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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Time to get back to some Motorhome Modifications

Many of my blog readers are RVers ... so today I will post about some RV items, after a gluttony of weaving and train posts the last week or so.  LOL ...

If you remember back a few weeks ago, Steveio just HAD to have a new super duper water pump for our motorhome, along with a big accumulator tank.

(our original pump has been working just fine for 16 years--
but you know Guys: "Bigger is Better")   

Our pressure has been just fine, but he said this pump will have more pressure and be able to handle an accumulator tank.  This is a heavy Jabsco marine water pump that is belt driven with a bigger electric motor.  I got the accumulator tank for him brand new at a rummage sale for $5 --- score!

The new tank is rated for the right pressure for our lines, so we are okay there too. 

After brainstorming his installation ideas, and measuring and figuring and gathering fittings, hoses and pieces, he was ready.  He finally had time this week to get it installed.   He put the tank in a cut-down 5 gallon bucket with the fittings coming out some holes he cut into it.  

If you look close, there really isn't any area to mount the tank to on the frame unless he drilled holes through the steel beam behind it.  So the bucket is a great idea.  He did strap it down by the handle to something behind.  Plus, he can remove the bucket, and screw the two fittings together on a pipe nipple to winterize the rig, and store the tank in our house where it won't freeze.  He has a shroud guard to put by the moving belt part of the pump.    

After he had it all done, I got to go inside to test it out.  Works wonderfully!!!   Using an accumulator tank allows the pump to run less often, and when you use a faucet, the pump doesn't need to kick on each time until you run a large amount of water.  So filling up a pot for coffee or grabbing a glass of water does not need the pump to operate.   Steve said it will save on battery power.  LOL ... yah right.  Me thinks it's just more "justification" to his "Bigger is Better" obsession. 

Now...  I mentioned the old pump, which was manufactured date of 1995, it works just fine.  So he added two fittings to each side that can accommodate a simple garden hose.  He will use this as an auxiliary pump to add water to our tank when we are long term boondocking if we don't wanna move the rig to refill.   We can haul water in a bladder or buckets from a well pump to fill our tank.  Or have it on board if something ever happens to the other new pump?   (perish the thought after all of Steveio's installation and brainstorming!) 

In our water compartment, this area is called a "manifold".  It has various levers and knobs to control the flow of water to various parts of the motorhome.  Also levers to pull to empty the black and grey holding tanks.  Steve added a household water filter unit to the fill area, so all water is run through it before going into our tank.   He added a 12 volt outlet to power either that auxiliary pump or our portable mascerator (poop pumper)    There is also a faucet for an outdoor shower to screw onto, or a hose for washing the rig.  GREAT for washing dirty muddy doggers------  

 Soooo that is it for the motorhome modifications.


We opted to NOT go camping this weekend.  Holidays seem to bring out the weekend warriors in full mode, with noise, fireworks, music and partying.  Being a long weekend, many folks who don't normally camp or aren't familiar with campground etiquette are rude, noisy and make it uncomfortable for the rest of us.

On top of that, the weather is going to be awfully humid and hot in the mid 90's (if you believe the weathermen)   so that would mean running the AC a lot.

So if we were in a rustic campground, we would be the offenders running our generator mid-day to cool the rig for my lungs and breathing problems.  Not nice.  Even though our propane powered generator is very quiet and built into our rig, I still don't like ever bothering anyone else with generator noise.

Also, some clueless weekend warriors who don't camp too often will haul along a big contractor generator or a cheapie one that the decibels are ear-shattering and ground-shaking.

Or if we went to a park with electric hook-ups, the daisy chained electric posts are notorious for blowing out or browning out due to the heavy power usage by everyone trying to run their multiple AC units all at once.  BTDT

And there is always someone shooting off noisy fireworks which send our doggers to cowering, shaking, drooling nervous wrecks for hours afterwards of each erratic display of noise---   most parks ban the fireworks but there are always a few who have to break the rules.....   argghhhh

Soooo I think we will just stay home!   

It's Erin's 28th birthday today 
and it was our anniversary on Tuesday, 
so we will celebrate with the kids and stay at home.   

Speaking of home, I started giving our logs a new coat of stain.  Two years ago we painstakingly ground off the old finish to bare wood and added a new coat of Rymar.  It needed a second coat by this year to seal up all the dried out areas and knots.  Now it will be good for about 8-10 years.

(I  took the cover off the gazebo so it wouldn't get any splatters) 

I started all the lower portions around the first floor myself (wearing a mask)  and Steve will set up the ladder for the higher portions for me in the evenings.  I won't go up the ladder until he is home and nearby.

I work a little bit at a time, and then take a break.  I love the way the wood drinks in the oily stain sealer product called Rymar, and is instantly transformed into beautiful wood again!  The very top areas above the 2nd story windows Steve will do for me, because I am a chicken!   No matter how much I try to convince myself that I am only one step higher on the ladder rungs, my legs start to shake and I can not handle it.   I try... I try... but that is where Steveio can take over the task.  (he hates painting)

(And on one quick weaving note, I was shipped a big shaggy rug to tear apart and reweave for a customer, pics to come in future blogs)


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Yooper Foods of the U.P. of Michigan on my ride home

On my way back from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on Sunday, I was cruising along the shores of Lake Superior and snapped a few shots to share.    (yes, sassy me, I did it while driving and snapped quick when there weren't any cars coming)   Honestly, I was missing my comfortable diesel motorhome, and darling hubby Steve to drive!  I was tootleybopping along in my little Saturn, all alone, and I had my new weaving music cranking on the stereo and life was good...  A fellow weaver, Ellen, was following me to help find her way to get around the road construction by Iron Mountain and Niagara.

It was still early enough in the morning that the mists were rising off the waters 
and the sun was just working it's way through the clear blue sky----

 The waters were strangely calm with barely a ripple.  Usually it's very wavy and windy! 

The rugged shoreline dotted with trees is typical of the U.P.'s Lake Superior 

I remember camping along here as a child, in our Camper Bus.  We would go all the way up to the top of the Keewenaw Peninsula to Copper Harbor.  In those days you could pull over along the shoreline, build a bonfire on the beach and have a great time.  We would camp overnight right there on the beach.

Here is my 200 mile journey on my sunny Sunday morning:

As soon as I got south of L'anse, I was heading deeper into the woods as I went towards my home stomping grounds, Iron County.  Logging was a primary resource of the U.P. along with mining iron ore and  copper.  Most of that is gone now.  Towns are few and far between, and cell phone signals non-existent.

I made a pit stop at a grocery store in my home county as I passed through.  There are certain foods that are only sold in the U.P. and by local folks who make them right there.

Residents of the U.P. are called "Yoopers".  Get it?  U.P.ers..... Yoopers...... it's a common term used around there designating you are a resident of the U.P. of Michigan.

While driving down from Houghton, I planned my pit stop in Crystal Falls at the Jubilee grocery store.  Usually I go to Iron River, but this was on my way and I needed to stock up!

Here was my treasure trove of Yooper Foods! 

Let's go left to right......

First on the list was NYLUNDS PASTYS!   
Wheeeeeee   Here is a screen capture I did from their website:

What is a Pasty (pass-tee)?  
The pasty is a simple food and can be described as a portable meat pie.  

To many people in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the pasty is much more than food, it is an identifying cultural mark that gives them their own identity. When the Cornish came to the copper mines of the Upper Peninsula, they brought with them a lot of mining knowledge which the other ethnic groups did not have.  The pasty was the standard lunch for miners.  The pasty became popular with these other ethnic groups because it was small, portable, was very filling, and could stay warm for 8-10 hours.  Pasty rivalry occurred between the Finns, Swedes, Irish, Poles, Germans, Scots, Italians, and French with each group  contributing something in the way of seasoning and other ingredients.  All groups agree that pasties must contain two things, potatoes and onions. The portability of the pasty not only made it easy to carry, but if it should get cold it would be relatively easy to heat up.  This was done by putting the pasty on a shovel and holding it over a head-lamp candle.  Miners never ate a pasty with a fork, they ate it end to end, and held it upright to keep the juices in.  Since entire families worked in mines and each member of the family wanted different ingredients in the pasty, the wife would stamp the bottom corner of each pasty with an initial.

The Myth Surrounding the Pasty
According to the Cornish Recipes, Ancient and Modern, "The true Cornish way to eat a pasty is to hold it in the hand, and begin to bite it from the opposite end to the initial, so that, should any of it be uneaten, it may be consumed later by its rightful owner.  And woe betide anyone who tak's another person's corner!"  There was a superstition among the miners that the initial corner should not be eaten, instead it was dropped on the ground for the mining gremlins (also known as Knockers) to eat.  These "gremlins" caused mischief in mines, causing accidents and mine collapses, feeding them supposedly kept them out of trouble.
The pasty is a simple food and can be described as a portable meat pie.  It remains relatively unchanged today, a few places have put in healthier vegetable shortening instead of lard, and a coupld of other minor changes like the cut of meat used.

Nylunds makes the pastys in Crystal Falls, MI and sells them locally in the stores.  I like the authentic beef and rutabega the best.  There are hybrids out there like a chicken pasty, pizza pasty, veggie pasty, but they are all "imposters" and you miss the true flavor if you try one of those instead of the original! 

Some slather them with catsup or gravy, but I just like them with a dab of butter.....

Okay.. next on the list is the Dina Mia pizza!  The one in the treasure trove photo is the large rectangular shape.  I bought 8 of these and folded them in half to fit in our side by side freezer.  (thus the crease in the photo) ...  They do sell them in a smaller circular shape, but we like the large rectangles.  We cook up half at a time for the two of us, and the other half remains in the freezer.  School kids even sell these as a local fundraiser!  Heck with the boxes of gift cards or Girl Scout Cookies, lets sell pizzas! 

There is a special flavor to the sauce and the pork sausage meat that I have not tasted anywhere else in all my fifty years on this planet, and in my travels all over the United States. They use little fennel seeds that add a distinct flavor.  They also make a line of authentic Italian pastas, sauces, raviolis, gnocchis and lasagnas.  Dina Mia Kitchens are located right in Iron River, where I went to school, the town next to Caspian.  Their items are sold in grocery stores, cooked as snacks in bars and supplied with a pizza oven to cook them right behind the bar for the patrons.   They have quite a following.  More information about them on their website:  


Two restaurants serve their food too:

Dina Mia Kitchens is also affiliated to Dina Mia Pizza in Rhinelander, Wisconsin owned by Peter and Linda Saving (715.362.7347) and Dina Mia of Florence, Wisconsin (Dina Mia Supper Club 715.528.4760) owned by Pam and Dennis Krueger. Both serve excellent food in a friendly atmosphere. When in those areas, please drop in and try some hot, delicious Dina Mia food that loyal customers have been enjoying for over 50 years.

Last on the list in my Treasure Trove of Yooper Foods are the small white boxes called Otto's Steaks.  These are still made in my little hometown of Caspian, Michigan by Meyer Meats.  They used to be called Andy's Steaks years ago.  They are stacks of thin sliced beef steak, separated by wax paper, that you can plop frozen onto a fry pan for a quick hot sandwich.  I start browning the onions and mushrooms first as they take longer, but don't overcook the Otto's steaks!!!!   

Slap em on a sliced hard roll or loaf of crusty bread and you have such a delicious treat that rivals any Philly Steak Sandwich out there.

So I stocked up on a pile of pastys, a stack of pizzas and only two boxes of Otto's Steaks, as that was all they had on the shelf!    The one item they did not carry was the Mama Russo's Lasagna that we prefer, but we know we can get that in nearby Menominee, Mi at Angeli's grocery.

I rushed home the last 100 miles to get them in freezer. 
Savoring the flavors and thoughts of the good meals ahead, 
to enjoy when we are at home and far from 
the rustic rugged woods of 
the U.P. of Michigan!

(writing this blog made me hungry, so I popped a frozen pasty into the oven!) 


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Fibery Saturday at the Midwest Weavers Conference in Houghton - Hancock Michigan

Early Saturday morning, at 4:30 am, my visiting fiber buddy Linda and I got up and hit the road.  Our visiting RV friends Sam and Donna were leaving also to head on home to St. Louis, so we said our Good Byes and took off northward in a very very very loaded up car.  (Yup, left Steveio home alone)

Linda had impulsively purchased a big rug loom from me, and we disassembled it the night before and pre-loaded it into the car. Donna and Steve helped us carry it out and arrange it till it all fit.  Good thing the seats flip down!  We were jammed to the max, but I had side mirrors to view behind me, and we were all set to roll.

Our destination was the Midwest Weavers Conference, called "Northern Wefts".   It was located at Finlandia University campus, 200 miles away in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan ("Da U.P." ta da Yoopers)   Our goal was to see the exhibits, shop the vendors, and attend the Rag Rug Special Interest Group meeting at 11:45.

I know the U.P. like the back of my hand, and found side roads to get around all of the road construction by Niagara, WI to Iron Mountain, MI.  Of course the time changes from Central to Eastern as we get north above Dickenson and Iron counties, so now we lose an hour besides to make our schedule even tighter to get there for the events we want to attend.

Gladly, we arrived in plenty of time to do some shopping and bring my four rugs to the meeting.   We wandered up and down the steep hills of Hancock where the campus was located till we got our bearings on the layout of which buildings hosted which events.  The campus is built on a steep hillside and some of the roads were at 45 degree angles to get up and down.  NOT kidding!  Some houses are built with a door on the second story to access when the snows get too deep on the Keewenaw Peninsula of the U.P. jutting out into the icy cold waters of Lake Superior.

The poor overloaded car was chugging up the hills---- saying "I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN" as it pulled itself up and into the various parking lots around the campus.

Janet Meany hostessed the Rag Rug event.  I have known Janet for a number of years now, and she is quite the dynamo on the rug weaving topic.  She lives in Duluth, Minnesota and traveled over to the U.P. of Michigan to chair this gathering.  She is the author and publisher of The Weavers Friend newsletter,  
and co-author with Paula Pfaff of the The Rag Rug Handbook, 
(also available at most weaving stores and on Amazon--- ISBN-13: 978-1883010287)

Over 50 weavers gathered for this event.  We combined wolfing down our lunches as fast as we could, while we listened to stories and saw the rugs being displayed by each weaver.  I told Janet that I would take photos of the rag rug show n tell portion, which she can later use in the next issue of the newsletter.  From time to time, I write articles and submit rug project pages for her too.  Guess that means I am a "published author"?

Now, in these next photos below, I do not have all the names of each participant showing their rugs.  I was too busy snapping photos!  So if you wish to email me at pfundt@gmail.com  with a description of your rug and your clothing, I will add your name underneath your photos!

I could not post ALL of the photos here, so I have a complete set on my facebook albums...  and here is a public link that can bring you to those photos.  You do not have to be a Facebook user to view them:

I just loved each and every rug, and each one had a tale to tell.   The photo on the left was from a gal who wove this huge runner from various shades of denims (Katie Meek)  in a traditional pattern.   The gal on the right used to live on a boat, and wove her very first rug, a denim one, to fit in the boat.  She was ADDICTED! They later sold the boat so she could have a big room to fit a loom on dry land!  LOL

Each weaver had a delightful story to tell about their rugs.

This was (if I recall right) a historical old runner rug the person got from a relative's home after they passed away.  It was in amazingly good shape after years of being a hallway runner.

Wheeee!  Loretta Stacy just wrote me with the following information about this rug-- (she is the gal in the floral top near Janet)  Here is what she wrote about the long runner:
"Hi Karen,

I had the historic rug at the Rag Rug Show and Tell at Midwest.  The rug is 3 ft wide, 17 ft long and 65 years old.  After my mother graduated from high school she worked in the local grocery store while still living at home with her parents.  She saved enough money to buy herself a new bedroom set.  

My grandparents thought it would be nice if her bedroom was carpeted.  They contacted my great aunt in Southern Indiana who knew a weaver and had rugs woven to carpet her room.  (My mother happened to have the biggest room in the house for her bedroom.)  The rugs were then shipped to Minnesota. 

While my mother was at work my grandparents sewed the rugs together and put down the "carpet".  When my mother came home from work her reaction was YUCK I hate it get rid of it!  She now says that was probably pretty mean on her part, but my grandparents obliged and took up the rugs.  

My grandmother must have cut the rugs up and made smaller rugs from them as we always had rag rugs in the back porch in my growing up years.  When a rug would wear out another would appear. I don't know where my mother had stored these rugs all those years.  

One survived at the original length as we lived in a large farm house with 4 bedrooms upstairs with 2 stairways.  The rug I showed was in the upstairs hall for 33 years.  

Twenty years ago the farm was sold to my brother and his wife but Mom kept the rug.  Last fall my mother started talking about moving into an apartment as my father passed away 8 years ago and she can no longer maintain the house and yard by herself.  

I asked her if I could have the rug from the upstairs hall.  Her reaction still had not changed that much.  She said "You want that old thing!"  She had it in her garage!  

There are two places where there is some damage but it is in realatively good shape.  She is presently in the process of moving into an apartment and she had another 11 ft rug which she gave me just last week before the conference.  It is the same age as the other.

 Just thought you might be interested in this, but was to long to write in any of the comment sections."

Loretta Stacy

I showed four of my rugs, and spoke about the techniques used in each one...  A fellow weaver was able to grab my camera and snap a few shots for me of my own presentation!  How nice of her!

These next two rugs look very complicated, but are quite an easy process once you know the secret.  See either Janet and Paula's book on the page "diamond rugs" to learn how, or google Deb Sharpee, a weaver who has also taught this method of "swoosh rugs"

The patterns, warps, materials and combinations were a treat to any weaver's heart, and we thoroughly enjoyed the presentations of the hard work and creativity that was exhibited by the participants.

Rug after rug was unfurled to the ooohs and ahhhs of the audience.  I think we show as much interest in our rug weaving being revealed as much as any fancy fashion designer of haute couture clothing!

As stories were told of the process or materials, after each rug was shown, it was taken aside to be laid out on display for closeup examination afterwards.  What a great idea!

I had mentioned during my presentation that one of the rugs had been in my inventory for sale the longest, and nobody ever bought it!  It was my favorite colors and I figured I would just rip off the tags and keep it for myself now.  But one of the attendees came up afterwards and said she HAD TO HAVE IT!   She wrote out a check right then and there to buy it from me!  LOL   I honestly didn't come to the program to sell a rug----  but her purchase paid for the hotel room I booked for the night!  haha! 

We also toured the many vendors and emptied our purses on some more bags of fiber fun stuff... tools and warp and shuttles and tshirts and supplies!

While many of the attendees then went to their scheduled classes, we took the time to unload our personal belongings from the overstuffed car and move into our waiting hotel room nearby.  Many of the attendees stayed all week in the college dorms, but we were only staying one night, so we got a hotel room to share.

After we were unloaded, we went to another hall to admire the guild displays.  Guilds are "clubs" of artists, and many of the guilds in the Midwest put up displays portraying the theme of Northern Lights known as the Aurora Borealis ...  there were many displays of scarves, clothing, home decor and other types of weaving.    Each was amazing and lovely and well thought out.

But one of the displays was of extreme interest to me, which featured a rag rug study by the Weavers Guild of Minnesota.

(I apologize for the many photos to you non-rug weaving blog readers, 
but this is like THE DISPLAY of the most interesting and fascinating rugs 
for the rug weavers among us rug weaving blogger readers) 

I liked this rug in the photos below the best! It was woven by an elderly man in their guild. 
It was folded over the display rack so it was twice as long as what is shown on the photo

It had FOUR things going on.  
  • 1. the warp was graduated from dark blue along selvage sides all the way to white in the middle
  • 2. the weft was in dark denim at the ends, graduating to lighter denim in the middle of the rug and back to dark again at the other end
  • 3. in the darker sections, small pieces of inlay were light colors, and inlays of dark pieces in the lighter sections
  • 4. the twill structure was about 12 rows in one direction, then reverse to 12 in the other direction making a wavy pattern

Each weaver has their own style, color combos and tastes.  
Some are subtle and soft, some are bright and bold.  
All are winners in my book! 

After we wandered around the displays, it was time to remove the loom parts from my car and transfer them into Carol's minivan for it's trip back to Tennessee.  It was like Fibber McGee's closet to open up that car and take the pieces out step by step and reload them in Carol's van with layers of fabric in between to prevent any scratches.  I am just amazed how much we got in that van, plus they are planning on stopping at Great Northern Weaving store and Edgemont Yarns store on the way home!!!

After the loom swapola, we hit the dining area of the middle school where there was an evening event in the auditorium as a wrap-up to the whole conference.  We joined old friends and met new friends, shared a meal and swapped stories.  It was a delightful evening and we even knew a top weaver being presented an award for her woven clothing!  (Karen York of Beloit, WI area)

I bought some CD's of weaving music by Nadine Sanders, The Singing Weaver of Straw Into Gold   who also entertained at the evening program.  I planned to listen to them all the way home, and they will be playing in my studio from now on too while I weave!

By the time the program ended, both Linda and I were totally exhausted.  We stumbled back to the hotel and got in our jammies.  Wheeeeeewwwwww what a day we had!   We fell asleep with visions of looms, fibers, shuttles and rugs floating around in our heads.