jam mama (part 2)

Ten years ago almost to this very day I wrote a post on my blog which was untitled but included the words…..JAM MAMA……

“You should have seen small Grace
diving into the warm cup of jam
that I set out on the table,
with a loaf of soft white bread from the bakery.
She tore of big chunks of bread
and dipped the majority of it down
into the bright red jam. . . .
there is just nothing like that warm, strawberry taste
. . . .it’s heavenly.

She called me ‘jam-mama’.”
July 12, 2008

Ten years have come and gone……

Grace is 18 now and was at work (as a cashier downtown at the grocery store) yesterday when I walked up the road to “see if there were any raspberries left”.  I determined to really look and really pick every single good enough berry I could find.  This involved lots of bending over and looking underneath the tangle of vines and briars and taking my merry ol’ sweet time.

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I eventually came home with 6 cups.

Incidentally, these berries grow on the side of the road, free for the foraging!  I already have a gallon of them frozen in our chest freezer in the pantry.  Once they ripen, we have to go back every couple of days to pick some more until they are finally all done.  They are productive!

We have a small patch of wild raspberries over by the chicken coop, too, which the chickens love to jump up and eat off the cane.  Then they lay us the most lovely eggs out of appreciation.

The black-cap raspberries grow on the bank by our drive way and under the dead pine tree at the bottom of the yard by the pond.

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I always pick clean but you never know what little creatures may have taken a ride home with the berries.  So I dumped them out to look through them.

I put them in a pan and simmered them until they released all their juice.  I strained out the seeds, measured the juice (2 cups) and added them back to the pan with the same amount of sugar (2 cups).  Brought to a rolling boil for 3 minutes and then beaten with the mixer for another 3 minutes.  Done!  So easy, so satisfying.

I was given the recipe by my very own jam mama, Cindy.

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Jacob said the jelly would taste good on “that cake you made the other day” and Ethan suggested some other baked good and I said “How about homemade biscuits?” And he said YES PLEASE.

I made a double batch of biscuits and we all ate them up right away with the homemade jelly on top.

Everywhere I looked there were children grabbing  another and another biscuit, slathering it with butter and jelly, and walking away with it………

This morning my feet are sticking to the carpet and the floor.

such small creatures….still, so lovely

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This morning David and Caleb left for school on the bus and Ethan and Grace left together in Ethan’s new truck so Ethan could take Grace to the HS before he drove to work and that left Seth, Sarah, and Jacob still at home.  Then, Jacob left for work but texted me 10 minutes later saying, “I’m coming back, I forgot my I.D.”

He was not happy as he tore around the house (all 6 feet 2 inches of him) looking for it.  I finished up what I was doing and told Seth to keep an eye out for the bus so he wouldn’t miss it as I helped Jacob.  “He can’t find his I.D, Seth, do you know where it is?”  “I don’t even know WHAT it is,” he said.  “It’s his picture on a shoe-lace type necklace.”  “For work?”  “Yes”  “I didn’t know he had to have his picture taken for work…….”  Jacob stomped through the room again.  “I ALWAYS PUT IT ON MY DRESSER AND IT’S NOT THERE!”  He’s getting more and more steamed.

“Did you look underneath it?” says Seth……

A minute later I found Seth’s big brother Jacob on the floor looking under his dresser.  Lo and behold….there it was.

I ran up the stairs, “Seth, Seth!! you saved the day!  It was under the dresser!”

21 year old big brother Jacob was right behind me, very relieved, and we found 9 year old little brother Seth waiting for us, doing a slow clap and nodding his head up and down with a knowing smile, because he saved the day.

*****

Yesterday evening there was a house FULL of young people and as I was scrolling Facebook I saw a photo of a PINK praying mantis (young one) and it immediately made me want to go outside and look for insects to photograph.  It’s one of my favorite things to do at 6:00 on a Sunday evening when the house is super loud and crazy and my husband is away on a business trip and any other time, too, really.

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What shiny eyes you have, dragonfly.

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Can you imagine having antenna this long and graceful?  Did you take whiskers from a cat?

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I laugh at bugs because they are so smart.  As soon as they see me they *quick as a wink* hide underneath whatever leaf or grass they are perched upon.  It’s a great game of hide and seek.

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Look at it’s tiny black eye.  Just the tiniest of dots.

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buttercup pedals // heart

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This flower is about the size of a dime.  So lovely.  6 pedals with pointed ends of the loveliest shade of purple.  They grow on the tops of thick grass-like stalks and are a flower of my childhood.

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There is a bug underneath all that spit.

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Lovely red cloak

I had to twist around the stem to take the photo because he kept going behind the flower to hide from me.  Imagine spending time in a buttercup.

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butterflies and moths are impossible to get close to, I only got this photo because it was dead.

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It’s so beautiful!!!!  I bet he would be fun to draw.

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a couple of these photos will not contain an insect.

Yarrow is just coming into blossom.

Their whiteness looks so lovely in a sea of green grasses.  Their stalks are still nice and bendy and tossed back and forth in the wind in a very sea-like wavey way.

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mating bugs

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I admit this one gave me a creepy feeling.

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Teeny tiny spider and two teeny tiny black bugs.  Do they know they are being watched by a spider?

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“What big eyes you have, Grandmother!”

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I imagine this is one of those super-hero bugs wearing dark shades and a business suit and out to save the day *like Seth*.

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with pedals

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and without.

And all God’s people said……….

new lens in the great outdoors

Next month at this time I will be in Alaska with my friend Hannah.  Joanna suggested getting my hands on a fisheye lens so as to be better prepared for the gorgeous Alaskan spectacles of nature that I will be sure to see and want to photograph.

The lens came last week and as soon as I was able, I went outside for a long long walk and took photos of everything.  These are the ones that made the final cut:

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First off; it seemed fitting and right to take the first photo of the hens after I let them out of the coop that morning.  This one seemed especially interested in my new lens.

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And on I went; there are many varieties of ferns in the woods.

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Butterfly

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Strawberry Blossom

I must remember where I saw this so I can go back and eat the berries later.

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A lovely bunch of white violets.  All the violets were at their peak of loveliness in the woods (by the house they were done blooming) so they were a joy to see.

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Quaker Ladies//Bluets grow everywhere.

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Thanks to recent rains the outdoors has become a stunning shade of emerald green.

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Unfurling ferns

I was lying on the ground to take some of these photos.

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Dappled sunshine

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit

A favorite spring flower.

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I hung my jacket off a tree branch at the old beaver pond in the woods as I explored.  There was a water lily bud about to bloom that I will go back to look at soon.

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Please pardon some of the edges of my photos which is a hazard of the fish eye lens.  I am learning to be more careful about adjusting the lens so there are no shadows in the corners.  But this chair was found in the woods by my daughter and I a few weeks ago and it gave us a bit of a creepy feeling.  Has anyone ever silently sat here and watched us walk by?

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Standing up high on a boulder and admiring the stream.

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There were violets growing everywhere and it was about this point when I lost my lens cap and had to retrace my steps to find it again.

I had no pockets so I was putting it down my tucked in shirt, and when I bent over to take photos it fell out.

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I know I have a lot to learn.

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But these photos make me happy today.

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And I hope you liked them, too.

*****

I’m thankful I can go for walks like this without having to drive anywhere, I can just walk out the front door and be on my way.

It never gets boring, there is always something new to see.  New flowers blooming, insects, small creatures, birds, mushrooms, plants, water, pinecones, trees and bark, leaves, and so on……….

And always thoughts of God and the Creator of such good things.

“I think this is how we’re supposed

to be in the world–

present and in awe.”

Anne Lamott

 

 

 

 

 

 

sarah & mom blog post

“Set me a task in which I can put something of my very self,
and it is a task no longer;
it is joy; it is art.”
 Bliss Carman

We went for a walk together in the woods–all her idea–and then I found a paper in her backpack from the field trip she took to a local wildlife sanctuary.

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What did I hear?

“I could hear water, the crunching leaves, and birds chirping.”

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What did I see?

“I saw, trees, and a squirl, and deer poop, and pine cones, and birds, and vernal pools.

fullsizeoutput_5484We found a bone so we slipped it on her “adventure stick.”

What did I smell?

“I could smell skunk cabbage, and a fresh nature smell.”

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How did I feel?

“I felt rain, and the cool air, and the cruching leaves under my feet.”

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brisk jaunt

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We had a deep deep freeze last week and now…..it’s 58 degrees.  Oh it’s just so lovely outside, the air is mild and moist, slippery mushy snow is covering the ground, a mix of warm air and cold snow adds a misty fog to the atmosphere.  Grace and I couldn’t resist a brisk jaunt.

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On school mornings, David’s alarm wakes him and he then goes downstairs to his brother’s room to wake him up.  Their bus arrives at 6:30 and I often don’t wake up until after they leave.  Seth and Sarah wake up next and I’m always awake and busy with them getting their breakfast and packing snacks.  Well, this morning to my surprise Caleb appeared from his bedroom half asleep.  He and David had both overslept and missed their bus.  I drove them to school, but had to wait until the digger got out of the way…..the town was digging out the beaver dam yet again.  A deep dark cold watery mix is what is left of the solidly frozen beaver pond.

Ice impressively thick and just the gentlest of blues……

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She threw in a small boulder of ice.

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Ice thickness

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fullsizeoutput_4fd9Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!

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Be not dismayed whatever betide
God will take care of you
Beneath His wings of love abide
God will take care of you

God will take care of you
Through everyday o’er all the way
He will care for you
God will take care of you.

***

beaver ice

On a very nippy morning, after a freezing night, the town came and dug up the beaver dam, and when the water receded, an inch thickness of ice was left suspended in the grasses and bushes.

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(I needed a human to show the scale of the ice in my photos, and my obliging son took his “modeling” job quite seriously. )

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The work of beavers and ice hanging off stumps.

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All the twigs on the ground were stripped of their bark by beavers.

***

I thought the children would have lots more fun with the ice, but overnight the temperatures rose, a melting rain fell, and it all went away……….

 

 

beavers near my house

 

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The woods have been extra interesting lately with revived beaver activity near our place.  Did you know that beavers are huge rodents?  Yes indeedy, and they are on my list of “favorite animals”.  How could anyone be afraid of a beaver or upset by a beaver? They are practically harmless.  They’re too busy working to be a bother to anyone.   After you see a photo of a baby beaver you’ll never be the same again.  Those tails!

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Anyone walking on our street could see the new beaver dam that I first noticed last week.  It’s where the stream goes under the road, so obvious.  It must be a favored spot because I remember years ago they made one in the same location, and the town dug it out.  Consequently, if I hear a loud truck these days, I run to the window and look to see if the town is digging the dam out of the stream like they did last time, with my heart filled with fears and woe.  I imagine all the work that the beavers put into their dam, all the gatherings of twigs, branches, grasses, stones, and mud.  Everything gathered and collected by a large rodent!  Imagine!

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Here is the most precious sight; of a lone stone on top of the dam, placed oh so carefully by a beaver.

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Well, and then I discovered ANOTHER ONE, this one is deeper into the woods in a place where no heavy truck or digging equipment can go.  My heart is lighter as I ponder the beavers that live near my house.

*******

This morning I was cleaning the kitchen and there was a pot of burnt peas in the sink.  They were burnt because Sarah and I were sewing pants for her doll and forgot about the peas.  (True story) So I left them in the sink until this morning, and then I walked them to the chicken coop.  Chickens are partial to burnt peas.  Then I continued on my way, looking at how the ponds were filled up nicely after two days of rain.  When I got to the stream I could hear the beaver again.  Oh joy!  It was about 8 am in the morning.  I rushed to the house to get my camera, a towel to sit upon, a breakfast in a sandwich bag consisting of cheese, raw mushrooms, and trail mix, and I also put on a pair of jeans because I was still in my pajamas.  Then I went down and sat.  Very soon I heard a loud splash and then another one.  Dang, I thought.  There are at least two and they know I’m here.  I sat and sat.  Then, finally my dreams (beaver dreams) came true.  I saw the first one.  I saw the second one.  And then, one more.

The third one allowed me to take its photo.

It was very hard, as it was behind branches and leaves, but I did the best I could.

It was silent the entire time.  Silkily silent.

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“A beaver’s forepaws are quite dexterous.  They can fold individual leaves into their mouths.”  Backyard and Beyond by Edward Duensing

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gliding through the water….see the glimpse of the famous tail?

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I encourage each and every one of you to visit your local library, go to the children’s section, and find every book you can about the beaver and check them out.  Read them this weekend, look at photos that are actually clear and nice, and be amazed by this animal.

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Oh I forgot to mention that this morning I also found their lodge.  It’s by the stream under the old dead pine tree on our property.  The first two beavers I scared ended up swimming toward the lodge and then they dived under the water to “go home and hide”, from me, presumably.

I found the perfect place to sit and stalk them, so conveniently at the bottom of our lawn, on a bank in the briars near the pond.  No one can see me.  I just have to remember to shut the dog in the house or he will stand and bark and scare everything away.

In fact, as I write this, I am filled with longing to throw the computer aside and run back down there.  Typing as fast as I can…….

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After many photo attempts, this one also eventually vanished under the water to the lodge.  “Goodbye for now” I said.  I sat for a little while longer and then got up as I was freezing in certain areas, namely my behind, hands, and nose.  I ended up walking down the edge of the stream, through the woods to the bird forest, through the dam field, into the woods again, across the rushing stream (very exciting) back across the field, down the little dirt road to the main road, and up it to home again.

I finished cleaning my kitchen and then had time to blog.

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I saw this sweet bird and several more just like it.  Autumn is nice because everything is going to seed, there are berries, too, and the bird activity increases as they fly about looking for food.

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See the spot of yellow?

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I discovered a crab apple tree.  They were at the end of their peak but maybe next year I can harvest some and make jelly.  I did eat one. . . . .it was nice and tart.

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reflections in the water

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One last beaver quote:

“When alarmed, a beaver dives under water, its tail slapping the surface as a warning to other beavers.  But in sum, beavers live unhurried lives.”

Ah, we can learn from the beaver, can’t we?

this morning

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(woolly bear caterpillar on the road)

Amanda came over for a few hours this morning.  She brought her dog Lloyd.  The three of us went on a nice walk together.

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The air was crisp and clean.  The kind of morning when you want to breath deep.

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my sister ~ my friend

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scenes from the neighborhood

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“For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands”
~Christina Rossetti

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“How beautifully leaves grow old.  
How full of light and color are their last days.”  ~John Burroughs

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My sister almost stepped on a lizard!

I was so thrilled and promptly took photos from every angle.

I looked it up when we got home and discovered it was a “Spotted Salamander” and Connecticut’s largest salamander.

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Just look at the spots!

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Maybe it was trying to find a little warmth on the road?  But the road is a very unsafe place to be, so I saved its little life by putting it in the leaves on the edge of the woods.

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heading back home

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I made pumpkin cookies this morning, too, from a 1972 Pennsylvania State Grange cookbook.

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If anyone knows Mrs. Robert Conaway tell her I used sunflowers seeds instead of nuts, and I also included one egg.  They were delicious.