Saturday, January 28, 2012

Revitalization Has Begun

Click on pictures for larger view

Example of Hope

Last August my nephew's home in NJ was flooded. As the water was subsiding and before the cleanup was hardly begun, September brought another flooding! The photos here don't really show the full impact, but today there is hope, even as total repairs are still being completed and cleanup is not finished.

You see, the firemen came and saved his "girls." Their coop and yard were at the back of the home and they were almost lost.

These photos of yesterday were kept only as reminders of the devastation that so many have endured when the weather ruled. Today there is light at the end of the tunnel and - RENEWAL! The girls are laying!

Example of Interior

Example of Front Yard

Example of Back Yard

Example of Hen Yard and Coop

Example of Front Yard Street

Example of Compassion

Example of Front Yard - Strike Two

Friday, January 27, 2012

After all, It's Only a Table

But…it's also the activity hub of the cabin. It's the main place where we work and eat and do so much more. It's the nerve center, the core of living here.

It's a bench for making small repairs and sorting everything that's moveable; a worktable for craft making and handmade creations. This table is a desk where mail is read, important papers are signed, letters are written, bills are paid. It is the point of attraction for visitors as they seem to always gravitate to it without being led; a social centerpiece for conversation, discussions and game playing. It's a place for common daily happenings such as dispensing pills AND dealing with spills!

We sit here to watch television, look out the window at weather conditions, and see various walkers and vehicles approaching. Binoculars are kept handy on one of the nearby chairs to observe unusual or rare wildlife appearing on or around the lake.

Now I know that a kitchen or dining room table is a staple in almost all homes. This one is special to us. It used to belong to my husband's mother. She gave it to us about forty five years ago when she moved from New Jersey to Michigan to live near her eldest son as she was aging. To the best of our knowledge, the table and four chairs have been moved to four or five different homes throughout its 71 years. That number of its age is assumed by a stenciled stamp on its bottom with the date of 10-20-41. There are no manufacturer labels located anywhere on it and I can't tell you what kind of wood was used for its construction. I can say that is a tough table although some of its screws work loose every few years. Most older things have a screw or two loose, don't they?

Yesterday we bought a new piece of clear vinyl to recover the tablecloth. The old covering was getting lumpy with age. (Another feature of older things.) This entails a two "man" effort so I helped and then a light went on! Take pictures of the naked table! It was the perfect opportunity to observe and preserve its underside. After tightening all of the screws and nuts and flipping it back up on its legs we viewed the pictures. It was only then that the very dusty cross braces were revealed in their full beauty! I quickly ordered it to vamoose and now proclaim them free of the stuff.

Our office and workplace and television lounge and place for sustenance is back in good order.

CLICK on photos to view in larger format.

Fresh made warm meat loaf sandwiches are now being served..........

Have a seat on a chair with a 70 year old original patina!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Elementary School Project

Hi My Out of State Friends!

One of my dearest friends and neighbor is a school teacher and the Lifeskills class is doing a project where they are trying to receive a postcard from every state in America. If any of you would like to help them by sending their class a postcard from your state, they would greatly appreciate it and send you a personal thank you note. Their address is:

Lathrop Street Elementary

c/o Mrs. Benninger/Mrs. Petrewski

130 Lathrop Street

Montrose, PA 18801

Be sure to put a return address on your card and they will reply!

Thank you so much for your time and involvement in this project. I would really like for you to participate. Gere

By the way, I have really nice personal friends in TN, GA, WV, KY, WI, SC, CT, NC, VA, OH, NY, FL and more. I'll contact them via e-mail messages. I don't have anyone in MA, TX, or IL. This is why I'm hoping you'll participate.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Mom, You Smell Like the Cabin!"

Of course I do. How often have I heard those words from one of our kids. After all, the fifty two year old cabin is totally made of absorbable wooden logs and planks throughout. I want you to close your eyes and smell the cabin with me now.

Think of wet bathing suits and towels, wet mittens, boots and jackets drying over the beams. Think of a fireplace burning brightly with hardwoods. Breath deeply. Dogs, several dogs. They were here.

Imagine fishes being cleaned in the kitchen sink, pot roasts, hams and meat loaves in the oven, Thanksgiving turkeys roasting. Now divert your odor receptors and fine tune your memory smells of all sorts of cookies, cakes, pies and puddings. Remember what they smell like? How about bacon sizzling in a cast iron pan? Coffee, tea, hot chocolate - do you like these? Burned chili or brussels sprouts?

Do you know the odors of pickling spices, dill, vinegar, lemons? Peeling hard boiled eggs? Apples and applesauce being made! A complete dinner consisting of just cooked corn on the cob! How about fruits, such as strawberries and elderberries simmering in a kettle in preparation for jams and jelly making? And then there is the paraffin warming to seal the jars. Speaking of paraffin, crayons! Then came permanent markers. Oh, I'm off on a tangent again.

The medicine cabinet supplies now; Vicks VapoRub, Resinol ointment, iodine, alcohol, Gold Bond products, Packer's Tar Soap, Lifebuoy, Old Spice. Cleaning supplies - specifically Clorox, Parson's Ammonia, Lysol, Pine Sol, Old English, Windex; Hoppe's gun cleaner! one of my favorite whiffs.

Camphor mothballs for the woolens, and Lindane, an antiquated and toxic pesticide that was once used for pests such as carpenter ants; each has it's own pungency. Then there are the glues holding things together - Duco cement, dum dum, super stuff, putty, caulk, spit.

During the last two years of my working days, we lived here in the cabin and I was always worried about smelling like "cabin." Maybe I did, but my co-workers were too kind to mention it directly to me. It's not offensive, just "cabin." Not fungus, mold, dirt or dust, but old. Honest!

Is your olfactory organ stimulated yet? I think you may get the idea of all the years of sweat and tears and life.

Hopefully you are! Today we're permeating the logs and walls and ceilings with the fragrance of baking a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies, from scratch, of course.

And we definitely smell like cabin!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snow Event

That ISN'T!
WE have 6 inches of fluffy stuff.

All sorts of hullabaloo and warnings and this is all we get!
A scare for many.

One of the nice things about fresh snow scenes in the early morning is that the earth seems quieter - for a bit.

I took photos through the kitchen windows so you can see for yourself.

Crews were prepared to work all through the night and the only ones busy were those removing damaged cars from ditches when drivers forgot how to drive in light snowy conditions.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pea Soup

I absolutely LOVE split pea soup! The kind that's made with a well-picked-off ham bone. My neighbor doesn't favor it and my nephew, who is an excellent "from-scratch" cook politely turned me down, claiming not to be a fan of pea soup. Oh, well...all the more for me! Actually I offered to swap a taste of mine for a taste of his roasted butternut squash soup but it was not to be.

I think I love it so much because of my first day at school. I remember that day very well, down to the tiniest details. You see, I didn't want to go. I was being the obstinate child that appeared often in those days. Mother took me by the hand we marched out the door and down the road anyway, with me protesting, even though I had my favorite pink dress on with the little white flowers and was wearing my turned down cuff Sunday School socks with the pink stripes. By the way, the dress was made from chicken feed sacks.

We walked the mile, yes it's like you hear, but we DID - and the teacher greeted us at the classroom door. She was very pleasant and smelled nice. I clung to Mother's skirts and wailed. Finally, after a promise from her that we would have split pea soup for lunch I relented and became a kindergartner with high hopes to just get through the four hours and have that wonderful treat as soon as Mother came for me and we could walk the long mile back.

Who would have thought peas could appease so well? That soup would be considered a TREAT?

Wonder what she did with my 2 year old brother when she was doing all that walking and preparing my soup? The promise was kept and who would know that it is remembered so well 70 years later!


Pea Soup

Ham bones cooked in 16 cups water for 7 hours on low setting

Strain/drain ham bones

1 lb dried split peas put into broth

2 cups finely chopped onion put into broth

Simmer 3 hours, stirring often

Serve with warm honey cornbread muffins slathered with butter

Monday, January 16, 2012

Winter Heating Method

Furnaces and Frost Memory

The 'heating with coal' method in the 40's was dirty, messy, a lot of work but quite efficient. I believe it was the primary fuel source to heat homes.

An asbestos-covered furnace existed in our cellar. The pipes running from it were also asbestos-covered. In fact, in the grammar school I attended, the asbestos-covered pipes ran all through the hallways. I remember scratching my initials and drawing pictures in the asbestos coverings with my fingernails! (This was done when my parents weren't looking because a strong scolding always resulted, but I couldn't help myself.) Naughty!

Coal slid from the delivery truck down a metal chute which went through our cellar window at the far end of the house. The truck first had to back into our neighbor's driveway to deliver. Then the back of the truck would raise up and tip downward, the chutes would be attached and a lever was pulled to release the coal. The coal was wet, I guess so it wouldn't spark and catch fire!

The coal was hand-shoveled into the furnace and had to be replenished regularly throughout the day. It was brought over to the furnace from the bin across the cellar in a hand-carried pail. When Dad was at work, Mom had to keep the fire going. Dad was away overnight for a day or two periodically. Times were hard then.

The fire had to be remade each morning which was the coldest time of the day. The first task was to remove the old ash from beneath the fire grate (a cast iron grid which held the coal). The grate was raised up to allow air in and to let the ashes fall into a pan, and this pan had to be taken out and up the cellar stairs to the outside driveway besides the house to be emptied. If there was no snow, it was emptied into buckets and kept for future use. The process created clouds of dust. Although most of the ashes did collect in the pan, the space below still needed to be swept out, which made more dust.

Keeping the fire going was really an art in those days. Chimney fires were always a threat when the heat was cranked up. It had something to do with the draft and the draw. If the fire went out, it was a pain to start it up again. I remember balled up newspaper being used. A hot fire in the furnace created the heat necessary to boil the water to make the steam. I remember there was a glass tube on the side of the furnace in which a certain level of water had to be maintained so the steam could build up in the radiators on the first and second floors. Steam heat was the result. How I loved to hear the whistle go off when the steam pressure was released. It meant heat!

It also meant that when I woke up in the morning the gift of an absolutely wonderful and beautiful frost-glazed window was sparkling bright to greet me. - and tempt me. I could now scratch magical designs with my childhood imaginative artwork. Breathing on the frost would enhance the drawings - in my mind! I would redecorate my window at every chance throughout the cold winter.


Almost all of us here in Northeast Pennsylvania burn varied types of fuels to keep our homes warm. Not all areas are comfortably warm, but there is usually a "hot spot" where
backsides, toes and hands and pets can get revival as needed. Our only heat is a gas propane insert in an old brick fireplace. This replaced a wood burning barrel stove. Burning wood in a small home is a messy, dusty, and labor intensive method, even though the fire is mesmerizing and pretty. In our bathroom an electric wall heater stands ready for long stays. My daughter, who lives across town has a combination of heat sources. There is a wood burning furnace in the basement, alongside a propane furnace. In her kitchen there is a propane gas heater inserted in the wall. Our son-in-law has our old salamander heater in his garage/shop.

My neighbor has a propane gas furnace, and a wood burning stove and a propane stove in action.

Another neighbor burns coal pellets in a free standing stove, and his daughter has a wood pellet free standing stove in her home.

At our SC place I've noticed that many have oil radiators, electric ceramic heaters, and even infrared heaters in central areas. The bathhouses have overhead propane heaters.

I have just realized that I don't know anyone with a kerosene heater, but there most likely are many in our hometown houses.

I am aware that there are electric fireplaces marketed, but have never seen one.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pecan Pie

Shortcut: I used prepared frozen deep dish pie crust

3 eggs need to be whipped to a froth.

Hard-packed dark brown sugar, butter and dark corn syrup need to come to a rolling boil in a very thick saucepan.

Hot boiled mixture needs to be poured INTO eggs immediately while stirring.

Ground (not whole or half) pecans stirred in along with vanilla.
All poured into crust shell and baked in hot oven.

Dishes, pot and utensils soaked in hot dishwater before washing up.
Easy but messy and sticky cleanup!

I make 2 of these each year and they are sooooo good! Better'n candy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Winter Contemplation

Thoughts of an Older Lady

Fourteen Things I Like About Winter

  • Seeing sparkles twinkling on fresh snow
  • Hearing the ice on the lake moan, groan and snap
  • Having a hot spot to stand in front of when I'm chilly
  • Watching heavy snow falling
  • Breaking icicles from the gutters
  • Not sweating
  • Looking out the window over my bed and seeing the moon through the barren tree branches
  • Feeling confident that Spring is coming soon
  • Smelling a pot roast cooking
  • Not leaving the house often
  • Watching the dog romp and tear through the snow
  • Knowing it not as risky to burn papers
  • Dark short days
  • Snow covering the ugly to hide it for a bit
Fourteen Things I Don't Like About Winter

  • The geese taking so long to leave the lake
  • The cold toilet seat
  • Static electricity in my hair
  • The propane bill
  • The electric bill
  • Electric power going out
  • More laundry
  • Constant company
  • Slippery footing and driving
  • Dry skin
  • Melted muddy snow
  • Wearing heavy clothes
  • Voles and mice finding a hole to enter
  • Whipping wind sneaking in the cracks