Welcome to 'Attic of the Heart'!

Welcome from north-central Connecticut! In this blog I will share whatever is in my heart, on my mind, or something interesting I've found to share. Thanks for stopping by!

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas!



Merry Christmas All!
Yes, that was our tree this year. We cut it fresh about 2 weeks before Christmas just down the road at our local tree farm. The field was pretty picked over this year, it's very popular. A bit muddy, as the frost was starting to come out of the ground due to the warm day. My hubby picked this one out. I usually do, but he did such a good job. I don't like a tree overly formed. I like it to have a bit of a natural look. I like nooks and crannies to put my ornaments into. The branches are firmer too, not so limp as a tree that's been pruned too much. I would just as soon go cut one in the woods, but around here, that's not possible.

We had a good Christmas. We went up north to New Brunswick, Canada to visit all of our families. My side and his. It's 9 hours each way. We pretty much decided (again!) not to go home next year. The weather wasn't good this year, ran into sleet, freezing rain, slush, and snow in Maine. Traffic was down to 45 mph. Many vehicles got caught in the slushy mess at the side of the road and were hauled into the ditch. Must have seen a dozen cars off the road in the stretch between Bangor and Augusta. One truck was on it's top. We stopped to see if one car was ok. It was facing backwards. They had been there about 10 minutes, and had already called the wrecker. Thank the Lord for cell phones!
Between the weather, and hauling a load of presents in the back of the truck (we were driving a four wheel drive), it's just getting to be too big of a hassle. Gift cards are the way to go!! Yeah!

Pet peeve alert!
People, you've got to express your gratitude for the gift given.
Be thankful!! And show it!! Sometimes that's all the thanks a parent or friend really wants, is to know you truly like it. If you don't, thank them anyway for their thoughtfulness in remembering you. Find something about the gift or moment to be thankful for. And let them know. I spend hours every year searching out presents for our family that I think they want or need. I call them about it, ask questions, and find exactly what they ask for. All I want in return is to see the look of gratitude on their face, a heartfelt 'THANK YOU'! Say a word or two about it. After all, I asked them what they wanted, and here it is. I shopped, I bought, and hauled it nine hours to deliver it.
This has been a major pet peeve of mine for years. Some parts of our family still needs to learn the art of gratitude, and more than that, the art of expressing it. A smile and a nod just doesn't cut it for me. One needs to think about what the other person put into buying these presents for you, the effort made.

This past year, I told my in-laws and my parents we just wanted a gift card to a local furniture store. Quality furniture, made to last, that with a little help, we could buy an item that would last for years. So instead of semi useless little things that we can live without, we got a gift card from each set of parents that enabled us to buy something we've wanted for years.
We are so very grateful for this gift. I emailed them, I am mailing a thank you card, and we thanked them over the phone. We want them to know, WE REALLY LOVE THIS GIFT! and we are thankful for their generosity.
Well, that's a long enough post for now. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and are well versed in the art of Gratitude!




Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving, scones, apple orchards and potato fields...



ORANGE GLAZED TROPICAL FRUIT SCONES (without the glaze)

I baked these scones last month and boy, were they good! The recipe can be found in Pillsbury's Best of the Bake-off Cookbook, 50th Anniversary Edition. I didn't fill them with the spread, but they were still scrumptious. Now, these were more biscuit like, instead of granular. Depends on the type of scone you like, but these were very tender and flaky. The trick is not to over handle the dough. Just barely mix it, shape it and bake it.
Thanksgiving was celebrated with just the two of us this year. Usually we have company from up north come to spend the holidays with us, but since they had already been here in October, it's too long of a trip to come back that soon. (9 hrs each way). I baked a lovely ham, Carando Spiral sliced smoked - very very good, and makes good leftovers, even after freezing. I also made boiled potatoes, green bean casserole, and since I over cooked the yams in the micro, I decided to mash them and make some sort of casserole. It was my version of a recipe for sweet potato pie. Was quite good, actually. The brown sugar on top really made it. I usually slice them and candy them in brown sugar and butter, but they were too soft.

I made apple crisp for dessert. I bought a new kind of apple this year, Blushing Golden. They stay quite crisp in the fridge for a long time, probably up to 2 months, if your fridge isn't too dry. I read that the flavor for these apples develop during the month after they have been picked. They are good out of hand too. I love Ginger Gold, an earlier apple. They make excellent crisp apples. My all time favorites are Cortland. I skip right over Macintosh. Never cared for them as much.
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Apple bins like the ones I used...
Long long ago, in a far away land, I once worked in an apple orchard with my mother and younger brother. First, I picked, because I was quite young, about 14 at the time. In a couple of years, I was able to do the U-pick, and then worked in the apple house. I much preferred being in an apple orchard than the potato field, as so many of my friends were doing at the time.



PRESQUE ISLE, MAINE - OUTLYING AREA

I lived in potato country (no, not Idaho) - Carleton County, New Brunswick, Canada. Not sure many people are familiar with that area, but it and Aroostook County in Maine (which I refer to as 'sister' counties, because they are so similar that way) main crop is potatoes. Every year in the fall, school children would get 3 weeks off to work in the local potato fields, earning money for clothes, etc, and helping local farmers get their crops in. Therefore, the school year started earlier than most.

POTATO BLOSSOMS IN AROOSTOOK COUNTY, MAINE

One year, I did work in the potato fields. I worked on a harvester, actually. A lot of younger kids would pick by the barrel, but I didn't move to the area till I was a teen. I had the misfortune to be on the same harvester with a lady who disliked me intensely, and the feeling was mutual. (The fact that she was best friends with my husband's ex did nothing to endear us to each other.) Anyway, I'm sure I would have enjoyed it a bit more if it hadn't been for that fact. It was nice to be outside, but on dry days, the dust flew. On wet days, when we could get into the fields, there were clods of dirt bigger than the potatoes to sort through. The harvester doesn't stop, so you end of throwing things madly to keep up.
I always looked forward to new fields, as the landscape would change. Sometimes we were right out in the open, on top of a broad hill. Other times, we were in a former hay field, surrounded by woods, only found by traversing many farm lanes. The big fields seemed to take forever. Some mornings, it was very crisp out. By afternoon, we could be down to shirt sleeves. Same with the apple orchard. If the temp was below freezing, we had to wait until the sun took the frost off the apples before we could go out and pick. I remember snow one time. Winter comes quite early that far north. Glorious summers, but very short.

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I have a lot of memories over that span of 3 or 4 years. I grew up during that time, got married, moved across town. My horse, Bandit, a yearling, was killed one October, on my birthday. He crawled through the fence while we were at church that evening, and got in the road. Very hard lesson learned. I went to work the next day, because I was working the U-pick. I only lasted an hour or two, because I couldn't stop crying. My boss then told me about a barn fire they'd had years ago, and had lost 4 horses, so she understood, and let me go home.
On the way home, I stopped into the welding shop where my husband was working to let him know. We had an old Lincoln town car with a moon roof at the time, and when I left the shop, I backed into a trailer and dented the area between the back window and side window. Fortunately, I missed the glass. But it was another unfortunate incident I didn't need.
That seems so long ago. The orchard where had I worked in that had been there for years before I arrived, and several after, is no longer. Potatoes were more lucrative, so they've been replaced. They tore out the big hedge row of trees that were so pretty and protective of the apple trees to make more room for potatoes. I mourned the loss of the orchard where I had made so many memories. It just doesn't look the same.
I hadn't planned on going down that particular 'memory lane', but there it is.
Well, that's all for now. I will try to do better about posting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November is half over!


I just realized that I haven't posted in awhile, and before you know it, November will be over with. The months are flying by. For those of you who are quite young yet (perhaps 20 or so years younger than me?) I realize that time sometimes crawls, but know this: the older you get, the faster it goes. At least for me it does. And time used to crawl!!
I am wishing my life away as we speak. I am wishing it was spring, and that we've finally found our dream home, and we were moving in. Wouldn't that be nice?!! It would be nice if I could stop obsessing over it. I have to remind myself to get of the 'hamster wheel' about moving. To try and live in the moment. Enjoy today. Make today count. Do what you can do now. Bloom where you are planted. Sigh. I've been trying to do that for over 10 years. Another sigh...
Christmas is coming. I'm about 1/2 way there I think, in being ready. I've gotten at least 50 percent of the gifts bought. It took nearly 26 years, but I'm getting the hang of early Christmas shopping, and I really like the feeling of being prepared in advance. My mother was the queen of being prepared. I used to wait until November or even December, sometimes the week before Christmas to buy gifts. Not that I wanted to, mind you. The money just wasn't there. It was a case of waiting for that Christmas bonus. There were years that wasn't in the picture, depending on where we were, so there was a year in which only 2 people got gifts, because I couldn't bear the thought of telling them how poor we were. Thank God, we are doing so much better now. He has blessed us in that area, for sure. We still have to watch the pennies, but at least there are an adequate amount of them now.
Oh yes. Mice. We've had 2 or 3 of them about. I had seen them once or twice in the garage - Max would be out there playing with one, but let it escape. That's a male cat for you.
Then, one night after my husband let him back in (Max has this thing about being able to go in and out of the garage from the house - he's an indoor cat, so the garage is a novelty), we were sitting in the family room watching TV, when I thought I heard mouse like sounds, as if it was squeaking at something. I thought for a minute that my husbands' recliner had a squeak in it, but then realized he wasn't moving. So I said: MUTE IT MUTE IT MUTE IT!!! He looked befuddled for a minute, then grabbed the remote and muted the TV. I jumped up from my chair, walked quickly into the kitchen, just in time to see Max's face drove into the corner of the hot water register. I knew instantly that it was a mouse.
Sure enough, he was hiding in there, face down, in behind a piece of the kitchen flooring, which was rolled up the wall slightly, with his little bottom sticking up. Poor thing. It was terrified. So, we plotted how we were going to get him out. We took apart the register, used the long metal piece as a shield to guide him outside if necessary, opened the french doors (right next to the register, fortunately) and tucked Max into the basement out of the way.
First, Rick used a coat hanger. I badgered him, worried he was going to poke holes in it.
Since the tail was sticking up, we got pliers and gloves, and managed to finally grasp it's tail, and gently fling him out onto the deck. We shut the door, and watched him scurry off into the night.
I thought, that's the end of him.
For some reason, the next night, I turned the light on out on the deck about 9:30pm. There he was, scurrying around in a zigzag manner, gathering bird seed. We just chuckled and shook our heads. We knew there were neighborhood cats very good at mousing.

Just a few days before this, I had been in the furnace room in the basement, checking the water filter, when I noticed some small specks in the dipper underneath. (used for a very slow drip from the last filter change) You guessed it - mouse poops.
So I set a trap, and by the next day, the cutest little fellow had ate his last meal. He was all white underneath, with a pretty warm brown color on his back. Much cuter than a gray mouse.
We set the trap again, and a few days later (after we freed the one upstairs!) there was another one. Somehow I think it was the same one.
There's been no more since then. But we are much more careful about keeping the garage door shut.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy October Ending!


Did you ever pet a bumble bee? I did. It was a real cool morning, so this fellow was very accommodating.

...I just got my daily dose of Mitford. Actually, the first daily dose during lunch, followed by another at bedtime. Almost as good as an apple a day.
I love Jan Karon's books on the Mitford series. I can identify with some, having lived in small rural towns at one time. I live in a smaller town now, but I don't know anyone. They are a reserved bunch around here. Polite, but reserved. Me, on the other hand, I love to talk and have a good conversation. I don't mind being a bit personal, open up a bit, if it will help get to know someone.
That's midwest friendliness. And Maine and New Brunswick too. No pretention, just me. I am uncomfortable with pretention. Actually, I feel sorry for these people, as they don't seem to be comfortable letting the real them come through.
I realize that I probably have 'put on' a bit at some point, but generally speaking, what you see is what you get with me. Ok, so I hide the wackiness for the most part. I save that for my husband, the cat, and my best friend Sandy.
We have our own club, you know, which we call the Dingbat Club. I am president, and she is number one. There are satellite members, many of whom I don't know, but they know who they are. In order to be a member, you have to have a bit of innate wackiness. Let the goofiness shine through.
For example, I like to be goofy, and sing silly songs to my cat (which I'm sure only he appreciates :0)). Or, or rare occasions, I pretend to be Freda, someone whom only Sandy knows. (Freda will be a funny old lady someday, with big floppy hats, large handbags, baggy knee highs, and a definite love of flower gardens.) I am also known as Myrtle, of Myrtle's Girdle Shop. 'Big or small, we make 'em all.'
Get the picture? Oh, and most importantly, must love animals. And talk to them. Not like you are actually waiting for them to answer, but... you know. Right?
(Ok. I confess. When I talk to Max, he actually answers me with some kind of meow, purr, or prrtt kind of thing. That happens when you've been with each other for several years.)
Let's see...oh yes. We like to bake, and we like to eat. We love cookbooks, decorating, antiques, the simple things in life. We are quite old fashioned - we believe in old fashioned values, good morals, we love God. And we value our friendships. The older I get, the more so.
How did I get on this subject? Must be the Mitford influence...

Well, we are thinking of NOT going home for Christmas this year. Sigh. Can't decide if that's a good idea or not. We always go home for Christmas. 9 hour drive each way, hoping it doesn't snow during the drive. (it can snow after we get there - that's always fun) But the thought of a road trip again, visiting both sides of the family, well...it's exhausting just thinking about it. The downside of staying here is we don't know anyone or have any family here. We would be alone. So we are trying to think of alternatives. Perhaps a weekend trip up to Maine where they are really celebrating Christmas, a stay at any inn, some festival or music presentation would be nice.
We need something to do to celebrate and make the season memorable. Of course, going to a candle light service at church would be lovely. Going into Hartford for a presentation of the Nutcracker would be high on my list. Even higher would be a trip to Boston to see the annual Boston Pops Christmas music presentation. I've always wanted to do that.
Another down side, mailing all those heavy presents into Canada. Now that will be expensive, I can guarentee you. What was I thinking, buying 4 sets of flannel sheets? Or giant wreaths for a door? I think gift cards should have been the order if I had thought this thing through earlier, but it's hard to tell how one will feel when one gets close to the holidays. We might still change our mind. My husband is thinking staying home and resting would be nice, after working 12 hour days for months on end. Can't say I blame him.
Well, I finally joined the gym. Yup. A brand new Planet Fitness opened up 15 minutes away. Great opening special, so I signed up. Now, to get there...sigh. Why do I always have a mental block about getting ready to go?? Why do I put off what I know will make me healthier and feel better in the long run? Why???
Well, I better get going. Housework is waiting, the laundry buzzer just went, I have a garage full of furniture that I stupidly volunteered to refinish...(WHAT was I thinking??!!) Oh right. It costs money to replace all that bedroom furniture. Recycle and reuse, right?
We barely escaped the snow last night. I heard New York got nailed. Kind of early, isn't it? I know some years it's at least Thanksgiving before we get any snow, and sometimes not til after Christmas. But this year, everything seems more normal for being a New England state. Previous years, you would think we were Virginia or something. Nearly subtropical.
The juncos arrived this week. I just love those little birds. I love their 'talking' to one another. My carolina wren is back, visiting the feeders. I just love him too. I think he's my all time favorite bird. Little pot belly and stick tail. Just makes me smile to look at him.
We had a lot of chipmuncks this year. They got into the grill of the van and made a nest in the air intake (think that's what it's called). You would do well to take this apart and check it out - we never guessed that they would be in there. Thought it would be more obvious - just open the hood and peer in. Sure improved how the van worked. :0)
Gotta run. Happy October Ending!

Friday, October 10, 2008

I just love autumn...



One of my favorite spots, about 1 mile from our house...

I just love fall. I love the colors, I love the cool crisp air, the fresh scent of pines and falling leaves. I love being able to see through the woods again, instead of the jungle we have for summer. I love all the wild flowers and vines and things that have fully matured with their seed heads, and finding neat stuff growing in the fence rows and along the edges of fields.

Except I can'
t do that right now. I don't have a field, or a fence row to explore, and that bums me out. I used to, but not where I am right now. All I can do is walk or drive by and admire someone else's.
That's the difference living here in CT as opposed to way up north. When we lived in NB, and Maine, we had so many fields, just acres and acres of potato and hay fields that the farmers didn't mind you using if you were careful. My brother has a 4-wheeler that he drives around on over 2000 acres, even though he only owns 5 of them. But that's the way it is up there. As long as you stick to the edge of the field, or wait until it's harvested. Down here, there are fields too, beautiful acres of garden crops and tobacco fields, orchards, etc., but we don't know anyone here, and there are so many no trespassing signs out there. There's just too many people, and I'm sure that the area farmers (and big conglomerates like Culbro) have had bad experiences, or just don't want to be sued in case something happens.
Sigh...So much beauty here, but you can't touch it.
My husband and I have discussed this many times. Maybe because we are relative newcomers (3 yrs here), we feel this way. We feel we don't 'own' or have a stake here. In Maine, we rented, like we do here, but for some reason, we felt a sense of 'ownership', like it was 'our state'. I took pride in living there, loved to tell people the best places to visit, what not to miss, etc. But here it's different. Why is that? When we think about going to visit places, at first it seems great - so much to see and do. Then you start thinking about the crowds, the traffic. And talk yourself out of going. I know we shouldn't, but we do. And it's kind of depressing.

Saint John River, New Brunwick, Canada - view from his Dad's camp.

My husband feels that way about fishing. He loves to fish. He has so little time for a hobby, and doesn't get much chance to go. He got out about 3 times this summer, and nearly each time was a huge disappointment. He didn't get any fish worth keeping, for one thing. Another, it seems there are so many people who have the same idea that it's hard to find your own spot. He went fishing over to Congamond Lake. Was there about 15 minutes, and a family drove up in a pickup, and proceeded to swim right where he was fishing (there is a public beach, and this definitely wasn't it). So he gave up and came home. Poor guy was so disillusioned. I felt so bad for him, as we are trying to make it work here.

Crossing the bridge in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, where we stayed in a B&B...

In Maine, much less people, much bigger state, and so many places to fish. We talk about moving back up there, but he has a good paying job here (best he's ever had), they love him, treat him good. But he works 12 hrs a day, 5 days a week, plus every other Saturday. Being in management means more is required. And he's a giver. Gives it all he's got, just like he was an owner (and more than some of them). That's his work ethic. But I'm so afraid it's aging him and wearing him out.
Maine jobs in his field are hard to come by, much less good paying ones. And he'd have to prove himself all over again. When you are over 50, you really think about that. He has tons of experience in his field (steel/metal manufacturing) an excellent work ethic (hard to find nowadays), and a huge commitment to getting things done. The 'word' out there is that if you want things done, see him.

No place is perfect. This I know, having lost count on how many times we've moved over the last 25 years. (6 states and 2 provinces so far, with over 20 moves involved). Utopia doesn't seem to exist. Either it's beautiful, and it's too expensive to live there and the people are unfriendly. OR, you trade in some of the beauty, and you have low paying jobs, but friendlier people.


Sigh. Life isn't easy, and I don't mean to complain. God has blessed us so much here. But what do you do when your heart doesn't belong here? Stay for the money? Or 'go home' and try to make it work on less? It's not an easy answer at our age. We've started over too many times. It seems to get harder each time (not to mention the physical aspect!! I got alot of stuff over 26 years of marriage!!;0))
But yet we can't see ourselves retiring here. The house payment would be huge, the property taxes are probably the highest in New England. Everything in CT is higher than most of the surrounding states. Food is generally cheaper in Maine, even though they have to ship it farther. Go figure...
I admit one of our problem is our choice of housing. We aren't city people. We both want some land. A small farm. Heck, we could get by on an acre if need be. If all we wanted was a small fixer upper house on 1/4 acre, there's plenty of that here for around $200,000. But then we think - wow! For that kind of money, we could get 5 or more acres, a farm house, barn, garage, etc in Maine! Our dream!
So....do we forget the dream, or do we move to Maine, and my dear sweetie commute on weekends home to Maine? That is what we are plotting right now. It would be hard, but when we retire, we'd have a home. Without a huge payment. Because we wouldn't have to spend that kind of money up there for our dream.
Why are things always so complicate?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Amazing love, how can it be...


Farm pond at Kura's, West Suffield, CT
I picked blueberries and raspberries here in August.


I had a dream awhile ago in which I moved back to where I had grown up. (My family moved when I was 13 to another country.)
In my dream, I was revisiting an old boyfriend.
I discovered that, somehow, I'd had a baby when I was young which I didn't know about. (How weird is that, but you can do and be anything in your dreams, right?)
They thought the child should know who it's mother was.
The child, a boy, was now about 4. The father had custody, and both of us were single, so we were considering reigniting the relationship due to this child. We met, without the child realizing exactly who I was. I can remember looking across the room, and seeing this child for the first time. He was playing.
All of a sudden, the moment I laid eyes on him, I got this amazing unexplainable rush of emotion.
It was an absolute unconditional love and acceptance of this child.
I would do anything for him. I would love him forever and beyond without condition.
I immediately accepted him for exactly what and who he was.
Just like that.

I have to stop here and explain something to those of you who have your own children. I have none of my own. Never had the privilege. I have 2 step kids that I love, and told them when they were preteens that I love them even if they didn't love me back. I can remember that moment to this day, and their faces when I told them. That was nearly 20 years ago.

This dream has stayed with me, and I remember being so thankful when I woke up that I got to experience that. I can only assume that all parents have this amazingly deep feeling of unconditional love for their children.

I was thinking last night again about this dream as I read the last few pages of 'At First Sight' by Nicholas Sparks, about when his wife died giving birth to their only child. As the tears ran down my face, I remembered that dream. And a new thought occurred to me.

This must have been to some degree what God felt when He looked down at mankind, and decided to give up His only Son for us. When God looked down with the fierce unconditional love that we cannot even imagine - there was no other option for our salvation. This wasn't even a multiple choice question. There was no thought of 'there must be some other way'. His love was so amazing, so deep, so beyond what we feel even for our children, that He did what He had to do because of His love for us.
It was at that moment that I had a beginning of understanding of parental love. Sacrificial love. The kind of love that you would do absolutely anything for the good of your child.

I love my step kids. I love my nieces and nephews. I love my husband, love my parents. My love and need for them overwhelms me sometimes. But I know it can't even come close to what God feels for us. It just can't. His is on a whole other level.

I was pregnant for 7 weeks once. I remember how my feelings even at that point had gotten to where the baby was more important than myself. I would have done whatever I could for it's health and safety. Unfortunately, nothing could be done to save it.
But I am SO THANKFUL that I got to experience even that little bit.

I feel the same way about this dream. Maybe God, in His goodness and mercy, gave me that feeling, so I could have but a moment to know what it was like. And to have some glimpse of His deep and fathomless love for me.

It's an amazing thing to love something that much. It's what makes life worth living.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Something stinky...

Well. That's over and done with.
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For a few days now, when I went out my front door, or opened my living room window, this sickly sweet nasty odor came wafting in. I figured something must have crawled either under the front cement step, or under the bushes somewhere and kicked the bucket, so to speak.
I looked briefly, but couldn't detect exactly where the smell was emanating from. All I know is, when I got too close to ground level, it was bad. Real bad.
With only a 2 inch opening behind the cement step, odds were that if anything crawled in there, it had to be a small rodent. In which case, I wouldn't be able to access it, and would have to live with it it until it completely decomposed. Ugh.
Today, upon opening the front window to try to cool off the house, I decided I'd had enough. I would play detective and come to the bottom of this if I could.
Armed with a weak flashlight and some garden gloves, I began pulling back branches from the very large (way too large, if you ask me) evergreen to see down to the bottom. This baby is about 6 feet across and 2 - 2 1/2 feet tall. One of those ugly evergreens everyone planted 20 years ago too close to the house, and now it needs to be cut out completely.
Anyway, I finally thought I detected something. So I got my garden rake, and began tentatively pulling out mulch from under this giant bush. I thought I saw a small flat mouse-like rodent.

Nope. Nothing came out with the rake but mulch.
I looked further in.
There it was. I pulled out a slightly flattened much dead squirrel. Apparently something happened to it (West Nile? Lost a fight with a hawk? Too big of leap off the deck?...) and it crawled, thank you very much, under my bush to die. (Why not the woods? There are ACRES of woods around my house!)
Well, it finally got a decent burial. I couldn't bury it too deep, as there were too many tree roots. I just hope the coyotes don't come this close to the house...

PS: As much as I love to include photos in my blog ---I think I will forgo it this time. :0)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tobacco harvest time again...


One of many trips in front of my house on it's way to the tobacco barns

Tobacco harvest has begun for this year. It's been hard on them, I'm sure, since we had rain nearly every day since the first of the month. I see the white buses down the road, with Jamaicans and Puerto Ricans here to help with the harvest. I noticed something different this year. Tractors have been going by with wagons behind them loaded with big plastic flat totes.
I'm thinking perhaps it's fully of leaves? I got a glimpse into one of the barns as I was going by, and could see a conveyor type system with clotheslines and the plastic totes. I don't know alot about it, but I know that most tobacco raised around here is for cigar wrappers. It's a major crop here, maybe the biggest. Along with blueberries. The Farmington valley is a very productive agricultural area. That's one of the reasons I like this area. Alot of farms here.

It's been a beautiful August so far. Very unusual for us. In fact, we haven't run our air conditioner since the end of July! That's been unheard of since we moved down here. Usually, August is 90 - 100F, and high humidity. Always makes me wish I was in Maine for the entire month.
This year, it's been 70- 80's. Down to 59 - 62 at night. Wonderful! Also, August is usually a very dry month here. In the first 2 weeks, we've had nearly 6 inches of rain, when the average in somewhere 1 - 2 inches. I am loving it. I mentioned to someone the other day that this is like a real New England August, instead of mid-Atlantic. It's always so tropical here during the summer, that it resembles PA and VA instead of Maine and NH.
I heard my first Canada geese this morning. I know it's been very cool further north. My parents have even had their heat on some mornings. They've even had more rain than here. My step son commented that it's rained every single day up there since they left here the last week of July.
Seems they got a load of snow last winter, and now it's in rain. Mom said it's ok though, as they've had a drought for the last 3 or 4 years. My father-in-law said it's been hard on the potato farmers up there, though. They can't get into their fields to spray, and blight has become a problem. Potatoes are the main livelihood of farmers up in that area of northern Maine and western New Brunswick.

I have a new favorite series on TV. I guess it's been cancelled already. Bummers..
There are six seasons of episodes, and we just started watching, so at least that will keep us for awhile. Crossing Jordan. We just love this series.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Where did June go?...

Purple Coneflower from my yard...



July already! Where did June go?

We are still house hunting. We looked at 7 houses this past weekend. I'm starting to think that maybe we won't find our dream home this year. (I say that with a touch of amusement, because my 'dream' home is way out of my price range. However, we are still looking for something that says 'Welcome Home'. Here's still hoping...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My best friend, Sandy and I.
I went on a roadtrip recently with my best friend of 16 years. She flew up from Florida to CT, and we left from here to go to Maine and New Brunswick. We got to travel in style in her hubby's 2000 Lincoln Continental. Very comfortable car.
I got to visit my parents, and she her mother. We met up again after a few days for the trip home. We stopped in Lincoln Maine at Possibilities, a great gift shop, and had breakfast at the Timber House restaurant - very reasonable, good food and very friendly people. That's what I love about Maine, the friendly people. Especially the further north you go.

We took 2 days to wander down through mid Maine, stopping at the antique shops we knew about, ate at Governors in Waterville, and Dysarts in Bangor. You have to try the fried clams at Governors, and the Seafood platter at Dysarts. Yum! I try to order seafood when we go to Maine and NB, because it just seems better than here.
We visited Stitches, a quilt shop in Newport, Maine. It was good to see Jan Frost, the owner, again. She had many beautiful fabrics and samples. She does a wonderful job machine quilting.
We went to the Fairfield Antiques Mall in Fairfield, ME. It's a must see, as well as the Lakeside Antiques place in Winthrop, just outside of Augusta. Each one is about 10 minutes off the interstate. We also went to the Maine Made and More shop and Adams and Worth, country decor stores in Waterville, ME. I love both shops, and always find something to buy there.


Sweet Marlon and I - a 'friend' I picked up at one of the local shops.

We stayed overnight at the Comfort Inn in Waterville. Very nice, fairly reasonable, unless it's Colby College graduating weekend, when the rates more than triple, and I'm not kidding.

Had breakfast at the Tim Horton's across the road (super coffee and donuts!). We got home to CT that night about 9:30pm. Tired, but happy.

I'm now working on scrapbooking these pictures and memories.
Every time I look at these pictures, and think of the memories we made, I smile, and a feeling of overwhelming happiness comes over my heart. I'm so glad I made this trip. And to think I almost said no...

Monday, June 30, 2008

I'm back..




Welcome home, self.

I've been away on a long trip, around the backside of the mountain. But I'm back now.
For better or for worse, with all my baggage, pain, silliness, quirkiness, failings...It's me.

I've been on antidepressants for 2 years, and depressed for more than 10. I've been off a couple of months now. At first, it was scary, to be without my 'happy pills'. Even though they weren't making me as happy as they once were, they were my 'security blanket'.

But you know what?

It's ok. It turned out much better than I thought.

It's me, the real me!

The one who feels and loves and acts silly, cries, who has ups and downs, a bad day, a goofy moment, and overwhelming feelings of happiness and thankfulness. Whatever life brings.

I'm here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Antidepressants accomplished what they were meant to do. But it was time. Time to let go. Time to move on with my life.

I used to write alot, mostly out of anguish. Things in my heart and life that I couldn't seem to change, or deal with. In my writings I'd cry out to God, try to find some explanation or meaning. Peace...

That person kind of disappeared for a couple of years. Not alot of depth of feeling, but in some cases, that was the purpose.

That girl is back today, only better. My heart is full to overflowing with life, with feeling, with purpose. I still don't have all the answers. Some things did change over time, others are still the same, new things came up.
But that's ok. Cause this girls' back.

And she does not walk alone.

My beloved friend, my Saviour. He's still here. He always was.
Sometimes I was so lost. It was dark in that forest
- so many trees, I couldn't find my way out.
Looking back now, I can see His footprints, walking that path beside me.
Even though I didn't know, and couldn't see Him, He was still there.
And I am ever so grateful...


***********************************************************************************


Deut 31: Be strong and courageous. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Bring The Rain
by: MercyMe

I can count a million times

People asking me how I

Can praise You with all that I've gone through

The question just amazes me

Can circumstances possibly

Change who I forever am in You



Maybe since my life was changed

Long before these rainy days

It's never really ever crossed my mind

To turn my back on you, oh Lord

My only shelter from the storm

But instead I draw closer through these times



So I pray:

Bring me joy, bring me peace

Bring the chance to be free

Bring me anything that brings You glory

And I know there'll be days

When this life brings me pain

But if that's what it takes to praise You

Jesus, bring the rain



I am Yours regardless of

The dark clouds that may loom above

Because You are much greater than my pain

You who made a way for me

By suffering Your destiny

So tell me what's a little rain



So I pray



Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy Holy Holy,

Is the Lord God Almighty,Is the Lord God Almighty


I will forever sing,



Holy Holy Holy, Holy Holy Holy

Is the Lord God Almighty, Is the Lord God Almighty...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

June has arrived, and it's about to get really hot...

My beautiful German Irises that I got last year.

Mid to upper 90's next week. I am just not ready for that. We've been enjoying 70's to low 80's, low humidity, and 50's at night. Great sleeping weather. Can leave the windows open and listen to the crickets and tree frogs, and hear the birds at the feeders in the morning. Likely have to put in the air conditioners this weekend, and now we'll get to listen them all night. I'm thankful for them, but wish they operated quieter. Maybe if I spent beau coup bucks, I could get a quieter one. But quantity won over quality last summer.
It's been real entertaining watching the birds out the window past my computer screen this spring. Yesterday, a Red Shouldered Hawk swooped down not 8 feet out my window, startling multiple birds and chipmunks. Everyone ran in all directions, uttering a couple of chirps of surprise and warning. Really was no time for warning, as he was so silent and swift, he was upon them before anyone knew what was going on. He immediately turned and flew off, hopefully missing whatever was his target, as I didn't see anything in his claws. But, he's a good sized bird, so something very small could have been hidden. Although I enjoy watching him (he lives in the area all winter, moving closer to the CT river in the summer) I hope he missed. Plenty of supper some place else, I'm sure.
The baby chipmunks are having a fabulous time, frolicking and jumping out at each other and the birds. The doves keep warning them to stay back by extending their wings or tail feathers upwards (to make themselves appear bigger?). They are like little vacuum cleaners. Sure wish they could vacuum for real, wouldn't that be nice!
The big one has learned how to shimmy up the shephard's hook and jump the 12 inches to the feeders and load up.
The cow birds are kind of comical. Interesting courtship dance. One realized that the food was 'raining' down on his head, and kept looking up to see if he could figure out a way to get at the source.
Those 'peaceful' doves certainly aren't peaceful this time of year. Good grief! Those males can certainly be aggressive. Talk about one thing on their minds. The poor females can barely get a chance to eat without being accosted.
The raccoon visits occasionally at night, checking out my suet. An oppussum was here a couple of weeks ago, likely here alot more often, I just don't see him at night.
The rose breasted Grosbeak is a beautiful bird, with a nice song, similar to the Robin. His wife is considerably bigger than him. At first I thought she was a Dickcissel, but they are even smaller.
She has a yellow vee on her breast, like his rosy one. My bird book didn't show that, but I guess you have to allow for regional differences perhaps.
I enjoy listening to the catbird sing from his various perches down back in the woods. I can hear the thrush in the woods down behind 2 or 3 houses away. I just love their song. It has to be one of my favorite.
We were at Congamond Lake this past weekend. Beautiful Sunday afternoon, just before most of the boaters came. Saw a Baltimore Oriole. They are such a beautiful orange. A family of ducks came by with 7 babies. A lady fishing on the dock had a live catfish in her bucket, along with a couple of bluegills. A pair of cranes were spending time in a quiet spot of rushes. Last summer we saw a few turtles swimming under the dock, surfacing occasionally for air.

I'm thankful to live in the country, with a patch of woods out behind. An occasional turkey comes by. So far I haven't seen any deer, but the neighbor said last year, about 5 or 6 am, one was in my garden, so they must be around.
That's about it for the wild life update today. :0)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Playlist...

I'm so enjoying my new playlist that I made at Playlist.com. I've only a dozen songs on there at the moment, but I listen to them every day. I plan to add more later today.
I really love the song 'Held' by Natalie Grant. What a beautiful song. I'm so glad I invested in a nicer sound card and speakers for my computer that I bought last year from Dell. It's really paying off. Better sound that my Aiwa system. My Aiwa is really their basic product, but it serves it's purpose until we can afford a nicer one. Just not at the top of the list right now.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day...


Angelique Tulips, plus 2 pink tulips, from my flower garden.

Wow, it's been awhile since I've been on here. Lots going on lately. My parents just left this morning to return to their home in NB, Canada. They arrived a week ago Friday for a week long visit and Mother's Day. It was a pretty good week weather-wise, things sure did green up. We mowed the lawn for the first time this week - probably could have been done earlier, but the fertilizer dude came and did his thing, so we couldn't go near the lawn for a couple of days. We gave it some extra time due to the lingering odor. The maples and other trees are so leafed out now that you can't see the neighbors' barn anymore out back. It's amazing, really, because my brother in northern Maine is probably just starting to see some grass, much less leaves, after their long and snowy winter.
Dad was anxious to get home and get started on some outdoor things. He's really in amazing shape for 76. He walks everyday, and still does alot of work around home, like cutting down trees, finished his tractor barn, landscaping, etc. His back barks at him sometimes, and he has to take it easy for a few days when that happens, but then he's back at it again, putting up molding and shelves in the house, doing those little things that makes everything that much nicer.
My Parents

Mom is holding her own. She's very active also, walks everyday, except for the fact she broke her ankle a week or so ago. We were going to 'shop til we drop' like we usually do (me dropping first!!) but not this trip. She did hobble around Marshalls and Kohls, but that was pretty much it this time. We put together 3 puzzles this week. We both love puzzles, and it's fun to work on them together, except it's kinda tricky when you are the one working on it upside down. :0)

We had lots of treats - courtesy of a trip to Costco - with spinach dip, bruschetta, hummus, several desserts, etc. We went to church yesterday, and came home and BBQ'd after rather than fighting the lines at the restaurants on Mother's Day. Mom and I did go to Panera Bread this week, a favorite of ours. I LOVE their decaf coffee. It's the best. And it goes so well with their Double Chocolate Chip Cookie. Yum! I get happy just thinking about it. ;0)
We did get to a few tag sales and an antique shop Saturday morning. Didn't get much this time, probably a good thing, because I did go to one a couple of weeks ago that was selling out antique dishes from a shop that had closed. I did really well, after comparing similar items for sale at the antique shop on Saturday.

Poor hubby. He changed the oil in the van this past weekend, and the O-ring didn't come off, he forgot about it, put a second one on, the filter didn't attach right, and the oil came gushing out all over the garage floor and driveway. Thank goodness for Absorbent.

I put my hummingbird feeder up yesterday, and last night saw my first hummer this season. I couldn't believe it. He's been here several times since then. I'm sure he's tired and hungry from his long trip from down south. I think they overwinter in Central America?
I'm still feeding the Downy's their suet, as well as the Hairy's and Redbellies. They are so comical, and sure count on that suet. The mockingbird has been singing - love to hear them, and I have a pair of red wing blackbirds announce their arrivals every time they come. The cardinals do too. I feel sorry for the female doves. The males have harassed them pretty near to death this spring mating season. They can't even eat in peace. Some have their feathers all messed up, tail feathers missing. They seem to be eating in peace today, so maybe all is over for another year. They are such peaceful birds, so it's surprising how aggressive the males become.
Chippy, one of our resident chipmunks (they are all called 'Chippy') has made numerous trips to my bird feeder, leaving with cheeks impossibly swelled up with seed.

Well, I've rambled on here long enough. It's laundry day, so I better get back at it. Max is sitting patiently here on my desk, waiting for me to do something? :0)
It was hard when my parents left this morning. I always cry, even after all these years. You'd think I'd get used to it. Even though I look forward to a break, I wish they'd come back for supper. Each year I realize they are getting older, and the inevitability that these trips will end is rushing at me with breakneck speed.
There's something about their leaving that leaves me so forlorn, almost like I've been abandoned. It reminds me again of how blessed I am to have such good parents - ones that love me as much as they do, and take the time and make the effort to travel to see us, and keep in close contact in between times.

It's in times like these that I'm so grateful that they are both Christians, and I really will get to keep them forever.

Thursday, May 1, 2008



I got to the point a few years ago, after having moved many times, that I decided to start planting flowers where ever I was at that time. In this case, it was in Waterville, Maine.

We rented the downstairs of an old Victorian. Big rooms, high ceilings, on a very small fraction of an acre in town. Very small.

But the neighbor lady, Mrs. Frye, was so kind as to let me 'dig in her garden'.She had a 30 year old perennial garden that she had never done anything with. They had lived in that house all those years, but not being garden minded herself, had just let it go to weeds.The deal was, I would buy the flowers and fix it up, she could enjoy it, and when I left, I could take maybe 1/2 of what was there.

So Mom and I tackled it. It was a small mound of dirt about 12 x 12 feet. Beautiful dirt!! It had originally been a pond some 30 or 35 years before, and had been filled in with top soil. So I pulled what appeared to be weeds. The back half of the garden still had old perennials, and I mean OLD.

Blood root, Virgina Bluebells and Snowdrops. Things I had never seen before. Oh, and Asters. 4 foot tall purple New England Asters. They had been hidden in a foot or two of dead grass and weeds for years. I was delighted, of course. To that I eventually added many plants.

Daisies, primrose, English pompon daisies (so cute!), black eyed Susan's, bleeding heart, columbines, cardinal flower, balloon flower, and much more than I can mention. Yes, I filled it to the brim.
It's been 3 years now since I've seen the garden, as we moved several hours away. I know it isn't taken care of like it was, but it did something for me. I spent many hours in that garden while my husband worked in Baltimore all week. It was therapy, and gave me a sense of purpose. I decided then that if I wait until I own a place to plant flowers, it may never happen.And if I did own a place, I would have spent the money anyway. (I know I spent almost $300 in that small garden. lol!)

So when we moved to CT, the apartment we rented had, you guessed it, a small garden area outside the front door! I was so excited by this, and I spent many evening hours in it visiting with my neighbors. Again, more therapy.When we moved to this house, I brought much of the flowers with me this time.

Blackberry Lily

I have 3 Blackberry Lilies that I started from seed back in Waterville, that finally bloomed for the first time last summer. They take 4 - 7 years to mature enough to bloom, so I was quite pleased that it only took 4. I added more flowers to this house lot, and will take them all with me again when we buy. I am planning many more visits to the local greenhouses after that, you can be sure!



Blackberry Lily Seedpods

Friday, April 4, 2008

An Inconvenient Truth...


My old home in northwestern Indiana in the late 70's.


Finally saw Al Gore's movie 'An Inconvenient Truth' this past week. It really got me thinking. The actual video and photo backed up of what he was trying to say and the graphs helped to clarify his statistics, making it basic enough so that most anyone could understand the issue. I'm glad it's a passion of his. Someone has to take this issue and run with it.


IMO, sheer population, which includes number of vehicles on the road, more factory jobs, etc all add up to global warming. It's inevitable that this would happen, but one can still do something about it. It just takes a bit of sacrifice. I am recycling more than ever. I would like to buy a more fuel efficient car, and am shopping for a more energy efficient home. SOMEHOW, we've got to figure out a way to stay warm without consuming so much oil! :0)


I don't know where oil prices will go in the future - right now it's scary - but we've got to think ahead. No more mindlessly going on as before. If I could afford solar panels, I would do so. My Dad got a pellet stove, and believes he has saved considerably on their heating bill. They are far north of me, and their heating bill was quite a bit less, for about the same square footage. I think going back to individual room heating and doors on most rooms would be a good thing. At least you can regulate the heat in rooms you use and don't use. I think the older generations knew what they were doing by building all these old houses with doors on all the rooms. Nowadays, 'open spaces' seems to be the way. I see these homes and think " I'd put a wall up there, with french doors, so that room would stay more cozy". My husband is thinking the same way. He complains all the time how cold it is in this (1986 2 -storey) house. I can't close any doors on the family room or living room, because there aren't any. (we are renting, so adding them isn't an option at the moment)


We are even thinking of downsizing just to save money on heat. I love lots of elbow room, but with just the two of us, do we really need all that room? (I say YES! with doors and multizone heat. :0))


It's actually difficult to find a house for sale right now with multizone heat. How energy efficient the house is is becoming more important than most other things at the moment. When I see a house listing that states "new windows, attic fan, new furnace..." I take a second look.


I know we are just two people. But if 2 people do this, then another 2, then another 2...you get the idea. Maybe, just maybe, we can be part of the solution to global warming.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Luke Reid...

Today was Luke Reid's funeral. He was 24. He died in a car accident on Easter Sunday with another friend.
My mother told me about it this morning , wondering if it was the same Luke we knew long ago. And yes, turned out it was.
The situation was doubly sad, because Luke's mother, Carla, a good friend of mine, had died from cervical cancer in 2003. She was 43.
Carla was already divorced and remarried by this time, and living out in the midwest with her new husband. They were actively involved in their church, and she was talking about doing a clown ministry with her husband. That was July of 2003. By the end of August, she was gone. I found out the day we moved to Maine, about a 1/2 hr after I arrived. It was the first phone call I received in our new home.
I'm glad she wasn't here for this, even though I still miss her. It's bad enough for Steven. A parent shouldn't have to outlive their child. But death is never easy, no matter what time in your life it comes.
As I sat here today thinking about the past, I was surprised at how many memories I had with their family. I hadn't seen Luke since probably 1992. He would have been 9. We all attended the same church back then. His father was a sunday school teacher and my husband the sunday school superintendant. I can still remember seeing Luke, Steven and my husband talking after classes many Sundays . Steven eventually took my husband's place.
Luke was always a cheerful little fellow, who liked being with his parents. They were always so proud of him. Whenever they went anywhere, they almost always went together. I remember Cigi, their german shephard, and their farmhouse they were fixing up. They were making plans for the future, hoping eventually to open their home to children in need.
Steven and Carla held a 40th birthday party for my husband. That was so thoughtful of them, and it turned out great, with lots of friends attending. I'm glad I have pictures of the party and the cake they made. I even saved the birthday cards.
What strikes me most is the fact that 15 or 20 years ago, sitting in church with their family sitting behind us or in front of us most Sundays, we would never have guessed in a million years what events would eventually transpire. Not in a million years.
Some people want to know the future. I know I used to. Of course, I only wanted to know the good stuff. But you know what? Surprise me. I think I like it better that way.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Home is where the heart is...


LOVE this little red barn...

In my email today, there was a recipe from Gooseberry Patch promoting their new book, Coming Home. One of the sample pages showed lilacs in a white vase on a small table, and in the background was a part of a screen door showing.
In an instant, I could hear that screen door squeeking open, and banging shut on a warm summer day, while a breeze smelling of newly mown grass wafted through the screen into the house.

I want that screen door. Badly.
This search for a home is an emotional rollercoaster. One day, you dream big, and look at all the houses at your upper range and somewhat beyond. Just think what you could get if you could just afford a bit more payment...sigh.

The next day, reality sets in, and you realize what you forfeit if you max yourself out on your house payment. That newer vehicle in two years. That boat your husband has been aching for forever it seems. Trips, new furniture, a horse perhaps? All those extras that would make life a bit easier and more fun.
So then I start on the bottom end. What's the cheapest house out there that I could live with?

I start with anything on no less than 1/2 acre. I really want at least one acre. But, just for kicks, lets look anyway.

Huh. Not much. Major fixer uppers. Bad location. Busy highway. Dirt floor in basement with water. Nope. Can't do that with a husband who is asthmatic. The price keeps climbing, until suddenly you realize you are back at the upper range again, and still haven't found anything.
Well, maybe tomorrow. It's early yet, only March. Surely there will be something wonderful come on the market just for me, if I just have patience. I can't seem to make myself 'settle' for anything less.


1970's - David and I back on the farm in Indiana with Tippy before the new red pole barn was built. It was built back behind the fence in the background, and later we bought 3 calves - George, Tom and Frank - and Crickett, my beloved horse. We used the old Studebaker to transport leaves out back in the fall.


When you have grown up on farms, lived in neat old homes in the country, had horses, cows, etc., it sure is hard to go down from there.

Even the rental we are in is more than we can afford to buy. But it's hard not to compare where you currently live with what you'd like to buy.

Sigh...

Sometimes reality stinks.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Signs of Spring...



Since it hit 60F today, and rain is forecasted for the weekend, I thought I better get out there and do some spring clean up. I raked out all the flower beds, and made nice big piles of dead leaves, twigs, etc for my dear hubby to pick up later. I'm sure he will be thrilled. :0)


Autumn Joy Sedum peaking up through the ground
I was wondering the whole time if maybe I was pushing it a bit, since we are still going to have some nights below 32F. When I removed the leaves, there were definitely signs of spring, and signs of some plants of having overwintered green. There was still a bit of ice under the deeper piles of leaves at ground level, but I'm sure by the end of the weekend that will be gone too.

There are alot of branches and twigs down this year. We had to snow blow twice as much as last year, so that tells you how much extra snow we got this year.

I enjoyed reading Scary's http://scaryswest.blogspot.com/ blog yesterday. She has some awesome pictures on her site, and it was neat to read about her Montana life on a ranch. I was telling my mother about it, and made the comment that that is what I'm doing in one of my parallel universe lives.

Now, I really don't actually believe in parallel universes, don't get me wrong. But theoretically speaking, I sometimes envision my life as it might have been if I had taken a different path.

For instance. I had horses growing up and in my early married life. I love horses, so I had entertained being in a life that revolved around them, such as show jumping, barrel racing, or living out west on a ranch. In another path I would have been a National Geographic photographer. I love taking pictures, love all of nature. Beautiful photos can move me to laughter or tears. In another more realistic path, but still unlikely, I would own a quilt shop. I suppose I'm still not too old for any one of these, but, I'm afraid I'm just not feeling that ambitious at this point in my life. Sigh.

I am glad of the path I did take, and love my husband very much. This really isn't about that. This is more about self developement. With no children of my own, there really isn't much to hold me back except finances. And ambition. Which I wasn't over endowed with since birth. Now my husband on the other hand...well, lets just be glad someone in the family has it! LoL

Makes you think though. What would you be or do if there were no obstacles?

If money weren't an issue, there is alot I would do. We talk sometimes about 'what if' we won the lottery - big time. What would we do? How would our life be different? I think I would open a couple of businesses, or buy one. Two that interest me immediately is the quilt shop, and another is a diner. I love New England diners. We did own and operate a restaurant many years ago, but it wasn't a diner. It should have been. Maybe we'd still have it now. But that's another story.

Travel. Live on the water somewhere. Help out our families. Start a fund to help others adopt, which is a subject close to my heart. I really would love to help those who truly need it. It's fun to think about. Again, another unlikely event, but you never know.

The biggest hindrance now besides finances, is fear of failure. Once you have failed big, you never forget it, and it affects you for the rest of your life, because you realize you are not invincible, that everything does not always work out ok in the end, and it can really devastate you emotionally and financially.

Ok. On to happier thoughts. Did I mention I just did a crazy dance routine around the basement to the song of 'Can You Feel It Now' by Tremolo? Wow. That really gets the blood pumping. I think Max (my cat) thought I had gone off the deep end, and I'm sure the neigbors heard it inside their homes as I had it cranked. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mid March and no snow!

Most of our snow is finally gone! Yipee!! Just a spot or two in the woods or deep shade. Still in the 40's, but warmer next week. That's what I love about CT. The winters are alot shorter than northern Maine, or western NB, Canada. My folks just got another 6 inches this past weekend, and my brother in northern Maine said they have gotten 17 or 18 feet total this winter. The most since the 1950's! Wow! He's getting real tired of shovelling off all the roofs. I asked if he had a snow blower, and he said 'oh yea! I got it all! Tractor with plow, snowblower, shovel, etc.'

The kids next door are out playing on their trampoline today in their sock feet. I can't say I would let mine (if I had any) do that yet. Even though the sun is warmer, it's still only about 40F, and the wind is out of the north today.

There is a ton of debris on the ground to clean up this year. We had several storms this winter, lots of snow, and one storm in particular broke off alot of branches. The neighbors just cut down the whole tree since they had so much damage to it. We have 2 very large branches to cut up with the chainsaw, and a gazillion smaller and tiny branches to pick up. Oh joy...

We were wakened about 3am one morning this past week by a noise, that at first I couldn't define. Then I heard the glass in my birdfeeder rattle, and I knew instantly what was probably going on.

We sleep with our bedroom window cracked open all winter, with a down comforter and blankets. I love the layers, and fresh cooler air. Anyway, I knew my hubby was awake by hearing him clear his throat, so I jumped out of bed to see what I could out the window. I threw up the window, and in the moonlight, I could make out a large pear shape sitting on the railing by the suet feeder.
Darn. I forgot to bring it in last night.


While I was talking to him, saying he better get off the deck, I heard a whistling sound coming from 2 different directions out back. Just now, two more dark pear shapes come running up the stairs onto the deck, running around excitedly and grunting like little pigs!! I was amazed at what sounds raccoons could make. I yelled and hissed at them, telling them to scat, which after a moment did work.

At that point, my husband was saying 'Uh, I need to get up in a couple of hours and go to work! Could you go downstairs and do that?' I did apologize for getting carried away. It's not much fun if you can't share it with someone, even at 3am. He was very understanding - later that day. :0)

I saw the pear shapes running across the back lawn towards the woods, so I went downstairs to bring in the feeders.

I have brought in the suet feeder, but since the one feeder was empty and the other nearly, I left them last night. They finished off the one feeder. Apparently bird seed is a delicacy for raccoons?? :0))

I wish I had taken pictures, but at 3am, I wasn't really thinking about that until I got downstairs. By then they were gone. (The above picture is of the railing and bird feeder they were so interested in.)

Friday, February 29, 2008

Snow, Lunar eclipse, Jimmy Stewart and Quiche...

More snow!! I was so hoping we were done with all that. But no, here comes another 4 -8 inches. Oh joy. Well, better now than mid March?? But that can happen too. Being in New England, one must be prepared for the unexpected in regards to the weather.

The moon was absolutely huge last week. So beautiful.I did see part of the lunar eclipse the other night. Just a big orangy dark moon.

What was it Jimmy Stewart said about the moon in 'It's a Wonderful Life'? Something about: 'You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.' I loved that movie. I love Jimmy Stewart. He was fabulous in Mr. Deeds goes to Washington. I watched a remake of 'Harvey' last night, but it just wasn't the same without him. Leslie Neilson and Swoozie Kurtz did ok, but honestly, the lady who played Elwoods' sister in the originally was the best. There was something just honestly funny about the first one.

Speaking of old movies, I am trying to buy a copy of 'June Bride' with Robert Montgomery and Bette Davis. I loved that one! Set in Indiana (my home state), editors of a magazine, who are on again/off again lovers, go to do a photo shoot of a wedding in January I think, in an old victorian house. I would have loved to see that house in color. It was so quaint. I loved the scene about the apple cider. I hope they bring it out on DVD. Here's hoping...

Leap year. One extra day before spring. Not sure I like that...

I made Ham and Cheese Quiche this morning. I 'fell' out of bed at 5:30am, which is like unheard of for me. But for some strange reason, I have been waking about 5am or shortly before. My husband gets up about that time, and usually I sleep through and never hear him. So after 3 days of this, I decided to just get up. I hate to get up before the sun, but as I climbed into the shower, I could see an orange horizen where the sun was trying to rise. I actually like dawn, just never get to see it. :0)
Below is the recipe for the quiche. It really is good, and easy to make with Pillsbury pie crust. I have a good crust recipe, very flaky, but hate to make piecrust. It falls apart on me, it's so flaky. Bakes up nice though. The main thing is not to over handle it. Kind of like biscuits. Same idea.

Recipe for

HAM AND CHEESE QUICHE

1 pie crust
1 TB or so softened butter
5 eggs
1 1/4 C. Lite cream or 1/2 and 1/2
2 TB minced onion
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 C Ham, chopped
2 C Cheddar cheese, chopped

Preheat oven to 425F.
Prepare crust in 10 inch glass pie plate. Spread butter on bottom and up sides of pie crust.
Chill in freezer for 10 min.
In medium bowl, beat 5 eggs, then beat in cream, then add spices, onion, ham and cheese.
Pour into crust, making sure everything is evenly spread about.
Bake @ 425F for 15 MINUTES.
Then, lower temp to 325F for 35 - 45 min, or till knife comes out clean in center of pan.
Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Farms, flowers and moving...

We are finally preapproved. Now we can really search for a home. No more renting! Whoo hoo!
This time of year, the housing market is slow. New stuff is trickling on slowly. Hopefully March will likely bring more.

My wish list: In an ideal world, if I could afford it, I would love a farm. I envy those who are lucky enough to have an acreage in the country. I grew up on farms. The first one, in the midwest, was 40 acres. The second one was a 100 acre farm in NB, Canada. Another place we owned had 17. (I tell my parents it's all their fault. I was raised on a farm, and now nothing less will do. :0)) I don't expect that much, especially here with land being so expensive, but 1 - 5 would certainly be nice.



Me, when I was 12, with Crickett. Wow, was I really that slim?! Those were the good old days...


One acre would allow me to get a horse again. I haven't owned horses in over 10 years. I figure it's now or never, because I'm in my 40's already and plus it would be a great source of exercise. (yes the horse does most of it, but really, if you aren't in good shape, you will be SO sore!)
I would love a bit of pasture or hay field, even next door, so that in haying season, the deeply satisfying scent of newmown hay would waft through my house. It brings back such great memories of peaceful moments in our old barn.
I had always wanted a big old rambling farmhouse with good bones that I could make my own. Now that I'm older, I'm thinking a bit smaller, and better insulated. Oil prices are skyrocketing as I type this.
Oh, mustn't forget the garage. A nice two car garage for my husband. And a barn for me. A little potting shed would be a bonus, but we could always build one if we have to.
Anyway, that is my dream. I'll be lucky to get an acre here. Much less a barn. Oh well. At least we can actually buy something now. I can't wait. I am excited about planting gardens, both veggie and flower gardens. Maybe some fruit trees, shrubs, etc. I'm going to take my flowers that I brought here with me to our new place - they will finally have a permanent home. I love flowers. I love to buy them, plant them, dig them up and plant them again. I want one of each please. :0)
Must be that 'midwest farm girl' thing. It never leaves you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Huge white fluffy flakes...

Snowing again. Big fat fluffy flakes. The pretty kind. They are actually about the size of a silver dollar. Some are 2 or 3 connected together. The temps must be right around freezing. The weather front is supposed to last another day, rain and snow. I have nowhere pressing to go, so I think I will just snuggle in (in front of the computer, of course!) and enjoy. :0)

PS: Oh! Big news item. We got preapproved today! Yay! Now we are official serious home buyers. Now, if the interest rate would just go down again, and home prices drop 50%, we'd be all set...sigh.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hebron High School...

Wow. Seeing my old school's homepage and that hawk logo sure brought back alot of memories.

We had such a great basketball team back then. We even went to state semi finals. Lost out to a big city team - maybe Indianapolis? We would have won the prize for team spirit though. We had tons of it!
We would decorate the school hallways with posters and streamers, etc. before a big game.
There was a wooden 'keg' that was passed around like a trophy, to whichever school won the game. If your team won, it would be painted in your school colors, and you could keep the keg until the another school won. It was an immense source of pride to our school, and was kept in our schools' display case, painted in our red and white colors with the hawk on front. I believe we had it much of the time.

I played in the pep band, so I got in free to all the home games. The away games that I couldn't get to I listened to on WLS Chicago radio station. I never forgot those call letters, even though I moved from the area in 1979. Funny how you can remember such details from back then, and then can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday. lol.
Oh the joys of being over 40.

I yelled myself hoarse at those games. We had great cheerleaders, a great pep band, and a great team of guys. Overtime was almost overwhelming, it was so wrapped in emotion. Of course, in the Midwest, basketball is big stuff.

When we moved to NB, Canada in 1979, basketball wasn't nearly as big back then. They had just built a centrally located high school a couple of years before to consolidate all the nearby towns which had their own elementary and middle schools. Now, these small towns had been highly competitive with each other for many many years, and suddenly in grade 10, they were all supposed to be on the same team. It has taken years to develop team spirit for Carleton North High School. 25 years later, basketball is much a much bigger sport there now. My nephew, my 2 nieces, and my grandson all play. I wish I could attend them, but 9 hours each way is a long way to go for a game. :0)

I still don't think there is the hoopla that we had back then. Our entire school lives revolved around basketball. I don't think that was a bad thing. Kids need something to focus on besides school work. It made going to school more fun, and created more cohesiveness amongst the students. It didn't matter what grade you were in, if you loved basketball, you had something in common. And that's very important in school.

"Those were the days, my friend...I thought they'd never end..."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Homemade Bread...


There is just something so homey and satisfying about the smell of freshly baked bread. I have a loaf in my oven just about ready to come out. It smells so good! And I'm not even a bread person, really.

I have made homemade bread for probably 20 - 25 years. Shortly after I was married, my girlfriend's mom gave me her recipe for both brown and white bread. It was a 6 loaf recipe, which at that time I made by hand. There were no bread makers back then that I recall. I would bake it and then freeze all but one loaf. I usually alternated - brown one week, white the next. I still do.

Now I just use the bread recipes that came with my bread machine. They are for a 2 lb. loaf.
Here's my:
WHITE BREAD RECIPE:

1 2/3 cup of milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TB butter, softened
4 C. bread flour
1 1/2 TB sugar
2 tsps. active dry yeast.

This is my process:
First, add hot water to your bread pan to warm it while you heat the milk.
Take a 2 cup glass measuring cup and add the milk. Cut 2 TB butter into milk, and microwave mixture for 2 minutes. (If very hot, let cool slight.) (Set time back to 1 min 45 sec if you have a real hot microwave)
Remove hot water from bread pan.
Add milk and butter mix.
Measure in salt.
Add 4 cups bread flour,
then sugar,
then yeast on top.

Put pan in breadmaker and use the 'dough' setting. Mine is for about 1 1/2 hours.
At the beginning of cycle, keep an eye on the dough while mixing to make sure it is all getting mixed in. I use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides if needed. Add more flour if necessary, 1 TB at a time, letting each one mix in before adding another. Dough should be soft, but not too sticky.
(If your pan in banging around, you likely have too much flour, so add a couple tsps of warm water while in your first mixing cycle. Make sure you have enough minutes left to work in whatever you add. Worst case scenario, you can always remove the dough after the first mixing cycle is over, and knead it on your counter to make it correct.)

After the 'dough cycle' is over, grease a couple of regular bread pans with Crisco shortening. (I use one long loaf pan).
I knead the dough for a few seconds on the counter in a bit of flour and divide into two loaves. Add to bread pans, cover with dish towel and set in warm place. (I set mine on the stove. Not turned on, but it seems to work.)
After dough has doubled or so, preheat oven to 375F. Bake for 28 minutes.
You might have to adjust the time depending on how hot your stove is. A minutes either way isn't going to hurt it. The loaf should be a nice golden brown color, and should sound hollow when you tap gently on top of the loaf.
Turn out the loaf on the dish towel you used to cover it with. It should leave the pans with no difficulty if you greased them first. If it sticks alot, your loaf may not be cooked long enough. Bake for another 2 or 3 minutes. Once in awhile, mine will stick because I missed an area.
After removing from pans, I take a stick of butter from the fridge and rub the end of the butter stick over the tops of the loaves, just until shiny. This softens the crust a bit. Let cool completely before storing.
Any questions, just email me. Hope your bread turns out great!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Everything by Lighthouse

I thought I'd post the the lyrics to the video from Youtube that I have posted here on my page. This video is about how you can get distracted by the cares of life, and the wretched state we can get into before we look up is all too real. Seeing Christ represented as taking everything upon Himself for my sake reminds me once again how great His love is for me. It moves me deeply every time I watch this.
Click on the title of this post to go to the Youtube site. It's better viewed there in a bigger format.
EVERYTHING
By Lifehouse, Album: No Name Face

Find Me Here
Speak To Me
I want to feel you
I need to hear you
You are the light
That's leading me
To the place where I find peace again.
You are the strength, that keeps me walking.
You are the hope, that keeps me trusting.
You are the light to my soul.
You are my purpose...you're everything.

How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

You calm the storms, and you give me rest.
You hold me in your hands, you won't let me fall.
You steal my heart, and you take my breath away.
Would you take me in? Take me deeper now?

How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

And how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?
Cause you're all I want, You're all I need
You're everything,everything
You're all I want, your all I need
You're everything, everything.
You're all I want you're all I need.You're everything, everything
You're all I want you're all I need, you're everything, everything.

And how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?
How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?