Sunday, October 17, 2010

Autumn Dreams~Mosaic Monday

The leaves in my corner are past peak and, after the Nor'easter last Friday, many have been lost prematurely. I'm still taking a lot of pictures before it all fades to brown because, no matter what's been said in the past week, this is my favorite season.

A brief explanation:

1. Playing with layers and gradients in Photoshop
2. A ladybug in her orange phase just before turning red
3. A Ground Bouquet...I'm taking lots of photos of these as I'm always amazed by how artfully the leaves land (No, I do not rearrange them.)
4. A large piece of birch bark, which will feature prominently in tomorrow's "failed" mosaic (maybe...depends on crazy modem)
5. A birthday bubble balancing on top of the fence post

Please visit Mary at Little Red House for more mosaics!

(Concerning computer woes — another visit from the techies tomorrow. The service is sporadic at best, but I will be visiting as it allows.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010


The Nor'easter ripped through and wiped out my internet connection. (I'm posting from my son's computer.) So, until my connection is up and at'em, it's over and out for me.

The good news is, according to this morning's political cartoon, the wind blew away a lot of political signs. :D

Hope to see you soon; behave yourselves now...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Seasons and Changes

Funny how two people can look at the very same thing and see it so differently. My daughter-in-law and I were discussing October last weekend and she said, "I hate autumn. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it." Hate is such strong word so I asked her why. Her answer: Everything is dying. My flowers are dying. The leaves are dying. The grass is dying. The birds are leaving. Everything is going away. And there's nothing good coming for a long time. 

Gosh, and here I thought that autumn was my favorite season — always have, but when it's put that way.

There's a storm coming our way. It'll rip a lot more leaves from the trees and we'll be left with a starkness not seen since last year. Good thing I know that, even though winter will come, spring will follow and this ages-old cycle will continue long past my time on this earth. We can count on a few things, after all.

I'm counting on the season in my own life to pass. I've had enough of it quite frankly. I'm looking forward to some changes and soon. It feels as if a winter of unrest, lack, and chill has been around far too long. Yes, it is time for a change.

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.

~ Anne Lamott

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Open Letter to Bloggers

Dear Friend Who Blogs,

Have you seen some of the new features that Blogger is offering? One that I really like is "Popular Posts" under "Add a Gadget." There are a lot of options for it and I prefer it to the "You might also like" that mixes up posts beneath each entry so that you never know what's going to be displayed. Sometimes, what was displayed was something that I'd just as soon have had remain buried in the archives.
Have you also seen that Blogger has a new spam detector? You can read more about it on your dashboard or *here,* but I am very pleased with it. As one who has had some trouble with spammers, I know how miserable it can be. I'm announcing something pretty harsh: although my visits to blogs that have word verifications and moderated comments will not diminish, my comments there will. I'm sorry that it has come to this, but I visit nearly two hundred blogs a day. Two hundred! You can see why I need to regain some of my time. And, in fact, I am very soon going to be dividing my blog roll between those who do and those who don't (use word verifications and moderated comments, Silly Girl!). Again, my apologies, it's a time thing. I understand if you've found moderation/verification necessary either because of spammers or because of unkind commenters...wish it didn't have to be this way.
There are ways that we can be more friendly to fellow bloggers: 1. finding the proper balance in blog decor 2. trying to be aware of load time by using the tool *Stopwatch*  3. trying a variety of picture sizes 4. selecting the least obstructive way for commenters to comment.

Some are things that I am not willing to do. Some are things that I am perfectly willing to do. We all find the balance somewhere. We will never please everyone. Do you have something that you'd like to suggest? I know that playlists are often on the topic. I love them sometimes and not so much other times. It's a personal preference issue, but when I notice that numbers are dropping or comments are dropping, it is time to see what might be the cause or if it is just the normal ebb and flow.
Here's to better blogging and happy blogging and a link to a post that suggests what that is.

Edited to Add: A Day Later and...

I feel as if I should explain some things:

1. I have an addictive personality. If I were not so smitten with blogs, it'd be something else. Just so no one feels sorry for me and all the time I spend cruising. Way too much time, I admit.

2. Sometimes I say that I would love to return to the days when I blogged for myself. I didn't blog for my family because they are addictive personalities as well and would become too involved in the one thing that I reserved for myself. Then a commenter showed up and "ruined" the whole thing. :D  Please don't misunderstand, an entirely new world of community showed up for me that day. I immediately began to feel less isolated. That's a good thing. Very.

3. What I've written here is not meant to point a finger at anyone or single any blog out. No! Heaven's no! I love to visit all the blogs that I visit and I love to comment. I've just run out of time to jump those commenting hoops that some have found necessary. And I understand...I do; hope that you will, too.

4. Some walk; some read; some clean; some craft; some lose themselves in work; some do this; some do that. I blog and read blogs. It's an illness.

Thank you all so much for your feedback. I find it invaluable.

Off to become addicted to scrubbing a few windows...

Create a great Wednesday!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Weekend Birthday and Fun

My daughter celebrated her birthday with us over the weekend. There's nothing that she enjoys much more than playing with her nephews and her brother. I captured some of it from the warmth of my dining room. Good thing I wasn't practicing photo quality as I would've missed some good things.

I can now properly thank Penny at The Comforts of Home for the $50 gift certificate I won there recently. How timely as one of my choices was Anthropologie, which just so happens to be one of my daughter's favorite places. I was able to pass along that blessing for part of her birthday gift. Yay! When she makes her selection, I hope to share it with you.

Edited to Add: Shoot! I was trying to postdate, but I obviously don't know the difference between 12:25 am and 12:25 pm. Oh well!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

There's Something for Everyone at the Fair~Mosaic Monday

John and I had a pretty good time at the  F*ryeburg Fair last Friday. I've talked about this premier fair of M*aine before right *here.*  There was a lot about food on that post and one photo because I didn't take my camera that year. This year John said, "The food doesn't smell as good as it did thirty years ago." Correct! This year it smelled like heartburn and a tummy ache. ;>

All mosaics will enlarge

The end of a lovely and exhausting day...

Visit Mary at Little Red House for more mosaics. It's always fun!

The Lord Delivereth out of Them All

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Experimenting with the Camera

Thanks to 31 Days of Autumn Bliss (see sidebar button) and Life With My 3 Boybarians, I now have an entire folder labeled "Experiment" where each picture is labeled with information to include aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc. I've learned a few things; whether the photography improves remains to be seen.

If you've ever wondered about such things, visit Darcy and see what a good teacher she is! Although she puts the instruction booklet to shame, she does want you to read your instruction booklet. She's doing a daily post on photography for the month of October so check it out. *Here's* where she began.

Here are a few of my experiments... (I'm not going to bore you with the strange names.)

But I will tell you what I did with this shot — it's on an aperture of F8, which makes the front cactus leaves out of focus while making the picture of the little house in focus. I'll leave it to Darcy to tell you why with her excellent Depth of Field lesson.

This photo was taken on an F 2.7 setting. (One thing I quickly learned was that I have a middle of the road camera. Not the best and not the worst. It doesn't have all the settings that Darcy's does. Noooo, I am not one bit jealous. Noooo, not at all. :D ) And, while I didn't get that bokeh effect, I do like the way the nearer objects are in focus and the forest (seen through the deck spindles) is somewhat out of focus. Bokeh is a delightful thing and I want to achieve it more often. I find it entirely magical.

Still working on bokeh with this shot of the fuschias and getting a bit...I love that one drop of water on the bud and the little sparkle of green in the out-of-focus left bottom corner. So, if this shows the nearer objects in focus, I was using F2.7. And if I crop this, I can use it for a header next summer!

Here's another taken from my chair and out the window (and screen) taken at the opposite end of aperture — F8. This is where the nearer objects are out of focus and the farther away ones are in focus. In this case, kinda. (John tells me that the barn to the right and above the fence is about 650 feet away. The fence is about 22 feet away.)
One more because it is so autumnal with its coppers... This is also on an F2.7 for a close-up shot. I almost feel as if I could read that newspaper scrap.

Thank you for visiting today. I want to wish all my Canadian readers a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends!

(I'm really away today, but more about that later.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Pie

The apple pie looked good enough, except for the fact that I carved a cherry on top instead of an apple, but that's nothing, right? However, when John cut into it, there was nothing but air. Something went awry — perhaps my apple choice. I usually use Cortlands for apple pie and this time I thought I could get away with Macs. Oh well. Next year! (Hope that John doesn't read this or he may keel over.) Yeah, well, that's how much I love making apple pies.

This all reminds me of last week when I made my famous chicken casserole. It took several bites before I realized what was wrong. It was my famous chicken casserole minus the chicken! How does one forget the chicken? Guess that I've been a bit preoccupied.

If you'd like either recipe (as if you would after all this), you can find them in my sidebar somewhere. It'll be a bit like playing leapfrog, but that's a fun game, eh?

This post makes me feel like composing an Irish blessing...

May your pie be filled with apples
May your casserole be filled with chicken
And when it comes to fightin' the devil
May you not take a lickin'

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Piano Topper, etc.

Well now, you are so sweet to say such nice things about the hair. My mother was away yesterday so she saw it for the first time this morning. She said that it looked too messy for her tastes (yes, I had combed and coiffed) and something about how cute my niece's haircut is. Perhaps there's something in the water here that is making us testy.

It's a rainy, chilly day. I'm planning to bake later this afternoon. John's been promised an apple pie for weeks. But first, my mother and I have one of those assessment meetings about Nan. I am praying that something will be resolved once and for all. Monday, my mother and I found a home that would be okay even though it is over thirty miles up the road. We'll just have to wait and see. This waiting is so difficult; being in limbo is so difficult; always wondering is difficult. Have you been wondering about anything lately?

Obviously, I've been hanging out at *Aunt Amelia's* a lot because when my daughter gave me this mantel topper that I promptly slapped on the piano, I felt right at home with it.

My daughter is so funny sometimes. She arrived on Sunday with a bag of things given to her through the years by various members of the family saying, "This is so you and so not me." Needless to say, I loved it!

Just popping in one of our favorite piano players around here. He's been staying with me one morning a week while his big brother plays soccer. It is too challenging for him to sit on the sidelines and watch so he darts out onto the field to play, too. His parents were getting quite exasperated as were the coaches.

Now he stays home with me playing the piano and talking on the phone. He always answers this way, "Hello, Yes, I understand, Goodbye."

And, on that note, yes, I understand, goodbye...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Apple Orchard Day

Saturday was such a beautiful day. Sunny and with just enough chill in the air to let us know that it was October and not August. Nearly perfection. That's why John's grinning. Trust me, I'm wearing a grin, too. It's only that I haven't got the whole "he's a lot taller than I am" thing worked out for photo taking. It's okay. My hair was a fright.

John and I were picking apples in the orchard where I began my career as an apple picker. "Apple picker" is much too lofty a job description for I was a drop picker at first. After a while, I learned all about placing ladders, climbing them, picking the apples, which is more like rolling them, and then climbing down without bruising the apples in the heavy canvas bag at my middle with the straps worn over my shoulders. The bag had a folded-up bottom that allowed me to loosen two straps and gently release the apples into the bushel box. On a good day, a very good day, I could pick 20 bushels. My mother could pick 100 bushels plus on a very good day, forty bushels on an average day. John and I picked four apples. The rest we found on the ground. Tip: the best and ripest apples are on the ground just be careful they are not bruised.

I want the final bit, but the middle of the story is told in pictures.

It was so sunny and bright that I didn't always get the best pictures, but I still liked this one of John striding down the apple row.

Not the best picture, but it was a great apple!

Wonder if I always look this smug when I'm about to be kissed in an apple orchard...
True confessions: Though we were pretty sun-kissed already, this has been put through the diffuser about three times. Hahahaha, sometimes I crack myself up.

Have a great Tuesday!

P.S. As a result of seeing these photos, I have an appointment this afternoon for a much-needed haircut. Perhaps I'll tuck in a photo later or perhaps one shouldn't count on it for I am vain...very.

Edited to Add: I'm so proud of myself for keeping a half-hearted promise to you. Here's the haircut and the face sans makeup or even any lip gloss. Has a squirrel been chewing on my eyebrows again?! I can't blame squirrels for the bangs as I, in a fit of exasperation, started whacking on them last week. John is not a fan of short hair so I warned him before I left. When I arrived home he said that he'd forego judgment until I had washed and styled my hair. What?! What in the world did he think that I'd been having done for an hour? Men!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Your Wish is My Command

A few asked for more mums photos and since I already had this mosaic done I can oblige with no difficulty whatsoever. Please enjoy. I do confess that those jewel colors make me smile. Oh did any guess that this mosaic was this Mosaic Monday's reject? Perhaps I should have had it the other way around.

1. Birdhouse Condominium
2. Looking through the greenhouse to my valley below...yup, Haven is down there somewhere
3. Bundles of Bittersweet
4. Closer look at those gorgeous mums
5. Furniture, baskets, mums, beams, etc.
6. Does the turban gourd look like a mushroom house to you?
7. That salmon-colored mum strikes my fancy
8. Loved the striations on this turban gourd

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Land of Misfit Lawn Ornaments~Mosaic Monday

In the neverending quest to find an original, never-before done or even dreamed topic for Mosaic Monday, I have sunk to a new low—my town dump euphemistically named "The Transfer Station." I have a new name for it: The Land of Misfit Lawn Ornaments. (You may recognize this as a direct rip-off of "The Land of Misfit Toys" from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.)

Image will enlarge

See what I mean? Perhaps we could also name it "The Misfit Kitchen" or something. Actually, if you have time, I'd like to point out a few of the clever things that have been done here. (The Transfer Station is run by women who, I think, are doing a fun thing.)

Image will enlarge

1. A row of chipped plates and something extra! (A commode top)
2. A broken angel playing a harp and a broken pitcher
3. Shattered glass inside a bottle border
4. Hmmm...what is it?
5. A little girl and a broken eagle
6. A donkey with a broken leg
7. Another commode top and an Italian chef
8. Mug border and look at those tomatoes!

In reality, the idea for this post came from my sister and mother who were looking at my plate border around my front flower bed. My mother said, "Oh look! It's just like the town dump!" Then she proceeded to accuse me of using my best china. What she didn't know was that I had *picked a pile of broken Friendly Village plates from the town dump* long before the ladies there had the idea. Those gals probably read blogs.

But I cannot leave you with such homely's a better offering from the Farmer's Market. What's not to love about pumpkins and mums?

Please join *Mary at Little Red Housefor some truly spectacular mosaics...


Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. ~The Message

A peaceable Sunday to you!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oh, Hello...

My name is Molly and I'm Vee's little sister. Don't ask. Anyway, I'm the latest member of the family to show up. Don't ask. And I'll be here as long as John and Vee allow me to stay. Don't ask. I think that Vee likes me, but she's worried about Fioré. I really can't imagine why. So what if the dumb cat likes to hang out in the basement, under the cabinet, behind the wall?

I did arrive with a few issues; namely, that I like to lick and chew. Can I help it if I find my paws and knees especially tasty? Anyway, I'm going to the vet this morning. He is not my favorite person, but I might wag my tail just for good measure.

It seems to have worked with John. Even if Vee isn't very sure of my stay, John thinks that I'm all right. I hang out with him whenever I can.

Vee told me to tell you to have a great Saturday and a fun weekend!

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Roller Coaster Life

[Gil has been complaining about his complicated life; Grandma wanders into the room]

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.

Gil: Oh?

Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!

Gil: What a great story.

Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it. ~from the movie Parenthood 1989
If you were to describe your life as an amusement park ride, which one would you choose? I'd definitely choose the roller coaster. It so perfectly describes my life with its ups and downs or perhaps I'm just in the midst of a bipolar episode.
The "home" that we visited yesterday was perfection. Just what both my mother and I want for Nan. A view of the ocean, the smell of the ocean, beautiful, clean, a happy staff, and happy clients, too. It would be almost like going home for Nan because she loves the sea so much and spent her summers in Gloucester, Massachusetts. But, for lack of *$13, 000, she won't be accepted. Their criteria is that a patient must be able to pay for a year. Forget that the patient will be 101 in a few short days and that said patient is not doing well. Okay. Moving on.

Last night the three of us trouped off to help with the ongoing moving and settling in. One great thing about this is that we find little treasures. Treasures that would otherwise be going to Goodwill I presume.

I came home with two sets of pajamas and an edition of The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. This is the edition where she shares how to reuse a vacuum cleaner bag. I can now reveal that my mother had been, until just a week ago, breathing the same rarified air that Dacyczyn breathed as they lived in the same town. This newsletter was from June of 1990. Wait a minute, wait a minute! This is the premier issue. Wonder if that's worth anything? Thirteen thousand perhaps? (Edited to add: My hopes have been dashed again...this is the issue that was sent to anyone requesting a sample.)
Edited to Add: * No way did I mean to imply that such a facility would cost only $13,000. Of course not! Nan lacks $13,000. She falls short by $13,000. Hmmm, sometimes being clear is so hard for me. This facility will cost three hundred dollars plus a day. But, considering that a dump costs $237.00 a day, we felt that the extra cost would be well worth the peace of mind. BTW, average daily nursing home costs in Maine are $206.00. Wonder how that compares across the country/continent. (Gotta love the Internet. *Here* is my answer.) Double BTW, no medications or medical supplies costs are figured into that amount.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stuff and Things

Apparently, this is going to be a rainy week. We had rain Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, a delightful reprieve Wednesday, and today and tomorrow will be rainy. It's all good, though, because we've been much in need of comfort and what's more comforting than cooking and enjoying quiet reading time when it's chilly and wet outside?
You may remember the *Winter Squash Soup* recipe that I provided a few posts ago. I made it Tuesday and we all enjoyed it. Mother did suggest that the spices be cut back because she enjoys squash so well that she would've been happier to have really tasted the squash. Surprisingly, even I liked it. You know how I hate vegetables!
We are still scrambling. We're off visiting nursing homes as you read this. Still we have been granted a reprieve for a few days. Phew! I do hope that somehow they'll be able to keep Nan. I want her to stay where she's happy and where the staff has worked out most of the issues and they know her so well.

In the evenings, my mother and I work on getting her (my mother's) new home away from home together. A lot of work ahead, but it'll be nice once everything is settled.

So we're busy and I find myself missing you. I run through and usually stay just long enough to read. I'll be back... this is not a warning. (Mother thinks I've been quite hard on some of these nursing homes. Really? Where does she get these ideas?)

(Thank you for all the nice comments on yesterday's post. It was a lot of fun for me and my mom. Yes, one does use flour. Yes, we did do a hot water bath. Wow! Do all of you really peel toward yourselves? I should do a survey...)

HaVe A gReaT ThURsdAy!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lady Ashburnham and Her Fans

Mom is so cute that I couldn't choose just one

The story of Lady Ashburnham pickles is a New Brunswick one. You see Lady Ashburnham was from Fredericton, New Brunswick.  She fell in love with a British Lord. You can read that story *here* if you enjoy such things. We did.

This sort of pickle making was a weekend project. One can not possibly make Lady Ashburnham's in a day. I've been "after" my mother for a while to make them and last weekend was the time. My mother has made these nearly every summer/fall since I can remember.

Last autumn, you may remember, my mother was critically ill and not expected to live. I was standing in her basement looking at the neat row of Lady Ashburnham's on her pantry shelf when I began to cry. Somehow, as silly as it may seem, Lady Ashburnham's had become symbolic of all that my sister and I, our children, and my grandchildren were about to lose.

The good news is that the Lord intervened and we have Mother. Life is not all lollipops and rainbows for my mother by any stretch, but she is still with us and we are so very grateful.

Okay, enough of the background story as this is about Lady Ashburnham's and Mother is very serious about Lady Ashburnham's. She was quite shocked to discover that I thought it was all about taking pictures for my blog and even suggested that I didn't want to learn about this pickle making at all. Silly girl!

Day One:

1. The right color...a yellow cucumber indicates that it is ripe and a partially yellow cucumber is fine

2. The right size...large is excellent; otherwise, two for one if the cucumbers are small (some fine year, we'll work on quart measurements)

3. Sigh...just look at this improper peeling method! Try as I might, I can not get Mother to change her methods. She's always peeled toward herself and very cheekily says, "I haven't lost a finger yet."

4. Scoop the cucumber down to the solid flesh (its not yours). John had this fun job.

5. Slice into strips

6. Cut the strips into bite-sized chunks

7. A nice bowl full of both cucumbers and onions (I had the nasty job of chopping two quarts of onions.)

8. Adding the salt

9. Stirring well

Day Two:

1. Rinse salt from cucumber/onion mixture thoroughly

2. Add cider vinegar

3. Add the sugar

4. Powdered spices go into the sauce; celery seed and mustard seed are cooked with the cucumbers and onions

5. Sauce

6. You can see the celery seed and mustard seed with the cucumbers/onions

7. Sauce is added to the partially cooked cucumber/onion mixture after the sauce is partially thickened and continues simmering...

8. for an hour without reaching a boil

9. Labels ready

The final product. These pickles are a wonderful complement to casseroles, baked beans, hot dogs and hamburgers, and some people even make tartar sauce with them. 

Mother would like to add that we used an assortment of saved jars that were sterilized (she used a microwave method for the jars while boiling the lids in water on the stove.) The filled jars were given a hot water bath in the canning kettle. She thinks most people would prefer using regular canning jars. We would, too, but we're cheap frugal.

You will note that my mom went off script for this recipe, but then she's a pip the expert!

*Printable Recipe for Lady Ashburnham's*