Thursday, January 31, 2013

Family History Friday #1 - John Crihfield

   I have accepted a challenge from my daughter Sarah to do a family history post every Friday. Since I am traveling down to Portland today I thought I should try to get that done before I left. Otherwise, it would be like breaking a new year's resolution on January 2nd. Besides, I think this is a really good idea and I hope to encourage other family members to take it up.  I have been trying to repent and get back into genealogy again. I'm currently taking the family history class in sunday school and am trying to get back up to speed with all of the changes that have taken place over the past five years.

    I decided to do my first Family History Friday post on John Crihfield, my fourth great grandfather. According to the 1850 Census for Lauderdale county, Tennessee, John Crihfield was born in Virginia in about 1806.  Lauderdale County borders on the Mississippi river in the general vicinity of Memphis. John Crihfield lived with his wife, Elizabeth,  and their five children, Effie (age 19), Mary M.(age 15), William H.(age 8),  John H.(age 6), and Elizabeth(age 3). The y were enumerated by the census taker on September 31, 1850. I'm not sure if that means they were all alive on that date or if that is just the date the census taker counted the family.  I don't have the cause of death or the exact date of death, but John Crihfield died some time after the 1850 census and prior to November 1, 1851, the date of the estate sale. Obviously, John Crihfield's death was a serious tragedy as he left behind a widow with at least three children still at home.

     Mary M. Crihfield (my third great grandmother) married James H Heiskill(my third great grandfather) on July 23, 1851 in Lauderdale County, Tennessee. Note that she was only 15 years old at the time of the 1850 Census so she was probably 16 when she married.

    Probate records may sound a bit dull, but they can provide an interesting window into the everyday lives of our ancestors. In this particular instance, there is a wonderful summary of the goods sold at the estate sale, subsequent to John Crihfield's death.  It appears that he was a somewhat prosperous farmer as the sale included 2 horses, one yoke of oxen, 18 cattle, fifty hogs, and three plows.  The carpentry tools sold included one lot of augers and chisels, a plane, a square, two compasses (I'm assuming carpentry compasses), a draw knife, and two frowes.  I am assuming they lived very close to the river as the sale also included 1/2 of a fishing boat, 1/2 of a canoe, 1/2 of a seine and rope, twenty catfish hooks, and a grab hook.  It appears that his son-in-law, James H Heiskill owned the other half of the fishing boat, canoe, and seine.  I doubt that the fishing was recreational. The river no doubt provided a significant contribution to their livelihood. Items that James Heiskill purchased at the estate sale included 2 jars (15 cents),1 draw knife (35 cents), 1 hatchet (50 cents), 1 raw hide (50 cents), and a barrel (10 cents).

Monday, January 28, 2013

Country Living Expo

  Linda and I had a fun day at the Country Living Expo on Saturday.  Linda seemed to enjoy her chain saw for girls and tomato classes. She seemed less enthused about the fly fishing class.  The prime rib lunch was absolutely heavenly. I've never seen such thick slices of prime rib. We both enjoyed browsing around the vender tables.  I met quite a few alumni of my bee classes and discovered an interesting group advocating butter and lard as being more healthy than most vegetable oil.

    I really enjoyed the Build a Cob Oven class. A cob oven is also known as an earthen oven and is generally built outdoors, often from locally gathered materials. I would really like to build one in our back yard. Maybe after I finish the cedar ceilings I'll have the time to build an outdoor bread oven. I think it would be a great preparedness project. Think of the fun pizza parties we could have.

    The class lasted two hours and was very "hands on".  Actually it was as much "feet on" as it was "hands on".  About a dozen people were willing to remove their shoes and socks in order to mix the sand and clay.  Instead, I volunteered to work on the sand form for the oven cavity.  The cob oven or earthen oven is usually built on a foundation that gives it a comfortable working height . Since the  class took place in the Stanwood High School wood shop our oven was obviously going to be moved. Consequently, we built it on a foundation of plywood. The base consisted of 12 fire brick. We built up the form for the oven interior using wet sand. When we had got it to the right height and width we covered the mold with newspaper. It was sort of like building a big smooth sand castle
The interior sand mold is formed on the firebrick base
Meanwhile, others work the sand-clay mixture with their feet.
The clay-sand mixture is added over the interior sand mold

   Soon after we had finished the mold for the oven interior, the clay sand mixture was ready to apply.  It was built up over the mold until there was a two inch layer of cob material.  Now it just needed to dry sufficiently for the door to be cut out and the sand removed from the interior cavity. I'm not sure how long that takes, but probably a little longer in our wet climate. The whole process of building the actual oven only took an hour and a half.  The oven I would like to build in the backyard is going to take longer to build.  First of all, I'll have to build a foundation to a height of at least two feet.  Secondly, I'd like my oven to be a bit bigger than the one we did in class.  It was only 22 inches in diameter and 14 inches high. Also I would like my oven to be shaped like a bee skip. I'm thinking the artistic aspect will probably add to the construction time.  The particular oven we made in class also lacked the additional insulating layer and exterior plaster. The insulating layer increases the ability of the oven to hold heat. I can see I'm going to have to read a book or two before I get serious about oven building. I'd hate to go to that much work and then be less than fully satisfied with the results.

The completed oven now needs to dry

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Choir Concert

     Linda and I attended Britton's choir concert last night with the Tunnells.  It was a much bigger deal than I had expected as the program included a total of 27 broadway show tunes. The concert lasted almost two hours. One reason it was so long was the fact that there were actually about 5 separate choirs, plus some combined numbers. I tried taking photos but we were seated too far away for good pictures.  I did have a good view of Britton's enthusiastic little face singing her heart out.  I just wasn't able to convert that into a recognizable photo.  Some of the songs that Britton's Elementary Choir sang included "I've Got the Sun in the Morning" from Annie Get Your Gun and "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast.

    Several things impress me about Britton's singing.  First of all her face is very expressive and it is really easy to tell she is enjoying herself as she sings.  Also she has pretty good volume for one so small.  In a somewhat smaller group and with quieter accompanists I'm confident we would have been able to pick out her voice.

    In addition to the entertainment from the choir, we were also treated to John's and Lucy's company. They were both quite good considering the length of the concert. John's enthusiasm for the event led to some loud vocalization (he hasn't fully mastered the concept of the whisper)  and he was inspired to direct one choir number from his mother's lap. During the concert Linda took Lucy out to visit the ladies room. John became quite concerned about Grandma Linda's absence and decided he should lead a search party. I was finally able to dissuade him by telling him that they wouldn't let him into the girls' bathroom to look for her.

   I have to make this short as I'm leaving soon to drive with Linda to attend the Country Living Expo in Stanwood.  In addition to teaching two classes about mason bees I get to attend a class on building cob ovens, a free prime rib lunch, and quality time with my sweetie.  Life is good.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hula Lessons

   Linda and I attended our first hula lesson Thursday evening.  We aren't taking the lessons, but a kind friend is giving hula lessons to a number of our grand daughters in preparation for our bi-annual cousin camp this coming July. Our friend, Ann Tom, grew up in Hawaii and started learning the hula when she was a very little girl.  It was very obvious that she knows her stuff when it comes to the hula. I was amazed at just how complex it is.  There are so many little things that all have to happen at the same time. Yet the hula dancer remains the epitome of grace.
Lucy and Natalie get in touch with their inner hula dancer

    I served as the accompanist for the first portion of the lesson.  Obviously, I am going to have to toughen up my fingers for cousin camp. After about ten minutes my finger tips were getting sore. On the positive side, I knew how to play the three chords Ann asked me to play.  I was able to strum along while she started the older girls on some hula basics.  I have a new song I need to learn so I can accompany the dancers. The song is called "Kananaka" and tells the story of girls collecting seaweed in the surf.  The version we are using is sung by Amy Gilliom on an album entitled "Pu'uhonua", for those who want to download the music.  Ann was very patient with the girls and I think they all had a great time. As Linda put it, "What girl doesn't want to learn the hula?"

Friday, January 18, 2013

Happiness is a stack of smooth boards

   I spent Thursday afternoon planing cedar planks at the bee store.  In the process I created a huge mound of cedar shavings, more than enough to cover both the chicken and duck pens. I'm working to prepare the boards to cover our ceiling.  This particular batch of boards should be enough to do the master bedroom. I still need to round over the edges of the boards with a router, cut a rabbet  along one side, and sand them even smoother.  Plus I need to put a finish on them. I'm anxious to get all of this work done during the next week while the weather is supposed to stay dry.  It is very satisfying to make something with your hands. I'm not saying that I would like to be a woodworker as a full time job, but it is very fulfilling work.
My stack of cedar planks planed down to 3/4 inch thickness.

   Quentin, my full time employee at the bee store, is an extremely skilled and knowledgeable woodworker.  I'm trying to take advantage of his knowledge to learn more about woodworking. There are so many little things one ought to know and it is hard to gain all of that knowledge from books.  As an example, it is important to plane alternate sides of a board in order to get it as flat as possible. He also gave me a number of other helpful hints to improve my planing technique.  Quentin is anxious to move back to Wyoming, possibly before the end of the summer.  I doubt I will be able to learn anywhere near as much as I would like from him before he leaves.  Quentin has also been my craigslist consultant and has helped me accumulate some decent quality basic woodworking tools.  Before, I just had a table saw, a planer, and a very cheap lathe.  Over the past year or so I've added a jointer, a band saw, and a good quality lathe.

Thanks to the cedar boards the ducks have much cleaner home.

The chicken coop has fresh cedar shavings too.

The old bedding from the chicken coop goes into my garden.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

     I had a lovely Sunday yesterday.  I think I like our new 9:00 a.m. church schedule.  Our ward's choir practice has moved to 4:30 p.m. and Sabrina Clasen is our new choir director.  The first hymn we started to practice was "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" an old time hymn not included in the current version of the hymnal. However, it wasn't an unfamiliar hymn to me.

    Last summer I participated with my daughter Sarah and her two oldest children in their stake's pioneer trek.  For those not familiar with those terms, the pioneer trek was an event designed to expose the youth to the experiences of the early Mormon handcart pioneers. We actually pulled and pushed handcarts through a fairly hot and sandy part of eastern Washington for about four days.  It was both a very demanding and very inspiring experience.  I had participated in our own stake's pioneer trek about five years earlier as support staff but had not actually pushed and pulled the handcarts in the heat. It was amazing how much more I got out of this experience than I did from the earlier  one. I guess it is just part of human nature that we learn much more from experiences that involve sacrifice. "No pain, no gain."  Anyhow, I gained a much greater appreciation for the sacrifices of the handcart pioneers and am very grateful for their devotion to the gospel.

   "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" was on the fairly short list of hymns included in their trek hymnal. It also happened to be the hymn my daughter and I chose to use to teach the penny whistle and harmonica to the youth of their stake. What astonished me was my emotional and spiritual response to singing the hymn.  I got so choked up that I was unable to sing for quite a while. It brought back a rush of feelings and memories from my trek experience. It was like opening a jar of raspberry jam in December and having memories of summer come rushing back, only much stronger.

     One of my favorite trek memories is associated with this hymn. I was sitting in the shade on a hot, uncomfortable afternoon playing that hymn on the penny whistle.  Two young sisters started to sing the words of the hymn in harmony and were then joined by a third.  I got a little choked up but managed to keep on playing. That can be a challenge with an instrument that requires breath control. It was a very sweet experience.

    The hymns have always had a great influence in my life.  Nothing can cause me to feel the Spirit more easily than the hymns. Especially hymns that have personal meaning to me and are associated with prior spiritual experiences. Many years ago when we lived in Spring, Texas I often used the hymns to deal with the stress of my hour long commute to downtown Houston. It was difficult to be annoyed with the other drivers or feel stressed about work while singing a hymn. I memorized about 20 hymns and that number was more than adequate to get me to work.  To quote John Taylor, "I love to sing the hymns of Zion."  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dedicated Bird Watcher

  With the recent cold weather we've had an increase in traffic at the bird feeder.  Consequently, Little Miss Buzz Saw also has an increased interest in the bird feeder.  She will sit on the kitchen ledge for hours watching the little birds come and go. I believe Sofie is no longer our most dedicated bird watcher.
So close but so far away.

Linda's Avian Soup Kitchen

    I use my orchard ladder to access the feeder to refill it.  If I don't move the orchard ladder away from the feeder right after I'm done, the cats like to sit on the top of the ladder.  Their hope springs eternal that some little bird will be stupid enough to come to the feeder with a cat sitting two feet away.  Fortunately the birds are smart enough to know the difference between a nearby cat on a ladder and a nearby cat behind the kitchen window.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sledding Near Silverton

Camera shy Linda sliding down the hill with Lucy.
    We had a wonderful visit with Sarah and the girls last week.  Among other fun activities we drove out on the Mountain Loop Highway past Granite Falls and went sledding. We had Sarah and the Kang girls, including their exchange student, Han Gyeol, Beth and the little Bedlamites, and Linda and me. The original plan was to go to Leavenworth but the weather over the pass seemed a little daunting.  The Mountain Loop Highway was a closer easier alternative. We drove to where they close the road approaching Barlow Pass. That is where there is a junction with a road going up to Lake Kelcema.  There was lots of snow on that road with just enough of a grade to be fun without being too scary.

Britton and Elise starting their run

Rachel and Lilly
       "Too scary" is definitely in the eye of the beholder. By three year old John's definition it was all too scary. On the other hand, his sister Britton is quite the little daredevil and probably would have enjoyed a faster steeper sledding hill.  There were enough sledders who had preceded us such that there were well established ruts that kept us mostly on track. This minimized the occasions when sledders left the road bed and went over the road embankment.
Han Gyeol on her saucer

Grandma Linda and Lucy getting back on track
     Grandma Linda brought hot chocolate to go with the snacks Beth and Sarah had prepared. Excluding John I would say a fun time was had by all, A hearty thank you goes out to the Proffit and Miller families who lent us various items of snow wear and some of the sleds.

Even during an action shot Autumn manages to avoid looking at the camera.