Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Remember me?

I have been living through some weird times, folks.  I apologize for my lack of postings, but I have found that when I start to write, everything comes back to the fact that I am caught in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment.

Not to bring you all down too much, but I am experiencing a little bit of work-related stress as of late.  Things are about to change, but I am not exactly certain in what way exactly.  I do not even know exactly when it will happen.  The end result could be good or bad; all that I know is that things will not remain the same.  Part of me is excited, but part of me is just confused.  I am trying to transition myself into a library job that does not appear to be forthcoming and the job I have kept for security purposes may be drastically changed.

Enough of that.

Elsewhere in the universe, good things are happening.  I had a birthday.  One of my good friends had a baby.  I am getting an elliptical machine.  Lena is taking it all in stride.

In the process of spring cleaning around the office, my coworker came across some freestyle drawings that I made her on scratch paper.  I shall share a few of them right now.

True artists make sure to let their audience know that their work is truly art.
I think the point of this drawing was to mock Mary's love of leggings and perhaps gladiator sandals, two fashion trends I find particularly ridiculous.

Way to stick with a theme.
If you have to explain your art, it loses some of its meaning, right?  So just guess.

You know what?  I think I will wait and share more of these later.  They are taking WAY too long to upload and I have a book to start.  If you're interested, it is "Let's Pretend This Never Happened," by Jennifer Lawson, aka The Bloggess.  It is brand new on the market, and I am convinced that it will lead me to happy laugh-filled thoughts that can hopefully take my mind off the things that have me freaked out at the moment.

So off to it.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Farm Life Revisited

I'm sorry, I didn't quite hear that.  Did you say you wanted MORE farm posts?  Well, I guess I can oblige you just this once.

Lena and I are presently on the couch, decompressing from another whirlwind weekend at the farm.  This time, it was only a one-nighter and our main purpose was to see my grandfather on Easter, so it wasn't much of a working event.

Nonetheless, I did manage to do some investigating around the property.  If you have not been able to figure it out yet, my ancestors were not big on throwing things away.  At least until the generation preceding me.  Those guys are all about burning stuff.  Big time.

Although I did spend time out on the farm as a youngster and had likely explored many of the various nooks and crannies of the farm while avoiding the electric fencing, it had been at least 20 years since I really went and looked at any of it.

Here is a photo of perhaps the most recent true interaction I had on the farm:

It is always wise to stay hydrated when doing chores.

So as you can see, I know a lot about farming.  But there are some "gaps" in my knowledge, I guess.  Thankfully, my dad is pretty good at helping to explain things when my expertise reaches its limit, which is somewhere after identifying that I am standing by the barn and there is a calf in the pen.  Oh, and my water bottle was from Taco John's.  That I know for sure.

Before we start our photographic Odyssey, let me clarify that a few things have changed in the past 20 years.  That barn behind me in the above photograph?  No longer standing.  This and more you shall see as we begin...

Boo-ya.  THIS is what remains of the barn.
Sorry to start with such a shocking picture.  If it is any consolation, the barn only came down completely in the last year.  Prior to that it still looked like a barn, but it had long since ceased to be used as one.  Also, it was a bit of a liability as it was ready to collapse at any second.

"This used to be our playground..."
Do you know what you are looking at in this picture?  If you do and are not related to me, you must be pretty cool.  We should hang out some time.

If you cannot guess, I will just tell you.  This is the remains of a silo.  A small silo, to be clear, but the large concrete pieces are known as "staves."  For an illustration of how this looks in assembled form, look to the upper left of the photo.  That would be the big silo.  See all those metal bands around the outside?  That is what holds the concrete staves together.  Cut those bad boys off and watch out!

If you want to know first-hand how that can all go down, ask my uncle and cousin.  They were the brave souls responsible for bringing down the little guy pictured above.  He had not been used for as long as I can remember.  Heck, he no longer even had a roof.

When my brother and I came out to the farm as kids, we would sometimes sneak back into this area and go into the small silo to play.  If I remember correctly, there was a good deal of vegetation in there and perhaps even a small tree.  For someone with a vivid imagination, it was ideal.  But now its gone.  Oh well.

So many possible uses, so many laws against those uses.
I won't keep you in suspense on this one.  It is a corn crib.  But it is no longer in use, so I have tried to come up with other ways to make it worthwhile.  Obviously, it could work as an aviary, but I am not that fond of birds, are you?  It is way too small for the dogs, and honestly, the idea of imprisoning some living creature inside just seems kind of cruel.  Unless they were those lady beetles that seem to multiply and flock to my bedroom.  I have no problem with cruelty to them.

Always watching...
You really should know what is pictured here, so I will spare you further commentary.

Welcome to the jungle!
Now I have you stumped, right?  Although this may look like some sort of Midwestern torture device, it apparently is used to cut corn.  I think.

Now THIS should be obvious!
So this is either the markings of a buried body or a gathering spot for my grandfather's larger rock collection.

That is enough for outdoor exploration.  Let's go back into the house.

Kind of ominous, right?
China cabinet or liquor cabinet?  Both?
These things summarize my personality.  Discuss.
Can you find a scenario where all of these items would be used?
So SOME people did work this weekend.  Witness the removal of the porch linoleum.  Or at least the start of it.
Well, that is about all I have to say on the subject.  I doubt that I will have any new farm photographs to share for a few more weeks.  By that time, the kitchen may almost be done, so I may have some more modern technology to feature.

In the meantime, Happy Easter to those who celebrate it and Happy Sunday to those who do not!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Farm Life

Oh Megan, where have you been?  What have you been doing?  Have you found a new job?  Read any good books lately? 

Answers:  Around, stuff, no and yes. 

Why have I not kept up on my blog entries of late?  Well, I could offer the excuse that I have been busy and it would not be a lie.  In the last two weeks I have started an internship that promises to be helpful in what promises to be a long and extremely arduous journey to gainful library-type employment.  It is also downtown, which makes for some adventures in the realm of travel in that I get to take the train. 

Additionally, I did have an actual job interview a couple of weeks ago.  Unfortunately, due to really good social networking I just found out that one of my fellow graduates was offered (and accepted) the position.  Before I even received my “Thanks, but NO” letter.  Always nice, but then again, I was not 100% sure it was something I wanted.  Not that anyone else is beating down the door…

In other book-related news, I am reading “The Hunger Games.”  Yes, I know, I gave in to the peer pressure.  But I have enjoyed them thus far and may even consider going to the film adaptation of the first book.  True, they are not destined for the halls of the classics, but they are very engaging and definitely make you think about the world we live in and what influences our daily lives and beliefs.

Enough with all that I have neglected.  Let’s move forward to this past weekend.

After consulting my calendar, I realized that I was due for a visit to the country.  So I cancelled my plans with friends and took the weekend off for farm country cavorting.  Truth be told, it was not as crazy and fun of a nightlife as my parents have led me to believe, but that is probably just because the bowling alley was not open on Saturday night when we wanted to stop in for free Bloody Mary’s courtesy of the owner.  Who happens to be related to me.

There is nothing quite like a visit to this part of the world to make me feel important.  Not because of anything I personally have accomplished but because of all the cache I have courtesy of the fact that I am somehow related to half the town.  And who really cares about the non-Norwegian half, right?

So the project of the moment-year-decade-century is to fix up the family farmhouse into a livable condition.  So far, the bathroom has been gutted and remodeled, the floors have been refinished and the roof has been replaced.  OK, so there are quite a few other things that have been done as well, but these are the only ones that I can remember at the moment.

Next up is the kitchen, which should be pretty sweet.  But for the moment, things are focused on cleaning out the front porch and getting a handle on the insect population.  Up until this week, the biggest problem was your basic housefly.  Or farmfly.  Whatever works for you.  When we arrived on Friday night, we were mildly surprised to find that the fly population had significantly diminished to give way to the Asian lady beetle party.  In situations such as this, the best weapon is the vacuum cleaner, but this can only do so much.  Eventually you must just sit back and accept that you are outnumbered by these creatures.

For someone like me with a long-standing fear/dislike of creepy crawlies, this could be a nightmare.  But for some bizarre reason, I did not have a problem.  Seriously.  I shared my room with several of these beetles and didn’t bat an eye.  I should probably have my head examined.

One of the “fun” things about going to the farmhouse involves “treasure hunting.”  You see, this house was built by my great-grandparents back in the 1930’s.  My grandfather grew up here and my father spent much of his childhood there as well.  The house is full of crawl-space-like closets and storage containing objects that may not have seen the light of day for more than 30 years.  If not more.

This weekend we found many genuinely “cool” things such as my great-grandmother’s old winter coats and my dad’s old record player.  Pictures are always fun. 

Former kitchen light fixture.  I have no sentimental attachment to it.
These bells toll for thee.
The People's Home Library:  everything you need to know in home health care, cooking and animal health, even horses. 
More farm animal health information.  From 1903.  Although I am not sure there is anything about that freaky little lion in it. 
I asked for a Glock, but they found me this.  Oh, and the third Hunger Games book.  How trendy am I?

We even found a 1000 mile ticket for the Great Northern Railway from 1899. 

Then there are the objects that are not exactly “cool.”  Old bolts, nails, broken glass.  Pictures of cats.  And of course, rocks.

Rocks?  The heck you say!  Are we talking about gemstones?  Diamonds, perhaps?  NO. 

Before I get carried away, let me make an admission.  As a child, I too collected rocks.  From the North Shore, from camp, from field trips.  At most, I probably had 10-20 rocks packed away which were later discarded by my parents.

Little did I know that I come from a long line of rock hoarders, much more advanced than I.  You see, when you grow up on a farm, rocks are a big part of your life.  You spend time out in the fields rock picking every year, but this serves a practical purpose.  In your field wanderings you may, however, come across some pieces that appear unique or worthy of further investigation.  So you put them in your pockets and bring them home.

You put your new collection anywhere you can find space.  Buckets and boxes are the obvious choices, but you do not hesitate to put them into containers that also contain construction materials, books, toys or other miscellany.  You will hang on to these treasures even after you get married, but you will be forced to keep them in the attic.  People will joke that your house is safe from tornadoes because you have rocks in the attic to weigh it down.

Many many years later, your granddaughter will find your rocks.  She will want to return them to nature, but your son, her father, will not allow this.  She will be asked to sort your rocks out of their storage containers and into special buckets until further geological identification can take place.  She will roll her eyes a lot in the process, but she will comply.  Not because she thinks it is a good idea, but because she feels a slight twinge of familial duty and knows that there is some of the rock hoarding genes in her own DNA. 

Because really, why WOULDN'T you?
Here we see the non-rock items found in the pictured containers.  That glass jar in the upper left is indeed an antique Miracle Whip container.  Be amazed.

So there you have it.  There are buckets of rocks, now in the farmhouse basement.  I intend to foist them on my brother at the earliest opportunity and make him take a shot at identifying them. 

If you were wondering what the family dogs did while my parents cleaned and I sorted rocks, here are some pictures:

They just had an argument.
It takes more than a couple of hot chicks to get Thor's attention.

No matter how hard they try.