mistake the plane crashes to the ground with a thunk and the wing and propeller fly off.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Hubby does all of the cooking at our house. I feel that what ever he wants in order to do the job is fine with me. His latest purchase is a new grill and a dispenser for pancake batter. He also bought molds for cooking eggs. Tonight he made pancakes and sausages for supper. They were wonderful, as usual.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


A couple of weeks ago my 91 year old Mom went to the doctor's office and complained about a lump on her wrist which hurt her. The nurse practitioner said it looked like an aneurysm and said she had to see a vascular specialist and, if it broke before she could see the specialist, she should put pressure and ice on it and call security at her complex to get her to the hospital quickly.Well she saw the specialist and, last Friday, he did surgery and removed that section of the artery. Mom and I were a little surprised at the alarm on the nurse practitioner's part. We knew the seriousness of an aneurysm in the brain or abdomen but the wrist didn't seem as scary. So last night at my Lions meeting I asked Lion Doctor Ralph about it. He said since we were talking about an artery it would have the full force of the blood pressure behind it. It would back up the whole arm and cause swelling and pain and serious consequences. He said he didn't think ice and pressure would work. It's nice to know how serious it was after the threat is gone by.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Martha the Bridge Builder

My daughter Martha is studying Civil Engineering. She just got an internship with the Michigan Department of Transportation(MDOT). She is very excited about it. Internships can be difficult to get in these times and the experience is invaluable. She was issued her gear on her first day. I learned not to take a picture of reflector tape with a flash.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Creating a Stencil

I am always trying new ways to create stencils for quilting. It is not hard if you want to quilt on dark material. Just trace the design on any paper and use one of those Dritz tracing wheels to poke holes in it along the design. Then I use a Pounce pad with white powder. They do make the powder in blue but one has to be careful as it is sometimes hard to get out to the point that some quilting stores will not even sell it. I found that quilting stores sell plastic sheets and I found this pencil-like thing which will melt the plastic. The manufacturer suggests you work on a pane of glass, which I didn't do but will the next time. They also suggest you practice a lot. If I was using the stencil for painting, of course it would have to be much more accurate. But I just needed a guide for my stitching. I traced my Dresden Plate pattern for the plain white squares as well as the pattern for the dark blue sashing. For the dark blue I could have used paper but I wanted to try this technique. I found that I didn't leave enough solid spaces in the design and it easily broke. I learned to draw my design just how I wanted it cut and not how I wanted it quilted because it was hard to see where you had melted the plastic. I also found I had to make the slots wider to get a lead pencil through for marking the pattern. I found that with the pounce pad I had to sand the plastic after melting because the rough edges caused the pounce pad to fray.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Show Tunes

The quilting frame sits in front of the television set in the family room because it is the only place big enough for it. However I am not much of a television watcher. I probably enjoy the weather channel as much as anything but I get tired of storm stories. I like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert but the rest of the comedy channel is gross. I like Rachel Maddow but sometimes it just gets me worked up. I have discovered the music channels on cable I especially like the show tunes although as they start to repeat I will probably get tired of them. I think the music from Monty Python's Spamalot is hysterical. The music from wicked is good too. Sometimes I even sing along, only when no one else is around.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

I am reading the book The MemoryKeeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. I was talking to my mother about the book because she lost a baby at birth and she also had a Down's syndrome child. She told me how it took such a long time to get over her baby daughter's death. I know I was only six years old at the time but I was impressed enough to name my first daughter, Mary Elizabeth, after a sister I had never known. My brother, Tommy, was born in 1956, the same year as the babies in the book. Mom told me about how she was part of a group formed to get the public school system to provide educational opportunities for retarded children. One story she told me was that my brother and I had worked with Tommy to make sure he could put rings on a peg. When she met with the head of education for the county he had Tommy perform this same task. Tommy picked up a ring, held it to his eye, looked at the director and said "peek a boo" Apparently this book really tells it like it is.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cat Toys

I know that the manufacturers of cats toys don't really think about what the cats like. Here are some of the expensive cat toys that we have bought for our cats but they have no interest in them whatsoever. The remote control mouse will cause them to sometimes respond but not for very long but then the charge doesn't last long either. Then we have some toys that they play with some of the time. The blue ring gets quite a bit of use as well as the catnip filled butterfly. That creepy black mouse gets played with a lot too. But the favorite toys are the milk bottle ring and the ping pong ball and Arnold goes wild over a feather. A piece of yarn is always good for a fun time. The only exception to the rule of cats like the cheap things is the climbing tree which you can see in several pictures on Hubby's blog here. I am so proud of myself figuring out how to use the link.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Basement

Today we went out to stimulate the economy and bought a refrigerator for the basement. We had an old one downstairs that didn't work. We had taken the door off and were using it as a shelf for pop and beer. We decided that a shelf that kept pop and beer cold was a better idea. Our side by side refrigerator upstairs doesn't really hold a lot so we could use more room at holiday time too. Usually around Christmas time we put stuff in the garage to keep it cold but there is always that worry about mice. They will deliver it on Wednesday but we had to clear a path in the basement. Our basement is crammed full of stuff. There is the children's table and benches that Papa made for the girls and I have saved for a granddaughter along with the little kitchen set and the doll crib, doll ironing board, doll shopping cart and doll stroller. Martha has all her belongings down there as well from when she had an apartment. You know if we were moving we wouldn't take any of it with us so why do we keep it?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Junk Drawer

Our kitchen has a junk drawer. I think every kitchen does. It collects coupons, calendars, pens, rubber bands, scissors, scotch tape, small pads of paper and everything else that you don't know what to do with. Hubby has a fit that it doesn't close properly. Today he decided to clean it out.
He knows not to throw away the Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons although we have enough to completely stock a new store. He said he threw out all the expired coupons and saved the non-expired ones so that we can throw them out when they do expire. He threw out endless shopping and to do lists and all the 2008 calendars. Now the drawers closes anyway but I think he hardly scratched the surface.