Water not from Plum Creek

On the Banks of Plum Creek 

It was gunna’ be a simple experiment.  Ya’ know, no special equipment, no special safety gear, just grab some pond water, sterilize it and drink it.  Well, Mrs. Gray didn’t say to drink it, but I was gunna’ be all pioneer and such. We were gunna’ show y’all that we city-slickers have survival skills, just like the Ingalls family.

 

I sent Beka to the crick (that’s Montanan for creek, in case ya’ didn’t know) next door with a canning jar and the obligatory warning about falling in, hitting her head and drowning.  Ya’ know, those things a mother says to make herself feel better.  I wonder if Ma said those same things to Laura and Mary when they were sent to fetch the water?

 

 

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Done deal. 

 

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Beka knows the routine by now.  Didn’t want anyone to drink our “fresh spring water” before it was properly sterilized.

 

 

We set it in a winder (Kansan for window) for a few days.   We looked up a few things on water, so we could be all scientific and scholarly.  One site said an average person uses ten gallons of water per day.  Only ten gallons?  Either that was a 75 year old statistic from the bathe in the gray washtub days, or our family isn’t average.  Another site said that a shower uses 5-7 gallons per minute.  That sounded more accurate. Do any of you have those kids that will soak in the shower until you bang on the door? 

 

In the Olden Days, when I was a kid, we had  well water. When our three minutes of shower time was up, someone (usually Dad)  might turn on the hot water in another room to turn the shower to icy blasts, and the shower would be over.  Of course, it wasn’t about the bill in those days, it was about running out of water. With eight people sharing one bathroom and one tank full of hot water on a school morning, Dad had to regulate.  He was making sure everyone got a little hot water.

Beka and I discussed this and I tried to stress the importance of not wasting water, even if we had plenty. I thought the intent look on her face indicated compliance and agreement.  Her addition to the conversation indicated otherwise.

“Mom, I think we should invent waterproof books so people can read in the shower when you want to relax in the shower and your mom is nagging you to do school.”

 

Well said. 

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On Friday when we had time to finished up allotted projects, the procrastinated things Mrs. Gray knew we’d all have piled up,we poured it into a kettle

 

 

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and began watching for those tiny bubbles that tells you bacteria, germs,  and parasites  are slowly dying.

I had Beka take all the pictures because I am teaching her how to upload and edit pictures. It also makes the assignments a little more exciting for her to be on the other end of the lens.

 

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I assumed Beka knew what was going on without me actually telling her, so when I told her to boil it for 5 minutes, she poured the water in the kettle and set the timer for 5 minutes.  Good girl, following directions.  Bad mommy, giving poor directions.  We discussed the stages water goes through before it is considered “boiling” and kept watching the kettle.  Beka will never be one of those brides who can’t boil water.  I think I could pat myself on the back right now.

 

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Yes, a watched pot does boil faster with the lid on.

 

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Now THAT’S boiling and THAT’S when you set the timer.  We learned to sterilize water at sea level you boil five minutes, the higher the altitude the longer you need to boil the water because the water doesn’t get as hot as is does at sea level.   Cooking at higher altitudes always takes longer.  Hmm.  Fargo, ND is only 274 feet above sea level, but I’m pretty sure that’s why I burn so much stuff, I never adjusted to the change in altitude when I moved to Seattle eight years ago.  That has to be it.

 

Livestrong has a great article about purifying water for backpacking, discussing filters and water purification tablets.  We were getting cold feet about drinking our sterilized water, and I tried to psyche us both up by talking about Hurricane Sandy and the people that needed to boil their water.  I think Beka was secretly wishing she could send them our water, so I came up with a compromise.  We would boil it for just a few more minutes to make it extra clean and refreshing.  Remember my vintage yellow timer? 

 

 

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Well, we didn’t.  We didn’t remember the water, either, and went off to sew.  OK, so the lesson about sterilizing water didn’t work but the lesson about watching a pot did.  The truth of that saying is a pot that isn’t watched will either boil over or boil dry. The School of Hard Knocks is sometimes more educational that Learning by the Books. I found myself thinking, “Phew, she probably won’t do that more than one or two more times in her life.” 

Bet she’ll stock up on purification tablets, too, if she ever moves into hurricane country.

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Osmosis, Schmosmosis

Little House in the Big Woods 001

Chapter 5

*****

 

I was geared up for a Science experiment to show osmosis.

The word and  definition were vaguely familiar from
my High School Biology class.
I didn’t always pay attention in class, did you?
Good thing my Dad doesn’t read my blog all the time,
because he was my high school Biology teacher.

Remember how I didn’t pay attention to his gold panning lessons?
I must have not been listening too well in Biology, either.

 

We refreshed our minds about osmosis.

 

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That’s alotta’ big words in Dictionary.com’s explanation.

 

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We liked this definition from ASK better.

 

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We cut the potato in half,
sliced off the round ends,
then scooped out the inside.

Good thing I’ve owned a melon baller for about two decades.
It finally earned its keep.

 

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Each potato slice was set in a bowl,
water was added to about 1/2 inch depth,
and the hollows were filled with colored water.

 

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We added 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to one hollow,
and labeled it because I knew I would forget.

Then I labeled the stuff so my family wouldn’t forget.

If you read the corn cob blog,
we have trouble with projects around here.

 

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Since I don’t want to give them impression that things are always perfect around here,
you needed to see the mess that sat here for a few hours.

 

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There ya’ go.

That’s what it looked like the next day.

 

“Trees use a method called osmosis to force water upwards. Osmosis works because there is a difference between the sap, or juice, inside the root and the water in the ground outside. Sap contains large amounts of sugary substances. Ground water contains only tiny amounts of dissolved nutrients.  Sap is more concentrated than ground water.  Osmosis forces water from the soil through minute holes in the root skin to inside the root. p. 37-38 The Prairie Primer

 

 

Here’s another osmosis potato experiment
from someone who probably listened better in Biology class.

 

I was just feeling good that we started and finished a project.
I think some Science stuff musta’ osmosised into our brains,
doncha’ think?

Bladder Up!

It never fails.

We’ll be sitting at a baseball game,
like an All American family,
and my hubby will embarrass me.

He never yells,
”Batter up!”

He has to yell,
”Bladder up!”

After 26 years of marriage,
I am still madly in love with this guy,
but still don’t think this is funny.
Nor is the fact that he only has about three jokes,
and none of them make me laugh.

Good thing he’s so stinkin’ cute.

The Ingalls girls were so hard up for toys,
they were thrilled to play with a blown up pig’s bladder
after helping their Ma and Pa butcher.

 

SERIOUSLY DUDE?
THAT IS TOTALLY GROSS!
That’s what this generation would say.

 

EEWW!
Was anybody else totally disgusted by this?
My daughter, Beka, and I tried to talk through this.
We discussed how they had almost NO toys.
They had almost no friends.
Work was a daily part of their life.
Surely, if we were in their shoes,
we’d be thrilled with a bladder balloon, too?
Right?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I dunno.
Maybe Laura didn’t understand anatomy at her age,
and that her toy used to have urine in it.

No matter how much I love Little House,
I wasn’t going to buy a pig’s bladder.

Instead of visiting the butcher, we went to a party store.

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I pondered for awhile,
then asked Beka what color looked the most like a pig’s bladder,
silk white, silk ivory or milky white.

With slight pre-teen annoyance she answered,
”I don’t know, Mom, I’ve never seen a pig’s bladder before.”

Yea, DUH, I knew that.

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We opted for Silk Ivory.

 

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My adorable granddaughter, Brookelyn, joined us for this educational activity.

 

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So did her our neighbor, Norah,  the daughter of Kelly-Across-the-Street
featured occasionally in my
Momma Mindy’s Moments blog.

 

It makes it extra fun to come to Gwamma’s house AND
have a best friend across the street.

 

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Plus, it adds life to our Gifted and Talented Class with only one student.

 

 

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We popped a few and lost a few over the fence.

 

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Volleyball didn’t quite work out and neither did catch.

It  wasn’t a long-lasting thrill.

Maybe our kids have too many toys to be thrilled by a balloon.

Maybe a balloon isn’t that fun.

Maybe Laura made it seem so fun so butchers for the next 100 years
would be selling bladders.

Maybe if you’d never owned a ball in your life,
it would have been a blast.

It’s really, really hard to walk a mile in Laura’s shoes,
and be thankful for the bladder entertainment,
so it makes her writings even more special.

But maybe our activity wasn’t that special because we didn’t have Dad yelling,

 

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“Bladder up!”