Friday, December 30, 2011

Changing things up...

In the center of my beautiful dining room table I have a collection of crystal candlesticks. They are different shapes and styles, and I love how when the sun streams through my window a thousand tiny rainbows dance on the walls and ceiling. Yesterday when I was putting Christmas decorations away I moved some things around. I replaced the dining room candles with a huge white platter and an old fashioned oil lamp. It looks simple, fresh and clean.
Then I shined up the crystal and moved the candle sticks to the window in my kitchen. Last night I lit the candles while I cooked and every time I glanced at that table I felt a happy smile creep up on me. Sometimes just moving things around and changing the way you look at them renews the way you see your world. As I prepare to turn the last page on the calendar that was 2011 I have decided to change things up more in the coming year. I am betting my world will look even more beautiful.

Monday, December 26, 2011

And the stockings were hung by the ...

Tiger Lilly the very old Boxer, has been around for 13 Christmas mornings. She knows that those funny socks we hang suddenly sprout toys and treats. When we hang them, she makes a habit of checking them often. On Christmas day her diligence is rewarded. She shows the other dogs that there is something to be excited about. This year there was quite a LOT to be excited about. After our beloved traditional Christmas morning at home, we loaded the three of us and FIVE dogs into Chris' little Subaru. It was a tight squeeze! Then we headed south, over icy roads, through lovely falling snow, to Massachusetts. Because... I went HOME for Christmas. At the age of 51, I am one of the few people I know who can still go HOME... to a house where I lived from birth till college, to a home my father built by hand. My sister and her husband live there now. There were three sisters there this year, with kids and dogs and significant others. There was roast beef cooked to perfection, and music and amazing seasonal decorations. All of this was stirred with laughter and gifts and hugging and pleasant conversation. It was very, VERY good.
I have not been there at Christmas for 23 years or more. I was determined to create traditions of our own for our little family, and I did. When we had a baby I wanted her Christmas memories to be centered at HOME. I didn't want her to remember flitting from place to place, house to house, with no time to play with what Santa brought her. We have had lovely holidays at home, and we have treasured them. Going away was a break in those traditions, but a good one. On the way out of Boxford, Massachusetts this morning we stopped by the cemetery to visit my parents, grandparents and other loved ones. I thanked them for the roots that are my very foundation, and for the warm home to come back to. I paid tribute to the past, was grateful for the present, and took a quiet moment to look, expectantly, to the future. A future that hangs, with care. Much like Lilly the Boxer, who looks often at the stockings, I look towards tomorrow with great expectation.

Friday, December 23, 2011

White Christmas...

I woke before my 5:00 AM alarm this morning. It is my last day of work before a nice winter break, and there is much to do! When I sleepily opened the door to let the dogs out this is the scene that greeted me. The tune, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" marched, unbidden, into my brain. I put my favorite Christmas music on as I worked and watched the snow dancing in the predawn. All is calm, all is WHITE. I baked three loaves of gift bread that had risen next to the wood stove while I slept. I also made two big pans of pasta shells stuffed with a 3 cheese mixture. Quart bags of homemade tomato sauce that I had nestled into the freezer in August topped the shells. One pan will go to work for our annual Christmas party tonight, the other will be for our Christmas Eve feast tomorrow. A bag of carefully wrapped gifts is waiting by the door to go to work. Today promises to be long and rich and full. The festivities are in full swing.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Today is the first day of winter. Only 90 days till spring!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Good light...

When I arise in the morning it is pre-dawn. As I drive home from work at 4:30 in the afternoon, it is dark again. People complain about the brevity of winter days, they say it depresses them. Not me. I enjoy coming home over the unlit road and seeing our little home, the windows illuminated by flickering candles. Those little lights glimmering through the gloom are so welcoming. When I come inside the first thing I do is open the vent on the wood stove and toss a couple of logs in. Soon there are dancing flames to delight my soul and warm my body. Then I illuminate "real" candles around the house. When sunlight becomes a rarity during the long, dark, resting days of winter the light cast from flames touches something deep and primal in my soul. Fire on the hearth or the table is good light. Warm, soft and enticing, it encourages me to sit within the limits of its glow and just be still.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


What I love about this season is the BELIEVING.  Or... as someone I treasure once said, "The suspension of disbelief."  We can believe that people can be a little sweeter, kinder, nicer, more thoughtful.  We can believe in the WONDER of a baby born in Bethlehem.  Or even in the magic of Santa.

One thing I believe is that I'll make many, many loaves of bread.  I've given out many so far this month... to the guys who sold us our Christmas tree, to some customers and neighbors and friends. I have more to bake, the starter is fed and bubbling on the counter. I delight in surprising people with a loaf of home made goodness. I believe in generosity.
Lilly, almost 14 years old, (ancient for a Boxer; her muzzle used to be deepest black) believes, with every fiber of her being, that Life is Good.  Tonight I gave her, the alpha dog, the one and only good soup bone I had available.  She looked at me, incredulous.  She looked at the other dogs, haughty.  Then she spent a happy hour gnawing and licking and making yummy noises.  

And you?  What do YOU believe in?  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pretty things...

Here are some lovely things from around our holiday house to share with you.

The ancient hutch in the front room is laden with little lights and Christmas decorations.  My two favorites are here.  My daughter made figures of Mary, baby Jesus and two lovely angels when she was in high school.  I treasure them.  In the next photo is another prize... a nativity scene made by my friend Kathy; one of the first people I met when I moved to Memphis with our tiny infant.  Kathy was a lifeline for me during a lonely time, and I think of her often, especially when I carefully unpack these sweet ceramic figures every December.

The tree this year is decorated rather simply... white lights, little icicle ornaments, crocheted snowflakes and antique crystals (which I gleefully purchased at a variety of antique/junk stores.) It reminds us of starry night and snow and smells like heaven.

The bottom photo shows some knitting projects my daughter and I have been working on.  The purple and blue items are shawls we knit as gifts for some very special people, and the top, frothy looking item is a wonderful scarf which is still "in progress."

We had a visitor once who made my heart sing when she said, "Everywhere I look in your house there is something beautiful to admire."  I try to remember this when I am focusing on the dust bunnies and clutter and doggy nose prints on the windows.  There is so much pretty here to focus on instead.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Plenty and Grace...

This little sign hangs outside the door of our home.  I find it to be a wonderful, simple blessing.

This time of year our home is bursting with plenty.  The harvest of chickens, ducks, lamb, pork and (soon!) beef is tucked into the huge chest freezer.  A smaller freezer is full of squash, carrots, beans, blueberries and quart bags stuffed full of tomato sauce made on a steaming day in August. 
Now in December we've been scurrying around for weeks squirreling away gifts for each other for Christmas.  Thoughtful things that we hope will delight are wrapped with love and tucked under the boughs of a fresh evergreen tree.
Best of all there is the coming together each evening after a long day at work.  The ease and comfort of good companionship, pleasant conversation and companionable silences.  That is the grace.
How I love to be in this place. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011


The decking of the "halls" has commenced.  Today I gussied up a plain wreath I bought a few days ago.  I found these awesome hand-made felt birds at a local store for under $4. each.  I snapped up one of each variety and carefully wired them on.  Added a little sheer gold ribbon and voila!  A smile worthy door decoration. I hung a sweet little illuminated angel in the high garage window, and my favorite Christmas flag is snapping in the wind by the door.  

We also finished decorating the tree... going with a very simplistic theme this year. Normally we haul out every single ornament collected over our entire marriage, all the little hand made things from our daughters childhood, a mish mash collection of colors and shapes and sizes. This year we decided to go for a rather simplistic approach; white lights, white crocheted snow flakes, little sparkly icicle ornaments and a bunch of antique crystals from an old chandelier that I found at a junk shop.  It is very pretty!

There was much hauling of fire wood today.  I don't mind the job, but my knees do.  They ache after I have pushed a loaded wheelbarrow over the uneven ground from one side of the yard to the other over and over.  A basement stacked full of good hard wood, though?  That is decorating I can really warm up to!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Frosty mornings...

 This morning when the dogs and I streamed outside the world was coated in frost. We skidded over the deck and down the slick steps. 
Then we went for a stroll around the meadow.  The dogs were feeling feisty; leaping and dancing on the cold ground. Even Lilly, the ancient, arthritic Boxer, bounced and spun in the crisp air with her friend Dazzle poodle.  Canine ballet.

The chickens and ducks were less than amused about the cold ground and frozen water bowls.  I reminded them that this time of year is rarely as warm as it has been .  They flipped me off.  A few fistful's of sunflower seeds and some buckets of warm water, steaming in the morning air,  placated them. 
The bunny wisely hung out in the coop... on top of the deep bed of clean shavings.  Her bowl of rabbit pellets was nearby... along with  a carrot and some celery.  And a nibble of bread.  She LOVES bread. 

Some of us love frosty mornings. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Let the season begin...

When I flipped the calender to December, I let the season officially begin.  I rebel against seeing Christmas glitz in stores in October, and do my best to let no carols touch my ears before the beginning of the month.  But today all bets were off.  My daughter and I donned matching red and green earrings shaped like the bulbs on a strand of lights, that FLASHED.  Yes, yes we did.  The dogs got dressed up in appropriate costumes, (much to their "delight") and we loaded the CD player at work up with seasonal music.  And the magic began a little bit... that feeling.  That feeling of happiness and anticipation and JOY.  The excitement of planning gifts for people I care about.  The plotting of baking goodies to share.  The delight of seeing people blossom a bit this time of year, become a little warmer, a little sweeter and more thoughtful.  It was a good day. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Driving through the Maine countryside on a recent errand I passed this place and snapped a shot.  The old barn is huge, and snugged tight by the side of the road.  I like to think of someone out there, on a ladder, carefully painting stars and stripes onto the ancient, thirsty wood.  What made them think of this, and how did they execute their vision so perfectly?  I am constantly fascinated by what motivates and inspires people to do the things they do. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Giving Thanks and more...

 The day before Thanksgiving we got snow.  Lots of it... 9 inches or more.  I spent the day indoors, cooking, cleaning, decorating and preparing for the feast.  It was lovely watching the snow come down, listening to the wind howl around the house as the wood stove snapped. Peaceful.
Thanksgiving day dawned clear and the temperature soared.  My sweet brother in law, John, helped out by clearing up the drive and walk ways.  He soon got so warm he peeled his shirt off.  I had to laugh when I saw him, surrounded by snow yet shirtless!
 We cooked a total of FOUR birds.  Here are the two we smoked; a home raised Muscovy duck on the left, and a locally grown heritage breed turkey on the right.  Chris did the smoking and the birds were excellent!  I also roasted two small turkeys, one a locally raised Broad Breasted White, (the type we all buy in stores) and the other a Heritage breed. The Heritage birds (more like wild types) have less breast meat, more dark meat, and a denser texture. I found the flavor to be superior.
 Niece Aimee came with boyfriend Tim and baby Lucy, Flirt's puppy.  There was a joyous reunion of mother and daughter, and they spent the entire visit playing and cuddling.  It was fun to watch!
 As always, Chris set up a giant trough full of ice, wine, soft drinks beer and more on the porch.  My niece, Emily, brought AMAZING eggnog made at a farm near where she lives.  The best EVER.  Chris also set up a full bar, with a billion bottles of booze and mixers, sliced limes and lemons and a variety of glassware. He likes to think that people can walk in and have any drink they desire.  They way he sets it up always elicits a cacophony of  "oohs" and "ahhs" from our guests.

We fed 20 people and the house was filled with laughter and chatter.  There was no angst. Just pleasantness and helpfulness and good conversation.

The next day we gathered and assembled Ginger Bread houses.  My sister Deb started this tradition a few years ago.  Guests come back and nosh on left overs and we put the houses together.  It is very relaxed and happy, with just a bit of competitiveness.  Niece Emily and her husband Jeff always come up with the most elaborate, fabulous house.  They work together, heads close, plotting their strategy as they decorate with gum drops and frosting.  It is delightful to see. 

And then... everyone goes home and this old house is quiet again. All of the build up and planning and preparation is over. The cold porch is laden with leftovers, and we find ourselves ducking out there to snitch a bit of turkey, a taste of cake, a glass of wine, a slice of good pie.  As for me, I usually take a nap or two in the days following.  I bask in the memory of the joy of being together, remember the echoing sounds of good conversation and savor the flavor of the left over goodies.  The thankfulness?  It lingers.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mice beware..!

Our home is in the country.  We are surrounded by wildlife of all kinds.  Eagles, fox, coyotes, turkeys and deer are all regularly seen on or near our property.  All of that makes me very happy.  But sometimes the wild things get, uh, a little to close for comfort.  This time of year I sometimes find evidence that mice have been tap dancing on my counter tops.  It is then that I wish we had a cat. 

Recently one of my grooming customers told me that they wanted to find a home for their Maine Coon cat- a huge guy with a sweet disposition.  I thought of the mice and looked at the massive cat.  I think the mice have met their match. 

We dubbed the new guy "Catfish Hunter."  He is settling in, getting to know the lay of the place and meeting his new staff.  He has the dogs trembling in fear as he stalks about.  One impressive feline; I have a feeling he is going to earn his keep.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


This morning, as dawn slips pinkly through the wavy glass windows of this old house, I am thinking of relationships. I have worked every day for years with a woman who will now no longer be there.  We have swapped recipes, shared laughter, teased, gotten on each others nerves and spent countless hours talking.  Today for the first time I won't know what she is planning to cook for supper or what her kids are up to.  And it is going to be strange.

There are all these intricate connections in our lives.  Some we take for granted until the link breaks.  And then because life is the way it is, we move on, stronger for the experience, saddened by the loss.  It's a lot to think about.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The world, she is...

 My husband, daughter and I just returned from a magical weekend in Quebec, Canada. The people of Quebec speak French as a primary language, so though it is only a 6 hour drive from our home in Maine, it feels quite exotic to be there.  We loved the wording on the can of sardines above, "Fish She is Very Small."  The world?  She is very small, too. 
 And very beautiful.  The area called Old Quebec City is like a slice of Europe.  Copper roof tops, cobble stone streets, wrought iron and ancient brick work were eye candy. 

We sampled Poutine, a Quebec favorite dish that features French fried potatoes covered in gravy and cheese curd which squeaks when you bite it. You can add other things, if you wish, such as bacon or sausage or... well... most anything.  We are going to have to learn to make it here, too.

We stayed in the home of our friends. They offered us the warmest, most gracious hospitality.  The first night we dined on Couscous made by their friend (and our new friend!) from Algeria.  Another amazing woman from Germany joined us for the feast.  So it was 3 Americans, 2 Canadians, a German and an Algerian all at the table.  As we ate and talked and laughed I couldn't help but look at this bunch of us; a blend of languages and cultures and experiences, all joined together because of... pet grooming.  I could never have imagined that my passion for grooming dogs and cats would take me to the places it has.  On Sunday my friend and I gave a seminar on cat grooming to 16 women from all over the province.  Our work was well received and I think all of us had a good time.

If I could have looked through the key hole to my life and seen the bright kaleidoscope of colors that would ebb and flow to create the wonders I experience, I never would have believed my eyes.  I can hardly wait to see what happens next!

Monday, October 31, 2011


This year I grew a single pumpkin plant.  Here is my harvest, ready to turn into jack o' lanterns.  My daughter and I cut and scooped and scraped and carved.  One pumpkin had a huge eyeball on it, one a ghost and the third a crescent moon. They greeted a little witch and a handful of other goblins.  My "after" photos were not so good, you'll have to your imagination run wild! 

I had a memory while I was carving of a story I heard when I was a small kid.  It was supposed to be a scary story  My friend told me that one time when they carved a pumpkin they removed the lid and found a live mouse inside.  I realized tonight that every time I cut a pumpkin I am subconsciously looking for a cute little mouse. To me that would be a happy surprise... the story backfired and didn't scare me a bit.

I also fondly remembered holding tightly to my mothers hand while going trick or treating.  We'd scuff our feet through the frosty leaves and she'd say, "Crunch, crunch, crunch, Billy Goat's out to lunch!"  One neighbor lived in a beautiful old colonial house with a fireplace so large I could stand in it.  They would have a kettle full of hot apple cider suspended over a fire, and the warmth of their home and that aromatic drink would be so welcoming after a cold walk in the dark.  

Tonight we put heaping handfuls of candy into children's bags. I hope someday when those kids are big they'll ride by our place and say, "That is the house that always had a bunch of jack o' lanterns and gave a silly amount of candy!" It would be fun to be part of a happy memory.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October snow...

 The lambs look befuddled by the weather.  Last night all five of them bedded down in the calf hutch, which has a thick cushion of mulch hay inside.  They were wedged in tight as puzzle pieces and contentedly chewing their cuds when I went out this morning.  They have no problem digging through the wet snow to find food, (and they ignore the nice hay we bought them!)  I doubt they feel the chill though those thick fleeces.

The ducks are not as happy.  One of them had the good sense to bunk in with the chickens in the snug, insulated coop yesterday evening..  The other two were out in the middle of the lawn looking fairly miserable when I went out with the dogs for the final walk last night.  Frosted in an inch of so of wet snow, they followed expectantly along with me and the beam of my good flash light.  They could choose shelter in the duck house, the chicken coop or the calf hutch.  Instead they huddled forlornly under the coop.  At least it is dry there.  This morning as the winds gust they are still on strike, refusing to seek better shelter.  I assume when they get hungry enough they'll waddle out and become better situated. 
It is odd to see snow on trees still laden with leaves; on pumpkins and scarecrows and autumn wreaths.
But inside the wood stove crackles and a kettle filled with water, cinnamon, orange peels and cloves perfumes the air.  I am snuggled up under a thick fleece blanket and sipping a cup of spicy tea.  This storm will pass and the regularly scheduled season will return. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Missed the shot but savored the story...

Layah, one of my original four chickens, has been failing. She was old and has had a rich chicken life filled with good food, sunshine, room to roam and a safe, cozy coop to roost in at night.  During the last week she faded a bit more each day.  She did not appear to be suffering, but was, clearly, dying.  This morning when I went out to let the chickens out of the coop she was still alive, but her time was obviously borrowed. 

Before I went to work I checked on the critters one last time.  The hen was comfortably cradled on shavings, and the bunny was snuggled up to her.  They were cheek to cheek, sitting very close and still beside each other.  I hustled to get my camera, but when I came back the bunny had moved. 

The rabbit, living without any of her own kind, has bonded with the chickens and ducks.  I think she knew her friend was moving on and spent a few moments saying goodbye.  The animals I share my life with constantly amuse and amaze me.  I missed the photo opportunity but the memory is mine to keep. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shopping in the country...

When we first moved to this rather rural spot from the city of Memphis we found ourselves often stopping in at at the Union True Value Hardware.  It was the closest thing to a store around and had many things we needed as we settled into our new home. 

On my second visit there the owner, Vic, called out, "Hi Daryl!"  I was both surprised and impressed, such a thing would never happen in the city.

 Eight years later I have bought many things there... nuts and bolts, a bright yellow wheel barrow, lip balm, penny candy, cleaning supplies, shower curtain liners and gallons of paint.  I've bought gifts and decorating items, garden tools and plants and shavings for my critters.  And I have grown to care for and appreciate the owners of the place. 

Last weekend my husband and my sister went there to pick something up.  They came home with a moose steak and some ground moose, too, tucked neatly into the TruValue bag.  Vic had generously shared some of the bounty of this years hunt.  That would never happen in the city, either. 

I cooked up the ground moose tonight with some of my special tomato sauce.  Moose spaghetti!  Made all the more delicious because the meat was a gift slipped into the bag from the hardware store.  Shopping in the country has been a surprise from the start.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ducks and mischief...

Sometimes reading gets me into mischief. Last year I read about how wonderful Muscovy ducks are. Quiet, friendly, easy to raise and delicious to eat.  So I rushed right out and got three of them.  One boy, two girls.
A very short time later I had 24 ducks. They grazed my lawn, decimated the spider population, and added much color and fascination to my life. And they pooped... a LOT.

  I am now back down to the original 3.  The rest went to "freezer camp."  I roasted my first duck last night. 

I read a lot about how to do this before I proceeded, and finally followed a recipe I found in the New York Times.  Salt and pepper the duck, drizzle it with olive oil and bake at 475 for 30. min.  Next, add vegetables to the duck fat (potatoes, celery, onions, garlic and carrots) and roast another 30 min.   It was delicious... and those pan browned potatoes?  The best we ever had. 

I have shrink-wrapped the rest of the flock and nestled them into the freezer.  Now I need to read up on more recipes for duck.   Sometimes reading and mischief are good things!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sweet farewell...

The puppy our good dog Flirt had went to her new home today.  My niece, Aimee (left, with her sister Elyse) took the 1.8 lb. ball of fluff off to her new life. I have enjoyed this experience so much I cannot quite find the words to describe it.  Watching Flirt give birth and skillfully care for a new baby was a treat.  Watching that baby grow from a blind, deaf newborn to a round ball of animated fluff has been a joy.  The past weeks have been rich in wonder, amazement, dawning love and laughter.  And now I get to hand all that off to someone I adore.  There are so many gifts here, so much to be grateful for. When I try to count my blessings I can't... they are overwhelming.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Sometimes I think we underestimate the importance of a good greeting.
When my husband and I were newlyweds living in a tiny, dark apartment in Lynchburg, VA I learned a lesson on this topic.  He worked for a short time for Stanley Steamer Carpet cleaners, an odious job.   His boss lived near us and often gave him a ride home, because we only had one car.  When I would hear them pull up I would race out the door to greet him with great glee. And a kiss.  Mike, his boss, would roll his eyes.  He told Chris, "Enjoy it while it lasts.  It won't last." He looked sad when he said it.  I made a mental note, and now, 27+ years later I still try to greet my love when he comes home. I taught our daughter, when she was small, to run and hug him when he came in, "Daddy is home!" I'd call, and we'd rush to the door for hugs and kisses. We made homecoming a small event. Sometimes when my man comes home, (tonight for example) I am doing something time-sensitive.  Like stirring gravy.  I will at least call out, "HI HONEY!" in a happy voice and pucker up when he comes around the corner. The gravy more than makes up for my lack of greeting him at the door. My guy? He has a thing for gravy.

I have a friend who has been married the same amount of years that we have.  Her husband told her how much a warm greeting when he comes home from work would mean to him.  He works long hours at a job he hates.  My friend refuses to accommodate his request.  "I'm tired, too.  Why should I act like it's a big deal that he comes home?"  Because it is.

My animals know  how to greet.  When I come back to the house... no matter if I have just walked to the mailbox or been gone for days, my dogs greet me with hysterical glee. They make me feel like a celebrity.   My ducks greet one another with an elaborate ritual of head bobbing with accompanying vocalizations.  My lambs call for each other if one is out of sight behind a log pile.  Even my chickens croon to each other as they arrive in the coop at night after a day of ranging the yard.  There are occasional inter-species greetings as well.  Pleasant nose touches and acknowledgements, "I see you here.  You matter.  Hello!"  

I am so happy when people come to visit me.  I greet them with genuine joy. How wonderful that they care enough to come here to spend time with us. And I am daily grateful that my loved ones choose to come back to this meadow hugged home each day.  They have gone to the world and had experiences I cannot share, and then they come back. Safely. And we are together.  If that is not something to celebrate, I don't know what is.


Sometimes my daughter borrows my camera.  I don't know a thing about it until I download my photo card onto my computer.  And then I am happy to find images from around our home that come from an entirely different viewpoint and perspective than my own.  I am delighted to think of her, lying belly down in autumn leaves to catch this mushroom sprouting by the mailbox.  I had noticed the mushroom... (it was enormous!) but I didn't stop to catch its fleeting form on film.  How wonderful that she did.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Decorating with food...

This fall a magazine showed photos of white pumpkins encircled with bittersweet berries. Since I love to decorate with things that are white, and since bittersweet brings back joyous childhood memories, I was all over this idea.  My favorite local farm market has white pumpkins every year so I went there and... no white pumpkins.  I am not sure if they didn't grow any this year or if everyone in my area bought them up after seeing the magazine.

Meanwhile, Chris and I went on a wonderful drive yesterday and found bittersweet vines growing wild along the way.  I felt a bit like a thief when I sliced some down from the wooded roadside with my trusty pocket knife, (it is one Chris gave me. It has my name on one side and "worlds best wife" on the other.)

Today we drove to the Belgrade Lakes region and Farmington, admiring the colors God splashes so lavishly on the landscape before the cold comes. The trees were mirrored in the lakes, doubling the beauty we saw.  There were many farm stands along the way, but all the pumpkins were traditional orange. Until we took a detour along the plotted route and I spied pumpkins glowing like moons tucked into a mass of of the more traditional ones.  Chris kindly stopped the car and we picked the best of them.

When we got home I got right to work... wiping off the pumpkins and arranging them.  Yes, yes I did. I played with my food.  And I liked it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Frost on the...?

We had a hard frost this past week... and I couldn't help but think of the old phrase, "frost on the pumpkin" when I saw Bat Boy the black lamb all coated in ice crystals.  I plunged my fingers deep into his wool and he was toasty warm beneath that layer of chill. 

Today was 80 and summery.  The weather changes in a blink, and this blast of warm was a welcome gift. All around me the leaves are changing from green to gold, and the Sumac is a riot of red and orange at the edge of the meadow.  The cold days will soon out-number the warm and we'll turn to inside chores and stay close to the fire... snug as a lamb under thick fleece.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Impossibly small puppy...

My sister gifted us with a very tiny, soft dog bed when Flirt had her puppy.  The entire bed spans a mere 12 inches... but baby "Tease" could romp in it with friends and still have room to roll;  looking adorable all the while! 

She is almost 5 weeks old now.  Her puppy teeth are poking through her gums, she is experimenting with eating solid food, and she is learning to play.  She is not terribly coordinated at this point.  She'll try a tentative bounce, fall over, roll a few times like a plushy ball, then pop up and try again.  She adds extra smiles and laughter to our home. 

Monday, October 3, 2011


My sweet daughter and I have a long tradition of making scare crow's this time of year.  We used to make them when she was a kid, her friends would often join us for a happy time of stuffing old clothes with straw. The last few years we let the season slip by without decorating our yard with a fun personality, but we are back in the groove this year!    We like making girl scare crows best, and this year we came up with "Ramona."  She is a sassy wench, waving jauntily at those that pass by.  She makes me smile... I hope she has a similar affect on others. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

End of season...

I put the gardens to bed today.  The last harvest-able vegetables were picked, then I flung the gate open for the sheep, chickens and ducks to have a PARTY there.  They made short work of weed seeds, insects and the wilting leaves of pepper and squash plants.  
 The chickens searched for bugs...

The ducks rejoiced in the fine dining offered up by slugs and half rotted tomatoes.
I stood outside in a cold drizzle for a LONG time watching the livestock.  It seems magical that the ruined garden will feed the animals.  The garden continues to feed us....