Welcome to 'Attic of the Heart'!

Welcome from north-central Connecticut! In this blog I will share whatever is in my heart, on my mind, or something interesting I've found to share. Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Power outage in CT...

(The branches are usually at least 6 feet off the ground under this oak tree!)

Well, much has happened since my last post. I did promise to do better about posting, and seems
I got worse instead. Here goes another try at doing better. :0)

I'm sure most of you heard about our big snow storm here in Connecticut Halloween weekend. Oh yeah. It was a doozy. We rec'd 12", but I read one area rec'd 32"! Wow. Well, regardless of the amount, we still lost power. The storm started about 1pm on Saturday, October 29th. We were out shopping. We actually stood in front of a kerosene heater at Home Depot, but didn't make a purchase. Go figure... but then again, I haven't heard good things about them. So maybe it was for the best. We will never know.
We decided to come home early as the roads were getting slippery. I ran a bath tub full of water in case the power goes out. You know, I've done this for a long time, and always feel guilty about wasting all that water as we've never needed to use it. WELL! We used nearly every drop of it this time.
I also pulled of 3 pitcher full of water. I figured a day at most, right? We also had gone to Costco, and purchased 2 bulk packs of water for my husband to drink at work. We had one in the cart, and I said 'Honey, why don't we get an extra one so we don't run out before Christmas?' So we did. Am I ever glad! We went through one whole case that week.
I washed up the dishes, checked the flashlights and candles out, so I knew where they were.

That night, after we went to bed, the power went out about midnight. I kept waking up all night long, listening to branches groaning and snapping off. It was eerie. All was very quiet except for that. I kept worrying about the trees close to the house. At one point, I did hear one slid down the side of the house. Turns out, the large branch just messed up the gutter. Thank you Lord!

The next morning told the tale. Did it ever. About 8am I was out taking pictures, wading through the snow. I was astounded. I had never seen devastation from a snow storm like this. Wires were down, branches, trees, it was...unbelievable.

My neighbor had just made a deal to trade his truck in. A WHOLE TREE just missed his truck by less than a foot. Amazing. Not to mention it was scarily close to his house as well. He had to cut it up just to get out of his driveway. Many, MANY people had the same problem. The figures say over 2,000,000 people were without power at one time. Most of CT, parts of MASS, VT, and NH. Even southern Maine. This was an unprecedented event for CT.

So Sunday goes by, with the drama of checking out the neighbors yards, clearing enough brush to get out of one's own driveway, and just coping with the initial shock of things. Sunday night, the temps dropped. Down to 27F. That cooled things off considerably, and we started losing house heat. If it stays above freezing, it's not as bad. But when it gets that cold...

Monday. The power is still off. Reports are filtering in this could take awhile. We are in denial. Can't be! They are just saying that so people won't get their hopes up. We've NEVER been without power longer than 8 hours here in CT. Personally, we did go through the ice storm of 1998, and were without power for 3 days. I moved in with my cousins during that time, as they had a woodstove in their basement. We coped the best we could. No work for my hubby, no power there either. We decided to put the flannels on the bed, and the flannel cover on the duvet. I uncovered the BBQ on the back deck, and boiled water for tea on the propane burner, which we had actually never used before, and we've owned that BBQ for at least 5 years. I BBQ'd something to eat, and tried to use up what I could in the fridge.

That night, we had flannel sheets, 2 duvets, 3 blankets and a quilt on our bed. I wore socks, and flannel nighty to bed. The next night, I added a knit cap to my head, and got into bed with my fleecy slippers on till it warmed up. And we were warm. It was the warmest we would be the whole time. We also have a feather bed topper on our mattress, and that holds heat really nicely. So we were toasty once things warmed up. But boy, that room got cold. Down to 46F.

I started to understand why 'Ma in her kerchief and Pa in his Cap' went to bed with hats on. I really get it now! And it does really help.
I worried about the hot water baseboard pipes freezing. Our house never got below 46F, thank God. But every night, I'd lay awake worrying just the same, when the weather report called for below 32F temps.

First, I would get into bed fully dressed, and warm up my night clothes, and change under the covers. Then I got smart and started dressing for bed in the one room that had a bit of heat, the family room. It has a fireplace, but it smokes quite a bit, so it was hard on us, especially my DH who has a bit of asthma. But we were desperate. We also had only a few chunks of wood from the occasional branch we had cut up the year before. I considered calling to see if we could get a cord delivered, but doubted availability, and how long the power would really be off.

Tuesday, more of the same. Except for a miracle. That night about 6pm, we got a call from a guy who works for my husband. He said he had a camp generator he wasn't using, would be like it? OH YEAH!!!!! We met him half way to pick it up, and was able to get it started about 8pm that night. On the back deck, in the dark, cold, with a flashlight. We didn't know anything about generators, but this came with some gas, oil just changed out, and it started on the second pull.
We also had 2 orange heavy duty outdoor extension cords. I can't tell you how handy those were, because the generator would have been useless to us without them.

We had heat!!!! and Lights!!! We have a floor to ceiling curtain hung in the doorway of our family room in the winter, to keep the heat in that room, as my honey likes to run the electric heater there in the evenings to be extra toasty. So we plugged in the heater, and a light. We even managed to run the TV as well. We had to run the cords under the patio doors. We ran one to the kitchen, then into the family room afterwards along with the other.

The generator was a Honda 2000W. If you've never checked out the wattages on your appliances, now is the time. For instance. The electric heater takes 1500 W. This means only 500 watts left for lights, tv, freezer, fridge. The electric tea kettle, hair dryer, toaster oven, microwave all take at least 1200W - 1800W EACH. This means I could only use one item at a time. It wasn't nearly enough to run the stove or dryer.

We did have the neighbor wire up the furnace through the circuit breaker, but ran into trouble with the furnace. We ended up getting a new one. I think something cracked in it - it was 25 years old and was going down hill fast. In hind sight, we wouldn't run the furnace without the water pump too, as it's an oil-fired hot water boiler. This meant we had to limp along for5 more days after the power came on with a 1/2 working fumey furnace. I had to run a window fan 24/7 so we wouldn't breath nasty fumes.

Wednesday, it was starting to sink in that this really would last awhile. I was also starting to get a routine down. My routine began with boiling water first, to wash up and wash my hair. Washing my hair made me feel so much better that I began doing it every morning. The first 3 days, I didn't wash it at all. By Wednesday, I couldn't stand it anymore, even though it didn't look that bad.
I can't tell you how good a hot wet facecloth feels with your kitchen is 46 - 50F. What a wonderful thing! :0)

Then I plugged the hair dryer in and dried my hair. I was starting to feel half way normal! Then, I ran the toaster oven to heat my muffin. Fortunately I had a big supply of homemade muffins in the freezer. Speaking of the freezer, we managed, just in the nick of time, to save everything except the seafood and fish. That seems to thaw out so quickly, so we tossed it to be safe. Also lost all the dairy in the fridge, but most things were ok. We would run both a couple of times a day for a few hours to keep things cold. Even then, the freezer never got as cold as it does when running full time.

I then had to plan what I was going to BBQ that day. I did chicken, pork chops, fried eggs on the griddle part of the BBQ, and boiled potatoes and veggies on the burner. It was a good meal. I also ran the microwave no longer than 2 minutes at a time to reheat things, because it didn't seem to want to run at full power on the generator. This can ruin them, so I'm told. So be sure to get a bigger generator than this.

I cooked all the food we'd eat that day at noon. It was the sunniest, brightest time of day outside. Days are short in the winter, and I quickly found out I had to do plan my day well to take advantage of the light. Then I'd do the dishes, once each day, late afternoon. I had to boil water for the dishwater, and when it's cold, it doesn't stay hot for very long. Do you know how many times a day I usually wash my hands? Well, I got used to cold water for that.

Speaking of water, since we had no running water, we did the 'if it's yellow, let it mellow' thing. We flushed in the morning, and then before we went to bed, unless needed earlier. We used the water from the tub. Another thing. Have at least 2 buckets on hand. Downright handy things, buckets.

I started getting creative when the water got low in the tub. I found 3 large containers, 2 of them garbage cans, to collect the water from the snow melting off the roof. It filled all three and then some! Of course, that's contingent on warm enough days and snow to melt. It was warmer outside than in my house during the day. I opened the doors and windows, but the sun is so low this time of year, and the days are too short to do any good, unless it's above 60F. And do you think this house has any windows on the south side??! Nope. Definitely NOT a passive solar home. So we spent time outside during the day, just to warm up. By the end of the week, it got to 60F outside, so at least we had that relief, and I worried less about bursting pipes.

By 6pm, I tried to have the family room warming up, soup heated, tea ready to go, and things all done that required light to see by so when my DH got home from work (as production manager, he had to go in each day to try and sub jobs out to those who had power in the lower part of the state, even though no one else came to work, because customers were calling. Those with power had no patience, it seemed. Good grief.).

Even with the generator,you can only plug so many things in at a time. One small light in the kitchen doesn't illuminate much. We had one good flashlight, and a couple 'get by' ones. Everyone should invest in at least one decent flashlight. I can't tell you how handy that was, when we were out in the dark trying to fill the generator with gas, or down in the furnace room mucking up water leaking from the furnace that we discovered just before bedtime.

My DH had to wait over an hour to get gas for the truck and generator. The line was 2 - 3 miles long. There were only 2 gas stations with 1/2 hour that were open. This is a highly populated state. Have 2 gas cans - one as a backup, while you take the other to be filled. Lesson learned.

Well, there are many more things I want to tell you all, but this is enough for now. I really wanted to have this well thought out, and orderly, but I think I'd be here until the New Year in that case, so please bear with me!

Till next time, stay warm, stay safe.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ham prices are what??


Interesting article on meat prices and hay prices this year.  They certainly have gone up!

Carando spiral sliced hams were ON SALE at $2.69 lb. yesterday at Stop N Shop.  Regular 3.99 or something like that.  $23 for a ham, on sale!  That’s outrageous!  Seems last year I got it for $1.99 on sale.  I am hoping for a better sale at Christmas, but I’m not holding my breath.

Anyway, it prompted me to do a search on ham prices, and I found this article.  Seems export is up, so domestic prices have gone up, because increase in demand outside the country, and less supply domestically.  Nice.

Makes one feel like they need to start raising their own meat.  And hay! Pretty soon we won’t be able to afford it anymore.  Kind of like potato chips at $4.29 a bag, and the bag is the smallest ever!!  Crazy.  Fortunately, chips aren’t a necessity, like Coke and other non essential food products.  But a bag now and then is sure nice.

Time to go back to gardening, canning and freezing, and whole foods.  Limit the prepared stuff, get the most nutrients for your dollar in fresh whole foods.  Reap the benefits of better health, and a heavier pocketbook.

I know I avoid the prepared stuff now in a big way.  I buy more fresh produce, meat cuts, and make most of my own bread.  I read labels more than ever, and am appalled at what I used to take for granted. That food, in any package, was ok to eat, and nothing to be concerned about.  I certainly don’t think that way anymore.  I am a much more informed shopper.  I hate to buy store-bought cookies.  Have you read the labels?  I also know that I can make better tasting ones at home.  J

It’s gotten that way at restaurants too.  Oh darn.  I was going to comment on our recent Friendly’s breakfast at their site, but I think I missed the 3 day limit.  It was AWFUL!  Do NOT order their scrambled eggs, unless you specify ‘real’ eggs.  They buy this ‘mix’ and it’s like eating egg flavored cottage cheese.  It really was that bad.  Their pancakes looked anemic, (how can you serve a pale pancake??) and there wasn’t really any flavor.  The texture was slightly tough.  And of course, it’s served with artificial pancake syrup, which I won’t buy anymore.  The homefries were good and hot, but that was the only thing hot.  Even the coffee was lukewarm.  The sausage links were a bit anemic too, but I ate them anyway.   Was a complete waste of money. I can make a much better breakfast at home, but it’s nice to be served sometimes, you know?

Ok.  Done with the rant on Friendly’s.  They still have great ice cream, but I can’t tolerate it much anymore, too rich.  I really enjoy Gifford’s ice cream made in Maine.  Doesn’t bother my lactose intolerant stomach as much.

Hope you all have a great day!




Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Places to see...

Enjoying a good cup of coffee this morning. Part Peet's Major Dickason's and part 8'oclock decaf. I really like Peet's, and the 8'oclock isn't bad either, bought it on sale. I drink 1/2 decaf coffee now, and find I actually feel better! It was getting to the point it took more coffee to get the same effect, and I was also feeling more tired. Groggy in the mornings. Now, not sure if it's solely the coffee change or not, but I feel way better, and not nearly as tired and groggy as before. In fact, when we go on vacation, I drink all caffeinated coffee, because that's what our hosts are serving, and I feel more tired as time goes on. Could be the vacation, or not. It's worth a try. And just think, if there is ever a coffee shortage in the world, you won't go through major withdrawal. Imagine all the really angry tired cranky people there could be in the world. Yikes!
Anyway, I'm really getting tired of all this muggy weather. I hate muggy weather! It just saps the strength out of you. My 'get up and go' got up and went! Ha! Plus, with this rainy type muggy weather, I can't go for a walk as often or hang my laundry out. Bummers. Oh well, this too shall pass, as my mother says. Cooler drier weather heading our way over the weekend. Yippee!!
I've been debating on what to do on the next few weekends. The Big E is going on right now. For those of you who don't know, that is a 5 state fair held in West Springfield, Massachusetts each year the last 2 weeks of September. It is huge. It has a parade every afternoon, huge agricultural offerings from 5 states and Ontario Canada. A Better Living Center, with neat stuff for sale, Storrowton Village - an old time village, the Avenue of States, with replicas of 5 state capitol buildings you can actually go in, and each of them offer some type of food you would associate with their state. (These buildings are like large houses) Of course, the midway, and lots of interesting food options. There are also horse shows held on the grounds, and live entertainment, with some big names. I'm sure I've missed something, so you can check it out here. I must mention the traffic. Yes, it can be bad at times. And the parking can cost $10 - $20 so I've heard. I think it's $15/person to get in, but I haven't been there in 4 years, so double check that. It's great fun, and a person ought to go at least once.
I'm also considering Old Sturbridge Village. I've never been the the village proper. I'd like to go when the leaves change and it's cooler out. Hmmm....maybe for my birthday in October! There is lots to do in Sturbridge, so check that out too. Lots of neat stores.
I would also love to go up to Vermont, to Manchester, to the outlet shops, and to King Arthur Flour store, in Norwich, VT, check out their store here. They are under renovations, I guess, but still open. And of course, if you are up this area, you should check out Yankee Candle in South Deerfield, Mass. I see they have a similar store in Williamsburg, VA. Interesting... I know you are thinking, ok, it's just candles. But this is more than that. Much more, at least the last time I went there it was. They had a 'home' store, and all these really neat 'rooms' decorated in themes. Watch the video to get a quick peek. It's a day trip event. Kids will like it too. And since you are up there, be sure to check out historic Deerfield Village just down the road. There are also antique stores on Route 5 in the area, and I believe a butterfly place too. Do your homework before you go so you can take advantage of all there is to offer in the area. If you are there in February or October, check out Gould's Sugar House in Shelburne, Mass. It's probably within 1/2 hour of Yankee Candle, going west out Route 2 from Greenfield. It's an old maple syrup barn, with a woodstove that runs on cool days, and they serve a great breakfast of homemade pancakes, homemade sausage, homemade dill pickles (if they have any left). You can sit at homemade picnic tables in the barn, and they have a vintage display of old artifacts pertaining to the early days of sugaring. Be prepared for a line and wait during peak times. I'd go as soon as they are open, because by 10 or 11 am, they are super busy. Maybe call ahead to see when the best time to go. Not much info on their webpage, which doesn't do it justice, but they do list when their season is. In the spring, during sap time, they will be boiling sap, which you can see, I believe. In the fall, there are apples and maple syrup available to buy, plus a few other things. Note: They are only open to the public with breakfast for a limited time during sap season, and in the fall for a few weeks. Call to be sure.
Well, that's about it for what I know about for Northern Mass, and a bit of VT. I'm sure there is more, so check it out. Check out the links for more information on each place.
Well, my Cranberry Seed Muffin is done, so I better go rescue it out of the toaster oven. I love to warm my muffins in the toaster oven each morning, makes them just like they came out of the oven. Yum! Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vintage crochet and knitting patterns!

If you love vintage crochet and knitting patterns, then this site is for you! Wow. I found this site today, and what lovely vintage patterns. Check out 'Baby'. What sweet and adorable little crochet bonnets and hats. Makes me wish I knew how to do fine crochet. I can do regular crochet, nothing fancy, mind you, but my Grammie Betts has made beautiful doilies, tablecloths, ornaments and other sweet thing in the past. Back then, this skill was part of being a woman and homemaker.
(I really do need to learn how to knit, sigh.)
Anyway, here's the link: http://vintagehomearts.com/index.php

Monday, July 25, 2011

I am so thankful for the rain today. It's been one hot week. Topped out at 102F last Thursday, although my husband's truck registered 107. I know it's been as hot or hotter elsewhere in the nation, but that was plenty hot for me. I really don't like the heat.
Now today, it's about 75, overcast, and starting to rain. It smells like rain. I love that smell! And for once, I have all the fans and air conditioners turned off. Blessed peace and quiet! It's amazing how wearing that can be on a person, especially if you aren't used to it. Thankful to have those things, but nice to not have to use them too.
Today, I got up at 6am, went for my walk by 6:15am, and then had breakfast, started laundry, ran the dishwasher, and then showered. Typical Monday. Except for the 6am thing and walking. I've started a new habit! Aren't you all proud of me? I certainly am. I've been doing it for over 2 weeks now, and can feel a difference in my back and overall well-being. And I sleep better. I get more done. I have a more positive outlook. More confidence. All that from getting up earlier and walking. Wow...
It's a day for drawing near to God, for finding a peaceful place. I read my Bible over lunch - Psalms really is a great book. I tended to neglect Psalms and Proverbs and favored the New Testament, but there really is so much of life's lesson and perspective in these 2 books.
I lit a fruity smelling candle I bought recently for my table centerpiece. I made broccoli cauliflower salad, grilled chicken and homemade potato salad from yesterday, and a sliced fresh tomato. Oh so yummy! I ended this with a homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and coffee. The frosting on the cake was my Country Sampler magazine which came in the mail today. Oh, I just love the cover on the Sept 2011 issue. I love fall. It seems to 'center' me, and remind me the things I love most. I think too, it's a family time, with Labor Day and Thanksgiving holidays. I love pumpkins and harvest too. It's a time for canning, for getting ready to snuggle in for the winter.
Sometimes, when our hearts and minds are troubled, we need to step back, to step away, for a bit, go find a 'sanctuary' . Center and ground ourselves. In my case, when I don't have the answers, and sometimes that is often, I turn to the Word. It brings peace and clarity to my troubles, and helps me be the best I can be, no matter the outcome. When I feel out of control of a situation, it helps me control my response. Helps me to preserve my integrity by not responding out of uncontrolled anger. Be angry, and sin not, the Bible says. And that's a hard thing to do, but not impossible.
I am reading a book that talks about the space between a catalyst, situation or event, and the response. What are we going to do in that space between the two? Fire back and let the chips fall where they may, and ruin trust and your integrity and the relationship? Or consider carefully ones' words, that they may in fact build up, and not tear down. Which will have very short term effect, or lasting benefits? Something to think about, isn't it.
I hope you are having a great day. I know it's Monday, but even Monday's can have their upside. I did the laundry today, and found my husband's watch that had been missing since last week. He thought he left it in a public washroom, but there it was. It must have fallen out of a pocket he had temporarily stashed it in while he washed up. He had already gone out and bought a cheap replacement, but now he has a backup for that one! :0)
Have a blessed day!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Preparing for the unknown...

I try to keep things pretty light on here, but in view of recent events, perhaps I will share what I've been thinking about for the past several months.
The disaster in Japan has brought it back to the forefront. My heart aches for the Japanese as their lives have been turned totally upside down and I can't imagine what
I would do if the same happened to us. If you are like me, many of you are probably thinking, how does this radiation thing affect us? Will it affect us? What if our nuclear plants have a problem? Are bombed? What if???? 
  So I researched the number of nuclear plants and their locations in the US, and oh my, it was eye opening, especially if you live on the east coast. You can view information on that here. If you wish to see a worldwide list, you can find that here. There is a site you put in your zip code to see how far from one you live. You can find that here. We were 52 miles from the nearest reactor, which put us 2 miles out of the 'likely contamination zone'. Is that good news? Hmmm, will all depend on the prevailing winds at the time. As we are looking to buy a house, this added another factor to the equation one doesn't usually think about when relocating. (And I was more concerned about being too close to a wind farm. Great.)
 I have been also researching preparedness/survival sites, with one of the most interesting here. My brother reads this site daily, and is preparing the best he can for his family in case of TEOTWAWKI (and acronym for 'the end of the world as we know it'). This could mean anything from a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina to all out war, and everything in between. In other words, here I've been worrying about such mundane things as not having many good restaurants in the neighborhood, or hating to shop for groceries on the weekend, when some type of disaster could befall us any minute! Ok, perhaps not that quickly, but it has certainly added some perspective to my life, that's for sure. I started thinking about our ancestors, and how they did it. The pioneers, before electricity. Before gas. Fossil fuels. Wow... 

I was talking to my Dad this week about what he experienced growing up. His folks did everything for themselves. I mean EVERYTHING! They raised all their own meat, did the butchering, smoking, canning, preserving. Farmed 160 acres with horses, Queenie and Bessie. Raised cows, chickens, pigs. Rendered lard. The old farm even had a windmill, which doesn't remember being in operation. They rigged up some kind of small motor to run things when they needed water, if I remember rightly. So yes, they had access to fossil fuels, but in the early days, didn't utilize it much. He said they only went to the store for flour, sugar, salt and pepper, spices, but not much else. They had their own milk, cream, butter, eggs, lard, (he remembers the days he came home from school to this awful smell - Ma was rendering lard that day :0)) 5 kids grew up on that farm, and then in the 1960's, my folks bought the farm from them (it was down to 40 acres then, and a 'new' house had been built on the old homestead (a 1950's cape). The old barn was torn down, and a new pole barn erected. I've since lamented to Dad about tearing down this neat old barn, and he too thinks maybe they should have tried to salvage it, but a new barn was all the thing at the time. 
Anyway, I digress a bit here. SO, then I've been reading Revelations, Jeremiah, Daniel, Luke, and other places in the Bible that predicts future events, and I am starting to see how some of these things could come about. Like in Luke 21, it talks about 'On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.' Can you say tsunami? Underwater earthquakes? Meteor showers? Quite a few events can trigger this.
Then in verse 26
'People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
' I am now envisioning meteor showers, asteroids, comets, and I'm sure there are things I don't know much about yet, like solar flares, etc. Now lets just consider for instance, if even one of these events, or a nuclear event perhaps, were to shut down power for, let's say, a week. Maybe a month. Maybe 2. Maybe longer. Do you have enough groceries to last that long? Do you have access to water that doesn't require electricity to pump it? Do you have a fuel source that isn't reliant on an electric trigger to get the oil going?
Uummm... nope. We rent, for one thing. We do have a fireplace, but it certainly isn't fuel efficient, and we do not have a wood pile. We also have a well, but it requires an electric pump to make it any good.
I DO have a pretty good suppy of groceries, and I am a pretty good cook. I can bake bread, and we eat home prepared and cooked meals. I avoid the prepared aisles at the supermarket, as I am getting more and more conscience about reading food labels and realizing how sodium and fat laden alot of that stuff is. Besides, I can make it better tasting and more wholesome from scratch. AND save money doing it! :0) But that's a subject for another post. I could write more, but I think I will close with this. I think it's only prudent to prepare as best as we can, with what we have, in these basic areas. Running potable water. A way to heat without electricity. A way to cook without electricity. Make sure you can prepare the most basic of food, have the supplies, and practice doing it, so you won't be caught unprepared at the last minute. There are some good Proverbs in regards to this.

"A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them;
the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences."
- Proverbs 22:3

I am a moderate person, in that I don't like to get on a bandwagon unless I'm darn sure of where it's going and what it's about. I don't like extremes. So my take is this: Our grandparents had to 'put up' stuff in preparation for winter, hard times, etc. So there is nothing wrong with having a mindset of doing the same thing.
We've had a good life for a long time in this country, relatively speaking (especially when you think about 3rd world countries and the quality of their lives), and I think perhaps we've gotta bit soft, at least speaking for myself here. We've forgotten some of the old ways of thinking. Of doing. Caught up in the 'mundane unimportant stuff in the grand scheme of things'. I for one, can't believe my thinking over the years. 'It won't happen here. It won't happen to me, I'm not going to give it a second thought'.
I'm sure many others have said the same thing, and then a major ice storm hit, and they were suddenly without power - for WEEKS!
In some cases, the roads were so bad that stores couldn't replenish their stock, if people could even GET to the stores. Gas stations couldn't sell because there was no power to run their pumps or their debit/credit card terminals. People couldn't get cash because the ATMs were down (think after hours) So many things that I had never considered before. Because we are SO USED TO CONVENIENCE here.
Ok. I did say I was winding down, didn't I. Alright. That's enough to get you thinking for today. I will write more specifically in future posts. Let me know your thoughts, but please be kind! :0)
This was not an exhaustive or super organized article on the subject, just a conversation on what's on my mind this morning. I just know that I don't want to be caught anymore unawares or vulnerable than I have to be. My plan? Get informed. Do research. Get prepared. Learn new skills. Change my mindset. I figure anything I do in this is a step in the right direction. Don't you think?

PS I was going to edit some of my errors in spelling, etc., except when I converted the text to yellow, I can't see it now in the compose area. AND, it's typing incredibly slow this morning - very frustrating. So just bear with the errors and omitted words, ok? Thank you!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sigh. It's that time of year again. Madly trying to find a homestead to buy. At least one that we can afford. I'm sure you've heard me lamenting how expensive it is here in the northeast. Oh yeah. Especially here in CT.
Yes, there are some places less (not much, and if you include the extra cost of gas, doesn't really save much), but that involves about 1 to 1 1/2 hrs travel to work for my DH.

(Mom and I with my horse Cricket back on the farm in Indiana in the late 1970's. Is that really skinny me? Wow...that sure was a long time ago!)

We really didn't want to have to do that, as he has about 10 more years to retirement. Why is the grass always greener too far away??
I am trying to lower my expectations, but for a farm girl, that is really hard. I'm down to 2 acres. How can a farm girl go any lower than that??? I grew up on a 40 acres and 100 acre farm. 2 acres isn't expecting much. (In fact, the idea of just 2 acres just about kills me, but I'm willing if I have to)
I've been reading these wonderful blogs about homesteading, and I would just so love the opportunity to try it before I get too old. I know, mid 40's isn't that old, but I sure don't feel like 20 anymore, that's for sure, lol!
I started going to the gym this winter, and I can't believe how much my legs ache. In the evening, I can hardly walk when I first get up from sitting. What is this?? I never used to have that problem. I feel like a cripple. I don't know...sigh.
Anyway, the homesteading thing. I want so much for a few acres to grow stuff. I want to grow a small orchard, maybe 1/2 dozen apple trees (love Cortland and Ginger Gold!) plus a plum, apricot, a couple of peach (love peaches and nectarines - the native ones are so good here!) and nectarine... Then I'd like to try growing raspberry, blueberry and blackberry bushes. Maybe even a strawberry bed like my mother used to have when I was growing up. (Unfortunately, it was growing over the septic/leach field area, and had to be torn up when that needed replacing.
It pays to plan ahead, huh?) And of course, a nice veggie and herb garden. I love lavender and rosemary, although rosemary struggles here unless it's in a very protected southern exposure.
Did I mention flowers? I LOVE LOVE LOVE flowers. I can't wait to grow peonies, roses, hydrangea.. things I haven't been able to grow while renting. Very hard to move these large bushes. Then the many kinds of perennials one can grow in zone 6. It's wonderful! (this is coming from a girl who spent 16 years in gardening zone 3B/4a! :0))
I have flower beds here that I've tended for 3 years, and boy are some of them really spreading. It's going to be a challenge relocating my bed of bee balm, which grew from 2 or 3 plants to an area about 8 feet x 5 feet. They sure like to migrate.

(how am I going to relocate this bed of plants???)

I would love a nice bed of tall phlox in different colors. They smell so good! And a permanent place for my clematis. I have 4 or 5 out there, but I need permanent trellises to really enjoy them. I love clematis, and would love several varieties.
OH, I forget to mention lilacs. They smell wonderful too, and there are many varieties of those. My mother used to cut several bunches every spring and have bouquets around the house while I was growing up. I can still remember the large green glass vase she used on the dining room table. And...the little spiders that used to come along for the trip inside. :0)
Not only do I want to grow all sorts of wonderful things (and hire several helpers to take care of these acres of things - no, just kidding! It will be me, just me.) but I'd like to raise a few animals too. My dh and I would like to raise a few chickens for eggs. Maybe a few for meat eventually, but that would involve either finding a local processor or doing it ourselves (not there yet, ) and I would dearly love to have a horse or two again. I grew up with horses, was passionate about them, and now my neighbors has 5 of them that I have enjoyed watching all winter across our little marsh.

I guess I digressed a bit here. Back to homesteading. I would also love a clothesline. Nothing like the smell of freshly dried towels and sheets on the line. And nighties too! So lovely when getting into bed and the fresh linen smell just wafts around you as you settle in for the night.

Well, enough of that. I think you get the picture. And I'm sure I've said most of this in other posts last year. Nothing has changed, I guess. I've been trying to convince myself to just buy a small home on a 1/2 acre and get it over with. But the though of it just about kills me. It's like being condemned to a half life. I'm sure it wouldn't be quite that bad, but for a girl who loves to be outdoors planting something and hanging around a barn, it seems that way sometimes.
I feel like it's my last 'kick at the can' and if I don't do it know, it may never happen. Well, Lord willing and we are able to find something, perhaps I can still have part of my dream, if not all of it. My prayer is that either we find something we like that we can afford and live with, or the Lord helps me to change my way of thinking. More often that not, it's usually a combination. I'm learning to be open. :0)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I've reminded myself this morning that I am allowed to be happy. Yes, I am. At least for this moment in time. I am reminding myself once again, because I seem to forget. No matter my troubles or concerns, I must allow myself space to just be happy. To smile at everyone or no one at all. To take a deep breathe, turn up the corners of my mouth, clear my mind, and just be. To think happy thoughts.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8
This is such a great verse. It encourages us to dwell on the positive, not the negative. It seems we can fall into a rut of always dwelling on the negative in our lives. In fact, this can even lead to depression, or at least be a big contributing factor.
I believe this verse is a protection for us, good advise. A guide to our thought life. God wants us to live wholesome lives, with a sound mind. And I am all for that.
So this morning, I am thinking good thoughts. Taking a break from dwelling on all the major decisions we are facing this spring, the relationships we wish were better, the life we want that seems just out of reach...whatever you are facing right now, just open your mental closet door and shove them in there for a bit. Read the Word, listen to some uplifting music, count your blessings, spend some time with God, and renew your perspective. Really, it does help. It may not fix everything that's wrong in your life, but changing ones perspective or just deciding the let God handle it for awhile can relieve that mental pressure. Remember, you are allowed to be happy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March came in like a lamb...

but has been roaring ever since. At least here in the northeast. Rain, rain and more rain. Flooding of the Farmington and Connecticut rivers. Oh the joy...
At least the snow is disappearing. I thought it would take until the first of May, with the record amount of snow we received this winter, but with 3 - 5 inches of rain, it's amazing how fast it can disappear. We were away up north for a week, and came home to mostly bare lawns. Wow. Our upper driveway had at least 3 feet of snow in it, and now it's mostly gravel. So there is definitely an upside to rain. And not being in a flood zone is very helpful too. :0)
Actually, rain is good for us, if we could just moderate it a bit, since we had a drought last summer. Our well would run dry if we used any more than absolutely necessary. I had to get creative for awhile to conserve and water my flowers, but it worked out ok. So we really do need the extra moisture, even though it's not exactly how we would have planned it.
My columbine and iris are coming up rapidly. The iris never dies off here during the winter like it did up in Maine. Their location on the sunny protected south side of the garage also helps. Perhaps I should have planted the lavender on that side...hmmm. My biggest lavender bush seems to have survived so far this winter. I have noticed that a more mature plant has a better chance than small younger ones. Perhaps I should be buying the gallon sized pots instead of the little 4"?
Signs of spring are popping up everywhere. Robins are singing, the male cardinals are courting their beloveds. And the bicycle lady went by yesterday in her vintage 1950's green bicycle with it's cute little white basket. Good for her! She may stand out among the racing cyclist crowd, but she's getting her exercise and doing her part for the environment. :0)
Which reminds me, shall I go to the gym today, or walk here along the road? Neither sounds appealing at the moment. Darn. Sure do wish exercising was more fun. Perhaps I should buy a 1950's vintage bicycle...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy New Year...belatedly!

Seems I'm getting a rather late start on my first post of the new year. Hmmm....that doesn't bode well, does it. Oh well. On we go.
We are hunkering down for our second major storm - the first being one being the day after Christmas, arriving on my parents coattails, as it were. They are calling for 12" - 16" and wind. I pulled of two pitchers and one bucket of water. It would be nice if we didn't lost power, but it's good to be prepared in this state of a zillion trees. I like trees, don't get me wrong. In fact, I am very fond of old trees especially, and love the variety, but they do tend to be a problem in stormy and windy situations. Not as bad since last year when they came down our road bush hogging. Now that was noisy, and a bit sad, but it had to be done. Power is a nice thing indeed! Now if we just had a woodstove...sigh.
I didn't make any resolutions this year. I have made resolutions for like 20 years, but, unfortunately, as I reviewed my journal, I failed to make most of them happen. I think my success rate is like 5%. Maybe less, I could be over optimistic here. :0)
I did go back to the gym though. After paying for a year in which I didn't go (my bad), it was certainly time. (I go to Planet Fitness, in case you are wondering if I spent scads of money on an expensive gym membership, ah, no. Wouldn't do that. :)) Still, it was rather shameful that I put things off as long as I did. And I am glad I am going back. The only thing is that I need an IPod.
I need my own music. I have the earphones to listen to one of 12 TV's they have on the ceiling, but to tell the truth, I'm just not really a talk shoe/news/shopping network kind of girl. Ok, maybe if Boyd's bears comes back on, or those beautiful Tiffany lamps...
I ended up watching HGTV yesterday. I do like that channel. However, it doesn't really promote that tempo you need to really get a good workout on the treadmill. In fact it can be rather distracting.
So, I have been doing some homework, and had really decided on a Zune player, until I gave the IPod a second look. It really does have more features, and not too much extra money. I am in love with Pandora (have you tried it?) and have been making some music purchases off of Amazon. That could end up being rather addicting!
AND...I have these great Joyce Meyer CD's that I can download onto my computer in MP3 format, and then upload onto the Zune or IPod and can then take to the gym with me! In fact, she also has podcasts on her website that I can also download. Cool, huh?!
So I could get a dual 'workout'. I can't wait to try it.
Other than that, I have slowly working the cookies, candy and other sugary treats out of the house from Christmas. My mom bought me TWO Crunchie bars from Canada. They are so good! But oh so bad. Basically spun sugar coated in chocolate. What more could you want?
Also, the Frerrero Rocher Rondo (did I spell that right?), which are mighty tasty, and the last of the Russell Stover chocolates. Not to mention the Dried Cherry Apricot White Chocolate Scones, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and Scotcheroos in the freezer. Sigh. At least the Cinnamon rolls are gone now. Thanks Dad! :0)
I bought a box of Candy Canes for 99 cents to put on the Christmas tree, and you know, they are pretty tasty! I sat here last night and went through 1/2 of one while reading my book. Better than chips, right?
Speaking of books (better leave off the food before I get hungry again!) I am reading the Lilian Jackson Braun series about 'The Cat Who...' (all her book start with that sentence and end with things like "saw Red, or played Post Office, etc.) A series about an ex crime reporter who ends up adopting 2 Siamese cats and the adventures they fall into, basically murder mysteries. The cats contribute clues in their own way - very catlike. Seems Ms. Braun has 2 Siamese, so her portrayal of them is very accurate, and fun. These are light murder mysteries, like M. C. Beaton's, another of my favorite authors. I am sure enjoying my local library. Too bad I stayed away from it for so long.
Oh, which reminds me, I am going to try out audio books from my libary which you can download online. That might be an option for my Zune or IPod if I get bored and need a change.

Well. For a girl who thinks some electronics are just evil, I am planning on getting some enjoyment from them! Ha! Like most everything in life, I guess the key is moderation, right?
Well, that's it for the food and literary column today. I wish you a prosperous and blessed 2011. :0)