Archive for November, 2013

Giving Thanks

This is the time of year that social media is abuzz with everyone posting their daily “I am thankful for my incredibly awesome and intelligent children and scrumpdillyicious hubby who always bring sunshine to my day….” I added a few of my own, but suddenly and surprisingly was at a loss for words. It seemed that I was just writing by rote and repeating the same stuff that I was thankful for last year, for which I am, of course, thankful for again. I decided to give this year’s thankfulness list a little thought.  I am thankful for my husband, who would NOT want to be called scrumpdillyicious  but is really good at gathering wood and keeping the home fires going without complaint.  I don’t know if he has just given up on me or knows that if I start the fire, he will have to restart it anyway.  I am thankful for our military, past and present, who not only keep us safe, but protect the innocent in countries that are not as peaceful as ours. The same thankfulness goes to the hospital, ambulance, police and fire personnel who will be working overtime during the holiday season.  I have done my share of holiday shifts in the hospital, and although we always tried to make the best of it, most  would have rather been somewhere else.  A special thanks goes out to those of you who volunteer for the holiday shifts so others can be with their families.  I am thankful for my mom, who at age 88 doesn’t cook much anymore, but can still supervise the peeling of the celery or the mashing of the potatoes from her chair. She manages to keep her great sense of humor despite all the rotten tomatoes that old age throws at her. I am thankful for my sister, who without complaint washes piles of dishes in my kitchen sink every holiday, and although I know she wishes we would get a dishwasher, never says it aloud.  I am thankful for my church. I used to be one of those people who thought she could be religious without attending services, and I still think you can, but to worship, sing, and pray with a group of people brings it to another level and gives me a sense of serenity  and contentment that I never had before.  I am thankful for my incredibly awesome and intelligent daughter and son-in-law, who gave us a beautiful grandson.  Grandparenthood is everything I thought it would be and more.  Baby Max really is scrumpdillyicious! I am thankful to Becky at the Western Itasca Review who agreed to print a few stories from a wannabe whose New Year’s resolution a few years ago was to write more.  Having a deadline to meet makes me take the time to think and to get the words down.  For some magical reason, the haphazard first draft of random thoughts somehow turns into a story.  I am so thankful for all of you who read The Minnesota Farm Woman every week.  I appreciate your kind comments and the stories you have shared with me.  It keeps an old Farm Woman writing, which in turn, keeps me from the drudgery of household  chores.  For that gift, I am scrumpdilliciously and eternally thankful.

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Fall and winter in Minnesota is a time for crafting, and I have been to a few craft shows in the past couple of weeks. Not only do they give me ideas for projects that I know I will never do, they give me the opportunity to support local small businesses.   I have seen many examples of what the skilled craftspeople in our neck of the woods do in their spare time, and believe me,  it can put a somewhat lazy and definitely UNcrafty Farm Woman to shame.  Unlike these local artisans, I can’t sew, knit, woodwork, quilt, or embroider. I can’t make cute little pine cone reindeer or edible snowmen out of marshmallows and cinnamon candies. And really, who would have ever thought  that you could cut sticks and branches from the woods, casually tie them with a cheerful ribbon and sell them?  I struggle to find the time to can my own garden bounty, and looked in awe at the rows of sparkling jams, jellies, pickles, and salsas that were artfully arranged on more than a few tables.   I used to be able to crochet in my backward, left-handed way, but how many misshapen potholders do my relatives want for Christmas gifts? I once made the entire family their own berry-picking containers out of coffee cans and bandana handkerchiefs, and although they were cute, I managed to spell “raspberries” wrong, and in oil-based paint, no less. My mom thought they were perfect, as mothers always do with their children’s art projects, but unfortunately, I was thirty-five and not ten when they were made.  When the colorful leaves of the fall trees turn brown and the darkness comes early, I have a few projects of my own.  I play computer games.  I make soup. I write bestselling novels in my head. I put on my pajamas at 6 pm, turn on the electric blanket, watch Hallmark Channel Christmas movies in bed, hoping that HE will make a batch of popcorn before I fall asleep. I plan next year’s garden. If I am feeling really energetic, I fill the whirlpool tub with hot water and bubbles and read until my skin starts to get all wrinkly.  Come to think of it, there probably wouldn’t be any craft fairs if it weren’t for people like me.  There are people who are born to create.  There are people who are born to shop.  Then there are people like me who are born to take bubble baths and write about them. That, my friends, is about as creative as I will ever get.

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Let sleeping dogs lie

We have almost always had a dog in the family, and those dogs have always been big, lovable drooling animals who knew their place in the house, which was usually NOT in the house.  When we moved to Minnesota, we were dogless, lonely empty-nesters.  Knowing that we wanted to do a little weekend travelling, we wanted something in a size small that we could easily take with us, so along came Barney the Chihuahua, also known as The Minnesota Farm Dog. He was a shivering and timid bug-eyed little puppy, and we named him after one of our favorite shivering and timid  bug-eyed TV characters, Barney Fife. The first night he stayed with us, he burrowed his way under the covers and made himself at home, entwined in my legs. We figured we would let him sleep under the covers since it was February and the house got chilly at night, and Chihuahuas like to be warm and cozy. A habit was formed, and now, six years later, it would be easier if Deputy Fife himself was sharing our bed.  Whoever came up with the old adage “let sleeping dogs lie” must have never shared his bed with a dog.  If my legs aren’t just right, Barney scratches me gently with his paw until I move them just the way he wants them. If the frogs croak, the coyotes howl, the owls hoot, or the wind blows, he crawls from beneath the covers, using my body as a guide, to growl and bark at the offending noise.   If HE is gone overnight, Barney sits at attention at the edge of the bed most of the night, ready to fight any battles I might need him to.  As small as he is, Barney manages to push me to the very edge of the bed every night,  taking up my warm spot and making it his own. He snores.  He buries his treats in our bed, and knows exactly how many there are, because we have more than once had to turn on the lights to find it or put up with him scratching and sniffing all over the bed half the night.  The other morning, after a strange but realistic dream about barbecued ribs and coleslaw, I woke up face-to-face with a chewie, half of a smoked pig ear,  and a Milk Bone dog biscuit. Barney had lined them up on my pillow, trusting that I would protect his treasures just as he protects me.  (Don’t think I haven’t wondered who ate the first half of that smoked pig ear!)  Dogs are like that. Uncomplicated. Loyal. Loving. Although I don’t particularly like to have my feet licked every night before I go to sleep, I do know that my bed and my life would be pretty cold without him.

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