Saturday, March 27, 2010

Groundbreaking for new Evangelical Free Church next door

With no fanfare at all, construction began on the church next door.  No gold-plated shovel, no fuss... just digging. It's going to be an exciting summer!

If it weren't for the warm and early spring we have been enjoying, I doubt they would be starting this project in March.

I'll take a picture and add it after I get some coffee down my craw.

* Later: * Here are some pictures.

I guess that counts as the gold-plated shovel. Just bigger than most.

The robins are having a big party picking bugs out of those lovely piles of fresh-turned dirt.

Here you get some perspective on where the new church will be, as that is our house beyond the hole.

That's the digger and his son, I believe. They took a break to do some bottle-picking. Lots of interesting stuff turned up from past decades.

I found these myself and plan to go back and look some more as long as I can stay out of the way. I bet there are arrowheads in that dirt if I only knew what to look for.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My 1947 General Motors Frigidaire Fridge

I thought for sure I had blogged about my old fridge but I couldn't find the post, so maybe I didn't. At any rate, I don't mind talking about it again!

This old fridge was in a drugstore in Lansing, Iowa. The man who bought the building at auction, Gene Maurer, gave me the fridge if I would haul it away. Bill Bartels, the local hardware and home store owner, brought it over for me. He told me that these old fridges, if the door seal is good, cost about as much to run as a 75-watt lightbulb! Sadly this one is just stuck in the basement pantry for now, but I know it's there and how cute it is. (I painted the door red and replaced the seal.) 

Here is the group on Flickr, with a couple more pictures and the cover of a pamphlet for this same fridge. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dr. Lynn Rogers answers my question about the bears he is observing on

... New Lily Fans are asking some of the questions that Lily veterans asked earlier. One person phrased it nicely, saying “Do you have a plan in case Lily were to try to hurt you? She's a wild bear with a baby. What would you do if she were to think Hope was in danger and let instinct overtake conditioning? Do you have a place nearby you could be safe? What would you do?”

Actually, we don’t even think about being attacked. If most of you were here, you would shortly be the same. We know it’s hard to imagine after seeing taxidermy, hunting magazines, and the sensationalized TV programs that are so common. Seeing bears as they really are takes a total mind shift. We interpret their behavior in terms of their fear rather than our fear. Their lives are ruled by fear and food. Large and small, they are basically timid. For research, we try to build trust, not fear. When we walk with them, we are sensitive to their concerns like most of you would naturally be. Each has its own personality. It’s easy to read their limits and when they feel uncomfortable.

To take videos of wild bear behavior, Sue accompanies mothers and cubs far from roads. She is among them with her video camera inches away at times as they forage. The bears mostly ignore us. If they even look at one of us, we wonder why. They are mostly busy working. We feel privileged, not afraid. We show sensitivity to their concerns like most of you would naturally do. For example, whenever Lynn started into Lily’s den today, Lily quickly came over. Each time, Lynn gave her room. He didn’t worry about an attack. He just didn’t want to be in the way.

We don’t consider little “message” bites or slaps to be attacks. They’re communication. We have never had a bear come after us and hurt us. The few misunderstandings we’ve had in the many times we initiated contact have never required professional attention.

We’ve both gone through years of learning to read bears. It would come naturally to most of you. It’s basically a matter of opening our minds to what we are seeing and not being swayed by the sensationalized media.

The latter is what is in most people’s minds. It’s what makes them feel they must carry a gun in the woods. It’s what makes them unwilling to coexist with bears. Most of the scary stories people tell us are not so much about what a bear did but about what the person was afraid the bear would do. In reality, attacks are rare. We should know. We have pushed the envelope for decades and have yet to discover a way to make a bear attack short of attacking it, and then they mostly want nothing more than to escape. 

Because baby cockatiels are scary-looking, that's why.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beautiful views of baby Hope and her mom Lily today on the den cam

Mom Lily cleans little Hope's teeth. :o)
Hope trying to crawl out of the den. Lily didn't let her get very far.
Later in the day, during an outing where Lily was just outside the den but Hope felt very alone.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Congratulations to our All Staters



Sunday, March 14, 2010

Busy but productive weekend

Saturday morning the Kee High speech team bus left Lansing at 6:45, so I drove K and his teammate in and afterward got a nice early start on the day while the rest of the family slumbered on. I cleaned and cooked and cleaned, then we all drove down to Starmont High School and watched a few acting pieces including K's. It was hilarious, and he did a great job. We didn't know it till later but he scored all 1s (the highest).

We grocery shopped in Prairie du Chien on the way home, then started seriously cooking for Sunday, and late in the evening we welcomed a missionary from Uganda, Emily Dwyer, and her grandson. They stayed the night, then came to church with us, where Emily did a presentation on her mission. After church, we had a light lunch at our house for anybody who wanted to get to know Emily more, and had  a nice group of about 20 people. There's still food left, by the way. Emily and her grandson headed home around 2, and Britta headed back to her dorm a little later. Then I tackled my messy office and, in a fit of insanity, actually cleaned and rearranged it and now it's very inspiringly spacious. Almost makes me want to go back to work tomorrow.

Hey, how did it get to be 10:32 already? - Daylight savings time stinks.

Friday, March 12, 2010


The first one I've spotted this spring.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Twitter trending topic: Books in 10 Words or Less


This is a fun one. I have a couple on there but some people are masters at it, like JoseMolinaTV:  

JoseMolinaTV "Cujo" - This mangy mongrel couldn't eat me if I had OnStar. #booksin10wordsorless

One week later, we still love our Escape

I feel like I'm driving a little fire truck every time I drive it! I find myself wanting to make little gingham cushions for it, or to add cherry decals. My kitchen is a happy place and now so is my car.

Barry ordered a tow hitch from and installed it last night himself. I'm very proud of him. Amazing how being required to be careful with money inspires a person to do things for himself or herself that seemed out of reach before. I did my usual thing and bought extra remote key blanks on eBay, had them ground at the local hardware store and then had the car program the chips itself. With the electronic keying systems all the new cars use these days, you'd better be sure you always have 2 programmed keys, so you need to have a spare somewhere. (If you ever lose all but 1 key, and you have to go to the dealership and have them replace it, they charge about $200 EACH KEY. My spare cost about $32 including cutting, which is steep but a whole lot better.) And we also ordered cross bars for the roof rack, which are not included when you buy a Ford with a roof rack. Interesting. We're making the Escape into The Family Car that can carry everything. I'm really enjoying all the extra stuff that came loaded on the vehicle, stuff that we would never have chosen had we been buying it new, as we don't like to pay for options. Like the voice-activated audio system. Barry plugs his iPod in and then I can say "Play... artist... Transsiberian Orchestra" and it starts in playing the opening track of The Lost Christmas Eve. Or "Play... track... Back in Black" and we have AC/DC.

Current average is 29.4 mpg.

Barry wants to get a light bar for it someday for when he actually takes it on a fire scene, but that will be waiting. A long time.

By the way, looking at the photos I posted just one week ago today, I am struck by how much snow has melted. We have had pretty much steady gentle rain for several days now and it's melting the snowbanks away. There was a LOT of snow, though, so it's taking awhile.  Still, I was able to let my banties out on the grass for a little run yesterday afternoon.  They were thrilled.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Signs of Spring

We're having a lovely (but probably false) early spring here, with misty temps in the 30s and 40s, !rain! all Saturday night rather than slow or sleet, and lots of semimelted snow piles. This morning while I walked with my little neighbor to school, we heard our first mourning dove of the season, and she told me she had seen "big birds all lined up" flying overhead yesterday. I don't guess I can count that as my first water birds of spring since I didn't see nor hear them, but I'm watching much more closely now.

UPDATE: I saw them and heard them! I'm counting this as Migrators Return Day.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Our New (to us) Car!

With a total of over 350,000 miles on our two cars combined, and repair bills averaging about what we would pay in car payments, we decided to trade at least one, and possibly both, cars in on one economical, reliable one. We sold our Concorde last week, and today Barry and I bought a one-year-old Ford Escape. And it's my absolute favorite color in the world! It matches my kitchen! What a great color for an assistant fire chief!

It's adorable. It rides more like the Cherokee than the Jeep we test drove did. And get this: We zeroed out the mileage meter when we left the lot in Sparta, Wisconsin, and an hour later when we drove into our driveway, it registered a whopping 32 miles per gallon over that trip. I know we won't always get that but how amazing!

It feels big to me but it's considerably smaller than our old 1993 Cherokee and miles shorter than the Concorde. It's fun to drive. The back seat has room for all three of our large children and their giant feet.

The Cherokee is for sale, but we aren't sure anyone will want it. It isn't worth a lot to anyone but us anyway. So we'll leave the sign in the window and see what happens. I dropped the insurance coverage way down on it, and if it doesn't sell, we will just stop repairing major things and see how long it lasts. It makes a good wood-hauling, dog-hauling backup, and it has 4WD.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Grocery budgets and my fearless friend

We have all our household books on Quickbooks, and I love it, because with about 3 mouse clicks I can have a picture of what we are spending on any given category of expenses.

I have a fearless friend, Mrs. Mac, who started a blog in which she details her efforts to live frugally yet improve her family's health through a heckuva lot of hard work - gardening, making things herself, canning, doing all her own baking, buying locally, et cetera. She has food allergies to deal with, plus a son with special needs and a darling grandson whom she wants to see grow up strong and healthy, so she has plenty of motivation to feed her family carefully. Plus she wants to live wisely on their means. She started posting her monthly grocery expenditures on her blog, beginning with this calendar year.

I think we're reasonably careful (nothing like Mrs. Mac, but careful-er than we used to be, anyway) with our grocery budget, and yet I just ran a report and was horrified to see that we spent $1200 on food already in just the first 2 months of 2010. Then I remembered that included in that was $335 to share a half a beef from Fareway Foods. And that's a lot of beef in the freezer, and we don't eat it very fast, so it will last awhile. So I feel much better about that.

Still, I need to do better.

We have not bought bread since well before Thanksgiving. But we still buy hamburger and hot dog buns. I buy eggs from a farmer friend - lovely brown ones that are super fresh, with big dense yolks that stand up in the frying pan. They are more expensive than the cheapest eggs we could buy, but I think they are worth it. We also buy cheap wine from ALDI (and that is not included in the total above - it's under a separate budget). But I no longer splurge on fresh unpasteurized milk from our organic dairy farmer friends, though I miss it. We don't eat a lot of meat. We buy frozen fish, and frozen chicken, and we eat quite a bit of rice and beans. We have a tiny garden, and unless we rent land somewhere else, it's about at its limit, because New Albin is built on a 500-foot-deep pit of alluvial sand with about 2-1/2 inches of topsoil, and the garden is in about the only space in the yard that has more dirt than that - it's where the old outhouse once stood. And no, I'm not kidding. Just don't think about it when you eat our lovely tomatoes. They grow well for a reason, you know. :o) Anyway, I guess another alternative would be to do raised boxes. Maybe we'll have to think about that.

This is mostly a thinking-out-loud post.

I'm not ready to post my grocery budget like my friend does on her blog sidebar, but she is an inspiration.