Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Oldest Thing in the House

No, no, no. Not the Cottage Master.

One set of my great-grandparents were married in 1880. My great grandfather, while on a monthly trip into the nearest town to buy supplies for the farm where he and his bride lived, bought this lamp as a surprise gift for her. He got home very late that evening because he drove the horse and buckboard very slowly so that the lamp would not get broken. Great grandmother was so very touched by his by his thoughtfulness and treasured this lamp all her life.

My grandmother became its keeper during the 1930s at which time she had the lamp fitted for electricity. She made a point of telling my mother that the lamp should be mine when she no longer had use for it because I admired it so much.

I was showing the lamp and telling the story to a woman who collected old lamps and was informed that because it had been “electrified” it was no longer any value. It has great value to me and the fact that it is also useful (electrified) makes it even more special.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008


My arachnophobia is not as profound now as it was when I was a child. Those multiple legs that can turn on a dime making the critter so unpredictable was more than I could bear and I would scream until someone would come to rescue me.

One day I was watching my grandfather paint their house when a Daddy Long Legs crawled out from under the siding and Granddad just painted over it without flinching. He was my hero.

Today I tolerate spiders when they are in their natural habitat, outside. However, when one wanders into MY natural habitat, my home, that is another story. I no longer scream until someone comes but I often will loudly alert the Cottage Master that he is needed for spider patrol.

This morning I was in the house alone. A spider and I had the misfortune of coming eye to eye. I was at a disadvantage since I had just emerged from my shower. I couldn’t just let the thing run around on MY floor but I couldn’t run through the house in my natural state to get the spider spray, besides he might be gone by the time I got back. Stepping on it was out of the question, and I had nothing near by to squish it with. I grabbed what was the only tool at my disposal and sprayed and sprayed and sprayed.

Finally the thing stopped moving. I suspect that I didn’t actually kill it with the spray but merely glued its legs together so it couldn’t move any more. Either way it no longer was running around my floor unpredictably.


Are you smarter than the red dot?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cherry Hill Inspiration

Tina, at Cherry Hill Cottage, showed how she put a beautiful vintage dresser scarf on the top of her black refrigerator. It made the fridge look so “homey” and not quite so utilitarian.

Click here to see her lovely kitchen.

Putting a vintage scarf on top of my almond fridge just wouldn’t have the same impact so I first laid down an old red and white table cloth. I found a dresser scarf that my older sister, now deceased, had embroidered sometime during the 1950s but never finished the edges. It is stained and I can’t seem to steam the wrinkles out of it but it makes me happy to see it when I’m in my kitchen.

What do you have around the house that is from the past and makes you smile?

Aunt Lucille -- Part One

It gives me great pleasure to introduce the Cottage Master's Aunt Lucille. She was born on November 30, 1925 in Loose Creek, Missouri where she lives today. She has lived through the depression of the 1930's and the war years of the early 1940's. She has graciously agreed to share some of her memories with us.

I grew up on a farm. Neighbors were few and far-between. They were older couples with grown children, so we were the only kids around. There was a family a mile from us with nine children and we'd see them several times in the Summer months. When I was twelve or thirteen, a family of sixteen children moved to the neighborhood; we were never lonely after that.

We had an old car until I was eight or nine years old. One Sunday we went to a parish picnic in a neighboring town. My Dad had to fix seven flat tires on that trip. We didn't have money to buy new ones so thereafter, we had to walk to wherever we had to go for the next four or five years.

The great depression had started in 1929 and continued through the 1930s’. There were no jobs, therefore no money. We were poor but didn't know it then, as we always had food to eat and never went hungry. My folks had several big garden plots and raised all sorts of vegetables in the Spring and Summer months. My Mom canned vegetables, fruits, berries, jellies and pickles for our food during the Winter.

These Jars were stored on shelves in a dirt-floor cellar where they wouldn't freeze. This was under the smoke house, where they cured our meats.

We raised chickens for eating and for eggs; butchering hogs provided our other meats - hams, bacon, a variety of sausages, pork chops, spare ribs and lard used for baking and frying. We had cows for the milk, cheeses and butter; and their offspring were shipped out at a certain age, which was our meager income. My Dad would hunt for squirrels and rabbits for additional food.

Turkey chicks

Hog butchering time

He had horses to pull the plow, wagons and other farm machinery. Then there was a special wagon used for hauling hay to the barn. He raised corn plus the hay to feed the horses, hogs and chickens. Also wheat. At harvest time, a man with a huge steam engine and threshing machine would go from farm to farm to separate the grain from the straw. It was a big event. All the neighbors would help so there was a gang to feed at mealtime. It was a lot of work for the women. The straw was later used as bedding in the barn and also in the chicken house in the hens' nests. The grain was used as feed and some was taken to a mill to be ground into flour for baking purposes.

We didn’t have plumbing or electricity. Kerosene lamps were used in the evenings. People went to bed shortly after dark and were up at the crack of dawn. Kerosene lanterns were carried when we went visiting at night.

The grocery stores were nothing like our super-markets today. We raised most of our food, but we still needed to trade eggs and excess produce for sugar, coffee beans, ( which we had to grind at home ) spices, flavorings, oatmeal, salt and crackers. Some clothing and shoes were ordered from Sears and Wards catalogs. Materials and sewing supplies were available at the mercantile store. Much of the clothing was home-made.

On Sundays, people would socialize after Church services and often visit neighbors in the afternoon to play cards or just converse.

from left to right, Sis, Mom and Lucille

Wood-burning stoves kept us warm in the Winter-time. Between farming chores, my Dad would cut down timbers six to ten inches in diameter and hauled them to near our house. A neighbor had a saw rig and like the threshing crew, neighbors would come and help cut the timbers into lengths to fit the stoves. Wood for the kitchens’ cook stove had to be split into smaller pieces.

In Summer-time, my Mom had a kerosene stove for cooking our meals. The arrival of electricity in the early 1950s’ made a tremendous difference in the rural peoples’ life-style. My Moms’ first appliances were a washing machine, iron, refrigerator and a range.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good Housekeeping Photos

Thanks for the feedback -- hopefully the link is fixed now. Clicking on the "Try this" will take you to a place with real photos from real "house for sale" MLS listings. It's surprising what you can buy for a mere half million dollars. Thanks to The Wooden Porch for finding this and sharing with the rest of us.

Try this

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This and that . . .

I was at work sitting at my computer when a movement on the window caught my eye. A tiny ant was climbing on the outside of the window. What’s so special about that? He was 60 feet above ground level and still climbing. Quick, someone call the suicide prevention line – wait, who can speak Anteese?
I watch as, he or she, continued steadily upward toward the roof of the four-story office building. What would cause an ant to do such a thing? Unrequited love? Running away from home? The desire for adventure? A GPS system gone awry? We will never know.

On my way to work this morning I snapped this picture. This, folks, is what the $4.50 per gallon gasoline has reduced us to. Here is a man, dressed in a business suit and a bicycle helmet riding his child’s scooter to work.

We had company over the weekend. They went down to the dock to look at a boat while I stayed safely on dry land.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Bird in the Hand . . .

These photos have been floating around the Internet and came to me through a friend. Can you just imagine how delicate and soft these birds must feel against the skin?

Go here Humming Story to read how these pictures were taken.

Several years ago the "Birds and Blooms" magazine featured a gentleman who created a life-size cardboard copy of himself and placed it in a lawn chair. The cardboard man had bird seed placed in its hand. After the birds got used to eating from the cardboard hand the man replaced it with himself and it wasn't long before the birds accepted the seed from his real hand.

People wrote in to the magazine asking where they, too, could get a cardboard cutout so they could hand feed the birds. The gentleman soon had all the business he could keep up with making replicas for people.

Chickadees are relatively easy to encourage to hand feed. I've never done it but it's on my "to do" list for "some day"


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wild Life

We live in an area where the homes were built between 1920 and 1940. Behind the homes across the street from us there is an extensive “water shed” type natural area of several acres. It’s not unusual for the animals that live in the park to wander across the road to munch on the vegetation.

We have a small pond in our yard that supplies drinking water for the birds, squirrels, raccoons and the neighbor’s cats. We’ve especially enjoyed the raccoons when they bring their babies to the watering hole. Our next door neighbor did not share our feelings and have recently diminished the population dramatically by setting out live traps.

But, before she did that I managed to take some pictures of the families while they were enjoying the water. The clicking sound of my camera would send them scurrying off as soon as I took my first picture. This is the only session I was able to get.

One afternoon I noticed this deer in my neighbor’s front yard. It, too, was bothered by the clicking noise but did not turn and run right away. It was about 60 feet away and I was able to snap several good shots.
Then, I turned to leave and discovered another deer standing ten feet away that had been watching me the whole time while I was taking the other one’s picture. Yikes!


Can She Bake A Cherrie Pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?

There were three pie cherry trees on the property when we moved here. I killed one of them -- yes, I cannot tell a lie, I pruned it back so far that it died.

Last summer, before the cherries had time to ripen, the birds and squirrels knocked many of them off the trees. The few that were left were eaten by the birds before we ever had a chance to pick them.

This year, just as many were knocked down while still green but many managed to get ripe and were still on the trees for us to pick.

Years ago, we made the kids pit cherries on a sterilized 16 penny nail pounded into a 2X4. Then I canned them. It was a messy job but a good one for the kids to do.

I didn't have a cherrie pitter or a kid around this year so I happily bounced into the Linen and Things store where I was directed to the "Gadget Wall". Oh, my, I nearly didn't get out of there. I felt my eyes glazing over, my breath slowing, I was going into a trance. I, who doesn't like to cook, felt the strong magnetic pull of all those gadgets. A small quiet voice inside my head said, "You need everything here." I fought back; I shook my head to clear it out. I found this cute cherrie pitter and headed back to the front of the store as fast as I could walk in my clogs.

As cute as it was, I quickly discovered that once pressed to push out the pit, it did not spring back on its own. Fifteen minutes into the task and I was no longer enamored with this plastic piece of junk but I finished the bowl that had been so carefully picked off of our very own trees.

The next day I went back out into the world to hunt for the perfect cherry pitter. I knew I wanted something that was spring-loaded and made out of metal. I found it at my local Freddy's store at three times the price of the plastic piece of junk.

I pitted twice the amount of cherries in half the time that evening. So very satisfying to harvest your own fruit and to put it in freezer bags and into my freezer to make pies this winter.




Saturday, July 19, 2008

Friday Fun

Friend, SA, and I went to an estate sale during my lunch hour. She found two sweet little ice cream bowls and I walked away with my purse unopened.

As we were heading back to the main highway and chattering like good friends do, out of the corner of my eye I saw this sign. . .

We made a U-turn and spent the next few minutes gleefully wandering among all this wonderful memorabilia.

A few of these items came home with us. Fridays will never be dull again.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Holy Flying Firewood, Batman!

While we are on the subject of windows (carrying over from yesterday's post) I'd like to tell a tale of another window.

A relative, who will remain unnamed out of respect (and because he is a lot younger, taller and stronger than I am), was given the opportunity to score some free firewood. A trade was agreed upon with the owner of a yard full of downed poplar trees; for nothing more than lots of hard work, time and sweat all this good firewood could be had for no exchange of hard earned cash. The owner only wanted a clean yard.

Truck load after truck load, day after day, the young man worked removing the trees and carting them home with the promise of warming him and his family this winter.

Until the fateful moment when a piece of flying firewood did this:

This split second in time altered what was “free” to the status of a “great bargain”. Firewood sells for a minimum of $180 per cord; the window cost $249 to replace. Still a really good deal.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Walkabout Wednesday -- Windows

Growing up there was a window in the dining room that had colored glass squares. Dad divided the dining room into two bedrooms soon after we moved there because our family needed them more than we did a dining room. That is where my love for unique windows began -- staring up at the many colors as the sun streamed through that glass.

Here are some windows in my neighbor that I enjoy today.

This house is a pretty dusty plum color that set these windows off perfectly.

This window isn't especially unique but the star caught my eye. Liz at Mable's House just did a project with a lovely large star -- this one is for her.

This window is in a door but it still counts.

Unfortunately, the sun never shines on this porch so it is difficult to ever get a good photo of how pretty it is.

These windows are on the front of a very stately historical home. I think they just shout, "I'm important!"

While certainly not "stately" this next window caught my eye because it is part of a second story apartment. Apparently the renter is a tomato lover. I'll swing by in a few weeks to see if the renter has had any luck raising any fruit from that height.

Smilin' Mrs.RGS