Thursday, September 25, 2008

Safe Haven

I have to admit. I've had days like this. But then again................

While reading the news, I see this story of a guy who drops off all 9 of his children at the local hospital under the protection of the "Safe Haven Act." This is a law enacted to allow mothers (or fathers for that matter!) to drop off their unwanted children at a local hospital instead of abandoning their newborns in a trash can or in a bathroom somewhere. In Nebraska, where this particular story took place, they have expanded this law to include older children as well. Apparently, this dad had had enough of his kids and decided to just drop them off.,2933,428022,00.html

His name has been kept anonymous because he is protected under the law. I hope they aren't homeschoolers.

Can you just imagine this???

I can just see the dad telling the kids, "That's it! I've had it!"
And then off they went.

I've had difficult days and all, but this just seems so extreme! I love my kids far too much to ever do something that extreme. (and they love me!)

What will happen to those kids? Will he wake up tomorrow feeling horrible that he ever did such a thing? Or will he buy a plane ticket for he and his wife to spend some time in Cancun?

And what about his wife? Does he even have one? He must! Did she have any say in all of this?

Wow. Something like this sure makes you wonder...

Here's a nice nostalgic photo for you. This was taken probably 5 or 6 yrs ago! Down by the Eel River.
Did I mention how much I love my kids? They're the best!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Humboldt Harvest of Another Kind

As the days hover between summer & autumn with warm, breezy days and cool, misty nights, harvest is in the air. By harvest I don't mean the skanky illegal kind, but the productive, homestead kind. The kind of harvest that provides for me a cupboard full of canned pears and preserved jellies and a wood shed filled with neatly stacked dry firewood for the wood stove.
Last weekend we visited M& TJ up at the Ranch.
We gathered fruit that was ripening on the trees while the guys went out to fill the pickups with wood. The best part about a trip to the ranch is the time of visiting and sharing our stories while relaxing in M&TJ's living room.

The grandkids discovered TJ's Matryoshka dolls and spent an inordinate amount of time examining them! You know, those little wooden nesting dolls that stack into one another. We were amazed that ACJ new the real name for them and asked TJ if she could play with her Matryoshka dolls. My what??? TJ learned the real name for them from a very young teacher!

On our way out we got a quick glimpse of those movable boulders that are seen on the ranch from time to time. These things look like prehistoric creatures that dwell among the rocks, camouflaged by the grasses and contours of the countryside. Notice the tiny little legs poking out from under that huge mass of wool!

They are almost the size of a Volkswagen beetle!

The sunset was a stunning farewell to a productive day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Civil War Re-enactment

This past weekend, the boys got to participate in a re-enactment of the Civil War with a group that comes to town every so often to portray battles that took place during the war. This year our boys went with the Boy Scout troop to help out with parking. When they arrived, the older boys were invited to grab a Confederate uniform and a gun and get in line! Probably similar to the way it was during the actual Civil War. Many boys were lying about their age just to be able to go into battle. Some drummer boys were under 14 yrs old. Many 15 & 16 yr old boys ran off to fight in the war when fighting erupted near their home towns.

Wesmonger is 2nd from the left. Notice the 2 biffys in the background... Kind of spoils the authentication!

Reporting for duty, Sir!

Off they go for their first engagement

The entire area was set up the way it might have been back in 1865. For a small entry fee, folks could come and browse through the camps asking re-enactors questions about the Civil War.

The boys had a great time. Though I don't know that boys had braces on their teeth or "Vans" on their feet back then!
Seth got to participate the next day (by lying about his age, just as he might have back then!)
I didn't get any photos of him, though. I was home sick with a cold :(
My neighbor who is a photographer took some of him, so I hope to get those soon!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tea Party with the Grandbabies

Oh my, are we excited about a tea party with Grandma! We even have real tea and cream.

Is this how we pour it, Gran?

Hmm... looks like little bro is up to something....

Surely there is mischief in the making here!

Going for a grab at something... anything!

Oh... now I get it... we can share it!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Making Pectin from Quince

I get a large, sturdy knife to cut these things; seeds, cores and all. All I do is rinse off the downey soft fuzz that covers them. They are a hard as stone so slicing them takes some muscle! When they are ripe they are a little easier to cut up, but not much!

This is all of the fruit cut up into random chunks with enough water poured over it to cover them. They smell alot like apples when they are cooking.

Now I let the fruit cook into the water for about 2 hours or until it is good and soft. I love the way it turns a beautiful pink color.

Here I have 3 sieves going at once, draining the juice into the bowls. I just bought 2 of these sieves at a yard sale last weekend. I guess that was pretty good timing! I saw a recipe on the internet that uses the pulp for some kind of desert dish. I forget what it was called. It looked like a good recipe, but unfortunately I had already discarded my pulp into the compost bin. Next year I will have to try this other dish.

I just let the fruit sit in the sieve until all the juices run out. I don't squeeze it or press it or anything. I just let it set.

Once I get the juice extracted from the pulp, I boil it down for about 45 min.

Then I cold pack it into jars. After all that hard work, I only got two pint jars. I am going to try mixing it with grapes to make grape jelly tomorrow. Supposedly, I can use it in place of pectin, so this will be an experiment. I hope that it works!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone. As you can see from this photo, I feel pretty comfortable in the kitchen, doing what I do best in the kitchen; cooking, canning, that kind of thing. Over the years I have spent many long hours over the stove preparing wonderfully nutritious meals for my family. (No, I'm not gloating, I really have!). In recent months I have ventured out of the kitchen, so-to-speak, and into cyberspace. I am taking online college classes.
Along with taking online college classes goes taking online college tests. I have a class that has a test, sometimes two, every week. At first blush, this doesn't seem too difficult. But then, as they say, the devil is in the details. The test must be taken in a ten minute time frame. 10 questions, 10 minutes. In all fairness to my professor, I also get three attempts at taking this test in order to get a decent grade. Seems easy enough, except that each attempt at the test presents different questions! Sometimes a previous question will appear, but mostly, each time I take the test, there are new questions. So, the first few times I submitted my quiz, I did pretty lousy. I even emailed the teacher to tell him that his tests were too hard. (They really were!) Now that I have taken 6 quizzes, I am finally getting the hang of it. The last 2 quizzes I got a 10 out of 10 on the first try! I was so proud of myself, I just had to tell someone! So I decided to tell the entire blogsphere of my accomplishment!

I have also discovered the benefits of sharing my kitchen with the other women in my family. I figure if I make sure they all know how to cook I won't have to! Pictured above: Jo, me, Dallas & Evelyn making egg rolls, chow mien and crab cheese puffs.

Yes, that is a little belly on E! Little Tulula is growing quickly in her belly!!!!!! We now know that N & E are having a girl!

News flash!!!! Dallas and Nate are having another baby! Just found out last night! Our family is growing rather quickly these days!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

In Honor of Uncle Jim

I had an uncle who recently passed away. My Uncle Jim was a WW2 veteran who served in the military, was held captive by the Swiss then came home to share his story. He lived a long life with many years of service in various civic organizations. Several weeks after his memorial, my father organized a 21 gun salute with his veteran's group to honor the life of a man who gave his youth to serve in our country's fighting forces. We were invited to join in on this special event, to witness the respect and honor given to a passing friend and loved one. I was especially moved by the sincerity these men expressed as they spoke of the life of a man they knew not, but one with whom they shared a common bond. Just as my uncle had volunteered himself to defend our country's liberties, these gentlemen also have given years of their lives to do the same.
My dad is the one at the far end holding the POW flag. He too shared his youthfulness with countless other young men in defending the US during WW2.

Here are the men firing off the 1st round of 7 guns. I apologize that this photo is blurry but I jumped a bit as the guns went off. They were louder than I had anticipated!
Thank You again, gentlemen for honoring my family in this special way.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Humboldt Harvest

So among many other things, I have been "putting up" preserves. This is a chore that I have grown to love. A labor of love, I guess you could call it. Since I don't have a lot of my own fruit trees any more, I have to hunt. Yes, just like the guys trek through the forest looking for the perfect buck, I too must trek (or ride my bike or drive) through town looking for neighboring yards with lonely trees laden with fruit. When I find one that meets my needs, looks neglected with fruit dropping needlessly on the ground, I do what I call a cold contact. I knock on the door and ask if the owners would mind if I pick their fruit tree. Most of the time people say "Sure! Go ahead." So I do. Of course, I don't need to do this too often, as most of the time I can get what I need just from friends who have an abundance of fruit, like these little beauties from TJ & Mark.

While out with girlfriends the other day, I spotted a tree that I had been searching for. I hollered, "A quince tree. Stop!" Quince is a very oddly unique fruit that most people are not familiar with. Back in the day, a homestead would always include a quince tree. Why? Well, the fruit of the quince, while being very unpalatable raw, provides an essential ingredient for canning and preserving.

This strange looking little fruit makes a great source of pectin. And as any Canning cook can tell you, pectin is the one ingredient that makes or breaks a great jelly.
So, I went back to the house, drove up the long driveway to the house that we call the "Castle."
My kids said, "You went up to the castle?" The castle is a weird monstrosity of a house that is made of stone and comes complete with large turrets on every corner. The trees are largely overgrown and unkempt which gives it a very spooky kind of feel. I shyly drove up the driveway with my daughter, who opted to stay in the car. When I stood in the driveway, I felt strangley vulnerable, but determined to accomplish my mission. The owner came out cautiously to investigate this intruder in his domain.
As he gingerly poked his out from over one of the turrets, it turns out I know the guy from years ago and we actually had a really nice conversation! He was more than happy to let me have whatever fruit I wanted from his tree! When I can these things I will post some photos so you can actually see the process. It's quite involved.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Little Spice

According to friends, I haven't been contributing to the "mix." I haven't added my "old cabbage?" to the web stew. Ok, I know I have been remiss on my postings. I have left those of you who read this silly thing with hunger pains in the depths of your curious minds. I will have to post more later as I must get to church, cook dinner for my entire extended family, and clean up the house. All this before the day is done. In other words, I don't have the time to be sitting here in bed on a leisurely, quiet Sunday morning, (the boys are all out camping) drinking coffee, writing on my blog! I must get going!!!!!!!!! Daughter is bringing home Beau to meet the family, so I am excited! He is wonderful! More on that later........