Thursday, October 30, 2008

Old and new

I have a magnetic fascination for old buildings. We found this barn, one stiff breeze away from being a pile of old lumber, on Monhegan Island. Inside, rusted chains as big around as my wrist swung from the rafters. I would love to know what this barn has been used for over the years. Did it house cattle, horses, chickens? All of the above? The shiny new wheelbarrow leaning against it was delightfully incongruous. It looks as if it is ready to receive a load of manure... yet it has obviously been years since this structure housed more than mice and spiders. And maybe some bats.

The dirt road, in case you are curious, led past pastel cottages to the rocky shore.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

goof ups....

Today I made a big mistake. I gave one dog a hair cut intended for another. There is no reason, no explanation. I just messed up.

I had a bad reaction to my error. An adrenaline rush. Heart palpitations. Stark horror.

Luckily the dogs owner was fine with it. Thought the dog looked cute. Today I am grateful for kind people and worried about... my brain.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quote of the day....

"We don't need more to be thankful for,we just need more to be thankful."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Meet Dazzle...

This is the last of the family dogs to introduce. This is Dazzle, the standard poodle. You might notice that she is purple. She certainly noticed, and she LIKES it when she is purple! It makes her more outgoing and adds a bounce to her action. Dazzle is 7 years old, and lovely, patient and sweet. Not the brightest bulb on the string, perhaps, but a fun girl to have around. Especially when she is purple!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wind and trees...

“He who plants trees, benefits another generation.” -- Sunephebi
I first saw this quote when I was in high school. I wrote it out and gave it to my father. My father was a tree planter. I admired many things about him, especially this. Every spring he would order trees by mail. He would wait with great excitement until the box would arrive, full of tiny trees, damp and fragrant with promise.
He would press me, the youngest child, into service. Together, we would dig holes, carefully plant the wee trees with their threadlike roots, and then water them well. My job was to keep them wet each day, running the water until it pooled deeply around the slim trunks.
I remember pretending I was riding a horse, around the age of 8. I would run through the paths between the trees, and then leap nimbly over them. They were 2 feet tall or so at this time, and growing fast. My imaginary steed and I would turn the trees into a variety of obstacles to clear.
Today those trees reach impossibly high into the Massachusetts sky. It is hard to imagine they started out as 2 inch sprouts wrapped in plastic and cardboard. My father imagined it. He knew he would never live to see it, but he could imagine it and he made it happen. And I helped.
This photo was taken as a cold front blew through and whipped the late October leaves off the tree's. These are white birches, which I bought for $5.00 4 years ago. They were wrapped in plastic at a discount store, and no longer than my hand. I planted them, whispering a prayer to my father as I did so. They now stand taller than my fingers reach when I extend my arm over my head.
Today my fathers trees shade my sister and her family, living in the home my father built. My birches will shade me in a few years, and hopefully others who come after me. I can see them, as clearly as my father could see the towering pines we planted together so long ago. A gift of generations.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Big Questions....

I believe that we are here for some reason.

It is CLEAR to me that my reason is, in a large part, to groom dogs. But I have no idea WHY. I know it brings me both pleasure and a steady income, but what am I doing to improve the quality of the world with my work? I mean, besides the fact that because of me lots of dogs look and smell better!

These are the sorts of things that keep me up nights, wondering.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Meet Smoochie....

Here is Smooch. The pooch. I had no intention of adding a 4th dog to our family, but here he is. You can read more about how he arrived at Click on "articles," then "Heart dogs."
Smoochie's job is to kiss us all soundly each and every chance he gets. He loves me and ADORES Rachel. When Rachel comes home from college, Smooch nearly hurts himself with his joyous greeting. His happiest moments are when Rachel and I are together, and he can snuggle, touching us both. Smooch goes to work with me most days, and spends his time convincing my coworkers and me to toss toys for him- - - endlessly. He is highly motivated by food, and feels a bit intimidated that the chickens are taller than he is. His Vet says, "He is pretty cute. If you like the way space aliens look." Never one to hold a grudge, Smooch kissed him, too.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some thoughts about marriage...

My husband has taught me a lot about marriage. The most important thing, I think, is how to be there. Cause day in and day out, he is dependably, reliably "there" for me. When we had our daughter, he took on the added job of being "there" for her, too.
There is an amazing comfort in knowing that your mate is physically and emotionally unconditionally beside you through thick and thin. It does not get much more beautiful than that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Complaint department

Recently a friend of mine was on a tear, complaining. She complained about her husband, her kids, her home, her lack of money. In reality she has a nice husband who adores her, healthy, kind, intelligent children and a beautiful, paid for home. I tried to gently point out the many blessings in her life. She rolled her eyes at me a bit and when mentioned her nice family and wonderful home. When I elaborated, and said something like, "You have running water!" Her eye rolling turned to a scoff.

When I get home from work on an average day, I do things to keep our home running. I might dust the living room pictured here, water plants, do some dishes, start dinner and/or toss in a load of laundry. I am not a huge fan of doing laundry, to be honest, but I AM a fan of having clean clothes to wear! Today, as I tossed in a load of things to wash I thought about how amazing it is that I can just stuff items into this big white box, add soap, turn a dial and come back in 30 minutes or so to find clean clothes. What a huge blessing that is. I am also very fond of having clean, cool, safe water available to me 24 hours a day, with just a lift of a faucet.

Sometimes, if I am feeling a little grumpy, I remind myself just how lucky I am. I never scoff at my running water or electricity, but I do sometimes fail to appreciate them fully. Taking a moment to appreciate the things I often take for granted helps me stay on track. I really don't have much to be complaining about.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Good neighbors...

This evening my sweet neighbor walked over holding this beautiful, wonderful basket full of Concord grapes. I happen to adore Concord grapes. When I was a little girl, there was a spindly vine or two of these in our neighbors yard. My big brother used to hoist me up on his bony shoulders and I would pull down small bunches of grapes with small, greedy fists.
They were such a dark purple they looked nearly black. Some were mirror sleek, others looked as if they were dusted with frost. We would pop them into our mouths--- smooshing the thick, tart skin against the tops of our mouths. Inside that skin we would find the smooth, slippery sweetness that tasted like all the flavor of summer distilled into one oval burst of flavor.
Tonight, on my kitchen counter, is a basket full of memories and the flavor of summer. How lucky can I be?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blending the seasons...

Somehow this year I am having trouble letting go of summer. I don't want to put the yard furniture in the basement and I don't want to give up on these last fine days. So I decorated a favorite chair with fall "stuff." A bridge, of sorts, between the seasons.
Wonder what I can do with that chair once the snow flies?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Meet Lilly....

Lilly is a bad, bad Boxer. She has been bad for 10 years, ever since the day we took Rachel, on her 9th birthday, to pick out a puppy of her own. I keep waiting for her to calm down, but at 10, (which is OLD for this breed) she is still naughty and full of beans. Her muzzle is silver now, not the black velvet thing it once was, but her eyes are still sparking with mischief. She is a trash thief, puppy biter, barker at all things that move, wiggling, striped wonder. I complain about her incessantly, but when she is gone, I will miss her terribly. She has been a Rachel's confidant and alter ego for much of her life. She is the dominant bitch in our dog pack, getting the first and best of everything, and ruling the others with a firm paw. Lilly is, a really good bad dog.

Friday, October 17, 2008


There has been some strange market flux and suddenly Lobster, which I have gleefully paid $9.00 per pound for, is selling for $2.50. Not per pound, PER LOBSTER. Last night we had them boiled with butter, and tonight... Lobster Newberg.
My mother made wonderful Newberg, and it is one of those recipes I have never tried. It seemed... so ADULT. So FANCY.
Tonight I tried it. And it was amazing. NOT my mom's recipe, to be sure, but elegant, adult, fancy and worth the effort. I used the egg yolks from my newly laid hens eggs... and cream and sherry and butter and other yummy, high calorie, high fat, high delicious stuff. I will DEFINITELY make it again. Maybe soon, if this market holds....


This is the shadow my house casts as the sun settles over the ridge in late afternoon. The shadow falls into a rectangle of meadow. This meadow is a slice of life. In it we have seen: Fishers, Fox, White Tailed Deer, Porcupines, Turkeys, Ground Hogs and a MOOSE! We have HEARD Coyote's as they sing there at night.
Overhead we have seen a HUGE variety of winged creatures, including hawks, Bald Eagles, Owls, Osprey and Vultures.
I love this photo because, to me, the shadow is a symbol of the impermanence of this place. This house has stood here well over 100 years, and has housed many families before ours. It has kept them warm and dry and safe, has harbored laughter and tears, fights and celebrations. It has been rebuilt after a fire, added to and redesigned. Millions of meals have been eaten within its walls. But before it was here there was grass and trees and wildlife. And someday, when it is gone, I hope there will be more grass and trees and wildlife. And I hope that the happiness I have known here will leave some sort of imprint on the place... even if it is as fleeting as this shadow on the grass.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

crunch, Crunch, CRUNCH!

I have this very vivid memory... my my mom and I, walking on a fall day. I am reaching up and holding her hand. Her hand is warm and smooth and strong. She and I scuff our feet in the leaves, and the scent of them rises up to our nostrils. It is indescribable and unforgettable. Canada geese wing overhead, calling a haunting song. My cap toed tennis shoes kick the leaves high... the top leaves are dry and crisp, the lower ones are damp and fragrant. Mama says, "Crunch, crunch, crunch! Billy Goats Out to Lunch!" I find this a delightful thought... goats, out to LUNCH. Making CRUNCHING sounds. It is funny what thoughts latch into our memories and last and last.
To this day, when I see leaves on the ground I scuff when I walk, and I say under my breath, "crunch, crunch, crunch..."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Grateful for...

Poppy's in late afternoon light.
Walking through fall leaves with my pony.
Cozy warm house on a chilly evening.
New microfibre sheets, so nice!
Full moon rising over the meadow.
So many things to be grateful for, every day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Angel dog...

This is Poppy. If you look closely, you can see the halo over her little head. Poppy came to live with us 8 years ago. She was a tiny puppy who had been abandoned. She was loaded with fleas and had a belly full of worms. She was, unequivocally the ugliest puppy I had ever seen.
My plan was to get her healthy, and then find a wonderful home for her. She decided our home was quite wonderful enough, thank you, and stayed.
I knew I was sunk the day I looked down at her little squashed face and said to her, "You are SO beautiful." You see, logically I know she is no beauty, but when I see with my heart, she is among the prettiest things I know.
Poppy is a sweet and happy soul. She is the best snuggle pug of all time, never meets a stranger, and makes me smile every day.
If you knew her, you'd think she was beautiful, too.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Eggzactly what I've been waiting for!

Add a little something to the family tree! The Ladies have finally LAID AN EGG! I couldn't be prouder. It is a little on the small side, but they say that is not unusual for the first few. They even managed to lay it IN the nest box I have provided. It dawned on me that it is entirely possible that I have PURCHASED my last egg for a while. What a treat! I've enjoyed the chickens so much that I've decided that if they never laid, I'd still be delighted by them, but this really is the frosting on the cake. Cake! I can't wait to bake a cake with my OWN eggs...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A nice thing about woodstoves...

Behind the stove is a wonderful place to dry herbs from my garden. Today I picked Sage, to flavor the Thanksgiving dressing, and Lavender, because it is so precious. My sweet brother in law, John, made me the board with the heart shaped hooks to hang behind the stove. One of the nicest gifts I've ever recieved!

The last...

The last bouquet from my summer garden. We have had several hard frosts, and I am amazed at how many blooms were still left to pick. It's a bittersweet bouquet; I am anxious to "put the garden to bed" for the winter, but sad to think this is really, truely, the end of summer. (I know, I know, its OCTOBER! But it is still warm and beautiful outside!)

Frog's eye view...

One of the reasons I love to kayak is that I get to see sights like this up close and personal. I didn't get to kayak as much as I normally do this summer, I was distacted by the new horse. Next summer I hope to strike a better balance. There was one day that I managed to kayak AND ride all in one day. That is a happy memory to look back on as winter looms...


Tagged by: Babystepscottage. Thanks. I am told that now I am supposed to tell 7 things about me. Here goes:

1. I have procrastination trubbles!

2. I love bagpipe and marching band music.

3. I am patriotic.

4. I adore my husband and teen aged daughter (even though a teen is enough to make me want to stab my eyes out sometimes!)

5. Home is my favorite place to be.

6. I am developing a yoga addiction.

7. Kayaking is a joyous activity.

Since I am a brand new baby blogger, I don't have anyone to "tag." Maybe soon!

Friday, October 10, 2008

And other days....

More like this!
How was YOUR day?

Some days....

Are just like this....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why weekends are just better....

Who has time to create a breakfast like this on a work day?
Weekends... they are just better all around.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Creative effort...

Today is the birthday of my friend, Liz.
Liz has a lovely horse, named Ariel. Liz and Ariel are both classy ladies, and it was apparent that a nice (and classy!) stall sign was needed for the stable.
I created the sign here as a gift. The top has a sterling silver horse (in Western tack) and there are lovely turquoise stones on each side, which came from a broken piece of jewelry that another friend of Liz' donated to the cause.
I was quite pleased with the outcome of my efforts, and better still, Liz seemed to like, too!
Happy Birthday, Liz!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Happy Husband

This is Chris. My husband and boon companion for 24+ years.
He is a really nice guy. A sweet husband and a fabulous daddy.
Today he got a nice promotion at work. He brought home a bottle of wine and we had a little toast and celebration with dinner. Chris works really hard and I am so glad when his efforts are acknowledged. I am proud of my guy. Go Chris!


Morning streams in.... ready or not!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Wild ride!

This is me. With Chanel, my "mid life crisis." I am drinking champagne. In a barn. Out of a beer mug. This picture was taken the day I laid down money and made Chanel mine. We were celebrating. Or at least I was, I am not sure how she felt about her change of venues.
Today I met the woman I bought Chanel from to go for a ride. We've been trying to get together for months, but life has consistently intervened. Jane planned to meet me where I stable my horse. She arrived as planned, on Thad, her stallion. Thad and Chanel know each other. In the biblical sense. In fact, they have two foal's together. The plan today was that I would follow Jane and Thad back to Jane's place, then she would put Thad away and get out the 4 year old filly she is saddle training. It was a lovely New England fall day. Clear and sunny, but with a nip in the air. The leaves are turning, and everything looked as bright and charming as a calendar photograph.
Thad was awfully excited to see his ex-honey, and she was awfully excited to see him. He walks FAST, and Chanel was having to go double time to keep up with him. The trail we rode on was unfamiliar to me, and had lots of boggy spots, steep hills and rushing streams. This was all a bit thrilling, and made more so because my saddle was slipping, making it even more challenging than normal to stay on board. The MOST exciting part was when we got to Jane's house. We had to navigate a steep uphill path, with a hot wire fence to the left, and Chanel's babies racing about and making a LOT of noise inside that fence. To the right- woods and a bit of a drop off. I had to keep Chanel from running up the stallions backside, keep her from smashing into the hot wire fence in her excitement to see her babies, (thus keep her from getting a jolt that would no doubt send her into the woods and down the drop off.) Very challenging stuff for a very rusty rider like me!
Once we arrived safely, I rode around in a fenced riding ring for a bit, until Jane came back with the trainee. Chanel and her foal greeted each other rather enthusiastically, (a few squeals and jumps...) and then we rode in the ring together a bit. The foal spooked a few times, so it was quite a trip to be in close quarters with her. And to make things more interesting, huge dark clouds were rolling in, and the wind was kicking up, promising a cold rain shower.
Hoping to avoid a soaking, we decided it was time to ride back. Jane informed me that the filly had only been ridden in the pen, never on the trail. The plan was for me to ride ahead on Chanel, so the baby could follow a calm horse. This was a perfectly good plan, except Chanel is the sort of horse that likes to FOLLOW on the trail, not lead. We did manage, up and down the steep trail and through the water and mud, and I felt wildly successful and EMPOWERED when we got safely back to the barn.
Even Jane, a very accomplished and seasoned rider said, "That was an exciting ride, eh?" Yes, yes it was. This riding stuff really stretches me out of my comfort level. Go me!


This photo was taken through my porch window. This little guy sat very still while I took several views of him, even posing rather seductively for this shot. Clean windows? They are a good thing!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Makes me smile....

One of the things I love about my house is the light that steams in. It makes me smile.

Sunday rising...

I was up before dawn to bake bread. I love the quiet of early morning. The dogs wanted to rise when they heard me get up, but they took a quick turn on the frosty grass and then ran right back up stairs to sleep in. Smart dogs.

I am baking communion bread. Normally I used my trusty starter, which I named "Seymour" when I aquired it 15 or so years ago. Seymour lives in an antique salt glazed crock in my 'fridge, and should be fed weekly. Lately I've been slacking, and Seymour was not up to creating the sweet, soft loaves he usually does. So today I am trying an oatmeal bread recipe that looked easy, and best of all, relatively quick. I should have baked last night, but the Pomegranite Martini's and good conversation made me think that waiting until this morning was a better idea!
James Taylor is singing to me softly, and the house is warming as the fire in the woodstove kicks to life. Dawn is creeping over the meadow, and a low mist is hugging the browning grass. It promises to be a lovely fall day. My sister and niece are visiting, and Rachel is home from college for a weekend of sleep and home cooking. Our plan is to stock up on cider and apples from the farm stand, and make a scare crow to welcome visitors. Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I've always been intimidated by Orchid's. I mean honestly, such stunning flowers couldn't possibly thrive under my care. I get all excited if I manage to get a Geranium to bloom! So this year, right after Christmas, I SPLURGED, and dropped $30. on an Orchid. My plan was to toss it when it got done blooming, because I KNEW I could never get it to bloom on my own.

It bloomed its little heart out for MONTHS! It was early spring before the last bloom faded. Rather than toss the plant I moved it to my porch, tossed some water on it from time to time, and ignored it. And then, it did THIS. And behind these blossoms, is another stem full of buds coming along.

My lesson in this, I think, is stop being intimidated by things. So, I just started a new venture... I am taking yoga class. That is something else I have always been scared to try. I had my second class tonight and lived to tell. I enjoyed it, was able to do everything suggested I do, and I feel terrific. What intimidates you?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Autumn nesting

If I had to choose one season to be my favorite, it would probably have to be fall. The colors of autumn make me feel joyful. The scent of fallen leaves and wisps of woodsmoke on the breeze energize me. And it makes me want to "nest." Suddenly I am polishing copper, putting candles everywhere, shining up my wood stove. I find myself garnishing things with gourds and Indian corn.
When I was a little girl, my friends Emily and Melanie and I would go to the meadow across from my house and run, arms spread, through tall patches of milk weed. The dried seed pods would spew forth thousands of tiny white umbrella topped seeds, which would float away on the October winds.
We would shriek with glee through chapped lips and store away memories that would linger for years.
And the food of fall! Time for stew and soups and plump loaves of bread rising on the counter. This year I experimented with making VATS of tomato sauce. I cooked up an entire bushel of tomatoes with peppers and onions and deliciousness. I now have bags of wonderful summer flavor nestled in my freezer. Surely this is some primal "instinct," putting food up for the coming cold season.
We have 4 cords of wood stacked and ready to warm us all winter. It feels good to know that come what may we'll not freeze! Perhaps it is the bounty of the season that appeals to me. The larder stocked full of food, the wood stacked high, piles of blankets clean and ready for the long, cozy nights ahead. I welcome every season and recognize their joys, but give me autumn. Give me the fullness of harvest and welcoming of a home readied for fall. Polished apples in a wooden bowl and the cry of migrating geese overhead. A flavor to cherish.