Monday, January 23, 2012

The Loft

Have I ever shown you the neat little loft we have in our bedroom?
It's small, but it's got great light from the skylight.

It was horribly dirty and dusty when we moved in, and the carpet reeked from a decade of dust and cigarette smoke, so I pulled up the carpet a few months ago and the kids helped me clean the floor and railings thoroughly.

We've been using the loft for storage, partly because it was so dirty, but mostly because the only way to get to it was through the pull-down ladder to the attic at the other end of the house.

See? There's a space for a ladder at one end,
but no ladder.

That's where my oh-so-handy husband came in. I showed him the Jefferson ladder I wanted, and he built it.
Now, thanks to this man and his carpentry skills,
I can start working on transforming the loft from storage space into living space!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Survival Essentials: January 2012 Edition

Survival Essential #1: Coffee

We learned that it is possible to grind coffee beans with a wooden spoon. Then when the water finally boils on the wood stove, our little French Press provides us each with a decent cup (or two) of coffee.

Survival Essential #2: Food

On Wednesday, the day before the power went out, I cooked up two huge batches of beans to freeze for future use.
They warmed up nicely in a big cast iron pot on the wood stove for dinner Thursday and Friday nights. (It will be a while before we're ready to have beans again!)

We learned that pancakes cooked on the grill are especially yummy.
(So are fried eggs and pesto-encrusted salmon!)
(But not all at the same time, of course.)

Survival Essential #3: Water

Remember the hand-pump we had installed on our well this summer?

Mike pumped lots of water.
LOTS of water.

For washing dishes, flushing, cooking, and drinking.

Survival Essential #4: Candles

Once it got dark, we all curled up in blankets and quilts in the living room and read by candlelight.

Survival Essential #5: Laundry Tub

Sunday morning I finally gave in and did some laundry.
Some things just can't wait.

Survival Essential, Special Mention: Wood stove

The wood stove was the center of attention. It boiled water for coffee and tea, heated food, heated dish water, dried wet gloves and clothes, kept us warm, and even provided (some) light in the evenings.
I can't imagine these last few days without it.

And Then...

...the power went out.

For over 3 1/2 days.

Yeah. THAT was fun.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A (Snow) Day in the Life of Our Dog

It was a busy day for the dog!
There was a snow fort to play in,
snowballs to chase,
a hill to sled down,
...wait! What?!?...
OK, so he wasn't very fond of sledding, but he was great at checking on the sled-riders when they got to the bottom!
He also took Mike cross-country skiing, ran around with the kids for hours, and ate snow every chance he got.
He's exhausted!


Anya went sledding with her eyes closed:
Jaela and Isaak were still upright when they got to the bottom of the hill:
Macey got airborne:
And Jaela and Mike crashed on the last ride of the day!

Silly Kids II

Silly Kids

Catching snowflakes in her mouth

A Navy Seal creeping up on the enemy position

Ruger, come!

Throwing snowballs for Ruger to catch

Trying out the grown-up-size skis

Snow Day

Eight inches and counting...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Lesson Learned

This past summer, I was introduced to G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories. I read them and loved them, so when I saw this book at our little local used bookstore last week, I snatched it up. I was not disappointed.
Until I got to the end, anyway. Most of the book was exactly what I expected...interesting, fun to read, humourous on occasion, and sometimes thought-provoking.
But then I finished the book, feeling a little lost and kind of disgruntled because in the end, it didn't make sense to me. I had loved most of the book, and I wanted to love all of it, so I tried re-reading the ending before I went to bed.
I was still confused.

I thought about the book for hours before I fell asleep, and I dreamed about it "all night", so the next morning I picked it up again and flipped it open to the back of the book. On the very last page, as a publisher's bonus in this paperback version I have, there was an excerpt from a 1936 newspaper article that Chesterton had written, and this section in particular caught my interest:
Having been thus prompted, I flipped back to the front of the book to (ahem) read the title page:
And now that I have discovered what this book professes to be, I can honestly say that yes, I've read G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, and I loved it!

The whole thing.

And from now on, the title page will be the first thing I read when starting a book.
(Thank you for the lesson, Mr. Chesterton!)

8 Pens, 1 Notebook, and a Stack o' Books

When my favorite black pen died, I could have bought just one to replace it. Instead I bought the colorful 10-pack, even though I didn't need any of the colors for anything special.

The leather-bound notebook was a Christmas gift a few years ago. It was buried in a box because I could find no worthy purpose for it.
The stack of books I want to read soon...ah, the books! I never need a reason to buy another book.
(Disclaimer: It just so happens, however, that three of the books in this stack were purchased under the expenditure category of "preview for future school use". Just so you know.)

I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but those pens have finally found a use of their own and the notebook now has a purpose, all because of books like those.

I've started what some call a Commonplace Book, which is simply a collection of note-worthy quotes that I have copied from the books I read. I use a different color pen for each book, partly for easier reference, but mostly just because it's fun!

I've noticed two things about keeping a Commonplace Book. One is that I read more slowly and deliberately (a hard thing for a natural speed-reader!), and often re-read passages as well, because I don't want to miss anything worth writing down. I have also noticed that the books that I've chosen to read since I started my Commonplace Book have (for the most part) been more challenging and more thought-provoking than books I've chosen in the past.

Which leads me to make a confession: I have not made a lot of exceptional "literature" choices in the past few years. In fact, much of what I've read over the last decade can hardly be called literature at all! (I have called it many things: "fluff", "mindless", "just for fun", "a quick read"...and now, honest with myself at last, I'll call it "junk".)

But that's behind me now. I've turned over a new leaf...of notebook paper.
In the back of my Commonplace Book, I've started a list (color-coordinated to match my quotes from each book, of course!) of the books I have read in 2012. There's only one "junk" books allowed.

Some of them may be short and/or easy to read, some may be borrowed from the kids' bookshelves, and some may be challenging to read or perhaps simply thought-provoking, but I am determined that they will all, for whatever reason they are chosen, be worth reading.