Monday, August 31, 2009

Baby Quilt

I am no quilter, not by a long shot. Truthfully I don't think I have the patience to cut out all those small pieces of very colorful material, and then sew them all together in beautiful designs. But I can cut out squares and sometimes when they are sewn together, their corners meet; sometimes.

The girls and I took turns working on this quilt for my niece, their cousin, who is soon to give birth to a lovely baby girl. I was glad they all took a turn at the needle with the embroidery and then I did a little applique. Finally, the littlest one also did the final machine work with me.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Troop Camper Training

Despite, or because of the rain, Girl Scout troop camper training was wonderful. We cooked a delicious three course meal outside, over a fire, in the rain. I learned so much, like jack knife safety, knot tying, making fire starters and waterproof matches, and can't wait to share it with my family and the girls in the troop.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

No worries, I'm up...

Yeah right... Troop camper training in the deluge commences in seven hours, and I'm not sleeping.

Last night, when I was awake for no apparent reason, I heard coyotes howling. I know they eat small dogs and terrorize the neighbors, but it was so nice to hear a natural sound, rather than fans. With the fans on, I'm pained with the thought of trying to sleep in the cargo hold of a dual prop plane.

Tonight the windows are closed. Danny is off shore. His drops, the size of cherries, pelt the glass. Overhead the rain roars against the roof. And I wonder what all this is going to sound like in a canvas tent. Rest assured it will be loud, but will it be peaceful. Will I finally sleep?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Camping with Danny

Danny is due to arrive this weekend, and I am off for Girl Scout troop camper training.

It should be quite the experience; camping with other troop leaders, all at this point are strangers. The packing list says nothing of bringing games and the such, but I am. Who goes camping without a game or two? After all we are going to be there overnight, in the rain. Stuck inside unless a group activity is puddle jumping in driving rain and 45 mile an hour winds.

This is all my fault. I picked up a new light pumpkin Goretex rain jacket last week; just in case. I had always wanted a rain jacket, and my old faithful tried and true is only a nylon shell that resists a thimble full of water before soaking through.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Where it stood

Being either brave, adventuresome, or stupid, (since we had gotten turned around in the past), during yesterday's walk we decided to check out parts of the Nobscot Boy Scout Reservation that we had never visited before. Specifically, we set out to see what was on the backside of Tippling Rock. Supposedly there is a view of Mount Monadnock. I thought it would be cool to hike up to see Monadnock and then at some future date, hike Monadnock in New Hampshire and look for Nobscot. So following our map, we headed out.

We didn't reach our goal. Instead we got turned around, but still we saw stuff we had never seen. Like this pile of nails from where a house was leveled and burned on site, leaving this carpet of debris, along with a hearth and chimney. The land up there is a mish mash of Boy Scout land, Conservation Land and Private. The map does not mention a ruin, but it stands. Actually we ran across a couple of solemn chimneys tucked in among the trees.

There is a lot of history in those woods; with the most famous site being the Small Pox graveyard. The girls are fascinated and probably frightened by the fact that when people, old and young, contracted this disease they were sent away from their families to more than likely die. Each time we have walked up to the graves, chattering children stop all that they are doing and stare at the stone piles. We say a prayer, then quietly go on our way. There is a rumor that the woods are haunted by two children who play among the trees.

I picture the children lying in Pest Houses, looking out the windows, wishing they felt well enough to play. And only in death do they find the strength to do so.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another Boy Scout Hike

Someday I would like to know all the trails that lace this place. Yes, we got a bit turned around again, despite carrying a map. But it was a great two and a half hour hike from Tippling Rock to the Fire Tower and back.


Yesterday I thought I lost a daughter. Thank God for cell phones. For in the end she wasn't lost, and a note on the kitchen table would have made the world of difference.

Yesterday I locked my keys in the car for the very first time. Thankfully there was an angel in the store and she took the little ones home so they wouldn't have to wait in the heat of the day for AAA.

Yesterday was the first time I ever called AAA. They came to my rescue in less time than it took my to call my husband to lament my rotten day.

Yesterday I found out the arrangements for my uncle's funeral. His death was so sudden and unexpected that I still haven't come to grips with this whole situation.

Yesterday I scrambled with my brother to rearrange sleepover plans so our girls can still get together for one last hurrah before school starts.

Thanks God today is not yesterday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Passive Refrigerator Repair

Yesterday evening my husband noticed the stuff in the refrigerator felt a little warm. Personally, being hot and sweaty, I couldn't tell, so I stuck a thermometer on one of the shelves and sure enough it read 60. We check the freezer. Everything in there seemed fine and frozen. There was no icy build up like that which happens when the door is left open... We also noticed the usual refrigerator hum, suggesting all was well within its white walls.

Puzzled, we removed the contents into coolers, then turned to the internet of help. Being very unfamiliar with refrigerators beyond the fact that, on a good day, they keep food cold I searched YAHOO by symptom: refrigerator repair freezer cold refrigerator warm. Not my finest descriptive writing, but the best I could come up with at the time. Still the results poured in.

The first suggestion I took and applied was to raise the temperature of the freezer. Stating that would lower the temperature in the refrigerator. Not in this case.

Next was the idea that we had a frozen coil. The poster said he had removed the inside panel, used a hair dryer to defrost the coil, then he replaced his thermostat (How he knew that was the culprit, I have no idea.), put the box back together and voila -- life was good in under 15 minutes.

My husband took off one of the panels on our unit and found no evidence of coils, frozen or otherwise. I had visions of our kitchen looking like we were conducting a post mortem on the appliance, so I suggested that we let the whole thing thaw. That if our problems were rooted in an iced over any part somewhere inside our white box, letting it warm, (surrounded by beach towels), would be one way to solve the problem. Then, if after thawing we were no further ahead, it would be out of our hands anyway.

Well it worked. After about an hour, (Truly I wasn't watching the clock -- instead I was practicing on the old banjo.) we had an icy cold beach towels, suggesting something had been iced over somewhere. Still, I wanted to make sure it was good and thawed so taking advantage of a completely empty unit-- I cleaned it.

Afterwards, I plugged it in. Humming along as usual, it cooled the refrigerator and freezer just fine. Proving the adage, sometimes doing nothing is the same as doing something.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mom's secret is out

And just what is my secret? It's the quiet time between 5 and 7 AM that I used to be able to call my own.

Morning person or late owl, I suspect these tendencies are genetic, for growing up and still to this day in their own homes, my family is chalk-a-block full of early risers. And now my children, as I type, are up in the kitchen getting their breakfast.

It will be interesting to see if they get up so readily once school resumes next week. I don't know if I am excited about restarting the rat race. We have had a summer full of hiking, art, camping, fighting off slugs and other garden grazers, music, fishing, reading, math and more. I much prefer the laid back cooler days of summer, over the tightly scheduled days. But such is life.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It is so hot...

it's not the heat, it's the humidity...

that I can't think of a thing to write. I was hoping to get up early enough this morning to do some baking. But at 6 AM the kitchen felt more like the bathroom after a long hot shower. I won't torture my family by turning on the oven; not even for strawberry squares.

I thought the heat was suppose to break last night. I thought it was suppose to rain. Maybe it did, as there is a puddle outside the garage.

Remember I never complained about the cool weather in June. I was saving all my complaining up for when the hot came and never left -- like now.

A permanent tab in my browser is the weather channels ten day forecast. Each morning I rise and hit refresh, hoping for cool. All I see is hot, hot, hot... Hot makes me cranky. It's best to stay away. Sorry, bro...

Thursday, August 20, 2009


said the very mad mommy gardener.

Texting and the one word answer

I think the boon of texting has caught the world by surprise. When I was growing up, when asked a question, we were instructed to practically repeat the question then answer it in full and complete sentences. This was called having a conversation. Today, with texting a conversation can be construed as such:

h r u



2 or l8r

c u l8r

luv u

l u 2



And that's it. No names. No capitalization, no sentences, barely any thought. And I wonder if this whole texting thing is effecting the art of conversation as a whole. I have noticed when asking a younger person, who, on their cell phone, racks up 1000 or more texts but only talks 20 minutes per month, (and those minutes are spent talking with their mother), any question at all that more often than not they provide an abbreviated answer. The abruptness of their responses is so astounding that you could draw the conclusion that they are being rude. But when asked about it, a look of utter shock and disbelief crosses their face followed by the words, "I'm not rude."

Lately I have found myself pouring out basic instructions on how to interact with people. Basic stuff like:
  • When you meet someone say hello and ask them how they are doing.
  • If it is a work colleague ask them how work is going.
  • Listen to the other person, allowing them to speak and then share your opinion.
And again my advice is met with blank stares. It's not like we don't have conversations in this house. It's not like we don't ask questions, and then get them answered.

Lately I have been touting the tact that every conversation should be viewed as if it carries the importance of a job or college interview. That each conversation should be a practice field for talking and listening to others; still the blank stare.

I think when school starts I will mention this to some elementary teacher friends and see if they can squeeze into their already filled curriculum the basic art of conversation. Maybe then this next generation of texters will be able to communicate clearly on both levels.

o btw ttfn

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Update on the one plant

It still grows. I took this picture during the heat of the day, so the leaves are a bit droopy. In order to get the whole plant in view I had to stand on the other side of our yard.

Being away for vacation, one of my fears was that something would get into the garden and we would come home to bare stems and no fruit. Thankfully that did not happen, but we do have a developing problem of the squash leaves turning white. I am hoping the fruit development will come before the plants die.

Having produced seven nice squashes from a composted seed, I would have to conclude that the buttercup squash invasion is doing nicely, but the butternut, acorn and small pumpkins still have a ways to go. Searching on the internet has me thinking it is powdery mildew. The internet is truly a wonderful resource for backyard farmers. Many universities and agricultural services have posted fact sheet that are very helpful.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

LOOK what we did!

After sporting a garage painted suburban camouflage, we finally have it matching the house. Tomorrow I'll finish painting the trim and then repaint the doors. I might even paint the house doors.

Early morning painting, in the cool of the day, is a lot like sugaring; peaceful and quiet. (In the top picture you can see a corner of our sugar shack... It's only August and I'm already thinking about next year.)

While camping we brought and served to some of our Vermont relatives our homemade maple syrup. They loved it and I had to confess, that it was the dregs, so to speak. Our syrup is initially stored in quart canning jars. After the maple sand settles we decant it, leaving the sand behind. Also in that sand is some syrup. This year I was not willing to pour it down the drain, so I combined all the residuals into one jar and set it at the back of the refrigerator. When I was packing for camping I came across it and we had close to a quart of crystal clear very tasty syrup. yum yum

Lesson learned.

Word Association

Whenever I see Indian Pipe I think over my grandfather. Grampa smoked a pipe and he loved being outdoors. My fondest summer memories are of family camping up at Dolly Copp in the White Mountains. The Imp watching over our campsites. Doing the family climb up Pine Mountain; looking for garnets as big as the tip of Grampa's pinkie as we mounted the top. Impromptu hikes with other camping teens up Carter Dome and Madison. Strolling the Great Gulf Wildnerness with my brother.

Today, when I ponder summer vacations, those teen summers scrambling around the White Mountains are the ones I look forward to reliving with my children. They are just about old enough now. Next year. It will be good to visit the Imp and his boulder buddies again.

Monday, August 17, 2009

So little time, so much done

We are still on vacation. The tenet is: Work in the cool of the day. Rest, relax and play otherwise.
So this morning we watered the gardens, washed out the coolers, vacuumed the upstairs, washed the bathrooms, scraped and painted the garage, and laundry -- of course.

It is great when we all work together. Makes my day.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Good can come from bad

When a door closes, God opens a window. A trip to the hospital was the key to a very welcome teen turn around. Who would have thought? But it is true. We have had a great day despite the hospital, an unfortunate funeral, and the heat. Early morn I put together three salads for dinner and marinated some meat for the grill. Dinner was provided with little effort; the perfect vacation recovery day.

When will I be smart again?

We are experiencing the tough teen times here. And my only question is: When will I be smart again? When will I receive the respect a person deserves just because I live and breath, and not because the reminder has been made not to use that tone, or to give me, (the person who just feed you, laundered your clothes, drives with you in the car, listens to you at midnight, lets you use my earbuds for camp when you discover, (while driving up), that your's are broken.) that look. Me, the mom who calls your cell phone when it is lost, so it will ring and be heard -- so someone can find it.

When will I be smart again? And if the answer is never, then fine -- I'll stop waiting.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Just one picture before calling it a camping trip

We've been camping where no cell phone could ring; Elmore State Park in Vermont. It is a wonderful place, with great hiking, swimming, tracking, boating, camping, meteor shower watching, fishing, marshmallow roasting, and owls hooting. And to top it all off, the girls are officially Vermont State Junior Rangers. It is a great program.

We'll be back!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

By the light of the silvery moon

Not a great picture. I wasn't able to find my tripod in the dark -- but this was the moon lastnight coming through our bedroom window.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Digging Worms

I was outside this morning digging worms to go fishing. Early morning has to be the best time to be up and out. It's jacket cool and quiet punctuated with nature.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Days Stacked Like Cord Wood

Lately my days have been back to back chalk full of errands and to dos. Full, full, full, from before sun up to well after sundown. I am so looking forward to a day or two of nothing on the plate. I dream about waking up, rolling over, and falling back to sleep in the coolness of the morning.

Today is not such a day... with an oil change, taxi service to Cross Country practice, and to dos about the house and garden to accomplish.

But on the bright side with full days comes completion. Yesterday I finished my caning project, and I am four stitches away from finishing a sewing project. I am delighted that my hands will be available to spin and knit once again. It has been months since I touched yarn, and I am missing it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Beach Bums

When I was growing up we lived within an easy car ride to the beach. Lunch packed, toting towels off we would go, escaping the heat and humidity of the city. Now that I am older and we live just out of beaching striking distance, sojourning to the sand is more of an adventure. Yesterday we had such a time.

With three other families we hit the sandy shores of fun. The kids dug wells, built sandcastles, body surfed, kayaked, and swam. The other moms joined them -- dipping into the water to cool off from the sweltering heat. For me, the water was so cold, my ankles would hurt if I stood there too long. I couldn't imagine how these kids were not popsicles, but they were having a blast.

As three o'clock drew near, (and the thought of all that rush hour traffic pressed in...) the kids looking more like sand art, it was time to rinse off in the surf and start packing up. Without a complaint they grabbed up the boogie boards and headed back in. I figured I would give the water one more try. Ankles in, knees wet... I stepped out further. I couldn't imagine how I managed to swim off the shores of Maine and not here. The call came out about a great wave. The excitement built as the kids lined up their boards for the big ride. My glasses and hat still on, I lined up with them and took the wave to shore. What fun.

Our departure was not on schedule. There were many great waves to ride.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Squash and such

We have two parts to our veggie garden. One that was suppose to have corn, peas, herbs, green beans, beets, potatoes -- but instead is the out grown home of the one plant to rule them all. Which by the way has buttercup squashes so big that when they are not distorting the fence for support, they are perched on buckets so not to break the vines. We will be serving this squash at Thanksgiving -- if all continues to grown well.

And the second garden that has the squashes and pumpkins, tomatoes and basil. And in this plot we are seeing the same phenomenon of having all male flowers at the center of the plant and then developing female flowers along the vines; which are spreading nicely across the lawn.

I find myself wondering what is the advantage of this development. It is interesting, as well as a lesson in gardener patience.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Pet Sitters R Us

The early morning view from Tippling Rock.

We are watching a cat and we had a dog for just this morning. The girls love having furry friends in their life. They get a chance to water, feed, pet, walk and scoop for their charges. Actually, I do the scooping, but that is another story.

Today we took our doggy buddy for a walk at the Nobscot Reservation. It was another wonderful walk. In the cool of the morning we saw toads. frogs, assorted mushrooms, mosquitoes, and pretty much hiked from one side of the reservation to the other.

The trails are littered with toads. Over the course of these past few weeks we have watched them grow from the size of thumb nail to that of a quarter or bigger. Another interesting sighting was the stream where we discovered the frog on our last hike is all dried up. We had an interesting discussion on just where a frog might go? And when do they realize their watery world is about to dry up.

Note to self: There was no clamoring today.

Monday, August 03, 2009


Go ahead and look up clamoring in the dictionary and you will see my life, my family, this household. I live with the Loud Family. The only time they are quiet is when the tube is irradiating them with pixels of light and flooding their ears with sound.

Today I watched as my two little ones clamored for the attention of their playmates. Calling to be the center, repeating their requests, directives, orders and showing off. Quietly I tried to tone down their enthusiasm for the center ring. Reminding them to share with our guests. And not to yell, yell, yell. Each time I was rebuffed with a sulk. At the end, my two were fighting and their friends were off laughing and playing among themselves.

Afterwards, I reviewed the events and asked, "Did you notice how your friends moved away from your fighting and yelling? Did you noticed they were seeking out a quieter area for play?" No answers. And why would they. They never have an answer.

I do hope they out grow their desires to control every breath taken within a 4 mile radius of their being. Or pretty soon they will be voted off the island. And no amount of gentle reminding will get a recount.

The heat is on...

It's not the heat, it's the humidity. It is going to be miserable today. We are lying low, moving slow, and seeking out deep pools of cooling waters. It's days like today the kids beg to go food shopping. Where they slog down the dairy aisle. Attempting to collect all the cold air for themselves.

And on the other hand, it's amazing what a little heat can do to a garden. Everything is growing as if it were a weed. And I am cautiously happy that we don't have tomato blight. Thank God.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Last week I visited the NAPA Auto Parts store in Natick with my vehicle's owner's manual and my vehicle. I placed the book on the counter and said, "My passenger's running light is out."

The gentleman didn't laugh. Instead he picked up a pencil and piece of paper and said, "Make and model."

I knew that answer. "Gas guzzling, but highly effective when transporting children of scouting and parish events 2000 Chevy Suburban."

While he looked up my part on the computer I was totally amazed by this shop. Behind the counter were rows and rows of shelves and on each shelf were boxes clearly marked with part numbers. It was love. If I worked here, I would learn so much about cars and parts. While he searched for the correct bulb I searched for the words to ask for a job. In the end, I walked out with a 94 cent part and no job, for the words did not come to me. Instead they were jammed in a two mile back up of inadequacy. I didn't even know what part I needed -- or if the bulb was amber or clear. But I had what I came for, the bulb and I had a new sense of getting to know my behemoth just a little bit better.

The bulb sat waiting until this morning when I announced, that after church I was going to take care of it. My husband quickly answered, "I did the headlight before. I'll take care of it."

And then I thought, that's not good; for two reasons. The first, when I was a little girls I was always under the car doing this or that with my dad. So I'm older now, and not as flexible. But I can still read directions and follow them. And two, what about my own daughters? Who will teach them about simple car maintenance?

"Come on girls, let's go see if we can do this together." In two seconds, happily the three of us had the hood open and the owner's manual laid open to the page on headlight and such replacement. Three seconds later we had the headlight cluster out, and we were unclipping the turn signal running light assembly.

Ten seconds later the old bulb was out, the new bulb greased up a bit and put in it's place. Then the snag hit. While reinstalling the assembly by closing the big clip, the only one mentioned in the directions, the lights seemed loose. We reread the directions and continued to put the headlights back in -- hoping tightness would come upon completion. But the running lights weren't correct. So we took it apart again and looked for unwritten clues.

"Look," said the middle one, That looks like it fits behind there. And she was right. Six quick hands and two levers later the lights were firmly back in place and working.

The job done, smiles and pride spread across us all. But before I dismissed the help we went over adding washer fluid and checking the oil -- pretty much all I know how to do with this vehicle.

I had the middle one close the hood. She gave it a resounding slam, and said, "This would be a great project for the Girl Scouts." And I have to agree with her, as it would give them a sense of pride and a sense of self sufficiency. Maybe next weekend we will jack up the Rig and change the tire.