Sunday, September 22, 2013

happy fall - happy harvest

I'll tell you what I am loving.  I'm loving fall and I am loving the bounty of the harvest.  So many beautiful and delicious things; so much hard work followed by satisfaction of aching muscles as well as freezers and shelves filled with goodness to enjoy all winter long.
Happy Fall!
A few days ago you could officially feel it in the air.... that cool, crisp feeling underneath the day's warmth.  I love that feeling.  Today, however, is officially the day.
While we are waiting for God to work out housing and things for us, we are hard at work helping to "bring in the harvest".  This week Eric and I helped my uncle with his three pumpkin patches on his land.  Eric worked two days - the first one they cut the pumpkins off the vines and stacked them.  Day two I joined in by helping to load some of them pumpkins, and by clearing the gardens of many, many pumpkin vines (and other plants as well).
The job is not for the faint of heart.  It is some hard work, but man, it is a lot of fun.  Those vines are incredible!!  I was constantly amazing, while pulling them, how huge they were.  Twenty feet long, curled and twisted and intertwined.  Two of them even grew out of the patch and started growing up the surrounding trees.  And their supplementary roots - amazing.  Every foot or two the vine was securely fixed to the ground by little claws grown down to grab the soil.
My favorite part, besides just the plain love of doing some good, satisfying manual labour, was hearing the vines pop.  When you pull these hollow vines, they will break, of course.  But when they break, they make a cool echoey pop.  Eric thought I was a little strange, but hey - I was fascinated.
 The fields before and after, including the large pile of tossed vines at the back!
 It is a serious amount of work and both Eric and I were completely drenched with sweat.  Both of my shirts were sopping..... I don't just perspire.  I don't "glow".  I just plain sweat - and get a nice red face!  Lucky me.
For a little snack I had one of the very yummy apples off of my uncle's tree as well.  So good.  It makes me motivated for a few days from now when I will be picking dozens and dozens of little bitty apples from my mom's friend's yard.  Beautiful red, almost purple apples, to make some yummy, tart applesauce.  I'm pretty stinking excited!
My mom and I went to their yard two days ago to pick some tomatoes (already have billions of them which my mom cut up and put in the freezer) and potatoes.  They have a wonderful garden.  On their lawn were these beautiful mushrooms.  I don't know if they are edible, and they certainly aren't wanted on a nice lawn, but they really were so pretty.  Love the endless folds on the undersides.
 Yesterday morning my brother, nephew, niece, Mia, Cade, Lucy and I all went to pick grapes at my dad's.  One side of his house is full of concord grape vines.  And concord grapes means delicious jams and jellies - for the preservation room (movie credit to "National Treasure").

 There were pounds and pounds of them.  We picked until there was nothing left to pick.  Then Brent hauled them off to his house for us to set to work on them today.....  More on that later....
In the afternoon, while some golfing went on, my sister came to visit.  She, very patiently and tolerantly, both gave and endured massages with Lucy and our niece.  They set up a system where they were at first rubbing each other's feet.  Then they got more complicated and had Riley take turns massaging two sets of feet, while she got her feet massaged by Lucy and Jann rubbed Lucy's back.  Jann got the short end of the stick on that one, it seems!
 Back to the grapes.  So today began the washing, sorting, juicing and jellying.  The kids (who, save Cade), heartily and joyfully set into their task of pulling all the grapes off the stems after Glenda washed them.  I took on the weighing/measuring into batches.  Then the kids took turns mashing (before we headed over, Cade was very distraught to find out that we were not mashing them with our feet).

 Eric even got into the action.  Mindlessly mashing while watching the game on Slingbox.  
 We got four batches of jelly done and tomorrow I'll finish up probably three or four more.  Although one batch has to be redone as someone (all fingers pointing at me) forgot to add pectin to a batch..... Glenda called me this evening to ask about some stuff and exclaimed that a few of the jars were completely runny.  Ooops.  Hey - there was a lot going on, all right?!
Back at Grandma's, the kids took to the yard.  They are so excited to make a big ol' pile of leaves to jump into.  This is pretty new territory for them.  No fall for four years and fall in California is not quite the same - especially considering we didn't have any great leaf-dropping trees around us.

 Cade was even scraping up leaves from the dirt beside Grandma's place, to add to the pile.  The problem is that these leaves are a) obviously dirtier and b) full of twigs and other such items that make a leap into leaves not quite as comfortable.  He also thought it was easier to scrape up these leaves, put them on the deck and then sweep them off the deck into the pile, instead of just dumping them right onto the pile.  Okee-dokee.  Whatever tickles your fancy, buddy.

 He wasn't terribly happy with me taking pictures in the first place, and then got pretty darn mad when I was (softly) snickering at his, in my mind, questionable methods.  Yes, he did end up throwing this broom at me.  He didn't hit me and I'm pretty sure he didn't intend to.... but yes, it shouldn't have been done anyway.
Well, they do have a right-nice pile of leaves ready for them.  It was dinner time before they got to get to jumping, so the activity had to get postponed.  As I sit here typing, listening to the wind blowing the trees, I'm thinking they might just have a lot more work ahead of them before they take their first plunge.  But isn't the work worth it?

Monday, September 16, 2013

newspaper delivery woman

I have high aspirations  - I got me a job.
No holding out for a management position for me.
I'm delivering newspapers!!
Yes, it is true.
I'm actually kind of excited about it and already delivered last Thursday.  I figured I want to get more exercise, so why not get paid for it?  It is just the local paper and it only comes out once a week.  So every Thursday I'll be hauling off 63 or so issues of Steinbach's literary pride, The Carillon.
Eric joined me on the first half of my first route.  It'll end up being about two hours of fast walking (you have to put the paper right at the doorstep since quite a few subscribers are older, and there are quite a few one or two houses on the whole street who subscribe situations). It would be okay pay if I did it in a car like most people, but spread it out over the two hours and it doesn't add up to much.
My boss says that he doesn't care who delivers them, as long as it gets done, so that means Eric can do it for me when I am away (or when it starts getting stinking cold!!).
Not much as far as a job goes yet, but it is a start!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

falling in love again

The other day I headed off, again, to Grand Forks, ND to pick up the rest of our belongings in storage. It was a great day - all to myself.  I needed that time alone quite badly.... I don't think I knew how much I needed it until I had it.  And it was good.  And I fell in love again.... with my new old home.
 I have been struggling with being here - struggling a lot.  And I am still to some extent - but I have rediscovered the passion I have for the prairies.... the passion that I have had for my entire life, save the last few months.
 These sunflower pictures were taken the first day I returned, with my mom, to Grand Forks for the first load.  It was a beautiful, hot, hot day and I had to stop to capture these beautiful flowers.   That was August 28th.
A week and two days later - September 6th - the flowers looked like this.
 Just a few days of some very intense heat and those same bright sunny fields were full of dark, heavy heads, almost ready for harvest.
While the sunny yellow flowers are more cheery and "beautiful", it was the second day in which I had a distinct moment where I realized that I was back in love.  The fields, the trees (there are a lot, just not in the space between Steinbach and Winnipeg!), and most especially, the sky and clouds.  I have always loved, loved, loved the sky.  I am constantly wanting to take pictures of the clouds/sky even though I am often in a car or some place where you just can't do it justice.

Another thing I love is the people.  I've been going to a lot of garage and yard sales lately and chatting it up with the locals.  They are wonderful people, as a whole.  Plus, they are selling a whole lot of stuff that I am super excited about for great prices.  I have a garage full of projects - so excited!!  
On my way back from Grand Forks, for example, I stopped at a yard sale.  While I'm not picturing anything I did buy there (I'm sure I'll do that yet), there were some dandies at this sale, to be sure! Anyway who wanted to furnish their place in circa 70s would have been in for a real treat!  For example, take this lamp with a two foot (at least) tall gold, crushed velvet shade.... and just for a dollar!
 Then they had a matching pair of these also very very large lamps (the shades were even bigger... I'm guessing over 2.5 feet) with opalescent bases that were huge!  If these lamps would have been half the size, they would have been mine - $4 for the pair - but since I would have to have a 3500 sq ft house to have enough space for them, I left them for some one else.
Over and over again I have found treasure after treasure and have had to exercise great restraint in not going overboard.  Eric would state that he doesn't believe I have exercised any..... but he is wrong!  One day I went to a sale with Mia and my niece and came home with a cool little chair for $5.  It will be reupholstered in some fun fabric.  In the meantime, my niece decided that it would be a cool ride home to be buckled up in that chair instead of the car seat (they were folded down).
 And then there are the other things I love to do - stuff that is really trendy right now (including the above thrifting and refinishing type stuff I like) - but stuff that is just regular life for people here - well, many people.  Gardening, harvesting and preserving food for the winter.  Making jams, jellies, pickles, sauces, preserving fruit, etc.  Like my sister-in-law making spaghetti sauce and salsa with the vegetables from her garden.
I am so stinking excited to have a garden next summer.   Hopefully my black thumb will miraculously figure out that I have to have inherited a green thumb and it will be ousted....  I did get into the excitement, however, and with some lovely strawberries, made jam (preserved in jars purchased at a garage sale, of course).

 A thing of beauty.
 I even took time to make beautiful labels for my jam.  Hahahahahahaha.
 And then there is fall.  Oh, how I have missed fall.  Oh, how I love fall.
Today we had our first taste - a mere sip.  We went to some local farms that were open for "Farm Days".  Many farms - from alpaca to organic growers to dairies to horse ranches - the whole gamut - throughout Manitoba, were open to the public to come and visit.  There were many I really wanted to go to, some of the types listed above, but they were a bit to much of a drive for what we were able to do today.  So we hit a Christmas tree farm and a horse ranch - the ranch were my sister and her kids have their horse and take lessons.  The whole day reawakened in me the past dormant desire to have a hobby farm and do agro-tourism.  Now I am in full desire again.....
While the one place is a Christmas tree farm, they were in fall mode with lots of pumpkins and gourds to go around.

 Originally they were supposed to have horse drawn rides, but were having issues, so the tractor filled in.  No worries, the tractor was fine.
 The host stopped here and there to show us / inform us about various farm highlights.  We also stopped at a small pumpkin patch where the kids could pick their own to take home.

 After a little more perusing and the purchase of some beautiful gourds and such, we headed out to Cloud 9 Ranch, home of Monaco Loewen - my sister's horse.
 Her three girls, my lovely nieces, participated in demonstrations - things they learn in riding lessons.   While I haven't blogged about it yet, I have a zillion pictures of them competing two weekends ago in a weekend of riding shows that we went to.  It was so fun and the kids all want riding lessons now.  I told them we would probably have to wait until mom and dad have a little more income than none.....
 Riley was trying to get Monaco to play a little soccer, but she was not cooperating very well.
 Timaya and Riley demonstrated vaulting for the audience.  I was a pretty proud auntie, I must say.

Shandy was also doing some demos but we couldn't stay for it all, unfortunately.  Good thing we saw her doing a lot of stuff the other weekend or we would have been very unhappy about having to leave.

 After a lovely day at the farms, we came home (my mom's) to more wonderful Manitoba-ness....  fresh corn for dinner.  The kids and Eric did the shucking, although they were none too happy about it (the kids, that is).  They've got to get used to a lot more manual labour again.... they've been living large much too long.

Wonderful, fresh produce has been seen every where.  My dad and Rose dropped off a bunch of treasures from their garden, the thrift store was selling the most delicious and beautiful cherry tomatoes I have ever had, friends are handing out bags and bags full of vegetables.  It has been a bountiful year.  Here's hoping the the Ackermann garden of 2014 will be much the same!