Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Two Weeks

 I've never gone so long between posts as between this one and the last. I can hardly recall what's happened that I might want to look back on...

* Minnesota. I lost track of how many times Jim said, "You know, Mom, you could stay another week," or "Mom, don't you want to stay another week?" I have to admit, it was very tempting. Deep inside I wanted to say yes, but I have a job that I needed to get back to and only three of the five days I'd taken were paid. When it came time to say goodbye, Parker (Number 11) was just waking up from a nap. He wasn't much in the mood for a cuddle, so I kissed his little forehead, told him I loved him, and choked back the emotion that wanted to well up inside and leak out my eyes.

On Thursday night, September 2, my blog friend Kim picked me up at Jim's house and we went for a walk at the Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary which was only about a mile or so away. She had a limited span of time to spend but I was grateful for her company. I don't know if I will ever get back to Minnesota and I missed her last time I visited. My friend Kristina wasn't feeling well when I was there and so we didn't get a chance to meet up. I'm hoping one day in the future we will make another connection.

Jim was off work for the weekend, so we took a ride with the boys on Saturday afternoon. We stopped to say hello to Jim's childhood buddy Dan and his wife Rachel in Farmington on our way to Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. It was a quick visit, mostly some hugs, a picture or two, and a little conversation, and then we were on our way. Dan and Rachel had a prior engagement to attend and hadn't been aware of my presence in MN until the previous evening.

We took the boys on a little hike through the woods to a "hidden" waterfall where an ever changing group of people enjoyed the cool water. The little found it wonderfully fascinating, while their older brother kept a sharp watch on them. I watched through my camera lens.

I returned from Minnesota on Sunday, September 6 following a fabulous brunch at Grammy and Granddad's house where we took some family pictures and Jim helped me do an "early" check-in for my flight because I'd forgotten all about it when we went to the woods on Saturday. He took me to the airport a little after 4 pm for my 5:30 pm flight home. I arrived in Rochester at approximately 11:30 pm local time and my friend Chris, who works near the airport, picked me up a little after midnight and took me home. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I miss my Minnesota people. In fact, I miss them very much. 

 * After my week away and flight home, I was relieved to have Labor Day off work. There were no picnics or parties planned. Late in the afternoon I took a drive out to find my friend Gail at her cottage in Williamson and we combed the rocky lake shore for bits of tumbled glass. It was an unusually quiet Labor Day. On my way home from Gail's I stopped by Bethany's house to drop a birthday gift off for Jilly (Number 8) who turned 6 while I was out of town. Jake (Number 5) had a birthday on September 11 and is now halfway to 18. (He's nine.)

* Work was crazy while I was gone and I returned to a daycare running at partial capacity. It's been a strange week and a half. The children have returned to school and are slowly trickling back in from mandatory isolations. (Yeah, that. I skipped town just in time.) Something in the daycare feels off, but it isn't the sickness. I'm hoping whatever it is passes and everything begins to feel normal again, but this too is a growing moment. 

* There was a family gathering on Sunday afternoon with chile. The forecast inspired us to change locations and so there were 12 grandchildren running about and frolicking in the house, yard, and driveway. They caught baby crickets in the grass and played in the rain. There were grown up conversations, heated discussions, and moments of encouragement. My heart is full and achy at the same time. 

* I started a new pottery class last night. Same instructor as in the spring as well as one classmate. I also know two others in the class; my friend Dan and his friend Katie. Although I haven't been to the studio much in the past few months, it felt comfortable and relaxed. I'm looking forward to the next eight weeks and wondering what kind of vessels will emerge... 

** I'm also still enjoying pottery nights with my cousins. This is my second "lace" cup, this time with a handle. I haven't yet decided how I'll finish it. It's possible I'll have it fired at the studio as they run their kilns at a much higher temperature. Time will tell.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Lots to Love

There is a lot to love in Minnesota. The little ones here are full of smiles and snuggles. 

Jim is working from home, and Michele continues to recover from childbirth. She is absolutely amazing.

We've spend most of our time inside. The backyard is off limits due to an impending tree removal, but we've gone out on the front sidewalk for a bit of time each afternoon. "The Sickness" is keeping us close to home.

I don't feel like I've been a tremendous help here, but I have snuggled children, changed diapers, and cleaned the kitchen. Well, I loaded the dishwasher anyway...

Saturday, August 28, 2021

The Lake Was Gorgeous

 The lake was gorgeous last night. Rough and tumble waves rocked the shore and blasted the breakwater drenching anyone and anything in the way. I got my feet and pant legs wet and it was wonderful. I love the lake calm and still, and I love it rough and wild.

I'm heading out of town. In a little less than an hour I'll pack my bags into the back of my car. I'm flying to Minnesota to see my grandsons and meet their baby sister. I'm hoping to be helpful to my handsome son and his beautiful wife. I'm also hoping for a minute or two to catch a visit with my friends Kim and Kristina. I have a week.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Bits and Pieces

 * August is going way too fast. The summer is going way too fast. I thought I'd have more free time. LOL!

* Life hasn't turned out exactly as I'd envisioned, which I'm sure doesn't surprise anyone else whose lived a good portion of their own. Situations and circumstances just keep taking us by surprise. Some surprises turn out sour, but there are the sweet surprises as well. Thankfully, life gives both hard lessons, and unexpected blessings.

* Work occupies a major portion of my time and energy. Sometimes that is hard, but it is softened by the smiles and affection of the little ones I am there to serve. The little friend who lost his daddy a few weeks ago was very happy to see me on Monday. I was blessed with smiles, hugs, and childish chatter, and he is not the only one who looks for me. Yesterday a small sweet voice called out from the toddler room, "Marrrrthhhaaa... Where arrrrreee yoooouuu?" It was repeated over and over as I passed out breakfast trays and I would call back to her, "Nataleeeeeee... I'm commmmminnnngggg."

* My momma heart is aching this summer. A situation I'm unable to share that is constantly thumping about in my thoughts. I find myself crying out to God. I don't know, of course, what the final outcome will be. I have to give every anxiety into God's hands. It is no longer possible to pull my hurting children into my arms, to rock them on my lap, or kiss their wounds away. They are grown up now and must find their own way through the heartaches of life.  "Oh, Lord!"

* I booked a flight to Minnesota. Time is going so fast that I barely realized I'd be leaving in little over a week... My Minnesota people are planning an out of state move in the not too distant future, so unless they change their plans (which isn't likely), this is quite possibly my last Minnesota trip.

* Two of my boys came over last evening. We sat in the garage and I listened to them talk. There was blatant honesty, exaggerated stories, and comic relief. They spoke of experiences that are both amusing and terrifying all at once. I've never been of the mindset that my kids, especially my boys, have or will continue to avoid substances and activities that might send a mother into a panic. I wasn't sure how to respond.  Another piece of life to let God handle. "Oh, Lord!"

Saturday, August 14, 2021

A Pocketful of Beach Glass

I go to the lake whenever I need a moment of solitude, a chance to de-stress, or when I simply hear the call. Quite often I go "just because." It wasn't until last summer that I started hunting beach glass. It's now an obsession. Ha! I can't go to Webster Park without scouring the rocky shoreline for bits of green, brown, clear/white, or even red or blue. Sometimes I find a friend, but I'm often on my own. I love it either way.

Life is never dull or settled for long when one has seven children, five of them married, and seventeen grandchildren along with a full time job in a daycare center. I have adult children who struggle with a myriad of issues. It breaks my heart because so much of it could have been prevented had I been wiser long ago... And then there are unexpected medical surprises which make me once again grateful for not only modern medicine, but intuition as well. My daughter in law will be okay thanks to her own action and the blessing of doctors who listen to valid concerns. I am also grateful for a son who is not afraid to take on caring for his infant daughter when her mommy had to make a return trip to the hospital. I think he's a super dad! (He didn't dress her in this picture.)

Being the daycare cook, requires a significant amount of time in the kitchen where I often listen to the happenings in the toddler room directly across the hall. I thought I heard my name one morning and popped my head in to see what it was all about. The toddler teacher, in making conversation with our two and almost two year olds, had asked, "What kind of animal give us milk?" and one of the toddlers piped up, "Martha!" Have I ever told you how much I love these little people?

Last Sunday afternoon I was blessed to join my sister and her sister in law for an hour or so of kayaking. This is something I could actually do alone, but have never thought to try solo. The creek is full of paddlers, so it isn't as though I'd be completely solitary if I ran into trouble. I think I'll give going alone some serious consideration.

One evening this week upon my arrival home, I found my family hanging out in the garage. As we sat and talked, something went flying through the air and bounced of Killian's head. "Hey!" cried Hannah, "a rubber band just hit my baby in the head!" After a bit of deductive reasoning, we decided it had broken and popped off a container of clay I had sitting on top of the garage refrigerator. How funny that we should all be sitting there to witness the debacle! Of course, the baby barely noticed at all.

I've been having a wonderful time with my cousins this summer, playing with clay and getting reacquainted after way too many years apart. Our children should have grown up being best friends, but they barely know each other. I am grateful for a new chance to be friends with the cousins I grew up loving. This little cup is just glazed and ready to be fired. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

PS. I signed up for another advanced class at the pottery studio. We start in September. 


Sunday, August 08, 2021

Number Seventeen

Charlotte Hope is here. She arrived by cesarean section early Thursday evening, August 5th. Both mommy and baby are safe and we are grateful for modern medical technology. Such a beautiful baby! Our Little Wildflower joins her Mermaid cousin in the band of grandchildren.

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Bits and Pieces

* When I don't know what to do or where to go, I go to the lake.

* Last night I found my friend Gail looking for glass on the little island beach across the mouth of the creek. My friend Tahnya, a former coworker, found me as I was watching a sweet, small child scamper about the shore. The child turned out to be her daughter. And then my friend Pam and I found each other in Wegmans. We have been friends since fourth grade but rarely catch up. It was a good night to find friends.

* My sweet little friend A was at daycare yesterday. I spotted him when I took in the lunch cart. He was all smiles, happy to see me, happy to be sitting with his best friend R., and blissfully unaware of the tragedy that befell his daddy last week. In years to come he will grieve, but for now he is a not quite three year old child blessed with the inability to behold and process such sorrow.

* I've been a little off this week. Not entirely sure what's kickin' me. Maybe it's because August has made its arrival feeling like September.

* Sweet little Seventeen will be making her way into the world soon. Her biggest brother, Number Six, also known as Austin, turned eight this past Saturday. They are growing up without me. This is hard.

* Number Fifteen is not slowing down for anything. He is bound and determined to grow up this week. Crawling on his hands and knees is not enough. he's pulling himself up on his knees and also up onto his big brother's giant stuffed dog. (I think he's got a little of his mommy in him! (Shhh! Don't tell her I said so.)

* I have plans to go out on Friday night. A plan always helps. I need more of those.

Sunday, August 01, 2021

A Pocketful of Beach Glass

"Grammy! Do you want to go to the lake?"

A cool, refreshing breeze blew, the sun was bright. It was the perfect lake day. We tossed a few fruit snack packages into a box with one fig bar, grabbed two can of sparkling water from the garage fridge, and set off for the lake. We stayed for hours. It was glorious!




I picked lake glass from the beach, snapped pictures, and did my best to keep him safe and dry. He tossed sticks and stones into the water, balanced on longs, and dipped his hands into the water. We both got soakers, me from an unanticipated wave and he from losing his balance stepping over the breach in the dam blocking the creek.  


We ventured into the woods, walked the pier, he rolled down the big hill, and we ultimately ended up back at the mouth of the creek. Hannah came down after Killian woke from his nap to see what it was that Idris loves so much about the lake.

It was a beautiful day with my grandson, the kind of day I used to dream of having with my future grandchildren. I am thoroughly blessed.






Friday, July 30, 2021

Bits and Pieces

 * It's been a strange week but I'm not totally certain I can tell you exactly why.

* I took Idris (Number Nine) to the lake on Sunday. Sticks, stones, water. He loved it! On Monday he asked if we could go back, so we did. Tuesday night he asked again, so back we went. Wednesday night I went alone. 

* I went to work a little early on Tuesday morning and was in the kitchen when one of my toddler friends was dropped off for the day. I saw his dad's and brother's backs through the open kitchen door. I can't remember what I was doing, but I didn't get the chance to greet them that morning. It was Wednesday morning when I learned of the drowning. My sweet little friend's dad jumped into the canal to rescue his dog and was pulled under by the current. He did not survive. The dog was able to get out on its own and the brother was unhurt. My heart is aching. 

* The firemen, who didn't have their carnival this year, pulled together a parade which we attended on Thursday evening. It was short and not all that sweet. Just a fleet of emergency vehicles, a few from two nearby towns, one or two floats, an ice cream truck, and a dance group. The theme was Christmas in July and when the parade was over a little boy next to us voiced his disappointment. "I didn't even get to see Santa Claus!" he protested. 

* We've completed two weeks of Two Daycare Centers Become One. We have plenty of staff, all we need is more children.The toddler rooms are hopping and we have an up and coming list of babies, but what we really need is to fill up the 3 and 4 year old rooms, and beef up the school age class. Our menu was interesting this week. I had to get creative a few times but nobody went hungry unless it was their choice.

* Our baby is a creeper. I mean he's crawling. On his hands and knees. He's only six months old but somebody forgot to tell him. He's quite happy with this newfound skill. Good thing Hannah ordered that new baby gate!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

A Pocketful of Beach Glass

 Gentle waves slapped against sand and stones. I hadn't been home yet this evening, instead I took myself to one of the places that so often calms the anxiousness inside. A soft, cool breeze, the subdued, evening sun, the sound of moving water... I took a few photographs and picked a pocketful of wave worn glass from the ever-changing shore. Clear, white, green, brown. Children laughed and scampered about, dogs barked, and I picked glass.

I was early to work yesterday morning. Thinking I was expected at 7 am, I'd arrived half an hour early. I was in the kitchen, possibly unloading the dishwasher when they came in. Two little boys and their daddy. I saw the younger being dropped off at the toddler room door. Not long ago, perhaps a week or two, the little guy had climbed onto my lap for a morning snuggle after being dropped off for the day. Only they younger child stays, and soon the father and the 4 year old were out the door.

The daddy, conscientious and polite, always says hello or gives me a wave from his vehicle. Other teachers say the same, but I missed him yesterday. By the time I came out of the kitchen they were gone. Unknown to us, because we don't need to know everything, there were plans to take the older child fishing. They took their dog along... 

Today, two little boys are facing life without their daddy. He won't be coming home because he jumped into the canal to save their dog. The dog was able to get out of the water downstream on it's own, but once under the water, my little friend's dad, caught in the current, was unable to resurface. We are stunned and heartbroken.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Barn Collective

My cousin Diana invited me to a bonfire, but the barn was calling for a picture...

Broken windows don't typically call to me, but these did.


 
This is a fabulous barn. I kind of wish I'd taken a closer look at it 30 years ago.
 

I don't have any stories other than it was packed full of stuff when the property was purchased over 30 years ago. The current owner has a big heart and told the previous one he had ten days to come get the contents or it would be considered the property of the present owner. They came and took what was of any value and left the junk, of course.  But that was a long time ago.

I didn't look inside, but I'm betting it's absolutely fantastic!


Pipe Dreams

"I want to move to the mountains, do pottery all winter, and gallivant all summer. It's a pipe dream."

"See!! Now you're thinking! It's not a pipe dream."

"Maybe not. It's one I probably can't do alone. Unless I inherit a windfall profit."

"I'd shoot for windfall."

"Ha ha! I'll do that. ... Except it wouldn't be much fun moving to the mountains alone. ... Who would make my coffee?"

"Hmmm. I gotta tell ya.. the thought appeals to me."

"Can you make coffee?"

"Ummm yes. It's easy. ... If you can count by two you can make coffee."

"I already make my own coffee every morning."

"Dude. You need a coffee butler."

"Will he talk to me?"

"Maybe"

"I suppose I could talk regardless... LOL!"

"Ha!!!"

"Probably more so after I drink the coffee." 

....

"My house in the mountains should have a cherry tree."

"And pears"

"You got it. ... I might need a wood stove too. I can stack wood and start a fire as long as the wood is already cut and split."

"Hmmm. I saw a guy this morning who tore his back up stacking wood."

"Yeah... I was just thinking about that. ... I can have my grandkids stack wood when they come to visit."

"Now you're talking."

 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

This Barn

 From today's vantage point, although 50 years still sounds like an eternity, it also feels like yesterday...

I loved New Hampshire as a seven year old, and I loved it this summer too. The house felt so familiar, and walking into the old sitting room and through the downstairs bedrooms was like walking back in time. And then the barn...

I don't recall spending any amount of time inside the barn as a child, but it's presence was an integral part of the property's ambiance. Years ago there were parties there. I know not only because of the old piano, but because of Al's stories. His was a musical family, and especially his mother. Or maybe it was his grandma...

 

When I was in New Hampshire as a child, there  was an old grinding wheel in the yard outside. I was told it's still in the barn, and I saw it in a painting inside the house. It's a pretty fabulous old structure, weathered to perfection.


And over the barn's shoulder, in the clouds beyond the trees, is Mount Washington. Sometimes clear and visible, and sometimes shrouded in mist. 

I kind of love  this place.

PS. An update on last week's barn post. Years ago the giant barn was the Davis dairy farm where Al worked as a teenager during the summer when he stayed at his grandparent's summer home in Jackson, NH where I took the photos of today's barn.

The Barn Collective meets here.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

A Couple of New Hampshire Barns

 New Hampshire is speckled with fabulous barns. It's very common in New England for the barn and house to be attached. I didn't get any fantastic pictures of those, but I did stop to take photographs of two wonderful barns in Jackson, New Hampshire. They're pretty fabulous if you ask me.

 I was told this place is known as the "Pitman Barn."  It sits well of Rt 16B just up road from the village of Jackson as one drives toward Black Mountain. I wish I could remember now if this was one of the farms my friend Al worked on as a young teen. I might have to ask. This gorgeous barn actually showed up in two videos I watched on the town of Jackson.

A bit farther toward Black Mountain Ski Area is this handsome spectacle. A huge, sprawling barn nestled on the side of the hill. I don't even recall if it had/has a name. Another question for Al. No matter, it's still an amazing specimen.

Front view so you can see the enormity of the structure and how it sits on a slope. New England barns are just fabulous! I could have wandered and taken pictures all day!
 

I'm joining Tom's party today at The Barn Collective.