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!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And now for something completely different!

Meet Milo. He is a wire haired standard Dachshund. And he likes to hang out in this pose. A lot. What you can't see is that his tail is in constant motion when he lays like this, sunny side up. And his little teeth show, rather beaver like. He SLEEPS like this, too. It took me multiple tries to get this photo to share with you, because if he senses a camera any where near he spins and bolts from the room. Milo is a grooming customer and is visiting me for a bit while his owners have a an amazing adventure. The sort of adventure where a belly rub loving boy might not be so at home. I've enjoyed him a lot. Who could resist a belly as magnificent at this?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Peaceful places

I love cemeteries. When I was a little kid, my dad would bring me along each year to decorate the veterans graves with small American flags for Memorial Day. Before too long, I knew where all the stones were that needed a flag. Some were hidden among the branches of enormous fir trees, some nestled up against the craggy New England stone walls that ran along the edges of the small burial ground.

When I was pregnant, I would walk each morning before work to one of several cemeteries near our house in Ipswich, MA. One grouping of headstones really haunted my ragingly hormonal self. It consisted of two medium sized stones with the names of a husband and wife. The woman's tomb stone said, "She did what she could." To the right of this were 7 tiny grave markers.

I am particularly fond of the stones with epitaphs. They seem to have gone out of fashion, but many of the older stones have poems, biblical quotes, or short, pithy comments. One I remember was short, to the point and poignant. "He was a good man." If my remains are decorated with a stone, I might like it to say, "She got a lot done." At the end of my best days I can reflect back and say, "Wow... I got a lot done!" That would be a good sentiment to end my life with, too, I think.

This magnificent burial spot is in a cemetery near my current home. It is tucked off to the side, facing the woods. I wish I knew more about who is spending eternity in this spot. A little epitaph would sure be nice!
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thanksgiving season and "Aunt" Pearl go hand in hand in my mind. Pearl was as regular a part of the Thanksgiving holidays of my youth as the cranberry and dressing. When I was in my pre-teen years Pearl was lumped into a group of other aunties in my mind. I can see them, grouped together, sipping sherry and nibbling daintily on appetizers before the annual feast. My parents almost always hosted the Thanksgiving in those years. Aunt's Ann, Nell, Edith and Pearl always attended, along with lots of other family. The aunties, they seemed so... OLD when I was 10. I just figured it out, Pearl would have been in her early 50's then! She was in her late 80's in this photo, the one and only time I was lucky enough to host her for Thanksgiving in our new Maine home.

Pearl disliked having her photo taken. She was never pleased with the image of her the photograph reflected. I love this picture of her, though. She looks perky and bright, her mouth pursed as if she is about to say something funny. Pearl was wonderful to talk with, she was always up on current events, fascinated by the workings of the world around her. She had an astonishing memory, a generous spirit, and an air of genteelness that I have never known in another human. The ring you see on her right hand in this picture is now nestled in my jewelry box. Pearl left it to me when she died last year. That is not all she left... she left a large, dark void where the spark of her in my life once was.

This is the time of year when I like to spend more time than usual counting my blessings and being thankful. I am so thankful for the blessing of Pearl.
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Monday, November 10, 2008

What goes around...

Last year Rachel, then 18, asked me sweetly, "Did you play with me when I was little?" I felt gut punched. All those hours of snuggling, playing, teaching... she didn't remember it. Watching bees collect pollen from the Crepe Myrtle blossoms? She can't recall. Her tiny self, draped in her daddy's t-shirt that reached to her ankles, standing on a kitchen chair to stir the pancake batter? That is my memory alone. The one million times I dropped what I was doing to tend to her... she has no memory at all.

I have put parenting first since the joyous moment I found out that I carried this creature inside my body. I gave up Diet Coke for the nine LONG months of gestation! I ate SPINACH almost every day! And yes, once she hatched I played with her. Endlessly. And I sang to her and carried her everywhere, worked my entire life around what was best for her. I read her favorite books out loud so many times that I still remember the words of them 19 years later. I was, even in retrospect, a very good mom.

Now Rachel is a college student with a part time job on the Alzeimers wing of a retirement home. Last week she called me and told me the following story: "At work we have some residents we need to wake up really early so they can have medications. I sit on their beds and sing to them and pat them till they wake up...."

She does remember, after all! Maybe not consciously, but all the tenderness I poured into her little life is there, rattling around in the back of her heart and brain. The times I woke her up by patting her and kissing her and singing. All the love I lavished on her. It is there, and it shines through in her sweet spirit.

I treasure the thought of her, perched on the edge of the bed of a person institutionalised in the twilight of their life.
Singing and patting. Waking them sweetly so that perhaps their day will be touched with some love. I revel in the thought of these men and women, whose memories are lost to them, waking to the smile of my kind and gentle daughter.

The remembrance of the hours she and I shared in her infancy and childhood... she cannot recall them. But the love I lavished on her? It's still there. And it multiplies as she shares it. What goes around comes around. My love was not wasted, it was magnified.
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Local fauna...

Chris and I took this picture "up in the county" last year. This cow moose stood very close to our car, seemingly interested in us. Her half grown bull calf was nearby, but she would not let him get too close. We saw 4 or 5 moose on that outing, but his one was by far the most photogenic.
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Saturday, November 8, 2008


In 1635 some of my ancestors washed up here, at Pemaquid Point, Maine. They had set sail from England on the ship Angel Gabriel, and during a hurricane the ship was wrecked on these rocky shores. Most of the passengers survived, but the ship and many of the material possessions were lost. I knew none of this when I moved to Maine 5 years ago... yet now I live less than an hour away from this beautiful spot. As winter settles around me here in New England, I relish the wood fire and my cozy, weather tight home. I wonder how those relatives of mine survived the cold and achingly long winters back then. The raw beauty of this place didn't keep them warm, surely. I come from hardy stock. Yessah!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Some corners....

Some corners of my house make me smile. This is one of them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I love to look at the patterns of nature. The stark branches of leafless trees against an autumn sky, the expanses of ever changing clouds, the ripples on sand that the ocean leaves when it retreats. All so unique and beautiful. The above is a photo of the feathers on my humble chickens. These friendly birds that feed my family with flawless, flavorful eggs, are covered in this exquisite patterning of feathers. It's enough to take my breath away.
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Life is....

Life is full of surprises. Some are sweet, some... not so much.
One of my hens paces at the hen yard gate in the morning, wanting to get OUT to the big yard. I suspected she was laying eggs under the pine tree at the side of the house, and have looked there countless times to see if any brown eggs were laying out among the pine cones and needles. Today I looked again. And found this! 10 eggs, in a lovely natural nest of meadow grass, shaded by the boughs of the old pine.
I collected them in my shirt, then came right inside and baked a quiche.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Belated Halloween photo...

I took this photo and saved it for Halloween, thinking how PERFECT it would be. Then I was on the road and totally forgot to send it. Still... it's too good to waste, so here it is.
This enormous dead tree is at the edge of our property line. It looks like something that would be on a Berenstein bear drawing. The two Starlings like to hang out there, making raucous noises. And that moon. It just begged me to go back in the house on a crisp fall morning and get the camera already.
No tricks... this scene was a treat!

Dazzle and I spent the weekend at the New England Pet Grooming Professional's fall trade show.

Dazzle (a shy girl by nature) was an extremely good sport. She let total strangers kiss her and love her and groom her fuzzy parts.

I (a formerly shy girl) worked happily at the German Red Clipper booth and gave a one hour seminar entitled 101 Tips for Real World Groomers. We had a blast!