Thursday, September 30, 2010

Back Road Beauty: The Magic of Fog

#14-bales of corn silage wait and a flock of birds fly up out of the standing corn behind it.

#13-the fog is wearing off, the magic almost gone!

#12-like a diamond in the sky!

#11-just magical

#10-this one is my favorite, I like the cows and the horses in the pink-tinged sunlight. In the hazy sunlight behind the pasture is power line structure, barely visible because of the haze created by the sun and the fog.

#9-even the old dead trees are transformed with fog and sunlight from ugly to beautiful.

#8-full sun filtered by one tree.

#7-taken just seconds later, this light is a whole different color than the previous photo.

#6-sunbeams point every which-a-way through the different trees.

#5-sunbeams cross the road.

#4-a silo with a halo was breathtaking and was almost surreal to look at even in the viewfinder, the barns standing below it barely visible on the ground.

#3-two lone trees guard the crops in the peachy light.

#2-you have your work cut out for you!

#1-hello sunshine!

This is what it looked like outside the window on Wednesday morning as I grabbed the keys to head to the car to take my son to school.

So, I had to grab the camera: I used the telephoto for almost all these shots.

Sun plus fog equals beautiful photos, straight out of the camera.

The interesting thing about all the photos above is that they were shot all in one hour, all from the driver's or passenger's windows of my car, I didn't step out of the car for one shot.

I did, though, have to check my rear view mirror alot, even though I was on back roads, dirt roads.

What I like about the photos is the color of the light in almost every photo is different. It depends on what the light is shining through and what the light had to go around to get to my lens.

Some of the light seems white, some yellow or orange.

The higher the sun rose in the sky, the less ethereal the pictures became. And when the sun had burned off the last of the fog, I was done haunting the back roads and went back home.

There's nothing better than chasing the fog on an early morning in September when the trees are still trying to decide which color to wear: green or golden.

Next week, the whole picture will be different because our nightly temperatures are dipping lower and lower and lower, bringing the color to the trees in brilliant shades.

Taking photos freezes these moments and doesn't let them run away from us.

(If you'd like, please vote for your favorite shot in this series.)

September, you were beautiful! Now, we welcome October with open arms and breathe a sigh of relief as the heat goes away, leaves change, the grass slows down its new growth and apples and cider become our new best friends again!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy Hen

She lives on the dining room table...

this little old hen,

with Grandpa Levi's kerosene lamp,

and a chippy green silverware tray...

and some garage sale silverware...

can't explain it,


..something about this little tableau makes me

extremely happy...

Cluck, cluck!

(By the way, I once had a nice flock of almost a dozen chickens, and I really miss them, because, truly, they say alot more than "cluck"...way more. I enjoyed talking to the girls. I think next spring, we might take the plunge and open up the chicken coop once again and buy some little chicks.

I miss having them around, especially at canning time when they would be so thrilled when I brought them tomato cores and peelings, and apple peels, anything at all. So, until next year my little chickens placed around the house will have to do!)

Monday, September 27, 2010

More Farmhouse Remodeling: New Hardwood!

Thank God for Home
--Grace Noll Crowell

I cannot thank Thee, God, enough
For this small plot of ground, this roof,
These lifted walls that close me in
And hold me tenderly, this proof
Of Thy kind care for my great need
Of shelter and of daily bread;
But oh, there are no written words,
There are no words that have been said
That could express my gratitude
For the companionship of love
That shares my simple fare--dear God
A gift I would be worthy of!
And I would thank Thee for the tasks;
A fire to tend, a loaf to bake,
A floor to sweep, a seam to sew,
A clean, white sheeted bed to make,
A lamp to light at evening time--
I thank Thee, God, for all of these;
For home--my home, for every home--
I thank Thee, God, upon my knees.

We've been busy around here. Anytime an old home is involved, you're busy: busier than you ever dreamed you'd be!

Last fall, we finished the very last of the big projects we took on when we bought this place almost twenty years ago.

We were so naive when we bought this old house, thinking certain projects would be done right away, and even more innocently thinking the money would hold out.

We were so wrong --on all points.

What we thought would get done first; got done last. What we thought was imperative, we lived without for fifteen years!

We're finding that since we've lived here almost twenty years, we are now doing things over for a second time. The roof we put on when we moved in needs to be replaced again, and we had flooring to consider...

One big thing on our list that we will be doing for the second time was the roof. When we moved in, we had it torn down to the studs, and layers and layers of shingles (even the original wooden shakes were underneath it all!!) torn off, as well as the underlayment, had it all replaced and our new blue roof was installed.

The weather out here is hard on a roof, we should have been able to get twenty five years out of these shingles, but the wind is horrible here and it's hard to lock those shingles on strong enough to hold for some of the high winds we experience.

Another thing is, when we moved in, there was carpet in the main floor living area. Without thinking much about it, we just replaced it, figuring if there were hardwood, no one would have covered it over with plywood.

So we've discussed it, and since we live debt-free, we know we can afford to do one major project a year. We decided to do the floors in the house first, and pray that the roof will last us one more winter.

One hot September night, we got the rooms emptied (OH. MY. GOSH! The things that accumulate in twenty years!!) and then we were faced with tearing up the carpet and the padding, which was nothing. That was gone in less than an hour.

But, what we thought the new hardwood would be placed over is a plank floor from the old days. We were wrong. There was cheap particle board over the old floors that was dried from age and crumbling into dust. We stopped crying years ago about the surprised an old house can hand you. Now, we just get to work.

So the plywood had to come up, too. The barrier was hundreds of nails and lots of prying and pulling and scraping and sweeping.

So out came the tools and equipment and we all got busy, and sweaty and stinky, and the old house got LOUD.

But we got all the plywood up and all the nails pulled. It took HOURS. Even if we'd wanted to use the original plank flooring, we would have had a heck of a time filling the thousands of holes that all the nails left!

We felt really OLD the next day, and we walked funny.

This is what the floor looked like under the living room carpet after the plywood came off.

It's tar paper, people! Tar paper!

We did one room at a time, so that the installation could be done in one room, and the bigger furniture pieces could be pushed or moved into the finished room while the next room was being done.

The living room floor was done one day (by the installers). Sometimes, you have to know what it's worth to spend your money on.

We had our family room installed first which was done in a room we've added on to the house ourselves just twelve years ago, so we knew what was under the family room carpet.

My husband was home to watch the way it was installed and said there was no way he'd be able to do the labor and have the floor done in this calendar year.

The two-man crew that did the installation has done hundreds of them, and their skill alone in trimming out the floor was something we knew we didn't have. So, we parted with the money.

Buying hardwood isn't expensive: it's the labor to install it that is. So we weighed it out and found that we'd rather pay the labor than drag the installation out and live with all the disruption having rooms torn up for months would cause.

Most old homes were added on to, room by room by room. This shows the old threshold where the dining room was added on to the original part of this old farmhouse. Even with the new floor on, the bump of the unevenness of this addition can be felt underfoot. And that's the way it goes with old homes: quirks, quirks, quirks!

Once the living room was done, we started to tear down the dining room. This lovely 1940's linoleum was under the plywood in that room. Ain't it purty??

I'm thinking that this floor would have driven me completely bonkers if I'd lived here in the forties, but then, they probably thought it was just gorgeous back then!

All ready for the installers to come the next day and start round three of the job.
(Isn't the faux marble border around the edge of the linoleum a nice touch?!)

Installation well under way!

(My joy knew no bounds, people! I was thrilled with how it looked!)

Now, what's so weird about this old house is that there was hardwood in the bedroom areas and the kitchen of the main floor, so strange. The drawback to installing hardwood instead of carpet is that we have a patchwork of hardwoods: new hardwood isn't even made the same as old, so the look of it is smoother, we matched color as best we could, and made sure that all the floors faced east-west like our already-existing hardwood floors.

Unless I pointed it out to a visitor, they may not notice that the floors differ much, and they might step over thresholds without noticing, but these little sticking points don't take away one bit of my enjoyment over having the whole main floor done in hardwood now!

Soon, I hope to be able to show you a bit of a makeover I did in the three rooms we had switched over to hardwood. It might not make sense to you, but I think a hardwood floor is like adding a fifth wall and the decorating has to be different in some ways. I'm working all that out right now.

The plus side of this whole month-long mess has been all the "fall cleaning" I've done associated with moving complete rooms of furniture around and cleaning up all the dust that came out because of ripping up twenty-year-old carpet and destroying fifty year-old plywood....

I've decided that I really kind of like the feeling of the cleaning being done in the fall before the holidays: it may become a tradition that when school starts, I get down to business and deep clean.

The reasoning for that is it would stay done all winter for the most part, and in the spring when we can finally stop being cooped up inside like cavemen, I can be outside when everything is greening and beautiful with NO GUILT.

I'm all for fall-cleaning and for hardwood floors, how 'bout you?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

2010 Youth Hunt: Another Success!

This weekend was the youth hunt in Michigan.

It was Luke's second one...he is nearly fifteen.

After completing a hunter's safety course several years ago, he qualifies to gun-hunt ahead of the season for a Saturday and Sunday the last weekend in September, with a qualified adult.

Last year, on the last night, Luke shot a six-point at dusk. He was so proud, but dad was even prouder!

Mr. Farmhouse was working this Saturday, so they got to go out for an evening hunt that night, and Luke could have shot a doe, but chose not to, wanted to wait for a buck.

They got situated early Sunday morning in the stand, and not many minutes later, they had bucks in behind them, and were watching those, when what should walk up in front of their blind?

Two bucks: a six and an eight-point.
So, Luke took his pick and went for the eight.

Daddy called me soon after the deer was down, it dropped right in front of their blind, so they didn't have to track it.

I could tell when I answered the phone that they had a deer from the sound of my husband's voice! He was bursting with fatherly pride!

Up and at 'em! There's work to do!

The men sledded it out of the bean field, and brought it home to gut and hang to weigh, skin and quarter...

We have a pretty good system going, and a spare fridge in the pole barn that we plug in to keep the quarters in until we can get them cut and packaged. So we all know our roles and hop to it. I clean and set up the tables, cutting boards, and get the garbage bags ready for the quarters to be placed into.

And so it begins, again. The freezer will be full for the winter. This big boy weighed over two hundred before he was field-dressed.

And this, my friends, is some of the best meat you'll ever have: corn-fed venison.
It's very healthy, because it's low-fat.

The deer lives a pretty happy life, he roams and eats, chases does and eats, fights other bucks, and sleeps, and eats some more.

Then someone may or may not harvest him: with a car, or a gun or bow.

We prefer the gun or the bow; but we've all had our run-in with a deer and our vehicles!

The farmer is always happy to have us help cull the herd he feeds every year from his crop.

And I hope he gets another during bow or gun season!

If he gets another, this one will stock the freezer, and the other will go to "Dan the Sausage Man" who will make jerky and sausage for us! He smokes it in his backyard, and uses apple wood to flavor the meat, making the most heavenly flavors, ever.

I truly love to see my husband and my son(s) head out to the deer woods with their dad.

More than that, I love to see them heading in with a harvest, the happiness on both parts cannot be equaled, the excitement is wonderful.

I love to see them laugh and work together when they're gutting it, skinning it, and talking and remembering when they package it, and months later, when it's cooked and on the platter, the pride that comes to my son from knowing he provided that night's dinner.

I am glad it is a tradition, and that my son knows where meat comes from, and that
knows what it's like to kill and harvest meat for the table, knowing that all meat is not
packaged and shining in a store cooler with tags on the front showing a price: this type of food is messy to harvest and there is worked involved in processing a deer yourself.

(Hunters also learn what killing feels like and no, not all hunters are gleeful wild-eyed killers with no heart as portrayed in Disney movies: not at all.

There are sometimes tears as a boy watches his first deer die, and it's a growing moment for father and son as dad explains about the killing. I defy any tree-hugger, or PETA activist to tell me my venison-eating men don't have hearts! Boys go into the deer woods and come out as maturing young men.)

I am happy for the memories our sons are able to make with their dad, that over the course of our son's lifetimes, they will almost certainly take these memories out and savor each one, and remember fondly...

The nicest part about is that whether his dad is present or not, he will always smile inside when fall comes around, and the deer start to jump.

He will look back on the deer hunts with dad carrying the feeling in his heart that "those were some of the best days of my life!"....and he would be right,
and he will most likely carry that tradition on with his own son or a nephew.

Harvesting a deer is about more than the hunt, the kill, or the wrapped packages in the freezer: it's about time spent together: which really equals love.

My husband will never forget the time his grandfather took to teach him how to hunt and fish. It's a treasure that has no price, and makes memories no one can steal.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Photo credits: Luke

Looking straight down through the clear waters of Lake Michigan at the rocks below the surface.

The colors of the rocks, when bounced off the sun, are absolutely gorgeous.
(Click any photo to enlarge and see more detail.)

In this photo, you see seagulls perched on top of the remains of a long-ago abandoned Lake Michigan pier near the ghost-town of Glen Lake on the Leelanau Peninsula.

Genesis 1:9 (KJV)
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so.

10: And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of waters called he Seas; and God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:20

And God said let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21: And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22: And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Gift of an Ordinary Day...


It's sunny...

and it's just beautiful today...

The clock is ticking, the wind is blowing the wind chimes -- and I can hear them through the open window....

In the big tree above the porch, there is a gathering of what sounds like hundreds of birds.

(Perhaps they are planning their trip south that's coming up soon.)

But, best of all, there is not a radio, television or video game going, anywhere in the house.

I sometimes love the sound of alone, but not for very long.

It is a pleasure that is best kept in small doses.

I need the family around, but these little snatched times of silence, oh, they are a gift, and I gladly will collect them, and treasure each one.

Silence is the sound, to me, of satisfaction, contentment.

And, as I work around here, doing the repetitive tasks that a mother and a wife must do, I can enjoy this little gift of silence...while I listen to the broom as I sweep, or the dishes as they clang when I place them into the dishwasher.....the cloth as I wipe down the counters, the dogs softly snoring as they nap on the rug, or the tractor or the combine as it passes by on the road, on the way to the next field, with the grain truck clambering close behind.

Sometimes, I deprive myself of silence, and wonder why I should do that when I enjoy it so much.