Friday, August 23, 2013


I'm hesitant to post this because I worry that I may present as a hoarder, which I'm not. Okay, maybe a little. I'm really stingy with my peaches, fresh and bottled, I have a fascination with boxes that I often have to work through, and fabric scraps and wood scraps are just hard to chuck. All of those items are neatly stowed away and I don't think my house will soon become condemned because of them, but I keep those things because I use them.

The peaches; there could be an entire separate post on those. If you've never had the opportunity to pick a peach fresh from the tree, bite into it, and savor it as the juice dribbles down your chin, add it to your bucket list. There are few things greater in life.

The boxes; I already discussed that issue.

The fabric; anyone who sews knows that a scrap can be added to other scraps for a quilt, wall-hanging, or as pictured below, additional clothing. I had a boy first. He got hand-me-downs from his boy cousins, which resulted in a rather masculine pair of overalls with holes in the knees. I could have discarded them, but with a little ingenuity and a gathering foot they became a play dress. Girly for my girl, but with shorts beneath for when she's not a lady. Perfect.

Another way to use up scraps is in an apron. My sister-in-law and I once worked together to make certain my dad had a tie to correspond to each of the classes he taught. Because ties are cut on the bias, I had a fair amount of scrap fabric left over. It was perfect for bias tape, pockets, and a ruffle for a child's apron Christmas gift. Okay, so maybe a kid wouldn't be excited about an apron, but the idea was to include a simple recipe and the ingredients so that cooking could commence and the association with the apron would be positive. I never followed up to find out if that was the case.

The wood. . .I think that comes from my dad. Woodworking wasn't his profession, but probably it could have been. We would have had to move to a warmer climate as we would have all been naked and needed to grow food year round because I don't know that he would have been able to support a large family with that profession, but his resulting products were truly works of art. He often saved scraps of lumber for some future use, especially cuts of maple, oak, and fine-grade pine.

I made this wall hanging for one of my friends. I spent $ 0.55 on it. Some may think, yep, it looks like it, but I like the way it turned out. The 2x8 is scrap lumber leftover from building our house (still). The handle at the top came on a china cabinet that used to be speckle-stained oak that I repainted black to coordinate with my dining room. Now what once was an outdated brass handle functions as a tab from which the hanging can be hung. The origin of the green ribbon is from a package of goodies last Christmas and has been sitting in my back of ribbon scraps.

The molding at the top was a small portion of trim left from building the mantle around the fireplace in the living room. I should probably mention that some of the pieces used in the mantle were portions my dad had set aside for some special use. I would say it went to good use. I spent $0.50 on the paint at home depot. It was a small sample color jar that was on clearance. It cost about $0.05 to print the saying on  the block and I already had the mod-podge used to affix the cardstock print to the wood block.

And the butterfly goes back to my original hoard of fabric that was leftover from making skirts for my daughter and a couple of nieces. The fabric is a light-weight cotton from JoAnn. To make it hold its shape, I ironed the butterfly image onto wonder under (a fusible webbing with heat activated glue on either side) and ironed the butterfly backed in wonder under onto aluminum foil. That not only gives the back a metallic luster, it makes it slightly stiffer and allows the wings to hold their shape in a more three-dimensional position.

 Probably one would wonder why all my clothing photos are taken against carpeted backgrounds. Those of you readers who are kindhearted, probably think it is because it allows the article of  clothing to be spread out and photographed with a neutral colored backing. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. In reality, we are hoarders, and none of the clothes end up in the closet. Their natural environment is strewn about and used as a second layer of flooring. Alas, it is much easier to take the picture where the clothing lies than it would be to hang it neatly on coordinated hangers in the closets just a few feet away.

 Also, if you wonder why both clothing items happen to be horizontal rather than vertical, well. . .I hate to give out personal information, but I will say I live on the North American continent and if one were to look at any globe, one would see that the position of the continent puts it's inhabitants in a somewhat sideways position. It would be worse if we lived in Ecuador, but not nearly as terrible as if we inhabited Antarctica. I think the only truly upright individual is Santa Clause an some aren't even sure of his existence.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I believe this is the first post I've submitted that is actually requesting input. Once upon a time, I started writing a novel. (Who hasn't) That was about 20 years ago. It has evolved considerably over the course of time and with the passage of years until I finally feel like the first book in the series is ready for production. The issue I have is that the title that I have been calling it (Paradise) has been used by Toni Morrison, who is slightly more well known. Therefore I have to generate a new working title.

To give you a very brief synopsis, it is the story of a girl, living in contemporary times, who through no fault of her own, travels back through time to when the territory of Utah was first being settled. Many adaptations have to occur as she adjusts to the time period. One of the individuals who helps her make those adjustments is a rancher settled in the area that later becomes known as Paradise, UT. Based on those premises, listed are a few title options. Please comment back with the title you would be most likely to pick up in a bookstore or download electronically. Or if you have another recommendation not listed, I'm open to suggestions

Before Paradise
Paradise on the Horizon
13.8 Miles and 150 Years from Paradise
From the Island to Paradise
A Man. . . his Past. . . my Future
Paradise in the Foothills
Paradise in the Territories
Finding Paradise
Near Paradise

Feel free to comment even if you don't know me.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Bringing Home the Bacon

I'm not attempting to write the next Charlotte's Web or anything like that, but I was surprised about how much our Wilbur affected me. My child was old enough to enter 4-H this year and after watching his cousin raise a pig, he decided it was something he wanted to do.

I grew up in a rural location and while I'd like to believe I grew up on a farm, I never got to ride the horses for herding cattle and only drove the tractor twice; once when everyone else was laying pipe for the new main water line and one other time that I will remain vague about. I helped change the waterlines and I bottle fed a few calves, but mostly livestock terrified me and no one wants a screaming girl around when there is work to be done. (I've gotten better).

This year, however, was my first year with swine. In the spring we drove to a neighboring town where my son selected a fine pink pig. It squealed like. . .like. . . like a stuck pig as it was being loaded into a borrowed dog kennel to be hauled to its new home with the other three piglets; a barn that formerly housed steers and a horse, but that was several years ago.

Wilbur, for so the pig was christened, grew rapidly. In the course of a summer he went from a 30 (I think) pound piglet to a 253 lb. hog. We split the responsibility of care with my brother, though I think he got the fuzzy end of the lollipop on that deal because I had no experience and had to told almost everything. Every other day we went to the pen, checked on the water level, and restocked the feeders. A couple times a week was also spent walking the pig. Herding pigs is much like herding children. They even make some of the same noises.

As summer grew warmer, hosing them down also became a necessary task. In all honesty that was one of my favorite parts of the pigs. They learned to drink from the hose and sort of danced in the mist from the spray. When water got in their eyes, they would shake their heads from side to side, flipping huge drops of water from their enormous, flapping ears.

One of the other things I loved is they learned to recognize the feed bucket and our vehicles. When they heard us approach, out they came, running across the pen, giant ears flapping against their heads. Don't get me wrong, I realize it was all about the food, but I swear I could almost see a smile on their faces.

This past weekend was the stock show. You haven't lived a full life until you've shaved a pig. They were bathed daily to make them clean and presentable, which lasted all of 10 minutes if that. They all did well, three earning blue ribbons and one earning red. Then it came time for the auction. Auctions are full of action and it's tense; wondering if the animal will sell, hoping to at least break even with the cost, hearing your name called and praying that a summers worth of work will be compensated.

And then the moment comes and suddenly the pig is sold and lead out of the arena and toward the trailer to be hauled to the slaughterhouse. We watched as Wilbur wandered down the trail between the corral panels. When he reached the trailer, he turned back and saw my son. He made a break for it and made it almost back to the arena before the wranglers were able to turn him back around and drive him toward the truck. Turning so as not to distract him further, we walked away.

I knew from the beginning he was bacon. Even so, I cried as we made our way back to the bleachers. I'm not on the verge of going vegetarian or anything and I never meant to bond with the pig, but in order to be in a pen with it and have it cooperate, one has to work with the animal and it is impossible not to form an attachment of some sort. He trusted us, was looking to us, and we walked away. Even as I write this, I realize how sappy and illogical it sounds, but for the past three nights I've been up late thinking about how we abandoned our pig.

Next year, when my son again asks to raise a pig, I'll nod my head and agree because I know that the hard work required is the type of thing that will help him build a strong work ethic. The time he spends with his cousins as they raise the pigs together will create lasting bonds and memories. The hours he spends learning from my brother will help him as he develops into a man, learning skills that will help him to set and meet goals and learn to be an asset to society, but inside, my heart will break just a little, recalling the empty pen where four pigs used to gallop over to see us and dance in the hose water and then knowing it couldn't end any other way.