Friday, April 21, 2017

Little faces...

Years ago Chris stated, "We have a lot of little faces at our house."  It is spring, and the faces are multiplying.  This keeps me busier than normal, and has kept me away from blogging.  My apologies... please let me make it up to you with pictures of some of the faces in question.

Thirteen baby bunnies fill the big hutch.
They are about as big as your hand now at 4 weeks.  They eat solid foods, (they can decimate an apple in about 60 seconds flat,)  and hop about like whimsical, fuzzy, jumping beans.

And the chicks have arrived.  26 of them, in a box delivered through the mail.  The phone call came at 6:45 AM. "It's John at the post office,(in the background frantic "cheeps!" can be heard.)  Your chicks are here."  15 minutes later I had them next to me on the front seat, and 15 minutes after that they were settled in with food, water and a heat lamp. The frenetic voices stilled, and soon they were calm and quiet, eating and eating and drinking and napping under the warmth of the light.  I can hardly stop watching them.

Most exciting of all are the kids.

There are five of them.  Ella had triplets on Easter Sunday.  This is interesting, because she was one of three kids born on Easter 4 years ago.  She is my naughtiest goat, but an excellent and devoted mama.  Her kids (two bucklings (boys) and a doeling, (girl)  are lovely and thriving.

Celeste delivered twins on Wednesday. She labored all day, pacing, stretching, pawing the ground, and I got worried.  After a chat with my patient veterinarian around 4:00 pm, friend Marion came over and gloved up.  She checked things out, and could feel two little hooves and a nose. She came in for a visit and a brownie, and 20 minutes later Celeste delivered two very pretty little doelings.   The only other time she kidded she firmly rejected her babies.  I was delighted that she accepted these babies, cleaning them carefully, and talking to them in the special voice that mama goats only use with their new kids.  She has had some difficulties letting them nurse, but things seem to be improving there.

Jane Doe goat is still expecting, and should deliver any time now.  We are going to be rich with laughter watching all those kids bouncing and flouncing around the place.

Bravo is fascinated by the bunnies and chicks and kids.  So far I have kept him away from them, but he he watches with great fascination from the closest vantage point.

These are the things that keep me busy this time of year. Little faces to feed and clean and watch with joy and enthrallment.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Thud day...

April 7th marked the anniversary of my epic fall last year, which resulted in a dislocated shoulder and changed my life for many months.  So we celebrated what I will forevermore call, "Thud Day."

Rachel and I had pineapple juice with a splash of champagne with lunch...
and Chris and I went out for supper with our friends.  There was a band there, which was quite good, and I danced. A lot.  I don't dance very well, but I like it, and I had a blast bopping around.  It seemed so good to be able to dance and move and rejoice when a year ago I was in very sad shape.

When I went to the emergency room after my fall, someone there told me I'd be pretty much back to normal with three months. Three months seemed an impossibly long amount of time to me.  But it turned out that the damage to my shoulder was more severe than they realized, and now, a year later, I have about 80% mobility of the joint.  But I can do what I need to... lift my arm to wash and comb my hair, pick up wiggling dogs, shovel horse manure, hug my husband.  I can even throw a ball for Bravo, something we both enjoy.
I didn't like what we called, "being broken."  I didn't do it very well.  I pushed the limits and did more than I should have at first. But I was determined and tenacious about getting well, and followed my amazing physical therapists instructions to the letter.  So now, with spring finally returning on tiptoes over the landscape, I can look back over the last year and delight in the wholeness and general wellness of my body.  After a night of unaccustomed dancing my knees, hips and ribs are complaining, but it feels rather good.  I can move and rejoice.

I can do my work and enjoy my life and for this I am grateful. Sometimes it takes an epic event to sharpen ones focus, and my injury did that for me.  It made me appreciate my wonderful, helpful, loving family even more than I already did. They were so kind, patient and supportive while I healed.  And Rachel and I working together made us even closer than we already were. We realized that not only do we enjoy being mother and daughter, we make an excellent work team.

So I am celebrating Thud Day and good health. My sense of gratitude was honed by my injury, and I am embracing life with a dash of extra joy.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Slow start to spring...

It snowed all day Saturday. Sunday the sun shone and snow vanished at an astonishing rate, leaving boot-sucking mud in its wake.

Walking around the yard I saw...

Sprouts. Daffodil and tulip leaves, pushing through the cold earth, reaching for the sun.  Despite tomorrows forecast for more snow, I did what I must.

 I bought pansies.

Those jewel tones called me and two entire flats came home in the back of the truck.  I planted a little pot for the picnic table, two buckets to adorn the steps by the entry doors.  I still need to do a big pot by my sign post, and I have a secret plan for the rest.  They are destined to bring a smile to a friend.

The little window box on the chicken coop got stuffed full of pansies, too.  The hens stared up as I worked. I tossed them a few spent blossoms, and they gobbled them down.

I want to gobble down the colors and scents of spring, too. I settled for dirt under my nails and buckets full of promise on my stairs.

Sunday, April 2, 2017


While we were on vacation in Mexico, we took a day trip to a magical place called Xcaret.

Wikipedia has this to say, "The nature-based attractions of the park include a river that goes through the Mayan village, a subterranean concrete sluice in which people can swim and snorkel with a life vest. Near the inlet there are recreational activities at the beach, snorkeling, Sea Trek and Snuba in the nearby reefs, or swimming with dolphins. The park also has a coral reef aquarium turtle nesting site. Next to the inlet there’s an area for manatees. The park also has a bird pavilion, butterfly pavilion, bat caveorchids and bromeliad greenhouse, an island of jaguars, and a deer shelter, among others." 

To me the most magical thing was the bird pavilion. 

The place is arranged so that one can walk from the bottom level, where you might see ducks and pelicans, 

to middle levels where one might see familiar birds like Grosbeaks... and beautiful unfamiliar birds, too. 

And then an upper level, (complete with a heart stopping suspended bridge!) where one could look down and see everything... and some lovely birds flitting around the heights. 

 We logged over 5 miles that day.  I loved watching the manatees eating romaine lettuce.

And dolphins parting the water. 
The butterfly garden had a tropical magic...

We saw big cats...
and a scrawny house cat grooming itself on a cat statue...
There were baby turtles the size of my hand, 
And some beauties that were much, much larger than my bathtub... 
A good size crocodile... 
 And his cousin, a bold iguana.

I was enamored by a  flock of brilliant flamingos.  

Everywhere we looked there was beauty and amazement.  Screaming scarlet macaws circled the jungle and sapphire sea, slicing the sky with brilliance. Tombstones designed by family to illustrate the personality of the deceased climbed up a steep hillside.  I particularly liked this one with a big dog staring at at miniature chapel.

It was an altogether magical day, one I still think about with wonder.  Xcaret was a reminder of just how much beauty and marvel there is in the world. All encapsulated in one stunning space. We were blessed to see it.  

Monday, March 27, 2017


Chris and I have only had a handful of what anyone would consider a "real" vacation over our 3+ decades of marriage.  So when my sister and brother in law invited us to join them in Mexico this year I sort of dragged my feet. Vacation is just not what we "do." WORK we are familiar with, time off? Not so much.

Then my sister got Chris on the phone and told him about where they were going. I watched his face as she talked, and it just lit up.  "Just tell her YES," I said. And we made it happen.  Mostly we were able to make it happen because my sister and brother in law made it possible through a screaming deal, so here is a big ol' THANK YOU! to them.

Things started off a bit roughly.  On the day we were to leave Boston for paradise a blizzard rolled in. We had arranged for a different flight than my family.  Delta hustled them off at dawn, well before a flake of snow fell.  Sadly, we were booked on United Airlines, and they cancelled every flight a day in advance.  We spent the day of the blizzard at my sisters house (see previous blog) and the next day sightseeing around Essex and Gloucester.  It was not where we hoped to be, but there wasn't a thing we could do so we made the best of it.  Early Thursday morning my sweet niece Elyse shuttled us into Logan.  Our early morning flight was delayed. This meant we would miss our connecting flights and not arrive in Mexico until late in the day on Friday.  Let me recap; our vacation was supposed to begin Tuesday. A very kind United Airlines person took pity on us and found a flight that would get us to our destination in the wee hours of Friday morning, so at least we could have the full day at our destination.  She even upgraded us to first class for the second leg of the trip.  We flew out of Logan and got to Newark around 10 in the morning. We did not have adjoining seats, which seriously cut into our hand  holding time. I had a center seat, between two rather large men. One or both of them had some serious digestive upset, and I spent a lot of time fantasizing that my oxygen mask would drop so I could get some relief.

 Our flight to Mexico was not until something like 6:45 that evening, so we had some time to kill.  We read, we walked the terminal, we poked in the high priced shops. We read some more. We did have a VERY enjoyable lunch.  There was a very upscale burger place called Wanderlust Burger Bar. $20 hamburgers.  But oh were they good. Hands down the best hamburger I have ever had in my life.  We indulged in adult beverages, too.  It helped quell the frustration.  Here is an article about the food scene in Terminal C at Newark. It's pretty interesting.

We arrived in Mexico around 1 AM Friday.  Bonus: getting through customs was a breeze, as our flight was the only one in the airport at the time.  A shuttle from the hotel picked us up, and hour later we were at the gate to the Hardrock resort. Where they had no record of our arrival.  A lot of conversation in Spanish and some raised voices and then we were on our way. To the wrong part of the resort. Finally we were delivered where we should be. My sweet sister and brother in law met us, bright eyed despite the hour, and escorted us to our beautiful room. Since this trip was in part to celebrate our upcoming 33 anniversary, there was a lovely banner on our door, "We've Only Just Begun. Happy Anniversary." Sweet!

Inside we were greeted by swans and icy cold champagne.

And though we were very, very tired, the four of us shared a glass of bubbly to celebrate that we had finally made it to our delightful destination. From then on everything went swimmingly.
 From our room balcony we had a lovely view of a little slice of jungle. Lots and lots of birds were there, singing and calling and filling the air with color. To the left was ocean. One evening we walked down to the entrance of the resort, where some troops of spider monkeys live. We were treated to some excellent views of them as they traveled about, searching for their favorite leaves and fruit to eat. We saw a mother with a baby, and got a very close look at this handsome lad.

We saw other wildlife, as well.
An agouti trotted merrily past us.
As did a coati.

During the day we swam and snorkeled and saw lots of beautiful fish.

We got sand between our toes and soaked up the warm sun.
We ate and ate and read and relaxed and napped. I enjoyed a lot of mimosas. Hey, a girl needs her vitamin C (champagne!)
I took hundreds of pictures of wildlife.

We talked and laughed and were quiet and rested. We had massages and facials and people waited on us. There were no animals to feed, no snow to shovel, no ice to traverse.  And it was good.  So good we are planning on going again next year. We'll try Delta this time. Please hold the blizzard.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Things forgotten...

As it turns out, March had another good storm up her sleeve. We were at my sister’s house, which was originally my parents’ house and the home I grew up in.  The storm started up rather slowly, with feathery flakes falling lazily.  Then the flakes became smaller and more earnest looking.   It’s been many years since I weathered a storm in this house. The voice of the wind is completely different than the wind at home.  At our house the wind seems to have a single, howling voice.  It rattles the old windows and screams around corners.  There are very few trees to divert gusts from the house. At my sister’s place, the house is nestled in woods.  My parents used to sign our Christmas cards, “From the 7 D’s in the house in the trees.” The wind lashed the trees and sang in a thousand voices, seeming to leave the house alone, Instead it concentrated its force on the maples, oaks and evergreens. The snow was heavy and wet, clinging stickily where it landed.

I stared out the window and imagined my parents, just after WWII, walking this piece of land on a fine summer day and dreaming their future.  I imagine my mother wore a chiffon scarf over her hair, over-sized sunglasses and fashionable slacks that showed off her slim ankles.  She would have smoked a cigarette with flair.  My father no doubt had on sturdy boots and pants made from heavy fabric.  His shirt sleeves would have been rolled up to show his muscular arms.  He probably clenched a pipe in his teeth. I can almost see his startling blue eyes sparkle as he and his new bride explored through the pines and boulders.  I am certain they held hands. My father once solemnly told me that holding hands with my mother was the single most romantic thing he ever experienced.

My father built this house.  When I was teen my mother confessed to me that this was not the house she wanted.  I think she had wanted a cozy Cape Cod style house, but I don’t’ remember exactly. She had shown my father a plan she found and he had scoffed and built this low ranch instead.  The family joke was that he added another room every time she got pregnant. If she’d had her way and birthed the 8 children she dreamed of instead of the 5 she had, the place would be bigger.  I've loved this place, both the house and the land, for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been sentimental, it seems, and I couldn’t imagine ever living in a place that was not built by my dear father’s hands.  Looking at it now, I see with pleasure the sweet touches he added.  A hopeful hearth in the basement, with 2 little shoulder high brick shelves built right in, perhaps to hold some candles or bric-a-brac  Perhaps he envisioned a play room there, filled with boisterous children laughing over games in front of a cozy fire.  I also see that I am much like him… he was gung ho at starting projects, but not so much on the finish work.  I couldn’t build a thing, but I certainly see the pattern of plans that start off fine and shining and never quite end up the way they looked in my mind’s eye at the outset.

Housebound due to the storm, I read an entire book, watched the trees lash, and then became bored and went on walk about, looking for clues of my childhood.  I went to the basement, and my right arm reached up automatically with some interesting muscle memory to pull the string my father rigged (part string, part pajama pants tie) to turn on the light in in his wood shop. I stopped dead when I inhaled and found the forgotten scent of that place clanging around in the spot where forgotten memories linger.  The faint smell of cut pine lumber, and an inexplicable masculine aroma that must be the combination of metal, tools, oil, sweat, testosterone and most likely a hint of frustration. A friendly, comforting smell, one I was delighted to re-discover.

There in this large space, I found what I was looking for, peanut butter jars. My father had found what I always have fancied to be an ingenious way to store nails, screws, tacks and other troublesome small items that can be a trick to keep track of. In a house with 5 hungry kids, they had a lot of peanut butter jars.  Dad screwed the metal lids to the studs that made up the ceiling over his head in the workshop, put the bits and pieces he wanted to store in the clean, clear, glass jars, and screwed them to the lids.  At a glance, he could find just the hardware he needed.  In my teen years, the peanut butter brand he preferred, Skippy, began to make their jars and lids from plastic.  My father wrote a thoughtful, yet politely outraged, letter to the company, explaining his unique storage system, and his displeasure with the newfangled plastic.  The president of the company fired back a kind reply. There was no stopping “progress,” but he sent a case of clean, empty, glass jars and metal lids to mollify. 
Now my father’s workshop belongs to my good brother-in-law. But to my everlasting delight the jars remain.

On the deep storage shelves by the door there is a forlorn echo of my mother, as well, in the form of some beautiful china.  My mother had been a fashion model in Boston before she wed.  One day, walking down Boylston Avenue she saw some china in a window display that stopped her in her tracks. It was elegant, with deep colors, and featured a variety of different beautifully painted flowers.  On her models salary, she began to piece a set of china together. I imagine she dreamed of serving her future husband delicious meals on the dinner plates, sharing tea with lady friends out of the delicate cups, setting a stunning table for parties. She had the set partially completed when she served her first meal on some of the plates.  To her chagrin, she found that the bright colors and busy pattern made the presentation of food look… unpleasant. It was too busy, too much.  She stopped buying the pieces and for the rest of her life had a preference for solid colored dishes.  I’ll have to ask my sister if I can have a cup or plate as a keepsake.

We weathered the late season storm, fire in the fireplace and warm conversation when the power went out. More memories made.