Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!!

I spent most of yesterday getting ready for today. It starts with the harvest party at Pipsqueak's school. They will be making applesauce, carving pumpkins and doing a craft with pressed leaves. They will also have some tasty treats provided by parents. I made a Spiced Pumpkin Bread from and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds courtesy of Kitt's delicious recipe.
At the end of the celebration, I'll be reading Too Many Pumpkins.

It's a great story and fun to read. It's about a woman that hates pumpkins. One lands in her yard when it falls off a truck and starts growing the next spring. Despite her neglect she grows a truck load of pumpkins, so she makes all sort of pumpkin dishes for the neighbors to get rid of them. It turns out she enjoys it so much, she saves a handful of seeds to plant the next spring. After I finish the story, I have a package of pumpkin seeds to give to each child with planting instructions.
Later, we'll do a bit of local trick or treating, and then go downtown for the Pumpkins in the Park event. There will be a pumpkin carving contest. I carved mine today: bats,
a spider, a Pipsqueak-alike, and a witch. I think I'll enter the witch in the contest. There is also a haunted walk, costume parade, games and a scavenger hunt.
Add into this an eye exam for me and after-school chorus practice for Pipsqueak and the day sounds frightening in a non-Halloween way. After the goblin has gone to bed, I think I'll need some BOO-ze. (Sorry; I couldn't help myself.) I'm tired just thinking about it, but I've planned not to have plans this weekend. I'm going to relax and putter around the house. I'm looking forward to that extra hour we'll get from setting the clocks back on Saturday night.

Handmade Costumes... Maybe Not So Thrifty

Growing up, I always had store bought costumes. Back then, they were in boxes with a cellophane window in the top, so you could see them all folded up with the plastic mask staring up at you. I remember some of them: Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty (that one had blond flocking on the mask for the hair), a witch and a bride. I don't remember asking to be anything except for the bride, so I don't know if I decided what I wanted to be or if my mom did. My mom was a beautiful seamstress, so I don't know why she didn't make my costumes. I've never asked her. I do remember the price tag on a box being something like 99 cents.

When I got older (maybe high school), I started putting pieces together to make costumes: an old lady, a hobo and a clown. Once I was out of school, I started getting crafty. One year I made crayon costumes for me and all the other tellers at the bank where I worked. I've also made a Raggedy Ann, a bumble bee, a skunk and pleather chaps for a cowboy costume. I'm not a great seamstress, but I can follow a pattern and make things that aren't too complicated. There's a lot of room for punting with a costume.
When my daughter was born, I appreciated simplicity (and I don't mean the line of patterns). I spent so much time nursing her and carrying her that I barely had time for personal grooming. Pulling out the sewing machine was not high on my list of moment-to-myself-things-to-do. For her first three Halloweens, she had purchased costumes: a ladybug, a cow and a frog.
As we were gearing up for her fourth Halloween, she told me she wanted to be Bat Girl. This was probably influenced by her father's hilarious imitation of Michael Keaton playing Batman which nearly had me driving the car off the road the first time he did it. She was in pre-school, and I had scads of time (yeah, right), so I decided to not only make it, but design it myself. Numerous hours and $40 at the fabric store later, it was done.
The next year she wanted to be a mermaid, but Ariel was not what she had in mind. Oh no. She wanted to be a purple mermaid. Although my designing skills, however limited, didn't fail me the prior year, I decided this project merited a pattern which I loosely followed. At least two full weekends and (gulp) $50 at the fabric store, and we had a beautifully sparkly, purple mermaid costume, and a personally designed headpiece which sort of made her look like a mermaid about to see Janis Joplin live at Woodstock. I can't believe this is the best photo we have of all my hard work. (She is posing with her grandmother.)
Last year, we spent Halloween in Florida, but I was not about to deny Pipsqueak the Halloween experience of costumed trick or treating. She said she wanted to be a witch. "Goody," I thought, "That's easy-peasy." We picked out some great fabric and I got the idea to trim it in black marabou. It was a screaming deal (compared to previous years) at $30, but do you have any idea how long it takes to hand-sew 3 yards of marabou trim? I think it was just over an hour per yard.

That brings me to this year. In September, we were shopping in TJ Maxx when Pipsqueak saw a beautiful Queen dress. Of course, she wanted it, and the bargaining and begging ensued. I looked at the price tag of $25. Then I looked closely at the dress, which consisted of 6 different fabrics and 4 different trims. To make something similar, it would cost well over $40 and 10-12 hours of sewing. I relented, but I didn't make it easy. Since no one local saw her witch costume from last year, I told her I would buy the queen dress one size larger and she could have it for next year if she wore the witch costume this year. The ultimate negotiator (she may make a good attorney one day), she said she would if I would get her a witch's broom this year. Done deal!

So if any of you are feeling guilty for buying Halloween costumes, DON'T! You'll have more money in your pocket and more time to spare.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Snow

This was the scene outside when I got up this morning.  My grandfather used to say that in Vermont, we get 9 months of winter and 3 months of hard sledding.  With snow falling in October, he could be spot on this year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Par Jamais

I was at a loss about what to post today, but then something happened. We were just finished with dinner and Pipsqueak was thinking about her dessert choice. She announced that she wanted Par Jamais. Sweetie and I looked at each other with intrigue and amazement. Where had she come up with this?

She doesn't speak French other than a few words often used on trips to Canada, e.g. bon jour, bon soir, merci, au revoir. We asked what this Par Jamais might consist of. "I'll show you," she announced proudly. She brought the following ingredients to the table: ice cream (she informed us that flavor didn't matter, however, our in stock flavor was chocolate chip cookie dough), snack-pack chocolate pudding and Hershey's chocolate syrup. For the sake of cleanliness, I offered to construct said Par Jamais under her tutelage. I was instructed to place two small scoops of ice cream in a dish and place chocolate pudding between the scoops, finally topping everything with swirls of chocolate sauce.
While Pipsqueak and Sweetie devoured her creation, I hit the French/English dictionary. "Par" mean through or by way of. "Jamais" means never. From my four years of French in high school, I remember that modifiers sometimes follow what they modify, so I'll give this a loose translation of "never through" which I think is a great name for a dessert.

Monday, October 27, 2008


If you're like me, you are in a constant state of cleaning out. I figure that stuff is coming in the door all the time, stuff has got to keep going out or eventually we'll be buried in stuff. Then there's the fact that kids outgrow and outsmart stuff (clothes, toys, games, books) and our tastes change. What we thought a few years ago was so hot, is now so not. Then there are gifts that we will never use and things we bought that just sit there.

So what to do with all the stuff? The easiest thing is to take it to goodwill or a thrift store, but that seems so.... well.... unthrifty. Selling stuff on ebay can be profitable, but you do have to pay to list items even if they don't sell and it can be time consuming. There's also Craigslist and yard sales. Are you thinking, "There's got to be an easier way!" There is.

There are lots of internet swap groups out there, but I'll tell you about the one I use. It's Swapcycle. There are currently 72 member all of the country. No money is exchanged on this group. Instead, each member gets "credit" for the items they post and they can then spend that "credit" on items others post. For example, Mary has a Gamecube game that her son no longer uses, she lists it on the group for $15. Jane grabs the game and uses $15 of her credits to "pay" for the game. Mary now has $15 to use on the group. Shipping costs are to be built into the dollar amount posted. For example, if the Gamecube Game is valued at $10 and it's going to cost $5 to mail, than it would be listed for $15. Essentially, you're only out-of-pocket expense is the postage to mail the items that are grabbed from you. New and used items are welcome, as well as direct sales consultants. There are consultants in the group for Tupperware, Pampered Chef, Creative Memories, and Stampin' Up, just to name a few.

Posting items is simple. Just take photos and post them in album you create in the photo database. Then fill out a simple chart for each item with the date, your name, total value and description.

I've been a part of the group for almost a year and have gotten lots of great stuff: DVDs, books, jewelry, kitchenware and more. There aren't many rules: don't grab if you don't have credit, you must list at least one item per calendar month, and you must ship within two weeks. If you're interested in joining, click on the link above and follow the directions. I recommend signing up for the daily digest of emails, otherwise, your inbox will get inundated.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Best Birthday Gift

A couple of months ago, I gave Sweetie some plans I'd found for building a barred owl box and told him that was what I wanted for Christmas. (I'm nothing if not practical.) Much to my surprise, he made one for my birthday.
He added the natural stick perch today and mounted it to a maple tree about 20 feet up where we can see it from the house, but far enough away that the inhabitants won't feel intruded upon. I've read that they should be up in September when owls are looking to nest, but I'm hoping for an owl that may be disenchanted with its original choice of home and is looking for a last minute upgrade. Perhaps I should place an ad: One bedroom nesting box in great location, newly built, clean, close to excellent hunting grounds, southern exposure.

Call me crazy, but now I'm going to ask for a bat house for Christmas.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Growing Older

A couple of weeks ago, I heard about a man that was found behind a Burger King, somewhere in the US, badly beaten without any ID. He was taken to a hospital where he recovered. He did need some surgery prior to regaining his vision, but it's several months later and he has no memory of his past or identity.

He said that it was a couple of weeks before he saw himself in a mirror due to the eye surgery, and he was surprised that he appeared to be in his 50s. He said he felt and thought he was in his 20s. That really has stuck in my mind, and I keep rolling it around. Imagine that for a minute... you don't have your vision and you have no idea how old you are. How old do you feel? Your eyes could not see the the fine lines, the gray hairs, the age spots and the things that aren't so perky anymore.

I've often said that I still feel 18, but as I turn 44 today, I think I should up that to 25. I know much more about life now than I did then, but if I had no memory of prior experiences, would I have the additional common sense that I've gained over the years? I expect that I would realize that my sleep habits had changed since I was young; I can't stay up until midnight partying and sleep until noon anymore. But if I couldn't remember that I did that, would I realize that was a sign of middle age?

I think that our bodies, the vessels that hold our mind, spirit and personality, betray us by prematurely aging. We feel young, but we don't look young anymore, and we can't do what we did when we were young. I think that if we didn't give a number to our ages... if we didn't celebrate our birthdays, we'd all live longer. Maybe we'd feel younger if we didn't do the math, and didn't look in mirrors.

I see that Pipsqueak put 15 candles on my cake. If I was blind AND deaf, I wouldn't believe I was THAT young.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lowest Prices of the Season

That tag line doesn't mean much. The prices are the lowest until... well... next week. As the season passes and merchandise languishes on the shelves and racks, prices drop. It doesn't matter what season it is; it's the way retail works. When the season is over, anything remaining goes on clearance racks.

You've got to hunt for these racks sometimes. Stores would rather have you buy the things that just showed up in the store with higher prices, so they'll tuck their clearance racks in a little corner in the back. It's for the same reason that milk is at the back of the grocery store; the retailers are hoping you'll be lured by something else on the way there. I say, put the blinders on and run.

I see all the major department stores (JC Penney, Kohl's, Macy's, K-mart) rolling out their print and television ads promising the lowest prices of the season, and they probably are this week. If you don't really need something now, wait. You'll see the same ad next week, and the week after that, and the week after that, ad nauseum.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Never Enough

Thanks to blogging, there are days that I feel lazy and unproductive. It's not because my butt is making a dent in the couch all day while I type, point and click. (I have cut back... really, I have.) It's just that I read about everything everybody else has been doing and I feel like a slacker. Maybe it's because I'm reading the collective goings-on of about eight people and somehow I feel like I should have done all that, too. Oh, someone is knitting a scarf; I should have knit today. She made bread; I love making bread. There are women out there walking their dogs, cleaning their furnace, planning luncheons for all their neighbors, trying new recipes and more. It's all very humbling. So, what did I do today?
  • made breakfast, which included fresh squeezed orange juice
  • took a call from Pipsqueak's teacher re: next Friday's harvest party
  • folded two baskets of laundry
  • washed two loads of laundry and hung it out to dry even though it was cold
  • put half of the window screens away
  • put butcher's wax on the mahogany dining table
  • polished the silver candle holders and put in fresh candles
  • talked to my sister in law about her cancer treatment
  • talked with another parent to plan next the school's harvest party
  • made lunch
  • went to the salon for Sydney's and my hair cuts
  • cleaned up half the vegetable garden
  • visited my mother
  • made supper (a new recipe) and cleaned up after supper

It may look like a lot, but since there is more that I should have done and wanted to do, somehow it doesn't seem like enough. It'll never be enough.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


It was snowing here this morning... not accumulating... just floating around in the sky like we were in a giant snow globe. Pipsqueak was wild with excitement which included breaking into song... a made-up-on-the-fly song called (you guessed it), "Snow!"

It wasn't snowing down in the village which is about 500 feet lower in altitude than we are. (We're at about 1100 feet above sea level.) I heard on local weather that some towns north of here are getting accumulating snow. The weatherman brought a snowball into the station. Jay Peak is reporting 2 inches.

It's hard to get a photograph of falling snow, but if you look at Pipsqueak's pants or the dark pines in the background, you can see it a bit. Does she look cold? It was 34 degrees this morning, but we're tough Vermonters; we don't need no stinkin' jackets. (Well, not for a two minute photo shoot.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

4th Annual Hornets' Nest Harvest

Since Pipsqueak was two years old, we've hunted down abandoned hornets' nests after the first hard frost and the bare trees reveal them. We keep our eyes open in the summer, too, but they are hard to spot in the leaves. The particular football shaped ones we look for are from white-face or bald-face hornets. They aren't really hornets at all, but are from the yellow jacket family. I'll call them hornets for simplicity. The nests often hang from tree branches over the road, because those little buggers like to buzz up the roads just like we do.

Pipsqueak spotted this one on Saturday, about two miles from our house. She loves collecting them because they're very popular show-and-tell items.

We got on the tractor and chugged down the road. Pipsqueak operated the tractor controls to raise Sweetie in the air in the bucket until he could reach the nest and cut it down. (I was unofficial documentarian.)

We'll keep it in the shed for while to make sure it's completely abandoned. A couple of lazy hornets emerged after we got it home. There could be eggs inside the nest that will hatch into larvae, but without adults to feed them they will die. We don't feel guilty about this because the nest is abandoned in the fall anyway, and a new one is built in the spring. Any unhatched offspring would die anyway at this point. This nest is about one foot tall. That's a lot of hornet spit.

This link gives information on safely harvesting your own hornets' nest.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Individual Apple Crisp (the last? apple gasp)

I love desserts made in ramekins. A few years ago, I started making apple crisp in them. It looks so much prettier than a blob on a plate and it assures a fair amount of crispiness in every mouthful. I almost out of apples, so this might be it for this year's apple recipes. Here it is:

one small baking apple per ramekin
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup oats
3 T butter, softened
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg

Peel, core and thinly slice an apple for each of four ramekins. Mix remaining ingredients into a lumpy crumb using a fork to break up the butter. Sprinkle a generous amount over each apple filled ramekin. Bake in a 375 oven for about 25 mins until topping is golden and apples are tender.

The topping can be refrigerated for a couple of days if you want to make extra for another day or make it ahead. Leftover apple crisps can be reheated in the oven.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bat in My "Belfry"

There's rarely a dull moment here in "Wild Kingdom." I was taking screens out of windows and putting down storms yesterday morning. Before I take each screen out, I have close look for hornets because often the little buggers get in there, and I don't want to get stung. In one of the guest bedroom windows, I was startled when I saw a little ball of fur in the space between the window and the screen. A closer inspection led to me to identify it as a Little Brown Bat. He was about 2 inches tall. He'd gotten in through a tiny crack where the screen was not set into the frame properly. We were so lucky to have a literal window into his world where we got to inspect and observe him so closely.
Later in the day, he moved to the upper part of the window. I stealthily removed the screen then so he could get out easier.
At dusk, Pipsqueak reported that he seemed to be shaking, and soon after that he was moving. He spent a long time grooming and fluffing his fur and stretching his wings. Then he used his clawed feet and the claws in the middle joint of his wings to deftly shimmy down the muntin between the window panes. He went straight to where the crack was that he entered through, and off he flew.
We checked this morning, but he had not come back. Either he has hibernated or found a better crack to sleep in.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dartmouth Homecoming Parade and Bonfire

As long as Sweetie and I have been together, we've been participating in Dartmouth night. I marched in the parade once in high school, but it was so wild and frightening (the crowd closed in on us and kids were throwing things in the tuba) that our band director vowed that we'd never go again. As a spectator, it feels much more safe.

Our evening started by meeting friends at Molly's in Hanover, NH. I know that any evening that starts with margaritas is going to be good. I had a tasty ahi tuna salad with soy glaze and wasabi. It was as yummy at it is pretty.

After dinner we stood just outside of Molly's to watch the parade. There were only three bands: Dartmouth College, Chester High School, Lyme Town. All the other area bands have probably sworn it off in fear of their lives and virginity. The rest of the parade is the college sports teams and members of each graduating class since the college's establishment. I didn't get any photos of the parade because we were being pelted with so much candy it was like being in a hail storm. Pipsqueak had a bag stuffed full, so I told her that she didn't need to go trick or treating now. She begged to differ.

The parade ends at the green where there are no less than a half hour of speeches meant to spirit the football team to victory the next day. Everyone stands around enduring the speeches, waiting for the bonfire to be touched off. This isn't a little campfire; this is a behemoth nearly 30 feet tall. The freshmen run around it while it burns, and the heat is so intense that they sport first degree burns on their left sides the next day.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chausson Aux Pommes (Apples Turnovers)

Doesn't it sound much fancier in French? Everything does.

I started thinking about apple turnovers last week, and couldn't stop, so I went hunting for a good recipe. I tend to think of recipes as guidelines only and rarely follow them to the letter. The good thing about that is they become MY recipes, and I can put them up here without getting arrested by the publishing police. Without further ado, here is my version of the recipe:

5-6 med. cooking apples, cored, peeled and cut into 1" pieces (I used Cortlands)
1/4 cup water
3 T sugar
3/4 t lemon juice
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1 pkg puff pastry
1 egg beaten
confectioners sugar (optional)

Place apples in medium saucepan. Add water, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until apples are very tender, stirring frequently, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Gently mash apples with a fork or potato masher until mixture is very soft but still chunky. Cool completely.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Position one rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface to 12 inches square. Cut into 9 squares. Place 1 generous tablespoon of filling in center of each square. Lightly brush edges of pastry with beaten egg. Fold over into triangles and pinch edges to seal. Lightly brush pastries with beaten egg. Place triangles on prepared baking sheets.

Bake turnovers until beginning to color, about 15 minutes. Switch baking sheets from top to bottom. Reduce oven to 350 F; continue baking until turnovers are firm and golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar if desired. Serve warm.

Yum! They were so good. I made them last night and they're disappearing fast.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The first step is admitting you have a problem...

I am an internet addict. I'm always finding more ways to waste time on the computer.

Today, Sweetie introduced me to the crack den of Facebook. I lost the entire afternoon reconnecting with friends I haven't seen in five to twenty years. While it was fun to do that, I didn't get laundry folded or my house tidied.

I check email no less often than hourly. I have six to ten blogs I read regularly. I belong to a group called Swapcycle, where I list things I don't want anymore and swap them for things I do want. I check the database there once or twice a day. I have email notifications on ebay of items I'm looking for, so I spend time checking them out. I look for recipes, shop, check tv listings, news and weather.

Sometimes I sit down to look something up on the internet, and I get distracted by something there. The next thing I know an hour has gone by and I don't even remember what I came to look up.

I'm going to start setting limits for myself. I will check email in the morning, lunch time, after dinner and before bed. I will allow myself one hour of internet time at lunch time and in the evening. I'm sure I will have set backs, and I won't be able to conquer this addiction in one day, but I must take control of my life and my house again. The dust bunnies mock me as I type.

Note: I put in lots of links, so you can click on them and forget you were actually reading my blog, which you will realize an hour from now, and then wonder where the time went. Misery loves company.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Uplifting (A Helicopter Story)

One of our next door neighbors owns a helicopter. It's a little strange to call him a next door neighbor since he lives almost a mile away, but he is our closest neighbor to the east. He offered Pipsqueak a ride when she was ready, but it has taken her about two years to feel ready. The helicopter has only two seats, so Mommy and Daddy wouldn't be able to accompany her. During breakfast on Monday, she announced out of the blue that she was ready for a helicopter ride. Sweetie sent our neighbor an email, and he gave us a call early that evening. We were to meet him in the field between our houses in fifteen minutes.

Pipsqueak couldn't have picked a better time... the air was still, the evening was warm and the colors were spectacular. After some flight instructions, she got buckled in and off they flew. She loved it, and informed us that she wants a helicopter now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Brilliant Color

We have had the best and longest lasting foliage color that we've enjoyed in recent memory. I have to share a few more photos. I took all these while standing in one stop and shooting in different directions.

I promise a truly uplifting post tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Third Thing

Have you heard that expression that bad things happen in threes? I'm not a superstitious person, but it does seem to happen that way. Sometimes just one bad thing happens, but if a second one happens, a third always seems to follow.

This morning, a friend of mine told me that her washing machine broke down last week. She was told it would be more expensive to fix than replace. This weekend, their fridge broke down. They decided to replace that too, but were told that the one they wanted would take two to three weeks to arrive. A family of four cannot live out of coolers for that long. They chose one that was in stock, and went with their truck to pick it up. Their truck broke down in the parking lot. Their luck will change now. It's the power of three.

I'm trying to figure out if I've had my three or if I've got another coming. My sister in law was diagnosed with breast cancer and my uncle died. My plantar faciitis doesn't equal those in severity, so I'm not sure if things will turn up yet or not.

I apologize for this gloomy, doomsday posting, but I think I'm going to feel a little down for a few days. Rest assured, I will rally. I always do. I wouldn't post at all, but if I want my free lip balm through NaBloWriMo, I have to post everyday.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Foliage Tour

My uncle died this morning, so I'm not in a state of mind to write anything instructive, informative or entertaining. I thought it would be a good day to take you on a fall foliage tour. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

The view from Pipsqueak's bedroom window.

A long and winding road.

A long and straight road.

Taken through a peek-hole in a covered bridge.

Tall and majestic.

Almost home.

The view from our deck.

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned, I'll put a trinket on.

- Emily Dickinson, Nature XXVII, Autumn.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Something I'd Never Considered...

Do you know if your dentist is mercury free? Being the picayune that I am, I think the sign should have read "mercury free dentistry". After all, I don't really care if my dentist eats a tuna fish sandwich every day.
Disclaimer: This is not my dentist, and I have not had mine tested for mercury, lead, asbestos or any other poisonous and potentially deadly elements.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Vermont's Only (?) Rain Forest

On Sunday, I snuck away for awhile in the morning to help Pipsqueak's teacher, Mrs. W secretly transform a corner of the classroom into a Costa Rican rain forest. Mrs. W went to Costa Rica this summer for 12 days on a tour organized by the University of Vermont. She plans to teach the students about it over several weeks, covering culture, food, environment, wildlife and more. She asked Walmart and Home Depot for plant donations and they were very generous.

It took us about an hour to move in the plants, arrange everything and add a few plastic lizards, snakes and insects. Mrs. W had a white noise machine/fountain that play rain forest sounds. We threw a few pillows around, so the children can sit in the rain forest to read. It looked like so much fun that I wanted to be back in school again.

We are so lucky to have this wonderful public school. There are approximately 350 students in K-8, are there is a small-town, folksy feel there, yet they have modern, non-mainstream ideas. For instance, Pipsqueak is in first grade in a multi-age class (K-2). She'll be in the same room with the same teacher for three years. Then they have looping third and fourth grade, and fifth and sixth grades which means the students have the same teacher two years in a row.

Pipsqueak loves school and can't wait to get there every morning. Monday morning was a special one to see the excitement of all her classmates when they came in and saw this.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

This is the only today we'll ever have!

I've spent some time appreciating life today.

My 84 year old uncle isn't doing well. It's amazing that he's lived this long since he's had five heart attacks, several mini-strokes and only 30% of his heart is functioning. But up until the past few days, he's had good quality of life. Yesterday he said he wished he would die. I find that astounding! I can't imagine being okay with dying, let alone wishing it would happen. I've got too many books too read and too much yarn stash to knit. How bad would it have to get before I wanted to die? Well, maybe if I couldn't read or knit, but even then, I don't know.

The elderly seem to have this acceptance of death that I can't get my head wrapped around. I wonder if there's something that happens in the brain at around age 70 that makes people comfortable with the idea that they won't be around forever. I wonder if I'll ever get comfortable with it, or will I fight it tooth and nail right to my death bed.

I don't have many fears... really only three: falling, bathrooms without windows (I'll explain that another time) and death. I think I love living too much (is that possible?) and there are so many things I want to try and do. I love the change in seasons, and I can't imagine not seeing the next one. I want to see my daughter's children and maybe their children. I really wouldn't have to do anything different; I could just keep living the way I do now, and I'm happy to just exist in these surroundings doing what I do.

When filling out a Living Will, I feel torn. While I wouldn't want to be kept alive artificially, I don't want to die either. I told Sweetie that if I'm ever in a coma to lean down right next to my ear and shout loudly, "Wake up!!!!" I'm sure if my brain is working at all, I'll give him a sign... an eyelid flutter, a twitch, something.

Since I fear death, I try not to spend a lot of time thinking about it. I'd rather spend the time thinking about how great it is to be alive... to feel the warmth of a hug, to smell food cooking, to hear my daughter's laughter, to taste... well... almost anything. We'd should all spend more time celebrating life and being present in the moment. We usually rush through our days getting from one chore or activity to another, but we should stop to really savor the taste of our food, listen to the birds, and linger a moment over that hug or kiss.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fall Decoration

I don't do much Halloween decorating since we live out in the sticks, but there are a couple of things I do every year...
I plant mums in the deck urns and put our home grown pumpkins around them. Monty, our Welsh Corgi, thought the pumpkins were some new chew toys for him, and he took a big bite out of the back of one before I could set him straight on the matter.

I also put a dish of candy corn on the table. The dish never stays full very long since the whole family is nuts for candy corn. A few years ago Brachs brand added honey to their recipe, but this year we discovered Jelly Belly brand with no honey. It's a much cleaner taste without the cloying sweetness. They are a bit smaller though, so it's difficult to tuck them under my upper lip for vampire teeth or yellow buck teeth. It's hard to choose... flavor or fun?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How Do You Like Them Apples?

I can't believe it's Tuesday and I'm still writing about the weekend, but it was jam packed with activity. That's the way it is around here this time of year. It's the last blast of activity outside before we all retreat inside our warm and cozy houses, not to be seen again until sometime in March.

After we saw Judy Pancoast's concert on Saturday, we were headed to Billings Farm in Woodstock, Vermont, but I got distracted in Quechee, Vermont by a sign for a craft fair at Quechee Gorge Village. I love to go to craft fairs to harvest ideas for my own crafting. This one yielded a great idea of glass painting. This vendor had beautiful, yet simple painted glassware. I thought, "I could do that!" We'll see if I actually do.

Pipsqueak has been asking to ride the train there for years, but it runs infrequently. When she heard it chugging along the track while we were there, I couldn't say no. We had plenty of giggles about the bumpiness. I wondered if I had any loose fillings after that.

After our one hour diversion, we were back on our way to Billings Farm for the Apple and Pumpkin Festival. They had a table showing representative apples from every variety,
apple cider pressing,
apples on a string,
hand cranked pumpkin ice cream,
wagon rides and more.
We went home exhausted, but happy and fulfilled from a great "mommy and me" day.

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