Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chilly Weather and a Load of Firewood

We jumped directly from short sleeves and flip flops to layered clothing and shoes with socks in just two days. I guess I can be doubly thankful for the load of wood waiting just off the back porch. It arrived Thursday afternoon and is getting stacked a little at a time. I did a little, and Hannah and S. did a good chunk yesterday afternoon. (I rewarded them with warm apple pie and ice cream...)

As much as I love fall, and as much as I look forward to the cool, crisp autumn temperatures, I wasn't quite prepared to say goodbye to summer quite yet. Don't we have another week left? Ah, well, I would have missed it anyway. I'm going back to summer for the next week and I intend to enjoy every minute of it. I'll worry about long sleeves and sweaters when I get to Minnesota, and hopefully by the time I come home again there will be some pretty autumn colors to enjoy.

For now though, I'm going to make a point of smiling at that big ol' wood pile every time I walk past it. And maybe, when I'm on my way back to the house, I'll toss a few more logs on the wood pile and make a few more plans for an October Bonfire. Somebody's got to eat up all those marshmallows we've collected from previous gatherings. Maybe I'll even have a few.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pie Building

It turned suddenly cold, windy, and rainy. It was a pie building kind of day, so while I was out to the bank and grocery store, I bought a bag of apples. My favorite guy helped me with the apple peeler and I stirred up a nice big bowl of pie filling. While Hannah and S. stacked firewood, I assembled pies and popped them into the oven.




I'd hoped the hot oven would warm up the house, but I'm sorry to report it didn't, and the fire I attempted to build burned up the pizza boxes but left the wood charred and cold.

The house may not have ended up warm and toasty, but it sure did smell yummy. Nothing says "home" quite like the smell of apple pie baking, except maybe fresh baked bread or Thanksgiving dinner. Of course pumpkin pie and chocolate chip cookies smell like lovin' goodness too... and coffee, and molasses cookies, and chicken sop, and chili, and beef barley stew, and ....

I am going to need to give away a few pies here and there this fall. They're so much fun to make and so bad for me to eat. Good thing I have lots of boys.



Friday, September 12, 2014

Bugs, Bees, and Butterflies

Photos from our time outside this afternoon. Last night's wind blew in some cooler temperatures and we've pulled out shoes, socks, and sweaters. I considered baking cookies this morning, but wasn't sure I wanted the temptation in my house. I mostly wanted to warm up my kitchen. Probably should have baked a loaf of bread.

I'm gearing up for my September vacation and getting excited. I leave for Wanda's house on Tuesday morning. We'll have four fun filled days together before I take off for Minneapolis on Saturday morning. Packing for different temperature zones should be interesting. Then again, the forecast for Minnesota doesn't look too bad...







Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Funeral

Monday morning my sister Priscilla and I attended the calling hours of an old friend and neighbor. Gretchen was more my friend than that of my sisters. We didn't really hang out together when we were in school, we did that more with her brother, but Gretchen always knew I cared about her. Last Thursday my telephone rang and on the other end of the line was my friend Adam, calling to tell me that his sister had passed away early that morning.

Gretchen had sent me a Facebook note back in early January informing me that she had been diagnosed with cancer the day after Christmas and soon after had started chemo. " I don't want any of my family to know. I moved on from them." she told me. "The out come is not good but I am going to beat it."

I didn't really know what to say. I fumbled about for a bit on my end. Gretchen had always been the dramatic kind. When she told stories it was impossible to decipher fact from fiction. Her only brother is like a brother to my sisters and I, yet I knew she hadn't spoken to him in years. She had disowned both her parents along with her oldest son when he was still a child. "I'm sorry to hear that," I wrote. "Will keep you in my prayers." It seemed lame, but I wasn't sure how much to draw out the conversation. I am ashamed now. It was the last time I talked to her.

I don't know what this friend of mine dealt with growing up, I only know that she was a soul in pain, and she reacted to that pain by fighting. Her life was mostly painful and unsettled. Trouble seemed to plague her, but she was stubborn and resolute. If she got knocked down, she came up fighting. She was a woman bent on making it in a man's world. She wore high heeled shoes and mini skirts, and drove a tow truck, sometimes at the same time. She competed in beauty pageants, rode motorcycles, and drove snowplows. She loved men in uniforms; police officers, firemen, EMT's, and soldiers, and she had a strong opinion. I never found the urge (or courage) to challenge her and looked to avoid confrontation, sometimes by avoiding conversation, but never by avoiding her. If I chanced to see her out and about, I always stopped to say hello and see how things were going.

When my older children were small I babysat Gretchen's oldest son. I think he was about 6 or 7 years old, the same as my Bethany. Gretchen was driving snowplow that winter and would bring her son in my house to sleep on the couch well before I came downstairs in the morning. It was our agreement and it worked well. Sometimes when he went home from school on the bus the house was empty and he would call me on the phone. "Martha? My mom isn't home. Can you come and get me?" he'd ask and I would.

When Gretchen's husband went off to military training, I held her while she cried. When her second child, who had just begun to pull herself up and walk around the furniture, began to cry each time her mother put her down, we both found ourselves concerned. It was as though the baby was in pain and I encouraged Gretchen to follow her gut and take her to the doctor. It turned out that the baby had leukemia. (Today she is 22 years old.) And, when she struggled to come to terms with a third pregnancy when her daughter was still an infant, I was able to encourage her with the news that I was pregnant too. Although they've never even met, my son Ben and her son were born just days apart.

I sat in the church yesterday with my sister and looked at the grieving family across the aisle; an older brother who hardly knew his younger siblings, a grandmother who raised the older son and was denied a relationship the younger two, and Gretchen's own brother who was and is so very much like a brother to me. I watched the oldest son lean over and kiss his little sister and then his brother. I marveled at how the men in this family all had clean shaven heads and facial hair even though they barely knew each other, and I watched as a young woman grieving the loss of her mother, clung to her grandma and cried, and I ached inside for what should have been.

There are too many people in the world who decide to cut family members out of their lives,who give up on those they should hold on to, and who hold onto the pride and grudges they should let go of. I have friends and family members who know the pain of severed relationships and unanswered questions, and I know a bit of that too. Sometimes we have to let our loved ones go in order to gain them back again. I had to because the good memories needed to live on.  I couldn't allow myself to be eaten up by bitter thoughts and unforgiveness. My prayer for this wounded family is that they will learn to love and forgive and be an example of love and forgiveness to a hurting world around them.


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch?

Yesterday, after attending the funeral service for the sister of a longtime friend, Priscilla and I went out to lunch. According to my email and the folks in the restaurant, I had earned myself the privilege of a free "kid's meal". Oh, lucky me! Rather than let it expire, I decided to cash it in.

Kid's meals are typically a tad smaller than the average size lunch. I saw that I could get a bowl of soup, a half a sandwich, or a salad (Caesar or garden). I decided to order a bowl of soup for my "kid's meal" and then my favorite Fuji Apple Chicken salad which I would pay for out of pocket. I placed my order and watched the cashier get only slightly confused. I handed her a $20 bill but she handed it back and told me I didn't owe a thing. Now I was slightly confused.

When the servers called out my name and I went for my lunch there was no salad on the plate, just soup and chips. I explained the confusion and they went about fixing my salad which I again intended to pay for. When the salad came up they insisted I was "all set". No charge. So there you have it. There really is such a thing as a "Free Lunch"! You can't help but love this place!

PS. I did not take my camera this time. I "borrowed" this picture online.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Playing Dress Up

Our Saturday travels took us to "Once Upon A Child" where I found a highly intriguing rack or two of child-sized costumes. There were monkey suits, plenty of pumpkin outfits, and even a zebra costume, but one costume in particular caught my eye. It was a dinosaur suit, a T-Rex suit actually. Very cool! I looked at the size. Too small for my "older" grandchildren, but just right for a couple of the smaller ones. I decided to splurge. Ha ha! Aren't they adorable?

We tried it on Aubrey after the baby shower yesterday. I think the boys were just a little disappointed that they were too big for it. It sure looked like a lot of fun!




Sunday, September 07, 2014

Baby Shower

What a beautiful day it was! This afternoon we celebrated the soon arrival of my newest grandson with a baby shower at Bethany's house. It was a lovely occasion.

The gathering was small, just our immediate family, Aunt Margie, and our favorite Morgan. We also had a few small children whose daddy was unexpectedly away for the afternoon.

Because it was such a gorgeous day, because life is short, and because the dessert was so pretty, we ate it first. There is nothing prettier and more lovely to eat than cheesecake unless it is cheesecake with fresh fruit on top.

 The table was set with fine china, doilies, and a vase of pretty flowers. Simple and sweet.


The new momma was looking radiant and ready to pop at any moment. (Isn't she cute?) Oh, goodness! I don't know if this small child will wait until I come home from my vacation at the end of September!




We had a fine time watching Sabrina open gifts. I brought along another monkey because babies do love monkeys, you know. I tucked my very own handmade afghan in the bag too, and it says "Happy Birthday" because that will be happening very soon. Besides, with a monkey to tuck inside of it, how could I resist such a cool gift bag?


Once the formalities were over, we settled down to a cup of coffee or tea and enjoyed our time together.

It was a very nice afternoon if I do say so myself!









Friday, September 05, 2014

Liquid Patience


After yesterday's post, finding this today on Pinterest was rather amusing. I'm not sure if coffee really gives me an extra dose of patience, but it is a better alternative than wine. ha ha!

It's been a mid-July kind of day; hot and muggy. I've been trying to keep the windows closed, but every once in a while I forget and open the front door and the heat comes rushing in. Maybe I should just purpose to enjoy it while it lasts.

Rochester, NY has seen a rough week. Yesterday it lost one of its on-duty police officers to a shooting and this morning a small plane took off from the Rochester Airport and went unresponsive an hour and a half later. It is suspected that the aircraft lost air pressure and experienced a lack of oxygen. The occupants were a Rochester businessman and his wife. Their plane ultimately crashed 14 miles off the coast of Jamaica. There will be no survivors.

Events such as these pop "my little world" back into perspective. I lost a friend this week too. She died of cancer. We weren't particularly close, but were neighbors as teens, went to school together, and I did some babysitting for her years ago. There was a time when we hung out together a little bit and ran errands together. I last connected with her in December when she told me of the diagnosis and said the prognosis wasn't good. Her brother called me yesterday to deliver the news.

The weekend has arrived just in time and it promises to be busy. I hope you have a good one!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Patience in a Bottle?

Is there someplace that sells patience, packed in bottles, to sip as needed whilst small children terrorize your house? Oh, wait, that's called wine, isn't it? Perhaps I don't want to go there after all.... *sigh*

How about some photos from my day with no headache. :0)


"Look, Grandma! A giant mosquito!"


Morning sunshine


Three little tramps


Looking for leftover blueberries


Our barn from the orchard across the street.
(We went for a walk, a short walk.)

PS. A song keeps running through my head. It goes like this, "Patience in a bottle..." but I think it's really supposed to be "Message in a bottle..."

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Today

I had a better day today. Although I was still tired and headachy, at least I didn't feel cranky. I think I accomplished something... I washed my bedding, cleaned the fridge, and put a roast in the crock pot. This afternoon my sisters and I visited our brother and took him out for a ride. My headache worsened on the trip and by the time I got home I was ready for an Excedrin and a short nap. There are some days when one just has to tough it out and hope the pain suddenly disappears. It's actually better this evening even if it has left me tired. Tomorrow my grandchildren will arrive bright and early so I hope to get a good night's sleep.

PS. I "borrowed" this snuggly teddy bear photo from Pinterest. He's helping me look forward to fall, days of piled up blankets, and cups of hot coffee.
:0)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Crank 'er Up!

It was a tired and cranky day. I've tried to be nice and I've tried to be pleasant. I can't tell how successful I've been because my perspective is skewed. All I can say is I made a valiant attempt.

I woke up with one of those funky head- aches, the kind I dread and typically blame on hormone fluxes. I took my daily vitamins and allergy medicine, topped them off with some ibuprofen, and called it breakfast. (ha ha! Not really. I ate rice chex and raisins.) My coffee has been tasting poor lately. I blamed it on the coffee the first few days, but now I'm thinking my creamer is likely less than fresh even though the date stamped on the container claims it is. I took my coffee at Dunkin Donuts instead today. (Thanks, Brenda!)

Because I was tired and headachy, I took a very long nap this afternoon. I did not sleep on the couch. Instead I hauled my body upstairs and flopped down upon my bed. I stayed there for 2½ hours! On a "normal" day that would have taken the crankiness right out of me, but not today. *sigh* Thankfully, my husband still loves me (I think), the day is almost over, and I get to start new again tomorrow.

PS. I did not bite or hit anyone, not even the dog.
:0)

Monday, September 01, 2014

Labor Day

I am writing in my sleep. If I slur my words, you will know why.

Today was Labor Day. We have been known, in years long gone, to have giant holiday picnics. Today we didn't. Instead we accepted the invitation of friends and went to a picnic instead. It was nice to sit and relax, visit with friends, and enjoy a day out.

Today it is September. Sweet, and sometimes sad, September. A month of memories. I find myself looking forward to a much anticipated cross country flight and a visit with my friend Wanda, another almost cross country flight to Minnesota where my little
grandson waits, and I find myself looking back on sweet memories of my daddy. September 28 is my own special day of remembrance. I call it "Wear Dad's Shirt Day" and I will pull that old flannel shirt of Dad's out of my closet, put it on, and remember my dad. Perhaps I'd better pack it in my suitcase just in case I'm still in Minnesota or on my way home when "Wear Dad's Shirt Day" comes along. I'd hate to miss it.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Off to the Fair

We went to the NY Sate Fair yesterday. It was hot, it was crowded, and it was still fun.

This year's sand sculpture was a Dr. Seuss theme. Very cool. If you know me, you know I have a thing for Dr. Seuss, and another thing for sandboxes. This was the best of both. Perhaps I missed my true calling? I probably should have been a sand sculptor...

I drove out to the fair with Hannah, S. and R. and hoped to meet up with a friend. My friend spent 2 hours in traffic waiting to get into the parking lot, so I followed these folks instead. They didn't seem to mind too much.

We attempted to check out the horse barn, but when draft horses are being led about, visitors aren't allowed in.

We checked out the cow barn. R and I announced that we like cows but Hannah decidedly does not. She is very particular and opinionated when it comes to animals. Cows apparently don't make the grade.

The llamas were not particularly friendly, but they did not spit on any of us. R is not fond of llamas. He has seen "The Emperor's New Groove" and is not impressed. Ha ha! I prefer alpacas myself, but I didn't see any of them.

Hannah and I told R all about chocolate cows and chocolate milk. You know, how chocolate cows are the ones who give chocolate milk? Or maybe if you want chocolate milk you feed them chocolate... or something like that. Anyway, we saw some pretty chocolate looking cows in the cow barn. That was when Hannah told R about the strawberry cows. I could tell he was taking it all in.

The goats were fun. They always are. I think having a pet goat or two would great! Maybe I'll put that on next summer's to-do list. Ha ha! James won't mind at all. Apparently goats actually believe that grass is greener on the other side because almost every one was reaching over the wall in order to eat the hay in the next feeder. How about the stripes on this guy?


It turned out to be a great day. We visited the player piano, walked through the livestock barns, bought chocolate milk and ice cream, and I even made a last minute trip into the butterfly enclosure. One dollar and the opportunity to see some great butterflies up close and personal. Yup, it was a good day.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Today's Accomplishments

The list is short, but I did accomplish something. Hannah and I packed a few rug-rats into the van and headed to Webster. First we stopped at the credit union where we bribed them to be good
with suckers, and they were. Hannah made a deposit and I got a notarized signature which I am told wouldn't hold up in a legal battle. Good thing there won't be any battles. I needed a letter stating that my mother's will did not need be probated. With that accomplished, I sent in the paperwork for three very old life insurance policies. Mom wasn't quite seven when the first was purchased and we don't even know for sure how much any of them are worth.

After the credit union, which I usually call a "bank" but it isn't, we went down to Lake Ontario at Webster Park where the kids stepped in seaweed and braved large rocks while we vainly warned them against venturing into unsafe territory. Thankfully, no one fell, no one was hurt, and no one was arrested for negligence of any kind.



The lake was beautiful. Today's calm was a stark contrast to what must have been a rough surf day or so ago when the lake tossed, turned, and threw an abundance of seaweed onto the shore. We walked out the pier to the light whilst small children darted back and forth, threatening to hang over the railings or splash into the cold water.

On our way back to shore a painter was setting up the tools of his trade. If I were brave, and also alone, I might have stuck around, or at least returned, to see his progress. He had just started when I passed by. I could tell by his brush stokes which were just beginning to give color to the sky.

Back at the creek a little girl was feeding the ducks. She was kind enough to share a bag of crackers with Lucas, Simon, and Aubrey who enjoyed tossing them into the water below the bridge. I'm not entirely sure Hannah was enjoying herself by then. I think she was just tired of telling small children not to do things only to have them either do them anyway or ask, "Why?"

After a stop in the grocery store and a swing by the post office we returned home for lunch. By 3 o'clock the kids were gone and not too much later my cousin Pam and my Aunt Margie stopped by for a visit. Prayers are appreciated for them as they adjust to living in the same house, at least temporarily. *sigh* Why does everyone have to get old?