Monday, January 30, 2012


On Saturday afternoon, Kev drove 50 miles to Kinsley to pick up the lumber for our stairs.
A "tree man" lives there and happens to have a sawmill he uses for fun.  He sometimes cuts up trees that he takes down and sells the wood.  Remember, this is Kansas.  A sawmill is not something typically found out here.  We literally stumbled on this guy when we put in the pellet stove three years ago.
 This is what Kev brought home.  Yes, I am aware that one "board" is really a stump. A Six foot long stump, but it's a stump.

Don't ask.

This pickup load of lumber only set us back $250.  A steal.
 These boards are 3 inches thick and Kev has to cut them into stair lengths of 40 inches.
 But first, he wanted to trim the edge off.  He thought about just making all of his cuts with the chainsaw, but decided to use the circular saw instead.
 He had Andy help lift them up.  They measured and cut.

Andy then carried them out and laid them outside.  They aren't quiet dry, so Kev and Andy put some spacers between the steps and he thinks they will dry out quite a bit this week in our atypical warm weather.  (Which I am enjoying!)  So, now that we have the steps, and the stringers are cut, I anticipate that we'll see the stairs going up soon. 

But before they can be assembled...we have to sand them, decide if we're staining them, and then they can be assembled. 

Kev had enough wood left over that he's thinking of other ways to incorporate it into the finished project.  As a newel post, or somehow in the banisters or something....

We're still on track for me to win the bet. But, we're making progress!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The stair project--January update

I thought I'd best give an update on the stair project. 

No pictures because:  1.  There's nothing to show, and 2.  The batteries in the camera were dead and I couldn't find the cord (because it wasn't where it belongs...dang kids.)

But, there's really nothing to show.

Kev did make the hole bigger.  Longer.  He had to to make his math work for the stringers.  He then spent time re-wiring some outlets and moving others.  He also had to cap a water line because the bigger hole meant that the water line couldn't be re-routed.

He had talked to the guy who is supposed to cut our steps.  He was supposed to have them cut Saturday.  He didn't have them cut. 

So, we're at a stand still until we have our wood.

While Kev was working on his project, I rendered lard.

Why?  Cuz I could.  I just wanted to try it.  I grew up reading the "Little House" books by Laura I. Wilder.  I bought the cook book where the author attempted to re-create the cooking described in the "Little House" books.  One of the things she did was to render lard.

I was curious about how hard it really was and what cracklings were.

So, when we butchered pigs last weekend, I asked the guys to get me the fat from around the organs (if they would take the time to do so) and to give me some of the fat trimmings so I could play.  Kev brought home about 2 gallons of fat.  I rendered it yesterday.

I'd read that it's easier to render it in the oven, so I got out my Grandma's big double burner lard rendering cast iron pot.  While a little rusty, I thought this might be a great way to re-season it and get it back into working shape.

Unfortunately, it was too big for my oven.  Instead, I got out 2 of my cast iron bean pots and used them.  I didn't cut the fat up much (and if I was a serious lard render-er, I would do this next time.) I turned the oven on to 300 degrees initially and then when the fat started to melt, turned it down to 200.  By the end of the day, I had lots of melted fat and cracklins.

Kev thougth the cracklins smelled like pork rinds.  They taste like greasy pork rinds, but weren't as light. 

I wound up with 3 quarts of lard.  I went ahead and canned it.  It's not as creamy white as I thought it would be...maybe I let it get too hot.  It smells ok, but who knows.  I'll hang on to it for a while.  Maybe use some when I make pies, maybe not.  If nothing else, I'll feed it to the chickens and wild birds.  Who knows if it's a skill I'll ever need, but it did satisfy my curiosity and it kept me busy while Kev was puttering with the stair project.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Aunt Margaret 1926-2012

My Aunt Margaret died last week.  Her funeral was Saturday.  I drove my folks to the service, which was short and simple, just the way she wanted it to be.  Shel lived a good life, but was ready to go home and died on her own terms; which is just about all anyone can hope for.

Aunt  Margaret was the eldest of my Dad's siblings, being 16 years older than Dad.   Dad doesn't really remember her living at home--partly because she graduated High School and left home while he was small, but also because the older kids went to High School in Fowler, Ks and boarded in town.  Automobiles in the 1940's didn't travel at the speed they do now, and living 20 miles outside of town, on dirt roads, that was just simply to far to drive every day.  (And, remember gas was rationed during the war years.)  So, while she was his sister, she just wasn't an active part of his memories of growing up.

On the other hand, Aunt Margaret definately remembers hearing about his pending arrival, his birth and she and the other kids helped name him--Harry Eugene--after Uncle Harry.  The family call Dad Eugene--except for Aunt Margaret.  She christened him "Harry Gene" and that's what she and she alone always called him. 

Aunt Margaret and her family lived in Wichita--so they didn't come out this way very often--or not when I can remember.  But, her children were young adults by the time I really developed memories.  They married young and their families weren't that much younger than Steve and I.  Because they didn't come out this way, and we didn't go to Wichita any more often than we had to, I just never developed a relationship with them. But I did with Aunt Margaret...

I remember our last Christmas at the farm when all the aunts, uncles and cousins were there.  I was probably in First Grade.    The day was over and my parents were wanting to head for home.  But, I couldn't find my shoes.  I remember looking and looking and being unsuccessful.  Mom was getting annoyed and I knew it.  Finally, I went into the kitchen and announced, "I still can't find my shoes, and I looked everywhere."  Aunt Margaret put her hand on my shoulder, and squatted down next to me and said, "Hold on, let's stop a minute.  Think about where you had them on last."  I did, and immediately remembered exactly where they were.  (They were on the back porch.)

When I was a Junior in High School, my cousin Ray was killed in a car accident.  The very next day, my brother, Steve, broke his arm,  had a concussion and was out of his mind.  On the day of Ray's funeral, Steve was having surgery on his arm.  Mom and Dad were with him and I chose to go to the funeral.  Alone.  I knew there'd be plenty of family around, so I thought all would be well.  I didn't do as well as I thought.  Understandably.  But Aunt Margaret took me under her wing.  She had me ride with her and Uncle Newt to the service and to the cemetary and the church.  I really appreciated her that day.

 Ten years later, I was a new Mom, a single Mom, with a baby who wasin the NICU at a Wichita hospital.  I wasn't allowed to go along and had to arrive by car the next day.  Aunt Margaret was the first to call (even though the hospital wouldn't give her any information.) She was also there with open arms, welcoming us into her home.  I didn't stay with her, but my folks did, we did go to supper with her and Uncle Newt one of those blurry evenings and we stopped by her house before heading back to Colby.  She was non-judgemental and very supportative.    A few years later, we all learned why she was so non-judgemental and supportative.  She'd been a young single pregnant woman who couldn't keep her baby.  Her baby found her almost 50 years later, in 1995.  She and he connected and became close.   It's interesting, he looks more like her than her other kids.  In fact, seeing him, he most definately looks like the Woodruff's.

Aunt Margaret, in my mind, was the consummate big sister.  She took care of her siblings, she took care of any of her nieces and nephews who needed help.  She took care of her kids and her grandkids.  I'm not saying she was perfect, but she did her best and she spread love to all she knew.

She will be missed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My babies.

Just wanted to stick this one in.  Christmas morning.  My babies with their stockings.  I cross stitched them for the kids.  Kat's the the same one I made when she was a baby.  You can't see, but it's of a little blond girl standing beside a manger with baby Jesus in it. 

This is actually Andy's second stocking.  When he was in Middle School, he asked for a new stocking.  Apparently he thought he was to old for his Santa and Teddy Bear stocking.  So, we found the one he has above.  It's a church in the background with deer in the foreground.  He thinks it is much more "manly".

My babies...they're growing up way to fast!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Kev's deer--2011

I didn't hunt this year.  Primarily because of the tendinitis, but also because Andy and Kev both had permits and I just didn't see the sense in having three deer in the freezer.  I kept busy enough this fall that I didn't miss hunting much, until Kev would come home and share his day, or Andy would describe something he saw.  That's when I missed hunting.  Not the harvest, but just being out in God's Church.

Kev got his deer the end of November/first of December.  (I can't remember!)   He had somewhat of a frustrating season, as he never saw any Mule deer.  We're assuming that this summers drought and heat was hard on them.  In fact, Kev didn't see the amount of deer he normally does, which frustrated him immensely.
 This guy is a white tail.  Kev rattled him in and took his shot.  He's not trophy class by any stretch of the imagination, but Kev typically doesn't trophy hunt.
 He did have an interesting little "claw" on the tip of one antler that Kev thought was cool.
He also had either been shot before, or had been wounded in a fight.  See that dark spot on his forehead?  That was a nasty wound that wasn't healing very well.  Be thankful I didn't get a closeup.  It was ugly.

We hung him up in the shop and the guys butchered him the weekend Mom, Kat and I went Christmas shopping.

I still need to go re-arrange my freezer.  Men, they just don't understand organization :)

This weekend is the final weekend of the season.  Andy hasn't filled his tag.  He can--now in this late season--use either his bow, or a rifle and get a doe.  He says he wants to try still with his bow, so doesn't think he'll switch.  We'll see.  My guess is he'll go out with his bow and come home without a deer.  That's fine.  We've got a freezer full again and we're butchering pigs again next weekend.  I don't think I have space for another deer!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Inman Winter Formal

On the 17th of December, Miss Kat and I drove to Inman so she could attend the Inman High School Winter Formal Dance with Tate.  Now, these two have known each other since they were 3 or 4, so no big romance, but just good friends. (Besides, they're too young for any serious romance!)

 Tate, Miss Kat, Bailey and Dual. 

Bailey graduated from High School at semester and will be going to Marine boot camp in June.  She shouldn't be old enough, but she is.  I've seen all four of these kids covered, head to toe in mud, so I can say that they clean up very nicely!  Until recently, Tate was shorter than Kat, but he's finally started growing and has really sprouted.  His voice has dropped too.  He and Dual are now both nice baritones.  I still wish they were all 10 again...
Here's a shot of the young couple, Kat and Tate.
 The siblings, Tate, Bailey and Dual.
And, to top things's a "normal" shot of Kat!  Gotta love her!

Bailey is two years older than Miss Kat.  Looking at these pictures, I can't help but remember when Bailey was entering puberty, and wasn't as interested in tom-boying with Kat but was becoming more interested in boys...and being a young lady.  Poor Kat came to me one day, crying because Bailey was more interested in spending time with Andy and not playing with her.  She was just devastated and didn't understand.  I remember sitting her on my lap, hugging her, and explaining to her that in a couple of years, she'd be just like Bailey, and that they'd be just as close again. 

I asked her on this trip if she remembered that day.  She laughed and said she did, and that I was right.

Sometimes, being right is bittersweet.


We finally got a dog.  Mr. Fletch came to our home on December 17.  We got him from the Humane Society.  Fletch is 2 and is a lab/English spaniel cross.  That's what we were told anyway.  Who knows if anyone really has any idea of his pedigree.  Here's a picture of Fletch, looking out the sliding door.
 That first day, Midnight totally ignored Fletch.  If Fletch entered a room, Midnight left.  But, they soon came to a truce and co-existed those first few days.  Since it was the start of my Christmas Break, I was home with they "boys" for two weeks which gave them plenty of time to get acquainted with each other, and for Fletch to get acquainted with us.
 Since we don't allow our dogs to be on the furniture, Fletch decided that the bay window was his spot.  Which is fine with everyone, even me.  However, I find that I have to wash that window more often because it gets covered with dog kisses now.
 After about a week, Midnight decided that Fletch was OK, and he lowered his dignity enough to "play".  It was half-hearted, but they did play.  By the first of January, they played a lot.  Inside, and outside.  Midnight has always been a timid dog, but he's mentoring Fletch fairly well.  He's taught Fletch that they stay in the yard instead of chasing cars.  (Fletch is slowly catching on to that.)  When they are outside, Fletch will watch Midnight to see where he can and cant go.  One thing Fletch needs to learn quickly is to leave my chickens alone.  He's been punished  for chasing them several times and, unfortunately, he was severely punished for killing one. 

He's also had to be punished for marking the couch in the basement...and helping himself to a stick of butter from the counter... and Kev's waffles...but he's learning.

He still isn't sure exactly where our boundaries are, because he ran toward the cattle in the neighboring pasture one day.  I called him off, and he came right to me, but he watches them from the bay window and growls at those trespassers.  He'll learn.

He's adopted Andy, and sleeps with him.  He'll get up in bed with us, but he wants to sleep between us, and that just won't work.  He's a good quiet dog and he did so well at Christmas with all the extra people of all sizes at our house. I think we got a good dog. 

Today will be the first time they'll be penned all day long.  Let's hope they both are good dogs and are in the pen when we get home tonight!

One last final shot. Of Midnight.  He wouldn't pose with Fletch, and I just had to take his picture...although, from his expression, you can tell how he enjoys photos!  Poor guy :)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Books read 2011

I finished entering in all the titles I read over Christmas, and then counted.  I read 100 books this past year!  Well, maybe more, because sometimes, when I re-read something, I don't write it down.  And I don't write down all the magazines I read either.  But, wow!  What an accomplishment.  This might explain why I haven't done much stitching this past year...

Part of the credit for me reading so many titles goes to Mrs. Coach, who I hired in late January.  She's a young thing--only 21, but she likes to read and she likes to read the same kinds of books I like to read.  I'm not sure if we're good for each other or not, and I'm not sure if our husband's appreciate us enabling each other.

Rather than give a brief review of each title, Let me just tell you my most favorite book of the year:

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  What an excellent book.  Yes, it has witches, and vampires, but neither fit any of our typical images.  It was a fluke that I picked up this book, but it was so well written.  I was even frustrated to reach the end, because it ended on a cliff hanger.  I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel which should be published sometime in 2012. (And I'm not giving you a can look it up on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to see what it's about!  Just take my word for's GOOD!)

My least favorite book, and the one that disappointed me the most was Jean Auel's final novel in her Earth's Children series, Land of Painted Caves.  I felt that she recycled most of the book and didn't have any real plot until the last 1/3 of the book.  If she'd dumped the first 2/3 and started with the ending, I think it would have been a much better ending to a series that first appeared in 1982.

I read lots of series this year.  Lots of Fantasy titles (thanks Mrs. Coach) and I read the entire Sookie Stackhouse books.  I still managed to fit in some non-fiction titles.  Some to make me think and question my beliefs about many things, and some just for fun.

I apologize for not correctly formatting my book titles.  I should underline them all, but I'm not.  On a few titles, I did make some additional comments, but not all.

Without further's the list...

Once a Princess  by  Johanna Lindsey

Deep Down by Karen Harper

Endless Forest  by Sara Donanti --this one WAS a great ending to a great series.  The epilogue had me in tears.

The Templar Salvation  by Raymond Khoury

Star Crossed  by Elizabeth Bunce

Last Templar by Raymond Khoury

Jesus Interrupted by Bart D. Ehrman

Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman

Great and Terrible Beauty  by Libba Bray

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

The Exile by Diana Gabaldon--this one is a graphic novel based on Outlander

The sweet far thing by Libba Bray

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins--an excellent series.  Who doesn't love a girl with a bow?

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Treachery in Death by J D Robb

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Lost to Time: unforgettable stories that History forgot by Martin W. Sandler

A discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Sex, Time and Power by Leonard Shlain--his basic concept (in my mind) is that women were the first to develop a sense of time...That's not all, but that's what I remembered the most :)

Land of painted caves by Jean Auel

The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Calling for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts

Rangers apprentice 10: Emperor of Nihon-Ja by John Flanagan

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning

Faefever by Karen Marie Moning

Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning

Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning

Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan--Riordan's books look at Mythology in a new way.  Makes it fun for kids to read these and then actual mythological stories.  They're fun, fun, fun!

Crying Blood by Donis Casey

Immortal by Gillian Shields

Betrayal by Gillian Shields

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Deadly Hollows

Dragon's Time by Todd McCaffrey

Smokin' seventeen by Janet Evanovich

Hold me closer Necromancer by Lish McBride

The Dark is Rising Series (6 books) Susan Cooper

Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris

The Sun Witch by Linda Winstead Jones

The Moon Witch by Linda Winstead Jones

The Star Witch by Linda Winstead Jones

All that is bitter & sweet by Ashley Judd

Mapping Human History by Steve Olson

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

Dead in the family by Charlaine Harris

Prince of Magic by Linda Winstead Jones

Prince of Fire by Linda Winstead Jones

Prince of Swords by Linda Winstead Jones

Untouchable by Linda Winstead Jones

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Game of Thrones by George R R Martin

22 nights by Linda Winstead Jones

Bride by Command by Linda Winstead Jones

She-Wolves: the women who ruled England before Elizabeth by Helen Castor

New York to Dallas by J. D. Robb

Tears of the Sun by S. M. Stirling

Centuries of June by Keith Donohue

The Unquiet by JD Robb

Harvest by Tess Gerritsen

The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris

Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

None wounded, none missing, all dead: story of E.B. Custer by Howard Kazanjian & Chris Enss

Ranger's Apprentice: The Lost Stories by John Flanagan

Growing and canning your own food by Jackie Clay

Stories of a self-reliant woman by Jackie Clay

The Next Always by Nora Roberts

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Second Grave on the Left by Draynda Jones

Sex with the Queen by Eleanor Herman--Yes, this is a book about sex.  Actually it's about Queens and their lovers.  Quite interesting.  Ms. Herman also wrote one about the Sex with Kings too.

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon

Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer

Sword Dancer by Jennifer Roberson

Sword maker by Jennifer Roberson

Sword Breaker by Jennifer Roberson

Sword Singer by Jennifer Roberson

Sword Born by Jennifer Roberson

Sword Sworn by Jennifer Roberson

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Wagon Wheel Kitchens: food on the Oregon trail by Jacqueline Williams