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?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Little Friends Eating Leaves

If one is not in too much of a hurry, she might find a special something waiting to be discovered...

Yesterday I went to lunch with my friend Mary. (Did I tell you I like Panera?) She teaches special needs kids and every fall tries to find a few monarch caterpillars to watch develop. Sometimes finding those babies can be tricky. Old milkweed isn't the prettiest plant and often gets mowed down at this time of year.

Last year we saw very few monarch butterflies, but I have seen several this season. In fact, I saw one just this afternoon flitting about my backyard zinnias. I was just on my way out to mow a patch of lawn when I decided to check my spot of milkweed. Lo and behold! What do you think I found? Two little striped friends! I turned right around and went back inside for my camera and the telephone. I had to call Mary.

After taking a picture or two I called Mary's house. Her husband Dan said he'd send her right over. While I waited for her to arrive I took a whole roll of photos... (ha ha!)

Mary was so excited! Tomorrow she will take her new friends in to school for her students to watch. How fun!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


No internet for most of the day. Not only did Time Warner Cable have an outage, but we inadvertently forget to reattach one of our computer cables which didn't help the situation any. oops. No harm done. I spent some time this morning looking through computer files and folders and, quite hidden away, discovered a folder containing the tracks from my father memorial service almost five years ago. It was timely. I decided to record a video of my mother's photo with my kids singing in the background. Not professional at all, and yes, the music is speeding up as the song progresses, in my mind I want to slow them down...,  but it's sweet just the same.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I've spent some time this past week mulling over an "assignment" from last week's Tuesday morning Bible study. After talking about how God had changed the names of some of his followers (like Simon to Peter and Saul to Paul...) we were asked to come up with a new name that God might give us. It was really a thinking question more than anything, so I opted to give it some time and wait for an answer.

Yesterday I took a short walk around Barnes and Nobel. I was feeling a little "off" and thought I'd look for a book my friend Brenda mentioned several weeks back. I knew the author, but the title I couldn't recall. I stood looking at the books on the shelf and although I knew then which book she'd spoken of, I decided to buy two; "Unglued" (because I was feeling that way) and "The Best Yes" both by Lysa TerKeurst.

Last night I read the first chapter of Unglued (because I was still feeling that way) and the emphasis of first chapter was on making gradual change in our lives, slow progress. "Progess..." Could that be my new name? I had tossed around Joy and Hope, but Progress was something new and different, or at least I thought it was... As I perused old blogs last night, something I do on rare occasions, I came across this one and there in my own comments was my answer. "Am I making progress?" I think I am, even if the progress is slow. But then that was exactly what the author of the book had spoken of, slow progress. Not an overnight change, because that rarely means a lasting difference, but a slow and steady change in my behavior and reactions.

Yeah, something to think about, something to practice, and something to model for my daughters. I think I can do this.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

It's the end of August already. If you were still here, we'd be planning an 80th birthday celebration for tomorrow. It's still hard to believe my parents grew old so quickly... Anyway, you got a birthday card in the mail this past Saturday. I hope you don't mind that I opened it. I guess our financial adviser forgot all about that email I sent him back in March. He never did get back to me on that policy. I suppose he was busy and distracted, like I am sometimes.

I miss you a lot more these days than I did back in the spring. The numbness has finally worn off and it doesn't take much to make tears well up. I try to brush them away before anyone else sees. Funny how when Dad was sick and passed on I felt so free to sob and this time it somehow feels like I'm not supposed to... How do I explain to my family that it has taken me six months to get here, to the place where the sorrow is overwhelming? It still comes and goes, sometimes making me exhausted and impatient, and others times just leaving me sad.

I stopped at the house today. The neighborhood that used to be full of children is like a ghost town. There was nobody outside playing.  Kind of like our house, I mean your house...just empty. Nothing feels or sounds the same there and you and Dad are missing too. I went out for lunch after leaving the house, but I ate alone. The only friends I saw were just leaving as I was getting my food. Too bad I hadn't gone half an hour earlier.

I'll be okay, Mom, but it might take me a while. I hope James can bear with me. He so often thinks he is the cause of my grief, but he can't fix this. Before I can truly heal, I have to be able to hurt. He has to let me and I have to let me. Maybe the hardest part is really me letting me...

Anyway, tomorrow is the grand birthday celebration in heaven with your mom and dad, Aunt Jeanne, Dad, and Danny. I hope the party is magnificent. You'll be on my heart. I'm sorry for all the big and little ways I failed you. I really meant to do so much better than I did. I love you.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Yay! Pie!

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been making it's way through Facebook and plenty of folks have braved a bucket (or more) of frigid water in order meet the call. I took the "easy" way out and made a donation because that's what it's really all about anyway. But, last night my sister posted something that sounded an awful lot like another challenge... he he he!

She said, "I was inspired by my friend Nicole and decided to throw a blueberry pie in the oven before Dave came home from work today. Can't wait until it cools enough to taste! It has a cute little face with a crooked smile, don't ya think?"  Rachel thought I could simply put my over-abundance of blueberries into a fresh baked pastry, but alas! I have no blueberries this summer. Instead I took myself to the completely opposite corner of the yard and braved the vicious vines where blackberries grow. I picked enough berries to fill a smallish pie plate, maybe an 8" dish, and this afternoon, after my grandchildren had gone home, I whipped up a blackberry pie!

Perhaps you are gone for the weekend or just too busy to bake at the moment, but I am here to challenge a few of my friends to bake a pie of your own. I pick Wanda, Linda, Betsy, Brenda, and my sister Priscilla. Bake your pies, post a photo, and tag your friends!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Awesome or Not

Not one of my most awesomest days. I woke up to a distant thunder and dark clouds, just the kind of weather I love for sleeping. Three grandchildren arrived as soon as I pulled my clothes on, one of whom was pretty sure she needed her mother. Mommy snuggled her onto the couch under a blanket and she didn't fuss. She stayed snuggled there until she had to pee, and then again when her little tummy was feeling sick. I sat on the couch for half an hour with a feverish child snuggled into my shoulder before I was summoned away for one reason or another. (Perhaps that was my most awesome moment...)

We let the boys go out to play on the swings, but they found Grandpa's garden hose instead, turned it on, and soaked each other. Grammy was not at all amused and when I checked for dry clothes, I found that I had sent pretty much everything home with them a week or so ago. After their long sit on kitchen chairs they were permitted to change into swim trunks. ug!

It was a sunshine and rain kind of day and I found myself feeling tired. My nights have been restless lately, and though I slept okay last night (I think), I still crashed on the couch this afternoon. Now if only I can sleep tonight.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tummy Mountain and Mountainous Tummies

The tummy tempting aroma of fresh, bought-in-a-can, sweet rolls wafts through the house... Do I even dare attempt to resist the allure? Or shall I give in and take another moment to enjoy the sweet savor of life? How does one say no to such delicacies? I think I'll take at least one bite. Just one bite can't hurt...

Speaking of sweetness and tummies, this print on my wall is making me smile again. The simple childhood pleasure of jumping on the couch captured on canvas (even though this is actually printed on textured paper...). I once read that a home should be filled with things that make us smile. Hey! My grandkids will be back again tomorrow. (No, I don't let them jump on my couch.)

And then there is my beautiful daughter in law Sabrina whose tummy is also looking slightly mountainous. We're planning a baby shower for two weeks from this coming Sunday. Before you know it we'll be snuggling another new baby.



Dew on yesterday's grass and yarrow. Feeling not quite ready for fall on one hand, and on the other looking forward to it.

So much to think about and so little mind to do it with...

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Old Homestead

Every once in a while the gas and electric company likes to stop by and read the meter. The meter at Mom's house hadn't been read in a while. I set up an appointment, partly to avoid a surcharge, and planned to spend some time cleaning out the garage today. Murphy's Law would say if I had somewhere to be, the meter-man wouldn't come until the very last minute (or later), but today, since I had hours to waste (ha ha!), he showed up about 15 minutes after I got there.

I was blessed to have both my sisters meet me at the house, and together we began the task of sweeping the dirt, dust, cobwebs, and leaves out of our dad's previously pristine garage. We also got distracted by the back porch and living room carpet... We're not done yet, but thanks to a few brooms and a good shop-vac,  it's looking much better.

I am still torn when it comes to our childhood home. One of my sisters said we need to remember that it was the people (Mom and Dad) who made the place special, not the place itself. We aren't selling our memories. Those we keep forever. In spite of those truths, we all get a little teary when we go there. I'm actually relieved to know I'm not the only one. (The photos are a few years old. The yard and gardens  are looking a little rough these days.)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Out With the Man

No, I'm not tossing him out the door, we went out the door together. We took a hike and, rather than walking up the creek bed (like most people), I convinced him to take the trail up the "mountain". It wasn't really a mountain, but it could have been. It went straight up, giving us a good cardio workout, and then we peered ever so cautiously over the side of the cliff... Well, he did anyway. I stayed away from the edge. My legs felt like jelly from the climb and I opted not to take any chances.

 Me and he, with matching hats. Mine is hiding my reading glasses which are resting on top of my head.

We found a frog when we were down at the creek.

 Then we started up the road that went straight up the hill. Up and up and up.

James looking over the cliff. (He's braver than me.)

 And then we walked farther up the hill. 

 The view was amazing!

And then back down the road through the woods.

After all that climbing, we had ice cream cones for lunch. His was raspberry custard and mine was Irish cream.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


It was a banner year for zucchini. We've taken way more out of our garden than we've cooked and eaten. Way more! For some strange and unknown psychological reason I can't put my finger on, whenever a have a mega supply of fruits or vegetables (you know, stuff I don't have to pay for?), I sudden have an aversion to actually eating it.
It isn't that I don't like it, because I do. We started the season by slicing it thin, cooking it with chopped bell peppers and onions, and topping it with Parmesan or mozzarella cheese. Sometimes both. It was delicious! And then the aversion set in...

Lately we've been attempting to eat zucchini in spite of my sudden aversion to the summer vegetable, and we've discovered some pretty tasty ways to fix it. It disappears faster cut in thick slices so we've taken to slicing them up and topping them with something tasty.

We made zucchini pizzas. We spread semi thick slices with olive oil and sprinkled on some spices, popped it under the broiler for a few minutes, and then topped it with sauce, pepperoni, and some Italian cheese. Back under the broiler to brown up a little and we had a yummy treat! I even ate one or two for lunch the next afternoon.

Last night James made his own version of sliced zucchini. He browned the slices in olive oil on the stove top, sprinkled on some spice, and topped it with toasted cayenne peppers and feta cheese. They we a great side to our chicken and rice. Honestly, I think this was my favorite so far.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer's Gone....

It's quiet now, the afternoon far-spent. The children have pulled on their shoes and gone home. There are remnants of playtime scattered here and there...

It was cold outside this morning, like late October rather than mid-August. I put on a sweater and my lace-up shoes, and stayed pretty much inside the house because it's hard to keep track of three rambunctious children out of doors on a cold and windy day.

I'm hoping summer will be back tomorrow.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


I have grandchildren in my house today. They are not quite quiet and tame, rather they are riled and rascally, and in spite of my time of respite with my sister, I do not feel totally prepared to deal patiently with children whose eyes and actions are full of daring and mischief. They are presently attempting to have a bit of rest time while I regroup.

Though it may be that my plate is not near as full as it may have been a year ago, my mind is still full and racing. There is still much to be settled as far as my mother's estate, plenty to be accomplished here at home, and a mind and body that need regular down time (and exercise) in order to function properly. I've missed my Ladies' Prayer and Bible Study the past two Tuesdays and if I am not adamant about being at the next two, they could easily be missed also, and I desperately need them.

I am not very good at saying "no" when asked for my time, and I often mistakenly believe I need an excuse as to why I'm unable, when just saying "I'm not able" should be sufficient. "I can't because..." only leaves room for the other party to come up with a reason why I can or should. *sigh*

There are two weeks left to what we call summer. School starts just after Labor Day and the only thing that will change here, is that I will be putting a girl or two on and off the school bus a few mornings each week. Or maybe I will be... I never really know for sure when or if they will need me, and perhaps it is the "up in the air-ness" that really throws me off. I can be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my pants kind of person, but I don't care to fly by the seat of others' pants.

So, that is my rant for today. I hope you enjoyed your stay, can relate a little to what I'm saying, and found my mountain photos intriguing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ah, Success!

I did it. I climbed the trail to the top of Mount Jo. I stood at the summit and gazed at even greater mountains. It was pretty awesome... (This will be a long post but it'll be done and I can move on to other things tomorrow.)

We started out Sunday afternoon by dropping kids off at Beaver Camp in Lowville, NY and then headed north, deeper into  the Adirondack Mountains. We stopped along the way to take a few pictures...
 (Stillwater Road) We drove for about 20 miles on two dirt roads in the backwoods. That makes for one dusty car!

 Shoes on a wire over Big Moose Rd. in Eagle Bay, NY

Our first and only bear sighting. I thought I was watching a big black dog cross the road. Why "bear" never entered my mind until Priscilla said, "Look! A bear!!!" I can not tell you. The best photo of him remains in my mind where he still looks like a big black dog sauntering across the highway.

The "Super Moon" over Long Lake on Sunday evening.

We stayed in Tupper Lake the first night. The room was clean, comfortable, and very musty smelling. The owner was nice and friendly, but we decided to pay for the single night, take our things along with us, and give ourselves the option to stay somewhere else the following evening.

We did a little bit of driving in circles, not unusual when you're unfamiliar with a particular area, had a good breakfast, and headed for Mount Jo which is a little beyond Lake Placid.


 Just starting out on our mountain hike.

 On the trail. We took the longer, easier way rather than going straight up. It was a good idea. 

 Froggy friend

 Stopping midway to rest and eat a snack.

 Continuing on. That is the trail, not a creek bed.

 The reward, a majestic view from the top of Mount Jo.

 More snacks. Priscilla is excited. :0)

A fellow hiker took our picture for us, and Priscilla took theirs. I'm pretty sure that farthest peak in the corner behind me is Mount Marcy.

After our hike we headed down to Lake Placid for some walking and browsing in the shops.

 Ski jumps from the 1980 Olympics.

 The view from a balcony where we stopped for some iced coffee. This is Mirror Lake. If I hadn't been so tired from our hike, I might have thought it a grand idea to rent a boat of some kind.

 Fancy hotel next door to the coffee shop. Can't even imagine what it must cost to stay there, but I loved all the activity going on.

Upon hearing we didn't have a room for the night, a woman from one of the Lake Placid shops recommended we look into a travel lodge down the road. (this is her store) Monday evening we checked into a beautiful room with a king sized bed and went to bed before the sun set.

The next morning we ate breakfast at the Country Bear Diner (no credit cards accepted) in Wilmington, NY and headed for Whiteface Mountain.

We needed to kill some time and get the coffee out of our systems so, on the recommendation of a staff member, we climbed the trail to Stag Brook Falls. 


 At the waterfall.

Me and Priscilla

(This is my longest post ever. Are you still there?)

 We took the gondola ride up Whiteface Mountain rather than hiking, but when we got to the top we found we were not on Whiteface like we'd thought. We were instead welcomed to the summit of "Little Whiteface Mountain." The view was astounding in spite of our mistake. That is Lake Placid in the background.

 While on the summit, Priscilla's cell phone rang (We were off the grid for most of the trip.) and she found our old friend Allan on the other end of the line. He will be visiting from Minnesota this coming weekend, in town for his 50th high school reunion. 

 Priscilla on Little Whiteface.
 Whiteface Mountain. Our destination for the next trip.
 Sign at the summit.

On our way home we stopped for ice cream in Long Lake, NY and then later for coffee in a little town called Inlet. There was a nice little bookstore there that sold coffee and I bought a book of Adirondack stories called "Leaky Boots". It was a nice end to a fun, first annual sister trip. Well, I think think it should be an annual thing anyway.