Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010...Hello 2011

It doesn't seem possible that we are already going to say goodbye to 2010 in just over 12 hours. So much has happened to us this year,and we have learned much.Not everything got accomplished,and some things that I personally was striving for (such as weight loss) fell to the wayside. However,the overall year was certainly more positive than negative. Here is a reflection on the year that was........

The biggest things that happened to us as a family was that Rick was finally medically retired from the military in April. It took three med boards and 5 years for this to happen. By November,he was 100% disabled through the VA,collecting his monthly pension and receiving Social Security Disability. In May,his knee problems were finally diagnosed by one of the best hospitals in the US,Dartmouth Hitchcock,which is also a training hospital for Dartmouth College,one of the Ivy League schools ( For those of you who are outside the US and may not know,Ivy League schools are schools that are the oldest in the nation,such as Harvard,Yale,Brown,Princeton).He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Degenerative Arthritis,which was incurred from his days in Combat Airborne back in the 1980's,fighting what I call President Reagan's "secret little wars." Both knees were replaced with titanium.He spent three weeks in rehab,and has made  a quick recovery-his surgeon is very pleased. Those three things are most certainly the biggest things that have happened to us this year.

At the beginning of the year,we sat down and discussed what we wanted to do,why we wanted to do it,and how. For the first time,we started seeds indoors. That was a learning experience.Lights,grow trays,heating pads, timers....the one big thing I learned was that I should not take peppers off the heating pads once they sprout. Our basement is cool,and it stunted the growth of the peppers,but I put them back on heat and they did wind up growing.We learned about Square Foot Gardening,and made boxes,made a compost shifter,and shifted lots of compost. We bought a compost tumbler,and my sister gave us a compost bin. We put a small bucket in the kitchen for composting kitchen scraps (who knew that paper towels were compostable? I didn't!). Rick and I built our turkey cage and got Narragansett turkeys from one of our friends. We built a chicken house and got chickens. I discovered that chickens and turkeys love weeds pulled from the garden. We did our first canning this year,and though my veggie weight tally wasn't complete,I do know we grew 28lbs of cukes! We set up rain barrels from juice barrels that Brother Dale gave us. That helped keep the poultry watered since our dug well was low. We planted blueberries,blackberries strawberries,and raspberries. We started a kitchen garden-mint,rosemary,oregano,thyme,and basil (Rick and Brother B tell me I need to plant and dry more oregano next year).Our Concord Grapes took off last year and we bought a trellis,which is already too small-I think we will make an arbor this coming Spring. We got edible apples from out Jonathan apple tree this year! It was planted before Rick went to Iraq. We used our neighbors wood chips to make a walkway to the house and we also used them in between the raised beds. Our  other neighbor let us use a mix of their dirt and wood chips to extend our driveway.  We made our own maple syrup,as little as there was.I made lye soap,continued making laundry detergent,and attempted to make dish soap,but because I didn't like the results I went back to store bought,but went to Planet,and stopped using Ajax. I stopped buying Clorox wipes and started making my own cleaners-bleach and water for disinfectant and white vinegar and water for glass cleaner. I began making my own brown sugar ( sooooo much better than store bought!). I make our own bread and baked goods.I started teaching myself how to knit.

We made a few investments: a new (used) four wheel drive truck,an artesian well (which will never run dry),a new snow blower,and a new wood splitter. We purchased tree length wood,which should keep us in heat for a few years. Rick bought me a Cuisinart stand mixer,with  food processor and meat grinder attachments.

We took a lovely trip to Malone,NY,and got to explore the world of Almanzo Wilder,the husband of one of my all time (if not THE all time) favorite authors,Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was so much fun,and was really something to stroll among the grounds and in the house that I have read about so many times in Farmer Boy.

Personally,though I haven't succeeded at weight loss,or conquered my procrastination issues,I have done much soul searching this year. I feel as a person I have grown and have a more sense of self,though I still have much more growing to do. I am more comfortable in my own skin and in what I believe. I don't get into religion and politics on this site,because that has nothing to do with what we are trying to achieve here.However, these two issues have been some of what has been rolling around my head this last year. Suffice it to say I don't like extremism in religion or in politics,and I don't like it when people try to use fear or paranoia to try and gather followers or votes. Sadly,there is much of that out there right now. I think it's scary.

We have a list already in the works for this coming year:
-Double the size of the garden
-New metal roof on the house and garage
-New deck
-Weatherproof the mud room so we have a place we can keep coats,etc since we dont' have a coat closet.
-Remodel the bathroom
-Remodel the kitchen
-Paint the house and garage
-Clean out the attic
-New windows in the basement
-Make a cold frame with the old sliding glass doors
-Have a cold weather garden this year
-Maybe get goats!

I am sure the list will be added to,and though I know not all will get accomplished,that is what we would like to see happen.

Thank you all for following our lives here in our little cottage.I am very grateful that you all have followed us on our continuing journey.

From all of us here at The Little Yellow Farm to all of you throughout the world,have a wonderful New Years! I hope your joys are many,your sorrows few.

See you next year!!!!!  :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Nor'easter Blizzard

We are on the tail end of that huge Nor'easter that began in CA,leaving mudslides and flooding behind,to here in New England,where it is dumping snow with blizzard conditions. Right now the snowflakes are small,but the wind is still howling. We are in the 14"-20" swatch,but because the wind is creating bare patches in one area and snow drifts in others,it's hard to tell. It doesn't look like we got a foot,but one never knows. Some areas will get up to a foot today,as the snow bands continue to lull then come back until this afternoon.

Last night the storm began as light snow around 6:00 PM,and then conditions deteriorated rapidly-by 7:00 PM the wind was quite strong and the snow became heavy. Looking out the window one could see the snow blowing so thickly that I could barely see the Christmas lights on the trees at the alpaca farm right down the street. I opened the window and I could feel the snow hit my face,as well as hear the snow hitting the house and landing on the ground.I thought it was amazing how loud snow could be.At first I thought it was freezing rain-that's how loud it was.

By the time I went to bed at 11:00 PM,the wind was quite a formidable force. When I laid down,I listened to it ,thinking about Laura Ingalls Wilder's description of blizzard winds in The Long Winter. The wind was loud,and as I listened to it,I was reminded of the sound the ocean makes when huge waves roll in,without the crashing sound. I could hear an occasional howl as the wind whipped around the corner of the bedroom wall. If we did not have trees,and had an open space such as they did in The Long Winter,I know that I would've heard the same loud shrieking and howling that Laura did. There would be nothing to break  up the wind. As it was,the wind woke me up several times during the night,and I was very glad that I had such a snug little home. I couldn't imagine being in a shanty,which not a very weatherproof home,during a blizzard. Or having to be shoveled off  in the morning because the snow was driven through the cracks in the boards,covering me in the bed with a pile of snow. Imagine the only thing to listen to being the sound of a blizzard wind-no electricity,which means no video games,no TV,no radio,no Ipod. You can't go outside for very long,or go very far,for fear that a blizzard will come up.You are a prisoner in your own home,waiting for Spring to come. I'm surprised that people didn't completely lose their minds in that horrible winter.

As for us,the snow is suppose to stop by sometime this afternoon,but the wind is going to continue through tomorrow. We are going nowhere,and are quite content in our warm little cottage.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ahhhhh..... Time To Relax

After much ado,anticipation,planning,cooking,decorating,etc.,it's over. It is now December 26th and life is going to back to normal.

I was a bad girl this AM and slept in until 9:00 AM. I guess I was making up for yesterday! :) Zach woke us up at 4:50 AM and  by 5:10 AM we were unwrapping our presents. We spoiled each other this year. Rick's favorite gift was his rifle scope with night vision;Zach's was his Xbox,and mine is a toss up between the Dr Quinn Medicine Woman complete series on DVD (which is the only thing I asked for) and the gorgeous Citrine ( November birthstone)necklace and matching earring set that Rick bought me. They match the birthstone ring he bought me for my birthday. I wore them last night for dinner and I felt very glamorous! My favorite practical gift was the new hair dryer that Zach got for me,with a diffuser .Our poor blow dryer is on it's last legs,the cord has a short in it so one has to hold the cord a certain way otherwise it stops.

I am being a complete slug today. I am still in my bathrobe and PJ's at 10:26 AM. It's going to be a very low key day today. For the last three weeks I have had things to do,make,get,etc.This is the first day that I don't have to do anything! Now I have nothing to prepare for,so I will probably spend the day doing laundry,knitting,and watching Dr Quinn (actually when Joe Lando-Sully-is on screen I just watch him...throat clearing sound inserted here).  We are under a blizzard watch,and Rick and Brother B have gone to the store to get a few things since it sounds like we won't be going too far tomorrow.The storm is suppose to hit up here this evening,and we are on track to get up to 18" of snow. We have plenty of food,drink,and wood for heat,so let the storm come. We have a generator if we lose power to run the toilet,fridge,and TV ( if needed).This is the good thing about wood stoves as opposed to pellet stoves-if you lose power,you don't need to use the generator for heat. We have a propane grill,as well as camp stoves to cook if we lose the electricity. So it's all good.

Needless to say both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were wonderful. We enjoyed our time with Mom and Nephew Tommy. I had all my candles and oil lamps lit,and it made such a nice atmosphere. Tonight while the snow is howling around us,dumping up 1"-3" an hour at various points,I will have all our candles and lamps lit again. It will make things cozy and warm. Let it snow,let it snow,let it snow!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Here it is,Christmas Eve! After much anticipation,my favorite holiday is finally upon us.

Today I am going to make the Chocolate Bread Pudding so it will be already for tomorrow. Then after that I am going to make our pork pies with gluten free crust for tonight.The crust is good,nice and flaky.No one would think it's gluten free.

The menu for tonight is pork pie,celery stuffed with cream cheese and olives,cranberry sauce,peas,and mixed pickles. My Mom is bringing up Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies for dessert. Tomorrow our dinner will be later in the afternoon,and it will consist of fresh turkey with herbed butter,mashed potatoes,cranberry sauce,peas,gluten free apple stuffing,rolls,left over stuffed celery,and the Chocolate Bread Pudding with Spiced Cream for dessert.

My mom and nephew Tommy will be coming tonight and tomorrow.Before bedtime tonight we will watch "The Homecoming",which is our Christmas Eve tradition.We will let Zach open one gift-after he is asleep,we will put out all his gifts and fill his stocking. He will have us up early tomorrow,that is for certain!! :)

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas,filled with laughter,joy,and the nearness of friends and family. Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Time To Tie Up Loose Ends

This week begins crunch time for Christmas. I still have four pork pies,one pecan pie,and a batch of peppermint bark to make for my pre -Christmas baking/making. Presents still need to wrapped,and the household chores to do.

Fresh Snow,Christmas Forest,and Oatmeal Milk and Honey soap curing.

Yesterday my sister Linda came up with Mom. Linda and her hubby Tom are going to be down in Virginia for Christmas.They will be enjoying the holiday with their daughter Tara,son in law Scott,and first grandchild,Sammie. Sammie is two and it should be a very fun Christmas for them. Since they will be down there,we had a gift exchange early.
Wrapped bars of soap,cinnamon stick candles,and a jar of homemade laundry soap ready to be put in a Christmas gift bag for Linda.
Today I am visiting My Dear Friend Michelle. I am bringing over my gift for her,and going to have a quick cup of tea. This is a busy week for everyone,so I don't want to overstay my welcome.I also have errands to run after. Today I need to make peppermint bark,a pecan pie,and some cookies for the Troop Christmas party tonight.I should also get some wrapping done.
This is the time for tying up those loose ends!What do you have on your agenda for these last few days before Christmas?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dining Room Photos

Here are my dining room photos. Since the kitchen and dining room are one big area,the only decorating in the kitchen are candles,greenery,berries and red bows on the window sills, a small silver tree with white lights on the butcher block,and assorted holiday trinkets.

Straight on view.You can see my snowman collection on the chimney shelf. Like my Santa display,I didn't put out everything like I normally do.

Left side view:
My new cabinet. I put a battery operated candle inside it,so the plastic inserts get back lit. It is a bit of a pain to take the bow,greens,and berries off the door to open it,but it looks nice. It's not lit in this photo.The cabinet might look crooked-our floor is uneven. Trying to even it out will be one of our remodeling projects this coming New Year:

Right side view. Rick's,mine,and Brother B's stocking hold greens and berries. I finally hot glued the mirror back on the top of the rack where it belongs:

A close up of the dining room window.This is what the windows in the house look like,with the exception of the bedrooms.The bedrooms just have the candles on them,with no embellishments:

Today I started wrapping presents,and am in the process of making more pork pies. The next few days will be quite busy,but I will try to blog as time allows.
Have a great weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Living Room Photos


This is the view from the kitchen doorway. You can see on Zach's stocking on the door. Until I fill it with gifts it has greens and berries in it. On the other door I taped Christmas cards.I decided not to put them on the tree. The creche ( pronounced "cresh"),or manger,is on our bookcase by the door. You can see our mantle on it's new home on the wall. Little O,our cat, is hanging out on the chest,which serves as our coffee table.

Here is a close up of the tree. I put very few ornaments in it. You can see the dried orange slices (which look pretty when the light is shining behind them-it looks like stained glass),pine cones,and popcorn garland.I tucked in a couple of turkey feathers,which I thought looked neat. I see how dried hydrangea blossoms looked in it,but it was too much.

A full length picture of the tree. You have a better shot of Zach's stocking with the berries and greenery. He is adamant that he keeps the same stocking he had since he was a baby. You also get a glimpse of my front windows. They have garland going around the top and half way down the frame. A ceramic village extends the length of the sill,with one battery operated candle centered in each window. At the base of the candle is greens,berries,and a red bow. Little O is happy to pose next to the tree. She's my baby.

The mantle with my Santa display and poinsettia. I didn't put out as many Santas as I usually do.More greens and berries help decorate it.
Last,but not least,a view of the front window. I tried to get a better picture of the windows,village,and candles,but they didn't come out. I tried with the overhead lighting on and off,standing directly in front and off to the side,and this was the best of the lot. Little O looks intently outside...maybe at a squirrel!

Tomorrow I will post the dining room.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Living Your Own Terms

This morning as I was reading through my favorite blogs, I came across one from Rhonda Jean at Down To Earth. She had received a couple of emails from readers concerned that they could not live as she does due to lack of land,etc. Rhonda stressed that no one should try to live as she and her husband do,that each of us should try to live as we see fit,with what we have.There is no right or wrong way to simplify our lives.

This is very true. Our life here at The Little Yellow Farm is different from other places.Like these folks who wrote to Rhonda, I too felt like we had to do specific things to be credible. Now I know that we only need to be credible to ourselves and what we want to accomplish. Our way of life started one step at a time,which led to a natural progression. At first,we wanted a garden. We built raised beds,and used compost from a pile of leaves and grass that have accumulated for seven years. We realized how wonderful compost is and are more actively composting,from the kitchen. We had a fairly dry summer,so we figured we should have rain barrels to help out. Rick's brother Dale gave us two blue juice barrels. We then wanted our own eggs,so we bought chickens,which led to getting turkeys. We are now considering goats. We only have .63 acres,so anything we do has to be well thought out and all things considered,especially since we want to expand our garden next year. From the goats we would want meat for food and dairy for cheese and soap.

I started making my own hand soap a few years ago,which led to laundry soap. I did try my hand at dish soap,but was not pleased with the results,so I started buying Planet,an earth friendly detergent and stopped buying Ajax. I use vinegar and water in place of Windex,and bleach and water in place of Clorox wipes. I make candles. I have started making breads and baked goods. I have begun teaching myself to knit,which I have found takes a good bit of practice! It's also very relaxing. We cut and burn wood.

Folks in my family have asked why we do what we do..."it's a lot of work,you could just buy this" or "do you do this to have something to do?" It is work,but it's more gratifying than working for someone else. We are doing for our family. Working side by side is wonderful,it's such a feeling of accomplishment and pride. It also brings us closer together. We are a team.

Being more self reliant is an individual thing. There's no right or wrong. What works for you may not work for your neighbor,and vice versa. It's all about living your own truth and living on your own terms.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Busy Time

The past week has been a busy one,and that will continue until Christmas. My house has been overrun with boxes containing decorations. I can't see my dining room because of them and I have pile next to me here at the computer. I dried orange slices,and hot glued ornament hooks on pine cones. Friday we got our tree after Zach's dentist appointment.Saturday after I dropped Zach off at a spaghetti dinner fundraiser he was helping out at I put the lights on the tree. Yesterday after we got back from our shift at the Lilac Mall selling popcorn for our Troop I decorated it. This year I went a bit primitive,with orange slices,pine cones,popcorn garland,and a few ornaments. I opted for white lights again this year. Last year I put the Christmas cards we received in the tree,but I am still deciding if I am going to do that again or not. So I am not posting any photos of it until I decide.

Today I am going to put my greenery on my mantle,and on the windowsills. That should do it for the decorating. I do have to make candles,and start making pork pies for various friends and family.

This morning I woke with a terrible headache,so I am lying a tad low until the Excedrine Migraine kicks in. Brother B went with Rick to the Somersworth VA Outpatient Center to Rick's blood work appt. Rick sweats terribly at night,so bad the sheets get stained. We have always been told that it is due to his PTSD,but the Dr that is taking over for Rick's primary care Dr (he is on medical leave) wanted to test his thyroid to see if his thyroid medication might be too high a dose. So we shall see what happens.

There is a very good chance that they might put Rick on a ADHD med. Brain injuries cause symptoms very much like ADHD-lack of focus,organization,etc.We are going to discuss it further when we see Rick's TBI dr, Dr Whitlock,on the 23rd. He had mentioned that it was a possibility,and when we saw Ken,Rick's PTSD counselor,we discussed it with him. Ken used to be a ADHD counselor for kids,and he has extensive knowledge on the subject. One can obtain ADHD from birth,or from a brain injury,such as Rick's. In the list of 9 symptoms,Rick had 8. So Ken put down our discussion in his notes and sent it to Dr Whitlock. I wouldn't be surprised if Dr Whitlock does move forward with that idea. It would be wonderful if it helps.

Still no snow in our neck of the woods. Up north in the mountains they have some. Saturday we woke up to a dusting of snow. Yesterday we had freezing rain and sleet,which actually caused the Spaulding Turnpike to close for a few hours because the highway was an ice rink and 50 cars were off the road,even the sand truck(I can only remember the Turnpike getting closed a couple of times).Everything then turned to rain,and we had a couple inches of that,with some heavy wind. I am surprised we didn't lose power. Right now it's in the 50's (degrees),which is balmy for us this time of the year,then later today the temps are suppose to go down the 20's. According to the Farmers Almanac,we are not suppose to get any snowstorms until January,so it is looking like we may get a green Christmas. I hope we at least get a little snow. It's very strange to be in NH and not have a White Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

December 11,1925, my mother, Marie Doris Louise Charrette was born in Somersworth,NH. Back then,it was very common for French Catholics to put Marie ( the French version of Mary) or Joseph in front of their children's names. I think it more or less a baptismal name,but I am not sure. I don't' know when the practice started,or when it stopped,but it was very popular. Her original name was Marie Therese (Theresa) Louise but my Memere changed it after her brother in law told her about a dirty joke about a woman named Therese. My Mom still has the birth certificate with that name on it. How Doris came about I don't know.

My Mom had two younger siblings,Gertrude and Richard,both of whom have passed away,so she is the only surviving member of her family. My Pepere died in 1972,and my Memere died in 1986. ( Strange coincidence,my Uncle Richard and my husband Richard share the same birthday, August 11,and they were both called Dickie).

My Mom is an interesting woman. She didn't speak any English until she was about 9 years,French being the dominate language in the house.(Both sets of her grandparents immigrated from Canada in the late 1800's) I think she was very self conscious about it,and to this day,even though I can't hear it,others have commented on her slight French accent. She hated school,and obtained an 8th grade education,graduating at age 16. ( I will have to ask her why she was older when she graduated-I think she started school late ). She lived through the Depression . At 16 she worked in the shoe shop,and worked there until it closed in 1986. During World War 2,her family had a small farm and a Victory Garden. She told me about some nights when she would walk home from work and there would be air raid drills,and all the street lights and the lights in people's homes would be out. I asked her if it scared her walking home by herself in the pitch black,and she said no. Things were different back then. For fun they would go to the ice rink,movies,and rollerskating.

(My Mom and Zach in 2005 at my sister's house)

After my Dad came back from the South Pacific,he met my Mom,and they fell in love,getting married on January 25,1947. I didn't know until about 20 years ago that when she met my Dad,she was already engaged,and wound up writing a Dear John letter to the man whom she would marry after my Dad passed's sounds like a romance novel,doesn't it?

My brother Valmore arrived in 1948,my sister Linda in 1951,brother Dennis in 1960,and yours truly, in 1967.

She watched my Dad suffer from Alzheimer's,and eventually pass away from complications. She married her first love,Roger,a couple years after Dad passed away,even though she knew his cancer had come back,and they only had about a year together before he,too,passed.

My Mom is very Yankee-strong,determined,and very do it herself. She still paints walls,cleans,mows her lawn,shovels or snow blows her driveway,and rakes leaves. She says the day she has to have someone else do it for her is the day she dies. She is always doing something. She doesn't like "stuff". She will let you know that something is a "waste." She has what she needs,and if she buys something,it has to have a specific place already in mind. If my sister or I buy something we have to have,her first question is,"Where are you going to put that?" Everything has a to have a purpose and place,and it drives her nuts when I answer,'I don't know,I'll find a place." ( I always do).

She has very specific ideas,and knows her own mind,which I guess can be called stubbornness. I see this in myself-especially when decorating or planning something.You can offer me suggestions,but I rarely take them. I go with what is in my head. Things have to be a certain way. I have a garland around my window that is driving me nuts because one end is a bit higher than the other. I will have to fix it. No one else would notice it-except for me,my sister,and my Mom.(Another trait we have inherited from my Mom).

So...Happy 85th Birthday Mom. You are a true Yankee woman...thanks for all that you have given me these last 43 years. I wouldn't be me without you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Outside Decorations

Alas,we have no snow as of yet,though the forecast says that Sunday we may get an inch. Since I took these photos,we have added a lighted buck and doe by the flagpole.My poor hydrangeas look sad....I am thinking of cutting a few and putting them in the tree. I will have to see how it looks. When the inside of the house is all decorated, I will post those photos. We are getting our tree this afternoon after Zach's dentist appt.

Have a great day!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

NH Sunrise

Yesterday as I was sitting at the computer,reading my emails,I looked to my right and saw a sunrise so pretty that I had to take a photo. I threw open the window,raised the screen,and stuck my camera outside.

It's sights like this make me so thankful for living here. The darkness of the trees against the red,yellow,orange and pink of a rising sun signalling the beginning of a day was a great contrast.
It was a wonderful way to start the day,and I found myself highly motivated.Monday I had gone out back into the woods and gathered my greenery for decorations,so I was ready to put them to use. I did my morning errands ( including grocery shopping) then came home and began my process.
Monday I had also finally taken down the fall decorations,but the Mums were frozen into the pots. Since I wanted to put them into the compost pile,I had to bring all the Mums inside by the wood stove to defrost. By Tuesday they were ready,so I emptied them all out,and reused the hanging pots for my greenery. I used Hemlock and White Pine. I also put small red bows in various places. I have two hanging by the road,and two hanging on either side of our door. I also filled my window boxes.The cart on the front lawn is filled as well. Our wreaths are up as well as the lights. ( I will post photos of these tomorrow).
Inside I put my battery operated candles in the windows. Today I am going to do some more inside decorating,and am going to dry out my oranges. I am going to hang orange slices on my tree this year. I think it will look great!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's How Many Days Til Christmas?!

Christmas is my favorite holiday,with Thanksgiving coming in a close second. It always invokes a special feeling that I cannot put into properly into words. Family,love,and togetherness do work but doesn't fully encompass what I feel. Call it an inner glow,contentment,memories of Christmas still doesn't quite describe it.

I have a list in my head of what needs to be done:going out back to get greens for decorations,putting up the inside and outside greenery,sending cards,getting the window candles and wreaths up,getting the tree (real trees only-I grew up with a fake tree and vowed to never have one again),decorating the tree,baking my pork pies,making gifts,getting my store bought gifts bought,and wrapping gifts.

I always think I have more time than I do,so imagine my dismay when I looked at the calendar yesterday and realized that I had less than 20 days to get everything done,and that this week we have three VA appointments,and Zach has a dentist appointment.


I usually have my greens by now,so I am woefully behind. I wanted to get them this weekend,but Rick told me he didn't want me in the woods,since this is last weekend of hunting season,and every hunter in the area is going to be out,some of which would shoot at anything that moved. Point well taken. So tomorrow,come hell,high water,or freezing temperatures,I will be cutting down my greens. Today I am going to check my battery operated candles to see if any need replacing. I also need to finally take down my cornstalks and mums from outside (I told you I was woefully behind). Tuesday when I get groceries I am going to buy oranges,and I need to take one day to slice them and dry them so I can hang them on the tree. ( I am going for a bit more primitive approach this year). I am so bad this year,that instead of stringing popcorn,I ordered prestrung popcorn garland that has a coating to make it last beyond one Christmas. I look at it as an investment to make myself feel better. :)

Saturday we are getting the tree,and Sunday is tree decorating day. I always like to have the tree sit in the house for 24 hours to acclimate before I decorate it. We go to a local tree farm each year,and Zach picks it out. I do have to make sure it isn't too big,so sometimes I have to tell him to look for something else. He always gets the perfect one,though!

Is anyone else starting to feel the time crunch?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Proud Mumma

That's me. I am a Proud Mumma. Not Mom,Mommy,Ma,or Mama-Mumma. Zachary has never called me anything else. He says anything else sounds too weird.

Last night was the screening for "The Monsters Are Due on School Street." This short film was made by a few students from Mrs.Pomeroy's class. Mrs.Promeroy is Zachary's literature teacher. The students seem to all love Mrs.Pomeroy,and Rick and I like her very much. They took the Twilight Zone episode,"The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," rewrote it,and acted it out. They did a great job!!! The bloopers were very funny. Each child got a copy of the movie,so when we got home last night,we re watched it,including the bloopers. Zach must've watched the bloopers 20 times. He says it was a blast making this film. All the kids got along great and had a great time.

After the screening (which included popcorn) the cast was called up to the front so folks could ask questions.

Here is Zach with his friend RJ. I was Den Leader of Zach's cub scout den,and RJ was in the den. I got to watch him grow up,and it still astounds me at how tall he has gotten and how deep is voice is!! I have a special place in my heart for "My Boys,"as I call the boys who were in my den.
Each child was given an award ( a certificate and a gold medal),which were funny awards. Zach's was "Best Laugh...Mmmmm'kay?" ( Zach likes to say "Mmmm'kay",coping the Mr Mackey character on South Park).
I am a very proud Mumma. Zachary has been on either the Honor Roll or High Honors since he was in the grade when it was implemented. He just made First Class in Boy Scouts,and now he begins work on his merit badges ( our troop likes the boys to get the basic ranks first before they let them work on merit badges). He loves to write stories and has several going on at the same time. Now he has taken his first foray into acting! Obviously I am bragging a bit,but what kind of Mumma would I be if I didn't every now and then??? :)
Today we have our mother -son time. Each time a new Harry Potter movie comes out,we go to see it,then go for pizza after. We started this tradition two movies ago,and in a little while we will enjoy this time together once again. We have asked Rick to join us,but he is not comfortable in movie theaters anymore. That's alright. He likes to see us spend this time together.
Yep, I am one Proud Mumma!!!!!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Girl Time And The Finished Product

Today was a very nice day.My Dear Friend Michelle invited me over to watch "Eat,Pray,Love." She has read the book,but I have not as of yet. She made a lovely ham and cheese quiche,warmed fruit with curry,coffee cake,fresh grapes with a nice homemade punch that we put a little kick into with some Amaretto. Everything was delicious,and it was great spending time with her,enjoying good food and a wonderful movie. We ate at the kitchen island,then curled up in easy chairs with our second glass of punch to watch the rest the movie. It was the quintessential girl time.

After I came home, I finished putting everything back up on the walls in the dining room. The walls in the photos below may not seem like a big difference in color,but in person it is. The walls are so much warmer now.

This is how it looked before:

This is the finished product:

The cabinet all set up:

I have not place all my canning jars in the cabinet yet:

I have an old decorative mirror that goes on the rack on the bedroom door,but it needs a wing nut or some good glue to attach it,neither of which I have right now.
I am so pleased with the way this room came out. I love the color,I think it's very warm and inviting. There is such self satisfaction when one does a job and it comes out the way it is wanted,and it makes the home that much nicer and "homier."
Tonight we are going to Zachary's school to see the premiere of the movie he participated in,a remake of the Twilight Zone episode,"The Monsters Are On Maple Street." This was an after school enrichment program,in which the students rewrote and acted in the episode,which they called "The Monsters Are On School Street." We are anxious to see it!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Paint Prep

While we won't be able to redo our bathroom and kitchen before Christmas,we did want to at least spruce up our dining area.The goal is to make the dining area and kitchen one color,since they are one big room separated by a brick chimney and white beams on which make up a entrance way. Right now the kitchen is floor to ceiling white bead board,and I don't like white or floor to ceiling bead board.(It's not the style in the below photo,it's prefab,narrow board) It's all coming down and being replaced by sheet rock.Here is a photo of the dining area,the kitchen is behind me:
You can see our lovely pile of painting supplies,as well as what we had to take off of the mirror mantel.The mirror mantel was where the white cabinet is now. Yes,it is THE cabinet that I fell in love with and gaze at lovingly each day.I was using the brown chair to tape off the the walls.
There are two star candle holders on this wall,but one fell off as I was taping.If you look closely on the left side of the photo next to the door frame you can see a painted swatch of the new color that we are going use. It's called Charismatic by Behr,and it is one of those primer and paint combos. The photo doesn't really do either color justice. The yellow we have now has been our wall color for seven years,and it is a brighter yellow than it looks here. I picked it because this room is on the northwestern side of the house,so it doesn't get a lot of light,and there is only one window in this area. When our bedroom door is open it does lighten things a bit,since those windows face the south and the south west,but not enough.(Our door has my pink garden hat hanging on it).Now,however,I want something a little warmer feeling,and this new color has a nice,buttery tone to it.

This is the mirror mantle. ( I had taken this photo a couple years ago when I was drying lavender-that's what hanging off the candle holders!).The mirror mantle will be moved into the living room.
It's quite past time for paint,anyway. Our wood stove makes things a tad dirty,and it has been a couple of years since we painted. I will take some after photos when it's done. We are starting the painting tomorrow. I will be glad when I can put all my canning supplies into my new cabinet!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Doris' Apple Stuffing

One of the staples of Thanksgiving growing up was my Mom's apple stuffing. I don't know where she got the recipe-I never thought to ask,believe it or not. It is a tradition I follow,like making touques (pronounced "took-kays"...which in English is Pork Pie) on Christmas Eve.( I probably spelled touque wrong,since I am not very proficient at French)

This year like I previously posted, I decided to make it with gluten free bread so my hubby could enjoy it. It still tasted the same,so going forward it will be made gluten free.

Here is the recipe...I don't think my Mom would mind my sharing it. It's delicious.( I think Almanzo Wilder would have loved it,considering his affection for apples and onions)

Doris' Apple Stuffing

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 cups diced tart apples ( I used Granny Smith)
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
4 cups small bread cubes*

Melt butter in a large frying pan. Add onions,celery and apples. Sprinkle with salt and sugar. Cook until soft,then add the bread cubes and mix. Heat through.

* You can use bread stuffing. I used gluten free bread from a mix,and toasted enough slices to make 4 cups. I added no other spices and it came out great! I made it early in the day,and just microwaved it to heat it back up when it was dinner time.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Kick Back Day

Yesterday was what we call around here a kick back day.Our little cottage was nice and cozy from the wood stove, the usual daily chores were done,and I started some laundry. Zach's bedspread needed to be washed because our big old moose of a dog,Samson,got sick on it,and I did have two other loads that needed washing. While I was waiting for the the bedspread to wash,I sat down and did some knitting.I am in process of teaching myself circular knitting,and right now I am working on a mitten.

Poor Zach was not feeling well yesterday.He said his head felt funny,and he was a bit warm and pale. We could tell he wasn't up to par,because he was very quiet. I told him to take some Aleeve and take a nap,to which he replied he was planning on napping. A bit later,I got his bedspread out of the dryer,and when I brought it up to his room,he was all curled up under the covers,sound asleep. I gently put the cover on him,and it reminded me of when he was a baby.He would kick the covers off and I would cover him back up,very gently,so as to not wake him up. I miss those times. He wound up sleeping all afternoon,and woke up around 7:00 PM,feeling fine.

Basically all I did was knit all day,fold and put away the laundry. I was surprised that I spent about 6 hours knitting.It didn't seem like it. It was neat to see how the thumb was starting to form in the mitten,and I kept wanting to do more to see how it would come out. Bear in mind,my stitches are off,but I am going forward with it. I like to do the whole project (I have only done small ones,anyway.If it was a sweater or something of the like I wouldn't keep going with mistakes)so I can get the practice of doing the whole thing. The second mitten should come out much better. After that I am moving to socks.

Rick did go out hunting for a while yesterday,but got nothing. He is starting to get very frustrated.This is the first year in a few that he has been able to actually go out and walk distance,and he is only seeing signs of deer with an occasional glimpse,but no shot. All this walking has been great for his knees,though they do get sore.The Dr told him to take Aleeve before he goes out. He is still only 1/3 healed.The whole process takes up to 18 months. He is still doing incredibly well for having both knees replaced almost 6 months ago.

Today I am going to make some more soap,I think. And I should take stock of what we need for Christmas decorations. And that knitting is calling to me again......

Friday, November 26, 2010

Whoops! Deleted Photo

In my last post I meant to post a picture of the table set for Thanksgiving dinner. I posted it,and somehow it got accidentally deleted.

You can't really see it too well, but around the vase of flowers I put the extra springs of rosemary and German thyme. It looked nice.

The Day After

Today is what is known in the retail world as "Black Friday,"when the masses descend on stores,fighting the crowds,to get those day after Thanksgiving deals. When I was in retail, I worked on Black Friday,opening the doors at 5:30 AM,and each year I was always shocked at how many people actually got up to get the stores that early. Not my thing. Now that I no longer work,it is not something I miss. In fact, I have never shopped on Black Friday. I don't like fighting crowds,and saving $10.00 on a gift is not worth the hassle for me. We start shopping in Sept,during the weekdays,and on line ( I love Aside from a one or two little things,all our shopping is done. For those you who love the pushing,shoving,and waiting in line,go for it. I am quite content to stay in my little cottage,thank you very much!

Today is especially is a good day to stay home. We woke up to this:

You can't see it, but there are icicles hanging off the wheel well,and all along the bottom of the car.We have them hanging off the eaves of the house as well,but they are little ones. We had some freezing rain overnight and early this AM,making the roads slippery. There have been several small accidents and one big one on I-89 going towards Vermont.

My birthday was lovely. Aside from the cards I received in the morning, that night I received a Sgt Pepper CD from Zach,a flash drive from Brother B,and one of those pictures frames you can down load photos to,creating a slide show from Rick. I wasn't expecting anything,since I did receive My Precious and the cabinet. I also got a lovely cake:
Brother B said that Rick went through several cakes trying to find the right one. He would have made one himself,but they were quite busy harvesting turkeys. The candle was in the shape of a question mark in case I didn't want to admit my age,which I thought was cute.
Our Thanksgiving menu consisted of fresh turkey with Herb Butter rub (4 tablespoons butter,3 tablespoons each fresh rosemary and thyme-fresh from my herb garden-,and 2 cloves fresh garlic from my neighbors garden),apple and onion stuffing with gluten free bread crumbs ( I made the bread,toasted the slices,and cut them into cubes),cranberry sauce,pickles,olives,potatoes,sweet potatoes (with homemade brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon),peas,rolls, gravy,and homemade pumpkin pie (Sugar pumpkin from the garden)with gluten free pie crust. Dinner preparation was a mutual affair:Rick made the potatoes,sweet potatoes,and got the peas ready so I could sit and visit with my Mom,and before she came I had the turkey in the oven,stuffing made,pie baked, got the cranberry sauce and pickles chilling,and the table set.
Here is a photo of the dishes I was talking about:

My Mom said she was about 12 when the got the set,which makes sense,since the set was made in 1936-37,and she turned 12 in December of 1937.Like I mentioned earlier,it is called Green Wheat by Taylor and Smith. The pattern was discontinued 1939. I was interested in trying to find out about this line,so a couple years ago I went on line to try and find some information about it. At that point,I had the company name on the back of each dish,and the item numbers as well. I found it on a couple of websites- and Memere had bought the set of 12,which came with 95 pieces,for $18.95. In 2008 to replace the dinner plates alone,it would cost $11.99 per plate-bringing the cost of just the 12 plates to $143.88. Can you imagine? However,it's not the cost of the set that I treasure-it's the memories and the history of them. These plates were used by my Memere and Pepere Charrette on holidays from the time my Mom was 12, which meant my Great -Grandparents,Grandparents,Mom,aunts,uncles,great aunts and great uncles,cousins and father all ate on them.The women cooked,and the men washed the dishes (my Pepere and father broke a few of the coffee cups while wiping because their fingers were big for the handles!) Then they were handed down to my Mom,and my siblings and their families ate on them.Now my family is enjoying them.So 5 generations have enjoyed meals on these simple,yet pretty plates. Since they were only used on holidays,it added a special air to the event to see the setting on the table. It brings back great memories.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Today here in the States it is Thanksgiving Day. We continue the celebration started by our Pilgrim forefathers. Life had been very hard for them,and,with the help of the Wampanog natives,they finally had a good harvest,of which they were very thankful. They celebrated their good fortune with their Wampanog friends by feasting and playing games.

Throughout the history of the US,Thanksgiving has been celebrated at different times until President Lincoln proclaimed it at national holiday. We now celebrate it on the third Thursday of November.

It is a wonderful day to stop and count our blessings. Nowadays,when it seems like there is so much negativity going on in the country and around the world,it's good to realize that yes, in fact, each of us has good in our lives that we should embrace and not take for granted. We shouldn't,however,only remember this one day a year. We should wake up each morning and remember what is good,positive, and important in our lives.

I am thankful for many things,and I remind myself many times a week of what I have.I have a wonderful husband,who survived a war,and who loves me with all his heart. I have a great son,who is smart,funny,and loving. I still have my Mom,who,at nearly 85,has more energy than I do,and who handed down her Yankee traits. I have wonderful memories of my Dad, who had a great sense of humor which he passed on to me. I have older brothers and a sister,who,though they all moved out when I was young,I enjoy learning more about with each visit and see some of myself in each of them. I have brothers and sisters in law who I love very much.Rick's brothers have embraced me like a sister,and I especially appreciate Brother Brian for being here for us when Rick was gone,and now,while he is still struggling with his TBI and PTSD. I am very grateful for my friends,those I have known for many years,and those that I have recently come to know and love,especially My Dear Friend Michelle. I am thankful for my warm home,food on my plate and clothes on my back. I can look out my window and see beauty every day. I am thankful for those who served so that I can live in such wonderful country,especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and those who will live with War for the rest of their lives so that we can be free. For all this,and so much more, I am very thankful.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holy Wind,Batman!!

Today is my birthday,and it is coming in like a lion. The wind gusts are quite strong,and the weatherman said their may be some power outages. As long as I can make my pies later,that's OK. At least the sun is shining today,which is a nice change of pace from the last few days of raw,chilly,off and on rain.

I have already received My Precious (Cuisinart stand mixer,with meat grinder and food processor attachments),which was an early birthday present. Zach and Rick both gave me great cards as soon as my eyes were open this AM,with big hugs and kisses.

Yesterday I made two loaves of gluten free bread,and four cups of this bread will be made into gluten free apples and onion stuffing.Poor Rick has forgone stuffing the last few years,so I figured I would make one he could actually eat (he has always told me not to bother).I also pre-made my pumpkin pie filling. We are also going to have gluten free pumpkin pie,with gluten free pie crust. Today is pie making day,and I will make my stuffing tomorrow morning.

Later this AM will be meeting My Dear Friend Michelle and her boys at Pizza Hut.Her son Ethan has a birthday on Friday,so she decided to have a little celebration early. After Pizza Hut we are going to Hilltop Fun Center,which has many video games,and laser tag.In the summer,it also has batting cages,go carts,and miniature golf. That will be fun.

My Mom is coming over for Thanksgiving tomorrow. We started that a few years ago. My sister and her hubby go to his Mom's in upstate NY for Thanksgiving,and we had always gone down to my Mom's. Then I said she had done enough Thanksgivings and it was my turn. So she comes up and doesn't have to do any work. I enjoy cooking the Thanksgiving meal. The boys will go out hunting the AM (a Thanksgiving tradition) so I will be able to putter around and tie up loose ends.

I am very lucky to have received our family china (it's not actually china,it's a form of porcelain,but we always called it the china). It was my Memere's (my Mom's Mom)from the 1930's,then it was my Mom's,now it is mine. I was able to clear out a whole corner cabinet for it. I will take a photo of the table setting tomorrow so you can see it. It's called "Green Wheat" by Taylor Smith.

I am off to begin my day........enjoy yours!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

An Early Birthday Treat

Last Thursday My Dear Friend Michelle took me out for my birthday,which is this Wednesday. We first went out for brunch in Dover at the Silver Moon,which specializes in crepes. (A crepe is a thin pancake that one can put a variety of goodies on,to make it savory or sweet,and it is then folded). She had seen this establishment on Channel Nine on Chronicle,and figured I would be all for trying it out. It's a cute,cozy little place next to the Strand theater. There was a variety of crepes to choose from,from Nutella to turkey and Swiss. I got the pumpkin spice,and she got the red onion,spinach,and feta cheese. We sat next to the window and enjoyed our coffee (me) and tea (her). Michelle thought to split our crepes,which I thought was a fine idea. When the crepes were brought to us,we cut each one down the middle and transferred them to the opposite plate. I started with hers,and it was delicious. Mine had a nice, light spicy taste,and the dab of whipped cream was just the right touch. It was a nice dessert. They were filling,but not heavy. Since we had time before our pedicures,we went to a shop called Just The Thing on Central Ave. I love this shop. It has a variety of antiques and collectibles. I had actually been thinking of visiting this place because I have been wanting a cabinet to store my canning supplies. People have been kind enough to give me jars,but before I knew it I had jars and no place to put them all. In my mind I envisioned an old cupboard,with one big wooden door. We wandered around the store,commenting on things we liked,when I saw the cabinet. It was two piece,white and distressed.The top cabinet was narrow,with two doors,with plastic inserts that had circles as embellishment. The doors opened to reveal four shelves. This section comes off the bottom cabinet,which had two side by side wooden doors,with two shelves inside. Very very cute ( and of course, I haven't taken a picture of it yet,but I will). Something about it spoke to me,but I needed a truck and we were in Michelle's Prius (though she joked that we could make it fit,LOL).Plus, I wanted Rick to see it first. I kept looking at it,and Michelle commented how cute it would look in my house. Yes, it would.

We left the store empty handed and then went to Raspberries in Rochester for our pedicure. I have never had a pedicure before,so this was a great treat for me. The chairs were massage chairs,and while we enjoyed coffee our feet were soaked,scrubbed with some type of salt concoction,had a variety of lotions put on them,massaged,wrapped,and toes administered to. I had pretty red polish put on them. It was lovely. I thanked My Dear Friend several times. It was such a nice day and nice to spend it with her.

When I got home, I told Rick all about the day and about the cabinet. Since we had to go out and buy Zach a new backpack,he suggested we go down to Dover and check out the cabinet.He liked it just as much as I did,and thought it had a lot of character. We bought it,loaded it into the truck,went to buy Zach his backpack,and headed home.

It was a great day. I spent nice time with my friend,had a great brunch,some pampering,and found the cabinet I had been looking for! A fabulous day all around!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Organizing Life

Last month,I took the bull by the horns and decided to streamline the information in my life.

A year ago,I made a "Life Book",in which I had notes,and information about gardening,places we wanted to go,farm animals,etc.I also had a binder from a year before that with phone numbers,menus,and school info. I also had an address book. So I had three different areas for information,in three different places. I decided to put it all in one place,so I bought a 3"binder,tab dividers,and plastic sheet protectors. I also wanted to make it a bit fun and pretty. This is what I came up with:

I have Chapters with Sections.This is how I set it up:

-Phone #'s-emergency,utilities with acct #'s,family and friends,VA,National Guard,army buddies,town of Middleton
-Addresses (includes birthday and anniversary lists)
-Menus from local restaurants
-School info
-Organization -cleaning tips,water filter info,My Routine list

-Misc-seed starting dates,seeds ordered last spring
-Seed Starting-notes from last year,how to start seeds,outdoor planting dates
-Square Foot Gardening-how to's,diagrams of my square foot gardens with planting dates,notes
-Reference-info about various herbs

-Chickens (ordered dates with prices,misc info)
-Possible future animals ( goat info)

-Soapmaking-notes,recipes for hand and laundry soap.I keep records of when I make laundry soap and when I have to purchase materials so I can see how much I save over time
-Maple Syrup Notes
-Misc Projects-knitting info,do it yourself home projects,trapping info

-Information on places we want to go on our cross country trip

-Laura Ingalls Wilder sites we want to visit,Homesteader Newsletters

This is a fluid book,meaning things get taken out and added over time. It's a good size book,but I don't need to go to three different places when I need to look up something or add something to the book.It's all right there,next to the microwave.

My next big project is to reorganize the file cabinet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Feeble Knitting Attempt

I have finished my dishcloth...if one can call it that.

Not the prettiest looking ,is it? There are several mistakes,but I just kept plodding along.It's suppose to be one row knit,one row purl,but I think I purled wrong. Instead of bringing my right needle from right to left, I basically did a knit stitch,bringing the right needle from left to right,but on the top of the left needle instead of the bottom.My book says the right needle is suppose to be brought right to left. Hmmm. It does have a nice ribbed texture,which you can't really see in this photo. I used cotton yarn with size 8 needles. Oh well, it is a dishcloth.

I have tried to find double ended needles to attempt some circular knitting,but neither Michaels nor Ben Franklin's had them,the two places I thought would carry them. I do have a pair of regular circular knitting needles,but the directions I have for mittens call for double ended needles. I will have to look on line for something else.

Yesterday I was woken by Zach who presented me with a bowl of cereal and a cup of OJ. "I would've brought you coffee,Mumma,but I didn't know how to make it,"he explained. How can you not love that? We have such a nice,loving son. Rick and I always comment on how lucky we are,and hopefully as he grows into a teenager that won't go away.

Yesterday I cleaned the bathroom,washed windows,dusted,and actually moved living room furniture to sweep. I also did three loads of laundry. I have found myself more motivated,and I am not sure if it's the antidepressant, the prescription strength Clariton I am on,or both ( probably both). I was done by 1:00 PM,and I thought it was much later than that. Sigh. It always takes me a bit to get used to the time change.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day!

Today here in the US it's Veterans Day,when we honor all those who have served or are currently serving in our military.

My family has many veterans in it,some still with us and some who have passed. Rick's family has veterans in it going as far back as the 1600's,when the French and Indian Wars were being fought.My family didn't arrive here in the States until the late 1800's,so our military past is not as long as his family,but we have done our share.

Although I am sure I had some members fight in WW I,no one has ever told me about them,so I have no direct knowledge of it. I know my Grandfather Lessard signed up for the draft,but he was never called up. My Dad was just a young boy,having been born in 1914.

Veterans Day stemmed from WW I. On the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918,a temporary armistice was signed,which was in effect until the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919,officially ending WW I,or,as it was called then,The War to End All Wars.No one could imagine another war being fought on that scale and magnitude. (Sad to say that would not last). The first official Armistice Day was signed in 1919 by President Wilson. In 1921,the Tomb of the Unknown Solider was created,and on November 11 of that year,Congress declared it a legal holiday in honor of the Tomb for all who fought in WW I. In 1938,Congress passed legislation making November 11 a legal federal holiday,known as Armistice Day. Up to then,it had been moved around a bit,and the states had control over if they celebrated it or not,which the majority did. Then WW II happened. In 1954,President Eisenhower signed legislation declaring that November 11 would be known as Veterans Day,to honor all Veterans who served.This became a national,Federal holiday that all states observe.

This is a photo of my Dad with some of his gun squad.He is in the very front. He was in the 197th Coastal Anti Aircraft Artillery during WW II,and like I mentioned in a previous post,he was stationed in New Guinea.This photo was taken when he was stationed at Camp Hulen,Texas,training,before they left for Australia.His brother,my Uncle Valmore,was in the Army as well,but he was in Hawaii,where he was killed by a fellow soldier who was cleaning his rifle.The rifle had a round in it,and when my Uncle Valmore walked into the tent,the gun accidentally went off,killing him. He was the first person from our town of Somersworth killed during WW II. The VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) post in Somersworth is named the Gagnon-Lessard post ( first to die in both World Wars).

My Dad,come to find out,served in the same unit with my mother's Uncle Robert. My mother still wonders to this day how Uncle Robert got into the service,considering he was hard of hearing,but somehow he did.When he had to fire the big anti artillery gun,my Dad would tap him on the shoulder. (My parents didn't meet until after my Dad got back from the war).

My dad's brother,Bobby,served in the Korean War in the Army.My Uncle Bobby was very nice,but suffered from PTSD. From what family has said,he was in a convoy which was attacked,and he saw his friends get blown up. I am sure there is a bit more to the story,but that is all I know. He spent some time in a psych hospital,and struggled with it the rest of his life.

My Dad's sister,Margaret,was either in the WACs or was a WAVE...which one escapes me at the moment.

My oldest brother,Valmore,joined the Army and was sent to the DMZ in Korea during the Vietnam War.My sister's husband,Tom,was in the Air Force and flew tankers,and was stationed in South Vietnam at Ton San Nuht (spelled wrong?) air base. My brother Dennis was in the Sea Bees,and went to either Saudi Arabia or Kuwait as support during Desert Storm.

Then we have my hubby.....

Rick joined the Army National Guard in 1981,and then went into the regular Army,in the 4/325th Airborne Combat Team in Italy.Then,when he got back to the States,he was put in the 82nd Airborne. He got out,and then went into the Army National Guard in 2000. He then went to Iraq in 2005,where he was Scout. While there he was wounded,earning him the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Badge. As you long time readers of my blog know,he suffers from chronic PTSD and a brain injury.

My father in law,Dick,was in the Coast Guard and participated as support during the Bay of Pigs.Rick's Uncle George (husband to his Aunt Linda)was a prisoner of war during Vietnam. Rick and Brother B remember watching TV to see if his name would be with the list of POW's released. Dick's brother, Ray,also served in Vietnam in the Army. Brother B was in the Army National Guard,and came thisclose to going to Granada,but it was over really before it began.
As you can see, both the Lessards and Shaws have many veterans in them,and I haven't even written about them all.
Thank you,veterans,for defending this country of ours...we are the land of the free because of the you,the brave.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Surprise Visitors

This morning I was laying in bed listening to Rick get ready to go hunting.Today is opening season for deer here in NH,and for the last four years Rick has had a doctors appointment on Opening Day,so he was really happy that was not the case this year. There is a very small window for hunters to hunt either sex,and since I am not a hunter,I am not entirely sure how many days it is,but it is no more than 2 or 3. I heard him call down to Brother B to see if he was up and getting ready,and B replied that he was.

Then,I heard the the door from the kitchen to the screen porch(also our mud room) open,and quickly close. I heard Rick call down to Brother B, "We won't be going anywhere for a while-we have two skunks in the mud room."

At this point it's 4:45 AM,and I heard Zach get out of bed. He heard Rick mention skunks,and of course,wanted to see. After a few minutes,the first skunk took off,but the second skunk was not in such a hurry to go.

I got out of bed,and Rick and B had gone off the deck,around the house, to the outside of mud room,where they proceeded to bang on the side of it in hopes of scaring the skunk away. He was curled up behind the recycle bin,against the wall.That sucker wasn't going anywhere. I also noticed that our porch was completely trashed. We had one trash bag on it that was ripped open and garbage was strewn everywhere. Items had fallen off the bench to the floor,and a huge bag of bird seed had been ripped to shreds,leaving 10 lbs of bird seed on the floor.


How did they get on the porch? Our mud room is not attached to the house,so it has settled,causing the simple wood door to not line up with the hook and eye lock.( The door from the kitchen to the mud room is a regular door with a regular lock) The wind had opened the door,and the skunks smelled our trash and bird seed,so they decided to have a nice pre-Thanksgiving feast.

After their futile attempts to scare off the skunk,Rick and Brother B came back inside,and I told them to just go hunting. The skunk would leave eventually,and I could go in and out of the french doors that lead to the deck. Rick,however,would not leave with a skunk on the porch,and he was angry that his hunting plans were getting messed up in this manner. I again told him to just go,and he replied,"Don't say that again. I don't even feel like going hunting now." Alrighty then.

Rick shut off the light in the mud room,thinking that the skunk was probably afraid ,so if it was dark and we left it alone,it would just take off.At 6:15 AM,the skunk decided all was clear and ambled off,not knowing how much aggravation he caused this morning.

Rick and Brother B did wind up going hunting,but only spooked a deer and saw nothing else. Before they left,Rick told me he would clean up the mess after he got back,which was fine with me. I decided I was going to make crock pot chili for supper,thinking after being in the woods all day they would enjoy a nice,hot meal that would warm their bellies and bones. They were back to the house earlier than I thought they would be,and while I was preparing the chili Rick cleaned up the mess,filling a 5 gallon bucket with the wayward bird seed. He decided to give it to the chickens and the turkeys,and they enjoyed it immensely. Rick and Brother B then decided to go back out on the mountain to do more hunting.So I now have a quiet house until Zach gets home from school at 3:00 (being alone doesn't happen very often and I relish the time I do get).

It's amazing how two little creatures can cause so much turmoil on Opening Day.My guess is that lock will be adjusted by the end of the day,and locked each night. Sorry,skunks,but your party is over!!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Then and Now

I have a list of blogs that I enjoy reading,though I don't comment on them a lot. Several of them are from Australia and New Zealand ( Hello Rhonda Jean,Sue,Rina,Damaris and Laura!).Right now in the Land Down Under they are beginning their Spring season.It's nice to see their photos of flowers blooming and gardens coming to life.Here in NH,it's quite the opposite,though.

Remember my favorite tree? The colors were so pretty just a few weeks ago:

This is what it now looks like:

Goodbye,colorful leaves.....ALL leaves. This is what most of the trees look like now. Bare. Except of course for the pine trees. We do have few leaf bearing trees that still have leaves on them,but they are a deep rust color and very sparse. My yard has more leaves than the trees! :)
Last night I lit all our candles and oil lamps. I was in the mood to create a cozy atmosphere. I counted 22 lit at once. I would've liked to have taken a photo of how pretty it was,but those type of photos never come out for me. There is something very relaxing about candlelight. We noticed that the house was getting warm-no wood stove was going,and the thermostat was set down to 67 degrees. The temperature in the living room was 77 degrees. Hmmm. I then went to an oil lamp and held my hand over the glass chimney. A surprising amount of heat was coming out of it. The seven oil lamps and candles were creating enough heat to keep the main rooms warm.
While the flames were giving us heat,we watched "The Pacific",produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. We just purchased the mini series a few days ago,and have been watching a couple episodes a night.Last night the fourth episode concentrated about the soldiers time in Australia. I have a special interest in the Pacific during World War II,because my Dad served there. He was in Australia and New Guinea,and some place he called Moretai Island (the spelling is probably wrong,I apologize). My Dad had a great respect and affinity for Australians.He said the people were warm and friendly,and that the soldiers were tough fighters. He would be tickled that I have blogging friends from there. He was with the 197th Coastal Artillery,anti aircraft. He went from Camp Hulan in Texas right to Australia,then to Hollandia, New Guinea. I know he was in different areas in New Guinea,but he really didn't speak of it much.One thing I do remember is that he talked about how the natives would help the Allies,even the head hunters,because the Japanese were so brutal to them. I would love to find some show or documentary about the New Guinea campaign,but haven't so far. We have only seen the first two discs of the 6 disc series,so I am hoping they might have little something about it,even if it is only based on fact and not a documentary.
So today my thoughts range from our country fighting side by side with our Australian brethren 68 years ago,to pretty,colorful flowers being posted by my Down Under blogging friends. From war to flowers,then and now.