Gardens, Strawberries, and Poison Ivy, oh My!

We’ve tried to make our own garden. – My favorite is strawberry plants.  Some of our plants are wild strawberries and some are domestic.

Strawberry Plants

Growing up, we would go pick wild strawberries wherever we found them.  I remember a few times even ending up with poison ivy in a few interesting places from picking strawberries.   The wild strawberries are much smaller and have less flavor.   We currently have both wild and domestic strawberry plants growing in our back yard.

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy is leaves of three let it be.  I don’t remember how many times I ended up with poison ivy growing up, but my dad had some inventive ways of getting rid of it.   I remember days of soaking in the pool – because the chlorine bleach water will dry out poison ivy and dad’s favorite being putting gasoline on the spots.  Being a farm we had the big gasoline tanks in the yard to fill the farm equipment, so going out to the tanks, we could just get a little gas and use it to dry up the poison ivy.  My dad seemed to be immune to poison ivy, but he would use the gas for other things – like washing grease off his hands.  He did teach us that you don’t use gasoline to start a fire though – for that you use diesel fuel!   I’ve heard stories recently about people eating poison ivy to make themselves immune… warning: this can kill you.  Apparently some animals eat poison ivy and there are some people that do.  A report in a medical journal though found that it can not be ingested for immunity and most people that try will end up with severe rashes in their mouth resulting in the need for medical care.


Fireplace Fire and Hide and Seek…..

A fire is pretty scary.  I remember from childhood the one time my mother caught our house on fire….. for some reason it isn’t such a scary memory for me as just a thing that happened.  From my memory, our house was super old even before we moved in.  It came preloaded with antiques…. including a duncan phyfe coffee table that I proceeded to break the glass top on when my mother tried to get me to put Vicks on my nose during allergy season. The house included furniture that we called the Monstrosity, trunks, and things everywhere. My parents proceeded to work on redoing the whole house – everything from adding a regular furnace to dropping the ceiling in every room and putting in paneling to add closets.

My brother and I used the drop ceilings as a great place to hide during games of hide and seek. Up until recently there were still places bearing the marks where one of us had accidentally missed a step and let a leg fall through the ceiling tiles.  We would scale the closet shelves in each room and then hide on the ceilings, making sure to stay on the 2 by 4 planks that the ceiling tiles were nailed to.  I think we even had set up pillows, sleeping bags and more in the section at the top of my brother’s closet, because he had the big closet that took up the whole end of his room.  The house wasn’t built with closets to start with, so the only closets were what was added with paneling.  My parents had replaced the floor to ceiling windows with shorter windows, and added heat.  Because of my allergies they even added central air. Later on they added a whole house wood burning furnace. It was a never ending project…..

At one point though my mother had started to use the fireplace in the living room.  We were far enough out in the country that power outages in the winter could and would happen for lengths of time – I remember one lasting a week and starting the night of the premiere of the headless horsemen on Disney …. I wanted to see that show so bad!  Later in the week my dad had rigged a tractor to use as generator to run a small record player and tv.  (Little things)  Did you realize you can flush a toilet with melted snow?  In the country no power, no water, no heat….

We actually had a tractor/log splitter that we would use with logs from trees my dad had cut down.  After splitting wood, we would make stacks of wood between posts.  Wood actually burns different depending on how green and  how dry it is.  Dry wood will burn very hot!  Our fireplace was set up with a bunch of bricks in front – past that was the wool carpet, but any sparks would land on the brick right outside the fireplace.  The time I remember was my mother swapping to dry birch wood and getting a roaring fire going.  The wood was burning so hot that the bricks got hot enough to start the wood supports in the basement that were holding them up.  My dad was pouring water down on them, tearing everything out – but the fire department still came.

Of course the fire department all had to traipse through the house to look, and they had parked in areas with snow.  Now that we are looking at moving home, we are discussing where to build.  Turns out that fire district still handles that side of the road, but just the other side of the road is a whole different district.  My brother is now living in that house, and the fireplace has now been replaced with an insert – but it’s still there.  The drop ceilings are mostly gone too.