Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ice Fishing in Wisconsin

I  know. It's just crazy, isn't it, that anyone would drive their vehicle out onto a lake. But it's what a lot of Wisconsinites do when the water gets too hard to fish otherwise. Our son, his fiance, and a few friends occasionally plan a day so that they can stay outdoors and freeze to death in the company of good friends. I think this particular day last weekend was about -10 degrees F.

At least they have appropriate clothing for this venture.

The all-important ice borer

In this case, they actually have an ice shack that they set up, where they will spend quality time waiting for the occasional fish to happen by.

The Cheater. This contraption tells where the fish are.

First catch. Not an auspicious beginning.

Willing the fish to take the bait.

It helps to be in good company. And despite the fact that he looks like he's been sniffing glue, I think Joe was just tired.

The final result. I have no idea what kind of fish these are, but presumably someone took them home for dinner.

Personally, I think I'd wait for warmer weather. There is absolutely nothing about sitting in an ice shack all day that appeals to me, even if the fish came out broiled and with a side of new potatoes.

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

Friday, February 25, 2011

One for Sorrow, Two for Joy

Just down river from Ironbridge, Shropshire, is the little village of Jackfield. We were there only one night, but enjoyed our short stay very much. At our B&B, we met another couple who were from the Manchester area. We had a fun visit with them, and after breakfast the woman and I were standing next to the window talking, when all of the sudden she said, 'Quick! Kiss your hand!'


'Quick! Kiss your hand! It's for good luck!' and she pointed out the magpie perched in the tree outside the window.

 Then she began,

    'One for Sorrow
    Two for Joy
    Three for a Girl
    Four for a Boy
    Five for Silver
    Six for Gold
    Seven for a tale never to be told
    Eight you Live
    Nine you Die
    Ten you eat a bogey pie!'

which, of course, being from Wisconsin, I'd never heard before. Or since. But I obeyed her. I have no idea why. Maybe it was the 'When in Rome' thing. Good thing she didn't tell me to jump out the window, huh!

Her husband then asked me if I was familiar with the song, 'On Ilkla Moor Baht'at' and was very surprised to learn that yes, indeed, I was!  I hadn't watched all those episodes of All Creatures Great and Small for nothing! We enjoyed our visit and pouring over the tourist guide maps together. It's experiences like this that make me a firm believer in staying at B&Bs, rather than a chain hotel.

 Church of St. Mary the Virgin

St. Mary's Church - Jackfield. The tile church. There is a tile manufacturer in the town along with a tile museum which was closed when we were there. Still we got to see the church, and while we were standing and looking at the exterior, the vicar happened by and invited us inside. It was dark and dank, but the reception by the vicar was warm and friendly. He gave us a personal tour of the church. We found that type of reception everywhere we went.

From www.

'The village church at Jackfield can claim to be, architecturally, one of the most distinguished buildings in the Severn gorge.  It was designed by the prominent Victorian Architect Sir Arthur William Blomfield (1829-1899) architect of Selwyn College Cambridge, the Royal College of Music London and St Mary's Portsea (Portsmouth Cathedral).  It is in the French Gothic style and makes extensive use of local materials.  In its use of layers of differing colours of brick it has a passing resemblance to the Norman Shaw Buildings on the Embankment and Butterfield's Keble College. The reredos is a remarkable triptych displaying local tiles painted at the Craven Dunhill factory behind the Church and reputedly first shown at the Paris Exhibition of 1862.  Unusually for a parish church there is a large rose window in the west wall.'


 I was fascinated by the colorful tiles!

 from Ironbridge Guide

Just down the street was the Black Swan Pub, which served the best fish and chips! What's the deal with fish and chips? It's one of the cheapest meals and usually delicious, as long as mushy peas aren't touching the fish and can be avoided. The ambience at The Black Swan was great - It was friendly enough and we met nice people and three great Border Collies there. I always miss my dogs when we travel, so I always enjoy seeing other dogs.  It's also a great way to strike up a conversation. Dog people like talking about their dogs. :-)

I hope you all have a great weekend. Wouldn't it be fun to have dinner at the Black Swan tonight!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Grandpuppy

Sweet and cuddly, Jasmine of Chaska

We were going to take the grandpuppy home last weekend, but both her family and ours got sick. Now that everyone, presumably, is on the mend, the plan is to take her home on Saturday. She's a great little visitor and loves playing outdoors. Her exuberance is amusing. When we're sitting in the living room, she will run in and plop herself down to snuggle up to us. 

 Just before the great mouth closes on her head

Every time I open the door for her, she dashes out into the snow with her plume of a tail in the air, gives one perfunctory bark and then gets on with her business of sniffing the snow and pursuing squirrels and birds.

Comfy evenings

But there's one among us who thinks her homecoming isn't a minute too soon:

Little Miss Jealous

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's Not All About You

I came upon a quotation from Martin Luther and thought it was very relevant to the Christian who is going through feelings of failure in her Christian life and frustration at her own persistent shortcomings and sinfulness. I can't be the only one familiar with this situation, can I? 

Says Luther,

'A Christian is at once a sinner and a saint; he is wicked and pious at the same time. For so far as our persons are concerned, we are in sins and are sinners in our own name.

But Christ brings us another name, in which there is the forgiveness of sins, that for HIS sake sins are remitted and pardoned.

SO, both statements are true: There are sins, for the old Adam is not entirely dead as yet; yet the sins are not there. The reason is this:

For Christ's sake God does not want to see them.

I have my eyes on them. I feel and see them well enough. But there is Christ, commanding that I be told I should repent, that is, confess myself a sinner and BELIEVE the forgiveness of sins in His name.

For repentance, remorse, and knowledge of sin, though necessary, is not enough; Faith in the forgiveness of sins in the name of Christ must be added. 

But where there is such a faith, God no longer sees any sins; for then you stand before God, not in your name but in Christ's name. He adorns you with grace and righteousness, although in your own eyes and personally you are a poor sinner, full of weakness and unbelief.'

Romans 5:20-21:
'...sin didn't, and doesn't, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it's sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that's the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.'

It's comforting to be reminded that it's not all about our performance, but rather, what Christ has already done with His perfect life and atoning death on the Cross so that we might live, trusting in Him alone.

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such


Recently, several of the women from our church got together for a day of sewing. We are making clothes for an orphanage in Haiti which we support. People were everywhere - cutting, sewing, pressing, etc. It was a great time of fun and fellowship with other women, and amazingly, we actually got a lot accomplished! I can get kinda giddy in a crowd, don't ask my friends about this, so I was surprised that I could work in that kind of environment. I'm used to working with just my dogs in the room.

 One of our younger seamstresses, who I think should get a job in the costuming department at the Royal Opera House in London! (I wonder if she could get me free tickets with airfare included?  ;-)

 Hard at work. Look at those machines! I stick to my commercial and ancient Kenmore, and have never used a serger. Doesn't it look terrifying??!

A day in the 'sweatshop' :-)
Why did that bring up the tune of 'Workin' in a Coal Mine' ??

 An example of the finished (or almost finished) product
Both boys and girls clothes are being made.

The wonderful women who fed us
I really felt like I had way too good a time to deserve such an amazing lunch!

Cheesy broccoli soup (completely homemade, so no forthcoming headache!), hummus chicken wraps, and fruit - delicious!

That was only part of the lunch! And when I got home, I tried to replicate that amazing wrap.  I don't think I got it exactly right, but here's what I came up with:


Large, 9" or so, flour tortillas
Shredded chicken (I used canned chicken breast)
Hummus (this is my recipe)
     4 cloves garlic, minced and then mashed
     2 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans, drained (save liquid) and rinsed
     2 T. sesame oil
     1/3 c. freshly squeezed lime juice
     1/2 c. garbanzo bean liquid
     1/4 c. olive oil
     1/2 t. salt
     a little cayenne, to taste
Mixed greens
Red bell peppers, thinly sliced
Green peppers, thinly sliced
Onions, thinly sliced
Shredded carrot
Fresh tomatoes (Romas, preferably) diced
Feta cheese
Kalamata olives, sliced

Spread a thick layer of hummus on one side of tortilla, making sure to get it all the way to the edges. Sprinkle on remaining ingredients, then roll tortilla, cut in half, and serve.

I'm not sure what the miracle ingredient was in the wraps she made, for mine didn't taste exactly like the ones we ate at the sewing day, but they were still very good! Definitely good enough to eat the whole thing!

At least in Wisconsin, we're hungry in the wintertime.

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

This post is linked to: Making the World Cuter Mondays
and Something I Whipped Up Monday
and Motivate Me Monday
and Making Monday Marvelous
and Made from Scratch Tuesday
and Tasty Tuesday
and Tempt My Tummy Tueadays
and Wandering Wednesday
and What's Cookin' Wednesday
and We Did it Wednesday
and Thrilling Thursday
and Favorite Things Friday
and I'm Lovin' it Friday
and It's a Hodgepodge Friday
and Fat Camp Friday
and Fun With Food Friday

Monday, February 21, 2011

Knitting a Felted Bag

I was trying to replicate a little felted bag my husband had bought for me at the farmers' market last summer, so I bought some inexpensive Lopi Icelandic wool at the local discount store and a pair of size 15 knitting needles. I already had a crochet hook.

Having knitted the bottom in a garter stitch, I set that aside (which is not how I'd do it another time) and knitted the body of the bag, adding in a couple stripes of a plum color. I finished off the top with the plum color crocheted in, and made two 28" handles of I-cord.

The bag at that point was 13" tall. I was hoping it would shrink down to about 7 inches. I threw it in the washing machine along with a couple pairs of jeans on hot wash and added a little Gain detergent. I had been told I should run it through maybe as many as three cycles.

After felting

I ran it through EIGHT cycles and the thing didn't felt down like I'd wanted it to. I was so annoyed. Not only didn't I get the dense, thick bag I'd wanted, but using all that hot water didn't help our electric bill either!

I showed the bag to my friends at Bible study the other day and they all commented on how wonderful it smelled! At least it smelled like Gain detergent and not dog, which is a nice change. Gail offered to take it home and run it through her washing machine which has a heavy agitation action. I'm hoping that will help. But then again, maybe I'm expecting too much out of that yarn. Maybe my needles were too big. And I really hope Gail doesn't run up her electric bill trying to solve this problem for me.

I do like the cool I-cord handles...

...and the garter stitch bottom

Believe it or not, I'm eager to try a felted purse again, but I suppose I should stick to a pattern and use the recommended wool and recommended needles. Sigh.

I'm still battling this stupid headcold/sinus problem and trying to avoid going to the doctor. Sleeping and knitting seem to be the only things I have energy for right now. Yesterday afternoon I worked on a hat and after making the body and then decreasing for about 6 rounds, realized that somehow I'd dropped a stitch a few rounds back. So I guess it's time to learn how to pick up a stitch. And that's why there's

Hope you all have a good week!

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wisconsin is Broke

 The Examiner

I would like to hear just one TV news show explain to us exactly what is in the bill that the governor of Wisconsin is proposing, that is causing the furor. Instead of bringing on people who could explain what part of collective bargaining the governor is talking about, we are shown young, tearful and frustrated teachers who are being manipulated by the union and worked into a frenzy. Do those teachers even know what the governor is suggesting with this bill? or do they simply have their collective fingers in their ears as they stand screaming at the capitol?

Although teachers' salaries are not what the bill addresses, just in case anyone is interested in knowing what kind of salaries the public educators in Wisconsin are making, here's a link that will take you to that information. It is public information (since they are public employees) and shows both the base salary and the benefits package.

With the exception of administrative staff, those salaries reflect work for nine months of the year. And included in that nine months is approximately three weeks of paid vacation.

In our area, it appears that the average teacher's wage is approximately twice that of the average non-teacher worker. Some of the benefits packages alone are more than what others in our area are making for salaries!

But remember, our governor is not talking about adjusting salaries, but adjusting benefits. I realize that many people don't consider their benefits package to be part of their income, but for those of us who pay out of pocket and are not part of a union, we realize how expensive those benefits packages are - and come from the taxpayers - your friends and neighbors.

How is it that some can retire at age 55 with nearly full pay for the rest of their lives. Why does anyone think the taxpayer can sustain that kind of support??

Don't get me wrong. I don't begrudge anyone making a fair wage. And I don't think the problem here is the teachers. It's the unions. Wouldn't any individual reasonable teacher rather negotiate with a school district to keep their job than be manipulated by the union to hold out for the impossible and lose their job altogether?

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

Friday, February 18, 2011

RAF Watton, Norfolk

My father-in-law served in the U.S. Air Force during WWII and was stationed at RAF Watton in England for 2 years, 1943-45. The Watton Air Base was a 'heavy bomber repair base,' was used for reconnaissance, and was one of the few that was never attacked by the Germans. My husband said, 'Dad always told us that he was stationed at a small base that repaired damaged bombers.  The truth of the matter was, Watton was a huge air base with 4800 personnel. His world was a tiny little corner of it. Dad was responsible for ordering all the repair parts for the airplanes.'

My father-in-law wearing a 1911 Colt Automatic Pistol, standard military issue for that time. The other accessory is presumably a gas mask.

Hard at work.
Actually, this room reminds me a lot of Churchill's Cabinet War Rooms in London

My father-in-law and a buddy at the Woolpack Inn in Norwich

The following are a few photos that my husband and I took when visiting Watton, for we were interested in seeing the area his dad had talked about.

An example of Village of Watton housing. I think this was on the main street.

Photos of the former Watton Air Base:

A hangar

Nearby barracks, typical of the time

A hangar, from the side

Part of the reconnaissance wing was responsible for dropping agents from the Watton base behind enemy lines, including the drop of an agent into the suburbs of Berlin. The entire flight was at night, at treetop level. Imagine that! They also did weather reconnaissance, both over the Atlantic and the Continent with the Atlantic portion involving at least one plane in the air 24 hours a day. The weather flights over the Atlantic involved altitudes of 50' above sea level to 30,000 ' above sea level and lasted an average of 12 hours.

A little beauty admist the decay

So what is happening with RAF Watton now? Most of the land has been sold for housing developments, with a small portion retained by a gliding club. Most of the buildings you see in the photos above have been torn down. Their last military use was in 1992. As of 2007, the landing strip is still in existence and is occasionally used by the RAF for helicopter training.

Standing in that one spot, there are five villages within 6.5 miles.

Where I live, within 6.5 miles is only one village. You have to go 10 miles to get to another one. The five nearest villages are 2 miles, 10 miles, 10 miles, 10 miles, and 11 miles. And not one of them looks like a Jacquie Lawson greeting card!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such


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