Monday Story: Sap into Syrup

I can now look at my maple trees and say, “I tapped that.”

We drilled spouts into four of our silver maple trees and obtained approximately sixteen gallons of sap, and it took more than 15 hours to boil it down to pure syrup. When the process was complete, we were left with almost four pints of syrup. Sure its time consuming, but it’s the sweetest syrup I have ever tasted. It can be used on pancakes, or used as a sweetener in coffee or tea.

Here’s a picture overview of our process:

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Spouts pour sap into the hanging milk jugs.
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Boiling the water out of the sap.
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Finishing the sap on the stove. It changes color as it gets closer to being done.
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Our very own maple syrup in ball jars.

Monday Story: Fertile Myrtle the Fertility Goddess

At the time, we had just moved into a new house in a small neighborhood in Bay City, MI. One of my neighbors was having a  garage sale, so I walked two houses over to see what they had. I introduced myself to my neighbor, and we fell into small talk. She told me about her family and that she had four children all under the age of seven. I was impressed with that. She asked me if I had any children. I replied, “Not yet, be we hope to start trying soon.” She looked excited to hear this news and said, “I have something I’d like to give you. Wait just a minute, while I grab it.” She rushed into her house and soon returned holding a big-headed Tiki statue. “This is a fertility goddess that we bought in Hawaii. It has brought my husband and I such good luck with having children, but now we’re done, so I’d like to give it to you.”

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Too stunned to object, I brought the ugly thing home to my husband. He was as surprised as me by the gift. We looked at the statue, then back at each other and did the most logical thing we could think of. We named her Fertile Myrtle and fired up our enclosed bonfire pit.

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Once the embers were blazing, Myrtle walked the plank, and became shish-kabobed.

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And you know what? Myrtle burnt great. And you know why? Because it was merely a carved piece of wood.

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Monday Story: Add a Piñata

In our home, parties and piñatas go hand in hand. It doesn’t matter what kind of party it is, a piñata will always enhance the experience. And piñatas are not limited to an age group. Everyone loves to hit things, especially when that thing is filled with candy and trinkets.

Piñatas date back to the 14th century in the traditions of both China and Europe. The Mexican Catholic tradition, originating in the 16th century, used the piñata to show man’s triumph over temptation. The person with the stick is blindfolded to represent faith, and when they beat temptation (the piñata), they are rewarded with the candies and treats inside.

In our home, the piñata isn’t quite that meaningful. We simply enjoy the art of beating something until candy spews out and and everyone bum rushes the ground to fill their goody bags. It’s delightful.

For my mother’s 50th Birthday, and we had a piñata strung up in the tree in my font yard. All the adults, especially the men, loved the competition to see who can deliver the biggest blow to the donkey.

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Every year, my daughter picks out a piñata for her birthday party. All her relatives and friends have a blast taking a turn to batter up.

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As a whole, humans enjoy a good competition. We like piñatas because it’s a contest to see who can bust it open. That is why I suggest that whenever you hold your next party, add a piñata. It’s good for any occasion.

For example at a Baby Shower, you could fill the piñata with candy pacifiers, rolled baby socks, chocolates, etc. Or at a Wedding/ Bachelorette party, you could stuff the piñata with tea-lite candles, mini-candy bars, fake flower petals, rolled dollar bills, or individual Tea bags.

At your next, dinner party, Kid’s slumber party, Anniversary, whatever…get creative and add a piñata. Your party will become much more memorable. Olé!

Monday Story: Cleaning Blunder

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Twice a month, I assist my mother in cleaning a large office building. It was a Thursday evening, so some of the office staff hadn’t left yet. We were working on the lower level bathrooms, and I was telling my mom another funny story about my daughter Isabella. I was in the woman’s restroom mopping the floor, when my mother walked into the men’s. Finishing my task, I picked up my mop bucket and joined her in the men’s bathroom. I continued my story. “And then Bella said….” My sentence dropped off when my mother looked over to me and her eyes got huge. With a trash bag in hand, she rushed out the door. I was confused. I slowly turned around to see what she was looking at. And then I saw it. A man stood at the urinal, silent as a mouse. I raced out and found my mother inside the woman’s restroom. We looked at each other, mortified.

“I had already cleaned the sink and took out the trash bag, before you came in,” said my mother. “I never saw him there, and he didn’t say anything.”

“You rushed outta there so fast; I didn’t know what was going on. Then I turned around and saw him!”

“Who was it?”

“I don’t know. I think he had blondish hair.”

“He was wearing a polo shirt and khakis.”

“I can’t believe he just stood there and never said anything!”

We busted into fits of laughter.

That poor guy. He was so embarrassed. He was scared stiff at the urinal.

 

Monday Story: Port-O-Captive

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It was Friday night, junior year of high school. I was a cheerleader for Hamilton High, and we were at an “away” football game. Fourth quarter came to a close with our boys taking the win. It was time to pack up and load the buses for home. I knew it was a distance and should use the restroom before we left. But they didn’t have proper toilet facilities.

They had Port-O-Johns.

Stepping inside, two things automatically greeted me. Stench and Darkness. Only a little ray of moonlight peeked inside through a vent at the top. Nevertheless, I sucked it up and got the job done. I wanted to get out as quick as possible. Turning the lever to unlock, I pushed the door. It didn’t open. I shoved harder. Still, it didn’t budge.

My heart rate increased. I turned the lock the other way, wondering if I had done it wrong. Giving the door the old heave ho, I slammed my weight into it. It didn’t open…not even a crack.

Sweat formed on my brow. I listened to see if anyone was around. I didn’t hear voices. My mind speed-dialed panic. I’m trapped! Everyone is getting on the bus, and they won’t notice me missing. Between the horrid smell and the bitter taste of dread, a wire tripped inside my brain and the craziness kicked in. At the top of my lungs, I yelled, “Help! Help Me! I’m stuck in here! Please, help me!” I didn’t hear anyone coming. My heart chugged like a locomotive. Tears edged to the surface. Merciful heavens, no one is coming. I’m stuck in this disgusting hole and nobody is coming to my rescue! I kicked the door, pounded it with my fists, and screamed for help.

My eyes darted around the John, looking for another way out. I studied the vent. It was small, but maybe I could push it out and stick my head through it. Then, I could see if anyone was still here. Standing on the toilet lid, I prepared to punch the screen when the door clicked and swung open.

There stood Angie, a fellow cheerleader along with other members of my cheer squad.

I scrambled out of the Port-O-Prison. “Oh Angie, thank you for getting the door open.”

“It wasn’t hard.” She crossed her arms and grinned. “How did you manage to lock yourself in there?”

My eyes were wide from the horror. “I don’t know. It wouldn’t budge, and I thought you guys were going to leave me.”

The girls broke out into heaps of laughter. “No, we didn’t leave. Everyone heard you screaming.”

Well, you’d scream to if you were a Port-O-Captive.

Monday Story: Like a Chicken With Its Head Cut Off

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It was a hard winter for my chickens, and I had three girls in quarantine in my bathroom basement due to faulty vents (The place where eggs come out was swollen and bleeding). I had two hens in cardboard boxes and one in the stand-up shower. I was doing everything in my power to nurse these hens to health: Sitz baths, rubbing peroxide and vaseline on their bottoms, wheat diet, keeping them warm, and limiting the light in the room so they wouldn’t lay as many eggs. This continued for over a week, and my bathroom was stinky. The girls seemed to have improved, but the moment I returned them to the chicken coop, their condition declined again. Moreover, chickens are crazy, if a hen shows signs of sickness, the others will attack it. So now my three ill hens were in worse shape than before.

In the end, my husband and I had to make a tough call. We had to put the sick hens down. Trouble was, we still lived in the city, so we were going have to do the deed in the garage. My husband set up a chopping block and sharpened the ax.

I picked up Lola and gave her a hug goodbye. I held her still on the block, and my heart raced inside my chest. My husband swung the ax and missed. He swung again, but the blade must not have been sharp enough. A couple more whacks, and her head still wasn’t off but she seemed dead. He put her upside down in a 5 gallon bucket to drain out but then she started flapping around. I screamed, “She’s not dead! You didn’t do it right!” Tears streamed down my face. “Do something!”

He pulled her out of the bucket and set her back on the block. This time he actually got the head off, but Lola jolted and slipped out of his grasp. She fell onto the floor and sprang off the pavement, nearly as high as my shoulder.

I screamed, cried, and ran around the garage to avoid the jumping chicken.

After several hops, she finally fell down still.

My heart was pounding so hard, and my eyes were bulging in horror. I couldn’t believe that had just happened.

I turned to my husband. “You need to sharpen that ax.”