Monday, June 09, 2014

On a lighter note

If I recall correctly, my paternal grandparents had a single lightbulb hanging over their kitchen table.

There the extended family would gather.  When the bugs would drive us off the porch we would sit around that table under the solitary light for a bowl of ice cream (sometimes homemade!) with rhubarb pie.

I have wondeful memories of us congregating where light was available, as opposed to scattering to far flung corners of the house each with our own separate personal devices.

I reflected (pun intended) on that as we looked at light fixtures earlier today. We were sent home with four catalogs, averaging 600 pages in each book.  

We need to pick out task lighting, pendant lighting, kitchen lighting, bathroom lighting.  Do we prefer clear, amber, or frosted glass; brushed nickel, chrome, burnished bronze?  Globes pointed up or down?
Modern, traditional, vintage, arts and crafts, transitional?

Yikes.  So many choices.

And don't get me started on refrigerators.  Right now, I would gladly use an icebox.  We certainly had plenty of ice available this past winter.

Oh well. Modern life is more complicated. Back to the catalogs.

We have a lot of decisions to make.  

My grandma? Grandma knew how to shed light on the subject.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Homeward bound

After six months of house hunting; not including two years of looking on line, we are finally under contract to buy a home.
Picture taken prior to grass greening up and trees leafing out- it looks much better now!

If all goes well, we will be closing five weeks from today!  Moving day won't be until September.

We will be doing some cosmetic work to update the interior.  And when I say update, I don't mean trendy or expensive.  I mean freshened up.  New flooring; new paint; new shades.

My goal and my heart's desire is that our home will be a welcoming place to family and friends.  Cozy, comfortable, uncluttered.

The next few several weeks will be busy as we make choices, begin to pack (again!), make a trip to Tennessee with one of my sisters, and have all the kids and grands come and visit.  

I will try to be better about chronicling the journey here.  Writing it down helps me process and make decisions.  And it will be fun to look back later on the chaos.  :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day visitor

One of the more elusive residents showed up very, very near our back patio last night.

The door was open since it was a gorgeous day yesterday.  All that stood between me and Mr. Bear was a flimsy screen door.  He looked at me, I looked at him.  Then I get my ipad.  Never thinking to close the glass door.  The last few slices of pizza were on the kitchen counter and how was I to know that isn't what attracted him in the first place?  He could have easily bashed the door in and helped himself.

I returned wth the ipad (it was much closer than my camera) and went outside to stalk him.  I did look around a few times to see if he had any company.  He didn't.  Strangely, I felt no fear.  Just curiousity.  And we all know what that does to cats....

I called two of our condo neighbors to tell them to look out their patio windows.  Mr. Bear tore down a bird feeder and just generally hung out here until the neighbor in the other end condo started hollering at him.

Then he loped off into the woods.

It was so cool.  I could *bearly* contain my excitement.

Oh, and by the way?  We live in town.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014


I woke up early this morning and walked to the store, about a three mile round trip.  It was not snowing.  :). Carried home about 15 pounds of groceries.  #feelingstrong

Took out the garbage, made my bed, had my devotions, showered, emptied the dishwasher.  All before 7:30.  #feelingproductiveandmaybealittlesmug

This month is wonderfully busy with new, challenging, familiar and exciting events. #feelinghopeful

But most of all?  #feelingblessed

Monday, May 05, 2014

10 months of winter and two months of tough sledding

There is no point in posting a picture of today's snowfall, today being May 5.  Yes, I said May.

No one in these here parts needs a visual of what is now coating the grass outside.

But we northerners take a perverse delight in this 'hardship'.  For it gives us future bragging rights:

"You think your weather is bad?  We've had snow on May 5th.  MAY!"

It makes us feel tough.   

Now yesterday was a walk in the park.  Literally.  Pat and I had a leisurely stroll through the park across the road, down by the river. It was a gorgeous day.

 Later I heard of a friend who had been outside with her dog.  After their outside adventures, they picked 20 ticks off the dog.

Did a tick check before bed last night.  All clear.

If it ain't ticks, it's snow.  Yep, we are that tough.

Friday, May 02, 2014

More from Dad

Personal hygiene?  Dad remembers a lot less about that than the power system, but I suppose that is typical of 10 year old boys. 

They would wash their faces and hands at the kitchen sink. They would brush their teeth with either salt or baking soda - because it was cheaper and because Grandma thought it did a better job.

My grandma was a tightwad jedi master - I'm sure she cut all the kids' hair.

They got indoor plumbing around the time they got connected to the grid, but he does remember his uncle carrying a tub - 'heavier than any man should carry' on his back up to the second floor. Dad vaguely remembers carrying water up to that.

Several years ago we visited a historical home of about the same period. A metal bucket that had several holes punched in it was suspended over the tub for 'a shower'.

Grandpa was a well driller by trade. He also built their house and dug the well by hand.

Grandpa was born in 1895. He quit school after the fourth grade and went to work. He had an ox and a cart and he would haul gravel to various building sites - particularly bridge constructions. Can you imagine a 10 year old doing that today?

My auntwas disabled. She didn't go to school, but took care of all the family's mending/sewing and was a great help to Grandma in the kitchen. One day she told Grandpa, "I don't mind the fact that I'm crippled, but I don't want to be stupid." Grandpa went right out and hired a tutor, a woman who came to the house several times a week to tutor Aunt D.

The folks had a hand pump in the kitchen in order to get water up to the sink. They hauled water to the second floor. And every bedroom had a chamber pot under the bed.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dad was born in 1929, the very beginning of the Depression. Some of his reminiscences follow:

Rural electrification was not completed in his area (90 miles outside of NYC) until 1939.
Prior to that point, power was generated by an engine bolted to an cement block in the cellar. The engine was started with gas (crank engine), but run on kerosene, which cost $.05 at the time.

The engine powered sixteen 32 volt batteries. They did not need to use the generator every day. The following appliances were powered by the battery array:
Food mixer
Wringer washer
Curling iron
Lights (floor, table and ceiling)
Bench grinder (out in the shop)


A woodstove in the living room
A wood cookstove in the kitchen
Hot water heat – radiators in all the bedrooms

Food and food storage

Each winter, blocks of ice were cut from one of the nearby lakes and hauled to the ice house. Blocks were stacked – with layers of sawdust between for insulation.
There was no refrigerator, but an icebox, filled periodically with a block of ice from the ice house.

Food was dehydrated (solar), canned (water bath or oven –Grandma was afraid to use a pressure canner), smoked, fermented or pickled. Eggs were stored in glassine. These eggs were only used in baking.


The wringer washer was in the cellar. Grandma used this for a family of 7. It was still in use as late as the mid 1960’s, because I remember Mom putting a pair of my brother’s rubber pants through the wringer and hearing a loud pop.

Grandma hung laundry on the outside line in the summer, in the cellar during the winter. My dad and uncle bought her an electric dryer sometime in the 70’s. As far as Dad knew, she never used it. It sat on the cement block where the generator once stood.


A hand pump brought water to the kitchen sink. The well was in the cellar.
The outhouse was in use until 1939, when indoor plumbing was installed - one bathroom for 7.

I don’t know that my dad and aunts and uncle had lots of time for amusement. One aunt bought herself a radio with money she earned. My dad and his other sister bought a bike with their pooled money.
There wasn’t a lot of free time though. The kids worked hard at farm chores. They sold sweet corn to tourists from New York City. 100 ears of corn for $1.00!!!!
When I was a girl, some of our leisure time was spent gathering food – corn, tomatoes, potatoes…Food was always best at Grandma’s – fresh and local!