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!


Monday, December 21, 2009

It came, but...

it only deposited about 4 inches of snow here in central CT. Eastern MA and RI got nailed, though. Up to 20 inches in the Cape. We didn't really get the winds this far inland either. I guess this isn't a bad thing, LoL.
What is it with the holiday blues? I was all psyched up in November. I had nostalgic sentimental fantasies about how wonderful it was going to be here for Christmas this year. My parents are coming, so we won't be alone. This is wonderful! And I am so glad they are coming, and I'm sure we will have a good time. Really, that hasn't got a whole lot to do with my present mood though. Seems I go through this every year, no matter whether we stay or go. I seem to have lost the Christmas spirit about the first week of December. Where did it go?
Ok. Maybe I overdid it on the Christmas music, starting before Thanksgiving. I'm not exactly tired of it, but, perhaps the initial thrill is over. Perhaps once this week is over, and the house is cleaned and the baking done, I will be a bit less stressed and looking forward to just relaxing. That's it. I just need to start cleaning this house and work on the baking. Alright then.
Ummm... did I mention I am not fond of cleaning? And maybe my baking list is just a wee bit too long. I just love making lists, but the reality is, I always bite off more than I can chew. And subconsciously, I know this. Perhaps that's the 'stress button' going off in the back of my brain somewhere. I mean, how much can 4 people possibly eat?! Let me rephrase that. How much SHOULD 4 people possibly eat? Let's face it. Overloading on carbs and sweets just makes every one tired and cranky by the 2nd or 3rd day. Been there, done that. And buying enough appetizers to feed a herd of elephants, well, perhaps I should whittle that list down a bit too. I will just spend too much, and throw half of it away. Ok, maybe not 'throw' it away, as much as stuff ourselves so we don't waste it. :0)
Only one thing to do then. Where's the broom and mop bucket?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Nor'easter on it's way!

It's that time of year, especially for New England. A nor'easter is working it's way up the seaboard. We are forecasted to get 7 - 12 inches, but could be locally higher. They are saying it could be near blizzard conditions on the Mass coast and RI. Wow...
Usually, though, we don't get these kinds of storms until after Christmas. But the last couple of winters have proven otherwise. Seems last year we had snow at Thanksgiving, and it never did go away. We are also having quite cold temps here. Down in the teens at night, and 20 - 30's daily. We cycle up and down, week to week, it seems in temps. Having lived in other parts of New England, it's always interesting to see the different influences from the Canadian artic air and the warmer coastal breezes. Usually the coast influences our area here in CT, but we do get a the occasional blast from the north.
My parents, OTH, get much colder temps in the winter than we do. It's been 0 F up there already, and of course, will get much colder at night as the winter wears on. Even further north, up in Aroostook County, Maine, you can expect more frigid temps, getting as low as -30F. I do remember one winter we had a low of -35 to -40, and no vehicles would start. Even plugged in. Fortunately, my hubby lived near work, and walked up the hill to the shop. But even then, a 15 or 20 minute walk in sub zero temps can be dangerous if you aren't adequately protected.
With a tank full of oil, a bucket of water for the flush, misc. containers of drinking water, some fire logs and maple logs on hand, we are ok for a day or so if things should get bad. Fireplaces are not very efficient, but it will do in a pinch. We'd love a wood stove, but since we are renting, we have no choice in that. We can only hope that the power doesn't go off. If it does, the worst I have seen is about 7 hours here. Usually 3 - 5. If I know a storm is coming, I've learned to jack up the heat a bit just in case, as then it will take longer for the house to cool off. Saving on heat during a storm isn't a very good idea, I've learned.
We insulated the house more this winter, putting plastic over a number of windows and doors. For a house built in the mid 80's, it's very drafty! It was built by a construction company that literally threw up a number of houses at a time, and with no one on site to really monitor things, I would say that the insulation around the doors and windows is very minimal. Plus, never mind the fact that after 20 years, one should be looking at replacing doors and windows for something much more efficient. Oh well, we've weatherstripped and plasticized the best we can for a rental.
Well, this will be short. We are going to a local Christmas concert this afternoon held at the middle school. I'll let you know how it goes. Have a warm and cozy weekend!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Welcome Abigail Julienne!
Last night, a small bundle of blessing arrived in our family. I now have a new niece! After many hours of labor, she arrived, weighing 7 lbs. 6 oz. After a long and difficult labor, her exhausted mom and quite stressed dad are very glad she's here. She is fine in every way.
I can't wait to meet her! My brother is going to email pics as soon as he gets a chance. I'm sure every moment he has free will be at the hospital until they come home. My parents will go up Sunday to see her. I told them 'LOTS OF PICTURES!!' Since my folks are coming down for Christmas, I'm sure I will get to see several then, if not before.
Boy, it's mighty hard being 9 hours away during a time like this.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First storm of the season today...

We received about 6 or 7 inches early this morning, now followed by ice pellets. Perhaps rain a bit later today. Lovely. I filled a few containers with water just in case the power went off, and turned up the heat a bit more than usual. Today is not the day to skimp on heat. That way it will take longer to lose heat if the power should fail. And it seems that happens more often than not here in Connecticut. Could be due to the numerous trees that line our many roads. We can lose power in most moderate rain storms, with or without wind. I lived several years in Maine and New Brunswick, but never lost power like we do here. Of course, they've cut down the trees alot up there too, and the road crews are very diligent about keep the ditches cleared of new growth. Trees grow faster and easier here in this more moderate climate.
We went and got our tree this past weekend. It sits naked in all it's pine glory here in my living room, waiting to be adorned. I usually give it a few days for the branches to settle a bit, so the ornaments won't fall off as the tree adjusts to a warmer climate. Then I always feel I need to clean the living room before cluttering it up with the many boxes of decoration, which I keep in large plastic tubs. I think I will try to bring up just one at a time, starting with the lights first, followed by garland, then ornaments. I keep meaning to get a new star for the top, but can never seem to find the one I want, or it's too much money. Oh well. Maybe during the local after-Christmas sales I will find one. I guess I will just use my old many lighted silvert tinsel star again this year.I am listening to Christmas music online at KLVV.com. They play nothing but Christian music, and at this time of year, all Christmas Christian music. Such a great variety out there! Sometimes they throw a few classics in too, like Bing Crosby. One of my new favorites is 'It Came Upon A Midnight Clear' by Josh Groban. I just LOVE the chorus at the end. It's like getting a peek at the angels singing before the throne. I get so blessed by it.
I am so glad I finished clearing my plants off the deck last weekend, storing the last two heavy pots in the garage. I tossed the contents of 4 window boxes this year, as we plan to move in the spring and I didn't want to lug those heavy things. And most likely they wouldn't do well next spring anyway. I saved a really nice geranium, a few lantanas, a neat pink mum (I forget the name, but it's a bit different than the traditional fall mums) and a couple of others I forget the names of. I try to remember to water them once a month until spring, then hope for the best. I've had a bit of luck, some years better than others. I keep them in the garage next to a north window (the only one). I had a neat idea this year. I have an old wooden step ladder, so I just put them up on the steps so they are mostly off the floor and take up less space. Also gives them more equal access to the limited sunlight.
Well, the tree is calling. I better finish cleaning up the livingroom and get one of the boxes in the storeroom. My parents are coming Christmas day (from 9 hours away) to stay for a week, so I have a good excuse to really decorate this year.
Happy decorating!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Turkey Day #2...

Today, I simmered the turkey carcass (isn't that an awful word?!) to make stock. It will make a nice turkey soup.

I also made the Stovetop stuffing. Since we eat our biggest meal at lunch time, it was no big deal that I didn't get it done yesterday. Plus I didn't have it until my honey brought it home last night from the store on his way home from work. (Did I mention we are a one car family now? No? Topic for another post...)
I like to make my stuffing in muffin tins. We like it slightly crunchy, not too mushy, and this method helps crunch it up a bit. I mix it up with the 1 1/2 cups of hot water like it calls for in the microwave method. This I spoon it lightly into greased muffin cups, don't pack it. (can't remember if I greased them last time, but this time I did, and it was fine)
Bake it on 350F for about 20 minutes. 25 minutes was too long, as it started to get a bit too crunchy/chewy at that point. You can either serve them individually, or just scoop them out into a bowl.

I guess we will be eating turkey dinner for a couple of days. I just love leftovers like these, don’t you?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

No, it's not Turkey day yet...

...at least, not officially. However, since our local Stop N Shop were selling turkeys at .47/lb. this week, we couldn't resist purchasing one. A 12 lb. turkey for $6.00. How could we not?
I did have my doubts while still at the store on my ability to get it into the freezer when arriving home. I was right. It would not go in.
So yesterday was our turkey day. I roasted the turkey, made mashed potatoes (always mashed with butter and milk into a lovely creamy consistency), baked a squash, and made gravy. (and did 3 loads of laundry, mopped the floors, and washed numerous dishes - the part of cooking I'm not fond of)
We are going to be alone on Thanksgiving, just my dear hubby and I, so it won't be that big of deal not doing the whole thing on that day. I am going to freeze some turkey in a bit of broth, because when it thaws, it's kind of mealy and dry, especially the white meat. I'm hoping this works better. If any of you have a few good ideas on freezing cooked turkey, let me know.

I roasted the turkey in my old porcelain enamel roaster. I always roast it covered, then uncover it the last 1/2 hr or so to get a nice color and crisp it up. I have read of doing it in an open roaster on a rack, but since I don't have one, and this has served me well for 27 years, I guess I'll just keep doing it unless someone can convince me otherwise. I also always continue cooking it past the pop-up timer. I like a nice tender turkey, and find the timers cook the turkey or chicken to a bare minimum. I added about a cup and a half of water and a medium chopped onion to the turkey while roasting. I sprinkled the turkey with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, and just a touch of dried sage. I then sprayed it with cooking oil. (I have this nifty spray can that you can refill with cooking oil - it works like a can of Pam)

I baked a buttercup squash to go with turkey. We also love candied sweet potatoes, but I think I will save that for another turkey day. I tried something different with the squash. I followed the method given on the accompanying label, and it worked great.
I usually cut it in half (with a chainsaw. Just kidding. :0) I did have to use a hammer to tap my large knife down through it - it was a tough one!), scoop out the seeds, and proceed to peel it. That is one tough job. No wonder I only cook squash once or twice a year! Then boil it covered in water til done.

This time, I did cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Then I laid it cut side down on a baking sheet and baked it for 40 minutes on 350F. I did end up adding 5 or 10 minutes. It came out ready to fall apart. I let it cool for a few minutes, then scooped out the soft orange squash into a bowl, mashed in some butter (always real butter!) and that was it. It was the best I've ever made. No peeling hard skin,chasing slippery squash and pounding hammers. No more watery squash. I think I'll be making it much more often now. :0)

I made gravy from the broth created from roasting the turkey. I pour the turkey juice into a pot and heat it to boiling on the stove. I mix flour and cold water together in a separate dish, mixing well with a whisk. It should be a slightly thick mixture, not thin and watery. Don't add too much water, just enough to dissolve the flour and keep it from lumping. Cold water is a must. Then I whisk it into the boiling mixture, using a thin stream and whisking madly. This works for me and I don't usually have any lumps. The other way is to ladle about 2 cups of broth into a container, cool it well, and then mix your thickening into it, a little at a time, until you can safely whisk the cooled broth/thickener into the hot mixture without cooking it into lumps. As for flavoring, salt and pepper of course, but first I add a few teaspoons of chicken bouillon mix, the kind that comes moist in a jar that has to be refrigerated. How much depends on how flavorful the stock already is and many cups of liquid you are dealing with. I taste it as I go. I also add a few drops of Kitchen Bouquet. Not too much, or it will darken the gravy too much. Adds a nice bit of flavor. You can always add a just a bit more onion flavor too.
I like to keep things pretty simple, and do the turkey dinner much the way my mother always did. Sometime, I'm going to try and make my own cranberry relish to go with my turkey dinner. Did I tell you I just got a Cuisinart 7 cup food processor?...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Surviving in weedy pastures...

I am compelled to write about a subject that has concerned me many times in the past. Last summer, while on vacation up in Maine, we toured quite a few back roads.
On this particular trip, we saw quite a few horses in various fields. What struck me most, and saddened me, was seeing them kept in what could be loosely termed as 'pasture'. (some didn't even get this, but that is for another post)
Apparently, people seem to think horses like weeds. As long as they look out their window and see green, and their horses' head down eating, they think everything is ok. Lots of green stuff out there yet.
So many people who own horses don't do their homework first. Horses eat grass - not weeds. They are not goats. That is why you sometimes see so much 'green' stuff still out there.
Have you taken the time lately to walk around your pasture, noting what it's comprised of? What condition it's in. Is the real grass grazed to mere nubs? What is the percentage of grass to weeds? Horses need nutrition. They can literally be starving to death in a field of green.
Have you done soil samples? Have you fertilized it? Horse manure can be a great inexpensive fertilizer when composted.
Are you seeing more brown patches than green? Is the soil holding water well, too well, or not enough? Different grasses provide different nutrients. Check to see which are best for horses and what mix is suitable for your area.

Please, horse owners, take responsibility for your fields. Go to the library and read up on pasture management. Go online and do some research. Your horse is relying on you to take care of them. Sure, they might survive on what you see above. But do you want to just 'survive' on substandard or inadequate food? You will get a much happier, healthier horse if it thrives, instead of just surviving. You will save money in vet costs and even in replacing your horse, if you take better care of it.
I love horses. I have owned several over the years. And I too have been guilty of poor pasture management in my younger years, because I couldn't 'see' what was right in front of my eyes.
Although this is not a comprehensive article on pasture management, I do hope I've intrigued you enough to see what's growing in your own back yards, regardless of what animals may be pastured there.
So take a walk around your pasture. Really see it from a horses' perspective. Do your research and plan your pasture management. Your horse will thank you. So will I.

Below are a few links I found doing a quick search regarding pasture management to get you started. Your best place to start would probably be your local extension office.
Minnesota Extension Office. an excellent site on pastures
New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
Horse Pasture Maintenance
HorseQuest Online Learning

Friday, October 30, 2009

Good Friday Morning!

I got an email today letting me know about a give away over at Prairie Flower Farm. She is giving away the sweetest window, pictured above. If you haven't already visited her, go on over. Or you can click on her button here on my blog.

And while you are there, skip on over to her other site, Peace Creek Collections, where she has the most adorable Clothespin Bag available for sale, featuring her own fabric line, Farmer's Market. I am in love with this fabric and bag!

Be sure to check out her other sweet gift ideas you can also purchase from this site.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dad's emails...

Today I am going through and deleting old forwards in my email program. I do this periodically, especially after I've sent them, to keep things neat and tidy.
I have separate folders for emails from family members and special friends to keep their emails for rereading later. I like to have them for a reference, and also, for sentimental value.
This is especially true of my father's folder. (Mom doesn't email, we talk on the phone.) I have about a couple of years' worth of emails, many of them just a few lines. But almost all of them contain the words " We love you" in some shape or form.
I don't know about you, but each time I read these, it brings tears to my eyes.
My dad is 78. He is in good health. But at his age, I don't know how long I will have him with me. I couldn't bear to just delete these small emails that contain so much in just a few words.

So today, while going through his folder, I decided I would open a blank word document, and copy and paste each of these small emails, along with their date, to save and print out as a keepsake. Some day, I'm going to need these words.
I am thinking I would also like to scrapbook them. Just cut out the two or three lines of each email, and work them into a collage of sorts, along with photos of him. A father's page. Doesn't that sound like a good idea?
I wish I'd thought of this years ago, but, I am thankful I thought of it before deleting all these emails.

Is there someone special in your email box whose words mean a lot to you? That you want to keep forever? Some day , I may be old and alone, and feeling lost, and I can read these words of love again:


Fri 4/27/2007 6:52

hi susan,
mom and i just looked at your web-site with all the pictures. you were right, it did take some time to down-load the pictures but it was worth it. you did an excellent job of organizing and captioning all. you have a special talent and we are proud of you. of coures, we love you and Rick very much too. mom and dad

Mon 7/2/2007 7:39 pm

...I also wanted to thank you for the nice father's day card. Hope to see you soon. We love you guys. Dad

Mon 7/9/2007 8:11 pm

Hi Honey,
.... We love you very much. Hope to see you soon. Dad

Wed 10/24/2007 6:35 pm

...The pictures you sent were good Honey. We like the one where you were smiling the best. We love you very very much. Dad

Ok, I need a kleenex now.

Be Blessed.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Poinsettia wallhanging...

I found a pattern for a beautiful poinsettia wallhanging today while shopping at my local Stop and Shop. I bought the magazine, because there was no way I was going to remember all the directions to making one. I had a pattern I thought I could modify, but you know, when a magazine is 6.99, and has several patterns in it, and one pattern is more than that in a quilt shop, it made sense today to buy this. I usually stick with APQ and Fons and Porter, but in this issue of 'Quilting For Christmas' by 'The Quilter' magazine was this really nice pattern by Lennie Honcoop, called 'Crystal Poinsettias'. It's a wall quilt, with two poinsettias, one white, one red, with leaves in the center, with 2 borders. But what stood out to me was the fact they use 'hot ribbon' (which I've never heard of) and Swarovski crystals in it. The crystals add texture and light to the centers of the flowers. I love it!! Copic markers are also used to give it depth and highlights. It's a beautiful and creative twist on a classic.
You can view the other projects in this issue at their website here. You can order this issue here.
I hope to make this sometime this winter for my mother. She would love this. However, right now all my quilting stuff is packed away in the furnace store room in the basement, waiting for the carpet people to come and install new carpet in the basement. They were supposed to come yesterday. Then I got a call from them about the time they were supposed to be here saying the carpet layer was taken ill. He's out of commission for a few days, and they don't know at this point when they will get my carpet laid.
I really have no say in this, because we rent, and the landlady already paid for this carpet awhile ago. There goes the bargaining power. I've been waiting 3 weeks as it is, and have stuff sitting in my kitchen because there is no room elsewhere in the meantime.
Not that I don't sympathize with the carpet dude. I do. I hope he feels better soon. 'Cause I can't wait to get my sewing back out again!! :0)) Have a great fall weekend!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wool Pincushions

Wool Pincushions

Found this sweet little pincushion on the Better Homes and Gardens website today. It's adorable! There are several other patterns available for free download. You can find them here.
I can't wait to make these!

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Autumn Days...

Chickadee at my bird feeder
I was just remarking the other day that I hadn't seen any Juncos or White Throated Sparrows yet. We always get them at the bird feeders in the fall, working their way from further north. I always enjoy the Juncos, with their bellies dipped in white paint, and the white throated sparrow, with his 'Here Tom Peep-i-tee Peep-i-tee Peep-i-tee' call. At least that is what my family has always called them. I love to see and hear them rustling their way through fallen leaves and under brush, with their hop-jumping backwards to unearth tasty finds.
So when I walked out on my deck this morning as the sun was coming up, guess what I heard? You got it - the clear notes of the White Throated Sparrow singing his Tom song. I'm sure it won't be long now before the Juncos arrive too. Some of the many sounds of fall, along with the call of the Canadian Geese as they fly overhead, looking for local ponds to stop over at.

I love the smell of fallen leaves, the cool crispness of the air this time of year. We worked on gathering up fallen leaves on Saturday, loading the back of the truck freely with leaves, forgoing the bags this year. We pack them in under the tonneau cover, then deliver
them to our local landfill. We noticed a bumper crop of acorns this year. It could be because of the noticeable growth in our oak tree out front. In the last 3 years, there has been quite an expansion of the trunk and height of the tree. Either we've had good growing years, or it's really benefited from the runoff of fertilizer from my flowers nearby. We are bombed daily by the acorns as we come and go up the driveway to get the mail - I briefly thought of getting my hubby's hard hat to wear! Lol
Even worse is the boink I hear as the acorns bounce off the neighbors cars parked in their yard. They too have an oak tree that must have a bumper crop, as I don't think I noticed it nearly as much last year. Hmmmm... do you think that spells another long and snowy winter?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Whole Wheat Brown Bread with Bran

I tried a new bread recipe this week in my breadmaker. I combined a couple of recipes and added to them. The bread turned out really nice!

Here's the recipe:


1 2/3 Cup Milk
2 TB Butter
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
3 TB Molasses
2 C. White Flour
2 C. Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 - 1 C. 100% Bran Cereal
2 TB. Unprocessed Bran
2 tsp. Sugar
2 tsp. Active Dry Yeast

Measure milk and butter into 2 cup glass measure. Micro on high for 1 min 50 sec to 2 minutes.
Pour into breadmaker pan.
Add rest of ingredients in order given.
Process in breadmaker on dough cycle. This is 1 1/2 hrs on my bread machine.
Remove dough from breadmaker pan, punch down and knead 3 or 4 times on lightly floured counter. I found that I barely needed to knead this dough, it was just about perfect as it was.

Grease 2 bread pans, or one long loaf pan. Divide dough, plan in the 2 pans, or end to end in long loaf pan.
Cover with a tea towel, let rise in a warm place (usually on my stove top) until double, about 30 - 40 minutes.
Bake in preheated oven on 375 F. for about 25 - 27 minutes. Remove from pans onto tea towel, brush tops with butter, and let cool.

NOTES: I used 1/2 cup of bran cereal, but want to try 1 cup next time.
You may be able to omit the extra sugar and get the same results, but maybe try it this way first.
If you like, you can fill your breadmaker pans with hot water while you warm your milk mixture in the microwave. Helps to heat the pans, especially if the room is cold, and you won't lose the heat from your milk mixture so fast.

I would love to hear from you if you make this recipe and let me know how it turned out. Any suggestions? It does have lots of flavor. I am thinking I might try maybe 2 TB of molasses next time, but don't want to sacrifice the tenderness or moistness of this bread. Maybe sometime I will use 3 cups whole wheat and 1 cup of white and see how that turns out. I am trying to incorporate more whole wheat flour into my baking, and get away from all white flour, except when it's really necessary. You can also make this recipe using honey instead of molasses. It will probably be lighter in color, and a bit different flavor. I'm going to try that sometime. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Happy Baking!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's a Good Day today.

I am celebrating today. A knock at the front door announced the arrival of my hubby's passport. Woo Hoo!!!
We had to apply for a Canadian passport from here in the U.S. to Gatineau, QC, where the passport office is located. The paperwork was much more extensive than applying for a U.S. passport.
I downloaded the required paperwork off the Internet, filled it out, had it notarized, and made a copy for my records. Thank the Lord we have a notary public at work who's known him for over 2 years, as that is one of the requirements. It had to be someone in a very limited list of professions, and this person was the only one who fit the bill.
The photos were done at MotoPhoto. Bless her heart, she had to put up with my anxiety over making sure they were perfect, as the Canadian passport photo requirements are very exacting and different from the U.S. requirements. I was so anxious about the photos after reading online about other people having theirs' rejected. Warnings were made about finding a good professional photo studio and not to use Wal-mart, JCPenney, etc, because they weren't really set up for the Canadian specifications and had a high rejection rate. MotoPhoto was recommended on one site and I was thrilled to find one locally.

When I got ready to send them in, I realized there was no place to put the credit card information, as that was easier than getting a certified check. So I called their office in Quebec.
Thank goodness I did! I had the wrong form filled out. The difference was subtle - I needed form 041 rather than 040. It was a bit confusing on their web page. So I downloaded the correct forms, filled them out, had them notarized again, copied again, and this time decided to include a photocopy of my husbands' Alien card, which he received when we moved here, as well as the copy of his driver's license. I am thinking that this was the kicker that helped get everything approved so quickly.
I rechecked everything at least three times, and decided to send it overnight courier, as the mail to Canada is slow, about 8 days.
The current processing time is 4 weeks after they receive it. Since we were leaving on the 5th to go up north, I put that date as the date we wanted to go to Canada. We figured there was no way to get the passport back in time for the trip, so we just planned on staying on this side of the border this time.
Well! It arrived TODAY! Exactly 10 DAYS from the day I sent it out. Isn't that wonderful?! I just couldn't believe it when the FedEx guy showed up at the door. After my happy dance and a call to my hubby with the good news, I started reflecting on the process and it's expedient arrival.

I remembered that I was so anxious on the way over to the courier, that I started telling myself that I had done everything I could to make sure it would be accepted. That at this point, all I could do was pray, and that it was up to them.
So I did. I just prayed over that package, asking the Lord to please make it acceptable to them. I was willing for it not to be if I had made a mistake. That couldn't be helped. After that, I tried to relax and not obsess over something I couldn't change at that point.
I am trying to be more conscience about my thought process, as I tend to obsess over stuff like this, and it just takes so much energy and time over something I really can't control. I need to just do my best, and trust Him more.
This point was really driven home when I thought about the fact that I had first filled out the wrong paperwork. It had to be Him that prompted me to call and not just go to the bank for a certified check. It had to be Him who prompted me to include the copy of the Alien Card, which I just didn't think of the first time. I thought the driver's license would be enough. And maybe it would have been. But I am glad I included it anyway.
I am thinking how much He must love us, if He uses such a small thing like this to drive home the point that I need to TRUST Him more, even in the little things. Sure would save a lot of anxiety on my part. And I would be thrilled to spend less time being anxious. :0)
What some would call 'coincidence', I see God's hand in it. After all these years of being a Christian, I am still learning about trust. And today, I am so thankful that He is still teaching me...after all these years.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

East Grand Lake - northwest end
I am so excited!!! We've rented a cottage on East Grand Lake. We are going up north Labor Day weekend for a week.
We've talked about this for years. We've hemmed and hawed, because we just didn't want to spend the money when we could always stay with family. But this year, we were late in applying for our passports, so we can't go across to Canada. And my hubby needs a vacation badly. So we said, let's do it! And I am so looking forward to this.
East Grand Lake is about 25 miles long, and is on the border of Maine and New Brunswick, Canada. The cottage has all the comforts of home. Plus a canoe, kayaks, and row boat. Hopefully I will be posting pictures when we get back. I am really looking forward to fishing, boating, campfires, and there is a screened gazebo by the water- great for reading or stitching!

Our family all lives within a couple of hours, so they can come visit and stay for the night. It will be so relaxing and fun.
Oh yes, there is a wood stove in the living room, which is great, because it will be quite cool at night up there in September. I love the autumn with the crisp temperatures and turning leaves.

Ok, you can see how excited I am about this, especially after the warm temps and humidity we've had recently. Although it's been cooler and drier the past couple of days, partly due to the fact it's been a full moon and the wind has swung around to the north. But that will change on Tuesday - they are calling for 90! Yikes!!

I was ready to go yesterday, sigh...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How to convert an oatmeal bread recipe to brown bread...

I recently wrote an article on eHow entitled: How to make Oatmeal Brown Bread with your bread machine. I didn't actually include a recipe, as you are going to use the Oatmeal Bread recipe that came with your machine. This way, if your machine only uses 1 to 1 1/2 lb. loaf recipes, my 2 lb. loaf recipe won't overflow your bread pan. The oatmeal bread recipe needs to contain honey. To find out more, just click on the above article link. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Recipe needed for CHEWY Pumpkin Bars please!

(Max, my beloved and very spoiled cat)

This is a call for recipes for CHEWY Pumpkin Bars! I have searched the internet, but have yet to find a recipe for this. All of them seem to be the 'cakey' version. They are nice too, but lately I've been fantasizing about bars that resemble peanut butter bars in texture. You know, the nice chewy moist kind?
Is there a pumpkin bar like this out there? I'd love to hear about them if they are. Please share your recipe with me so I can satisfy this craving and move on to the next one! LoL!

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's the middle of summer...

...and we haven't had a major heat wave yet! Yay!!!! It's actually not been bad, really. Usually, we've had 90's by now, maybe even upper 90's.
I know there's still time left in July, and August could bring us some really hot days.
I'm hoping not. I don't like intense heat, and even more, I HATE to sweat! I really dislike the tacky feeling I get when the temperatures are soaring, and the humidity is climbing.
I guess it's too many years spent up north, must have thickened my blood too much. Perhaps?

I didn't really mind all the rain and cloudy weather in June, except for the fact it brought the slugs out in droves, and they ate my plants. Not happy about that. Nope. The plants survived, though, albeit some were nearly leafless.
My poor columbine's were attacked by some very green worms. They were the exact same color
as the leaves they were eating, so they were very hard to see.
I noticed the plant was nearly defoliated before spraying them, and when I sprayed, a bunch of little green worms showed up writhing in the soil below. I know, I was really mean to those poor worms.
But you should see my poor columbine!! It was TOTALLY defoliated at this point. It was skeletonized.
It has since tried to recover, sending up tiny little leaves about 3 inches tall. At least it survived, and should come back good as new next spring. They were gorgeous this year.

I bought another color/variety of columbine at the end of season sale, brought it home, admired it again, and proceed to pull the crown out of the plant while trying to loosen it from the pot, as it was quite rootbound.

I was heartbroken. That is the first time that's happened to me. I am usually so careful.

First, I had out of town company coming later that day for a 4 day visit, and my goal was to get that sucker planted, along with the other trunkload I had brought home.
Secondly, it was hot. And humid. And buggy. The mosquitoes were quite deliriously happy and hungry after our wet month of June.

Darn. It was so pretty too. It was an unusual color - reminded me of a flame. It was yellowish on the bottom, and orange on the points. I will try next spring to find another to replace it.

I had no idea they came in so many colors. Right now, I have 3 colors.
The white, blue, and dark eggplant
The eggplant color has been very happy in the front hill flower bed for 3 years, and this year, we have several offspring. They are also much earlier blooming than the others, as this photo was taken a month or two earlier.
Columbines are a fun flower, comes in many colors, and are quite hardy. They will also multiply, but not so much as to be invasive, just enough to share!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Family ties...

Good Morning! And it was a rather early one at that. My stepson and his wife and our two grandchildren got up at 5AM to leave this morning to head back to Maine. I said my good-bye's last night, as 5AM is kind of rough for me. That was fine by them. So we hugged and promised to see one another soon before we headed up to bed.
They had arrived on Friday night, about midnight. Last year, I waited up. We met at the front door just after midnight, hugged, and went to bed, all of us too groggy to say much. So this year, I told them, 'I'll leave the door unlocked and the light on. See you in the morning! It worked out fine.

We had a nice visit. We hadn't seen our 15 year old granddaughter in 2 years, as she lives with her mom in Alabama, and didn't come home last summer. She barrel races, and had too many competitions to get away. She has grown so much since then and we were glad for the opportunity to see her again.  She is a typical teen who is into her books, texting, and spending time alone. I wanted to get to know her better, but teenagers don't seem to be interested much in adults at this age.

Our grandson is 12 now, and plays basketball during the school year. He loves to sit and talk and play board games, anything that involves the whole family. He also likes to play darts with his grandfather when he visits.

It is hard loving your grandchildren and not being able to be there for them. Being so far apart makes it difficult to keep in touch enough to keep up with each others lives.

They went to Six Flags yesterday.  They came home a bit sunburned and tired last night, but happy.

We are hoping for a trip to Maine on the weekend. Part vacation, part house hunting. We have entertained the idea of moving back up for the last 3 years. We are here because of the job, a really good job, but we haven't really made many friends, or connected with the area.
There are SO MANY PEOPLE here!! (read: Traffic)

For people who come from northern Maine, western NB and a quiet part of the Midwest, it is hard to get used to, even after all this time (4 years). The pace of life is definitely slower up there. The people are for the most part friendlier too.
It seems because of the transient population here, the locals are a bit reluctant to get to know you unless you've lived here long enough for them to see you aren't lunatics or serial killers. While we've grown comfortable with our neighbors and we all occasionally wave or say hello it hasn't grown into a visiting kind of thing. Perhaps it's the area of CT we reside it? Although in reading forums on city-data.com, there are several out there with concurring opinions.

I was used to the visiting kind of thing in Maine. In fact, I might have mentioned in previous posts about my 2 generous and kind neighbors I had in Waterville, Maine before we moved down here.
The first week, Mrs. Beal, who is in her 80's, came over with homemade banana muffins and brownies. Mrs. Frye, also in her 80's, on the other side of us, came at least once a week for a year and a half, to keep me company while my DH worked in Baltimore. She always waved and called out the window to him when he came home on the weekends, and they always teased each other. It was so nice. Even though we were renters, they made an effort to get to know us. Perhaps they were relieved to find we were ordinary friendly people.
They were unhappy when we left. I had done some flower gardening for Mrs. Frye, and in payment (although I wanted nothing but the joy and therapy of gardening) gave me some beautiful pink Heisey glass antique dishes, bless her heart, as a thank you.
In combination with the high cost of housing/property taxes here in CT, these are elements that are the driving force in our decision to think about moving back to Maine. Let me clarify that. 'I' move back to Maine. My poor DH will have to stay here during the week, and come home on the weekends. Such a hard decision to be apart, but when you are looking at retiring in 10 years or so, one must think about affording mortgage payments at that point in time.
Anyway, that's what's on the agenda. We will just have to walk it out.
I hope you all have a wonderful summer!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hot Chicken Provolone Sub

This is my version of a favorite sandwich from the restaurant 'Southside Two', in Caribou, Maine from long ago. I used to go there for lunch with my best friend Sandy. I don't know if they are still open, but I see from a quick search on the internet, that there is a 'Frederick's South Side'. Maybe the same owner?

Today, some 16 years later, I recreated it to the best of my memory. I think I may have hit the bulls eye with this one. It was SCRUMPTIOUS!
It was a hot chickeny, tomatoey, cheesy, oniony bundle of goodness!

I'm sorry there is no photo. It looked pretty, I was hungry, and..I ate it. Sorry. You will just have to make do with the rooster photo above. I will try to control myself next time.

Here it is:


1 Hoagie Roll, toasted on griddle or under broiler
1 Chicken breast, precooked (did mine in the oven, sprinkled with rotisserie chicken seasoning and a bit of hot sauce for flavor)

1 small tomato, sliced

A few slices of onion

2 Slices Provolone

Miracle Whip or Mayo 

Butter for saute and roll

First, I buttered a split hoagie roll, then toasted it on a griddle. (I do this with bagels, so much better than toasting them in the toaster!) I sliced the chicken breast into 3 layers, so it was thinner (the restaurant used chunks, I think slices are easier to handle) and sauteed them briefly on the griddle in a TB or 2 of butter while the bun was grilling.
This is to heat the chicken, and add a bit of moisture and flavor. The butter really does help! :0)
When the bun was done, I spread the bottom half with Miracle Whip or Mayo, then layer ingredients in this order: chicken, tomato slices, and the provolone.
I broiled this on a aluminum foil pan in my toaster oven til the cheese melted.
(I like to see a tinge of golden color forming on my cheese.)
Meanwhile, I spread a bit of Miracle Whip on the other half (top) of the hoagie roll.
When the cheese was melted, I removed it from the oven, slid it onto a plate, added the sliced onion and the top bun. Slice in two portions. Blissfully enjoy!

It tasted exactly as I remembered it from the restaurant after all these years. And yes, if you are ever up in Caribou, waaayyy at the top of Maine, try Southside. Tell 'em Susan sent you.
(ok, they will have no idea who I am, but you can tell them I mentioned them in my blog if you like.) :0)

Vive la Southside!

(PS: I'm sorry about all the font changes in this post - I have tried and tried to change that, but for some reason, they just won't 'take'. Go figure...)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Sunrise Park, a local park we visited recently.

May 19th was my last blog? I didn't realize it was that long ago. I have a couple of posts in draft mode, but they aren't a happy light subject, so it's taking me longer to write and edit them.
In the mean time, just so you don't think I've fallen off the face of the earth (at least, not yet) I better write something on here today.
What's new, you ask? Hmmm... lets see, what's new....
Oh Yes. 15 % salary cut. Yup. Got the news Friday. Real thrilled. There goes the 'leeway'. On the other hand, we are grateful to still have a job. We hope this is just a short season, and that things will pick up again soon. Although in the steel fabrication business, it can take awhile for the actual work to funnel down after winning the bid on a quote. There are papers to sign,blueprints to draft, inventory lists, purchase orders, deliveries... but, you'd rather not hear about all that. Suffice it to say, it's likely gonna be a few months before we can see our old salary back. We hope.
We had breakfast at Friendly's on Saturday morning, and we had an unexpected treat. There were 4 or 5 guys who were apparently part of an A Cappella group, and they quietly sung a neat 'restaurant' song about liking coffee and tea, about a waitress, - just a fun song. After they were finished, the whole restaurant clapped. It was great. The old timers there were smiling during the whole song. I smiled too, and got all teary eyed. (I cry at parades, fireworks, and horseshows too. I know. I'm weird. But, as I tell my hubby, it's in a good way. :0))
My husband comes from a singing family background, and this just reminded me of family, good times, and how far away everyone lives from us. And also, I appreciate that this type of singing is still around, and that it might not always be. Barbershop quartets are not as popular as they once were. Yet it requires such talent to harmonize with several others, all without the benefit of music. It sure was a treat.

Below: Just above the red bobber is a blue dragonfly.
The catbird has taken to singing daily from an ornamental evergreen right outside my livingroom window. He has such a funny repertoire of music and sounds. I really enjoy listening to him.
The neighbor cat caught a chipmunk yesterday. I think it was a younger one, as he was quite small. We have several, and they hang out at the bird feeder daily. I felt badly for the chipmunk. I like the little critters, even though they built a nest in the motor of my van last fall.
We know to check every once in a while now for that.
Speakng of the van, our lovely 1997 plymouth voyager - which, btw, has terrible ratings, lol, - just had a complete brake job done by my honey. He bought the manual several years ago, and whenever he can, does what needs to be done. Saves us a lot of money, especially here in CT, where labor is very high. Seems to be working better, anyway. Brakes went out twice on me in the last year or two - very scary when that happens. God sure protected me both times.
It's a good thing I'm not a fast or 'sketchy' driver. I like to brake early, and give myself lots of room between vehicles. I'm just not in that big of a hurry any more. I used to be, when I was younger. It was all about how fast you could get from A to B.
A lot of people here are in a hurry all the time, and they let you know, by horns or those not so nice hand signals. Don't those people realize that there could be something in the road ahead of me, that they can't see? Or that I might have a reason for not zipping in and out around turning cars? That I don't HAVE to turn right on red if I don't want to?
Sure can upset one's day getting ripped by another driver when you really did nothing wrong at all. Ok. Don't get me started on that.
Happy thoughts...happy thoughts...
I bought basil today. Plus another 4 plants. Bad girl, I know. I was done for the summer. But, when I went for the basil, the lantana, lobelia, and million bells just called out to me. I did manage to ignore the vast majority of flowers in the greenhouse, but it was hard.
I did one more flower box, and it looks good. I want to attract hummingbird moths again this year. They are so neat. If you've never heard of them, look them up. They are like tiny hummingbirds, but really a moth. Their wings really do move that fast.
I have my hummingbird feeder up now, since that one looked in the dining room window at me as if to say - 'where's my dinner?!' I now have 2 pairs at least that visit several times a day. I bought an oriole feeder, my first, but haven't got it up yet. I saw 2 Baltimore Orioles last week just down the road, so perhaps I can entice one to my feeder.
The crow continues to eat the suet out of my suet feeder. I've just about given up on having it down in the lawn. I usually have it hanging off the deck, but wanted for the summer to have all feeders down in the lawn. Less bird doo doo on the deck. Oh well.
This crazy (smart) crow jumps up about 4 feet and grabs a chunk of suet with his beak out of the suet cage . Until it is empty. My poor woodpeckers. I have several pairs of downys, hairys, and red bellieds that come daily to an almost empty feeder. They are not happy. And momma ain't happy either. Guess I'm going to have to bring it back up after all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dumb thing #593

I am knocking myself in the head this morning. Again. But it won't solve anything. Unless - knocking oneself in the head is like knocking on wood, and protects you in some way. Nah. Don't think so. Hasn't helped yet!
Ok. The dumb thing I did. When I bought my computer from Dell, it was about one month before they came out with Vista. So, I got a free upgrade to order the Vista DVD. Which I did. I also got a free upgrade to Microsoft Office 2007. It came with 2003. You had to do a little dance and stand on your head and copy this, send that, exactly as they tell you, in order for them to verify you really do qualify for this. So I did, and got it in the mail, same as the Vista one.
It took 2 or 3 months, and about the time it came in, I had my computer set up in the basement, where I could look out the window at the grass, birds, turkeys - whatever wandered by. I also was packing up some things for Goodwill. Clothes that were too big, didn't want, misc. computer paraphenalia, like cords, old cell phones, I don't know - whatever I didn't want or need anymore. Gifts one got from Christmas that had you wondering what they were thinking. OK, only one gift went. I really like everything I get, usually.
When I got the upgrade DVD's, I wasn't in any hurry to load them, especially the Vista. A lot of other software hadn't accommodated Vista yet, so I was going to wait awhile. Why I waited on Office 2007, I can only surmise. So I tucked them away.
Hence 'Dumb thing #593'. I cannot find the Microsoft Office 2007 upgrade DVD.
I have looked everywhere. I dug through all my papers, drawers, everywhere I could think of. I still cannot find it.
What I think happened, in all the melee of packing up boxes for Goodwill, cleaning up the basement, etc., is that somehow, it got stuck in an old Microsoft software computer manual that I donated. It's the only thing I can think of. Dumb dumb dumb.
Lesson learned.
If some kind soul wishes to share a copy of their Office 2007, I would be forever grateful. I know, I know. It's not something one is supposed to do. BUT, I really did have the upgrade. I have copies of the paperwork filed here somewhere. I wrote to them, asking if there was anything they could do (the rebate center), but the rebate had ended at this point, and no one responded. Bummers.
Anyway, I can live without it, and in about 5 years time, when it's on sale for a ridiculously low price, I will upgrade. Because I am not paying for something I already owned.
Dumb dumb dumb.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yum! Lemon Blueberry Muffins from Costco. These are really good. The streusel on top really adds to it. Since these are very large muffins, the way I like to eat them is to slice them into 5 or 6 pieces. Lay them on a pie tin or piece of tin foil, then put them in your toaster oven.
Toast them at 300F on lower rack until they just begin to turn a golden color, approx. 5 minutes or so. Time will vary with oven, so check closely after 3 minutes. This will bring the butter and sugar to the surface and 'crisp' them up a bit. Then, slather with a bit of real butter (preferred) or eat them just like they are.
You can try this with any variety of muffin. I also bought their Apple Cinnamon' ones. These were also very good, with (surprise!) oatmeal in them, and drizzled with a maple glaze. They smell heavenly while toasting.
And don't forget a nice hot steaming cup of your favorite java to go with it!
PS: These are also the most reasonably priced muffins around! Check out their bakery at a Costco near you. (Membership required)
Since we are on the subject of Costco, I have, or rather had, another favorite, which they unfortunately discontinued. Don't you just hate that??! You find something you REALLY like, and your only source stops carrying it. Darn. It was Granola. They had the BEST granola! It was so fresh. Lots of seeds and nuts, with just the right amount of honey, etc mixed in so that they had to break it apart into nice sized chunks. I prefer granola like this, not like it's oatmeal soup. I've tried other granolas, but they just don't measure up. How could they stop making something so good? Sigh... The story of my life, it seems.
Ok, the next item. Their rotisserie chickens are the best tasting and the cheapest around too. Make sure you get one a bit darker. I've only gotten a couple that I wished had been done more, but 90% of the time, they are falling off the bone. And so good! Ok, I'm getting hungry now. (And I just had a piece of homemade rhubarb pie, but that's for another post. :0))
I like their spinach dip and bruschetta. I believe it's Hannah's. I buy when company is coming to stay, along with a nice dipping bread.
These are my must-haves, but I'm sure I could find more, if I just had the freezer space. It's fun to go when they have the samples out. I have found that I like most of what I've tried there.
I think it's time to renew my membership this month. Hmmm.....sounds like a plan!

Frost warning tonight...

Words one dreads to hear, especially when one just went and filled window boxes and plant pots this past weekend. Darn. I also had put out my Goldfish plant, Mandevilla, and my flowering maple last week. They had actually suffered from a bit of sunburn, poor things. Gotta watch that next year. They were used to bright indirect light most of the winter from my dining room window.
I brought in the Mandevilla and
Flowering Maple, and covered up all my plant pots and Goldfish plant right

(Note: these photos are from last summer)

outside the back door. Since the deck is elevated up one level, I am hoping the combination of that and being on the east/south side will help them through the night. I have several big heavy pots, and really didn't want to bring them into the kitchen for the night. I threw covers over some of the flowers by the front walk, as the cold air has a tendency to settle there.

I sure hope everything survives ok. They are saying 33F, but you never know.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The catbirds are courting under the maple tree...

(Angelique Tulips from my garden)

The catbirds have indeed been courting under the maple. Usually it's back in the thicket where I can hear them, but not see them. They are such curious creatures, with their catlike sounds, but they also have quite a repertoire of songs and calls.

I've also been hearing the trill of a thrush or two. I just LOVE to hear the thrushes sing. They have such flutelike tones. They are very secretive though, so it's very hard to find them. They usually stay hidden near the edge of the woods. I have a little spring out back and sometimes in the evening you can see them hopping about. They like to sing early in the morning, or later in the evening. Sometimes most of the day if it's cloudy enough.

The Mockingbird has been singing for a month or so as well. He such an entertaining fellow. He prefers a bit more open space, so he spends most of his time at the neighbors, near their pond and barns, as he loves to find the highest peak and just sing to his hearts content.

Speaking of singing, the House Wren has been singing his tiny little heart out daily, starting shortly after dawn. He's a very determined little fellow, bless his heart, to find a mate, and has an amazing set of lungs. He can carry on for hours!

I haven't seen much of the Carolina Wrens lately though. They are one of my favorites - potbellied little birds with stick tails. So cute and curious. A friend of mine once had them nest in her clothes pin bag. She left it alone all season for them to use. I just love that.

The Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are back. I have a pair that visit the feeders regularly. They aren't a bit shy, as you can get quite close to them. They just watch you curiously, all the while munching on sunflowers seeds with their powerful beaks. The male is sure beautiful, with his black and white plumage and rosy breast. The female is, of course, several shades of brown, with an eyebrow slash of white. She is bigger than the sparrows, and different enough in her markings that she will make you wonder what she is if you don't already know.

A couple of summers ago, I had an Blue Grosbeak. I only saw him that one time at the feeder, but I managed to squeeze off a quick shot. What a gorgeous color of blue. I felt privileged to see him. (I just did some more research on this guy. At first I thought he was an Indigo Bunting, but they are quite small. Although I can't really see his wings, I think he is indeed a Blue Grosbeak. If anyone was a more definite idea of what he is, let me know.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Company's coming and it's time to clean and bake!

Bluets. One of my favorite harbingers of Spring. I found these tiny little things in the upper driveway, practically growing among the rocks. Poor babies. I transplanted into a safer area, along with several other tiny little clusters. I hope they like their new home.
This is a short post, as my parents arrive today for a weeks' visit. I have been busy as a bee cleaning and getting everything ready. I like to have a clean house top to bottom when out of town company comes, so I don't have to worry about a dirty bathroom, etc., or trying to do it while they are here.
Sheets are changed, pillows freshened, clean towels out. Dust, vacuum, sweep, mop. Clean bathrooms? A must! Windows? Umm...only two done. The rest will have to wait. Chairs de-haired, rooms de-cluttered. Well, almost de-cluttered. Nearly there. I'd love to get some baking done, but that might have to wait. I do have some Italian sausage cooking to make Zuppa Toscana. I've never tried it before, and when I went to shop for the ingredients, I discovered what Kale looked like.
I just couldn't bring myself to buy it. Maybe you all have cooked with this stuff before, but it would be a first for me. I opted for fresh spinach instead. I hope it turns out. I have red potatoes to put in it, and minced garlic. Whipping cream? Check. Chicken broth? Check. Sounds like a plan, don't you think?
I have a nice thick ham slice to dice up to make a ham and cheese quiche, hopefully later today. If not, maybe tomorrow. I use Pillsbury pie crust so I don't have to bother making pie crust. I've never liked to make it, although mine is really good. A nice breakfast or lunch food that is filling and easy to reheat, with a side of toast and salsa.
I would love to get some scones made. Dried cranberry and white premium chips. Very nice combo. The recipe can be found in Pillsbury's Best of the Bake-off Cookbook, 50th Anniversary Edition. It's to die for.
And lets not forget homemade bread, always popular in this household.
And, maybe, just maybe, I'll get some cookies made. Perhaps some peanut butter chocolate chip? Yum! If not, Costco has some very delicious cookies. And I do believe we are making a trip over there likely tomorrow.
Sounds like a good week ahead, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Is that an apparition, or did Mr. Bear really come to visit?

About a week ago, on a Saturday night about 9:30pm, while we were all relaxing in the family room, my DH and I in recliners, watching TV with Max on my lap, we heard a commotion on the back deck.
It sounded like something disturbing the bird feeders hanging from the gutter by the back patio door. I move them there at night from their daytime positions along the deck railing to keep the raccoons and possums out of them.
I jumped out of my chair (as poor DHubby was snoozing – oh excuse me – watching TV - through his eyelids – there we go) and ran for the kitchen to see what was making the racket. When I first turned on the porch lights, I didn’t see anything but wildly swinging bird feeders. I did see a rather large shadow over by the stairs, but didn’t think a lot of it, until it started to move towards the light.
Then, my chin dropped to my chest and I started shouting ‘OH MY WORD’ to alert my honey he better come running. In the meantime, I’m running back and forth like a ninny trying to remember where I last put the camera. I found it, and then tried to figure out how in the world I was going to get the picture through the window without the flash, and with very little light.
Well, to make a long story short, I did get this one pic. The flash came back on somehow, and it was a good thing, even though I have a fair amount of it in the picture. Otherwise, it would have been very dark indeed.
So while I’m running back and forth from window to patio door (wishing I was brave enough to open it and snap a picture – except the bear was about 4 feet from the door), he came back onto the deck and hesitantly went for the suet log, having given up on the bird feeders. Luckily, I don’t fill the log anymore, but use a basket feeder, which was hanging up with the bird feeders. I put it on the log during the day for my woodpecker friends. (I have nearly a dozen at last count) He stood up, checked out the log, and then wandered back towards the stairs, glancing toward the window, trying to decide whether the strange light and noise was intimidating enough to leave or not. He stopped for a moment, which is when I took the picture, then left.
What a beautiful bear! I wish the picture was better so you could see what he really looked like. He was large, round, glossy, and beautifully formed. Not scraggly or skinny, even though it’s spring. He looked so cuddly and pettable! We measured the railing according to the picture, and he measured about 5 ½ feet from tail to nose, and about 2 ½ feet tall. About full size, according to my research. I did report him to the CT DEP website. I don’t know if I’ll ever hear from them, but I don’t think he was tagged, from what little we could tell.
Was I scared? Well, I was very intimidated, and shocked that he would climb a full set of stairs to get onto the deck! We have a walkout basement below. Wow, huh? I was very thankful we didn’t live in a tent!! LOL!
The neighbor’s garbage was strewn around the yard the same night. Fortunately, the bear left mine alone. Had enough excitement with the feeders, I guess.
So that is my bear story. I have seen more wildlife in my 3 years here in CT than I saw all the years I lived in Maine and New Brunswick, Canada. Wow, huh? Keeps life interesting! :0)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Update to surgery...

Well, my Mom had her double mastectomy in February. We breathed a collective sigh of relief when she came out of surgery and was doing as well as could be expected. My brother, his wife and Dad were there for the big day. I am 10 hrs away and was unable to be there in person, but I can tell you, I worried, fretted, cried and prayed right along with them.
Praise God, she came through ok. She has had a few blips during her recovery, and it will still be some time before she really feels normal again. She feels a bit better almost every day. For awhile, it seemed one step forward, 2 steps back.

The visiting nurses came daily for 2 weeks. Bless their hearts, they were the most caring and thoughtful ones you could ever hope for. Their kindness and tenderness exceeded all expectations, and I commend them. This really helped my Mom's recovery, as she felt she could ask questions and mention concerns without feeling intimidated. They went above and beyond the call of duty, calling her during the more difficult times, and coming by an extra time or two just to make sure she was ok. THANK YOU, Visiting Nurses of Frederiction NB Canada!!!

Mom had alot of swelling and tenderness, and it was weeks before she could even lay on her side to sleep. I don't know how long it will be before she can sleep on her tummy. Removing her staples turned out to be mostly painless. She had 24 in one side and 25 in the other. I told her it shouldn't be too bad if they were gentle.
I remember when my hubby had his hip graft and hip replacement (now that's a story and a half for another
time - bone graft one summer, didn't take, so hip replacement next summer. What fun that was...sigh.) Anyway, I got to remove his staples with this nifty little staple remover. Pretty neat, and I went slow and easy, so it didn't hurt.

The drain tubes gave her alot of problems though. They removed one, but left the other for nearly another week. I think 3 weeks total, or maybe a bit more.
This one kept stopping up, and then would bleed quite a bit. First outing she went to town with Dad, and before the day was over, she had bled through her blouse and into her jacket. Not cool.
She is currently going to physical therapy once a week to improve her arm movements and gentle massage to deal with all the fluid buildup.
Her spirits are good though.

She gets a bit impatient that she isn't 'over it' yet, but then reminds herself that it hasn't been all that long ago, and that it was a major surgery. I remind her too, to count her blessings. THANK YOU GOD that she didn't have to have chemo or radiation!!! What a blessing that was. They found precancerous cells in the other side, but everything was non-invasive and contained. They caught it early enough. I don't think she would have survived chemo, and at this point, she might have just opted out. Thank the Lord we didn't have to make that decision.
She is feeling well enough now that she and Dad are coming in a couple of weeks to spend a week here during Mother's Day. It will be a great time to visit here, lot of flowers and trees will be blooming. Beautiful time to be in CT after a long winter. Especially for them, as they are about a month behind us in the season.

Today, I am counting my blessings once more. Often things don't turn out like we want or hope, I've lived long enough to know this.
So I'm extra thankful for God's mercy and goodness towards my family during this time. I am so very thankful.