Masks, masks, masks!


Hey folks, it’s been a while. I hope this finds you as well as can be, considering the shitshow of a year we’ve all had.

Because I’m in a high-risk group, I am still basically sheltering in place. However, our four adult children work in health care and Mr. Wonderful’s job is essential, so I have plenty of time and reasons to stress tf out. I needed to do something to feel less powerless, per my therapist, stat. I decided to sew masks.

Before this year my only sewing experience was a brief obsession in the sixth grade. I recieved a nice Singer that Christmas, and Aunt Martha taught me the basics. I made a nightgown and a quilt and that was about it. I loved flooring the pedal, but the meticulousness of patterns, pinning, and ironing was beyond me and my machine ended up rusting out in the basement.

My first masks were sewn entirely by hand, including the ties, which took hours.

Youngest Spawn, Danny., wearing one of the first masks I made. He works in a nursing home as a CNA.

Then my cousin Shanna in California added me to Facebook group called Stitched Together. They match mask needs with sewists, entirely free, all over the country. I’ve learned so much about sewing in general and masks in particular from those amazing sewists.

Unfortunately, one thing I learned quickly was that mask-making supplies were almost as hard to find as other PPE. It took months to get my first order of elastic. Same story with bias tape, which can be used to make ties in a pinch. Getting aluminum nose pieces took even longer, so for a while I used wire. Also, my sewing machine was dead, so a friend lent me hers.

My productivity increased steadily. After spending a day at our house,  Grandson Raiden told his mom, “Granny makes maskes. LOTS of maskes, really fast!! Buzzzzzzz!”

Chain stitching. Total life changer and one of many hacks from Stitched Together.

Now, over 900 masks in, I’ve decided to sell some masks to fund more donations.

If you would like to buy a cool mask and help fund more donations, here’s a link to my Etsy shop, Pajari Girls. All masks are 2 ply cotton with soft elastic ear loops and aluminum nose pieces. And of course, they are made with love. Most are $7 for adult size and $5 for child size, except the RBG tribute masks, which are $10 each since the lace is hand stitched on. And with every mask sold, we can donate even more to those who still need them. Thanks in advance, and stay safe out there.

Notorious RBG!!
So. Many. Fabrics. With skulls, my favorite!!

Hiking Vermilion Gorge


Hi again! The summer was pretty busy at the farm (www.cookscountryconnection.com) , so Mr. Wonderful, Danny, and I took a Sunday off to make another hike up to Vermilion Gorge.  The leaves were still beautiful, and the high temp was 88!

People often mistake Vermilion Falls with Vermilion Gorge. The Falls are the really short hike that was shortened a few years ago. It’s right before Crane Lake. Here is the USFS sheet on that one. 

Vermilion Gorge is the 3 mile round-trip hike that takes about 3 hours “at a leisurely pace”, according to Vermilion Gorge USFS info sheet.  Drive all the way through Crane Lake and park in the private parking lot for Voyagaire Houseboats on the left. In the fall and early spring, the lot is full of said houseboats, but there will be signs pointing you to the trailhead.

The hike starts in a birch/aspen (popple) forest, and the sky was perfect this day. Most of the maple leaves were on the ground, but the vibrant yellows popped with the deep blue fall sky. We spent a lot of time looking straight up.

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As the trail climbed into the Norway pines, we noticed a million types of mushrooms.

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And writing this post, I noticed we got photobombed by a bald eagle!! Very top of the photo, left of center. 
The reflections were breathtaking. 

Some kind soul had left a walking stick at the trailhead, so the Boy happily used it, returning it for the next person.

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I could be wrong, but I think this is a glacial erratic. I didn’t get any good shots of it on this trip, so this pic is from last year.

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We sat for a break (for me, not them lol), and Paul noticed this birdnest in a birch tree overhanging the gorge.

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Yep, he has his device. But he got some awesome photos and is reading in this picture. No gaming.

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It was during this break that I noticed cairns farther upstream. Paul and Danny did some scouting, and were sure I could make it, with help. I’m so lucky to have these two; I wouldn’t have attempted this hike without backup. Not that it’s super-difficult; it’s just too much for me, with bum hips, knees, and ankles. They were such troopers, helping me up and down stairs and steep sections of trail.

Anyway, I remembered being on the other side of the monolith with BFF Terri several years ago, and had pretty much given up the idea of making it there this time. Luckily the lure of getting photos with the sun hitting the gorge dead-on and a little encouragement from my family got me over the hump.

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Would you believe that not counting the canoeists, we only saw two people on the way in, and a group of four as we were almost back out??

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Hope you enjoyed the hike!

Rooster Noodle Soup


I am very nervous around poultry.  (See “Guinea Monsters From Hell”)   And I used to hate cooking. So this Martha Stewart-esque-ness is new to me. I have been growing, canning, cooking, drying and freezing food a lot more the last few years. Now, being unemployed AND on the Low Child Support Diet has encouraged me to do even more, and to do it better. It’s been a slow process, and many people have contributed along the way. Here are two that I remember.

One of my favorite bloggers is Jackie  Clay.  (Check her out here. Chop chop!) We are lucky to have this awesome lady in our community, and I have learned so much from her books and blogs about living off the land in this area code.  I subscribed to her blog for several months before I even attempted canning on my own.

I vaguely remember Anthony Bourdain saying that the poorest people had the best-tasting food, because their seasonings could make even the cheapest cuts of meat and other ingredients taste good. That’s when I started growing herbs, tomatoes, etc. in containers and finally a garden.

As I mentioned, I am scared of live poultry; however, they are delicious, especially roasted with organic herbs that we grew here on the hill. Growing rosemary, sage, celery leaf, red onion, garlic and thyme makes me happy.  So as long I have Lois and Jill next door to raise chickens, I will cook them.

omnom, thyme, sage, celery leaf, rosemary, funny farm, organic

By the way, does anyone know why when they are alive they are hens & roosters, but as soon as the heads come off they are just chicken?? Same with cows, bulls, steers, heifers, and beef… What the hell?Roosters, Funny Farm, Pajari Girls, Food, Soup

I believe it’s important to know where our food comes from.  I like that the chicken (fka: rooster) was grass-fed next door, not in a cramped factory “farm.”

Rooster, Banty, Food, Pajari Girls, Funny Farm, chicken

And better yet, the next day I made the leftovers into soup and paired it with homemade bread.  Note to self: next year, grow a LOT more carrots and potatoes.  As far as fast, cheap and easy goes….it was super cheap and really easy…two out of three isn’t bad.

omnom, rooster noodle soup, chicken noodle soup, homemade soupPS: Thank you Ant, for the title! You’re right; Rooster Noodle Soup sounds way better than Chicken Noodle Soup.

Dancing in Graveyards


I made a Fairy Cemetery for Halloween this year. It seemed appropriate, considering what a year of loss 2013 has been.

I’ve always liked cemeteries. We grew up close to the Cook (Owens Twp.) Cemetery. Micki, Melissa, and I would meet there on bicycle and ride around the circular drives, marveling at the children’s stones and looking for relatives.

When we got older, Lois and I would take dad’s pickup for an unauthorized joyride, we’d be forced to go to the cemetery’s circular drives (because it was a standard and finding reverse was tricky.)

As an adult, I spent some time mapping, cleaning, photographing and transcribing stones at a few small local cemeteries for a genealogy project.

This year, unfortunately, has been a year of visiting friends and loved ones at Hillside, a beautiful local resting place. And you know what? The closer I get to 40, the more names I recognize on the stones.

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This year we lost Karla A., Katherine L., Vanessa C., Cindy P., Mrs. Oles, Rich W., & Dave B., and others in our little town. And though they are not human, the loss of Mr. Stinky Droolface and Mad Bird and The Dollar Barn has been hard, too.

If you or someone you love is grieving a loss (and really, who isn’t??), maybe something here will help:

Delta Rae, Dance in the Graveyards is a song our friends Kris and Dan shared with us. It helped them; it helps us. I hope it helps you, too. Please, please, please watch the video!! “When I die, I don’t wanna rest in peace. I wanna dance in joy. I wanna dance in the graveyards….And while I’m alive, I don’t wanna be alone, mourning the ones who came before, I wanna dance with them some more, let’s dance in the graveyards.”

Bertram’s Blog is about grieving, and I have found the author’s writing to be empowering and soothing.

It also helped me to be able to know that all these fricking FEELINGS will pass. It’s all part of the process. Check out The Five Stages of Grieving. Chop chop. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance will come and go, usually when you don’t expect it.

This week, I started decorating for Halloween. I don’t feel like it. I hurt physically and emotionally, but am trying to do something I would normally do were I not grieving.

So back to my Fairy Cemetery… A year ago, I found this lovely old Planter’s Peanuts cookie jar (it was probably my grandma’s), and decided it would make a lovely terrarium for my Venus fly trap, Audrey Two. This year, I found some Halloween miniatures and added them to the terrarium for Halloween. Fast, cheap, and easy. And it makes me smile,

fairy cemetery, fairy garden, grieving, loss, venus fly trap, terrarium, halloween

fairy cemetery, terrarium, venus fly trap, pajari girls, halloween, graveyard

As usual, thank you for reading. If you found this useful, pass it on. Like, Share, and/or Pin at will.

Loveyabye.

Fire Pictures


The day of the fire, I bought a new camera. First I took a picture of Lois and Paul out front of the Barn, then some pics of Danny Boy’s Pee-Wee baseball game. That’s when I got the call from my daughter Harley that the building was on fire. See you tonight and/or Friday? Loveyoubye.

Cook Dollar Barn

The last week  MONTH has been a combination of a bad dream and a funeral. Every time I turn around, Lois is looking at the building and crying. It’s not just us that are grieving, either. Everyone seems to have had a connection to that building or the people in it. Who didn’t take dance lessons there, have a tooth filled there, live there after a divorce, or play Ms. Pac-Man in Suzy Q’s?  A thousand times a day we think, “I can get Harley a new toothbrush at The Barn”, or nail clippers for Randy, or a bag of Jalepeno chips that I meant to get for Doc S. (my other Boss at the Tooth Fairy gig).

There is a Facebook page for all the updates, thanks to Comet Carol Carlson and Mary Conger (who is updating it from THAILAND..wow!) called Brown Building Fire Relief Efforts. There…

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Mad Bird


I can’t believe this shit. Yesterday, as Lois and Steve were leaving to visit his family for the Fourth, Mad Bird started having a seizure. One hour later, he was gone. Unfortunately, these are probably the only pictures of him, as all Lois’ personal photos were in the basement of the Dollar Barn where they would be safe.

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We did the math, and she has had that crazy bird since 1986 when she graduated high school. That’s 27 years. He has been with her through 5 cars, 3 houses, and two husbands. He helped her with her homework when she put herself through college, and kept her asparagus fern and spider plant nicely trimmed. He made it impossible to sneak into the house or sleep late. His favorite song was Unskinny Bop, so she played him that and other 80’s hits as he passed. He has been in the background of our lives practically forever, and The Farm is going to be a little quieter now.

Harley googled the life span of cockatiels, and 15-20 is average in captivity, so 27 years was a good run. It’s just the timing that seems to SUCK. Thanksgiving was when we lost Stinky, the building burned right before their wedding anniversary, and now Mad Bird dies on the Fourth of July. Frankly, we are all done with holidays.

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