Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Winter garden...

My winter garden is just as full of delights as it is during the summer... if I only take time to look.

Frosted apples...

There is a Crab Apple tree in my front yard, planted years ago by someone I have never met. Under it's arching boughs I sprinkled some of my sister Dicy's ashes. In the spring a riotous garden of daffodils and tulips blooms there, beneath blossom laden branches. The fruit of the tree hangs on through the fall and into the winter. In late winter migrating flocks of Waxwings pass by and feast on the tiny apples, and in the spring the first Robin's to appear gorge on the fruit until the weather softens enough to provide them more dining options. The tree has a rosy glow in almost every light, and is beautiful no matter the season. Today a delicate morning snow dusted each branch and tiny apple. Frosting on the cake....

Saturday, December 27, 2008


At the wane of the year I wax reflective. I like to think about the things in the past 365 days that went wonderfully well. And also on the losses, lessons and mistakes. As I grow older I recognize how swiftly time passes, and this gives me incentive to try to make some plans for the year ahead, so that I might make the most of those days that wing by on the calendar. Last year I made a list of things I wished to accomplish. Last night I checked, and though I failed miserably at a few of the things I desired to achieve, I had some impressive successes. And because life is delightful, there were some totally unexpected surprises. The sorts of things that make me wake up smiling, ready to see what else is in store. My new calendar is at the ready, a blank slate, full of the promise of joys I cannot yet even imagine. I am SO excited!
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Ice on the Rocks...

Ice on the Rocks

Where the ocean retreats
before plummeting mercury
salt laced crystals form on granite
in glittering mica sheets

small boys in boots stomp along the
icy waters edge
creating crashing sounds that delight
beyond all expectation

ducks dabble at the shoreline
between glazed boulders and shaggy kelp
voicing quacking concerns
over the level of sound
of childish laughter and breaking
frozen water

copy write 12/08 Daryl Conner

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Spirit of Christmas...

Even the pullet's were moved by the spirit of Christmas today... and gifted me with the JUMBO egg on the left. I betcha it's a double yolker, too! Just one of the thoughtful gifts I have received today! Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Dazzle the poodle and Lilly the bad, bad boxer are looking out at the snow to see if they can spot Santa's sleigh!
Lilly is hoping her stocking will be stuffed with good things to chew on, Dazzle wants a toy that squeaks. Of course, if Santa did swoop in, they'd bark and throw such a fit poor Santa would have to be awfully brave to enter in.
From our home to yours, I hope all of your holiday wishes come true!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The best place to be on a very cold night...

On micro fibre sheets under a feather duvet. Yup. That is the best place to be. Tuck a warm human in on either side and it's time to take a rest after napping all day!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Life's a picnic...

Life's a picnic! The heavens blanketed us with 2 feet or more of snow yesterday. When I went out with snow shovel in hand, the drifts where my path should have been were thigh high! No need to dream of a white Christmas this year. During the 14 Christmases celebrated in Memphis I used to long for even a dusting of snow anytime in December. How magnificently some dreams come true!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I live in...

I live in a snow globe....
Isn't it GRAND???

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Grand pets...

Meet Shendi. Shendi is a corn snake. He is Rachel's pet. As snakes go, he is beautiful and rather endearing. I refer to him as my "grand snake." At the moment he is home for Christmas, living in his enclosure in my kitchen. Right between the Christmas tree and the canary cage. Across from the Mouse Palace. There is a whole lot of LIFE in my kitchen right now. Sometimes life is an earthy business. >sigh<

Friday, December 19, 2008

Still life...

For the past 3 years I have had this attraction to seeking, finding and collecting bird nests once the cold winds blow in and the birds are done with them. I have several like this, arranged in the windows on my long porch. I am pretty sure this little nest was made by Goldfinches. It was found in a stand of Sycamore's across from my house. I wasn't sure what my rather sudden desire to collect these nests was all about until it hit me. Empty nests. My kid is almost 20, gone more often than she is home. My nest is, for all intents and purposes, empty.
I wonder if mother birds miss the echos of their chirping chicks once they take flight? Or do they take delight in watching their fledglings soar off on pretty wings? Or... are they capable of mixed emotions?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A mom gift...

I inherited a love of antiques from my mother and my paternal grandmother. My mother found the soup tureen (seen above,) years ago on one of her "junking" forays. She was in search of items to sell in her cute little antique shop. The tureen is lovely, but lidless. When mom gave it to me she said, "This will be nice at Christmas, you can make a pretty centerpiece." And so, I do. I enjoy the process, cutting evergreen branches on a wintry walk, searching out things to brighten the arrangement. The end result is always different, and always makes me feel nostalgic.

I received this quote today in an email from theuniverse@tut.com, and it seemed fitting.
"Nothing is ever lost. Not time; for what seems to have passed, lives on in the wisdom of future decisions. Not money; for what seems to have been spent, was only invested. And not love; for what seems to have vanished, has only moved so close you must look within your heart to see it."

I see you in my heart, mom. And in the antiques that decorate my home... and in this happy holiday tureen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The tree....

Rachel and I finished decorating the tree last night. It has been up and a "work in progress" for a few weeks. This year we decided to do a "theme" tree, something totally different from our normal decorating. We put the Christmas tree in the kitchen, and decorated it all with cinnamon dough made to look like ginger bread. I made the tree topper Ginger Bread Man out of craft paper. We had a lot of fun making and painting the ornaments, and the end result makes me smile. I think next year I will go back to having a big Christmas tree in the living room, with our miss-matched collection of ornaments from the past quarter of a century, but have a small tree in the kitchen with ginger bread again, too. It's a happy thing!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mid life crisis and....

Chanel, (on the left) is the horse I bought last summer. Having her is the fulfillment of a lifelong fantasy. Rip, (on the right) belongs to my friend Marion. Marion encouraged me to buy Chanel, and makes it possible for me to have her since she lives there on her property. She says I should title this photo, "Daryl's mid life crisis and her boyfriend." Ha! Acquiring a horse for a midlife crisis is FAR less complicated than acquiring a boyfriend!

Cute fix for the day...

My friend Marion raises rabbits. Yesterday when I was at the barn smooching my horse I heard the bunnies making bunny noises and popped in for a visit with them. One of the mama's had this pile of adorableosity in the corner of her cage. How can any baby animal pack this much cuteness into such a small package? All this and they are softer than soft, too. Awwwwwwww.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Beauty around me...

Water has a voice. From the patter of raindrops to the roaring of the sea, and a thousand voices in between.

To my great joy, I can hear the singing of this tiny brook if I step outside my house. It runs along two sides of our property.

Today the pitch was high and sweet, with added notes from the edging of ice around the mouth of this wee waterfall. I wish I could share the sound with you as easily as I can the image. It is beautiful.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mouse palace...

Here is Twinkle. The baby orphaned Field Mouse I am taking care of. After several days of feeding her kitten formula from an eye dropper, she is eating well on her own. I bought her a 10 gallon aquarium with a tight screen lid and we dubbed it "The Mouse Palace." Here she is sitting on her Campbell's Tomato soup can, waiting for breakfast. Behind her (on the outside of the tank) you will see a bag of pop corn, which is her favorite food. She holds a kernel between her wee pink paws and nibbles away. This is a comical site, as the kernel is nearly as big as she is. Twinkle loves her new Palace and leaps about very happily. She's a funny little house mouse!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rare bird...

Here is an unusual visitor this far north... a red bellied woodpecker. I have seen them in Massachusetts, but apparently they are making some unusual appearances here in Maine. This is a female, and has been dropping in daily for some suet snacks. Isn't she pretty?


Snow, rain and ice. All night it tapped musically on the roof and windows. How lovely to be home and safe by the fire. And then to wake up and find a frosted fairyland. Wheeeee!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Birthday breakfast....

Twenty five years ago, I had breakfast with Chris at a restaurant. We were newly dating, just getting to know one another. He was from the south. I was from the north. I ordered pancakes and maple syrup. He ordered this weird thing. Sausage, biscuits and gravy. The waitress brought him a white plate covered in white food. White biscuits, white gravy, probably some white grits, too... it was disgusting looking. At that moment I thought, "He is nice and all, but I am NOT spending the rest of my life with a man that eats food that looks like wallpaper paste!
Fast foreword a quarter of a century. Chris turned 50 today and I made him his favorite breakfast. Sausage, biscuits and gravy, (no grits, thankyouverymuch!) It is now one of my favorite breakfasts, too. Our kid agrees.., it is delicious! The cholesterol police are not amused and the American Heart Association is appalled, but this is a yummy meal and worth the health risks! I make it twice a year, Chris' birthday and Fathers day. It is a treat. Funny how our perceptions change with time. And funny to think I nearly missed out on marrying my soul mate because he ate weird food.
Happy Birthday, Chris! I am so glad your parents made you. You have filled my life with joy. You are a treat!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Smooch waits for....

Smooch is waiting for Santa.
He is certain that his stocking will be full of treats because he has been SUCH a good boy. Surely Santa wont mind about those occasional housebreaking accidents, or the adorable ginger bread house (see earlier blog) that he helped to destroy. (Note: royal icing that has been reconstituted by dog saliva dries to a consistency that makes one think it could easily be used on rocket ships to keep the tiles in place!)
Smooch also feels confident that Santa will overlook his incessant barking at nothing and his bizarre predilection for dancing on the lower abdomens of sleeping humans that have full bladders.
I tell him that Santa has a very forgiving nature, but I have also explained to him the chance that his stocking might be chock full of coal. He wont admit it, but looking at the furrows on his brow, I think he's a bit worried.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sister time...

While I was visiting with my sister at "home" yesterday, we set up her Christmas village. It was great fun to create a little winter fantasy land, complete with snow, ice, little lamps that light up, and tiny figures. Josh Groban sang Christmas songs for us. Today, decorating MY house... (and wishing I had a little Christmas village and a sister here to help!!!)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Going home...

It is rare, but true... when I go "home," I really go HOME. Not too many 48 year old people can say that!
This is a photo of the house my father built. I lived here my whole young life. The joke was that my dad built another room every time my mom got pregnant. This house started out much smaller!
My sister and her family now live here, and the house has had a paint job and a bit of a face lift, but it still has the same feel it had when I was a kid. What a gift it is to be able to walk the floors my once tiny bare feet learned to walk on, to look out the windows I dreamed out of in my childhood. I learned to read in that room on the far left, lying belly down on the hardwood floor in front of the fireplace. My sister Deb taught me on a red covered, musty smelling book called The Happy Hollisters. It was about a family with a bunch of kids that solved mysteries, like finding lost kittens and such.
I was blessed with a mostly happy childhood... framed here in this structure of wood and brick. I now call another place 'home,' but it is so good to be able to go back and breathe in the memories of yesterday.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Eggs. Most of us have them in our refrigerator. In little cardboard boxes. And really, we don't think much about them as we plop them into a bowl to make a cake or into a pan for breakfast. Eggs are nutritious, delicious and a staple in most homes.

I conducted an experiment. Plopped an egg from the grocery store into a bowl. Then I plopped in one from my hens next to it. Here they are, side by side. Can you tell which is which?

The store egg is pale and rather flat looking. The "Lady egg" is on the left... a tall, proud yolk and check out that rich ORANGE color! The difference in flavor is pretty amazing too.

Just thought this was an interesting photo to share. Hungry?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New pet?

I didn't want a new pet. I especially didn't want a new baby mouse. But somehow I have one. I went over to the local Veterinarian's office to pick something up, and the receptionist showed me this wee little orphan mouse. They had found it in a nest with several dead litter mates. If I didn't take it, they were going to put the tiny thing outside. In the cold. Alone. With no mama. Needless to say it came home with me. I named her Twinkle and she is stinking cute, I am here to tell you. She drinks kitten formula out of an eyedropper and weighs as much as bit of eider down. As new pets go, this one is pretty low impact. And high on the adorableness.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Rachel and I are breaking the mold this year... we put our Christmas tree- - - in the kitchen!

We spend most of our time in the family room and kitchen, and this way the beautiful tree is right where we can enjoy it. And while we were bending tradition, we decided to make all the ornaments ourselves. AND... we are doing it gradually, no mad rush to get the decorating done. We are slowly making and painting and hanging each little ornament. And we are having fun, chatting, giggling, remembering holidays past. It is good.
This photo shows a mostly "naked" tree. In progress. The progress part is full of enjoyment.
To those of you reading my words... I wish you... progress.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tree shopping...

We went shopping for our Christmas tree yesterday in this pretty place. We crunched over the frosty grass and teased each other about tree choices... Chris and Rachel like HUGE trees, I prefer something that does not fill an entire room. Found just the right one, cut it down and brought it home, listening to Christmas music as we went. This is our annual tradition and something we treasure.

I'll post a picture of the decorated tree when we finish festooning it for the season. For now the tree is standing unadorned, filling the room with its pungent fragrance. A symbol of the beauty of the season.

Crafty time of year...

I am going to a Christmas ornament party today. I love the idea of doing crafty things, but in reality I am not very good at them. For the party I needed to make 18 ornaments to share, and I will go home with 18 from the other people at the party. This is my effort for this year... I made an entire flock of little sheep. It was a blaaaaast to make them, and I think they are cute as a button. I made one black one, too... to round the flock out nicely.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

And the fun continued!

After all the Thanksgiving festivities, sister Deb treated us to MORE fun. Each family was gifted a Ginger Bread House kit, and she bought a zillion fun little doo dahs to enhance the project, too. We set up one of the long, borrowed tables from the feast and covered it in plastic, then made a HUGE mess while we giggled and created. Glue, frosting and conversation flowed. The end result of Rachel's and my creation is here to the right. I LOVE the smoke coming out of the chimney. Cracks me up! On that sweet note, we'll usher in the next holiday season! Today we are planning on going tree hunting. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 28, 2008


Thanksgiving arrived. I cooked for two days. We ate for 30 minutes. We laughed and talked for hours! The food was terrific, the company delightful. I vote this day a smashing success. For this I am thankful!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008



My mother’s hands were slim and strong
for 40 years they
dressed November turkey.
and for weeks before
they busied…
polishing wood, metal and glass
in preparation for the day of feast
and the family who would stuff our house.

Grandmother’s hands were small and soft
She would come and help ready…
washing china
ironing linens
the air was filled with the smell of beeswax and
the music of maternal voices,
reminiscing the years when Grandmother hosted the meal.

My hands capably carry the weight of tradition
heavier than the biggest bird.
I polish and clean and iron,
Greet visitors with a thankful heart
and cast a sideways glance…

My daughters hands are unseamed and nimble
I am awash with grace to dream of
she who will carry her heritage on an ironstone platter
of gratitude
Copy write 2005 Daryl Conner

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The yellow cup...

When you live with another person, you learn to take steps to help you interface smoothly. After almost 25 years of marriage... I have learned tricks that help keep harmony in our home. Here is one that makes me grin. Every morning my husband takes a fistful of vitamins, a medication or two and an aspirin. He is trying to make it for another 25 years together, I guess. All the pill bottles are in a little basket in the kitchen cabinet. He used to leave the basket, and all the bottles, spread over the counter top in the morning. It looked messy and annoyed the stew out of me.

One day I found this cute enamel cup in a junk store for .50 cents. I put it in the vitamin basket. Now my husband takes all the pills out, and puts them in the cup. Somehow along they way he learned to put the basket back in the cabinet. Cause he is smart. But he usually leaves the cup out even after he takes the medications. But you know what? It is O.K. with me that he leaves the cup there because it is cute as a button and I like to see it. I am no longer irritated by the mess of bottles and basket on the counter. Instead I feel happy that he is taking care of himself by taking vitamins. See? I told you I knew tricks!

Do you have a "yellow cup" in your relationship?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Today is a very special day... my big sister Debbie's birthday! For my entire life Deb has been there to watch over me, nurture me, nag me, tease me, help me, teach me and love love love me. I didn't always appreciate all that when I was little, but I do now!

Thank you, Deb, for being my sister, friend, confidant and role model. You are very special and I am so lucky to have you in my life.

May your birthday unfold magically, and may the year ahead be full of fun "secrets" and laughter. I love you!
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Sunday, November 23, 2008


It's been two years since he died, and today I was finally ready to say a last goodbye to Loki. I took his ashes from my office, and sprinkled them out in the meadow behind the house. Loki adored to run there, and now his remains can become a part of blowing grasses and nodding wildflowers.
He was the finest dog I ever knew, and it was privilege to love him for 10 glorious years.
I miss him still.
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

More than frost on the pumpkin....

We had our first snow of the season .... tiny flakes, falling steadily and whirling crazy in the winter wind. Not much accumulation, but enough to give us a taste of things to come. The lakes are still all open water, but some of the smaller ponds are coated with the thinnest layer of ice. The sky was gray today, and the newly iced ponds looked like hammered pewter. It has begun.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Do you know where???

Do you know where your blueberries come from? There are high bush blueberries, (large, fat, mostly flavorless things) and then there are wild Maine blueberries. The Maine variety are small, sweet, flavorful... special. They grow here... where I live! I drive past places like this every day. They are called blueberry barrens. Rocky, treeless places, covered with small bushes that produce a bazillion tiny, flavorful, antitoxin rich berries. There is an art and a science to growing blueberries... rotation of the fields, burning off the bushes periodically, bringing in hives of bees to pollinate the fruit, not to mention importing the migrant workers and high school kids to harvest the crop.

In the fall the barrens look like this... a deep rich red. In spring the barrens are a carpet of verdant green. In late summer when the harvest is ready to pick, the acres of barren have a blue cast, as if they are reflecting the endless sky. It is just one more gift that life in Maine offers. And I accept it with the deepest gratitude.
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

November color...

In Maine, the November sky is often hammered pewter and the ground is shades of brown and beige. Hardwood trees reach bare branches into the cold air, the birds don't sing.
The temperature can vary between the 50's and below zero. Tonight will be the coldest night of the month so far, it could dip to 12 F.
On first glance the surroundings seem to be lacking color, a world in hibernation tones... but the evergreens that are plentiful here are still rich and vibrant... emeralds among the duns of late autumn. These trees that blend into the background during the warm months become the stars of the cold times. Sometimes I snip a branch or two and tuck them into old bottles with a single hot-house rose. The effect is surprising and fragrant.
Now is the time that Mainers go deep in the woods for "tipping." They cut tips off of the branches of evergreen trees to make wreaths and roping for the upcoming Christmas season. The woods are full of hunters in November... deer hunters, greens hunters and the hunters of the peace that a cold 11th month day can lend the soul.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gearing up...

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I am gearing up for the "cast of thousands" that will join us on this very lovely "eating holiday." This week is cleaning, polishing and decorating week. Next week is plotting and planning and shopping and cooking week. I love Thanksgiving... love cooking the meal and having my home full of family, friends and some relative strangers as we share a special day of gratitude.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A tight squeeze...

This photo is of Chickita, my hen with an injured leg, in the nest box. She may have a bad limp, but she lays me a perfect brown egg EVERY day. The other three girls are shy and unhappy if I catch them in the nest box, but Chickita does not seem to mind an audience, and let me take several pictures of her.
Last week I went out to give the ladies breakfast and open the coop door, and when I peeked in Chickita AND Robirda were both wedged into this small nest box, side by side, doing what hens do when they are the nest. You can see how large this hen is, and how small the box is. The two girls side by side were an impossibly tight squeeze, and quite a comical sight.
The make me smile. Smiles and eggs, pretty good for some $10. pets!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Good news/bad news...

I had good news and bad news today. The good news was that when I popped into the cute little local florist and gift shop that I love, everything was half price! I bought roses to put in antique bottles around my house, and snagged two of these precious little vine and hydrangea wreaths to hang in my windows. The bad news is that the shop will be closing in a week forever. This makes me feel very sad. Not only did I buy roses there all winter to brighten my house, but I enjoyed chatting with the people there. The owners comment about the state of the economy was this; "The guys that used to stop and buy flowers for their wives aren't buying just now."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Shack

I just finished reading this book. It is not the sort of book I usually read, listed under the "Christian" genre, but I am so glad I did. No plot reveal here, but if God's relationship with man is of any interest to you at all, this book takes on that lofty topic in a pretty amazing way. I feel... changed. And uplifted.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Living the dream....

OK, so maybe my dream is simplistic, but it's mine and I like it! Pictured here? Whole milk from a local dairy, eggs from my own hens this morning, and see that blob of yellow? Locally made dairy fresh farm butter! I had it on my home baked corn muffin this morning and my taste buds did a happy dance. The fresh milk tastes... well... like milk only so much better. And it so cute in that jar that I grin when I see it. Life is good.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cute overload...

By a happy twist of fate, I was able to babysit this wee tiny Parrotlett (the smallest of all the parrots,) for a few weeks this summer. Her name is Daphne, and she is an enchanting little thing. I have her visiting me again for a few days now, her happy chirps fill the house, and she snuggles and nibbles and makes me smile.
When I was a little kid, I had happy fantasies living in house with as many pets as I wanted. And now I do. Isn't it nice when life works out that way? And some of the pets come to visit, and pay me for being here. Yup. The tee shirts are right, life IS good!