Spring–or maybe Summer?–has sprung all at once. A week ago the trees were all mostly bare but we’ve had really warm weather (temperatures in the high 70s) and suddenly everything is green. It’s amazing!
I’ve got most of my herb garden planted and EJ is working on planting the vegetable garden in the back yard. He hopes to finish planting in the next day or two.
Yesterday I washed clothes and hung them out on the clothesline. It was nice, although with our neighbor’s house being built just over the hill, it wasn’t quite as quiet as it usually is. I will be glad when the house is finished, although I hope, hope, hope our neighbors will be quiet. EJ says he doubts they will, since the man enjoys working on performance vehicles which has loud motors. Sigh. I’ve gotten a bit spoiled by them only visiting their small vacation house a few times during the summer months.
Yesterday I also mowed the lawn for the first time this year. I had trouble getting the mower started, as I always do the first time I use it since last year. But EJ was able to easily get it started for me. We have five acres, but most of it is forested so I only mow up around the house. That’s still more mowing than we had to do downstate, but I don’t mind it. I love the way the lawn looks when it is freshly mowed.
The warm weather made me hungry for potato salad so I made some yesterday afternoon. We had beef brats and potato salad for lunch today. Yum.
Last fall I cut off the heads of the sunflowers and hung them at the windows in the kitchen. Yesterday I took them down and de-seeded them. I was going to plant them the same day, but I was tired from everything else I did so I decided to wait.
As soon as I get out of bed, I feed hungry Hannah Joy, then I feed the cats. For the outside cats, I put a bowl of food on the front porch and one in an old doghouse in the back yard garden. Then I fill the water dishes with fresh water, open the coop to let the chickens and cats out, and refill the chickens’ feeder. Next I fill the wild bird feeder near the deck. If Hannah Joy needs out, I take her out. I get the sprinklers set up to water the herb and vegetable gardens. I have to move the vegetable garden sprinkler from one spot to another so that the water reaches the whole garden. Then I go into the house to take my shower and settle down with a cup of coffee.
I probably won’t have to water the gardens tomorrow because the next few days are supposed to be rainy-ish. It looks as if there could be periods where we can go out and finish planting. The rain will be good for the gardens.
I cannot believe that we are already nearing the end of May! Wow! It went by quickly. This has really been a month of transition–as far as the weather is concerned. Since I’ve last written, we’ve had a week of snow which, though at times it dusted the ground, quickly melted. We’ve rainy days. We’ve had warm days, and cool days, and then back to warmth again. In fact, this week the temperatures are going to rise into the 70s (F), with a high of 76 forecasted for Saturday. With the warmer weather, the trees are beginning to leaf. I see more and more green on the trees every day.
Earlier in the month, when it was still cold and snowy, we went to a farm store to buy several bags of chicken feed and dog food. I spent the next several days scooping the chicken feed into empty kitty litter buckets to keep it safe from rodents. I filled 30 buckets.
I also bought several large containers of pretzels–not because I wanted the pretzels, although I enjoy pretzels, but because I wanted the buckets to store flours, oatmeal, and other things that I don’t want mice to get into. I figured it was cheaper to buy the buckets of pretzels than to buy empty storage buckets. LOL.
We live on the border of two counties. They each had tree sales in the spring so we ordered five elderberry bushes from one country and five Norway Spruce trees from another. Pick up was delayed because of the quarantine, but we were able to pick up both orders over the last couple of weeks, and we got everything planted.
We planted two of the Norway Spruce trees to block a spot where we can see our neighbor’s property through the trees. Our properties were originally one 10 acre property, which the original owner split off into two 5 acre lots. We share a short section of our driveway. Our neighbor’s property had originally been their vacation property. They had just a tiny little house on it, which they visited only a few times in the summer. But now that they have retired, they plan to move up here full-time. They are in the process of having a house built. A BIG house, it looks like. I’ve really enjoyed the quiet of the neighbors not being here much, and I really hope that when they are here full-time, they will be friendly-ish and not noisy.
One warm day a week or so ago, I washed the windows and put the screens in. It was nice to be able to open the windows and let the fresh breeze in. Of course, it then turned cooler again, but I think warmer weather is coming in to stay.
We’ve also gotten out the garden hoses–one in the front yard and two in the back yard. One of the hoses in the back yard will have a sprinkler attached, while I’ll use the other one to fill the chickens’ and cats’ water dishes.
Last Friday EJ and I worked together to shovel dirt into the raised garden boxes. The chickens tend to scratch some of the dirt out so we shut them out of the garden. They get access to the garden except between planting and harvest. They still have a big outside fenced in area to enjoy. We don’t free-range them because we have too many predators in the area.
This last weekend EJ cut longer boards into shorter ones for me, which I carefully labeled them with the names of the herbs I am planting in the boxes at the front of the house. Today was warm enough that I planted the boxes with my herbs. Now I can cross my fingers and hope the plants grow.
While I worked in the front yard garden this morning, EJ was working in the back yard garden. He finished filling the boxes with dirt and then he planted some peas.
We’ve been enjoying a lot of the Spring birds coming through. I’m continuing to put sunflower seeds in a feeder, and I’ve also put out the hummingbird feeder and oranges. So far we have seen Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Orioles, Hummingbirds, a Scarlet Tanager, Northern Flickers, Bluebirds, and beautiful blue Indigo Buntings. It’s such a joy watching them. It looks like bluebirds are going to nest in the birdhouse again.
It was still daylight outside last night at 9pm when I glanced out the window and saw a large raccoon climb the post to eat the sunflower seeds in the birdfeeder. I grabbed my camera to take a photo when I saw our cat, Theo, stalking the raccoon. It really scared me because I know raccoons can be mean. Theo wouldn’t have a chance against it. I knocked on the window hoping to interrupt a bad situation. The raccoon quickly ran off…but foolish Theo ran after it! I quickly stepped into my slip-on shoes and ran outside, calling “Here, kitty, kitty!” I saw the raccoon in a tree at the edge of the forest with Theo at the base. I was afraid Theo would climb the tree after it! I continued desperately calling, “here, kitty, kitty” and Theo abandoned his pursuit and ran up to me. Millie ran up to me too so I led them through the garden and shut them safely in the coop with the chickens for the night. Whew!
The photo I took is blurry because both the raccoon and Theo were moving, and I was also beginning to move in an attempt to rescue the cat. But you can still see both the raccoon and the cat.
We get most of our work done during the weekend. The rest of the time, in between my other tasks, I have been “homeschooling” myself, educating myself on current events, following interesting rabbit trails, chatting with friends. It’s been so interesting that I have stayed up late and haven’t written. Sorry for neglecting you.
I hope you all are doing alright. I know this year has been challenging. A lot of people are really struggling. My heart goes out to everyone. It hasn’t been that bad for us because we have our Enchanted Forest. I shudder to think what this quarantine would have been like for us if we were still living downstate in our house on a small lot in town.
I had originally planned to write about the coronavirus lockdown and how it was affecting us–you know, because it’s history. But I have decided against it. I’ve been paying attention to and interacting with what’s going on in my state, the USA, and the world but it’s left me frustrated, stressed, sad, and unfocused. I need a place where I can get around from all the “stuff”–and maybe others do too–so I am not going to write about it on this blog–or only very indirectly–because I need it to be my Happy Place. So…..
We didn’t know if we could get plants this year, so we have been ordering some seeds online and EJ has gone to a few stores and found more seeds that we need. We don’t really have a good place to start seeds–we don’t have a greenhouse outside, and the pets would knock down any planters we put on the window sills. Last weekend, though, EJ built temporary shelves in the house so he can get some seeds started. When he’s able to get the plants out in the garden, he will remove the shelves. We will tweak our ability to get seeds started early to constantly improve it in future years. So far Hannah Joy and the cats have left them alone, although I did see Hannah looking at them once.
One afternoon last weekend when I went out to gather eggs, I saw Millie come trotting into the garden. Something about her looked strange, so I looked closer. She was carrying a snake! I hurried into the house to tell EJ. He came outside to look at it. He said it was just a harmless snake, and he tried to rescue it, but Millie killed it before he could. I wouldn’t have minded EJ letting it go into the woods, but I’m glad Millie didn’t carry it into the coop and release it. I wouldn’t want a snake eating our eggs.
I had ordered a couple pounds of ginger root from the Internet and they arrived a little over a week ago. I spent a couple days last week peeling it and then drying it in our food dehydrator. After it was dried, I ground it in our little grinder. I saved a few roots so I can try to grow them. I’ve never done it before so it will be an experiment. I like making our own herbs and spices, when possible.
Friday EJ went grocery shopping. We used to always go together, but with the lockdown EJ became our “designated shopper.” When he prepares to leave, he always announces that he’s leaving for the “Forbidden Zone.” We used to only go to one store for groceries, but since some items are scarce, he ends up going to two or three stores. Usually, when we–now he–returns from grocery shopping, he unloads the vehicle while I put items away. That way, Hannah Joy can’t get into things. But we forgot on Friday and I went out to help unload the Suburban. When I came into the house with a few bags, I heard Hannah Joy repeatedly sneezing. I look more closely at her and noticed that she was on the floor with her head in a bag of flour. I snatched it away from her–she didn’t get much of it–and EJ finished bringing the groceries in by himself.
Saturday morning Hannah Joy saw Theo on the front porch and she rushed to the window to bark at him. In the process, she knocked over a large pot, spilling dirt everywhere. She’s been such a rascal lately! But she’s also adorable.
Several counties in our area have an annual tree sale. Maybe all the counties in Michigan do, but I wasn’t aware of it when we lived downstate. This year ordered a bundle of elderberry bushes from our county. They were available this weekend. Hannah Joy and I haven’t been anywhere for almost two months, so we went along with EJ on Saturday to pick the bushes up, just so we could get out of the house. On the way, EJ and I held hands. After a moment or two, Hannah Joy put her paws on top of our hands as if she wanted to get in on the hand holding as well. I thought it was very sweet.
Here is a cute photo of Hannah Joy bringing her ring toy to me so I will play with her. She is such an adorkable goof. Ok, can you tell that we love her?
After chilly snowy/rainy days last week, we finally had a couple of nice days this weekend. We worked out in the garden today. It’s still too early to plant, but we worked at getting the garden ready. I put some good dirt in my herb boxes at the front of the house while EJ worked in the vegetable garden in the back. He shoveled all the dirt out of the garden boxes. He plans to mix it with the newer dirt and then shovel the dirt back into the boxes.
I thought I better write early today because the weather is messy today with rain, snow, and high wind in the forecast and it’s always possible under such conditions that we could lose our power. It is snowing as I write this. With the wind blowing it in swirls, it reminds me of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”
It’s not always easy to comprehend that in the southern USA, people are experiencing 80+ (F) degree weather, flowers, and growing gardens.
Our governor’s new “Stay at Home” orders seem random, arbitrary, and often nonsensical. Motorboating and jet skiing are now off-limits, but canoeing and kayaking aren’t. Even though canoeing and kayaking are allowed, the Department of Natural Resources is removing docks at boat launches. Supposedly, motorboats and jetskis aren’t allowed because they require gas and the virus can be spread at gas pumps, but if people must already go to gas stations to fill up their vehicles anyway, I don’t see the problem with them also filling up their boats while they are there. Some items in a store are deemed “essential” and others are not and can’t be bought. I think that either a business is “essential” or not, either it’s open or closed, but once you start making decisions about which items can be bought or not, it gets crazy. Who gets to judge whether or not an item is essential? For example, shoes might be a luxury for some people, but a necessity for others if their shoes are worn out or outgrown.
A friend wrote that “Big stores are open. Horrocks [a farm market-type store] in Lansing had cops called for selling flats of vegetables. Cut flowers are ok. Spa, where service is clean and changed between clients, are closed. Lottery line is fine. Golf outdoors is closed, home depo is ok.” Huh? Lottery tickets and cut flowers are ok but not vegetable plants? Why prohibit people from buying plants? It hurts farm/nursery businesses (i.e., livelihoods) to not be able to sell plants. And if people can’t plant gardens, they will be forced to buy food from stores, which will cause MORE interactions (less social distancing). Planting gardens would also put less strain on stores, which already are having trouble keeping shelves stocked.
I remember hearing a radio interview with an educator years ago. She said that we must always remember to ask “What’s the point?” She used an example of teachers instructing children to use different colored folders for each subject to help them keep organized. She said, “Don’t force a child to use the colored folders if he/she doesn’t want to use them and is able to keep organized without them. Don’t forget to keep in mind that ‘the point’ is not the colored folders but organization.” In a similar way, the point during our current crises is not to simply ban items but to maintain “social distancing” to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus. People aren’t going to have less social distancing because they are in the garden center rather than in the grocery area of an opened store so why not allow people to buy whatever they need while in that store?
Anyway, our soil is mostly sand so we need to buy dirt for our raised garden beds. Not knowing which items are going to be difficult to find or are going to be considered “non-essential” and banned, EJ and I decided to buy bags of dirt on Friday. We usually buy it at Meijers, where it is very inexpensive, but EJ’s co-workers told him that Meijers is now limiting the number of people allowed in the store, and people are allowed in the store only for 15 minutes at a time. We didn’t want to deal with long lines, so we tried to order the dirt on-line and then go pick it up. That went fine except we had to schedule a time for pick up when we ordered and every time was “unavailable” so the order wouldn’t go through. We finally discovered that dirt was on sale at Tractor Supply. It was a little more expensive, but at least EJ was able to go buy it. He is our family’s “designated shopper.”
We’ve ordered seeds online while we can still find them. No use buying dirt if we don’t have anything to plant.
Saturday we rested. Sunday EJ unloaded our ten bags of dirt and carried them into the garden. He put them in boxes that were turned on their sides to keep them out of the weather. Mostly. Maybe next weekend we will fill the garden boxes. EJ ended up going to a grocery store in a nearby town to pick up a few things. We usually don’t shop at that store, but we didn’t want to go to Meijers and our little grocery store that’s just a couple miles away was closed for Easter. He was able to get almost everything on our list.
While EJ was gone, I did dishes, gathered eggs, and shoveled the dirt out of one of our “kiddie pool” compost piles so I could move it into the chicken pen. The chickens eat kitchen scraps and what they don’t eat they scratch up and break down faster. Once we plant our garden, we don’t allow the chickens in it because they would eat everything. Even when they aren’t allowed in the garden, they still have a large outside pen to enjoy.
Hannah Joy apparently wanted to get in on the gardening. She likes to be outside with us so I fastened her leash to a t-post while we went around the corner of our house to look at the garden for a couple minutes. When we returned, we found her in one of the boxes near the deck, which I use for my herbs. I am not sure why she did this. 😀
Hannah Joy was in a complaining mood yesterday. I don’t know if she was jealous because Little Bear was on my lap, if she wanted me to retrieve her ball for her, or if she wanted outside. She didn’t say. She can’t blame it on the “Stay at Home” order since her life hasn’t changed any.
Hannah Joy makes me laugh.
I have been taking the chicken wire off from our raised garden beds this week. We had put them around the boxes to prevent the ducks from eating our produce. We no longer needed the fencing after we got rid of the ducks but are only this year getting around to removing it. And we are only removing it now because EJ wanted to rearrange the boxes for our raised garden beds so we have a greater area to grow corn.
I got a lot of the fencing removed before EJ woke up yesterday morning. Later he came out to the garden with me because I wanted his input on where to place the boxes. After he left for work, I went out to the garden to work. I had to take the dirt out of the boxes, then pull them off the pallets, then move the pallets to the new place, then arrange the boxes back on the pallet. Getting boxes on the pallets just right was sort of like putting together a puzzle or playing Tetris. I had to carefully “fit” the boxes together on each pallet. The boxes aren’t beautiful, but they are functional. We use whatever box or container we could find. It is wonderful when the herbs and veggies are growing.
I also had to make sure that the raised beds were far enough apart for the wheelbarrow or lawnmower could fit between. At first I paced the distance–three and a half of my steps were a good distance. But after a while I found a board that was about the right length and I used that for the spacing.
Many of the boxes were heavy even without any dirt in them. I didn’t try to lift them though. I just sort of tipped them on their sides and “walked” them to wear I wanted them. EJ feels bad when I works so hard, but I do as much as I can to help him because he has chronic back pain from an old injury.
The weather yesterday was very pleasant. It was 60 degrees (F) outside and sunny. I got so warm working in the garden that I took off my coat. Today was much colder so I had to put my coat and hat on. It snowed, sometimes quite heavily, although none stayed on the ground. It still was enjoyable working outside. I finished getting all the raised garden beds arranged today. EJ said he really liked my arrangement. I was able to gain a strip of land 8 feet wide for the corn.
The chickens hung out with me while I worked. Often they climbed on the boxes and pallets I was trying to move. Whenever I lifted a pallet up off the ground, they rushed in to search for worms or insects to eat. I had to be very, very careful that I didn’t trip over them or accidentally drop a box/pallet on them. Fortunately, we got the job accomplished with no injuries. I also had to be careful of the cats. Theo repeatedly jumped on my back and climbed up on my shoulders while I worked. Life can be tricky in the Enchanted Forest.
Chickens are actually very beneficial to a garden. Their scratching in the soil helps prepare it for planting, and their poop is good manure. I call the chickens my “essential workers.” I took this video of them on Tuesday morning:
Our next task is to refill the boxes with soil. We can use the soil I took out of them but I’m not sure that will fill all the boxes. Meijer’s has the soil we need at a really good price, but I’m not sure how we will be able to get it with all the “social distancing” restrictions put in place. EJ said a co-worker told him that Meijers is only allowing a small group of people in their stores at one time. I tried to order it from their website but although they had the soil available, all their pickup times were “unavailable.” Oh, well. We will fill as many boxes are we can with the dirt we have and then shrug.
With the weather getting more Springlike, I’m getting more and more eager to open the windows to let fresh air but it’s still a bit early. I don’t start trusting that warm weather is here to stay until around May.
I am planning though. I know EJ would like to reconfigure the garden boxes. I started to move some of them yesterday afternoon, but I am not sure exactly how he wants it so I will need to consult with him before I do more.
I took a photo yesterday of the fancy chicken coop with the wire panel removed. We removed it Sunday night so I could retrieve the pile of eggs that we discovered the hens were laying in the far corner. I saw a hen back there when I took the photo and later I found her egg. It’s still an effort to reach the eggs, but it is not impossible now that the panel is removed.
As I sit in my chair drinking my morning coffee, I’m watching a bluebird outside. Last year a couple built a nest in one of the birdhouses. I hope they nest there again this year because I love watching them. I’m thinking that I would like to raise mealworms so that I can give tasty treats to nesting birds and to our chickens. Buying dried mealworms from a store is too expensive. I never would have imagined that I would become a worm farmer. LOL.
I was thinking about how thankful I am that we are living in our Enchanted Forest rather than downstate during this time when the Covid-19 virus is forcing us to stay home. Our house downstate was on a small shady lot in a small village. Our house had narrow windows which made it so dark inside we had to keep the lights on even during the sunniest days. It would have been depressing to remain there. Our Enchanted Forest home is the complete opposite. Although surrounded by forest, our house is on a sunny hilltop and has larger windows to let the sun pour through. We have five acres to enjoy rather than a tiny lot. We are surrounded by natural beauty rather than houses. I am so very glad we are here. I don’t feel at all confined.
Millie likes to roam but Theo stayed in the fenced-in garden all winter. With the warmer weather, however, he’s been leaving the garden too. This enables me to keep the cats’ food dish on the front porch where the chickens can’t get to it and eat it all. Problem solved. This morning Theo saw me through the window and came up to peek. It made me laugh.
Hannah Joy really enjoys her cuddles. She is such a “cuddle bunny,” which is good because both EJ and I also enjoy cuddling with her. Yesterday morning I took a video of Hannah cuddling with me, as she often does. I love how completely trusting and relaxed she is.
Yesterday was a cozy rainy day. We relaxed and I finished reading Isaac Asimov’s novel, Prelude to Foundation. I have read it several times over the years. I thought EJ would enjoy the story so I found an audiobook of it on Youtube and we began listening to it. It will take us several days to listen to. EJ is enjoying it, as I knew he would.
We woke today to a powdered sugar dusting of snow on the ground. I thought at first it was frost, but EJ went out to check and declared it to be snow. It remained chilly today, but the day was still beautiful.
This morning I decided to make pumpkin raisin muffins. I think every kind of muffin is my favorite, but pumpkin raisin muffins are probably my most favorite favorite. I had all the ingredients mixed together and was beginning to spoon the batter into the muffin tin when I paused because the batter didn’t look right. I looked through the recipe again and realized I had put 2 tablespoons of baking powder in it instead of two teaspoons. Oops. Oh, well. I just put in two-times more of the other ingredients, making a triple batch of muffins instead of a single batch. As far as I’m concerned, this was a very delicious mistake, which I wouldn’t mind making again in the future.
I did laundry throughout the day. For lunch, I made General Tso’s Chicken in the Instant Pot with a side of broccoli–one of our favorite meals. I used the last of my ginger. We have ordered more ginger root, but it hasn’t arrived yet. I will dry and ground up some and EJ will plant others. EJ noticed that my little spice jars of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves were empty–I had used the last of the spices in the muffins–so he went to the pantry for more and refilled them. He ground up the cloves for me.
I did dishes and cleaned the house. Meanwhile, EJ did a few other tasks, including clearing off the front porch. He brought out the park benches to look over with the intention of repainting them when the weather gets warmer.
After lunch, we went out to look at the garden in order to plan how we are going to reconfigure it to make better use of our garden space. I’m not sure how we are going to get new dirt for the boxes if we can’t leave our homes. Buying seeds/plants will also be a challenge because the nurseries are overwhelmed with orders right now because more people are, apparently, planning to put in gardens this year. At some websites, there is a waiting list, and other sites simply list the seeds as “out of stock.” I was able to find seeds of the herbs I use most on Amazon. EJ has some seeds left from last year. Hopefully, we will have enough.
EJ enjoys almonds. He often takes them to work for a healthy snack. The almonds come in square containers which are the perfect size to hold sugar, baking powder, baking soda, bread crumbs–anything dry. So when EJ empties a container, I take it to repurpose it. Even with the wonderful almond containers, the cupboard is crowded and we have to keep moving things out of the way to get to the item we want. There is a lot of wasted space because most of the containers are not tall. I mentioned to EJ this morning that I could organize the cupboard better if I had an additional shelf inside the cupboard. He went out to the garage and built one, making a 2-shelf cupboard into a 3-shelf one. Then together we happily organized everything.
EJ went out with me this evening to shut the cats and chickens safely in the coop. As I was counting all the animals to make sure I had the correct number, we noticed a pile of eggs in the bottom of the fancy coop, way in the back corner where I couldn’t reach. I got on my hands and knees and reached in with my rubber footed cane to drag the eggs toward me. I keep the cane in the coop to use whenever the eggs are a little too far away to reach. But these eggs were WAY too far back and there was too much straw in the way. EJ finally went into the garage and brought back some wire cutters. We cut one of the wire panels out and I was able to easily retrieve the eggs with my cane. The hens had hidden 21 eggs back there!
After we got in the house, EJ “candled” the eggs, meaning he shown a flashlight through them to make sure that embryos weren’t developing in them. There were all ok, but we won’t sell these eggs to customers. Meanwhile, I took a shower…because I had been crawling through the dirty straw.
As we left the coop, we heard coyotes howling. Since we were safely in our fenced-in garden, we paused to listen to them.
EJ makes bread every weekend. As I write this post, he is out in the kitchen making four loaves. 🙂
Today was a beautiful, beautiful sunny day with temperatures up into the low 60s (F). Most of the day I wore just a hoodie and sneakers–no coat, boots, or hat. I walked with Hannah Joy down the driveway at least twice to enjoy the early Spring. All day long the John Denver song, Sunshine on My Shoulder, played in my mind.
We’ve been ordering a few items on-line so we can avoid, as much as possible, going to the stores. UPS allows me to track the delivery truck on-line so that I can watch it getting closer and closer and closer on my computer. When I saw that it was on our road on my screen, I exclaimed, “UPS is almost here!” EJ said, “Yes, it’s on the hill.” “You can see it?” I asked. “It’s coming up the hill.” EJ repeated. I looked out the window, and there was the UPS truck, coming up the driveway. LOL.
One of the things UPS brought us was a set of four motion detector lights. We decided to get the lights for a variety of reasons. EJ put all the lights up today. He had quite an audience when he was installing one near the chicken coop. (We heard some people are stealing chickens.) Many of the chickens gathered around to watch and Theo reached up to get petted. I really love our animals. They all like to hang out with us. They make me feel very loved.
EJ had installed one light on the deck and I’m eager to see if it reveals animals crossing our yard that I might not otherwise notice.
I fastened Hannah Joy’s leash to a T-post so she could be outside with us while we worked. I moved one of the smaller garden boxes near the birdfeeder post, hoping that it will keep Hannah from wrapping her leash around it. Silly dog, she tried to sit in the box. She must think she’s a cat.
For lunch, I made beef bratwurst and potato salad. I made the eggs in the Instant Pot. I made an adjustment or two and they turned out really well AND they were easier to peel. While I was working on the potato salad, EJ asked if I could make coleslaw. So I did. We had bratwurst, potato salad, AND coleslaw. I didn’t take a photo, but it was yummy.
While I was in the kitchen, EJ did a variety of tasks outside. He moved the snowblower to the back of the garage and moved the lawnmower toward the front. Gas is really cheap right now so he went to the gas station to fill the gas cans for the mower. The gas station is at the grocery store, so while there he picked up a few groceries, such as oranges, coffee, and peanut butter.
We just took Hannah Joy outside for the final time tonight (I hope). The stars glittered in the dark sky. The half-moon was like a night-light. We listened. It was very, very quiet. Very peaceful. I wish I could take photos of the beautiful night, but I don’t know how and I don’t have an expensive camera.
Tomorrow the forecast is for rain. I don’t mind. I like sunny days, and I like rainy days.
NOTE: This can be a scary time. If you feel disconnected and alone, need encouragement, or would like prayer, feel free to join my I Love To Go A Gardening Facebook Group.
During these difficult days with Covid-19, some days are more stressful, some are less stressful. The last few days have been less stressful. I keep up on the virus situation, but I also take time to do things that relax me.
One of EJ’s coworkers gave him some Kefir grains a few weeks ago. Kefir is a fermented dairy product similar in many ways to yogurt and buttermilk but instead of heating the milk, adding a culture, and keeping it warm as you do with yogurt, all you need to make kefir are milk and kefir grains. Each day I drain off the “whey,” then add the grains to four cups of milk and set it aside to ferment until the next day. Each day I am making EJ and me blueberry kefir smoothies. I put kefir, honey, blueberries, ice cubes, and a few dashes of cinnamon in the blender until the ice cubes are broken up. I couldn’t find any real ice cube trays so I used mini muffin tins to make the ice cubes.
Yesterday I made Korean Beef and Rice in my Instant Pot. It is delicious, easy to make, and is one of my favorite meals. EJ said that the Asian meals I make taste just as good as any you’d find in a Chinese restaurant.
We’ve had some very beautiful days this week, with lots of sunshine. It looks so nice outside that I feel tempted to put the screens back in the windows so we can open them, and go outside without a coat. However, it’s not THAT warm yet. But it’s getting there. Tomorrow the high is supposed to reach 60 degrees (F). Whoo-hoo!
We looked out of the window today and saw a female turkey emerge out of the forest and sit in the weeds. We were really hoping she wasn’t planning to nest there because it was out in the open not far from the edge of the driveway. But after a minute or two she got up and wandered off. We usually have turkeys nesting on our property. They bring their young up near the house in the late summer, which is always a treat to see.
EJ sat out on the deck today, and I joined him. It was really quite warm in the sunshine. Millie joined us and I brushed her fur. Hannah was a bit upset (jealous) about being left in the house. She likes to be a part of everything.
Hannah Joy really has nothing to complain about. She is with us 98% of the time–cuddling with us, sleeping with us, going on car rides, playing with us, going for walks. Nope, she really shouldn’t be complaining at all.
I know that many, many people around the world are sequestered in their homes because of the Covid-19 virus. Not everyone has a beautiful Enchanted Forest to enjoy. I know of at least one dear friend who cannot leave her apartment. So I thought I’d take her–and all of you–on a walk with Hannah Me and me down our driveway. I was maybe a third of the way down when I began filming.
NOTE: This can be a scary time. If you feel disconnected and alone, need encouragement, or would like prayer, feel free to join my I Love To Go A Gardening Facebook Group.
How are you all doing?
We are doing mostly good with occasional spikes of anxiety/stress. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. Our government is now telling us that we need to stay home until the end of April to reduce the spread of the virus. I think it’s more difficult for Extroverts than Introverts like me, but it’s still not easy to not go wherever or whenever we want, to have to be concerned about “social distancing,” to not have the stores fully stocked, and to know there’s an infectious virus lurking out there.
EJ just went back to work after a week home sick. he video conferences with his doctor this morning and she believed he may have a “bug” going around out there, but definitely not the Covid-19 virus. I get anxious about EJ’s health and our finances. I have to remind myself every now and then to “breathe” and trust God. When I don’t remember, I have friends who help me remember. 🙂 We really do have so many good things in our lives.
At about 4:30 am yesterday we lost our power for a few hours. I am not sure why. I woke up when it came back on at 7 am but we didn’t get our internet back until an hour later. I felt very disconnected from the world, and I thought that, wow, I would have no way to contact many of my friends around the world if I ever lost the Internet permanently. Yikes. My life would be dimmer without them. I am concerned for my friends in various places in the USA and the world. I try to check on them often, especially those I know who are high-risk and alone. I wish I could whisk some of them away to our Enchanted Forest to keep them safe and cared for. If you feel alone, need encouragement, or would like me to pray for you, feel free to join my I Love To Go A Gardening Facebook Group.
This afternoon a guy EJ knows stopped by to give us some beef heart, tongue, liver–various cow parts that I told EJ that I will never eat unless I’m totally starving, even if they are supposedly very healthy. They sound gross to me so EJ will have to cook and eat them himself. The guy also gave EJ some information about beekeeping if we can ever afford the startup costs. EVERY hobby is expensive to begin, it seems. I think it would be awesome to keep bees even though I’m a bit scared of getting stung–but I think that I can learn not to be scared, right? I love honey, and I find the legends about bees interesting. My favorite is an old superstition that says you have to tell the bees when something big happens—a birth, a death, a marriage, a move–or they would move away or die. I talk to Hannah Joy, the cats, and the chickens, so I would have no problem talking to bees, just for fun.
EJ went outside (maintaining social distance) to chat with the guy and showed him our garden and chickens. The guy said we had an awesome setup. I think we do too, but it’s always nice to hear others say so. 🙂 We gave him three dozen eggs as a thank you for his gifts.
The weather is still cool, but our snow is all melted. The lilac bush is beginning to bud and the lilies are poking their heads up from the dirt. We’ve also seen sandhill cranes flying overhead. It’s still too early to plant a garden, but Spring is creeping in.
I don’t walk Hannah Joy to the mailbox in the winter because she sometimes gets a wild look on her face and goes running back and forth on her leash. I don’t want to risk having her pull me off my feet. I slipped and fell in the driveway a couple years ago and broke bones in my wrist; I do not want to have that happen again. But with the snow all gone, we restarted our walks. Hannah loves it.
Hannah keeps us laughing. She is not a very patient dog. When she wants something, she wants it NOW. If I don’t immediately give her what she wants, she gets on my lap and paws at me, and wiggles, and then starts to complain. I caught her on video. Just for the record, I feed Hannah twice a day. I feed her first thing when we get up in the morning and then I feed her between 5-6 pm in the evenings. Plus, she gets treats. She sometimes thinks she should eat earlier in the evening.
Theo our outside cat stayed in the fenced-in garden/coop all winter, but he’s been venturing out now that the weather is getting nicer. A couple days ago EJ and I watched a flock of wild turkeys in the back yard. They suddenly took off half running and half flying and we saw Theo chasing them. After a few seconds, he started to run back the other way as if he suddenly thought, “Oh, crap! What am I doing?” Theo is a very affectionate cat. He always greets me when I go out into the garden and follows me around while I do my chores. In the last couple of weeks, he’s been leaping onto my back and riding around on my shoulders. I finally got him doing it on video, as best as I could:
I’m glad that since we have to stay at home, I have the Enchanted Forest to stay home in.
This morning arrived with heavy fog, making everything look beautifully mysterious. Once the fog burned off, the day was mostly sunny with the temperature forecast to reach around 50 degrees (F). It looks as if we are getting an early Spring. I sure hope so because I’d like to open the windows and work in the garden. Last year we had a late Winter and were still getting garden-killing frost in early June. I’m a little envious of people in the South who are enjoying warmer weather and are able to plant their gardens, but I don’t envy the very hot weather they have in the summer.
EJ was sent home three hours early on Tuesday night because he wasn’t feeling well. He believes he just has a cold, but he stayed off work all week just to make sure it’s nothing more. He didn’t want to take any risks for himself or others. He not feeling very well today, but has no fever so…It’s amazing how every little symptom takes on ominous undertones at this time.
Today is EJ’s birthday. We are just having a quiet day at home because of EJ’s health and the Governor’s “stay home” orders. I was going to make him a cheesecake, but we don’t have any graham crackers for the crust. I made him pumpkin raisin muffins for breakfast. I would have let him choose what he wants for lunch/dinner, but because he is not feeling well, I made him chicken soup and dumplings.
We don’t mind staying home, but it sure is weird that we can’t just leave home whenever we want to go wherever we want and buy whatever we want. Our little grocery store is going to “curbside service” only starting on Monday. Meijers is no longer open 24/7. They are allowing senior citizens and/or those with chronic health problems to shop Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-8 a.m., which I thought was nice, but after seeing a video about the crowds of such people lining up and entering a store in a Michigan town, I decided that I wouldn’t go then even if I were eligible. I’m rather fascinated with the way people are reacting to the virus. Some are acting in appalling ways, hoarding, or stealing, or refusing to stay at home. but others are being kind and helpful.
I am very thankful for the Internet because even though we are disconnected, I feel connected. I can keep updated on what’s happening “out there” and also connect with friends across the country and around the world. I’m also enjoying all the creative or funny ways that people are reaching out. For example, Rotterdam Philharmonisch Orkest shared a video of them all playing from their individual homes. and a comedic group from Ireland made a funny video about a teacher trying to teach his students online during the coronavirus. And there’s a sweet video about a little foal named Tallulah’s first day outside. It’s a celebration of life. I don’t feel disconnected when I’m able to connect with so many.
I’m still trying to figure out if or how I can share my chicken eggs with those in need. Since we are supposed to social distance so we don’t spread the virus, and since the virus can survive on surfaces for several days…Well, I don’t want to risk infections, either from or to us, especially with EJ not feeling well. I’m not going to do anything about the eggs until he is healthy.
EJ said that he read that people are beginning to steal chickens! I don’t mind sharing my eggs, but I prefer to keep my chickens! I feel like cautioning my roosters to use their “inside voices” so they don’t crow to the world that they are here. To quote Elmer Fudd: “Shhhh! Be wery, wery, qwiet.”
Millie and Theo, our outside cats, are very affectionate. Millie enjoys roaming our property. Theo seems to feel safer in the fenced-in garden. Mille is sort of making friends with Hannah Joy, but Theo is deathly afraid of her. He always runs up to me when he sees me. Lately, he’s been unexpectedly leaping onto my back as I walk to the coop. It’s always a bit of surprise to suddenly find a weight on my back. Theo also likes to sometimes climb on top of the coop roof.
This morning we moved our patio table onto the deck so if/when it gets warm enough outside, we can go out and sit in the sunshine.
The melted snow has uncovered a Winter’s accumulation of Hannah Joy’s poop. I’m thinking about going out shoveling it out of the way before it becomes a soupy mess when it rains tomorrow. However, I’m not sure I’m that motivated. I feel more like dozing in the sun in my chair like Hannah Joy is.
How is everyone doing?
Monday our Michigan Governor ordered everyone to stay at home to stop the spread of Covid-19. For at least the next three weeks, individuals may only leave their home under very limited circumstances, and they must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the CDC. People can go to the grocery store, pharmacy, gas stations or pick up take-out food. They can seek medical care for themselves or their pets. They can go on walks, hikes, runs, or biking as long as they maintain social distancing.
Businesses cannot remain open unless they perform an essential service. EJ believes that most machine shops are closed, and he thought his company would also close, but it turns out that his machine shop makes vital parts so he is still working. EJ said that if it wasn’t that we need his paycheck, he would have really enjoyed staying home. I’m relieved he is still working so we don’t have money to worry about, although I’m concerned about him staying healthy.
EJ told me this morning that driving home in the wee hours of the morning was very weird because there were almost no cars on the road. Usually, there is much more traffic, especially on main streets and roads. He texted me during his break tonight that his company gave him a “don’t arrest this guy” letter to prove that his job is essential and he has permission to travel to/from work. Just in case it’s needed.
EJ also texted that a guy he works with is married to a nurse who cared for the first covid-19 case in our county. So the guy (and his wife?) is now in quarantine and won’t be back for at least 15 days. Neither he nor his wife show symptoms but, of course, he could still be a carrier if he’s infected. Hopefully, he is not and/or they got him into quarantine soon enough.
It feels a bit weird to realize that we are no longer free to travel whenever and wherever we want, but I enjoy my home and life remains mostly normal for me. I think that when tough times hit, there is often an initial shock, but after that, we just adjust and carry on. Meijers has changed their hours so EJ is no longer able to stop in for a few groceries on his way home from work. It had been nice because at 3 am there aren’t a lot of people. As much as possible, I buy items we need on-line. Many stores are offering curbside pickup. I’m still trying to figure out how that works.
I’m chatting with friends on-line and checking up on them. I have friends in various states and countries and it’s interesting finding out what is happening in their part of the world. Plus, I really care about them all and they are an encouragement to me.
Today’s high temperature was near 50 degrees (F). We now have almost no snow in our Enchanted Forest. The neighbors across the road have a different experience. Their snow always lasts far longer than ours because their hill faces north and doesn’t get the warm sun as much as we do. You can see our snowless property and their snowy hill in the photo.
Hannah Joy is enjoying the warmer temperatures. With the snow gone, I’ve been walking her down the driveway to our mailbox. She loves it. She is a bit of a handful though because she’s always sniffing around for stuff to eat–desirable to her but undesirable to me. Things like deer poop. Yuck. I have to remain diligent and pull her away when she finds stuff. Sometimes she sits down and refuses to budge. She also wants outside more frequently lately, grumbling until I take her, and then she just snuffles around–I think looking for more (un)desirable things to eat.
Some of the chickens were enjoying sunning themselves in the dirt today. The older chickens go outside more often than the younger ones. The younger ones were hatched later in the summer last year. They were too little to go outside before winter–and all of my chickens prefer staying in the coop during the cold wintry weather. I’m sure the young’uns will adjust to the great outdoors when the weather turns warmer. I think it’s rather peaceful watching the chickens.
I had been selling my extra eggs but I’m not sure what to do now that Michiganders are told to stay at home. My 17 hens are laying 8-12 eggs (and a couple of times 15 eggs) each day, which is many, many more than we can use. There are many people out of work. I’m wondering how I can get the extra eggs to people who might need them without any of us leaving home. I don’t want to risk infection–for them or us–and I don’t want to end up throwing the eggs out when people might need them. I’m thinking of contact0ing the admin of our town FB group and seeing if something can be worked out. We shall see.
How are you all today?
I know a lot of people are very scared. I understand and I empathize. To quote Thomas Paine, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” It’s easy to get anxious when there is uncertainty and a constant barrage of bad news. No need to be immersed in it 24/7, so I’ve been cutting back on my exposure to it. I’ve also been chatting with friends and spending time doing things that I enjoy. I’d like to share a bit of the peaceful day I had today in our Enchanted Forest.
I was going to take a photo showing how the warm days we’ve had melted most of our snow. However, I woke up this morning to snow. With Hannah Joy fast asleep on my lap, I sat in my chair, sipping coffee and watching the snowfall as I listened to The Shire, A Peaceful Night in Bag End – Relaxing Evening Rain on Youtube today. When I want peaceful music, I listen to Shire music. It makes me think of peaceful gardens, gentle Hobbits, and beautiful homes with round doors.
The Piano Guys posted an interesting and fun article about the power of music called Darth Maul, Coronavirus and the Power of Music. They wrote:
So what do you feed your soul? Whatever you feed it connects to your body’s health, your state of mind, and your general well being. Your stress level affects your immune system which affects your health. Your mood affects your mind which affects your resilience. It’s all connected. And one of the EASIEST ways to improve your general well being is listening to the right music at the right time.
Because we try to live frugally, we always buy items when they are on sale. Meijers often has “10 items for $10” sales on a variety of items. We also buy canned goods each autumn when our little grocery store around the corner has sales on cases of canned goods. And when there is meat on sale at the stores, we buy several packages, divide them into meal-sized portions, and freeze them until we need them. So we are doing pretty well at the moment. There are a few items that we still need, such as flour, sugar, milk, fresh vegetables, but we aren’t panic-buying. We take one or two now and then and leave the rest for others.
EJ works ten-hour days Monday through Thursday. His Thursday ends at 3 am on Friday morning and he gets the rest of the weekend off. He had planned to just sleep a couple hours this morning so we could get to Meijers early to do some shopping but I knew he was really tired so I just let him sleep in. When he woke up, we decided to forget Meijers. EVERYBODY shops at Meijers and there was no guarantee that the items we wanted to get would be there. We went instead to our little grocery store, which is only a couple miles away. There were a few empty spots, but most of the shelves were full, and we got everything we wanted except the yeast for EJ’s bread. I had ordered yeast on-line a few days ago, but the company emailed that there would be a delay because of high demand. However, when we got home, I found an email that the yeast had been shipped so…Yay! It will be here in a few days.
After we got the groceries put away, I began preparing lunch, but EJ had to finish it. We have a flock of 20 chickens–3 roosters and 17 hens–which is enough to keep us supplied with eggs and enables us to sell what we cannot use. I have two regular customers. One of them came this morning to pick up some eggs. I asked how he was doing, and he said he was doing well. He feels as we do–that all we really can do is take precautions but then we just need to hunker down and wait out the virus.
One of EJ’s co-workers gave him some Kefir grains. Kefir is a fermented milk drink similar to a thin yogurt that is made from kefir grains, a specific type of culture of living micro-organisms. EJ calls them “mitochondria” which in Star Wars were linked to potential in the Force. Kefir is believed to be a more powerful probiotic than yogurt and to have many health benefits. When it ferments, we strain it to separate the culture from the liquid. We put the culture in new milk to start a new batch and drink the Kefir liquid or use it in recipes. Today I made blueberry smoothies with our Kefir liquid. It was quite yummy. My friend told me that she has made a delicious bread with Kefir. I would like to try it, but I might wait until flour is more plentiful so I don’t waste it if our bread doesn’t turn out.
I hadn’t stopped filling the bird feeders a week or so ago because the warmer weather was waking up the bears. Someone who lived only a couple miles from us had posted on FB that there had been a bear in her driveway. Hungry bears like eating from birdfeeders. However, because of the snow, I decided to put feed out for the birds today. It wasn’t long before the deer came trotting in. We had seven deer eating the seed! They didn’t leave any for bears.
I took a video today when I went out to gather the eggs from the chickens. As always, Theo and Millie ran to greet me when I opened the garage door. The chickens also usually run up to greet me too when they are outside, but they don’t like snow so they stayed in their coop today. I really enjoy interacting with my flock of chickens and cats. They all live quite peacefully together in the coop and garden.
Finally, but not least, I am comforted by sharing my anxieties with God. I’ve been focusing on Bible verses such as these:
…So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For…your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6)
The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:5-7)
These things all help me regain a sense of perspective and peace in these uncertain times.
Yesterday I wrote that today’s current events become tomorrow’s history and that history isn’t just a bunch of facts to be memorized for a school test but is actually about the stories of people who lived through it. So how are you all doing? Feel free to share your stories here.
I’m not all that anxious about the Covid-19 virus. I think of it much as I do a bad thunderstorm or snowstorm: We do all we can to prepare for bad storms, but beyond that, all we can do is hunker down and ride it out. I’m more concerned with how all the closures, cancellations, and shortages at grocery stores are affecting people, local businesses, and communities. I get very upset by people who take advantage of others, such as the two brothers (in Kentucky, I think) who went to several towns in their area and bought up 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, which they sold on Amazon for $8 to $70 each. As soon as Amazon realized this, they banned them, and the guys received so much negative reaction that they ended up donating the remainder of their items, but the fact they were so greedy is reprehensible to me. There are reports of others doing the same sort of thing. Thankfully, there are also reports of people doing kind things, taking care of others.
I’m feeling quite a bit of anxiety, but I struggle with anxiety anyway, mostly because of PTSD caused by emotional abuse. In fact, I had determined late last year that 2020 would be the year I would battle to overcome anxiety and pursue peace and joy. I think that whenever a person tries to overcome something, the battles can get fierce so I sort of expected some difficult days. I had hoped for a quiet, uneventful year to recover and regain my well-being, not this global chaos but…it is what it is.
Are you struggling with anxiety?
Here are a couple article about coping with anxiety:
Whenever I feel my anxiety rise, I’ve been stepping away from the constant flood of news. I talk to God a lot and hold on to truths that He is in control. I try to keep things in perspective. I also breathe, soak in the quiet beauty of my Enchanted Forest, and cuddle with Hannah Joy, I do activities I enjoy, such as crocheting, writing, reading, watching light-hearted programs on Netflix and Amazon Prime, taking care of my flock of chickens. I seek out opportunities to laugh–because laughter is powerful. I remember years ago I read an article in Reader’s Digest magazine written by a former Vietnam POW about his experiences. He said that whenever a new prisoner arrived at the prison, as soon as they could, they would tell him that it was very important to keep a sense of humor even in the midst of all the suffering. Prisoners didn’t last long once they lost their ability to laugh. So I laugh at funny memes, cute animal videos, and my friends. Wait! I mean I don’t laugh AT my friends. I laugh WITH them.
I love the Piano Guys. Their love of music and creativity is a joy to watch. I’m going to leave you with their song, “It’s Going to Be OK.”
One of the things that I greatly value that my parents taught me is a love for history. My Dad never took us vacationing to amusement parks. Instead, we always went to historical places such as Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, or Fort Necessity in Pennsylvania. As we toured historical places, my Mom would tell us to imagine living as those people did: “Imagine having to cook your meals over a fire like this,” she’d say. “Imagine having to shear sheep, spin the wool into yarn, weave it into cloth, and then sew your clothes. Imagine reading by candlelight. Imagine traveling across the plains in a covered wagon. Imagine living during the days of the Revolutionary or Civil Wars.” Imagine, imagine, imagine. My parents taught me that history isn’t just a bunch of facts to be memorized for a school test. History is actually about the stories of people who lived through it.
My parents didn’t just teach me about the past. They also taught me that today’s current events are tomorrow’s history. Every day we are living history. I remember watching the TV broadcast of President Nixon’s resignation in 1974. I thought it was boring, but my Mom insisted we sit and watch it because “This is history.” I am glad she did that because I can now look back and say, “I watched Nixon resign.”
Through the years, I have been aware that I am living through events that will become history. I have lived through big events such as Nixon’s resignation, the first moon landing, the Challenger explosion, President Reagan getting shot (I saved a newspaper from that day), 9/11, and fears over Y2K.
I have also lived through small personal events: I remember that our neighbor had the first color TV in our neighborhood. She invited us over and we all watched Lassie Come Home in color for the first time! I woke up at my neighbor’s house the next morning because I fell asleep watching the TV.
I remember that my Dad had the first home computer of anyone I knew. He couldn’t just download a new program, he had to type in pages and pages of code from a magazine. One typo would cause the program to not run correctly. We spent hours trying to find that one little mistake. My Dad also ran a “bulletin board,” which was a precursor to websites. In order to access a computer bulletin board, a person put the handset of their phone into a “modem” and called our phone number. We had only one phone line so we could either have the bulletin board running OR make/receive personal calls–not both.
I remember the first game system we had, which was called a Magnavox Odyssey. It was so simple that each game came with a plastic overlay to put on the TV screen. To play Pong we’d put a tennis court overlay on the TV, and we had a haunted house overlay which I think was used for Pac Man.
I remember how crazy people got about Cabbage Patch Dolls. JJ laughed at me a few years ago when I got up early to watch the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. I told him that I was watching it because “This is history.”
The Covid-19 virus is history in the making. It’s not just that “in 2020 the world experienced a pandemic.” It’s about the stories of people who are currently living through it. It is part of history that the quarantined Italians are singing from their balconies to lift their spirits and a wedding was celebrated from balconies in Israel. I’m very interested in hearing my friends’ stories of what they are experiencing in their part of the country or world because it’s part of history. My stories of how EJ and I are experiencing it and YOUR stories are also part of history. If you can, write your stories down because all of our stories will become part of the historical record of this event. Someday people may be as interested in reading our stories as they are in reading the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder.