Archive for the ‘Making the Most of Home Education’ Category

1) Embroider where desired on pictures 2) Embroider with fancy stitching around patches (look up stitches in blue sewing book) 3) Embroider with fancy stitching at some of denim seams 4) Put together front and back, with yellow sheet center 5) Tie off prettily with full strands of embroidery floss

This project has been sitting in my “mending and sewing project” cupboard for several years, partly out of a necessity to attend to other projects, and partly because I discovered too late that the inherent fragility of this quilt is no match for Tyger’s energy and curiosity.

I still intend to finish this…maybe for a wall hanging, instead of a quilt. Anyhow, it’s desired, but not urgent. I am posting this here so that the project is made official, and my subconscious can get all the disappointments and details worked out, and I’ll someday wake up and know that now I can finish it.




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Colorado Wildlife is a sister blog to this one, wherein I share stories, pictures, and facts about some of the wildlife we get to enjoy locally. I am delighted by all the species we get to see on a regular basis – mammals large and small, all kinds of birds, reptiles and amphibians, amazing insects, and more.

Go to Colorado Wildlife now.

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Click here for the main dining room feature.

August, 2014 – Painting the Walls and Ceiling –

As you can see, I finally got my dining room painted. A long-time internet friend whom I’d never met came with his girlfriend in July, for a long visit. It was the nicest time I’d had in years, and provided a much-needed lift to my soul. Richard hates to come to anyone’s home empty-handed, so had asked me what sort of gift I’d prefer. He was thinking about a sword, since we both enjoy weapons, and have done some collaborations on fantasy and sci-fi stories. I told him this would be wonderful…but what seemed more necessary is paint for my house. I had already researched the possibilities, and so the trip to the paint store was an easy and pleasant one.

Much plaster and electrical work needed to be done before painting could begin:

Much of the updating of electricity in the house had already been done, but some things needed tweaked, and we added a couple light fixtures. Billy, above, learned quite a bit about electrical installation techniques and plaster repair from a grandfather with much experience.

Next came the painting itself:

Here are the results:

Copy of Aug10-21, 2014 763Since the painting was finished, the house has been cheerful even in dark winter. Also, the walls are a breeze to wash now, and I can sponge-mop the ceiling in 15 minutes, eliminating smoke build-up from the wood fires.

I left the north wall bare for now, as it is going to be wallpapered. The trickiest part of the whole painting process was measuring to get the blue background (same shade as the ceiling) just so behind my set of shelves, without its sticking out beyond the shelves, but not leaving a yellow rim inside, either. (The house is nowhere near square or level.) I am very pleased with it. I have many blue-themed dishes, and it suits just right. I am thinking of repeating this effect in the kitchen cupboards, but am not sure yet. I’ll think on it a bit.

(The bookshelf near the stove was moved before we used the stove again in the early fall.)

November 27, 2014 – Picture and Project Wall –

Nov.12-Jan15 2015 307This is part of our homeschooling method. It is our “bulletin board” for all kinds of things – famous speeches and portraits; maps; Scripture verses to memorize; anything that helps with planning art projects (such as the printouts of willow trees, which I am studying for a mural elsewhere); and animals that are beautiful or fascinating. Also, sometimes, we add things that are on our to-do lists – rockets to build, flowers to plant, special foods to try. It is a lot of fun, and many of the pictures get changed every two weeks or once a month, so there is always plenty of variety. I make a point of adding poetry, too, and information on the arts, as we all enjoy exploring many fields of thought.

Autumn Leaf Project –

I had read in an old kindergarten projects book that one could take preserved leaves, and make decorations by ironing them between sheets of waxed paper. So early in the year – the preceding Christmas, in fact, we had begun to save leaves, pressing them between paper towels in various large books. The kids collected throughout the spring and summer any leaves which caught their fancy, and when fall came around, we had a good selection from which to choose. I took ordinary sheets of waxed paper, arranged the leaves however it seemed good (with the kids’ input), laid another sheet on top – waxiest sides together, as the two sides of the paper are not identical – and went over them briefly with a medium-hot iron. They tape to the windows easily with Scotch tape. In bright sunlight, the arrangements look like stained glass. At night, they become opaque, but are still interesting.

When we were finished with the arrangements, toward late winter (it is essential to have colorful things up during the darkest part of the year), we laid them away in a box, ready for another time.

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My gander, protective of his pretty goose:

photo 3 photo 5 photo 2

Ever since I was a child, I have wanted geese. We never had any growing up, and some acquaintances who did keep a flock assured us they were nasty, biting beasts.

Well, I wasn’t deterred.

So when some friends announced that they wished to thin their gaggle, Will and I jumped at the chance. We drove 45 minutes to our friends’ house to pick up the birds, intending to get some ducks, as well.

These friends own a greenhouse business, and the husband has 10 green thumbs and loves landscaping…so their yard is spectacular.  A haven in this windswept, drought-thirsty land. So, wandering amongst the trees, well-groomed grass, fish ponds, and brick walks were several varieties of poultry. Guineas clucked and hunted – a different variety from our one poor lonely hen, but grayish and mostly similar to ours. Then, I spied an angelic white guinea, seeming so sweet in the middle of the flock. Most of the geese were in their pen, as were most of the chickens. The ducks, on the other hand, scampered, waddling, throughout the stand of wild plum bushes just south of the yard.

The kids marveled at the fish ponds while I talked to our friends about which birds to catch and about how we should do it.

After some comical pursuit, we (the six of us) caught four Chinese geese…and no ducks. We gave up on the ducks. There were a handful of white ones, and one that looked a bit like a mallard drake. I never spent time around domestic ducks, and these were far more agile than I supposed they would be.

We made the geese, gentle and wondering, sit down in cardboard boxes and tucked the flaps together, setting them in the shade as we finished catching the last ones. That made a trunkful.

Our friends offered to try to catch the ducks at night, while they were sleepy, and also proposed trying to get a guinea out of a tree at night, where they roost. We told them we only need one male, but if they wanted to get rid of more, we like guineas.

The geese were mostly cooperative, and none of them tried to seriously nip. At any rate, I’d had far worse bites from my favorite tom turkey of two years ago. One was determined, however, not to sit in his box, but made five efforts to escape. He pushed apart the flaps of the box, kicked open the bottom (it wasn’t a very sturdy box), and required the attention of one of the children to guard him. But at last we were on our way.

We were concerned about the trunk being hot, but couldn’t think of a better way to transport the birds, without borrowing a truck and a cage.

When we got home, I proposed that I would open one box at a time, pick the goose up until it was calm and had got its bearings, then set it down to begin exploring the yard. None of us wanted to shut the geese up in the chicken house, as they had already been shut up and had a frightful journey…but we weren’t sure they would stick around. We decided to risk it, supposing we could catch them toward sundown, if necessary.

Three disoriented, sleepy-looking geese came out of their boxes, and began looking for their former friends. The fourth was dead in the box, its neck cocked at an interesting angle, bill jammed in a corner. It had not been dead above five minutes, I judged, and had probably experienced heart-failure, as its eyes were wide open, suggesting a very sudden death – not heat stroke or despair or a variety of other things.

With a heavy heart, I decided to do an “autopsy”, just to be sure there were no organ abnormalities, broken bones, or anything suspicious. Everything checked out fine. On the “up” side, we did get to experience what domestic goose meat tastes like. It is much better than wild goose flesh. I found this a relief, after hearing all my life of Victorian families devouring goose meat at Christmas. (Really? Ugh! I had decided, and hadn’t really cared that Will no longer hunts much. Beyond sandwiches with nothing but mayonnaise, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to do with wild goose meat. And I’ve been through a stack of suggestions.)

The three remaining geese wandered widely throughout the afternoon, and toward dark, we herded them a half-mile back to the house. But we could not catch them. At last, they dashed through a break in the tree row and headed out into the pasture. I gave up, tired, sore, and feeling they would probably make it alright until daylight if they’d just have the sense to bed down and stay put. But we decided to take one more peek at them before leaving them alone. Lo and behold, only one goose had materialized on the other side of the trees. The poor gander marched and honked and peered about for his gaggle-mates until we went to the house, praying for their survival.

What had happened to the other two geese? We’re not sure. Perhaps they bedded down in the trees and called it quits for the night, when the third one wasn’t looking. At any rate, the next morning, there were no honks resounding throughout the yard. Will went for a drive, to see if he could locate the gaggle…if there was one. He found two geese, over a mile away, in a field. He came back for the kids and I, and, together, we set out to catch them. Billy had rigged a leg-catcher out of stiff wire, and I felt this was our best chance…though I used it cautiously, you can be sure, realizing that these geese had nothing like the strength and resilience of Canada geese. Well, we had a stroke of luck. One of the pair jumped right in the open car door, as we chased her up the ditch.  Will dove in and grabbed her. We boxed her and put her in the trunk. Between the four of us, we corralled the gander, and boxed him, too.

They are currently lodging in the lamb’s kennel, where they can see out, but not wander, and where we can make friends before they get set free again.

We still have not heard from the third goose. But we still are hoping. Will alerted all the road-grader drivers to please keep on the lookout for our roaming pet goose. 🙂

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Dear Richard,
I  have decided to take the blogging route to sharing with you things about the farmstead that I think will interest you – things that are being done and planned, and a few of my thoughts on the place.
From August 2009 –
I took these photos in late summer 2009, shortly after seeing the house for the first time. I had an experience that unnerved me, immediately upon setting foot on the property – I realized I had dreamt of it before, in a night-time dream(s), and that parts of the property were already familiar to me through the dream(s). I was physically shaking as Will and I examined the house, because I needed to be part of this farmstead, and I was afraid we might not get it. The place has not disappointed me, though the pace at which I have been able to move, while cleaning up and beginning new projects, has at times been depressing.
Big Basement Room, Black Fur Coat - September 2009

This photo shows the basement as it looked the first time I saw it. I thought the potential for the space was rather good, and immediately began indulging fantasies of what we could do to turn it into a family and work space, cozy with wood heating stove. The plans are moving slowly there, but the original mess is pretty well gone. I am having to figure out now what to do with the mess which we substituted for it, in the way of storing our own things which are awaiting a permanent parking place.

I found it somewhat pleasurable and interesting to go through the “trash” left in the house, as I enjoyed seeing through this window into someone else’s life – what they liked and what hobbies they engaged in, where their priorities lay, etc. It was a bit like reading an historical novel.

Here is how it looked in spring 2013. Coming along, but nowhere near what I planned on. 🙂

Basement Big Room Update, February 2014

As far as my plans for the basement go, they are somewhat sketchy. I had very different ideas initially than I have now. I have watched the way my family has actually reacted to living here, and the way we naturally use the different spaces.  So I will start by saying some things I love about this big room:

Big Basement Room, Messy, Including Chimney, Closet, and View into Billy's Room - September 2009

Even when I walked in and saw the original mess, I particularly liked the brickwork in the basement…the bright golden wood on the closet…the uninhibited windows opening in the spring to let in the freshness.

I plan on insulating the basement walls with the stick-frame method, so that it is not glaringly chilly in the winters. We have strung lines for drying laundry, and have installed a 30-gallon barrel stove for heating. I would like to eliminate the false ceiling, which is coming to bits anyway and is a veritable mouse highway, and paint the woodwork – perhaps in a practical manner, perhaps fancifully, say, with a floral-vine motif. I haven’t had a chance to look past the organization work that yet needs to be done, in order to think clearly about my options. So that will come later. Will is using the heavy brown cabinet which we found downstairs for storing ammunition and the like. (He is a shooting enthusiast.)

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Regarding the yard areas, I fell in love with the feeling of seclusion, wildwood beauty, and bittersweet memories lingering in the air. The day lilies were like a promise that everything could be glorious…

Homestead West Yard, Orange Daylilies, Bushes, Weeds, Hot Looking - August 2009

…the moss that things could indeed grow – water! –

…the periwinkle that beauty was not just for part of the time.

Back Porch Steps, Farm House, Homestead - Belle Honeysuckle, Nightshade, Weeds - August 2009

The back porch spoke of long summer evenings, and attendance on flower boxes (one was collapsed in a heap at the south end).

…the butterflies, though only cabbage butterflies, that there were blooming plants, and no insecticides to interfere with the good forms of life (as well as the not-so-desirable).

In short, there were many things that gave me hope – of productiveness, fun, and loveliness.
The buckeye tree fascinated me –



I’d never seen one before. We learned that the nuts, if properly boiled and prepared, can be a useful arthritis remedy, and the kids had fun making necklaces out of cured nuts. The tree is not doing so very well now, so we are trying to get a few little trees started, in case it succumbs.

Also, discovering mushrooms and slime molds:



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Daffodil or jonquil, early spring before flowering. A few grow “wild”, from a previous planting, just outside the South Sideyard fence, and near the main driveway.

In the picture below, you’ll see some of the damage done by the latest dirt storm. This storm occurred when a neighbor didn’t plant their crops on time, and allowed a large field to blow.

May 2013 077

They are difficult to notice, but around this pile of sticks (collected for use in our wood stoves), there are tiny white and blue flowers growing from bulbs – “Glory-of-the-Snow”, and something I have not yet identified.

Below is an example of the fight put up by the cheat grass and flowers to try to re-cover the area:

Grass and Flowers Starting, May 2013 South Sideyard


Crab apple tree May 2013, looking east

This is the crab apple tree viewed from the west, in May. The bushes in the foreground are Belle honeysuckle (left), and lilac (right).

My buckeye tree in May, just budding with leaves:

Buckeye Tree BuddingAnd another tree, a toddler you might say, making a brave effort among what appears to be dead siblings and cousins. Sometimes trees here do not actually leaf, though they are technically alive. I haven’t figure out why, as it seems to have nothing to do with water or position (competition):

Tree Baby Leafing Among Dead-Looking TreesMore flowers:

Grape Hyacinth near south sideyad gate

Grape hyacinth growing near the south sideyard gate, along the driveway.

Yellow flowers, early spring bulbs.

These frilly-leaved minor spring bulbs are called Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis). They sometimes develop buttercup-yellow flowers. They grow in partial shade beneath my biggest lilac.

Tiny pine tree along south sideyard fence, May 2013.

This baby pine tree put up a brave fight for existence along the south fence. (It succumbed the winter after this May picture was taken.)

Unknown plants beneath lilac bush.

I’m not sure what all these plants are that grow so happily beneath my big lilac, but I love them. They’re just “weeds”. 😉

Not much grows around this sometimes-swampy drain, but the songbirds and poultry love it:

Kitchen Drain Puddle, South SideyardAnd finally, the early-spring look toward the head of the main driveway, where I hope to have hollyhocks soon. There are a few jonquils that will bloom here presently. I plan on increasing them, since they don’t seem eager to do so on their own:

South Sideyard toward Driveway Head

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