I Stole the Tractor Seat

Not the missing seat...
Not the missing seat…

I stole a tractor seat last night. It was dark and raining, I pulled in the yard and called Mike.

“Hey, where is the tractor parked?”

“What?”

“The tractor. He’s not in the shop and they aren’t answering the phone.”

“You’re there?! Are they home?”

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T’was the day before Christmas

Christmas tree

T’was the day before Christmas, and all through the house
Mama was scurrying fast as a mouse.
The church clothes were hung in the laundry with care,
In hopes they stay clean for the children to wear.
The children were quiet, a mysterious noise,
My only hope is they are playing with toys.
I
in my apron and Pa in his cap,
She said “there’s no time for a Christmas eve nap”.
Then on the back deck, there arose such a clatter,
I
ran to the door to see what was the matter.
The dogs had come home and wanted inside,
One rolled in something that smells like it died.
After the children’s baths were through,
She lined up the dogs and gave them one too.
Then out to the barn, where the animals stay,
Ma filled up their water and fed them some hay.
On to the chickens to give them scratch grain,
To collect the day dozen eggs that’d been laid.
Back to the house, in the Ma came,
She whistled then shouted each child’s name:
Now Cyril, Now Mya, Now Luke and Scout!
And Deklyn, And Syndal and Michael Come out!
Take your clothes from the laundry, there’s no time to stall.
For heaven’s sake, who left their shoes in the hall?!”
The house has been cleaned twice already that day,
It will need it a third before we go pray.
More dusting and sweeping and straightening the rug.
“Don’t pig pile your sister! You give her a hug!”
Everyone together, let’s quick set the table,
We need to get moving, as fast as you’re able.
Let’s get in the car, it’s time to go.
Bring your hats and mittens, it’s starting to snow.
Christmas carols are sung on the way to church.
We made it on time! That’s sure a first.
Bowing our heads and kneeling to pray,
We thank God for the gift he gave us that day.
For our family and health and food on the table,
The birds in the coop and cows in the stable.
Out in the snow, back home we go.
Pajamas for all, as they jump into bed,
There’s great anticipation for St. Nick and his sled.
Carrots for the reindeer and cookies on the plate,
I hope Santa can stay that late.
The gifts were all wrapped and hidden with care,
Now if only St. Nick could remember where.
The cookies, now gone and the reindeer are fed.
Finally Pa and I can drift off to bed.
We look at each other as we turn off the light,
“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”
Then a jingle of bells and the patter of feet,
Bright, gleaming faces, prove it’s worth the lack of sleep.

**********

May your new year be filled with blessings to be counted, good health, family, friends and happy memories!

Merry Christmas!

*********

Hopefully my writing will pick up once again after the holidays as well.

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Giving Thanks

writing

The “art” of writing a letter seems to be lost on this generation. Personally I send a few letters every Monday; one to grandma and a couple to a few letter writing friends. I know I don’t use “proper” letter form but I use the basics. I’m not sure many people know a “proper” form these days.

I enjoy hand written notes and I save every one I get. Ever since I moved away for college grandma has written me at least one letter a week and I the same. That’s been ten years now, enough to need a large tote to keep them all. I haven’t gone through and reread them yet some day I will. For now I greedily hoard every one she sends because I know all good things must end at some time.

A young man in the army stationed in Germany was able to call home briefly and informed his mother that he loved the hand written letters that were sent. “Email is great because it’s instant, but a letter that was handled by you is worth the wait.”  It’s something that can be carried with you and reread at any moment. Living such a distance from loved ones having the simple envelope to have and hold is like having a piece of home with you.

Technology is great but nothing like doing things by hand. Who am I kidding I hate technology. I’d do anything to be a homesteader a hundred years ago, preferably in Montana then. We can discuss that later. Email just seems so informal, so lazy maybe or maybe impersonal is more what I am thinking of. Either way it’s missing something. (Usually proper grammar and spelling.)

With Christmas coming to a close thank you notes are on the “to do” list. Today thank you notes are a thing of the past as well these days. If it’s not a wedding or graduation thank you notes are forgotten. (I have to say there are very few thank you notes for such events I have received that have more thought in them as not sending one at all.)

Growing up mom always made us write thank you notes for Christmas, birthdays and any other time we received a gift. Now I write them for things more than material gifts. I have even tried to not send them…I feel so guilty they get sent, usually with an apology for it being late. Yep, I can’t not send them even when I try. I know they just get thrown away (except the ones to grandma) and that’s ok. I just feel better knowing that those who gave me an extra thought know how much I appreciate it.

*The picture above was from a pinterest search and I wasn’t able to follow the link to give credit to the one who took it. Sorry.

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Oh, Christmas Tree

Before Christianity was known people were decorating their houses with greenery around the winter solstice which usually fall around December 21-22 or so. The solstice was a celebrated belief that the sun god ( different cultures had different names for such) who falls ill in the fall was beginning to recover. The hanging of evergreen boughs was a sign that again the days would get longer and warmer and again plants would turn green and full of life. Thus praise and thankfulness to the sun god, god of agriculture ect.

In the 16th century Germans began bringing evergreen trees as we know Christmas trees today. Martin Luther was believed to be the first noted person to add candles to the tree. It is said he was inspired by the stars one night as he was walking through the trees and wanted to share the experience with his family.

The first record of a tree being on display in America was in the 1830’s in a German settlement in Pennsylvania.  Even though Christmas trees were common in the traditions of Christians in Germany they were still seen as a pagan symbol in America through the 1840’s. The German settlements had Christmas trees earlier but they were not a public display. Some Americans were working so had to rid all pagan aspects that any observation of the Christmas holiday aside from a church service was penalized. This by a law passed in Massachusetts in  1659, included any signs of joy, decorations carols ect.

It wasn’t until the 1840’s when Queen Victoria and German Prince Albert were pictured with their family gathered around a Christmas tree that the tree was here to stay.

The trees were mainly decorated with candles and homemade ornaments. Most Germans still decorated their trees with the more traditional marzipan cookies, nuts, apples and strings of dyed popcorn. With the advent of electricity came tree lights allowing the trees to be lighted for days on end and the Christmas trees in town squares began. From there  the tree tradition exploded and so did the size.

In Europe Christmas trees averaged about 4 feet, in America the stood floor to ceiling (we’ve “super sizing” everything since the beginning).  The outdoor trees on display continue to tower above.

I heard both sides of the real or fake tree argument.

One thought is real trees are the tradition and they are “green” as there are always more growing. The wonderful smell of pine and homemade cookies; a warm comforting Christmas feeling.

The other thought is why cut a tree for one month. The cost of the tree, if you don’t have the luxury of having one on your property to cut each year and most don’t. Then there’s the safety aspect. Most house fires over Christmas can be linked to overloading the electrical outlets, Aunt Martha leaving a burner on in the kitchen, then setting something other than a pot on it and dry Christmas trees. Some most people know the tree though now dead still draws water to keep its needles longer. A fireplace that is used often will dry the air in no time and the tree as well. It sometimes slips peoples minds to keep the tree watered with so many other things going on.

Then there’s holiday clean  up:

put the tree in a box in the Christmas closet (the hard to get to spot under the stairs)

or

haul the dry tree through the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, the entry way and finally to the yard, where by this time there are no needles left on the tree they are scattered like flower petals down a wedding isle through your house, where it will sit until spring when you decide where your going to dump it. Maybe you live in town where the poor garbage man has to deal with all the Christmas leftovers.

By the pro’s and con’s list the fake tree seems to win. I would prefer a real tree anyway. I like the smell of pine in the living room and the warmth the tree seems to bring. Being from Minnesota I have always taken trees for granted. Having lived in North Dakota for 10 years one would think I would be hugging the trees now that I’m back. I’m still not. I would have no problem clearing a couple few (more than 6 if you get it).

It took a few years to get used to the wide open spaces but when I did I absolutely loved it! (The east side of ND is still flat and boring, sorry) The middle and west is beautiful! The sunrises and sunsets are amazing. I still favor Montana sky above all else but I found lots of beauty in the Dakota’s.

One might also think the my husband being from the wide open wouldn’t mind clearing a few trees around the farm. (especially since we have a nice crop of Christmas trees around part of our hay field, with them gone I could get a few more bails out of it) Wrong again! He likes the trees each and every one!

I’m too cheap to buy a real tree every year, the Mister like the trees where they are on our land and our wood stove in the living room burns all day long. We have a fake tree. Hiding pine scented car air freshener trees in it is not the same, so don’t bother with those.

Never the less the tree is up, decorated and glowing. The room is warm with the stove and well I didn’t do any Christmas baking this year, selfishly because I can’t eat it. But the tea smells good too ( not like cookies but hopefully next year).

So what are your thoughts about the tree debate?

Christmas tree

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Scrappy Stocking

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, well not here. As we decorated for Christmas this year I realized we were one short. I took out the knitting needles and some yarn I had spun previously and began knitting. In no time and had a nice Christmas stocking… that I stuffed back in my knitting basket and plan to unravel and modify the pattern after Christmas. What a disappointment!

After all that we were still one stocking short. I still had my sewing machine and scrap fabric spread over the dining room table from a fall of apron making. So a scrappy stocking was in the works. It turned in to a nice afternoon project and this one I don’t plan to take apart.

First I traced one of the stockings we already had and cut out four pieces out of muslin. Two for the outside and two for the lining.

stocking 1

I gathered all red scraps I had off I went. I used the same technique to make the stocking as I do a crazy quilt.

Start with a piece of muslin to build on. I layer my scraps on the base sewing each new scrap to cover the corner of the previous piece.

Stocking 2

When using a square and smaller pieces you won’t end up with a “fishtail” layering. For the stocking though I wasn’t too worried. I used the green plaid for the top “cuff”. Once the pieces are sewn to the base double check to make sure all the seam ends are covered or will be sewn into the side seam. Then trim the edges even with the base piece. Do the same with the back. Helpful hint: check which direction the toe is facing or you could end up with two fronts and no back. I know from experience. 🙁

Before sewing the back to the front I used embroidery floss and primitive stitched the name.

Then it’s pretty straight forward; right sides together sew the outside together. Again checking the toe direction sew the other two pieces together, right sides together.

Now, I know there is a way to sew the lining to the shell and turn it so all the seams are in and everything looks all nice and finished. But I couldn’t seem to remember how, so I pressed the top in on both the shell and lining and topped stitched around the edge.

Stocking 3stocking 4

Here’s the front and back of the finished stocking. A perfect afternoon project.

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