Saturday Afternoon Chat: Cold weather, warm fires, and Grandpa’s poems

I did nothing this week. Like nothing. I haven’t even left the house once.

Nope, not sick. Not depressed. Oh, wait, yes, I am depressed, but that’s not why I didn’t leave the house. I just didn’t have anywhere I needed to go this week and it was very, very cold. Today it is 11 degrees as I write this and the high is going to be 23. The day started off at around negative five degrees Fahrenheit.

Thankfully tomorrow is supposed to be a bit warmer with temps climbing toward 40 degrees. I will take it after the frigid weather we’ve been having. It’s been so cold not even my adventurous younger cat wanted to go out most days and if she did it was for a very short time.

We have been running our woodstove full bore for the entire week, 24/7. Our pets have enjoyed it very much.

We have also enjoyed it since it has helped us save the little bit of heating oil we have left in our tank until we place a new order sometime this next week. I can’t believe how high heating oil was months ago (and still is really). That just started us on a snowball effect of trying to keep up with the bill and still pay our other bills and buy groceries. Eventually, the snowball became a full-blown avalanche and overran us, leaving us in a pile of Overwhelm at the bottom.

(Excuse the wood chips. We brought in a lot of wood this week and still had to sweep when I took this photo).

This week I was so thankful for the woodstove and electric heat upstairs in our house because without it we would have really been in trouble.

The Boy and The Husband bring in the wood for the stove most of the time but Friday morning I braved the wind and swirling snow to the woodpile behind the garage and brought a few logs in. I have short arms and a big head so I can’t carry as much as the guys can. Have you ever seen that scene in Meet The Robinsons? The T-Rex in it says that and I always think of that when I share about my short arms. I will post it below for your viewing pleasure:

I consumed so much organic peppermint tea with local honey this week to try to keep warm and calm, I was practically floating.

Last week I wrote about how Jesus helped to calm the storm in me while chaos raged around us, and it was the same this week. We still have a lot of weirdness going on and one situation that is not resolved, but this week still seemed calmer overall than other weeks. I had some anger issues over the one situation but was able to settle that a bit by venting to family and pacing a lot. Oh, and there was chocolate. There is always chocolate that is needed in those situations.

On Tuesday I released Shores of Mercy to the world finally. I was glad to have the book out there and the Spencer Valley Chronicles almost complete. As I mentioned in a post on my new newsletter site I plan to have five books in the series when it is all done, but for now, I am taking a break from the series to work on a couple of other projects. You can read about that on my new Substack site, which will only be used as a newsletter for my writing. I will most likely only update it once or twice a month, if that at this point, so if you do subscribe to it, don’t worry – I won’t spam your email every day or week.

I tried to get some writing in on a couple of the new projects this week and then realized I have no idea where the new books are going so I will need to do some more brainstorming and plotting on those.

I may not have gone out much this week, but the rest of my family did. The Husband took Little Miss to Awana on Wednesday at my parents’ former church. On Thursday my parents drove two miles north to see my 90-year-old aunt whose health is not doing well. They made me a nervous wreck because they had to call me for directions, couldn’t hear through the cell phone at one point, and then my mom called out my dad’s name and said, “Oh my!” and I thought they’d had an accident.

Then they decided to stop for dinner on the way home as if they are grown adults and can do what they want to do. I told them that they have to check in when they are going to be out past their curfew but they didn’t seem to listen to me. Parents are so rebellious sometimes.

It is almost like they are trying to get back at me and my brother for the times we were out and didn’t call them and tell them where we were, so they were home worrying about us. Not that either of us actually went out that much. My brother and I were both fairly tame growing up and also stayed close to home. If we did go out it was down the road to a friend’s house or in the yard to read a book. Yep, we were that boring, and proud of it.

I was originally supposed to drive my parents up to see my aunt but then my dad got all morbid and said he’d rather if something happened, it happened to just two family members and not three so that my children didn’t lose three family members at one time. He thinks such pleasant things, doesn’t he? But, yeah, he had a good point.

Last week my parents sent me home from their house with two huge boxes of blankets, comforters, and flannel sheets. They have too many and decided they needed to declutter. They met my brother and his wife for lunch and gave them a bunch too.

One of the blankets I immediately said I wanted was my grandmother’s – my dad’s mom. We lived across the hill from her (over the creek and through the woods to grandmother’s house we went) for my entire life until we moved in with her when I was in college.

She used to curl up in a tiny ball in the corner of this curved couch she had and cover herself with this afghan. She weighed about 100 pounds and wasn’t very tall so the thing covered her almost entirely.

My mom asked if I knew why she used to tie a red piece of ribbon to the bottom of it. I had no idea.

“She didn’t want to have the part of the blanket that was down by her feet up by her head when she laid back down,” Mom said.

Oh. Well, that’s one way to do it. I don’t think about such things but my grandmother apparently did. I have not yet tied a ribbon around the fringe of the blanket but I have covered up with it a couple of times, cried and least twice, and felt very sentimental every other time.

As an aside, I picked up the habit of rinsing out my mug several times under the faucet before using it to make sure it is totally void of leftover soap or dust of any kind. Grandma used to do that and now I do it and can’t stop. It’s my one, small OCD tendency.

Later in the week, Dad brought me a box of poems from my grandfather, which he wants me to place in some kind of scrapbook after I read through them.

It was all a little bittersweet because there was a series of poems in there written about a year before Grandpa died while my grandparents were on a trip to Maine. I never got to know the man since I was two when he died. My mom says I was afraid of men and even him because he had such a deep voice, but shortly before he died she’d leaned over to say goodbye to him (he was in a hospital bed at the house) with me in her arms and I impromptu leaned over and kissed his cheek. She said his expression was one of delight because I had never done anything like that before. He passed away not long after.

My grandfather was such a large figure, reputation-wise, in the family and community, though, so in many ways it feels as if I have known him all my life, even though I never really did.

He wrote a lot of poetry and kept very simple journals that mainly detailed what the weather was, what he’d had for breakfast, where he had gone that day, and who he had played cards with (usually some close friends who are distant relatives and the same couple my parents would later play cards with as well, even though my mom hates to play cards. Ha!).

Dad said he has a ton of large, padded, yellow envelopes with what looks like more of his writing in them spread out at his house. Looks like I know what my job will be Sunday afternoon.

Does your family hold on to family memorabilia or writings as well?

In addition to Grandpa’s writing, my dad also has quite a few items from my great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents, including a blood letter (not sure of the technical name for this) from my great-great-grandfather who was a doctor in the 1800s. This is the same great-great-grandfather who fought in the Civil War and whose brother also fought and then died in Libby Prison. (Trying saying great-great three times fast. After a bit, the words start to sound funny. *snort laugh*).

He also had a box of gold nuggets from my great-great-grandfather but we’re not sure why they are there. Dad thinks that maybe he was going to invest in some firm that was gold panning but he isn’t sure. The nuggets and the box they are in are probably about 200 years old. The nuggets look totally fake to me, but what do I know?

The full word above is “glass” but the g and l are on the other side of the box.

My dad gave The Boy a small framing hammer that my great-grandfather used to frame windows, including the one at the school of the local Catholic Church that we can see from our house. You know, the one with the bell that rings five times a day and the one I’ve featured in photos on this blog a few times.

After all this rambling I am sure you need a warm-up on your beverage. I shall pause while you do that.

Here is our intermission music:

Seriously, though, I do need to wrap this post up as it is dragging out, but I think I will pick up about Grandpa’s poems in another blog post later this week.

I hope you had a wonderful week last week and have a better one this week. As usual, feel free to share what you are drinking today in the comments and come back tomorrow for Sunday Bookends, where I share what I am reading, watching, listening to and writing.

I thought I’d share a poem from Grandpa to close out today:

Listen all here’s the deal,
You’re a cog in the wheel.
Some with a brush, a cloth, a comb,,
Others will pills as they roam.
Quiet you down, ease your pain.
All the duties not the same.
Others are just the nurses aid,
Let’s not forget the cleaning maid.
Some prepare for a transfusion
Inject iv’s its utter confusion.
In every bed there’s someone sick
All ring at once want you quick.
Samples of blood as you go along
Go to the lap to see what’s wrong
Temperature, heart beats, pulse and pressure
Ah yes, ‘tis work beyond measure.
Rub your back, arms they clutch
Get you up on a crutch.
And doctor’s orders you must obey
Among other things in the day.
Don’ know where we’d all be
Without that wheel don’t you see.
You jot a word on our chart
Yes everyone’s a vital part.
Yet ‘tis rewarding to the soul
To keep the wheel so she’ll roll.
So at years end, the yuletide season
We love you all, that’s the reason.
As these words we pause to write
Have a wonderful day and peaceful night
~Walter H. Robinson.