Monday, November 20, 2006

Gnarled and knotty

I picked two apples yesterday from my grandparents' apple tree; there were more, but I picked only what was within arm's reach from the ground. Starbeans and I ate one of them, my grandparents shared the other. My grandpa chomped on a slice of it while my grandma ate hers like an orange wedge, leaving the peel on her plate.

The apples were big, juicy, and crisp: pleasantly sweet with greenish-yellow skin and a hint of red. My mom thought they may be "King" apples (perhaps Tompkins King?).

My grandparents live in the house his dad built from scrap lumber when he was in high school, replacing the original house. It is located on the original homestead of his mother's father, on a flood plain in a river valley. The Stilliguamish river flows a mile or so from their house. (I have many memories of their flooded basement and fields-turned-lake.)

The apple tree was planted when my grandpa was in grade school: we ate the fruit of an 80 year old tree. It is gnarled and covered with lichens and moss. Even the twigs that the apples grow off of look ancient: thick and knotty like an old man's knuckles, instead of smooth and new.

I like knowing that such an old tree can produce such lovely fruit. It is also interesting to think about how many generations have eaten and used the apples: my guess is five - Starbeans, me & my siblings, my parents, my grandparents, and my great-grandparents.

Someday, I'll have my own apple tree...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rain, rain, [don't] go away

11:00 o'clock and all is well.

I am at my parents' house in Western WA, where I will be for the next two weeks - my first Thanksgiving at home in 10 years. We flew out last night at 10:00 pm.

We've flown 5 times since Starbeans (15.5 months) was born and it gets progressively worse each time. The more mobile and aware of his surroundings he becomes, the less he wants to be confined to mama's lap in a tiny seat. However, he did amazingly well - I was so pleased. The older couple we were sitting by requested to move: although they wanted me to have the luxury of space, I'm sure it was for their sanity as well. Who wants to sit next to a squirmy toddler?? Thanks to their thoughtfulness, we had an entire 3 seats to ourselves. It was such a relief. I sat in the middle, with him in the window seat and entertained him with books, puzzle-books, nursing, and the window. He finally fell asleep half-way through when I started snuggling and singing to him (nursery rhymes, of course); nothing else had worked up until that point.

Starbeans is sleeping right now - the poor little guy has a lot to catch up on after last night's excitement. In Minneapolis, we spent a lot of time in the arcade where he stared at the flashing lights and even turned a steering wheel or two. At the Seattle airport, he was enthralled with the baggage carousel: toddling around it two or three times with Grandpa O. trailing behind. This morning, he chased my parents' dachshund around and rifled through my sister's room. It's going to be a fun couple of weeks at Grandma and Grandpa's house!!

It is lovely to be home. My parents heat with a wood burning stove, with gives the house a cozy feel. It is wonderfully dreary outside, with a cloudy sky and the constant drizzle of rain and wind whipping the trees. It feels so good. I love the way it looks; I love the way it feels; I love the way it smells.

I love rain. Love it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory Dickory Dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down!

Hickory Dickory Dock.

I love nursery rhymes. I didn't realize it, but Hickory Dickory Dock has 12 stanzas! I need to learn them so I don't have to repeat the same one over and over while I'm singing it.

Starbeans is now consistently signing "milk" and "all-done". It is so nice to actually have some communication other than pointing and shrieking "ee-eee-ehhh!!"

I know he understands me, but so far, he hasn't verbalized much. He does know what a cow, doggie, and kitty says; he is starting to make "hiiiii" and "byeeeee" noises while he's waving 'hello' and 'goodbye'; and he started clapping (on his own) during the song "If you're happy and you know it". He is so dang cute - sometimes I can hardly look at him without feeling all squidgy inside. What I am going to do when he's not my baby anymore??

Today we took him to the library - he plays with puzzles in the children's area, then we went outside and laughed at him running down (small) hills. He only fell once: the very first time. Then he gathered his bearings and toddled quickly down the (tiny) slopes like a roly-poly baker's man.

It is amazing to watch him change and grow and have opinions about things - like wanting to go outside. That is his big thing right now; kind of a bummer, now that it is getting so cold. We are going to have to find him a snow suit for the winter, then he'll be nice and toasty.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sew what?

My mom gave me her old sewing machine the summer before I turned 23. That was the summer I graduated from college; as well as the year Squeeze and I were married. I wasn't sure how to use it at first, but I was grateful for it: the potential was exciting.

Not unlike canning, I wanted to start on something easy. My main goal was to use it with enough frequency to keep myself familiar with the workings of the machine. At some point, I'd like to get a little more heavy-duty with it (why on earth didn't I give it a try before I had a baby??). However, for now the answer is: gift bags. No patterns, pretty to look at, re-usable.

I've been making them each winter for 4-5 years now: both sides of the family has enough built up to use each year. We trade them back and forth every Christmas; my eventual goal is to phase out wrapping paper completely. I purchased the holiday-themed cloth at our local fabric store after Christmas, with the post-holiday-craze discount prices: 50% or more off, I believe.

They are so easy - simply:
  • Cut to fit the particular present
  • Hem the top on each side
  • Stitch up the sides

You can use it as a bag, with ribbon tied around the top. Or, like I did last year (pictured), use the bags like wrapping paper and fold to fit: secure with ribbons and bows.

Here is another inside into my insanity: I save all the excess ribbon, bows, and ties each holiday to use the following year. Why throw them out?

Gift bags don't have to be limited to Christmas: with the right fabric, they can be used for any gift-giving occasion or birthday. They are pretty, interesting to look at, fun to make, and twice as fun to give.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Svenska flicka

God morgon! (That means "good morning" in Swedish)

I'm really getting into this whole Borealis family history thing. I requested an English-Swedish dictionary from the library - I want to at least slip in a Swedish word here or there in my emails to Lars. I feel like such a lunk, writing to him in English - knowing full well that the brunt of translation lies on his shoulders. Now, his English is more adequate than my non-existent Swedish, but still...

I am spending good chunks of precious free-time examining family trees, pictures, birth-dates, and names. It is really interesting! I've found that I really adore the name Birgitta - several generations of Swedish Borealis women have this name. I also like the name Mats - isn't it cute?

Hej då

That Guy and W.W.

My brother was That Guy for Halloween, and his friend, Jessica, was Wonder Woman. Don't they look fabulous??

Monday, November 06, 2006

Show off ---

Look what I did this weekend:


Good old Lars

Have you ever googled yourself? I suppose most people have; but listen to this story:

Squeeze googled himself several weeks ago, looking for his high school track records (I'm married to a track & field super-star: he went to state in 4 events several years in a row). During the search, he saw his name in a Danish heritage website; following the link, he found his family the subject of detailed conversation. Lars, a Swedish Borealis, was looking for the American descendents of his family: his father's father came to the US as an old man in 1897 and was listed as suffering from "senility" on the Ellis Island record. Some of his sons stayed in Sweden, while other came to the States.

The website is a forum to help people track down geneological information; they researched & provided family history that Squeeze's parents weren't even aware of: Ellis Island records, occupations, census records, etc.

We emailed Lars and the forum volunteer to introduce ourselves and get more information, and several weeks later - family reunion! We are exchanging email, letters, and pictures; and Lars sent us a detailed family tree that dates back to the 1700's. Amazing.

Lars' father was first cousin to Squeeze's Great-grandpa Axel. Now is that fodder for an excellent middle name, or what???

In short: what a small, big world.
All through the power of The Internets.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Scarlet Butt-crack

I feel like posting something dreamy; not a complaint, like "Why does my neighbor insist on showing her butt-crack?"

But seriously: why does she?

For those who check my Currently Reading list, yes - I've been reading The Scarlet Letter for nigh on a month now. Maybe more. I read mostly while I'm pumping at work, which is only 3 days a week; so I don't get anywhere very quickly. I spot-read other things, but a novel: that is a different story.

I find myself drifting while reading it. Hawthorne goes into such deep detail about the physical surroundings, back-history, inner-thoughts, emotions, etc. - I get off track. I really like it, though, especially when little Pearl says things like "What does the letter mean, mother? - and why dost thou wear it?" or "Why doth the minister sit yonder?"

I'm going to make a list of books that I enjoyed as a youngster. By youngster, I mean junior high and younger - both books I read, as well as those that were read to me by my father and aunt.

  • The Secret Garden
  • A Little Princess
  • The Trolley Car Family
  • The Boxcar Children
  • Veronica the Show-off
  • SuperFudge
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Anne of Avonlea
  • Anne of the Island
  • The Hobbit
  • Lord of the Rings - Fellowship, Two Towers, Return of the King
  • The Chronicles of Narnia
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • At the Back of the Northwind
  • The Little House books
  • Little Women
  • Reader's Digest
  • Life magazine
  • Baby-sitter's Club books

I also read countless Nancy Drew books, but can't remember even one story-line or plot. I recognize book covers, but that is it. Interestingly, while I find Reader's Digest incredibly boring and hum-drum as an adult, I couldn't wait for each issue to come as a elementary-aged kid. I read those things from cover-to-cover: very odd, methinks.

I conclude this post with revealing one of my favorite books of all time: Jane Eyre. I love it. I love it! It is definitely in my Top Five.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Night Diaper: Part II

Now that we've been using our wool diaper covers for a couple of months, the time has come to re-lanolize them. This replaces the depleted oils that naturally occur in wool that keep them water-proof and smelling fresh. It is recommended to do this on a semi-regular basis. I noticed that it was time because the diaper covers seemed to smell stronger in the mornings (when the diaper is wet). You can smell the urine on the cover when it is wet, but once it dries out - the scent is gone. This was starting to not be the case, so I re-lanolized them and ta-da! Back to normal.

Here's how:
  • Wash & rinse the diaper cover like normal - cool water, wool wash, swish/squeeze the water through
  • Fill the bottom of the sink (or bowl) with hot water - this allows the lanolin, which is an oil, to dissolve
  • Add a squeeze of lanolin (I used Lanisoh) & swish the water around
  • Add more water to the sink, so it is room temperature (or cooler)
  • Put the wool cover in the water/lanisoh mix and let it soak for 15 minutes
  • Don't rinse - roll in towel & press out excess moisture like normal
  • Lay flat to dry, away from heat & sun

I've been washing our wool diaper covers every 2 weeks; I will probably re-lanolize them either every wash, or every other wash, depending on my observations and added experience.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oh, the weather

I read a comment posted on a blog yesterday that got me thinking. The commenter said, "We have nice weather year-round because we live in California". Nice weather. Year-round.

What does that mean?

Television weathermen seem to be obsessed with it. At this time of year, it is the elusive 50-60 degree day: clear skies, a light breeze, warm in the sunshine.

But what about Midwestern thunderstorms? Or drizzly spring days in the Pacific Northwest? How about a bitterly cold, bright snowy day in the middle of January? I love these days - I love that weather. Sure: "nice" days are pleasant enough, but don't we want a little variety to spice it up and keep things interesting?

Speaking of television news anchors, they seem peppy about the weather only when it will be warmer than usual in the fall/winter/spring, or cooler than usual in the summer; at least, in Minnesota. Then they can yuk it up with their cohorts, helmet hair and baubled necklaces in place, and talk about how the weather is going to be so lovely.

So nice.

Maybe I just shouldn't watch the news. But unfortunately for me, Squeeze is a television weatherman junkie.