Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Nor'Easter

Well, this weekend certainly was interesting. Between our flooring getting started to a Halloween snowstorm to my having a migraine for a couple of days,it was different!

Saturday as I mentioned,our friend Brian was here to begin our flooring.He had to lay down a primer then a floor leveler to help smooth out a slope we have.After he left,we kept the wood stove cranking to help dry it out,because we couldn't walk on it until it was whitish gray looking.So,while I could shower,I couldn't change my clothes,because I couldn't get into the bedroom,so I spent the day in my PJ's,which wasn't such a bad deal since I woke up with a headache.So I chilled in my recliner,and crocheted for a while.I had to stop because my eyes got tired,even with my bifocals,and it made my head feel real bad.So I curled up with a pillow.

You can see in the below photo the spots that started drying.It took over 12 hours to dry fully. Brian is coming back today to put some more down.It won't fully take out the slope but it will make it much better.

Saturday Rick was busy getting the snow blower ready,getting gas,making sure we had water,and putting things in the yard away.The snow started around 5:00 PM.By the time I awoke at 8:00 AM on Sunday,the storm was over.We were fortunate that we did not lose power,as many of my fellow NHer's did. We wound up getting over a foot of snow,which was a heavy,wet,snow. Because many of the trees still have leaves,it created more weight,causing many branches to break,which led to the power outages. Our yard was OK,though.

I snapped a few shots on Sunday Morning...through the kitchen window.....

....and off the deck...

It was amazing to see snow on leaves,and some are still green! I have never seen such a snow fall this early. I have seen flurries in early Sept,and maybe quick squall in Oct,but nothing like this.Hello,Climate Change! You may go now :)

I tried to eat breakfast,and did succeed,but my stomach felt funky all day because of my stupid achy head bone. I watched my "John Adams" DVD until noon,then I finally fell asleep until 7:00 PM. I felt better then.Stupid hormones.

I felt bad for Zach last night. Rick brought Zach down to Somersworth for Trick or Treat,but it had been changed to tonight.Tonight is our Boy Scout Troop party,so he won't be able to go,and this was going to be his last year,poor thing.Zach,Rick,and myself are all dressing up,so I will post of photo of us in the next couple of days.

Hope all is well with you where ever you are...hope everyone in New England without power gets it soon!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Kitchen Redo Begins

We have finally started our kitchen redo. Our friend Brian,who owns Brian's Flooring,is here right now,putting down floor leveler.( We have a prominent slope in one area of the floor). This redo has been two years in the making,mainly because we have either had other things that had to be done,or because Rick's health was not cooperating. However,we are finally putting things into motion.

Our floor is in sad shape. The folks we bought the house from laid down stick tiles,and while it looked nice at first,eight years of wear and tear,heat from the wood stove,boots animals,etc., took their toll:

Lovely,isn't it? Time to go. We are replacing it with a heavy duty laminate wood,which has sticky tabs on each side so the boards are basically stuck together.  Normally,we could lay it down ourselves,but since we have never used this type of laminate before,Brian is installing it for us. It costs a bit more than regular laminate wood,but we figure it's worth the investment. We picked a laminate that has the appearance of worn wood. I will take photos of it when it's laid down.
The tiles weren't too bad to scrape off. Don't you love the spot on the door where the paint has been scraped off?That is where Moxie scratches at the door.That is one more spot we will need to repaint :)

Zach was a big help scraping up the tiles. Samson and Smokey made sure that he was doing a good job!

Being in a small house makes renovations more of a challenge. There is not alot of space to put things. We have some things in our bedroom and in our living room. Just part of the fun!!!!

P.U! That floor primer stinks!

My fellow New Englanders are gearing up for a snowstorm tonight. 6"-10" are on it's way. Yikes! Be careful driving,my friends!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Soap and Snow

Wow,it's already been a week since I posted! Whoops. Some of that was me,some of it was due to the fact that we lost phone and Internet service for a couple of days because the AC adapter that we plug in for the phone/Internet box had exposed wire and stopped working. Our friendly cable guy came and replaced it yesterday. :)

My strawberries,garlic,and carrots have a nice layer of straw on them,which is a good thing,because a few days ago,things looked like this:

This morning,they looked like this:

A bit of snow fell last night,but now that the sun is out,it's already melting. While snow at this time of year is not completely uncommon,it is unusual. It's too early for me!

Earlier this week,I made some hand soap. I wanted to try something different this time around. I did use the same basic ingredients:

You can't see the coconut oil container behind the canola oil,but it's there. The day before I made my soap,I took cinnamon sticks and whole cloves,heated them in the canola oil for while,then put the pan (covered) into the fridge overnight so the cinnamon and clove scent would seep into the oil.
It didn't make an overpowering scent,just a few light one,which was fine,since this was a first attempt. I heated the Crisco and coconut oil over low heat until melted,then strained the canola oil so the cinnamon and cloves were removed. I then poured the canola oil into the  Crisco/coconut oil and heated it. I added a few drops of Patchouli oil ( AKA "Dirty Hippie Scent"). The lye was dissolved in water in a separate bowl. When the temperatures of both the oil combo and the lye were around 80-100 degrees,I poured the lye into the oil,then using an old hand held mixer,mixed it until it came to trace,then poured it into my silicone 8x8 pan.
It has been resting now for a few days,so today I will cut it into squares,and let it cure in our bedroom,which is the coolest room in the house. It will cure for a few weeks.

I have the recipe in my Sept 2009 post,Homemade Lye Soap. I tried to put the link in,but it doesn't like me for some reason.

I have been working on my shawl,and it's getting there.Rick's truck is in the shop. He and Zach were out hunting last weekend on Youth Weekend (no adults are allowed to hunt,only kids under 16 with a licensed hunter) and he heard a CLUNK in the back of the truck. Come to find out,the U joints need to be replaced. Bummer. They didn't get anything either all weekend. Double bummer.Tonight Zach has a Halloween dance and he is going as the slasher from the Scream movies. Monday is our Troop Halloween party,and Rick and I have our costumes,but we aren't telling what we are going as yet. :)

Have a fabulous day where ever you might be!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Garlic and Onions Learning Curve

Today is overcast and chilly,the kind of Fall day when one looks at the gray clouds and thinks,"Hmm...looks like rain or snow flurries." You know it's not quite cold enough for snow,but man..those clouds make you think it.

Today was garlic planting day. This is our first attempt at garlic. We have been given bulbs in the past to plant. We have never actually done it,but we have enjoyed them in our meals! This year,our neighbor gave us quite a few bulbs and cloves,and I was determined that I was going to plant at least some of them. I decided to plant about 10 cloves in a couple of places. I have an eco box that I planted 5 in after I moved it a nice sunny spot.

One does not plant the whole bulb,but plants the separate cloves that form the bulb.The pointy side of the clove must be facing up,though this photo doesn't show it..

Since we live in zone 5A,we have to plant the cloves at least 3"-5" into the soil,and if you are making rows,they need to be about 18" apart.I only planted a single row.I then planted 5 more in the box I had the beets and peas in. I need to water them for the next three days,and will have to cover them with mulch before too long.We haven't had a frost yet here,which is amazing!We usually have had one by now,though other parts of the state have seen one.

The next thing I did was clean out my onion bed.I left my onions right where they were,in the soil,even after their stalks had dried up and turned brown. Some of the onions didn't reach this stage,so I think my thought process was just to leave everything be until they all were ready. That was my bad,because some of the onions started to regrow green stalks! I wound up having some that were not good-if I could smush the onion in between my fingers,forget it. My red onions turned out to be much hardier than the white ones. I placed them on our drying screen/compost sifter,and put this in our mudroom.Now it smells like "Eau de Onion" out there!

One thing I did learn was that I need to space my onions more,or build a bigger box for them. Most of the onions came out rather small,but they are still good!

Tonight we are having spaghetti and homemade sauce,which hopefully will come out fabulous with homegrown ingredients (tomatoes,herbs).I am going to make enough so I can freeze some for future spaghetti nights. Last night we enjoyed homemade crock pot chili,gluten free cornbread,and homemade chocolate fudge for dessert. Rick took one bite of the chili,and said,"You have done me proud yet again,Woman." :)

Our AC's have finally been taken out of the windows....our list is getting smaller and smaller....finally!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Yesterday,as I mentioned,it was quite a raw,dreary day. It rained off and on a bit,but the boys were able to put more wood on the porch,and put our flagpole back up.(It had been knocked down during Irene by a branch). When it was time to get Zach off the bus,the rain became steady. Now,the bus stop is right in front of our house,and technically,we don't need to get Zach on or off the bus,but we have been doing it since he was in First grade.I imagine at some point he will tell us to stop,but until then,we like standing there,waiting for him to arrive. Even if it means standing in the rain. Now that's love! ;)

When the rain came,the air became even more raw and chilly. Even the inside of the house felt that way. I voiced my opinion as such:"I think we need to start the wood stove and get the chill out." Now,we always try to hold off as long as can we when starting the heat,and I figured we were pretty good this year. Last year it was started at the end of September. Of course, the men gave me a hard time about it (kidding,of course),but it was started.

Rick cleaning the glass of the wood stove so we had a great view of the flames

Stocking the stove with kindling and newspapers

It's starting...come on,you can do it........


It was wonderful to feel the wood heat.There is nothing like it in the world! Anyone else start their wood stoves yet,or are you all being good? :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall Decorating

Yesterday after I went grocery shopping,I went out for some pumpkins and mums. Since I was in the vicinity, I went to WalMart,and that was my mistake. I should've gone to the garden center up the road.Though I did get three nice pumpkins,their mums were all quite sad looking,except for one that was decent. I was going to go to the garden center today to get a couple hanging mums for my hangers by the road and for the ones on either side of our door. And maybe a couple small ones for random placement. I decorated in the afternoon,and was going to wait to take pics until my mums were in place.This morning,however,it began to rain.Since I have a spiders web outside,I know what happens when it rains. It sags and looks horrible...and if it it's windy,it will be bogged with leaves. I figured I better get outside and take photos...mums or not.
Our old Cub Scout chuck wagon filled with corn stalks..with a headless passenger!

View from the street

Spider web

View from the street

Molly Bruce checking out the front steps

I have my Pumpkin candle burning,and it smells sooo nice. Pandora is playing my Glenn Miller station ( I LOVE 1940's swing music),and the house is nice and cozy.There is a roaster chicken,potatoes,and carrots in the crockpot for supper...yep,life is Good!Hope life is as equally good for you where ever on this lovely Planet you are!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Bit of Touch Up

One of the projects that we are putting off until next year is our screen porch,or what we call the mud room.We would like to weatherproof it so we can hang our coats,keep our shoes,etc,out there. It is not attached to the house,meaning that there is a space between the wall of the house and the roof of the mudroom,so when it rains and rains and snows in the mud room. We have no glass in the windows,only screens (hence,screen porch,right?!)so when the weather gets colder we put plastic up over the windows so blowing snow doesn't get in. Our goal is to attach it properly to the house,jack it up so it's level (it's starting to lean),insulate it,put in dry wall,and regular windows. The whole kit and kaboodle. With this will come new stairs.

Since we just decided a month or so ago that we will have to wait on this endeavor,I decided to at least give our sad looking stairs a coat of paint. All the paint had pretty much worn off,and because they are in the shade about 99% of the time,a lovely green growth had  starting growing on them (Actually,we have this issue with other parts of the house as well). I like to decorate around my steps in the fall,and in the winter too,but with such sad looking steps...well,I had had it. We bought a gallon of porch paint,put some paint sand in it so there is a bit of grit,and went to work.

Sad looking,huh?

Ah....much better!

The only thing now about having a painted porch is that our house,which also needs painting,looks like it needs painting even more! :)

. Maybe I will get my mums today.....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sunday Doings

Yesterday was a great day to work outside.It was cool enough to put on a sweatshirt,but once you got working and warmed up,you had to take the sweatshirt off...until you stopped working long enough to cool down,then you had to put it back on again. Perfect! I love when all of us are working outside.Even if we are working on different chores,it's all for the same goal... in this case,getting ready for winter.

Zach was a big help.He cleaned out the bed of Rick's truck,then helped me in the garden. He pulled the tomato plants while I pulled up the nubbins left from the corn stalks getting cut down.My green beans also went bye bye. I did leave my carrots and onions,though. The carrots I will grow through the winter and I will just cover them the hay (though I don't have enough to last through winter). While Zach was pulling up the tomatoes,he stopped,and asked me,"Doesn't it suck to have all your hard work just yanked up?"  "Yes," I replied. What we didn't give to the chickens and turkeys,we dumped into the compost pile. At least it will give back in the form of black gold!

After Zach helped me,he helped Rick make some kindling and he emptied out the water barrels. They  need to be given a good cleaning and put away for the winter.

Making kindling

Bringing the kindling into the mudroom

Our poor garden.You can see the carrots and onions nice and green in the back.Corn stalks are drying out from all the rain we had this week so I can bundle them to make more decorations

Our water barrels being drained

Sugar pumpkin

Our wagon waiting for mums,hay,and pumpkins amid fallen leaves

The turkeys were watching us clean the garden beds.......

.......The girls were not as interested,however

 Rick resting with his little buddy,Smokey

Moxie and Little O taking a snooze.It's tiring being a cat! :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Girl Time

I have finally started to feel better.Whatever it is is still lingering,but I have felt up to snuff enough to visit my Mom and take her to her Dr appt. They removed her staples and were very impressed with her progress. I imagine most 85 year olds do not do as well,but they are not my Mom! Now they want her to take off her sling,starting with a few moments a day,and work her elbow,because she can't straighten her arm yet.Being in the sling for over a month,that happens. Her visiting nurses and therapists will no longer go to the house,and she will be going to therapy in Rochester.

Yesterday was a lovely day.My Dear Friend Michelle and I were able to share some real girl time-with pedicures.Last  year we decided that our birthday gift to each other would be pedicures and either breakfast or lunch,depending on what time the appt was,or what our schedules were. We decided this would be our annual gift,and we would work it in between our birthdays-she is in July,and I am coming up in November. She is a very busy lady,with two boys,one whom she homeschools (soon to be two)and a hubby who leaves for periods of time for the Air National Guard,so this year our pedicure was closer to my birthday than hers.There is also soccer,Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts,and volunteering one day a week at the library.... how she does it all, I don't know.Plus she gets up and goes to work out at the gym at 5:00 AM! Bless her heart,she is a far better woman than I,and quite an inspiration! :) (Hi,Dear Friend!)

Anyhoo,we had a great hearty breakfast at The Farmer's Kitchen on Rt 11. We relaxed and enjoyed our omelets,toast,homefries,and tea.It was a busy Saturday morning,but we had some time to kill after we finished our meal,so we just sat,drank tea,and chatted.  We then went to Studio 359 on Main St in Farmington for our pedicures. I wanted something to go with the time of the year,so I picked a pretty orange/copper  polish:

I love pedicures,and this birthday treat is the only one I get. It's a great way to be pampered.

Yesterday,the boys went hunting for the day. They planned on bringing nephew Brody up and spending the day in the woods. I felt bad,because Wednesday we were told that our Troop would be selling popcorn at the mall on Saturday,but this had been planned long before,and both Zach and Brody were quite excited.(Brody is Brother Dale's son.He's 14,about a year and half older than Zach). They didn't see much,though.It was quite windy outside,and though Zach did get a shot off at a red squirrel,he missed. Wiley little suckers! When they came back at 3:00 PM,both the boys were tired. Brother B reported that when he dropped Brody back off at home,he laid down on the couch,exhausted. Zach was sleeping when supper was ready.Lots of fresh air will do's good for them! Better than sitting in front of a computer or playing video games.There will be plenty of time for that when the snow flies.

Last year,we threw some gourds into our compost pile,and this year,we found these:

No buying gourds! I still haven't been out to buy Mums.It rained for a good part of the week,plus with me not feeling up to par,it didn't get done. It should be done soon,hopefully this week,as long as the weather holds.I love decorating for Fall.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chilly and Gray

This morning is very gray and a bit chilly.Rain is on it's way. The leaves are falling from the trees,though you can't see it in this photo I took from our deck this morning. You can see the gray ribbon of our road through the trees.Kings Highway is misleading,as our road is a basic country road.It meanders from Middleton,through New Durham,and ends in Wolfboro,which is the oldest summer resort town in America.It's very pretty year round.

Yesterday Rick discovered another dead turkey. This one had an obvious beak sized hole in it's head all the way to it's skull. Apparently our Toms have been having duels to the death.

Brother B cut down my corn stalks,so yesterday I gathered some up and used them to decorate the front yard.Tomorrow I am going to get some mums,and when it's all finished I will post some pics. The photos I have on my home page are from last year.

Apparently,our septic was not full. There was a baffle that got messed up which caused some nastiness to get caught up by the lid and not flow like it should. The septic guy pumped the tank,and told us to just bang the baffle back. Which we did. Now things flush like they should,and there is nothing nasty coming up into the tub anymore.

I was going to paint our steps and door today,but the weather is too damp and rain may fall at anytime. This weekend is going to be nice,so I will do it then. Rick started making kindling yesterday.I have a thing about having kindling. It's a pain to start up a woodstove first thing in the morning when there are no coals left in it,and I wind up using waaay too many pieces of newspaper.Rick teases me about my insistence on kindling,but I think it's a big help.The mud room needs to be cleaned out and some of the wood needs to be stacked on it.This way,we are not running out to the woodpile that often.We do have a woodring that we can stack about 10 pieces of wood in near the stove.When we need more,we can just walk onto the porch. It's quite handy. I reminded him that this all should be done soon.The weather has been so glorious that we haven't had to start the woodstove yet,and have only had to turn on the furnace once briefly to get the chill out.However,we are heading into the middle of October,so the temperatures will start to be in the 50's-60's on average pretty soon.

Rick and Brother B have gone hunting out in our neighbors' back 40. Rick likes to begin his day hunting,and it's good for him to be out in the woods. It took a long time for him to feel comfortable in the woods again,and of course,with his knees being bad for so long,he was always in pain so he couldn't enjoy it. I do admit that hearing about hunting,weapons,and seeing hunting shows get a wee bit old for me.I had to remind him the other day that he does have priorities here,and hunting,while it can put food on our table that we don't have to go to the store and buy,is not a priority. The month is moving along quickly,and there are things that need to get done before we can start on our kitchen.He understood and only goes hunting early morning now and early evening. He could spend all day in the woods if there was nothing else going on! :)

That's it from Middleton NH. I hope all is well in your neck of this beautiful planet we call Home!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

If It's Not One Thing,It's More Things

Our lawn mower has been giving us issues.First,we thought the carburetor needed cleaning. Then,it needed a gear in the starter. Now it's the starter. We had to borrow a mower to get our grass mowed,though it will probably be the last time it gets done this year. Hopefully our neighbor can rebuild our starter for us,otherwise it will be a new mower for us next year.

Rick went out to the turkey cage a couple days ago to feed and water them,when he noticed one of the turkeys dead by the door of the cage. There was no sign of predators making their way into the cage,so we are mystified as to why one would just drop dead. Hmmm.

This morning I was awoken by these words :"Our toilet is backed up and it's backed up into the tub." Ugh. Lovely. Brother B and Rick went outside to check the septic and it is full. When we had it pumped last year,the septic company told us that it looked like water was leaking into the septic from the leach field,and that we would have to have our septic pumped each year. Of course,it was one of those things that you know you have to do,but keep forgetting...until nastiness starts coming out of  your tub.Fortunately,our neighbor Kelly is licensed to fix leach fields,so we will have to have him check it out for us. We called the septic pumping company and left a message for them.

It always seems like when one thing goes wrong,there is a ripple effect,doesn't it? However,that is the way life is.Some things you can control,some you can't. You have ups and downs,and the downs make you appreciate the ups that much more. Life is rarely on an even keel. We have learned to accept that it's just the way it is. Lawn mower not working?  Annoying,but not the end of the world. Turkey dying? Mystifying,but that's the way nature works sometimes. Toilet back up? Our own damn fault for not getting the septic pumped earlier.

I am glad that I am feeling better. Yesterday I went out and pulled my dead tomato plants,though I still have couple that have green tomatoes on them.I didn't have the energy to chop down my cornstalks,so Brother B did that for me. Today I will use them for fall decoration. We didn't get much corn (barely any),but at least I don't have to buy stalks this year. My pumpkins weren't as fruitful as last year,so I will have to go to one of our local farms for some big boys for carving,and  for some Sugar pumpkins so I can make pumpkin puree. Last year I made my first pumpkin pie from our pumpkins,and it was great. I will never buy canned pumpkin again. As Ma Ingalls said,"There's no great loss without some small gain." 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What's On My Needles

Day Two of The I am not quite so achy,but my headbone in feeling rather fuzzy.Looks like it's another day to lay low. Since I wasn't up to snuff to do much yesterday ( a pattern that apparently will be continued into today) I spent the day curled up in my recliner with a blanket,a pillow,and my crocheting.

I started teaching myself how to crochet a few weeks ago,and I must admit that so far I enjoy it more than knitting.My first project is a Friendship Shawl:
Of late I am fascinated with shawls. I started loving them watching my "Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman" DVD's. I noticed the wonderful patterns on the shawls,and thought they were gorgeous.How wonderful to be able to create something like that! I went on line and looked up various patterns on various sites,and put the ones I liked the best under My Favorites file. Some of the instructions aren't the best,and thankfully I have my sister Linda to help guide me through some tough spots. Others were just trial,error,and redo. I have started and restarted this shawl about eight times.Videos on line have also helped,especially when figuring out shell stitches. Shell 5 in three ch space was confusing until I saw it online.

The second thing on my needles is the second sock in the pair I am making for Brother B:

As you can see, I haven't gotten too far with the second sock because I am all into the shawl,but I have assured Brother B that he will get his sock before there is too much snow on the ground! :)

Today is another lovely day,and I am not happy that I am still under the weather. Days like this will be few and far between pretty soon. Why couldn't I get this when it's zero outside and there is snow on the ground? Sigh.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Today is blah. I am coming down with something that has been going around.I am achy,my head hurts,my nose has started to run and I have a small cough. Of course, it would have to be on the loveliest weekend we have had in a long time,and when I need to clean out my garden. Tomorrow we were planning on going up to Sandwich for the fair. If the boys want to go,they can,but they will have to go without me,I'm afraid. Boooooooooo :(

This year our foliage is s-l-o-w. Last year, in late September,it was glorious!
This year,this tree is still mostly green,with only a handful of leaves turned. We think it's because it was such a wet Spring.Usually by now peak foliage has passed. This year,they are saying that peak will be in mid October. There is nothing I like better than walking in the woods during foliage season (wearing blaze orange,of course).The sunlight shining through the trees,making the yellow,red,and oranges bright against a blue Fall sky can make anyone smile and be content.

We made a Fall list of to-do's-
1)Clean out the garden beds
2)Fix the mower and give the yard one final good mow
3)Winterize the pool
4)Clean off the mud room and stack wood there
5)Chop kindling
6)Clean up the yard of tools,woodsplitters,etc
7)Drain and clean the rain barrels
8)Prune the apple tree
9)Paint the front door and steps
10)Put away the AC's
11)Begin kitchen redo

There were other things on our list that we wanted to do this year,but decided to put off until next Spring:
1)New deck
2)Weatherize the mud room. It's not fully attached to the house,so when it rains,it drips into the room in between the house and the mudroom walls. We only have screens,no glass windows. I'd like to make this an actual room so we can keep our coats,etc out there without them getting wet.We do put plastic up over the windows and door in the winter time.
3)New front porch and door
4)New roof (metal)
5)Paint the house

It never seems to end,does it? I am not complaining,though.I am very thankful that we have a house!

My Mom is doing very well. She is glad to be at home and is now able to shower. I was suppose to go to her house to bring her to the bank and a bit of grocery shopping today,but I can't,so Rick and Zach are going to help her out. He is going to fix the starter on the riding mower when he gets home. Brother B is out helping a friend of his with some beam work.

I can't believe how gorgeous it is today! I hope all is well in your neck of the world :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Meeting The Author Of Mini Farming: Self Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

Last night was our monthly Gardeners Roundtable. I have mentioned it here once or twice. We discuss a myriad of subjects:gardening (obviously),composting,canning,chickens,and other self sufficiency topics.

Sometimes we have guest speakers,and last night our speaker was Brett Markham,who with his wife own Markham Farm in New Ipswich,NH. New Ipswich is south west of us,near the MA border.Stephanie Piro,who organizes the meetings (and who is a cartoonist who does some pics for the "Chicken Soup For the"..... series)mentioned his book "Mini Farming Self Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre" at our Sept meeting. It sounded intriguing,as we only have .68 acres,and that he is a fellow Granite Stater. I ordered the book on Amazon a couple days after that meeting.

It was nice to read a book by an author who is in the same state,let alone the same hardiness zone (5a).
He discusses raised beds,soil composition,composting,seed starting,extending seasons,raising chickens,and other related topics.

Last night,he discusses how growing your own helps save money and creates healthier people. He used the example of large agri-business.They are in it for profit,so they use various non organic things such as certain weed killers,fertilizers,etc.This is cost efficient for them,but not necessarily in the best interest of people. By growing our own food,we control what we use in our gardens, what goes into our bodies,and we know it will be healthy. Cost effective,and health effective.

Most of the meeting was question and answer . A good portion of it was regarding his compost system. He uses what he describes as "fairly controversial"- thermophilic composting,or hot composting. He composts everything-chicken guts, chicken feet,things from his garden,etc.He says that by the compost reaching 140 degrees,this kills off anything nasty,because nothing can bad can survive in 140 degrees. He says this has worked great for him. We compost as well,but we don't compost animal parts.

He talked about how he grew up on a farm in southwestern Virginia. His grandfather didn't have a drivers license,and they were waaaaayyy out in the middle of nowhere,so they ate what they grew. Family members all shared one big piece of land,each with their own house. It was like that with their neighbors as well. It was a community. If one had something,they all had it. People worked together. It reminded me of what Shannon Hayes wrote in  "Radical Homemakers."( If you haven't read it,you should.It really opened my eyes) The function of the family was as producers,not consumers. They produced what they needed,and shared it with each other,either by bartering,selling,or just giving.They helped each other out. Someone needed food,and folks helped. There was no need for welfare.Times have changed. Too many folks are  self centered and don't care about who their neighbor is or what plight they may be suffering.Today it's "what can I buy and how much of it" and "screw everyone else."

Mark was very open and friendly. He spoke in terms we could understand.  We have had speakers that get so clinical that my eyes glaze over and  after a few minutes it's all gibberish.His book is very easy to understand as well. He had his books for sale and we could have him autograph them if we wished. I had him sign mine,and thanked him for joining us. He has three more books coming out next year.I am sure they will just as informative.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Friday was the day of our mystery date,and it was gorgeous! The sun was shining,and temps were in the 70's. We had  rain the day before,so I figured this was a good omen.

Rick informed me that I may want to wear something somewhat nice for lunch.Hmm. Well,considering none of my dress pants fit anymore (cough) I wore a nice blouse,my best jeans,and some brown loafers. What about dinner? He was pretty dismissive. Aren't we going to eat somewhere? "We might get room service,"he replied. "Make sure you have comfortable shoes." I packed my sneakers.

I am not used to being kept in the dark about ANYTHING. It's not in my nature to have no clue about what's going on around me.However,it seemed like I was the only person in the whole world who didn't know what was going on.( of course, that's just a slight exaggeration :)  ) My friends knew. Zach and Brother B knew. Everyone did a great job keeping things quiet,I must say.

I had a feeling I knew what it was. I thought he was going to bring me to Portsmouth,to the Holiday Inn,to the room where I was staying when we had our first date. I thought he would bring me to tour Strawberry Banke (one of the oldest sections of Portsmouth),and have lunch at the River House.

I was waaay off.

At first,I thought I was right,because we were heading south on the Spaulding Turnpike. "We are going to Portsmouth!" I announced. Rick looked at me with a small,sly smile and said,"Are you sure?" "Yes,"I said. "Where else would it be?" Well, when he turned like we were going to his Dad's,I started getting confused. Maybe he's taking an alternate route to throw me off,I thought. His Dad lives in North Hampton,south of Portsmouth. We drove past his Dad's. Now I am really messed up. Where is bringing me? I wondered. We go through Hampton,and wind up at Hampton Beach,where Rick had proposed to me. Hmmm.

We pull up in front of Ashworth By The Sea,which is the nicest hotel in Hampton,and probably the oldest.  "We are staying here," Rick informed me."Maybe they will let us check in early." Happily,the room was ready and  we could,indeed,check in early,which was nice. We went up to the room,and we had a balcony view.
The statue is a tribute to all the New Hampshire sailors who died at sea in service of our country. The side facing this way has all their names engraved on it.It was a lovely view.

It was a nice,clean room. I loved the fact that we could hear the ocean. After we got settled in,Rick handed me a card. He had given me a funny one for our Anniversary,saying that he had a more serious one that he was going to give me on our trip.It felt thick. I opened it up,and read it. It was a lovely card,saying how happy and proud he was that I am his wife. However,there was something taped underneath the paper with the verse on it. I opened it,and lo and behold,there were two tickets for The B-52's at Club Casino! It had been so long since we had seen a concert. I was excited. How can one not  have a good time at a B-52's concert? "We can have supper there,"he told me."That's why I didn't say too much about supper."

We went downstairs for lunch in the lovely dining room. Rick had shrimp cocktail and broiled seafood.I had chicken quesadillas (sp?) and iceberg wedge salad.I even had a glass of wine. After lunch,we changed our clothes,and went for a walk.Many of the shops were closed,but the best part was walking on the beach.It was high tide,and there was one person in the water. A few folks were just soaking up the rays,but it wasn't busy by any means.

Club Casino has been in operation since the early 1900's. The name is misleading,because there is no casino.It uses the old term of casino,roughly translated as entertainment. When it opened,it was used for Vaudeville acts. In the forties,Big Band acts such as Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman performed there. Later,it became a haven for rock and roll-The Doors,The Grateful Dead,Led Zeppelin,Jethro Tull,U2,etc played there. Comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and George Carlin also graced it's stage. It's a smallish venue,with a max of about 1,000 people. I like it,because though it's long,it's not that wide. The back of the room is maybe 30 yards from the stage,so you can get a great view no matter where you are.The last time we were there (2003) they had reserved seating on the floor in front of the stage,then the back area was general admission. I don't know whether this had been changed for all bands,but the floor was clear,and the only tables and chairs were in the back. The doors opened at 6:00 (show started at 8:00).We walked from the hotel and got there at 6:30. There were no tables left,so we sat along the back wall where they had a bar running the length of the seating area.

One of the fun things about concerts is the people watching. I was pleased to see the majority of the audience was middle aged,like us.Some ladies were dressed,shall we say,a bit young for their age. Rick and I kept saying about these ladies"Your too old,let go,it's over." (to borrow a phrase from Eminem).We even saw Elvis (yes someone was dressed like white jumpsuit era Elvis)

The opening act was a  band  called Sidewalk Driver. The singer had on a white cape ,bald head,and a tiny top hot,which shot glitter and streamers out of it later in the evening. They were from Boston,and they were quite good. Rick bought their CD later that evening. They reminded us of a cross between The Knack and April Wine.

Then,The B-52's took the stage,and they rocked!!!
This is a clip that Zach found on You Tube.The sound quality is poor,and I'm not sure if it will work.It was taken from the floor of the Casino.

They put on a great show. Anyone who hears Fred Schneider singing and doesn't get a smile on their face doesn't know how to have fun! It was great to see a mob of middle age people crouching down during "Rock Lobster" and jump back up ( 'Rock Lobster...down....down....). I didn't see any fish out of water flopping on the floor like in high school,though.Then again,there wasn't enough room to do that,even if one wanted to. I haven't danced that much in years!!!! They played for about an hour,and we were back at the hotel around 10:30.

The next morning,after breakfast,we were getting ready to check out,and tour buses showed up. The band must've stayed there overnight. I had to take a photo as we were getting into the truck to leave:

It was a rainy,gray day,but the day before had been perfect.Zach loved his B-52's T shirt we bought him( cost a wee bit more than when I bought concert shirts in high school!) and he wants to go to a concert. Maybe next summer.

It was a great time,and a fabulous surprise. Rick did a great job pulling it off!!!!