Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Apple Love

So many apples this year.

We have been eating quite a few off the trees in the backyard. And people have been bringing them in to church to share with others. The trees were laden with apples up North a few weeks ago. 

Every time I turn around, I see apples.

{Love}ly, bright red, shiny apples.


Apples are part of the rose family. That may explain why our roses had such a great year too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Busy Night Sky

My feeble attempts at lunar photography.

Super high tech over here. The Man had his fancy schmancy telescope out to view the lunar eclipse. I put my iPhone over the eye piece and found the moon. 

I need a bigger lens for my camera. I'm obsessed with moon photos now.
We were all out watching the lunar eclipse a couple nights ago. Our neighbor came out and stood in his front yard, looking through his binoculars.

"Come on over!" we shouted to him. He came over to look through the telescope. And stayed for about an hour.

We had great fun talking with him and taking turns looking at the moon. We could hear neighbors outside, talking and laughing, up and down the street.  It was almost like a block party.

Millions of stars were scattered all over the night sky and easy to see without residual light from the moon. While I was watching the eclipse, I saw a shooting star zip across the atmosphere.

It was quite a busy night sky.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sun Kissed Blooms

The Man transplanted all the marigolds we had ringing the garden this summer and put them in pots around the patio and the barn.


Saved us about forty dollars in chrysanthemums. And the color is perfect for fall.
Enjoying these last few days of warmth and sunshine. 

Summer is hanging out and hanging on.


weighty orange blooms
with frilly sun kissed petals -
cool nights lay to rest.

an attempt at haiku

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Out from Behind the Lens

I don't come out from behind the camera too often. My niece E had my camera last night and took some photos of K and I.

We were both rolling our eyes. We were trying to teach E how to do it. She cannot roll her eyes. She tries but they end up going cross-eyed. K told her E to follow her pointer finger and she made a rainbow shape in front of E's eyes. She could sort of roll them that way. 

But not very effective for an eye roll. No attitude. No sass.

We had her practice over and over. Finally, she said, "I don't think Mom's going like it that you're teaching me how to roll my eyes."

Considering that she's in middle school, prime eye rolling years, she has a valid point.

Er, oops. Sorry, Sissy.

Good for the soul.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Photobombing Sissy

An outtake.

I let one of my nieces loose with my camera tonight. She was snapping away, taking pics of K and I rolling our eyes at each other, when her sissy photobombed her.

Excellent expression on D's face.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Burritos

Once upon a time there was a sandwich shop that was beloved by all who entered. The man and the woman who owned the shop made the very best sandwiches in all the land and people came from all over the kingdom to eat them. 

And the people were happy.

Then the man and the woman decided they wanted a different location for their shop. They searched north and south, east and west, but couldn't find a shop. They were either too big or too small. There were none that were just right. So they closed the shop and moved very far away. 

And the people in the land were sad and cranky and had to make their own sandwiches once again.

The end.


They used to make a delicious thanksgiving burrito sandwich. The last time the Man and I were up north, we stopped in with M and the Hammer to pick up some of these sandwiches to bring home. Sissy had asked me to get a couple for her too.

We drove south for hours to get home and had arranged to meet Sissy at the local McDonald's to swap them out. I called her when we got close to the exit and she headed out to meet us. We were driving in a big black SUV and the Hammer had the radio blasting. It was late in the evening, "Brickhouse" was blaring out the speakers, we were all singing along and dancing in our seats. The SUV was humming and shaking coming off the exit.

Right around the corner was the McDonald's and the music was still playing as we pulled in to the parking lot. We spotted Sissy's car, swung into the spot next to her, rolled down the window, gave her the bag of sandwiches, took her money, and backed out of the spot. All in about one minute because we were eager to get home. 

It took a few minutes before M and I looked at each other and started laughing. Because to anybody looking at us from the outside it looked like an illegal substance deal had just gone down. 

Oy vey.


After that weekend, I knew I wouldn't be up north for a while so I had to figure out how to make these sandwiches. 

The photo above shows all the ingredients - layers of stuffing, turkey (or roasted chicken), browned onions, cranberry sauce, sriracha mayonnaise and cheddar cheese. 

Wrap it all up burrito style and press it in a panini maker for four minutes. Delicioso.

To make it super simple, I buy boxed stuffing and have it made in five minutes. I get a roasted chicken from the local grocer. The most time consuming part is slicing and browning the onions. But they're worth it. 

Try it and let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

{Graceful} Goodbye to the Great North

Stopped at a cute sandwich shop for lunch. M and I had a hard time containing ourselves - the desserts looked so delicious. We just kept saying, "But we'll be sharing them. We're not going to eat a whole one." 

No, of course not. We only ate about a dozen pieces of dessert, but not a whole one of anything. 

Very restrained, if you ask me.
We took our food over to Portland Headlight and enjoyed sunny weather for most of our visit there. 

The fog started to roll in as we did the cliff walk. I kept thinking of the movie "The Mist" and reminded the rest of the party that we had to move along. And if they heard any buzzing, don't look back and start running. Fast. 

M told me I have quite an imagination. 
We finished the afternoon in Portland and wandered down to see the cruise ships that were in port.

These things are HUGE.


Things to remember about Portland:

The puppy meeting a goat for the first time. And getting butted. I wrote a poem for the event - Goats are ornery. Puppies are sweet. Never again should the two things meet. 

Looking for mead. Finding it in a craft beer shop and buying lots of other beverages. Many more beverages than we went in for - all locally made and so far, so delicious.

The Hammer parking in a fantastic parking spot, right alongside four Portland police officers. They were standing on the edge of the sidewalk, talking, and glanced at us as we parked. The Hammer got out of the vehicle and went over to them, "Hey, can you keep an eye on my vehicle?" One of them burst into laughter and the others were smiling as they walked away.
Great bike rack.


I was taking a shower the last morning we were there and the bathroom was a bit steamy. When I pulled the shower curtain back and saw the mirror steamed up, I realized I should have turned the fan on. 

Standing in the tub, dripping water, I leaned out and tried to turn the wall switch on for the fan. It was only about eighteen or so inches away. Just far enough for me to lose my balance. I started tipping out of the tub and thought, "You better step out of the tub so you don't fall."

By the time I finished thinking that thought, I was falling out of the tub. I tried to step out and forgot that the tub is a little bit higher than the floor. Totally miscalculated this. Before I knew what was happening, I was banging into the bathroom sink cabinet and then bouncing back to hit the tub before landing on my knees on the floor. Thud, bang, crash. Silence.

I sat there for a few seconds thinking, "Maybe they didn't hear that."

Pound, pound, pound. Footsteps coming. Uh-oh. I'm nekkid as the day I was born. "Are you okay?!" the Man and Mary asked.

"I'm fine!" I said, jumping up and grabbing a towel. "I'm up! I'm toweling off!" 

I just didn't want them to OPEN THE DOOR.

"Are you sure you're okay?" they asked. "Yes!" I said emphatically. Move along, people. Nothing to see here.

My middle name should have been Grace.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Snippets from Up North

Snippets from the weekend.

Smooth rocks piled high on the beach. It was a bit treacherous getting down to the shore. Good thing the Man was in front of me with a helping hand or I might have bounced my way down on my bottom.

The Man is very sure footed. I am very not sure footed.

We make a good pair.
Poor little abandoned Pooh Bear.

He was sitting all by himself, waiting for his owner to come back for him.

Hope he finds his way home.
Fairy food.

Set out in the forest for any fairies that might happen to be lingering around.

Fairy house we found in a clearing along our walk.

An enchanted little part of the forest, filled with all kinds of tiny fairy homes. But no fairies. I think we were making too much noise.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Puppy Love

The Man and I got to spend the weekend with this sweet boy. Oh, and his parents, M and The Hammer.

You know, our dear friends. Move over, M and The Hammer, there's a new boy in town. We were infatuated with this guy from the start of the weekend. He's playful and friendly. He's rambunctious and teething. He's sleepy and reluctant to move when he's tired.

He's a puppy.
We took him for several walks on Saturday. He drew attention wherever we went. This little one is such a people magnet.

We would walk about twenty feet and get stopped by someone who wanted to pet him and talk to him. He was so patient and would just sit there and let people love all over him.

As we were walking along the harbor, we got stopped by a small group of mentally challenged young men and their group leader. They asked if they could pet the puppy and immediately dropped to his level so he would be comfortable with them. One of the young men kept remarking on how big the puppy was going to be when he was an adult. As M smiled, she said, "I think you're right. I hope I can handle him when he's big."

One of the young men, who had Down's Syndrome, said, "I can handle him." He was so sincere. I think he fell in love as soon as he saw the puppy.
What a sweet boy. And what a smile.


He has totally sucked M into dog owner world. She really wasn't a dog person. At all. When The Hammer mentioned getting a dog, she was pretty up front with him about how she wasn't going to feed him, or take him outside, or train him. This was his dog.

That lasted all of about three minutes.

She is the best doggy momma around. She feeds him good food, makes sure he goes out for several walks, she packs water for him while walking, and sits with him to a make sure he drinks enough. She snuggles him and plays with him. She's going to training classes with The Hammer. And she is totally in love with this dog.

Who is she?!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ferris Wheels

Sissy and I passed a fair on our way to knitting class tonight. It's in the setting up stage - not quite ready for prime time yet.

The Ferris wheel reminded me of a book I finished over the summer, "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson. An interesting look at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. One of the biggest attractions was the very first Ferris wheel - America's answer to the Eiffel Tower, which had dazzled the world a few years prior.

We take them for granted now. Ferris wheels show up at every carnival and fair around. But at one time, the Ferris wheel was quite the novelty. According to the Smithsonian, the original Ferris wheel had 36 cars and held 60 people each, for a total of 2,160 people per ride. 

After the World's Fair, the designer of the Ferris wheel was embroiled in legal problems and eventually died at the age of 37. The original Ferris wheel was sold and destroyed. 

The Eiffel Tower still exists.

Interesting book if you're looking for something to read.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Emerald Isle, Day Five

Lots of memories are resurfacing as I continue to edit the photos from our trip to Ireland last year. 

Exactly a year ago, to be precise.

I wouldn't have believed a land could get into my blood like this one did. The Man feels the same way. We've decided to go back next fall for a return visit. We both want to see more of the country but also revisit the small town we stayed in last year.


The bakery we stopped in surprised us. The food is just laid out, on top of counters and tables and display stands. There are no utensils or wax paper to pluck the one you want - just some plates and forks to eat with. Kind of nice serving yourself that way - felt like we were visiting a friend.
We took the bus up to Galway on day five. Neither of the guys wanted to drive into a big city and us gals didn't blame them one bit.

Not after what happened on day four. 


On day four, we had started out bright and early to find a new place to eat breakfast. T had found one in a guide book and we decided to try it. 

There are not a lot of places that serve breakfast in the small town we were visiting. Only one pub in town was open for breakfast and their idea of breakfast was not our idea of breakfast. For one thing, breakfast didn't start until ten o'clock. By that time, we had been up for hours and were starved. They only served two basic dishes - porridge or some sort of egg sampler plate. You couldn't choose the way the eggs were cooked, it was at the cook's discretion, and they were served with baked beans, a slice of tomato,  some very dry toast, and several pieces of some sort of animal intestine. After eating there one morning, we were looking for another spot for breakfast on day four.

As the Man was driving along the road, we heard a loud bang and realized quickly that something bad had happened. He pulled over to the side of the road, not that there was a side of the road since all the roads have stone walls along the edges and there are no breakdown lanes to speak of, and we all got out to look at the damage.

A popped tire. Flat.

While the guys figured out how to change the tire, T and I figured out the insurance part. Luckily we had purchased the extended coverage which included blown tires. We made some calls and got the information we needed and then waited for the guys to finish. 

It took some time. A lot of time. T and I got a bit restless. We started cracking jokes and making nuisances of ourselves which irritated the guys. We decided we better skedaddle before we got into trouble.

We walked up the road and crossed over to talk to some cows that were lined up watching us. We could see the Atlantic in the distance and the beautiful coastline since we were up in the hills a bit. Very peaceful with bright blue skies and puffy white clouds floating by. Every now and then a car would pass by but it was pretty quiet.

Eventually the guys finished the tire and we turned around to head back to a petrol station we had stopped at before we got the flat. The man at the station was kind enough to point us in the direction of the tire man. 

I loved his directions. "Just go back down the hill and look for John Sharry - he'll fix you up."

So we headed back down the hill and found a sign that said, "Punctures and Tires Repaired" in hand painted letters with an arrow pointing down a back road. We turned onto the road and kind of stumbled upon the place. 

John Sharry was the friendliest fellow. The Man was feeling pretty badly about popping the tire and mentioned that to John. John brought him out back behind the garage. There had to be hundreds of popped tires back there. He said it was very common to hit rocks and pop a tire - just a way of life on those roads. We had a nice visit with John and he got us back on the road in due time. Not in time for breakfast but in time for lunch.

Of course, that was the day we hiked through a billion fields to look for a castle and almost got attacked by a crazy dog. Not our best day.

And yet we can't wait to go back. Go figure.
Back to Galway. 

The guys weren't keen on driving a couple hours north to Galway, and then have to deal with city traffic on top of that, so we opted to take a bus instead.

Worked out beautifully. We sat in front and got great views both ways. The guys got a chance to have a relaxing day and not have to worry about driving. It was a good break for them.

When we got to Galway we headed toward the shopping district. A friend had told me that I would find some nice sweaters here. I found a couple sweaters for K and one for J's girlfriend, at the time. I also picked up a couple wool blankets. T found some things for her grandson and herself. The guys stayed outside and the Man grumbled a bit about all the shopping. I'm not sure what he expected in a city, but it wasn't shopping. Huh.

Our neighbor back home had told us to have lunch at a fish 'n chips shop called McDonough's. 

It was delicious.

We will be repeat customers, for sure.
We walked all over the city, exploring nooks and crannies. We stopped for gelato somewhere. We found the Spanish Arch and learned a little bit about the history of Galway. Took lots of pictures.

And then it was time to go back to the bus station. A long day, but a good one.


I am totally enamored with the color of this pie shop. And with the big, black window. And with the lanterns in the window. And all the signs. 

I love this shop.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me

Playing poker for my birthday. 

I am not a great poker player. I am not even a good poker player. When I get a decent hand I raise the betting by $3.00, all at once. Since we play penny poker, that's a big clue that I've got something good in my hand.

Everyone folds and I win the $.04 pot.

The Man is a very good poker player. K taught us a quick game that Grampa showed them. Everyone gets one card. You pick up your card WITHOUT LOOKING AT IT and hold it against your forehead. Based on what cards everyone else has showing, you bet whether or not you think you have the highest card.

I modified it a bit and dealt everyone one card. You could look at your card and bet whether you thought you had the highest card. The Man kept raising the bet until we all folded. 

He won with a three. 

We laughed a lot. It was a great night. A great family night and we don't get too many of those these days with everyone off in their own direction.

I'll take 'em while I can.
Happy birthday to me.

I've always wanted a leather backpack for travel and decided this was the year. I've seen photos of this style when it's broken in and used. Absolutely gorgeous. The company says it looks it's worse on the day you buy it. 



The tag line from the company, "They'll fight over it when you're dead."

Gosh, I hope not.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Turning Back Time, or forgetting how old you are

I had a birthday last week. As you may remember, I turned 50 last year. 

Gulp. I don't even like saying that number.

But somewhere along the line I forgot how old I was. For the past six months or so I've been thinking that I was 51, turning 52. In my head I'd console myself, "You're only two years into your fifties, just two years. That's not so bad. You're still closer to 50 than 60," and so on and so forth with other encouraging, uplifting things to say to myself. They didn't really work, though, because it seemed like I had just turned fifty and boy, did two years go by very fast.

Then about a week or so before my birthday, I did the math. And discovered that I was actually 50, turning 51.


I actually figured out how to age backwards!

Simply add two years to your age each year and then forget about it. Eventually you'll remember to do the math and discover that you're getting younger and younger.


A friend gave me this beautiful yarn bowl for my birthday. I was thrilled to get it since I've always wanted one but never bought one for myself.

I took it to knitting and it was quite a hit. I'm going to have to keep an eye on it from now on.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Big Cousins, Little Cousins

Full disclosure time.

They won nothing. I totally staged this photo.

K was messing around, throwing her arms up in the air while I was shooting. We convinced my niece to do the same thing and voila! Looks like they won the jackpot.


Things aren't always what they seem.
Little C hanging with the big girl cousins.

She belongs to one of my cousins. I love that we've been able to keep in touch through the years and watch each other's children grow up.

"A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost." 
-Marion C. Garretty


Little C is the cousin who wanted to take Bonjo, aka J, home at the end of the day. And she almost did. She's very persuasive, that one.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Magic No More

Arcades used to be so magical when I was a kid. All those bright lights and bells and whistles. Music and laughter. Tickets and prizes. My sister and I never wanted to leave.

Pure fun. Pure excitement.


We had a family reunion this weekend and there was an arcade on the grounds. All the kids were drawn to it like a Pied Piper. I had to check it out. 

Somehow they don't seem so magical as an adult. The bells ring too often, the lights are too many and the music is so loud. The tickets are few and far between and the prizes seem cheap. I couldn't wait to get out of there.

But not before I snapped a few shots.


One of my cousins daughters decided she wanted to take J home with her. She's seven years old and cute as a button. Sassy, too.

"You're coming home with me, Bonjo!" she cried, grabbing his arm and swinging from it. J just laughed, letting her dangle there and giggle. He's such a good sport, that Bonjo.

Bonjo, J's new nickname. Love it.

Monday, September 7, 2015


The Man and I have been cleaning and sorting and straightening this weekend. We've got some work getting done on the house and the worker bees need to get into some tricky spots in the basement. Boxes are getting moved and shifted and piled.

The Man is a much better worker than I am. I get distracted.

I was moving a box of photos and found some old ones from the Man's family. That's all she wrote. I was done working and it was time to settle in for a trip to the past.


I love the sass in the Man's grandmother, above.

Strike a pose, Grandma.

One of the first times I met the Man's parents, his dad told the Man that I reminded him of his mother. I loved that.
And I loved this fine lady. The Man's great aunt P. A sweet, gracious woman.

Although I didn't always think so.


After the Man and I had dated a few times, he asked me if I wanted to take a drive out into the country to visit his great aunt and uncle. We had to drive through the deep, dark forest to get to their farmhouse in the woods. 

The ride was endless. No houses to be seen since it was all state land. The trees stretched high and wide, dimming the sunlight and making it dark and a little spooky.  There were no other cars on the road and we didn't see a soul as we went along. As we drove through the forest, I had the brief thought that I really didn't know this guy very well and what if he was driving me off into the woods for some sinister reason. 

I watched way too many scary movies when I was younger.

Of course nothing happened except that we drove out to the country to visit his great aunt and uncle. Very pleasant people living in a beautiful old farmhouse. Their home was exquisitely filled with antiques and memorabilia - enough to keep your eyes moving all the time. After a bit of a visit, great aunt P asked if we would like a cup of tea. The Man and I replied that we would and she went off into the kitchen.

I followed her, intending to offer my assistance, and went through the door to the kitchen. And stopped dead in my tracks, eyes wide open.

The kitchen was filled, and I mean FILLED, with cats. There had to be at least fifty cats all over the place - up on the counters, the tables, the chairs. On top of the refrigerator, under the cabinets, on the windowsills. Cats, cats, and more cats.

Everywhere I looked, there was a cat. And most of them had their backs arched and were hissing at me. 

I am not a cat person. Not by a long shot. 

I immediately retreated and just about ran back to the living room. My mind was racing again and I was convinced I was in some kind of horror film. I burst into the living room and the Man looked at me with a "what are you doing?" look on his face. I let him know that I had just met all the kitties and thought it was just about time to go, didn't he?

At that point, great aunt P came in with the tea and we had to stay and visit a little bit longer. I examined my tea closely I can tell you.


I had the chance to visit the Man's aunt and uncle many more times before they passed away and they were always lovely and delightful and so happy to see us. They traveled the world in their earlier years and loved to keep up with current events so conversation was always stimulating. 

A sweet, old couple with lots of cats. I'm happy to say I survived every encounter.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


These last few days have been some of the hardest, most painful days that the Man and I have faced. We're sending Mom off to live with one of the Man's sisters - a wonderful, loving woman who is kind and sweet and loves her momma to pieces. 

The Man's sister will take good care of Mom.  Her family is so very happy to have Mom come and live with them. And we are glad Mom has such a loving home to live in.

But, oh my, will we miss this woman.
We bought Mom and Dad's house and moved in with them almost a decade ago when the Man's father was battling Alzheimer's. We helped to care for him up to the very end and were able to keep him home almost that long. We had to get more care for him the last eight weeks of his life, but up until that time, he lived in his own home. The home he built with his own hands.

We've had Mom living with us ever since. She's been part of our daily life. She's one of the family. And she's always been here.

Outside of a couple years in college, the Man hasn't lived more than ten or so minutes from his parents. And when we got married, we stayed around so we could be close to them. A few years into our marriage, the Man had a job offer in the South from a friend who had started his own business. We talked about it briefly but the Man couldn't do it. He said, "We can't leave them by themselves. It will kill my mom if we take the kids away from her." 

So we stayed.  I didn't live near my grandparents growing up, they were a couple hours away, so I wanted my children to have that - to grow up with grandparents who were part of their weekly landscape.

And boy, were they.
Mom helped me from the moment my babies came home. She stayed with me for two weeks after I had my first baby, J. She talked me through some pretty dark days when the hormones were flying and I wasn't sure I was cut out to be a momma. I remember crying one night, tired and scared of being alone with this little baby, and Mom just put her arm around me and said, "Things always look so lonely at night, sweetheart. It will look better in the morning. Just wait and see." 

And it did. I was so thankful for her during those days. I don't think I could have done it without her. She is truly a baby-whisperer. And a new momma comforter.

I find myself remembering that conversation whenever my minds starts wandering in the middle of the night. She comforts me without even knowing it.

And when I had to go back to work part-time, she was right there, willing to watch J for us so we wouldn't have to put him in daycare. And then K came along and Mom stayed with me for a week, helping feed and care for K and playing with J so he wouldn't feel left out. I don't know how she did it. She had so much energy and made it look so easy.

For the next several years, she watched my kids while I worked part-time. She would pick them up from school, take them to piano lessons. She took them to McDonald's and out for ice cream. She went sledding with them down the hill at the family fishing camp.

Up until the time we moved in with them, the kids and the Man and I would see them at least once a week, if not a couple times. We'd go to their house for dinner, they'd come to ours. They came to recitals and concerts and graduations and Christmas pageants. The kids went to VBS at their church.

K worked  alongside Mom, baking cookies and pies. J worked in the wood shop with Grampa and helped him rake leaves. They fished in the bird bath. Grampa taught them how to play chess and Grandma taught them how to hug.

My kids had the best. Just....the best. They had Mom and Dad. They had the childhood I hoped they would have, surrounded by loving grandparents and close family and friends.
The last few years have been bittersweet. We thought it would be the kids leaving us, moving out on their own. We've made sure to spend lots of time with grandma, trying to squeeze in every last minute while we were all under the same roof. Mom loves, loves, loves to engage J in political conversations. She asks him a question at the dinner table and he lights right up - the two of them can talk for quite a while when they get going. He brings her mending to do. J's always ripping his jeans, or a favorite shirt, and asking her to fix it. She loves that. She's been oh-so-needed and so, so wanted.

But now we have to say goodbye. Mom needs more care than we can give her. So we are giving her up. The Man calls it "sacrificial love". I call it horrible. I love this woman. She's been my momma for the past twenty-five years. 

I love her with every. single. fiber. in my body. 

But I don't want anything to happen to her while we are at work. So she leaves us. And she takes our hugs with her. She takes our kisses with her. She takes our love with her.

But mostly, she takes our hearts with her.

Love you, Mom. Mean it.