Sunday, August 20, 2017

Welcome, Violet!

 We welcomed Audrey and Jared's first baby into the family yesterday. Her name is Violet and she is the sweetest little thing. She is our sixth grandchild, but each one born feels like our first. Like our own children, each grandchild is unique and a pure joy to meet and to know. Holding a newborn baby is akin to holding a miracle. We marvel at each tiny feature and our emotions soar with joy. We wonder at the perfection of God's creation and think far ahead into the future about what He might have in store for this child's life. In our humanness we cradle their frailty with a protectiveness that startles even ourselves. It is no small thing to say they are loved. So, "Welcome Violet! Oh what fun we shall have!"

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

'Tis the Season and Back to School

     'Tis the season of red and green! Our little garden is producing exactly the right amount for our enjoyment. We didn't plant a lot of variety this year because I decided to cut back on canning and preserving. So, we either eat or give away what we harvest. I even gave away a box of canning jars to daughter #2. It's a tiny bit sad to let go of that chapter in life when I did so much vegetable gardening and preserving but, it's for a good exchange of time toward other projects that I enjoy for now.
     Every summer I look forward to four particular dishes that use tomatoes and basil- Panzanella, Tomato Pie, Ratatouille, and any variety of Stuffed Tomatoes. Another item I must add to this list, but one that is not exactly a recipe, is a tomato sandwich. A low-gluten diet during tomato season is rather difficult. A tomato sandwich can only be enjoyed when it's made with a good quality white bread. There's just no way around that. I slather both slices of bread with mayonnaise, top with freshly sliced tomatoes, and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mmm mmm, good!

     Yes, we are back to school! Classes begin tomorrow and I have been back in the office since last week. The staff and teachers make our elementary school an enjoyable place to work and I don't mind having summer cut short at this point. We have a record number of four hundred and eleven students attending this year. I'm sure we'll be kept busy. The tag in the picture was tied to a little bag of Tootsie Rolls and left on my desk by the principal. : )

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Way We Were Is the Way We Are

I am swing. He is jazz.
I'm sweet white. He's dry red.
I am loud. He is quiet.
I am Felix. He is Oscar.
I am motion. He is rest.
I'm New England. He's Miami.
I run. He walks.
I like mild. He likes hot.
He imbibes. I rarely do.
I am an early bird. He is a night owl.
I am words. He is numbers.
I am antique. He is modern.
I say, "Turn it off." He says, "Leave it on." 
He can remember. I can not.
Thirty-six years.
Not always easy, yet always perfection. 


Friday, July 28, 2017

Hooking Projects

     I finished two hooked rugs before we went on vacation. The first rug was a gift for Chelsea and her boys. Chelsea has had pet rabbits for many years, so I hooked the pattern, "Spring Delight" by Mary Johnson. I fell in love with all of Mary's whimsical patterns and the color palette of this rug. Hooked rugs are very soft and comfortable to walk on; they feel great underfoot. Our grandson Hugo discovered this as soon as we placed the rug on the floor. : )

     The next rug I hooked was a small 16" square from a pattern I saw in a library book titled, "Wool Rug Hooking" by Tara Darr. On this rug, I wanted to try a binding technique by wrapping cording with wool to form piping, then hand sewing it around the edge. I was pleased with the finished appearance of this binding. The only drawback is that it's a little thick around the edges.

     I signed up for a rug hooking class that took place the week we returned from vacation. Our local Roanoke rug hooking group collectively hired Lisanne Miller of W. Cushing & Co. in Wells, Maine to come for four days and provide us with a workshop. We each brought a rug of our choosing to work on. Lisanne provided assistance in technique and color planning. Lisanne was great and I learned a lot. This was the first class I ever took and I would love to take more some day. I especially enjoyed the quiet, social aspect of the days, sitting side by side with other women all working on our projects. Lunches were catered each day and this was also a nice treat.
     I decided to begin a pattern called, "Vermont" by Karen Kahle. For this pattern, I wanted to stretch my comfort zone and explore a more freestyle design, blending colors and creating a landscape that appears both like a primitive folk design and an impressionist painting. So... I took on quite the challenge. I find the most frustrating task for me is acquiring the right color wool. Unlike painting, I can't mix two paint colors to get the desired shade. I need to find wool that already exists in the colors I want to use. Karen Kahle, who designed this pattern, dyes her own wool to create the exact shades she wants. I'm inspired to try dyeing wool one day, but I'm still far from there. In the meantime, I have to hunt down, beg and buy my wool. Otherwise, I'm having a grand time working on this rug. Household chores have gone by the wayside because I'm so focused on this project and I want to make use of every minute that I'm able. I'm the only person bothered about the pile of ironing  and the unswept floor, so it's not a big deal for now.
     School (thus work) begins in ten short days. Sigh. I cannot believe how quickly summer break flew by. Here's a peek at the "Vermont" rug as of today. Hooked rugs look raggedy when they're first started with all the loose ends and no background color. But, we'll get there. Give it a couple more months. I'm feeling optimistic.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Traveling to Points North and Favorite Places

     I love my home, but it sure is hard to return from vacation. I've coined the term, PVFRS or "Peevers". It stands for, "Post Vacation Facing Reality Syndrome". We were away for two weeks in the upper parts of New Hampshire, Maine, and New York. It was perfect.
     We visited Chelsea and her family. Her newest baby, Charlie, who was born six weeks premature in May and weighed about 4 1/2 pounds, has since doubled his weight and is thriving. We sincerely thank you for all your thoughts and prayers! Big brother, Hugo is eighteen months old and he is lovable and entertaining. After ten days with Chelsea in New Hampshire and Maine, we spent time with Steve's family and my sister and her family in New York. There was much to consider in attempting to write about our trip, so here are some highlights in photos that I would particularly like to remember.

The Vegetable Ranch
The organic farm in New Hampshire that our son-in-law manages is called, The Vegetable Ranch. From farm to table, it is a labor of love. To say Simon is a meticulous organic farmer is an understatement. His work is simply beautiful. The entire family is involved and Chelsea and the boys are frequently at the farm. Even Steve helped out a little bit on two mornings.

Cherry Tomatoes

Off to the farmer's market on Saturday morning, Concord, NH 
Simon trucks their produce to the farmer's market as well as restaurants, the hospital, and individual farm shares.
There's Steve : )
 Warner, NH
     Warner, NH is a quintessential, small New England town. Everything one could need or want is within walking distance. I was surprised to learn that even includes a small lake and beach. Another fun highlight is the author series the town hosts. Chelsea and I attended one of these at the town hall featuring Anita Shreve, author of The Red Tent among other novels and non-fiction. On Friday nights, the town offers free concerts in the courtyard and amphitheater. We were lucky enough to catch the drum performance while we were there. Then we walked to the ice cream parlor and Hugo had his first ice cream cone. Steve walked over to the amphitheater one afternoon and played his saxophone. A few neighborhood children ran over to listen. Haha! 
     I can't say enough about how I have fallen in love with this little town. About fifteen miles straight up the road is Lake Sunapee. We spent one day there sailing with Chelsea and Simon's friends. When you gaze across this lake, you can see Sunapee Mountain and the ski slopes there. A ninety minute drive took us over and up the coast of Maine to Wells where we enjoyed the beach.This area seems to have it all.
Silver Lake Recreation Area, Warner, NH
I really enjoyed our evening walks. The town hall has spotlights and we had loads of fun playing in them.

A Friday night concert featured drums and plenty of percussion instruments so folks, young and old could join in.
Hugo's instruments of choice... plus a scarf.

Chelsea wears Charlie

Strawberry ice cream from the Velvet Moose. Mess? What mess?

Let me re-introduce Charlie. He's come a long way!
Wells, Maine.

When the tide goes out

Sailing on Lake Sunapee, NH
     Last, but not least, we drove west to New York to finish our vacation with a visit to parents and siblings. We managed to see everyone! It was great to sit and visit with Pete and Jane (Steve's parents) whom I have now known for thirty-eight years. Can that be?! We also had a blast with my sister and her husband and daughter on their boat on Lake George in the Adirondacks. The Adirondack State Park was our childhood playground. Every summer we picnicked and boated there. Steve lived at his family's summer camp on Brant Lake whenever school was out. It felt so good to be back. I am thankful for all the memories we made on this trip. May they carry us over until next time.

Opened in 1961. We rode our bikes here as kids, before there were strip malls, Walmart and tons of traffic. Summer time meant Gene's fish fry.
I'm still craving another fish fry. I sure missed my mom, dad, and sister, when I was sitting there, though.
Lake George, NY. Thirty-two miles long with beautiful mountain views.

John reserved an island for us! It was about halfway up the lake where it was private and quiet.

Rock ledges stretch out into the water. When I wasn't doing a happy dance, I was spending the day just like this : )

I'm having this picture printed along with one from Maine. I'll place them where we can longingly look at them every day.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Favorite Places

 The coast of Maine. My favorite, happy place.

One of my favorite activities is playing in the little tide pools and rock puddles, looking for treasures. When the grandchildren were napping, I played alone and sat in the sand and dug with rocks and shells, plucking up tiny sea shells and a piece or two of sea glass. The most wonderful realization came when it occurred to me that I didn't care what anyone might have thought about this (way) over fifty lady sitting and digging in the sand. It's going to be very hard to go home.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

In the Garden and On the Windowsill

Our property is overrun with Mockingbirds and we now experiencing the annual "Hatching of the Mockingbirds". The babies have flown the nests and call for food from all parts of the yard... even at 2:30 in the morning. We rescued one baby fluff ball from the basement window well. Its mother screeched at us from a nearby tree all the while we were trying to catch it. This youngster was on one of the raised vegetable beds. It's at the leggy teenager stage. 

The bunny and the Mockingbird were in the garden at the same time. The bunnies are not shy and they let me get pretty close. We've noticed a spike in rabbits, moles, and ticks this year. Perhaps deer, too. (There's always a lot of deer so sometimes it's hard to tell.) We haven't heard any coyote, though. Two friends told me about encounters with rattlesnakes on their property two weeks ago. Now I'm on high alert when I go for walks. I'd much rather see baby birds and bunnies. : )

Tess picked the chamomile and lemon verbena for the windowsill.