It was 7 degrees when we got up and the fires were out, the house a little chilly. Elv clanged and banged around building fires in both the heating stove and the cook stove while I got up, dressed, and came downstairs to his fresh brewed coffee. We sat warming by the fire and talked about what to do today.
I had worked at the store in Duluth yesterday, so nothing got done for dishes or tidying around here. Elv would have filled in with those chores for me but he was busy installing the blue bathtub. More on that, later. Since I had been sick earlier in the week the housework had not really happened. So the floors were tracked up with red clay mud and the dishes piled up and the stove was clogged with ashes so badly it wouldn’t draw anymore.
So, it was high time that I clean this place up. Today was the day. For his day, Elv decided to take the tired, five-horse motor off the wood splitter replacing it with a ten-horse motor. He spent half the day on that, coming in dirty, but smiling about his success.
I started with washing the dishes. For those of you who wonder about our living conditions, I’ll mention that we have hot and cold water on tap in the kitchen and a beautiful, old-fashioned, enamel sink, complete with a drain board on each side. I love doing dishes here. I soon finished dishes down to the cast iron drying on the still warm cook-stove, leaving the rest to air dry. Then I headed upstairs with my phone in hand, because the family has been visiting on whats-app and I don’t like to miss out. Mom called me too, this morning. Mom is one of those people who can’t quite figure out if we’re nuts or if we should be envied our adventure. We generally let folks to their own conclusions.
I’m writing this at the end of the day. I have just noticed my nice stove fire. Having scooped a whole pail of ashes out of there, it is breathing nicely without having to leave the door ajar and the top damper wide open. Oh wow! Should have done that several days ago.
I noticed while I was washing windows upstairs that the stoves are smoking more right now. My rag was black from that project. As a side note, I have learned by hard experience that windows will not clean up right with filtered pond water. I don’t know if it is the alum that does it or what, but I kept trying to wash them over and over. Finally I made a spray bottle full of well water and white vinegar and used paper towel. It was not fun to wash that all off but finally I have sparkling windows.
I’m supposed to be talking about cleaning upstairs. It was really pretty basic. I dusted and tidied. The children’s toys have been tucked in a corner at the top of the stairs which was unsightly. I pulled off the trash toys: an ancient John Deer metal tractor with only one wheel, a Sorry game that nobody plays that’s missing pieces, and odds and ends of junk things. Than I sorted and re stacked the games in that cabinet making room for most of the good toys behind the doors there. Better. I texted Amy to ask her if she wanted any of the dolly stuff that’s here. It’s just mostly ratty old things too, and I think I’m going to replace all that with a couple of new dolls and things. She wants to see it before I throw it, was her reply.
This house is the fly-iest house ever. But I have a vacuum sweeper for the flies and the floors. Elv started the generator for me for that.
After doing our morning list of chores we had hamburgers and coffee—a late lunch. He actually came in and started frying his lunch before I came downstairs. I was wrestling with the huge west window in Elv’s den that does not come in for washing. It’s way high up so I can’t reach it from outside either. I reached almost every inch by pulling the top sash down and reaching down and pushing the bottom sash up and reaching up with my head and shoulder hanging out the window. It is a long way down. So I don’t look. Got most of it that way, I think. It is a great window from which to watch the chickadees preening in the pine trees.
Then Elv wanted to do some road work and I wanted a walk to the mailbox. So off he went with the garden tractor and plow, pulling the trailer. I finished up what I was doing and dressed warm for walking. The weather was perfect today. It warmed up enough with the sunshine to settle with a couple of layered jackets and my scarf and hood handy for out on the road where the wind always blows. Made sure I had tissues in my pocket, phone on my inside pocket and leather gloves, because I wanted to help Elv with the rock picking. I have a wonderful pair of leather, slip-on shoes of the Eastland brand. They are a bit too big, water-proof, heavy, nicely cleanable and indestructible. I’ve worn them for years. They fit into my snowshoes perfectly. They keep my feet toasty warm which is no mean feat for me, no pun intended. Elv thinks I should have a pair of those horrid, rubber mud boots, but actually I just let him talk about it. I even almost caved in and bought some this spring, but frankly, I don’t see why I should. These shoes go where I want to go just fine. I’m not going to wade in mud up to my ankles even if I have the mud boots. I have no reason to go muddying in that fashion in the first place.
It is muddy right now, (have I mentioned this before?) so I walked on the snow along the side or in the middle where it isn’t quite so slimy. He agreed that he would leave the tractor and walk on out to the mailbox with me. That way if those barking dogs of the neighbor’s came out, I’d have back-up. Of course, they were nowhere around this time.
We found Elv’s new debit card in the mailbox, already. Someone had managed to high-jack his old one and the chip was bad on it anyway.
We gathered up a nice, big load of large rocks that were lying along the side in the grass, left-over from the road work that was done last year. We had the trailer full in no time. Then he was used the little snowplow on the front to knock down some of the ruts on the road to hopefully end up with a smoother road after spring is done with us. Anybody who knows this road will understand our desires perfectly.
I noticed a pair of killdeer birds nesting near the road right now. I haven’t heard or seen many killdeer since childhood days. We used to have them in the cow pasture. Such yelling and antics they perform to protect their nests. I have no idea why they think it’s safe to lay their eggs out in the open like that. But trust me, it is very hard to find them. I’ve tried.
Thus I had my two mile walk today. The blue sky over the field with spruce regrowth nearby and the wooded mountains in the distance is beautiful. I will always love the colors of winter here. Blue sky, white snow, red osier, and now the pussy willow. It’s worship time. Walking back past Lattin’s house, their lumbering, great Pyreneese/German shepherd dog finally noticed that I was walking by and set up a huge ruckus. I heard them calling her back as I walked down the hill and over the bridge toward our house. She is an unpredictable animal: jolly and bouncy-friendly one time; snappish and surly the next.
From there on I loitered because I was hoping that Elv would come back to unload that load of big rocks into the hole we need to fill on the bridge before too long. While I was dragging my shoes through the snow to clean off the mud, I noticed an old piece of something white in the woods. I pushed through the tangle of brush, falling half way to my knee through the snow once. It turned out to be the cutest little cook-stove ever. Just about eighteen inches by thirty inches or so with the grate still there. It is frozen in, but I will remember it and when it thaws, I’ll have a better look. It is amazing what people in the past did with their cast off furniture and metal and stuff in these woods. I just want to know why? No, I don’t. There’s no good reason and it’s not worth pursuing. What’s done is done. Now we get to clean it up or salvage it, as the case may be.
As the case is with the blue bathtub. It has been residing in the weeds near the cabin for many years and I have been eyeing the possibilities of having it installed in the new bathroom. We had our first baths in it last night. Oh it’s small and blue, but it is shiny clean and a bath for all of that. Yes, we have running water to that, too. Elv is the handiest man ever. He’s no carpenter, which is partly why finishing is taking a long time, but eventually we’ll get it done, cabin fashion and unconventional. I’m enjoying the process. We’re learning that sometimes having to wait, offers us better ideas and plans than we had at first.
While we were out at the end of the road today, we stopped by the car, where we keep it parked safely on the highway side of the mud, to find the card that Mike sent to Elv by mail last week. Elv wants to thank him for it. Mike is almost four, lives in Nebraska, and is a fan of Elv’s. Grandson’s have a way of doing that. I have a card from Anne too, so, as Elv does for Mike, so shall I for Anne. I hope he is planning something snail mail. We’ll see. I keep thinking about Gwen’s last letter and realizing that I need to answer that, too. I want to. We get a huge kick out of grand-kid’s drawings and letters.
We put those rocks in the water hole on the bridge. There were rocks of all sizes all the way up to one being an armload. Elv wants the hole level full, big rocks on the bottom and smaller ones filling the space and then in the end he plans to cover the whole thing with a load of two inch rocks to smooth and level it. Thus our new ford just before the bridge. Perfect way to cure a washout. Its fun working together on these sorts of projects. I just remembered I should probably wash my hair. Elv “accidentally” splashed a couple of those big rocks close to where I was.
When we got back from the road stuff, Elv stayed out and played longer, splitting wood with the “new” splitter. He also sent a note off to the grandsons that they can have the old motor for science class if they want. And I made chicken, Chinese fashion in a cast iron skillet. It is almost no work and you get to use all the fun seasonings and a BBQ sauce for tenderizing. Elv doesn’t care for rice but that is what you ought to have with it. So I served it with cottage cheese. That’s it. Okay, we’re not vegetarians. We do eat our vegetables. Just not tonight.
This is a dry spring so far and the concern for fire danger is rising. You’d never know it for the mud of now, though.
So that was our day. And that was quite a ramble. If you got to here, I’m impressed.