Monday, November 19, 2012

It's Not My Turn

Since it's not my turn this year, we will be doing Thanksgiving Lite. Not in terms of gratitude, though certainly in terms of food preparation. I'd love to be making these sweet little place cards for my dining room table, but there's no need when there are only three!

I asked John what he needed to see on his Thanksgiving table and he said, "A cup of coffee and a piece of pie." If only I had known how easy this could be! =)

I'm noticing that it is very quiet in Blogdom as those of us in the States get ready for Thanksgiving. I'll be joining my brethren and sistren in the all quiet department until after the holiday. The rest of you, keep those Christmas fires burning until we can join you!

Please have the most wonderful of Thanksgivings filled with the meaning that has attended this holiday from the earliest days of its history and with family surrounding you.

And may there be a cup of coffee and a piece of pie!

Love Vee

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Strength for the Journey

May you be made strong with all the strength which comes from his glorious power, so that you may be able to endure everything with patience. And with joy give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to have your share of what God has reserved for his people in the kingdom of light. ~Colossians 1:11–12

Love Vee

Friday, November 16, 2012

Old Book

On a blustery Saturday afternoon, in an unheated flea market, I found an old book that looked promising. It was on a shelf titled "Maine Authors." The title: The Old Ashburn Place. The author: Margaret Flint. The setting: a homestead in Maine. The novel: A $10,000 prize winner.Would you buy it? Would you buy it if it were about your own locality?

I am always looking for strong and charming descriptions of home.

It really doesn't matter that this storyline is odd and awkwardly told. It is one week from Christmas on one page and on the next, it is spring. On one page a character is wailing and pacing and on the next she's been killed in a wreck. And so the reader lurches through a lifetime in a mere 299 pages.  

Sometimes this sort of writing can mean that the author is unwilling to "go there" or doesn't know how to tell the truly difficult bits — death, sorrow, even joy. So logical progression is definitely not the book's strong point. Not to mention that this novel is about a betrayal because of a love affair, yet it is not compellingly told. I do not make a habit of reading about love affairs, but really it is tame... very... and in the old manner... or perhaps the current manner... the woman is all to blame and the man is nearly blameless. (The use of ellipses often means that this writer herself doesn't know how to "go there.") 

I'm going to share a few paragraphs that I enjoyed since there were moments when I knew that Margaret was "writing Maine." That and it doesn't take too much to make me happy.

The house, as it had been developed by alterations and additions throughout the years, was typical of the Maine countryside—low-posted, with two dormer windows on the front, facing east, a broad doorway with fanlights at the sides and above, and a central chimney to serve the main part of the dwelling. On either side of the front door were two small, twelve-paned windows, and there were two more below and one above on each gabled end. You could see at a glance that the Ashburn place had good rooms upstairs, under that broad and gently sloping roof. There was a L running back at right angles to the house, and as high as the house part way, then dropping off to a low, narrow, covered passage which connected the milk room and woodshed with the barn. You could walk from the parlor clear to the cattle tie-up without going outdoors, which was a comfort in bad weather. 

It was fall again—time for getting in the corn and apples and garden truck, time for cutting the hemlock banking for the house, for putting in the storm windows, for unpacking the woolens, time for tightening up generally, anticipating the cold to come, time for fires at night.
We still see some of the old farmhouses wearing hemlock bankings or fir boughs around the foundation to keep in the heat. I usually bank my home with snow once it falls deep enough.

Dinner tasted good. It was a sort of pick-up meal, since Elsie had been baking all the morning, and scrubbing, and cleaning up generally. They had some baked potatoes, and fried salt pork, and slabs of cheese, a dish of mustard pickle, fresh apple sauce, sliced bread, and a big plate of warm, sugared doughnuts, and of course the pot of strong, bitter tea.
That storeroom was always a beautiful sight in the winter, packed full with the fruits of fields and orchard—cabbages, root-crops, apples; barrels of salt pork and of cider; crocks of pickles and mincemeat; two swing-shelves suspended from the overhead rafters and laden with glass jars and jelly tumblers, all neatly labeled and dated. 
Can't go wrong with descriptions of food! ☺

The blaze of autumn glory that had been running like fire over the hills for weeks past was now rather dimmed; its smoky richness lay smouldering, drowned in the melting frost as the sun penetrated the woods and underbrush... The horse was climbing steadily, and from the hilltop Charlie looked off toward the northwest where Mount Washington was a pale blue shape clean cut against a paler sky.
You could see clear to Mount Washington, and follow the course of the river for miles. As you got closer to Stafford's place, and turned to look back, that view would hit you right in the eye. It was almost too much to believe... "Nice view ye got here."
"Think so?" Stafford had said. "Well, folks say 'tis. Can't say I ever noticed it."
Charlie had got the onions and gone home. But he got more than onions. He had seen so plainly just how much a man depended on his own state of mind for enjoyment in life. Stafford could have had that good feeling of exaltation any day in the week by just opening his eyes to the view, but he'd never done it. And his doing it wouldn't have hurt the onion crop a bit either!
Good use of local landmarks — from my home and on a hilltop, Mount Washington lies due west. Like Stafford, can't say that I always pay notice.
One rainy day he took his tools and went down the road to mend a break in the fence. There were usually about a dozen such fiddlin' jobs waiting for a rainy day, when it was too wet to work in the fields. The softly drizzling rain was nice to be out in, and there was something different, intimate, about the chirp of the birds and the rustle of water-laden leaves. Why couldn't a man just grow roots, and so be at peace? Or like the animals, run nature's course and not keep tearing his shirt over it? Look at all the little lives and homes, all around him, beautiful, entire, and clean. It seemed to take a man, with his notions about advancement and civilization, to step in and cover things with smut. Man's dirty cities—man's dirty machinery—man's dirty morals.
At least our hero has the good sense to be ashamed.

So my dollar spent on a book published in 1935 and long fallen from favor, turned out to be a little blessing after all.

Have a lovely Friday...

Love Vee

Thursday, November 15, 2012

More About Vanilla

Two weeks ago, I discussed making vanilla *here.* There were many wonderful comments that day with lots of terrific ideas. One was the following...

Vanilla sugar! Mildred of Maple Lane mentioned it and then, when I couldn't find a link at her blog, she sent me *this one*. Yes, I am highly suggestible. Please mention nothing about jumping from a bridge. 

So now I have a batch of vanilla sugar going; I'll let you know if it's worth the bean and the effort in two weeks. My batch of vanilla is looking fantastic, getting darker every day, so I know that it will be ready in time for Christmas baking, IF I do any Christmas baking.

Another thing, I froze the leftover vanilla beans. Not good. Not good at all. Neither freeze nor refrigerate vanilla beans. Keep them in sealed glass jar in a cool, dark place. Now I need another bottle of vodka to rescue my frozen beans.

Love Vee

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Update on Sam

Thank you so very much for all your good thoughts and prayers for Sam. He spent an extra night in the hospital this time because of pain levels, though he is waking in his own bed this morning as did his mom who spent those three nights in the hospital with him.

We were there last evening when he suggested that we all play a game of Old Maid. Let's just say that he and I should never attempt Poker. He's so cute and funny: "I have a very nice card right there on the left." "No, no, not that one." "I don't have the Old Maid. Really I don't." Doesn't it just seem wrong to break a leg and then get stuck with the Old Maid, too?

Closing comments today so that you may read and scoot. You've done so much already.

A reminder to keep visiting at Sand Flat Farm to see where Vickie and Tony went after they left us. You'll love the photography and the beauty of a New England autumn.

Love Vee

Monday, November 12, 2012


That's how the weekend went...

What began in bike rides, walks, and Hide 'n Seek games all Saturday afternoon ended with my grandson's breaking his leg again Saturday evening. (You may remember that he first broke it last March.) Sometimes life is just plain hard. The very thing that was supposed to be the cure turned out to be the cause this time. One of the screws that was used to put the first break back together caused the second break — nearly all the way through the bone and just below the old break. I certainly hope that those doctors know what they're doing. (Sometimes a gal has her doubts.) This time they've used shorter screws and more of them.

For years the pastor used to preach an ongoing message about how everyone is connected in the Body of Christ. I can tell you what you already know, when one person in the family is hurting, the entire family is hurting. Poor little brother is so somber and sad. He couldn't give it words, but agreed with ours..."You are sad that Sam broke his leg" and he whispered, "again." Sigh.

So the little guy and his family start over from scratch. Did I already say that sometimes life is hard? Yes, oh yes, we appreciate any and all prayers on his behalf.

Love Vee

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Video Tribute to Veterans

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. ~John Stuart Mill

Believe it or not, this was played in church this morning. I found it a rousing tribute.

May God bless our Veterans!

Love Vee

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Meeting the Sand Flat Farm Folks

One day late last summer, Vickie of Sand Flat Farm wrote to say that she and her husband were going to take a bookend journey to the Northeast after their West coast trip last fall. Would John and I like to meet? Sure we would! And so we did on a foggy day in October. We found ourselves back on Rt. 302 because Vickie and Tony were traveling through Maine to New Hampshire and adventures beyond and I was trying to keep them on a scenic route.

John and I have found that meeting bloggers is a pretty easy thing as it's not as if you have never had a connection before. Vickie and I have been chatting nearly since she began blogging away back in 2008.

Now Vickie is not at all as I expected her to be, other than being beautiful and a sweet soul. It must be all that "Keep yer skirt down" stuff. She was perfectly quiet and demure, dear and charming. I was having trouble reconciling the
snake-killing, golf ball-retrieving, gopher-shooting Texas gal I'd come to know with the lady at our table. =) In fact, when I later reminded John that Vickie was that gal, he was shocked. Wish I had reminded him earlier! We could have really jazzed up the conversation then. Her husband Tony is one of those charming men who seems larger than life and who is an excellent spokesman for Texas and the good old U S of A.  We felt so comfortable talking with them both and felt as if we'd known them a long time.

So what did we talk about?  A bit of everything from children, grandchildren, parents, pets, homes, drilling, other bloggers, cooking, blogging, and anything else we could cram into our time. Vickie tells me that if John and I should ever make it to Texas she can cook us an amazing chicken fried steak with a nice crust and delicious white cream gravy. Oh my! Tempting, very tempting...

I received two gifts...I've actually received many gifts from Vickie that I have shared before *here*, which you see often upon my wall. Vickie is a wonderful artist. My recent gifts are two from Maine and the other from Texas. I've been reading them this week. Nothing is as comforting as reading the Word of God and cookbooks!

After a picture taking session, I pointed out some red chairs that I had taken a photo of a few years ago when we met our first blogger—Karen and her husband Ken.  Vickie was quite convinced that she could get a shot of those chairs even though she'd heard the call to "board the train." Leaving the men chatting, she first walked down closer to the lake, then turned back and headed down the sidewalk for a closer shot. "Vickie, time to go..." She turned and said, "Coming." Then she looked at me and said, "Doesn't that sound just like a kid to say 'coming' all the while walking away?" Made me laugh.

If you want to check out Vickie's story of our time together, you'll find it *here.* She's got me cropped within an inch of my life, which I so appreciate. Thanks, Vickie! You'll enjoy getting to know this charming, snake-killing, golf ball- retrieving, gopher-shooting, keep yer skirt down Texas Gal.

Say, Vickie, I found a sweet little yellow house for ya that day!

Love Vee

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Our Destiny

Those disappointments were our destiny I guess. My opinion is that our long national nightmare has only just begun.

Taking time off indefinitely.

Love Vee

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting 2012

If you believe the disappointments—if you believe the disappointments in the last few years are a detour and not our destiny, then I'm asking for your vote. ~Mitt Romney
Last night was so beautiful around here. My daughter, who as I've mentioned, has been very active through this political season, had been to a few engagements yesterday (and even had to borrow some of my signs). Well, I'll just show you instead of wasting time on words.

Oh that's not it... This is my daughter and Charlie Summers who is running against a King. Charlie is fiscally responsible and a Conservative whom we'd love to see go to Washington. It would end decades of RINOs from Maine serving there. It is more than time! 

And this is how dear daughter looked at the end of her busy day having just returned my sign to its rightful spot. Think freezing. See that one little rose? Think popsicle. I do believe that it is truly the last rose of the season; although, that rose bush has surprised me all autumn long.

We only have sunsets and these colors in this season of the year. I'm hoping that tonight we'll have another and that, tomorrow night, we'll have another and the night after that... 

Many blessings as you head out to vote — if you live in the U.S.A. 

Love Vee

Monday, November 5, 2012

Calming Pastimes

We're all very relaxed here at the Haven today. How're you doing? 

Usually, I find that napping works well to pass the time. This works especially well if one is under a certain amount of stress, which nearly everyone in this country is feeling lately. 

Today, thanks to spending some time in Blogdom yesterday, specifically over there rocking along with Linds, I have been crocheting. (Oh Great! I just went to get the link and Linds thinks that she is posting on this very thing again today. She even mentioned a nap. Please go visit her to see what these creations are really supposed to look like.) 

I started with the yarn stars that Linds linked to and ended with crochet thread stars that I Googled. Lots of patterns. I have a few clinkers; I just carry on; it's not rocket science. Perhaps these will be made into a garland for my Christmas tree.

Say, has anyone tried using this kind of yarn above? I lasted about five minutes and concluded that it'll make lovely snowballs in a bowl by the door.

Speaking of feels as if it could. 

Love Vee

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake. ~Victor Hugo
Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.
~I Corinthians 16:13 (The Message)

Love Vee

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Before the Storm

Last week was window washing day. And, though I do help, you know, between taking photos, most of this falls on John. I try to make it as fun for him as I can!

Doesn't everyone wash windows just before a hurricane arrives? In our case, it also meant the transoms on the garage and the garage doors.

After an entire year, I'm still in love with my kitchen window. It was especially lovely when we used to have sun shining through the golden leaves just beyond the row of pines. Perhaps tomorrow the sun will return; in a year, the golden leaves will.

Raggedy pot of rosemary soaking in some weak sun.

One of the last pretty views of the neighborhood before the storm.

Have a wonderful weekend! Will you be washing windows?

Love Vee

Friday, November 2, 2012

Four Things

That's right. I have four things to share today. I feel as if it's Show and Tell on a Monday Morning in the little brick schoolhouse down the way. I live a stone's throw from my first schoolhouse. Someday, I must post about that school.

Last night I finished up the afghan I was working on for the back of the sofa. It's just a giant granny square. One could use any granny square pattern that appeals; mine is very basic. That sofa was starting to look like a black hole... Now John tells me that we may not be ready for Christmas, but we'll surely be ready for Hanukkah.


Besides, it rather matches the morning sky. My wooden salad bowl on the right there works beautifully for containing whatever ball of yarn I'm working with allowing the ball to slip around a bit without rolling away so that the yarn comes along easily.


This is my sister's table runner. It was mailed late last week before Sandy blew in. Sis doesn't have it yet nor does she have any mail at all as mail deliveries have been suspended for now.


Have been making my own vanilla for about five years now. Vanilla beans are outrageously expensive when purchased in the grocery store. You can see that the bottle I'm working with there only had two pieces of bean and so is very anemic. It should contain one bean for every ⅓ cup of vodka. Recently, when visiting Brenda, she said that vanilla beans could be purchased inexpensively at Amazon. My eyes lit up. Now I'm in the vanilla making business again.


Here are my trick or treating grands. They made a cute zebra and a cute lion, though I had no idea of the significance. Apparently, they are Alex and Marty or Marty and Alex from the Madagascar movie. Here's one Nonni who must brush up on current childhood culture.

Are you up on current culture?

Love Vee

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hello November...

I've been waiting for you a long, long time. And that's all I'll say about that. Besides, this outgoing October was, with precious few exceptions, a most miserable month. Most. And the agony of it will be with so many for quite some time to come.

My sister describes her hometown on Long Island as a "war zone:" no electricity, no deliveries of gas or food, no stoplights, long hours at the hospital where she works and the streets treacherous with traffic and no stoplights. She described taking all right turns to finally get to work because she dared not take a left. The wail of sirens is continual and the hum of generators constant.

Let us say a prayer for the weary who are putting in double shifts for days on end...the caretakers, the police and fire departments, the mayors, the utility workers. Sigh. I feel like going back to bed just fretting about it. And the fact of it is, other than opening my checkbook and praying, there is nothing I can do. I know that many are opening their homes and giving what they have to those without electricity or food or the opportunity to take a hot shower. God bless them. The knitting together of a community becomes so important in times like these. I am convinced that when this thing is "over" that each city, each town, each neighborhood will be the stronger for having lived it together.

John tells a story of the Ice Storm in the Northeast and Canada back in 1998. Many people were without power for up to a month...all of January...the coldest month of the year. It was brutal. John was trying to keep a number of his clients afloat by keeping their generators going and getting gas delivered and groceries and such things. Most of the people were elderly and he was very concerned for them. One day, he arrived at a home to find the Mr. in bed sick and the Mrs. on the floor of the living room rocking back and forth. John feared that she was right on the edge so he went quickly across the room and sat down on the floor with her and hugged her and told her that everything was going to be all right.

She didn't lose her mind. She is well and whole today and, understandably, has a special place in her heart for John.

That's what caring does, it allows us to walk beside and to encourage and to say, "It will be all right."

I found this quote at Susy's

 Start where you are.
    Use what you have.
        Do what you can.

Love Vee

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Silence Woke Me

All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.
Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about?

Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea,
By, on the highway, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he.                          
By at the gallop he goes, and then
By he comes back at the gallop again

So there I was lying in my bed and all I could think of was this old rhyme by Robert Louis Stevenson. It actually sounded more like a freight train than a gallop. I was finally able to sleep and was wakened early this morning by the silence.

"Sparkle City" is still here as are we. My sister's car did not fare quite so well as a tree fell on it. She says that that is preferable to a tree falling into the house as some of her fellow nurses had happen to them.

We are continuing to pray for those who were directly in Sandy's path and who will be dealing with her today.

I am closing comments so that I may take a breather from the computer today as I was pretty much glued to it yesterday. I'll be visiting to see how you are, though!

Love Vee

Monday, October 29, 2012

Folk Art Print Winner

~a name waiting to be drawn~

Yes! We have a winner of a folk art print from Pigment of Your Imagination and she is the incomparable Niki at Rural Writings! Niki chose a wintry scene, a Christmas one. Once she does her post on it, I'll send you all over to see. Thank you so much, Catherine, for your sweet gift! Congratulations, Niki!

And we could leave this post at that except I am too much of a chatterbox so let us carry on for a bit.

Over the weekend, I was poking about in the garage attic where I found this old Allen's Toffee tin. It was filled with all the things you see on the right of the photo above, which are food coloring, flavorings, molds, and the recipe for my mother's famous Hard Candy. This was an annual Christmas event that she and my youngest niece, formerly my Boston niece, now my New York City niece, did together.

Thing is, that tin didn't formerly hold all those treasures; it used to hold cookies and baked goods. That was my childhood cookie jar! So out the stuff went on its ear into a lesser tin and a way too small one at that. Oh the washing I had to do to get the food coloring out and the old Allen's tin cleaned...the water ran blue for a very long time.

Then I began to get a pang...that tin represented something very special to my niece as well. I have remedied it, I hope, by purchasing the owl tin on the left. It's large enough to hold everything and it reminds me of the owls that my niece likes so well. It'll be a little gift for her the next time I see her. Gifts of sweet memories are the best of all. Of course, where she will keep it in that small NYC apartment...

~the lid~ 

A better representation can be found *here.*

We've been trying to figure out what the lid depicts. It doesn't look like Parliament or Buckingham Palace. Anyone know?

Hope that all are weathering the storm well. We have rain and slight wind gusts. Nothing major. Still praying for a fizzle.

Take care today...

Love Vee

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Coral Leaves~Mosaic Monday

Though I still have a few outdoor plants, they're looking a bit peaked. I've turned my attention to the leaves. What beautiful colors I've found. There's something about the corals on this bush, the light red of the oak leaves, and the coppers that make me smile. I had to document as I doubt that there'll be any leaves left in a day or two.

Thinking of all those in Hurricane Sandy's path including Mary at Little Red House. Stay safe!

Love Vee

Sorting Through the Things on the Agenda

If you have time today, I can not recommend *this message* from David Jeremiah highly enough. It'll be 45 minutes well spent and easily listened to while spending time visiting blogs or writing emails. It is meant for an Evangelical Christian audience, but if you're curious, I think it works for everybody. Okay, I'll stop cranking...

Thinking of and praying for all who have been or will be affected by Hurricane Sandy.

A blessed Sunday to you!

Love Vee

Scripture graphic source: Abby's Little Birdie Blessings