Archive for the ‘Domestic Chores’ category


June 10, 2019

Yep.  Going domestic on all of you, my readers.    Although I tend to be very interested in history, politics, patriotism, current  earthquakes and volcanoes,  cultural developments,   strange aerial phenomena,  sociological trends, pedagogy,  the power of the Fourth Estate =-  (i.e.  “the entertainment-news media), space science,  physics,  nature, botany, music  (no “modern music,”  nothing past 1825, please), my friends and family,  and  all resting on a bedrock of firm traditional Christian faith —

—  Oh, yes,  that’s why I say The Spruce Tunnel is a place for ‘random thoughts;”  sorry I don’t have any certain predictable  theme to employ here . . .

“Although” all that . . .  like any human creature who is free to live to his fullest, I do all that,  but I especially enjoy being a woman and feeling “all domestic.”   Hah!

Say  Anything

When Daughter and Grandson Cooper were here for a few days during the Memorial Day weekend,  we found time to play a board game called “Say Anything.”   You draw a card with four or five questions to choose from, read it out loud, and then the rest of the players write down what they think will be your most likely answer. . . .  wagering for points, etc., etc.

Hmmmm.    Can be very revealing.

Well, one time my question is “What do I think is the best thing about being a woman?”   An explosion like colorful confetti burst inside my brain“Everything!”    And my family knew me well, with their answers.   To play the game  I had to choose one, but all of them were correct:  wearing skirts (and other pretty clothes, I guess),   being a wife,  homemaker,  being a wife and mother and grandmother (that last set of three from Cooper).

It was a fun game to play, a good question to think about,  but it still reverberates in my memory, for some reason.    Made me think about all the possibilities.

I hope, if you’re a woman (in the Western world),  you have many happy answers.   The answers could actually make you happy.   (“Count your blessings.”)

And I know,  just know,  that the same could be said if you’re a man.    To be a man,  so strong and capable physically (or at least you could train yourself to be more and more “capable”),  to be protective of others around you,  to be a father (or brother or uncle or older cousin), to be a prime example of manliness and courage and constancy,  to lead the way in the exercise of your faith in God,  to provide for your household,  to know how to fix so many things,  to  . . .  I don’t ‘know, all the other advantages . .  .



Okay,  so I like baking pies.


rhubarb pie

My Rhubarb Pie

  The recipe and the nutritional benefits:


This is called Peoria Rhubarb Cream Pie:

Preheat:  400 degree oven.
Ingredients for a single-crust pie (crust):

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
3 – 4 tablespoons cold water


(The usual way:  stir the first three ingredients all together in a bowl until it resembles “coarse crumbs,”   then sprinkle in the cold water.   Ice cold water is best, and I certainly use 4 or more tablespoons of water.)   Form into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, roll it out into a circle that’s going to fit your pie plate.  Flute the edges.


Ingredients for filling:

4 cups sliced fresh rhubarb*   (or thawed and drained frozen sliced rhubarb)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg  (you’ll scarcely taste the nutmeg)
Then mix in 3 slightly beaten eggs.

Ingredients for streusel topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter   (cold is best, but room temperature butter is quicker.)

Mix all together until coarse crumbs are formed.   I use a fork, but a pastry cutter or your fingers work pretty well too.

I assume you know how to assemble these three components of the pie.

Cover the edges with aluminum foil.   I don’t usually, but I’m glad I did this time.

Bake for twenty minutes.

Remove the foil, and bake for another twenty or so minutes.

And that’s what you get!   A   delicious rhubarb pie!  Mild tasting,  no overwhelming tartness or bitterness.    Very thick.   (I probably used five cups of cut up rhubarb.)


Hope you enjoy!     (Of course,  just “full disclosure” for this modern world:   men bake too.)



. *    (Thank you, my recorder partner,  for fresh rhubarb from your garden!)



For those of you interested in health,  I discovered that rhubarb has far more healthy benefits than I could have imagined:

From    (removing the spaces, of course):

https://   http://www.

Nutritional Value:

One of the main reasons why people cultivate and eat rhubarb is for its astounding nutritional value. It is packed with minerals, vitamins, organic compounds, and other nutrients that make it ideal for keeping our bodies healthy. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, these precious components are dietary fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, B complex vitamins, calcium, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. In terms of organic compounds, the plant is a rich source of polyphenolic flavonoids like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Prevents Alzheimer’s:

A 2006 study published in the Brain Research Bulletin said that a rhubarb glucoside compound, rhaponticin, can protect the body against Alzheimer’s. In vitro results show the rhaponticin is positively linked to preventing the harmful effects of amyloid beta, which are peptides of 36-43 amino acids that are crucially involved in the formation of amyloid plaques found in the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
This compound also aids with blood sugar levels

Improves Bone Health:

Along with its role in protecting the brain from neural degeneration, vitamin K also promotes osteotropic activity, meaning that it stimulates bone growth and repair. Combined with the rich amount of calcium and other minerals found in rhubarb, the vegetable as a whole is a major player in bone protection.

Obviously high in fiber and allt he health enefits that produces…

Anti-cancer Properties:

According to the researchers from the National University of Singapore, anthraquinones from rhubarb possesses anti-cancer properties and could have therapeutic potential. It is a good source of beta-carotene and other polyphenolic compounds like lutein and zeaxanthin which act in a similar way to vitamin A, protecting the skin and eyes from the effects of free radicals. A decent amount of antioxidants in your diet can help avoid premature aging, cataracts, macular degeneration, and wrinkles.
. . .  Copper and iron, stimulate new red blood cells, increasing the oxygenation in the body




January 8, 2019

Had no “dog in that fight,”  Clemson vs. Alabama,  so I’m okay with the outcome.   I’ll listen to the Truckers debate it all night on the radio.  I did have more free time (away from football ) this weekend, a big weekend in Christendom, but I’m behind in my reporting on that. . . .  Next post.

Meanwhile . . .   I have been busy.    And not unmindful of this weekend of Epiphany, which apparently brought  out in me an urge to “clean.”

silhouette three wisemen at manger

I cleaned everything I could.     Took care of mailing mail, packing up packages;    getting rid of old holiday food, bringing in new food;  doing the guest laundry and making up the beds;    organizing library books, bringing books back, bringing new reading projects home . . .   Even  doing special, long-put-off projects —

f floor

Yes,  scrubbing the grout.   I have a big kitchen floor, new tile with lots of grout.  Light colored grout.    And a whole big foyer of ceramic tile.  Light colored tile – with  lots of grout.

Which is light-colored once again.   Ugh.

And as I cleaned and scrubbed and made the grout look new again,  I had lots of time to think.   Philosophically,  as my habit is.    As “muddied up” as my grout looked,  so did my mind feel “muddied up” and a bit muddled.   Things were no longer “light.”  Things in my mind were rather tangled and . . .  some things were wrong.

As I worked on the floors, I understood it was time to work on my inner self too  — time, that is, to go to Confession.

Because Epiphany was approaching.    We all know that’s when we “think about” the Three Wise Men.   “Three,”  by tradition, from somewhere in “the east.”    They had studied for a long time their own histories and prophecies, and then understood, these particular students of prophecy,  that the time was Right.   The  King had been born, and they had to travel to a town in Palestine to pay homage to Him.

They’re called three “kings.”     Three kings of the Orient.    They certainly worked in royal circumstances,  in the royal households,  the royal libraries;  they’re pictured wearing “crowns”  and carrying royal gifts:

f king gifts

Gold,appropriate to give to a King;

Frankincense,  appropriate for a priest, as this Infant King would stand as priest between God and Mankind;

Myrrh . . .  a costly, bitter “perfume” – appropriate for burying a royal body.


I continued to clean the whole darn house that had gotten so dirty during the holidays!

fire and clean

Scrubbed the fireplace next.  As Son says,  the fire seems to burn better when you start with a clean fireplace.   Sometimes we can skip that step, a time or two,  but you get the best fire if you start out clean, and his comment gave me no excuse to skip this step of preparation.

The three Wise Men Kings certainly prepared for their journey to Bethlehem.

f wise men finery

Their minds were prepared by devoted study;  their hearts were ready to meet this One and Only, Long-Promised King;  and their bodies were clothed with their finest raiment, showing both self-respect and respect for the Holy Infant whom they will visit.

I’m not sure all my cleaning was done consciously to prepare for Epiphany,  but it all worked together.   I’m glad my house was clean for Sunday.    And a  good Confessor  can help out with some really needed insights and “clean up” some of the mud(dle)  that has been collecting on your soul for a while.   “Inside,” too, I was ready.

And then I had time to think in front of the fireplace  . . .

fire and foot

Being “clean”  doesn’t change the whole world,  doesn’t make things that much easier.   I had to continue to work hard to get that fire going.    I’m beginning to believe that all those  boxes used to start a fire are made from inflammable cardboard.  And the kindling –  it must have been wet from all our rain . . .

But as I was working hard trying to keep the fireplace lit,  I was thinking about those Wise Men who worked hard all their lives, studying,   preparing, traveling,  desiring that one necessary thing,  that glorious meeting with  Christ Jesus, the Infant King born in their Day.      It  would be worth it all.


fire going 380

Finally got a nice big fire going.

I had time to sit back and remember, now,  what I had heard in our sermon on the day of Epiphany.       It was remarked that the Wise Men  visited the Holy Infant with hearts prepared;  minds prepared;  best clothing prepared.        And we?  When we think about Jesus . . .  what have we prepared for meeting Him?      How do we come to Him?    I have no royal clothes.  I have no crown to wear.  I have no “wisdom.”   I’m not even very well studied.

I’m never going to be more than just “me.”

f drummer

If all I have is a drum to play,  then that’s all I can do, is visit Him and  play for Him.   And show Him I want to be there with Him.


It’s just not “January 6th” on the calendar and “let it go by.”     There’s an opportunity here.


July 18, 2017

It’s been a l o n g day, and I want to go to bed.   Sort of.

I often say my body is manic-depressive.    Son gave me a good excuse today:


We haven’t had too many sunspots lately  (not many in the past decade or so!  We’re in a period of cooling which often accompanies a time of fewer sunspots.) — but little ol’  #2665  let out a good CME this weekend,  sending a decent size geomagnetic storm our way.

The KP Index was interesting.  At least we got into the Red:

KP j

I didn’t see much effect on my radio reception and I didn’t see any auroras,  but Son said sometimes there’s an effect on . . . people.

Which might account for my sleeping nearly every hour of this past weekend.    I’d like to think it was the Sun that did it to me,  not being awake for nearly every hour of the preceding three days.      Manic-depressive;  up and down.  My body, not my emotions.  It’s kind of interesting.

I actually began my class this afternoon with the announcement of this geomagnetic storm.    Yes,  it’s a Bible study and we’re discussing the Apparitions of Fatima – (Visions of Hell and Wars and Famines and Persecutions, etc.   and the worldwide spread of a disastrous cultural marxism and economic socialism,  i.e.  the “Errors of Russia” )     But the announcement of a big CME seemed an appropriate way to keep my people grounded in the joys and wonders of this world –  or this solar system, anyway.

The life God gave us is  very, very big!

Because of my weekend-long snooze, I had to catch up on some routine things.  Like grocery shopping.   It can be fun –  but not exciting,  and when you get home there is a lot of dreary drudgery to do if you don’t buy any pre-packaged food.

Chop,  chop,  chop  . . .  separate and store:


If I don’t get these things ready to use in a salad –  I won’t use them in a salad.   And they will fold up, turn brown, and go away.     I remember as I was cutting and chopping how impatient I felt-  until I thought of how much I had to do –  how fortunate I was that I had so much to do . . . .

I have a whole garden full of vegetables that was already grown for me,  picked, packaged, and shipped to me.   All I have to do is take care of the vegetables.

And tonight.  As I said above,   I really want to go to bed now,  but I made another stop at my meat store.   Now I have to take good care of those things too:


Bone broth and soup –  bubbling away on my stove.   The longer they “bubble” the better they are.

Tomorrow,  I’ll be glad I made them tonight.   I can’t grumble about all the work I have to do after I go food shopping.   Thanks be to God who supplies this bounty.    Thank you to Hubbie who provided for his family so well.

I can’t grumble.   I must not grumble.

I’m just so tired.     And our world and all its bounty is so very big.

Deo gratias.





June 28, 2017

Time for a Brief Commercial Announcement!     I do that once in a while,  here,  when something really unexpectedly great turns up at my house.    I mean,  everyone has to buy new things once in a while,  and you expect it to be “good”  and new and working well, and you’re happy your old thing has been replaced.

But once in a while,  you just want to share something really outstanding.

Here it is:

lawn mower

One surprisingly wonderful  lawnmower!   Now, I love my push mower,  the old fashioned kind,  quiet, non-motorized,  efficient,  and . .  .  a good workout.

I liked having a gas-powered mower —

—    but every year there are the usual problems:  change spark plugs, which are trouble when you don’t;  tune-up,  trouble when you don’t;   gasoline issues;   NOISE;   and then eventually it gets so hard to start,  even when all the other things are taken care of.

A gas-powered lawnmower is so  . . .   last century!

21st Century —

Lawn box

Son arrived this morning at just the right time to open the box,  assemble it,  which took very little time and effort  ( I could have done it!);  charge the battery,  which took very little time;  and then try it out.

Lawn and John 270

(Sorry for the angle;   I was leaving, in a  hurry.)

Son gave it his imprimatur.    The lawnmower created a smooth, velvety green carpet.    It was easy to use,  intuitive,  and very quiet,  about like having a summer fan going.

They’ve been making these battery-operated  (cordless) lawnmowers for a while,  but I think they’ve got it right now.

Thank you to the company for making this.

Thank you to Son for trying it out and showing me how to use it.

Thank you to Hubbie for his  strict financial planning that made it possible for his “little old lady of a wife”    to purchase a new lawnmower when it was  needed.

Thank you,  Our Dear Lord,  for watching over me and letting it turn out this way.  If even the smallest sparrow is watched over in its little life and death,  then how much more are we loved and cared for –  in the smallest of details!

serveimage    Matthew 6:26  –   “Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them.   Are not you of much more value than they?”



God is the Source of Love.   God is Love Itself.


June 7, 2016

This must be Sissy Weather –

Sissy Pond

See any goldfish in there?     Nope.

I have more than three dozen so far this year, and they’ve all disappeared because it got a little chilly out there.   The big sissies.   They’ve been gone all day.

For my part,  I’ve been enjoying the cool winds all day.   I kept the windows open today, in 62 degree temperatures, so now my house is . . .  about 62 degrees inside.   It’s going to get down to the low 50s tonight – and I’m NOT turning on my furnace.    Quilts,   hot tea, and a stack of books are what cold houses are for!

We’ll see.

Sisssy herbs

The Weather Channel has not announced our three or four spells of “unseasonably:  cold weather this Spring  –  temperatures   “way below average.”    (They do, however,  enthusiastically announce wherever the temperatures are warmer than average.  Must be that that “climate change” is going in only one direction.)

I’ve been much more active in this cool weather.

I’m just getting started on my herb garden,  and I promised myself I’d take a year or two off of tomato growing.  Maybe the Great Midwestern Tomato Blight will be done by then.    I live around enough Amish farmers to make a trip to the Farmer’s Market a  better alternative.


All of my neighbors are busy trying to keep up with late Spring yard chores, so that the summer’s growth doesn’t become overwhelming.    Like these pretty flowers surrounding St. Joseph –

sissy invasion

I didn’t plant those flowers.    Every day they seem to get bigger and thicker.   Turns out they are an “invasive species”  and they are efficiently invading my space.   So rather than “growing” things  this year,  my summer will be busy “ungrowing”  things.

Sometimes we need to  stop growing things,  to “ungrow,”  to cut back, to weed out — oh, I think I’m talking other things:  my books,  my extra possessions that are “extra”  for no particular purpose,   all my photos,   and all the photos on my computer desktop waiting to be used . . .

I’ve just taken a kind of interlude from more serious issues.    I need the courage and prudence to say things in just the right way,  because our civilization is at stake.   It’s so easy to let it go,   to make no remarks,   for “good people to do nothing,”  —  to be a big Sissy.

Sissy white pond

Well.      That’s not our gray sky through the trees.   That’s still looking down at the pond, at the empty pond;  still nobody there.

The big sissies.


May 23, 2016

Spring might be nice where you are,  but here in The Spruce Tunnel,  it is proceeding with much difficulty and many demands.   Only a few more weeks of Spring left.   

What I’m doing here tonight is “backing up” into my own domestic affairs before I take on some  horrendous current issues.   I’m  pausing to take a deep breath, so to speak.  One last look at the home front before I do some serious Reporting Duty.

It’s beautiful, of course;   Spring things:


It’s just another . . .  tree.  Or maybe bush.    In full spring bloom.  I walk by  it three times a week on my way into the church office.   It reminds me to be aware of all the other trees and bushes that are flowering now,  each in its own time.  One week the whites;  next few days the pinks come out;  then those bright yellow bushes;  then the purples and the deep purples.  Lilacs are in bloom now too.

I’m not much of a botanist.

But this year –  in  addition to the “spring”  garage sale which took so much effort and strength these last two weeks;  in addition to all the repairmen who’ve had to come to the house (four? in the last week?);  in addition to “spring weather”  toppling trees onto our power lines, so that we’ve had three power outages in the last eight days;  in addition to mowing a thick, enthusiastic lawn – frequently ! – making the lawn mower seem extra heavy;   in addition to an abundance of hearty weeds that are on the attack;  and in addition to my bi-annual spring septic tank maintenance which requires shovel and muscles (only one of which I have enough of) . .  .  in addition to all that,  I get THIS:

Yellow rain

Yellow Rain!     It’s coming from the trees above and landing on my cars that have to be parked out in the driveway, temporarily.   I’m not even going to flatter those overhanging trees with their dainty spring-green leaves  looking so pretty by posting a photo of them.  You’d think they were, oh, so nice with fresh young leaves. . . .

But during these two weeks they’ve been dripping yellowish something on every object down below.

Yellow side view

Can’t see out of that windshield unless I scrub it first.

Yellow blue car top

That’s the roof of the blue car, also thickly coated.

So to weeding and shoveling and mowing,  add washing two cars.

Only a few more weeks of Spring left.   

Then comes my least favorite season of the year.


April 21, 2016

Springtime in the Far North – finally –  and with it comes some annual chores:


Kind of a messy overview of my annual spring task,  which is to add some kind of blue dye to the water to prevent an overgrowth of algae —  which uses up the oxygen that the fish need.   The dye prevents some of the  sunlight from penetrating the water, thus preventing the overgrowth growth of plants that shouldn’t be there.

I always worry about putting the dye into the home of the goldfish.   I know it mixes in after a while, and dilutes itself,   but I didn’t want to dump the dye onto the goldfish.       Little critters saw me at the edge of the pond and kept following me,  though.

It takes a while for the dye to spread out into the pond.    That’s not “sky,”  that’s just the reflection of the trees in the different colors.


But then the pond becomes a beautiful blue in the sunlight:



Blotchy blue at first,  then a nice Caribbean blue:



Blue  +  gold = green?    Every year I fear I’m going to change the color of the goldfish.   But it never happens.   They just swim around looking like exotic tropical fish in their  newly “decorated”  habitat:


They’re doing fine.

Deo gratias.

And thanks also for  this backyard pond which produces a sense of natural serenity for us here.

I’m the caretaker; the pond can be a lot of work,  but I don’t mind.


September 26, 2015

Okay,  just a few photos.   There are four things that need to be finished by the workmen,  but they’re coming back when they have the “parts”  —  that is common,  and I now have “places”  upon which to lay the debris of my life:  keys,  purse,   mail,  coffee cup,  half-eaten…things.

Here it is —


A bit lighter.   Still kind of pretty.

And the new sink,  the “business end”  of the kitchen —

 Now,    all the proportions and sizes are just a tiny bit “off”  from what they were before.   All the counter tops were raised by a half inch or maybe more.   The new sink is two inches deeper.   This makes me feel  small when I do things in here!   Takes some getting used to.    Nobody but the homemaker who spends much of her time in the kitchen would notice these things.

The biggest change?    As I said before,  my counter tops are white.   Were white.  A lot of family history happened on those white counter tops.    Now . . .    not quite white.   They’re kind of that pretty shade of tan in the center of the photo.  Matches the new wood at least.  Will I like it?    How long before I really, really like it?

Here is a bit of a miracle —

 Dishwasher.   Just a new dishwasher.    Not quite a necessity for me,   but I’ll use it and appreciate it.   That’s not the miracle.   The miracle happened a few hours after it was delivered to my kitchen — and the delivery men drove away.   Of course.  They are not the installers.

Son was going to be the installer.    I had to leave for class shortly after Son arrived. — He had full confidence that he could install the dishwasher and make all the connections.   (He’s done it before.)     I had full confidence in him too.

I’m glad I wasn’t home to see all the things that happened during the installation !!!     But Son was unshaken.

And for the first time since this whole new-kitchen process began,  when I came home and saw that new dishwasher ready to go,   I felt unexpectedly  happy and joyful, relaxed and relieved.

It’s over!

See the date?

 One day before my birthday.

I’m on my way to the airport now to pick up Cooper (and Daughter)  for a week-long visit.

 His bed is ready,  stegosaurus and all.

Deo gratias.


September 23, 2015

There are certain things you want to be able to count on.

And one of them is having your counter tops where they belong in your kitchen.    I can’t believe how many times I’ve tried to put down a cup or a glass,  car keys,  the mail,  whatever, just right down where they temporarily “belong” in everyday life.

And there have been on counter tops around her for a few days.

It’s getting downright ugly —


No place to put anything.   And most shocking of all —  no place to get things from!    Things just “aren’t there.”

I’ve got good guys working for me –

And outside too —

But sometimes I’m even locked out of my own kitchen, or what’s left of it  —

It’s amazing how many times I count on my kitchen being the way it always is.    How many times I walk through and need to just rinse off my hands.     No sink.      I just need to use my big kitchen scissors.   No drawer.     I need to just get a big glass of . . .     not there.

My kitchen will be patched up soon.      Looking like new, I think.   At least,  that’s the plan.    I’m not so good at “new,”   but I think it was past time for an update.

While my life has been disrupted,  I’ve had time to think of all the other things we count on in life,  but the most important always comes down to people and relationships.

You count on your friends being there for you once in a while — and they count on you being there for them, friendly-like,  willing to smile, to accept,  to listen, to help sometimes.

You count on your Mom and Dad being there FOR EACH OTHER as you’re growing up.       Otherwise, there’s a deep wounded place inside you  that never works quite right,  never feels quite right.

You count on your “whole world”  being there for you,  whenever you need it or parts of it:  you can always get those books you were meaning to read;   you can always get that training or education you’re planning on doing;    you can always make those personal self-improvements you know you should.

You want to count on God being there, so you can get to know Him better “some day.” .  You can always be praying,    not for something “big”  but just to communicate with God,  adore Him,  worship Him,  honor Him, as you know a created being should.

He’s always there.    He’s the One who is never “under construction”  and “unavailable.”


September 20, 2015

Seems like this time last year I had to move all the contents of my house into the kitchen (and garage)  so that the new carpeting could be laid down everywhere else.

SAMSUNGNow,  I have had to move the contents of my kitchen into other rooms of the house.

It’s taken several days, and my bedrooms are completely unusable.   New counter tops and new cabinet wood.   I’m okay about the new cabinet wood,  it will lighten up the kitchen,  but I’m already missing the color of my counter tops.  I like that  white color.   I’m not sure I want a change.    Forty years of rolling out cookies for kids;  making colored playdough;    kneading bread dough, warm and soft under my hands;  chopping vegetables into little pieces for a healthy and hopefully good-tasting soup;    not to mention all the “scientific experiments” those counter tops have seen — and never a stain!

When those counter tops go,   a lot of my life goes with them.


At least I get to keep the brick splash board.    It matches the brick fireplace area on the other side of the kitchen near my computer area.

But . . .  a lot is going to be changed around here.

 I won’t be “gone.”   My kitchen won’t be “gone.”   My life won’t be “gone.”

But it just feels a little empty now,  the night before.


September 18, 2015

Uh-uh.   This didn’t work.

I’m usually pretty good in the kitchen.   I can cook well enough to please myself;  and I love to “feed” people.    I’m a Swede.   Swedes invented the word smorgasbord.

But sometimes I get into something I just wish I hadn’t started.   Yuck.

Son had brought over a bucket of newly-picked tomatoes from his garden to show me the product of his green thumb and his garden construction project;  but since he works long hours,  I kind of took possession of them,  and said there were so many, I’d try making tomato sauce – or something – so they wouldn’t go to waste.

I’ve never done this before.    Knowledge of processing newly harvested food and canning it  or whatever was never passed down to me.   Along the right-hand column of this page, down towards the bottom,  is Hilda Larson,  my great-grandmother.  She would not be impressed with my attempt to preserve this tomato harvest.

I thought if you  “blanched” the tomatoes,  the skin would just “peel right off.”    It doesn’t.    You have to work on the skins to get them to come off.  Everything gets covered with tomato goo.     And then there are fibrous parts inside and the seeds are firmly attached to those fibrous parts – and to each other.    You don’t know that if you eat a raw tomato.

I think I wasted exactly one-half of the tomatoes while trying to skin them, and I still don’t know what to do with all the seeds that made it into the second pan.

I think I cooked it down to a sauce-like consistency.

I think I flavored it with the right herbs and spices.

I think it’ll work if I freeze them in plastic containers.

I think I’ll be able to use them later in pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and in casseroles.

I think I won’t do this again.


September 14, 2015

Many, many, many hours of football during these last three days.   An unadmitted “many.”      I do this only in September, then I’ll watch less, probably.

Of course, the “home team” doesn’t always win.

bearsBut a lot of happy time is spent hoping.

And I spent the game “growing” another bear:


Oh, well. . .   that was tonight too.     But I think in a few weeks Cooper will have his sweater all done.     It will take maybe three weeks of games.

Football puts time into perspective.     How long does it take to do tiresome, routine household chores?    Scrub the kitchen floor –  one half-time!     Do all the laundry —   six commercial breaks.     Pay a  bill, get it ready to mail — one commercial break.     Prepare a meal — two or three commercial breaks.      Get the dust off of . . . something —   less than one commercial break.

When there’s no game on,  I remember this.

It’s all in  the perspective.


April 9, 2015

And the winner is:

I wrote last time how important it is to  take advantage of each day in Easter Week.   So today was not “just another Thursday,”  it was Easter Thursday, and there was an unexpected mingling of my everyday life with the Easter Thursday Reading.

Today we read of Mary Magdalene who was first of the close circle of disciples to see their Resurrected Lord.

From further away:



light bulb 50x53Jesus seemed distant from her,  just another man,  until He spoke her name:  “Mary.”      That was personal –  and the light dawned upon her, as we say.

I’m struck, this year,  by her first word upon recognizing Jesus:  “Master!”


mary m at the tomb
Her Master – her maestro – her teacher  –  her exalted Lord and Master.

She had  searched for the dead body of Jesus – (as so many do today:   “who was the historical-jesus?”)    in order to do a routine duty;   but she found the actual Living Lord when she accepted His personal touch.

Last time I wrote that everyday “historical” life sometimes intrudes on our attempt to keep Easter Week, and I’ve had another busy day now, accomplished a lot of errands, a lot of study,  searched for a lighting fixture to replace a broken one,   I’m fending off a fever, I got creative in the kitchen and developed a way to make a good  pepperjack and creamy clam soup.   Whew!


Now this evening I have time to realize that one of my endeavors helps me understand Mary’s quest.    How funny,  I was literally searching for light.   Lighting, to be exact:


Or  how about this simple design in a golden . . .

SAMSUNG(This is NOT easy!)

How about a square?


It looked just like a black hanging room decoration until I remembered the lady said if I come to a light that isn’t turned on,  just pull the price tag.   So I did.   Lovely effect.

But not for my space.

Maybe not.

It was hard to walk around in that store.   In the first place,  everything you wanted to see was up high, over your head.  That doesn’t help your feet.  I kept reaching out for a railing somewhere, because I couldn’t take my eyes off all the beautiful lighting fixtures.

Oh, yeah.   Price tags.     Really?!!  —

SAMSUNGFunny thing,  that price tag was attached to the one that looked most like the one I already have.   (It had come with the house.)

The one I like will have to appeal to me personally.   Classic?  Beautiful?   Unique?   I still like that circular one in the first photo —  looks like a three-dimensional model of an atom  —   scientific.

Sorry.  You can’t help.    It needs to be a personal appeal,  which Jesus knew right well when He called out to Mary Magdalene.    And as He calls to each of us, by name.    We’ll know.   We’ll respond according to our Free Will and according to our love.

Love is very personal.


March 28, 2015

This really is just a personal note — for future reference.  

One of the “random thoughts”  that arises in The Spruce Tunnel is that springtime is not all bunnies and daffodils.   There is a lot of outdoor  work coming up and I need to start thinking about what has to be done.    I’ll refer back to these photos to help with the “central planning.”

It all looks good, at a quick glance.   The snow is gone here in the Far North.    The house survived.


But this is the pretty little flower garden right out my front door:

SAMSUNGPretty little flower garden not.    Many trees were taken down last Fall,  right before the snow came.   Lots of debris revealed after the snow goes.

And all those tree-cutting trucks left their mark:


Some of the tracks are six inches deep.     Near the top of our To Do List is smoothing out the surface . . .  somehow.

And those big machines left big holes:


Those can be filled in and reseeded.

But what to do about the ground that is covered in wood chips? Finely chopped wood chips spread  all over:

SAMSUNGThat’s what it looked like after I raked today.     Outdoor vacuum cleaner?

So — I’ll have to come back to these pictures to remind myself that the work out there is really real.       I’ll have to study all those home improvement store catalogs.     I’m going to have a long To Do List.

And plenty of exercise.   Won’t have to join a gym this year again.

Spring flower banner


December 7, 2014

Another day, another truck appears in front of our house.

SAMSUNGAnother workman stepping out of his truck.     Tree cutting, clean-up, maintenance, and winter prep have kept us busy lately!

This time it’s a cleaning and inspection of our chimneys.    SAMSUNG

With all that “deforestation” going on around here, we’ve amassed huge amounts of firewood.     We’ll be using the fireplace a lot in the coming years, so it’s a smart idea to prepare for such heavy use by having a thorough cleaning of our fireplace and chimneys done.

For those of you who know what Advent is all about,   you’ll see that all this preparation is necessary.    Examination;   inspection of what you have;  looking for cracks and imperfections in who you are;   cleaning;  scraping off the harmful or heavy accretions;  re-reading and learning better the “manuals,”  which might remind us of the Bible and other good writings from those who have gone before us;  and then consultation with the experts – a visit to the confessional, perhaps?

Something is coming.,   Something Big is coming.   Someone is coming for us.

I’ll be more explicit in the next posting.





December 6, 2014


I told you we are beginning to see the open skies overhead, now that some trees are gone. 


Here was the beautiful almost full moon above us last night.    I could stand right in my driveway and see this now.

Then Son and I watched a  DVD about the Hubble telescope that I had purchased from that science museum in Florida of couple of weeks ago.    Then we watched YouTube video after video of more Hubble photographs of deep space.      Kind of had the colorful gaseous clouds like the ones that surrounded our own moon.

Our tree cutting revealed other hidden beauty for us too:


And this one:



Lots of patterns like this revealed by the axe.


We found almost “playful” surprises during our woodcutting.    A “tree inside a tree”   –


Beauty and delightful surprises.   This is a reward of Husbandry –  pruning away overgrowth so the remaining trees can stay healthy.    “Dominion over the earth” —  it means taking care of the planet as though it were a valuable and beautiful garden.   That’s our job as human beings.

(Be careful you don’t let anyone confuse you about Christendom and the destructive greed of unregulated corporate capitalism.    You may confidently reply that the two sides are opposed to each other.)

Here,  have  another Milky Way:

Timelapses Of The Night Sky

Even though we’ve taken down many trees we can only see a portion of this from my front yard.     But it’s enough for us now.


December 6, 2014


Well, the business end of our “deforestation”  project is over.    That is,  the costly part is over.    All those stumps had to be removed; ground down below ground level.    $40 apiece.

The tree cutters seemed impressed with the guys who did this work, and warned me they’d have a heavy truck that would make more deep depressions in the yard.    My yard already looks like a green version of heavy rolling seas – I just worried about my poor neighbors dealing with another early morning noisy heavy-truck crew.


But this is all that appeared on my street yesterday morning.  Just one truck.  One guy.  And his  . . .  yellow thing.

His job was to grind down those stumps  and he was quick!    I asked him if he could possibly save Hubbie’s special shrubs, and he said he could.  But then I couldn’t see how he took care of the stump.



So when he went to the other side of the house,  I peeked out the bedroom window.


Interesting that he doesn’t  sit on his . . .  thing,  but stands outside it as he . . . does it.

So now we are left with  several piles of “stump debris.”    Piles of finely ground wood.     Lots of debris and deep holes and tire tracks in our yard.


There will be a lot of yard clean-up in the days ahead.

“Someone” left a comment:


That’s our Cable Company flag,  posted by Miss Dig.

25 years ago Hubbie and I had about six large trees taken down.   This week I found an invoice for four more trees and some limb trimming, in 2004.     This year Son has taken down  three large and several medium and small trees.      And the tree company came back to take down four more.

We’re finally starting to see the sky up above.




December 2, 2014

“The lady”  would be me — and Son gave me the most fun part of the job!

Tree Pulling Event

My job was to tug on this yellow rope until the tree fell down.   Well, to tug on the rope in order to steer it while it fell down.

Son — sometimes known as Chainsaw Man —  appeared yesterday ready to take down that last doomed  pine tree before the professional crew came.   He sawed through the trunk —  and I tugged  —  and suddenly the rope went slack as the distance between me and the tree rapidly decreased!   I have a  feeling the tree fell where it wanted to.      But I helped it.


I’ve never seen anyone zip through a tree so fast.  This was late yesterday afternoon, which means darkness was coming fast,  but Son made that whole tree  practically “disappear.”

And then, early this morning,  the Crew arrived.


A whole bunch of noisy trucks, and one of them had to squeeze into a narrow space on the side of my house.

I wondered how they’d drive a heavy truck back there.


They made their own “road”  and backed slowly into that narrow space to take down a dead wild cherry that threatened my garage.


We had several tall trees to take down and two to trim overhanging branches from.


Really, really tall trees.


And then the big one, our longtime “friend”  —  Piece by piece it came down, each piece dropping to the ground with a great thud.



And there it lay . . .  in giant pieces.     It was blocking the view right as you go out the front door.   It did seem like an obstacle.   It was getting crowded out by the bigger oaks around it.      But…       For thirty years.    For thirty years I’ve had to peek around it in order to see straight out….    It was always there, in the way.     There’ll  be a big void there now.     A big empty space.

I can’t put it back.    And it’s what we wanted, when we weren’t feeling sentimental.

It was fun pulling down trees.     Just not the one that was ten feet from my very own front door.

Son and I worked late into the evening to move these big logs out of the way —  I mean,  to move all this firewood out of the way.


This was a noisy day.      Truck engines.    Roaring chain saws of all sizes.      Impossibly loud chipping machines turning the branches into tiny bits.     Thuds.  Cracks.  Crashes.   And then there was Son, bursting into the house, with his outside voice:   “Where’s my axe?”   “I can’t find my axe.”    “Have you seen my axe?”       “I looked all over for it.”     ( Truly,   a man without an axe.)

I was going to offer him my Blue Axe,  but . . .   it’s lady size.    I came out to the garage with him.    He suddenly lurched forward and shouted out: ” There it is!!”     He picked up his huge axe.  It’s size would have embarrassed my Blue Axe.     He turned to me with a big happy smile:   “I looked there before and here it is!!!”

Spoken like a true Viking Son.

Chop!  Hack!   Bang!   Thud!   Chips flying all over.       We’re in business again.      A man and his axe.

Viking Axe



September 25, 2014

Nuts!   . . . . as in pistachio nuts.    A favorite of mine.


And apparently a favorite of the mice army which invaded this house two winters ago.

That’s Son in the picture,  Dyson-ing out the stash of pistachio nuts that the mice put into my subwoofer.

Big events coming up this weekend at The Spruce Tunnel!!   So we’re working very hard, non-stop, to try to put the house back in  order after our carpeting event.

We ARE working hard,  but you never know what little complications you’re going to run into (“oh, no, this doesn’t fit anymore”)  or how long little repairs will take (“might as well fix this now while we have it apart”)  or what other “charming”  little surprises you’ll find tucked away in your house.

Well, the subwoofer works just fine now, even after all the  shaking, rapping,  and twirling to get the pistachios to fall down from out of the wiring and into the place where we could vacuum them up from the tiny little slot.   The new TV/sound system booms out high definition bass without any nutty rattling.

Just in time for the football games this weekend!

A big thanks to Son.



September 20, 2014

I’m “not blogging” today because all my possessions are tangled up together.

My last post was entitled “In suspension” — and when you try to stuff the contents of six rooms into your kitchen, bathroom, and garage (and cars),  then there is nothing else you can do but live in a state of “suspension.”

My theory is that no matter how methodical and deliberate you are,  the more time given to dis-organizing an organization,   the more chaos is likely to develop.   I think this goes for the breakdown of a society (the longer a society begins to come apart, the less likely it will be that it can get back on track again);  it goes for a healthy physical body (the longer the body breaks down because of disease or abuse,  the more difficult it is to recover);  and for a house —  for a house!! —  no matter how carefully you take your house apart, even  if you are very methodical and attentive,  you’re going to have no idea how to put it back together again.


I lived in a jumble of furniture and  books and  the contents of all my closets and drawers — and wires!     If these wires held my life together,  I’d be in big trouble right now.

I carefully took things apart, taking notes,  taking photos:


That used to be my “everything” center —  sound, video, computer . . . .study, entertainment,  information.

Think I can remember how all the components had related to each other?



The carpeters have come and gone now, and they were pretty happy with the six empty rooms,  but  I’m alone again, and I have to try to reassemble this house.   This is my “kitchen” —  still unable to walk a straight line in my own kitchen!


I’ve managed to find the router and the Ethernet cord, so I can visit The Spruce Tunnel.

I am, however, still without football this weekend . . . .