Saturday, May 31, 2008

Are You Mocking Me?

Birds do not appreciate curious amateur photographers. This robin made lots of noise while I climbed up on a paint can to attempt capturing the little ones. The babies, on the other hand, didn't seem to mind in the least. I didn't actually set out to take pictures of robins, I really wanted to find that love sick, lonely mockingbird who has been singing his heart out in the dark of the past few nights. He has quite the repertoire of songs and I hope he finds his Lady Fair soon, not that I mind hearing him sing, I just feel kinda bad for him.

I've learned a couple new things the past few days... On Thursday morning I ate my breakfast out on the back steps. I set my cup of coffee between my feet to protect it from Sofie and Oreo (who was hoping for a drink of milk). When my ceral was gone I took my hair clip out and set it on my lap to brush my hair. I heard a "clunk" and looked down. My hair clip had disappeared into my coffee cup and drowned. Today "someone" left a little "gift" on the dining room floor. I often hang my glasses on the front of my shirt so they are handy when I need to see something. Sometimes they fall off when I bend over... Sometimes I wish Sofie wouldn't poop on the floor.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Another Birthday Greeting!

Happy Birthday Auntie Lee Ann!

Try as I might, I could not find the photograph I wanted for this post. Somewhere in the crevices and corners of my closets and storage bins I have more pictures. They will show up when I least expect them to.

Today is the birthday of my husband's second oldest sister, Lee Ann. She is the sister in law I know the least as we have not spent too much time together. We saw each a few times when I lived in New Mexico in 1981, she was at our 2002 family Christmas in Colorado, and flew to New Mexico with us for her sister Kathy's wedding in 2006. She lives in Nova Scotia where she can fish to her heart's content and enjoy the ocean waves. She is good at fixing things like broken VCRs and toasters. She enjoys photography, loves animals, and likes to make people smile. And, she likes to laugh. Her laugh is contagious so when she laughs everyone around her does too. Happy Birthday, Lee Ann! I hope you have a good one!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's Still Thursday...

I feel a sense of accomplishment today. It is a good feeling. The weather was warm today and the sun was shining, a good combination.

Thirteen things I did today...
1. I baked the Amish Friendship Bread my dear Leta gave me on Memorial Day.
2. I folded laundry.
3. I rearranged and cleaned the living room.
4. I cleaned the kitchen.
5. We met Bethany at the park for a picnic lunch.
6. I held Sofie still while Bethany cut her hair.
7. I wrote a blog (or two).
8. I spray painted my milk can.
9. I read my Bible and took a short nap on the back porch.
10. Hannah and I tried to water the vegetable garden. (The hose doesn't work so we had to carry the water...)
11. I planted some flowers.
12. I pulled some weeds.
13. I found some school books for next year.

Phew! I'm tired just thinking about it! Ben and Hannah were sure today was a good day to go shopping (They say they have money...) but I feel much better knowing we accomplished something around the house. James and Nathan drove down near NY City today to deliver and help install a job. They will be back late tonight. Maybe tomorrow we'll venture out, maybe...

Today is Thursday

Thirteen Reasons to take a blogging break...
1. My shoulder hurts.
2. Time goes slower when I'm not on the computer.
3. Mornings would be more productive.
4. I have lots to do.
5. I need more sunshine.
6. My husband would be smiling.
7. I would have time to paint.
8. I could weed the gardens.
9. There is no computer on the back porch.
10. My Bible is calling.
11. My house needs attention.
12. Jazz wants to go for an orchard walk.
13. I need to plan the next school year.
Actually, I can be pretty productive in the morning if I just decide not to check my email, the news,... or... my blog (along with several others). I think I will try avoiding the computer altogether in the morning hours and set an afternoon time to check up on the news and my friends. Summer afternoons are often spent in the cool of the house anyway and by 3 o'clock in the afternoon, most of my major tasks should be done. Don't worry if I skip a day or two here and there, I'm not leaving, just taking a break. Picture me down at the park with my daughter and grandson (that's where I was today) or over at Rachel's dipping my feet in the pool. Then again, maybe I'm out on the back porch with a pitcher of iced tea waiting for Judi.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Too Cute Not to Share

He looks like a little man. He's always watching and thinking.
He loves dogs, bright colors, and eating. He laughs at his silly aunts and uncles and makes funny noises.
His grandma loves to kiss his chubby cheeks and looks forward to watching him grow up.

A Little Picnic

Yesterday's Memorial Day picnic was quiet and relaxed. Our kids and my parents came over late in the afternoon and we cooked hotdogs (red and white) on the grill. This is our first year of family gatherings with a grandchild. Josh enjoyed the picnic too. Aunt Leelee fed him cherry jello! Yum! We were missing Jim and Adam this year. Jim, of course, was too far to make it and Adam was spending time with a single friend who wanted to go golfing. We enjoyed hearing some of Grandpa's old stories... How he and his brother got beat up as teenagers by a group of six guys. (Dad mouthed off at them. Big mistake!) and how he accidentally locked Mom in the chicken coop when they were newlyweds. (I got that one on video.)

I planted most of my vegetables yesterday morning and the boys finished mowing the lawn. James worked in the shop most of the day finishing up a job he needs to install later this week. The weather was beautiful and the back porch was the perfect place to sit and relax. My only regret is that I didn't get out to watch a parade and honor our vetrans.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy 70th Birthday, Grandpa Jim!

Today is Memorial Day. Today we remember all the brave men and women who have given their lives to protect our freedoms. We also honor others who, although they didn't make the ultimate sacrifice, were willing to do so. Here in the United States we often think of those soldiers as "fellow Americans" and many times they were. But there were others too, our allies, who stood with us to defend our way of life. My father in law, who is now a US citizen, was once a young Canadian in the United States Airforce. Today I want to thank and honor him for the sacrifices he made, some of which I am sure we will never know or understand.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa! Thank you for your name, for sharing it with my husband and son. Thank you for your love of cars passed on to several of my boys. Thank you for the cholesteatoma which showed up in Bethany's ear giving her a special connection to you. Thank you for the cleft chin that I see on my beautiful daughter, Hannah. Thank you for the emails we have shared and the visits we have enjoyed. Thank you for your parents who were praying for their grandchildren. Their prayers are still being answered.

I pray you have wonderful birthday. I wish we could all be there to help you celebrate!
Love, Martha

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Josh In the Box

Throw in some toys, in this case it was several colorful Beanie Babies, and you've got one Happy Camper. (His mom taught me this trick.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Berry Bells

This little flower has often gone unnoticed in my yard. They don't call out with bright, flashy colors or inticing aromas. They are half the size of the tip of my pinky finger and typically blend in with the foliage that surrounds them. They are one of my favoite flowers but I never pick them. I don't recall ever sniffing them or even touching any, but if they didn't appear on those scraggily looking bushes on the east side of our property, we would be without blueberries come the end of July. Ever since I took notice of them a few years ago, I've come to find them quite pretty.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Red, Red Robins (and a snapping turtle too!)

The weather has been just plain cold lately. Today it is starting to feel a little warmer and the sun is shining, but there is still a cold lake breeze blowing. I decided to venture out anyway and check on "my" wildlife. Mama "Migrant Shack" Robin did not appreciate me peeking at her eggs. She put up a fuss so I snapped a quick picture and left her alone.

I decided to check out the apple tree where I thought there may be a new mockingbird nest. Nope, instead I found the "Apple Tree" Robins. They weren't any more appreciative of my interest than Mama Migrant Shack had been. I almost left without a photo but some tiny bit of bravery welled up from deep within and I took one shot before heading down to the drainage ditch.

I was sure Mr. Snapping Turtle would be lazing about in the sunshine today. Sure enough, there he was. He kept a good eye on me and let me take several pictures. I decided to poke at him with an old dried out cattail stem and he turned around and disappeared under the water. I wonder if he is eating up the little frogs who have been making the ditch their hoime. A turtle's gotta eat too, I guess.

I headed back toward the house but before going in took another picture of Mr. and Mrs. "Birch Tree" Robin's nest. This is a cat's eye-view, although I'm hoping the cats aren't paying attention. All one can see of the bird is his or her tail feathers. This nest isn't near as neat and tidy as the other two, but then again this couple did go out on a limb to build it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cinderella Dance

Praying today for the Steven Curtis Chapman family as their smallest Cinderella dances with Jesus.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cookies in a Flash!

This morning I went on a search for that very easy "cake mix" cookie recipe and found it hidden away in the archives of gmj's (Judi) blog. I think its worth repeating, just in case any of you missed it the first time around. Takes the hassle right out of baking! And they come in assorted flavors too. Last year we tried cinnamon swirl and they were yummy.

"Cake mix + 2 eggs + 1/2 cup of oil = Cookies!!
Mix, bake at 350 degrees .
Any cake mix. Add nuts, chocolate chips, or what ever and ta-da!!"

Today I used a German chocolate cake mix and some leftover almond slices. They're baking as we speak. Mmmmmm! I'll let you know if they were a success.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ready, Willing and Able (he's the horse)

Hannah is taking horseback riding lessons. Each week she and her friend help clean stalls and care for the horses in exchange for riding lessons. Hannah is not afraid of horses. She likes big animals much better than little ones which she claims "are useless". Personally, I am somewhat intimidated by horses and other large animals. They don't terrify me or anything, I'd just prefer to keep a safe distance. Sometimes "safe" is standing in front of them and feeding them some grass or an apple and sometimes it is me being on the opposite side of the fence.

Goats, which are half the size of horses, are not quite as intimidating... unless one decides to charge like our friend Katie's sheep sometimes do. Actually, Shelly's little dogs can be intimidating also. All they need do is snarl and snap their little jaws. I guess it is not so much the size that bids me be cautious as my unfamiliarity with the animal.

Bethany says Hannah has stolen her dream. Poor Beth, maybe someday she will learn to ride too.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Leading the Blind

(The weather today is disappointingly cold, so rather than tell you about that, I have decided to introduce you to Beau.)

This is Beau. He is about the same age as Sofie but much better behaved. Beau is in training. If all goes well, he will one day be a Guide Dog for the Blind. Right now Beau lives with some of my good friends and he will stay with them until he is about 18 months old. The R's are helping with the initial stage of Beau's training process. When that is complete he will move on to a higher stage of training. Beau goes every where with the R's, except church 'cause the pastor said no. He goes to the horse barn several times a week and I saw him up at the Apple Blossom parade too. When went on our Maple Syrup field trip, Beau was there. It is important for him to be exposed to as many different social experiences as possible and also to learn specific commands. When he needs to go potty he rings a bell by the door. I have noticed he gets lots of treats for good behavior. (I bet he doesn't poop on the floor like Sofie.)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Apple Blossom Parade

Every town has its annual celebration. Here we have the Apple Blossom Festival. It arrives each May round about the time the apple trees are in blossom.
Over the years the celebration has changed and evolved. We used to walk up to the parade on Saturday afternoon, return home very soon after, and wait until Sunday to enjoy a more family oriented day which included an evening fireworks display. Now the fireworks are at dusk on Saturday and I miss the small town feel of the gathering.
This year's festivities are done. I have enjoyed watching the parade, smelling the carnival food, and meeting up with friends. I even saw the apple crate race this year, something I never stuck around for previously. It looked like some good old-fashioned fun. This little guy made me wish for an ice cream cone, so we stopped at the grocery store and bought chocolate almond and mint chocolate chip ice cream and a box of cones on the way home.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Penny Saved

Today I ran errands with the kids. First we stopped at the bank so I could cash my check and then I paid off my Kohl's card and my Target card. I try not to put too much on them and have made it a practice to pay them off each month. So far so good. I filled up my gas tank for $3.79/gallon (and that was a good price) and ran in Wegman's for a few grocery items. I decided not to buy too much this week as my cupboards are still full, but I did need milk and so picked up some bananas, cereal, and cheese while I was in there. While out we also stopped in Walmart and K Mart. Ben and Nate were looking for clothes and Hannah bought herself a pair of sneakers in Payless. It's all about consolidating those runs to the store nowdays. Soon I will be running out again to take the kids to their Friday night teen group at church and James and I will be meeting Beth and Adam for dinner. By the end of the dayI will be ready to stay home for a while. (I'm trying to convince myself, but it isn't working...)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

This Place is For the Birds

Yesterday I saw my little hummingbird. It buzzed past the feeder as I was out on the back porch. I have looked and looked for a tiny lichen covered nest in the bushes by the house but have yet to spot anything. I do like to watch the adults hover by the feeder abut also think it would be cool to find the nest.

We have two robin nests to watch, one in our birch tree by the house and one down back on a plank leaning against the old migrant shack. While I was out snapping pictures Hannah and I saw a pair of goldfinches playing on the tire swing. I have never been much of a bird watcher but each year these little creatures draw me in a little more. Maybe if I had time to sit and watch without feeling pressed to get up and "do" something I would actually see and learn much more. I'm afraid I have a severe form of adult ADD. I can't seem to sit still for more than a few minutes (unless of course I am sleeping).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Good Beehaviour

The weather is finally warming up here by the Lake. Yesterday the bees were busy pollinating every flower in sight and they are out again today. The lilacs and honeysuckles sound like giant beehives. I know the real hives are setting out in the orchard and I wouldn't dare get too close to them. Here in my own yard it is a little intimidating, but I couldn't resist trying to get a good close up picture. Trouble is they don't stay still for long so I have to be quick.

James and they kids have been busy too. they have been stacking firewood and cleaning up all the debris that has collected in our yard. Waste lumber, tree bark, sticks, branches,... they all need to be picked up and thrown into the burn pile. Its looking better out there already. Once the grass is cleaned up the boys will have a much easier time mowing. We are also thinking about our vegetable garden which needs to go in soon. I can't wait to pick a nice juicey tomato or a fresh cucumber!

I'm feeling sleepy again this afternoon. It has been a quiet and relaxed kind of day so far. Monday was my wild day this week. I took Nate up to Rochester for his immunization appointment so he can travel to El Salvadore this summer, picked up Troy from school, retrieved Hannah and her friend from horseback riding lessons, and went to a VBS meeting after supper. It's nice to sit here in the quiet and listen to the birds outside while Troy takes his nap. Maybe I'll close my eyes for a few minutes too.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sister!

Today I send birthday greetings to my sister in law, Lori, who 26 years ago became one of my very best friends. When I arrived in Albuquerque in July of 1981, a scared seventeen year old, newly married, pregnant with my first baby, and 2 thousand miles away from home, she reached out to me. She was nineteen, newly married, and also pregnant. She helped us find an apartment close to hers and referred me to a clinic for my prenatal appointments. We spent hours sitting on the floor of a sparsely furnished apartment playing Scrabble, eating popcorn, and drinking Tang while our young husbands worked. We shopped for groceries and baby supplies, endured the stares of strangers, and delivered our babies one month apart. Without her friendship I would have been totally lost and alone in an unfamiliar city. In December of that same year, James and I returned to New York state. It was almost as hard to come home as it had been to leave. It would be four years before Lori and I saw each other again, but of course we "wrote each other every day". (Okay, maybe not.)

Lori, thank you so much for being my friend. I love you.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stuck in the Middle

These are my middle children. As you can see it has had somewhat of an adverse effect on Bethany but I think she will eventually learn to cope. For years she hoped and prayed for a sister and in the meantime had to deal with two older brothers and three younger ones. It's been good for her really. All those brothers keep her on her toes.

Joe is really smack-dab in the middle. Two older brothers and an older sister, two younger brothers and a younger sister, and seven years on each end. (I'm not quite sure how we did that!)

And then there is Nathan... Somehow he seems to be faring a bit better than his sister, or maybe he's better at faking it. Maybe he has learned to "grin and bear it". Smile, Nathan, smile!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

100 Days for Mothers

It was a beautiful day to be a mom. The occasion was celebrated with another picnic gathering at Dave and Rachel's place. We filled the house with mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. Family spilled out onto the deck and spread over the lawn. Each year our numbers grow by one or two, encouraging us to cook up a few more burgers and bring a little bit more potato salad and baked beans. This year we added Josh and missed Jim who moved out to Minnesota back in September. Of course he did call to wish all the moms a wonderful day and let us know he loves us. (I'm so glad he called. It was good to hear his voice on the other end of the line and also nice to hear him on my answering machine when I returned home this evening.)

The sun shone bright this morning, warming up the day before slowly disappearing behind a cover of clouds. This was my first Mother's Day as a "grandma", a strange yet wondeful sounding title, and I'm looking forward to many more. I intend to love having grandchildren!

I hope all you moms and grandmas had an absolutely splendid day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Now I'm Thinking

"A church building to keep bad people out was, and still is, a paradox to me. I think a good person’s seat inside the church should be given to the first bad person they can drag inside. " Abe Lincoln

Friday, May 09, 2008

Walk On

James and I went for an orchard walk last night. We walked a little faster and a little farther than we usually do. Both of us need to get more exercise and walking in the evenings is a great way to spend quality time together and get our blood pumping too. I went to bed last night with one very sore and achy leg, but it felt good too. I know if we keep on walking we will both feel better in the long run. Its kind of like having a free gym membership.

The orchards are in full blossom now. We must have passed three or four stacks of bee hives as we went along. It was a bit on the chilly side so the bees weren't very active. I'm assuming they have been out doing their work during the warmer daytime hours. Soon the boxes will go back home with the bee keepers and the tractors will be roaming the trees again. Lately they have been out spraying in the dead of night when the bees are safe in the hives. Some nights I drift off to sleep listening to the distant hum of the sprayers. Its much more soothing than a screaming red fox.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Walk About Town

James made an oil change appointment for my van and today was the day. I decided to hang around town while the work was completed. First I visited the Country Attic at the Williamson Hardware Store. They have all kinds of cute stuff up there, everything from Boyd's Bears and Christmas decorations to tea cups and tablecloths. I came home with a new valance for my kitchen window. Next I went to The Apple Crate which also sells collectables and craft supplies. I found a foam placemat craft on sale and wondered why I hadn't been in there yesterday. (I bought them for a future kids class.) Finally I headed to the Candy Kitchen for a coke. I found a family friend eating lunch and chatted with him for a bit before heading over to retrieve Troy from preschool. I returned to pick up my van feeling relaxed and refreshed. It was a rather nice morning wandering about town.

Problem Solving

And the green grass grew all around, all around,
the green grass grew all around...

They located the connecting tiles on the first scoop. Soon we'll put in a drain and hopefully there will be no more Teal Lake, just green grass.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Feeling Better

I am feeling much better today. My headache and body aches are gone and my thoughts are not so clouded. Maybe I will actually get something accomplished today and not need that afternoon nap. I still need to pick up some nasal spray and be diligent about taking my antihistimines or I will end up on the couch once again. I would much rather be out working in my garden enjoying the day or even in the kitchen mixing up a batch of cookies.
Mother's Day is fast approaching and I am ashamed to admit I am far from ready. Every special occasion sneaks up on me much too quickly. I had hoped to have a Mother's Day craft for the kids at church tonight but so far I have no clue what we will do. I still have time to do something special for my own mom if I can get myself in gear and get it done, whatever "it" may be.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Allergy Season

The lilacs are blooming. They are gorgeous! They are wonderful! I love them! Last night I stuck my nose into the blooms and breathed in its beautiful scent. Mmmmmm! Today I decided that breathing in lilac pollen may not be the best idea in the book. I did not sleep well last night. My muscles hurt, my back was achy, and my sinuses full. I'm really hoping it is not the lilacs that give me grief, but rather some other unscene foe floating through the air, something more obscure. Maybe even something not so unseen and obscure like cottonwood. Nevertheless, I will be somewhat more cautious when sniffing flowering shrubs. Lilacs smell pretty from a distance too so maybe I'll save the close-ups for pictures. I'm playing with the macro setting on my camera today and planning to buy some nasal spray to help combat my seasonal illness. (I'm fine really and don't mean to complain. I took a nice long nap today, inhanced by a little Benadryl. Documenting the problem here will serve to remind me when to buy that NasalCrom next year.)

Monday, May 05, 2008


When I was a little girl my father often read to us before we were tucked into bed for the night. We had wonderful story books like Little Brown Bear and His Friends, The Story Book of River Bend, and Disney's Uncle Remus, but Dad didn't read only stories sometimes he read children's poetry. We looked at starry nighttime pictures as he recited "Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod". We laughed at "The Raggedy Man" and "Little Orphant Annie". We smiled at "If I Were a One-Legged Pirate" and cringed when Dad read "The Walrus and the Carpenter" Sometimes Dad simply recited poetry as he sat in his rocking chair. It was usually "The Wreck of the Hesperus", sad but beautfiul too. I learned to love poetry. Writing poems used to be a hobby. I wrote them here and there throughout my school years. They were an outlet and sometimes an escape.

Right now you are likely wondering how I got off on this subject and what it has to do with the flowery picture posted here... This is a flowering quince (at least I'm pretty sure it is). Maybe you are familiar with "The Owl and the Pussycat". They're the couple who ran of to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat, got their wedding ring from a Piggy-wig's snout and "dined on mince and slices of quince". See? I really do have a road I am following and I rather enjoy the walk. (I know, Judi. You're praying for me!) Oh, and the title? That is my email address.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Weekend

Yesterday's sinus headache returned sometime during my sleep last night making it very hard to get out of bed this morning. Actually, I stayed under the covers much longer than I should have. I finally dragged my body out of bed and into the bathroom for a shower and took some headache medicine. I really needed to go grocery shopping but time was limited by both the distance to the store and the afternoon plans. If not for the fact that we were totally out of milk and nearly out of toilet paper, with company expected tomorrow, I may have opted not to go shopping at all today.

This afternoon we went to a "servant's picnic" with our church. Uncle Ralph came a cooked up a wonderfully, delicious "Steakout" dinner. I never eat steak so it was a great treat. Very yummy! The weather was pleasant but slightly windy so it was nice to have a building to eat in. Hannah missed the dinner due to horseback riding lessons but we were able to pack one up for her to enjoy later. There were lots of leftovers, in fact we brought home an untouched pan of seasoned mashed potatoes. I wish I had a picture of Pastor Ray standing on a chair to say the blessing, but I left my camera home.

I got my shopping done this evening, Payless Shoes (for the kids this time), Walmart, Aldi, BJ's, and Wegman's, and made it home just before the rain started falling with a vengeance. I raced those black clouds all the way and had some much appreciated help bringing all the bags into the house.

Friday, May 02, 2008


I grew up not far from where I now live. Most of my immediate family lives nearby, but I have another family, one that is spread across the United States and Canada, sometimes even reaching across the ocean to Thailand. Once they were my husband's family, but now they are mine too.