Friday, December 31, 2010

On the Seventh Day of Chirstmas...

I did too much.

I had been very good to my feet during my first two weeks after surgery. These past three days or so, I've been testing them. They failed. I am back on the couch, and not minding at all, thank you.

Before I learned my lesson yesterday, I did some picking up in our basement. That's a no-no right there, walking down the stairs. Then I canned some turkey broth.




One of my traditional Christmas Day activities is to make turkey broth. When we clean up the kitchen, someone picks the turkey carcass. It's just 5 minutes more work to drop that puppy into a stockpot, add some veggies, and set it to simmer. This year, I made it even easier. I put all the ingredients into my covered roaster and left in a 225 degree oven overnight. The house smelled great in the morning, and all we had to do was turn off the oven, wait a few hours, strain the broth, and stick it in the frig. Once the fat had come to the top and solidified in the cold frig, we pulled it off to make an almost fat-free broth. We used it to make turkey soup and turkey pie (two of which went into the freezer) then had about 6 quarts left to can. One went back in the frig, and these five went into the canner. I'll use them throughout the cooler months to make quick suppers and lunches. And one can will stay in the cupboard so that, next Christmas, when I make stuffing, I can use turkey broth instead of chicken!

Although I was on my feet only about 20 minutes while doing the canning, and up and down enough during the day so that my "vertical time" was about 2 hours, total, my feet were pretty painful last night. Ibuprofen and sleep cure many things, though, and I woke up this morning ready to go again. We had to do some grocery shopping, as our cupboards were bare, except for random ingredients. But, never fear; I used a wheelchair. My feet feel pretty good, even after almost two hours in the store!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

On the Sixth Day of Christmas

We went to the 4H Christmas party.

But first, my family left me alone in the morning. They went off to work and play practice, and I stayed home for a few quiet hours. I spent them watching Precious, a disturbing film. Why I spent quiet time being disturbed is...disturbing itself. Still, I would recommend this film for adults who have made sure no one under, oh, 18, can be watching or hearing it.

Later in the day, I joined my extended family for our weekly lunch out. We started this when Grandma lived with us. Now, even though Grandma and Mom are gone, we can't give up the fun of getting together and spending an hour or more eating and catching up.

And, last night, we finally hit that 4H Christmas party. It's a yearly potluck in a local church's gym. It usually ends up with clusters of adults sitting together and catching up, teens playing cards, and kids of all ages playing basketball at one end of the gym. Last night we talked about riveting things; the price of corn, politics and the government as they affect small farmers, and how good the cherry/oatmeal pie was. That reminds me. I forgot to hunt down the maker of that and ask for the recipe. Durn.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On the Fifth Day of Christmas...

I woke up very, very early to find that someone had left the lights on on the Christmas tree when we went to bed.



In the quiet of the dark, early morning, it looked so pretty. I wanted to stay and just look at it...but I went back to bed.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...

I went SHOPPING!

This was the fun kind of shopping, where I take Christmas gift money and spend it on things I'd like, but somehow never get around to getting.

I bought a new snowman. I have a shelf above my kitchen sink, where I put seasonal decorations. For winter, I use snowmen. Some of my snowmen had seen better days, so I retired them last year. This guy



is one of the replacements. Notice he's a farmer? And you can see our red barn there, on his tummy.

I bought some sewing things. A seam ripper, (those doggone things are always disappearing) some fabric-marking pens, and a nifty little contraption that lets me measure the hem length on my newly-made skirts while I wear them. A little attachment puffs marking chalk onto the skirt at whichever level I set for it. This is not something I would probably have bought for myself, and I am really grateful for the gift of being able to do so.

Oh, and a yoga DVD.




I like me some yoga, but I'm too cheap to actually pay for a class. So I have a few videos, and they're really helpful.

I stopped into Barnes and Noble, too, but I was disappointed. They didn't have what I was looking for. They could have ordered it, and they told me I could also try their online store. But I thought, "All these books, and none are the ones I want?" Guess my taste in books is too odd.

I overdid the walking thing today, and my feet are letting me know about it! They hurt, and I am back on the couch for the night. Oh, well, the shopping was fun. And I have some cash left over, so I'll get to do it again!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

On the Third Day of Christmas...

I will head over to the doctor's office in a bit for a checkup of my feet.

I am hoping he will let me lose the Stormtrooper boots.



It's not that I don't like them. Oh, yeah, I can really rock the Stormtrooper boots. I'm stylin'.

They're not an easy technology for me. They have inflatable supports on all sides. The level of inflation seems to vary during the day, no matter how carefully I inflate them in the morning. So I'll put my feet into comfortable Stormtrooper boots in the morning, and then feel my squished feet going numb in the evening. Or they lose air, and I stand up to find no support at all. They have Velcro, which isn't as carefree as the inventor had hoped. Everyone knows when I put these puppies on, and the Velcro sticks to all kinds of things that have nothing to do with the boots. I have to do this at least once in the middle of the night. And, often, the Velcro on one has stuck to the Velcro on the other, so I'm disentangling things in the dark. -whine-

They're heavy. And the toes are open, so, when I've had to go out in the snow, I have to be especially careful, because the overriding concern is do not get the dressings wet. It's quite a sight when I come in and have to blow dry the Boots. But they do have amazing traction. I'm like a tank. Well, my feet are.

I bet John wishes he cold handle my whining like Darth Vader handled whining.


Update: Four more weeks in the Stormtrooper/Robomom boots. -pout- No driving until then. But the Ace wraps are gone, and I can shower!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

On The Second Day of Christmas...

I see trouble coming.

On the First Day of Christmas...

We woke up. Well, most of us did.



We had things to do, after all. Family and friends were coming for Christmas dinner. There was a turkey to stuff.



There were treats to set out. Some of us wanted to start before the company came. We did.



There were rooms to tidy, tables and flowers to arrange, and candles to light. Mary tried using The Force

video

but was, I must say, unsuccessful.

When family had gathered, important business was accomplished. Gifts were sorted and distributed. And then opened.

Ethan was given a lovely gift in this pretty bag lined with camo tissue. If I told you his sister did this, would you be surprised?



Inside was his favorite drink...



But he reciprocated by gifting his sister with a...knife wrench. Some of you might recognize where it comes from, but, for those who don't..



Grandpa Peterman gifted all the kids with tool kits. Matthew's held a flashlight, which turned out to be a great present for Jip!

video

After presents, we feasted.




A Peterman Pastured Turkey was consumed. Well, not really. He was 35 pounds, after all, so we didn't consume the whole thing! And, no, I don't know why there is a round shape cut out of the breast skin. That happened at the processor's. I suspect they tested the birds for something; but why, I ask, did they have to cut a hole in the biggest one? Ah, well.

We also had stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, squash, corn, veggies and dip, shrimps, gravy, sour cream salad and rolls.

-burp-

After the feast, and some "down time," dessert happened. We had key lime pies, pecan pie, fudge, cake, and many, many cookies. About half of the cookies contained Jack Daniels. I made sure they didn't go home. After all, open liquor in the car is against the law in Illinois, some of the cookies were topped with uncooked, liquor-laced frosting, and, although I know that's not the same as an opened bottle, well, you just don't want to take any chances.

At the end of the day, we were tired.




The house was no longer tidy.





Getting the big stuff taken care of, but leaving some of the mess for today, we got into jammies



and hit the hay.



Well, some of us did. Some of us were having too much fun in our new hat and jammies.



But, eventually, family went home, things quieted down, and we really did hit the hay.

That's about when the cat finally woke up...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

Come and see what God has done for us!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

O Holy Night: Update

My favorite hymn for Christmas Eve. I remember it was also my mom's. I love finding different versions, and I haven't seen this one before.


So then I read the comments section, and my good friend Round, Unvarnish'd Tale shared a link to her congregation's Christmas Lessons and Carols Service. A much better version of this song than the one I included initially is available at that link.

Merry Christmas...from Afghanistan

I am often asked how I "can let" my kids be in the military. This question comes from well-meaning supporters of the war, who, nonetheless, worry about the young men and women sent far from home to work and maybe die in our behalf. I am also asked this by those who look with disdain upon our military as bloodthirsty glory hounds.

Although outside my house is a beautiful, peaceful snowfall and God's creation is singing soft carols in anticipation of the feast, the plain fact is that the feast is made necessary by the dark evil that lives within us all. Sin and its effects on this world, sickness, war, death, and all the rest, not only requested but required that an atonement be made. That atonement began with the birth of a baby, continued with the gory death of a young man, and ended with his shocking resurrection. I know, I know, it sounds more like Easter, but, much like we probably wouldn't have had World War II without World War I, we wouldn't have Easter joy without Christmas blessings.

So, quoting DBS, I wish for you and yours a sweet remembrance of the deeper reasons for the season. Please take time to remember those, whether you're grateful or not, who do hard work in your name, all over the globe. This is not the hymn I thought I'd be posting this morning, but it's definitely worth your time. Thanks to my friend, Kay Maiwald, for yet another special offering.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

To Write, or Not To Write...

I'm talking about a family Christmas letter.

Years ago, I received 2 or 3. I like them. I like hearing what my friends are up to, even if (maybe especially if) they are friends I don't see very often. Others may complain about the bragging, the whining, the my-kid-is-better-than-your-kid-ness of those things, but I don't mind. I call it an education into the humanity of us all.

Well, years ago, I wrote personal notes inside my Christmas cards. Although I liked those Christmas letters, I hadn't yet gotten myself to the point where I could write one. Our move to the country, and the ensuing chaos that came along with kids in three different schools, critters in various stages of growth, a house to maintain and the work of just plain drawing breath, I decided I would write one.

The reviews, meaning comments from friends during the next year, were surprisingly positive. They liked me! They really liked me! This encouraged me, and I have spent many falls since then writing a concise rundown of each year.

About 5 years ago. for whatever reason, I got really busy and didn't get a Christmas letter done. I sent one out shortly after New Year's, but got many teasing comments from those same friends about my "Belated Christmas greetings." Hey, folks, news flash. While modern secular culture doesn't get it, Christmas is a season which begins on December 25, and ends on January 6. So, in that light, a card sent on January 2 is still a Christmas card.

But, I suppose, sending them out around the 4th of July, which I have considered, would be pushing it.

Two years ago, I returned to writing notes inside the Christmas cards. Some of what I wrote was a "stock" paragraph reviewing the year. The rest was personal stuff that the recipient would understand. But it took me more time than I had last year, so, no cards last year.

Now that I am (supposed to be) confined to my sofa for a few weeks, it should be easy-peasy for me to get my Christmas cards done this year. But...It's been tough, finding time. In fact, I haven't yet. So, if you get a card from me, and you get it after New Year's, keep in mind that, in my little world, Christmas begins on December 25 and ends January 6. 'K?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snow!

Another pile of global warming is outside my front window. Snow is always one of those double-edged swords. I love it. I love playing in it, looking at it, I love all the paraphernalia. The hats, and mittens, the boots, the hot chocolate (especially the hot chocolate!) the sleds, I love it all! (Except maybe skis. Never could handle those buggers.)

But, of course, there's a downside. Someone's gotta get all that white stuff out of the way so you can drive to the sled hill, to the store to buy chocolate, and, yes, I suppose, to work. Now, our Someone, Farmer John, grew up in the UP, where snowfall, apparently, isn't measured until it's in the double digits. He asserts that we don't get enough snow here to worry about clearing it. But I wonder, after 30+ years of living "here in the South," why he hasn't picked up on the different quality of our snow? It's usually wet and heavy, as opposed to the soft, powdery stuff he speaks of. So clearing it can be a bit of a problem.

We have a snowblower. It's a decent one, but it has it's issues. Farmer John hasn't always dealt with those issues in a timely manner, citing our "lack of measurable snowfall" as reason to not stress about rebuilding a snowblower carburetor. Instead, he leaves that up to his minions, who shovel and pile and sometimes write uncomplimentary blog posts about him.

But the Main Minion is down and out for about 6 weeks. The Stormtrooper boots aren't made for the snow, sadly, and so I worried about how to get this job done today.

Enter Desi, our neighbor across the street. Although we seldom talk to our neighbors, the country being that way, sometimes, he will always show up after (what we call) a measurable snowfall with his trusty Bobcat. In minutes, our driveway is cleared. It saves the minions hours of shoveling and cussing. And it's something we're very, very thankful for. Later this evening, I'll have John take him a Peterman Pastured Turkey in thanks. And maybe an adult beverage...

Monday, December 20, 2010

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

My favorite Advent hymn.



Thanks to my friend, Kay Maiwald, for pointing out this version.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

It's a cold but sunny day on the farm today. It's about 14 degrees, and we're headed all the way up to 19. Some flurries are expected, but there's not a cloud in the sky, so, we'll see.

We've been adopted by a new kitty. Burr is a young female, with a lovely black coat, a bob tail and a notched ear. Mary was able to live-trap her yesterday, so she went in for a rabies shot, a deworming and as much of a checkup as you can do on a feral cat! It was enough to ascertain that she's female, which we had guessed. It's likely that the notched ear means she was trapped before, spayed, and then released as part of a TNR program. She was uncooperative enough that it was impossible to find a spaying scar, but she is at least feline-leukemia-negative and vaccinated against that, distemper and rabies. I can let Mary pet her now! We're really happy to have her. Our outside cat, Dinah, is getting old enough that she likes to hunker down for the winter. Burr has moved into what used to be rat tunnels under our chicken house, so that should move them on to other, less feline-infested fields! She seems to be a decent hunter, and not totally unfriendly. She lets Mary touch her, and follows Mary around during chores, "talking" to keep her company. She must have had some human contact in the past. I just hope we haven't been adopted by someone's beloved kitty!

(I know some will wonder about taking a feral cat to the vet. I don't feel comfortable having animals on our farm like cats or dogs that aren't protected against, at the very least, rabies. That's just the kinda farmer I am. While she was there, it wasn't that much more money to have her tested and vaccinated for feline leukemia and distemper. In the future, I'll do those shots myself.)

Today Farmer John headed off for paying work, and Mary is waiting on her invalid mother. We are watching movies and playing in the cyberworld. Some laundry will be done, and I'll be teaching her to make homemade pizza later this afternoon. I'd like to do some Christmas shopping, meaning pick out some things and send minions to pick them up. We'll see how that plays out!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Doctor Visit

Headed in this morning to see how things are. This is how they look.



The pain has been infrequent and manageable. There is far less swelling than they're used to seeing, so I guess sitting on my...couch has been a good idea. I see him again in 10 days, and I'll have the Stormtrooper boots for at least 6 weeks. And I plan to be a good patient, so I have my feet in tip-top shape when I need them in May for Europe.

You can see the surgeon's initials on my feet. I told him that my mother always told me not to write on myself with marker, but he told me that doctors are allowed. Yeah, right!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Day After

Well, bunion surgery completed. Bunion surgery recovery begun...

So far, so good. Had some really strange dreams last night, no doubt helped along by the drugs they had given me. The pain is far less than I was led to expect. It started last night, and having been told that my doctor "really numbs up his patients," I was nervous. It wasn't bad, but I was concerned that I was still numb and would hurt more as time went on. But, this morning, I was able to walk around pretty well. The boots help; they're solid, but have rocker bottoms to help with a natural gait. On the other hand, sometimes I felt like one of those punching clowns. Specifically, like I was going to rock backwards and land on my back! But I think I've gotten used to it.

I've spent today sitting/lying on the sofa, letting my minions get me what I need. Mary has been a great help. John, too. Poor guy. He got about 3 hours of sleep last night, because of me, and then headed out for a full day of work. Mary's got some sinus crud, and complained a bit about going out in the cold for the horses. But she's also been doing laundry and making me coffee and lunch. And she and I watched a chick flick this afternoon.

Tomorrow I'll go to the doc and see them unwrapped for the first time. Want pictures? I'll leave it up to you!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Ride in the Country

This morning we woke at dark thirty to take a ride in the country.

But first, we had to cuss and swear because the alarm, which should have been set for 5:30am, was set for 5:30PM. So we woke up at 6:45am, more than an hour late.

Then we had to cuss and swear because middle-aged bones and muscles are not excited about getting out of a nice, warm, flannel-sheeted bed into 66 degree air to dress for 6-8 degree air.

Then we had to cuss and swear because we realized we could not drive the truck into the backyard, due to snow.

Then we cussed and swore some more as we caught and carried 25 chickens from their huts to the back of the pickup. And some more, as they flapped their chubby little wings in protest. One caught me right good on the ear. I swore.

Guess what we did when we realized we'd made a wrong turn?

And when we realized that the roads we found ourselves on were still nasty from this weekends snowpocalypse?

Yes, we cussed and swore when we realized that we were later...and later...and later...than we planned, which was arranged around the schedule of our chicken butcher, who is NOT a nice man when people show up on time, much less late. Something about killing hundreds of flapping, living beings makes him grouchy on Kill Day.

But, you know, I've never heard him cuss and swear.

In the end, though, our chickens were delivered, and dispatched. Tomorrow, while I slumber in an operating room, our (dead) chickens will be picked up by our youngest son and deposited in our freezer.

I imagine he'll cuss and swear about something. He has such good role models!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Iowa

Still in Iowa. The weather today looks more like March than December, although the potential exists to be snowed in here. Rain is falling, but it's beginning to be mixed with sloshy "wintry mix," and snow is to follow later this evening.

This week on the farm was frustrating. I mentioned preparations for my foot surgery. Among those included getting the animals to a point where 1 person can take care of them in less than half an hour morning and evening. It's not working. My farm crew, which works so well on other peoples' farms and ranches, is not as enthusiastic about our own. Our place is in constant disarray, which, usually aggravating, is now anxiety-producing. How will someone else find what is needed at the right time? Well, that will be their problem. I'll be communing with Netflix and travel websites, not the critters.

The house itself is in good shape; tidy and organized, with one or two exceptions. I'll clear those up on Monday. I need Tuesday for hunting and gathering, and, then, we'll be good to go, meaning good for me to be ensconced on the couch. I'll have a servant and a service bell. Yay, me!!

But, for today, that is all miles and days away. Today I get to see my favorite chapter of the Narnia Chronicles on the wide screen! Reepicheep, Aslan and Caspian...three of my favorite guys!! Lunch with another cousin, a Bourne movie tonight, German home cooking and good friends. Ahhh......

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nothing to do.....

We left home last night for a 3 1/2 hour drive. We got here (Iowa City) 7 hours later...

It would have helped us to not have had to drive through a snowstorm during the first third of our trip. It would have helped us if someone had remembered his meds and not made us stop in a strange pharmacy for an hour, getting them filled. It would have helped us if we had eaten before we left. Scratch that; road food and the break for road food are a pleasant part of our road trips.

Anyway, we made it here safely. John is off at a meeting in Cedar Rapids. Our cousins are at school and work for the day. Mary is still sleeping. And I am sitting on the sofa at 9:30am, drinking coffee, playing on the computer...with nothing to do!! Pity.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Busy Week

I always feel silly saying that my week has been busy. After all, isn't every family's week busy? You can plan and plan, but, with several personalities and agendas, all plans have to contain the caveat, "Unless..."

This week I've been getting busy to do nothing. Next week I am having minor surgery (bunions, be gone!) and won't be able to do much of anything for at least 2 weeks. So I've been cleaning, organizing and planning. Some aspects of this planning have NO room for "Unless," because I just plain won't be able to!

Tonight we head to Iowa City to spend the weekend with some extended family members who are also close friends. It'll hopefully be a relaxing way to prepare for next week. Unless....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ahhh.....Another peaceful, relaxing weekend.

Bwahahahhahahahaha!!!

It started with snow. Finally, a measurable snowfall. Only about 4", but enough to get the kids outside for an afternoon, enough to have to shovel off the cars, enough to make farm chores just a bit more complicated.

Then comes the cold. The high pressure, low pressure, whatever (I was never really good at meteorology) that comes after a snowstorm brings with it wind and low temperatures. Today's HIGH will be close to 18F. Right now it's 6F. Wind chills should bring us down below 0F. Some people would tell us that the horses should be in all day, but they're not. That's why they have fur coats, after all.

Miss Mary performed in our church's Boar's Head Festival this weekend. Her experiences remind me why we homeschool...and that's all I'm gonna say about that!! We also hosted a friend from Wisconsin, who wanted to see the Festival in hopes of bringing one to her congregation.

And today we're back to normal...whatever that is. Up at 7:30, first load of laundry in and critters fed before breakfast, computer time and cleaning/organizing to follow. A day in the life!!