Monday, March 30, 2009

The Long Winter review

This post is looonnnggg, so I've come back to add some clarity. The first part of this post is my ramblings about my life. The second half is the book club review about The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Read both or half, whichever floats your boat. ;-)


Hi! It seems like a long time since I've popped in to visit with you.

I've been doing more thinking about projects than actually doing any, but here's what is marinating in my mind:

* painting the bathroom. It is a job long overdue! One day, when we have more time & money, I will overhaul the whole thing. For now, just a coat of paint will make it look much better

* refinishing my wood floors. Heaven help me! I am so afraid of this job! It has needed to be done since I moved in 6 years ago. I am super intimidated! The directions online don't help much: when using a drum sander, be sure not to gouge your floor, which will be tricky when the big machine is pulling you around the floor. Waxing? then you can't mop. Polyurethane? the only way to redo is to start at step 1 and start sanding. OH! and if you polyurethane, treat the floor like a mirror or window; it streaks, so don't mop. What? When did the floor become a window? And how can you *not* mop a waxed floor? What happens when the dog has an accident or your kid spills their milk? Wood floors seem sooo complicated!

* organizing, decluttering, sprucing up: the family room, my bedroom, the cupboards in the bathroom, my kitchen cupboards (which really have turned into a pharmacy! little bottles of vitamins, tylenol, ibuprofen, essential oils, prescription medication. oy!)

* putting up a new fence if it would *ever* quit snowing, because the rest of it feel down this weekend in another wind storm.

Enough of the wallowing. I'll put it out of my mind for now (which is what I've been saying for the past 6 years with that stupid floor!)


On to the fun stuff! Did any of you read The Long Winter? I won't be able to go to the book club this month or next because my sewing machine classes are on that day, but I can pass along your responses to the lady who has willingly accepted to run the book club for me.

What did you think of the book over all?

What were your favorite parts? and why?

What about Pa & Ma's ingenuity?

The part where Carrie and Laura are at school when the blizzard started made my blood run cold. I could totally visualize myself as both the teacher and as Laura as they watched the sun go away and the wind start howling. I was glad when the guy showed up to take them home, but worried again when they were at the corner and didn't know if they'd gone far enough or not and Laura bumped into a building, letting them know they were on Main Street. When she pondered what would have happened to them if she would have been just a foot or two to the side of that building and they would have wondered into the outskirts of town, it made their dilemma all the more real.

And what about when they ran out of coal and wood? And the only stuff to buy was too expensive? Pa was amazing for figuring out how to twist the hay into sticks! But how frustrating that it went up like tinder, after all that work. And sitting there hour after hour, day after day, week after long week, creating those little hay bundles just to watch them burn so quickly and give off such little heat must have been so aggravating! And I felt so sorry for them that their hands got cut and their coats got cut while doing the process, and they couldn't stop.

Ma did such a good job taking care of her family and creating a nice place to be in such trying circumstances. Working with just a coffee grinder to grind enough wheat for a loaf of bread was so time consuming, but she did it. And she never complained about Pa. She tried to stay cheerful and reassure everyone that they were going to be just fine. She and the girls would straighten up the house and then she'd try to think of some fun thing for them to do to keep their minds off of the never ending storms. Oration, singing, knowledge b's, reading aloud were as much a part of their life as the hum drum.

My heart broke when Pa couldn't play his fiddle anymore because his fingers were so stiff and sore. That had been his outlet and his gift to the family for as long as they could remember, and during those hard days he couldn't play.

I was devastated when the town couldn't get supplies. Every time the storms stopped and the sun shone, I was hoping that they could get the train through this time. And they never could. My heart fell when it was announced that they wouldn't be trying to make cuts on the rail any more, and that they had to give up. What would they do for food?

When Capp and Almanzo went out looking for the homesteader who'd grown wheat, I was amazed. It was taking your life in your own hands to go anywhere outside of town, yet they risked their lives for all in their town who were going hungry. They were true heroes.

Through the entire book I stood in amazement of how strong and courageous those people were. It gave me comfort to see them survive amid all of the insurmountable odds. It proved to me that we are survivors. It also spurred me into action to store up a little for a rainy day: a few bottles of jam from my apricot tree. some extra wheat to grind into flour for bread. some oats to have for breakfasts or cookies. And the scripture, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." has become my mantra. I've learned how to make a few meals entirely from scratch. I've learned how to garden and preserve fruits and vegetables. I learned animal husbandry skills and the men in my family have learned how to slaughter and prepare an animal for eating.

And my desires to learn a little more, grow a little more, and bottle a little more have come from this book. The Ingall's family and their neighbors have been my teachers and inspiration.

I hope that you enjoyed the book as much as I have! If you didn't have a chance to read it or to finish, I hope that you'll continue!

Let me know what you thought of the book, or your comments on my review.

Have a wonderful day!


  1. Boy... I've got lists like yours in my mind and it makes me want to run away! LOL!

  2. First, wood floors are too much work! That is why we had laminate in our last house. We have hard wood here and aren't happy about it.

    The Long Winter is one of my favorite books. It is a book where the writing really set the feel for the storyline. It is long and dreary just like the winter was. I'm amazed at Ma and how she held it all together. I'm not sure I could be that strong. Like you, this book did help me focus on preparing for disasters. I'm not sure Almonzon and his brother were heroes. They had enough wheat on hand, but weren't willing to give it up. They instead choose to risk their lives to get someone else's wheat. I'm not sure it was the best plan.

  3. I need to organize and de-clutter myself!

    I have read that book but it has been SO long!!! Now, I want to read it again!

  4. I still haven't pulled my book down off the shelf, but your post is making me want to.
    I've been so distracted with other things.


  5. I'm so behind...but I did start this book last night. It was a favorite of mine as a child, and all of my girls have loved it!