ambling


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“Sarah, Sarah come back!”  I cried.

But it was too late.

She was gone……..out the door and down the steps to celebrate the weather.

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Seth wanted to know if there would be a snow day.

“NO” we said.

It was just the first snow and it was only in the air, with no accumulation on the ground.

Off to school they went, and off to run errands I went.

…….. back home with enough time to do housework, build a fire, and read.

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P L A N T S

DSC_0764“We need, above all things, to slow down and get ourselves to amble through life instead of to rush through it.” ― Alan Watts

DSC_0771“A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.” — Einstein

DSC_0778“…..happiness and comfort do not depend on the wealth of this world. The things of the world will not satisfy the desires of a soul.”  Matthew Henry

fullsizeoutput_5c69“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive; to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” — Marcus Aurelius

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A  L I T T L E  M U S I C

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M O R E  T H A N  O N E  C A T

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O N E  G O O D  B O O K

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C R A C K L E S & O W L S

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Honey Cinnamon Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • GLAZE:
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons water
  • Additional toasted chopped walnuts, optional

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil, honey and egg until well blended. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; gradually beat into sugar mixture. Stir in 1 cup walnuts.
  • Spread into a greased 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown (edges will puff up). Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • For glaze, in a small bowl, mix confectioners’ sugar, mayonnaise, vanilla and enough water to reach desired consistency; spread over top. If desired, sprinkle with additional walnuts. Let stand until set. Cut into bars. Refrigerate leftovers.
Editor’s Note

To toast nuts, bake in a shallow pan in a 350° oven for 5-10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

**RECIPE FROM TASTE OF HOME MAGAZINE
notes:  next time I will use slightly less oil (maybe replace half with applesauce.)
             I did not toast any nuts.

 

nancy drew books

When I was around 10 years old my Grandma brightened up my entire world by giving me a set of Nancy Drew books, which I absolutely loved to read.  I got so I would read one a day….all summer long…the summer I was ten.

I love how as an adult you remember things you did as a kid and think, “I still do that!!”  I HATE endings, I hate finishing things that are extra-special.  Most of the time you just have to go ahead and end, but sometimes you have a choice and just can’t.  For example, I read Winnie the Pooh to my son when he was little and I never read him the last chapter because I just couldn’t.  Well, I never read the last Nancy Drew book from Grandma, either………I never will.  It would be over.

I kept them all on a bookshelf in my bedroom,  in an orderly row.  My baby brother Isaac went through a stage when he would deliberately crawl in my bedroom just to pull himself up and pull all big sister’s nice books down in a heap.  I wonder if we have a photo of that.  I would have to put them all back again every single day, half annoyed and half forgiving because he was so cute and I loved him.

I had neglected the books.  I had all but forgotten their existence.

BUT THEN.  My brother David went to a huge antique store in Savannah, Georgia and sent me these photos:

(by the way it feels so good to be seen and known and loved by family–by Grandma years ago, and by Dave in sending me these photos bc he remembered I had them)

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The memory of Nancy Drew books came back to me as I thought of how amazed I was when Grandma gave me the set, how I treasured them and read them.  I would study the titles and the pictures on each cover.  I loved the size and feel of the books in my hands and their nice hard yellow covers.  I thought how I’ve kept them for 32 years now…..but not on shelves.  Shelf space for Nancy Drew had run out years ago and other books had become more important because life was busy with raising seven children and I rarely had time to read anything but children’s books to them, and no time to enjoy my own collection of books, much less the ones from my own childhood.  I like to enjoy my books by looking at them, pulling one out to look through, putting it back, rearranging them, putting them in neat orderly rows.  Feeling that they were mine, all mine.

I texted him back:  “When I was 10 Grandma gave me the whole set.  And I read one every day.  I should put them on shelves instead of in boxes.”

I’ve been cleaning and cleaning the basement for days.  And as I did, I came across some of the books!

Yesterday, Dave (my son) had an appointment and afterwards had to go back to school, but, “It would be WRONG if we were right next to Goodwill and didn’t run inside quick.”

WE FOUND A BOOKCASE!  It was made of pine (light enough for me to carry myself) and only cost 10 dollars.

Once books are on a shelf no one notices the shelf anymore so any ol’ bookcase of any quality (as long as it is sturdy) will do for books.  When I showed it to Rich he asked how much I paid and I said thirty and he said “good” and then I laughed and said “IT WAS TEN!!!!” to surprise him and impress him.

It was wonderful to gather up my old Nancy Drews out of a dark lonely box and put them all in one spot for the first time in 20 years.  I opened them up to see my name written inside.  I admired the covers.

There were a BUNCH MISSING.

This morning I wanted to blog and could not find my computer anywhere.  David uses it more than I do these days so I kept muttering his name as I went from room to room looking for MY computer.  Ugh.  I felt just as annoyed as I did when I found all my books on the floor.  Boys!  Brothers and sons.  cute.  loved.

I remembered that he had gone to the garage where we have a work out room upstairs.  He goes over there every day to exercise and he is very proud of his resulting muscles.  “Maybe he took my computer to the work out room,” I thought.  I don’t like going to the garage and mainly stay away.  But I tromped on over to look and… since I was there… I looked in the storage closet and FOUND A WHOLE BUNCH MORE OF MY BOOKS.

Thanks Dave (1) for inspiring me and thanks Dave (2) for misplacing my computer and forcing me into the garage this morning!  It’s all because of you two that I’m getting this silly little project done!

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I carried them back to the house in this basket.

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Getting ready to add them to the shelf.

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the shelf I bought at goodwill for ten dollars is already filled up

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I wrote down the ones I am still missing.  It’s like a treasure hunt!  I bet they’re around here somewhere!

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the beautiful blue of an autumn sky

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Samantha cat has a sore paw.

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Seth

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David was using this tool to retrieve Seth’s football from the pond.  He wasn’t being nice. He knew he had to do it because he was the one who kicked it in.

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When he saw me up on the porch taking his photo with my zoom lens he did what he loves to do…….

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…..take his shirt off and show off those muscles from his daily work-outs.

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I have three brothers and these five sons. (photo from 8 years ago)

Why am I crying?  I guess it’s because I’m happy and life is beautiful…and fleeting.

newbery books

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I plan on writing more blog posts about these books.

*****

A few months ago I made it my goal to collect and read all the Newbery books.

MY COLLECTION SO FAR

I had them in a smaller bookcase which quickly filled up until I couldn’t squeeze another book on it.  Last night I moved them into the shelves behind the sectional in the livingroom.  I wonder if I will run out of room there, too.  At first I was organizing the gold medal winners in order and then the silvers after that, but I decided to put them all (golds and silvers) together in order of year.

It was utter foolishness to think I would be able to read them all in one summer.  I remember the day I decided to make it my goal to read every winner and every honor book.  I was standing in front of a shelf of a select number of them, in Barnes and Noble.  The display was paltry compared to what it could have been.  “If I could make a display of Newbery books” …… it would be as impressive as the number and subject matter of the books themselves.  There are hundreds.  And stories for every kind of reader.  Even graphic novels, now.  Anyway, based on what I saw at Barnes and Noble, I had no real idea of how many books there truly were in this category of “Newbery Medal books”.

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Books to make you laugh, books to make you cry, books to read in one day, books that will take a week or more, books to write down quotes from, books to immediately recommend to your son who also loves cats, light-hearted, deep, somber, oh, so many.

(By the way, there are quite a few of them with a cat involved!  A Newbery cat category–will be a future blog post, I’m sure.)

It will take me years to read them all.  And just think, every year there are more added to the ranks.

As I search for them in used bookstores (can you imagine how much it would cost to buy them all NEW?) I find myself getting to know the books, and the authors.  I feel pride for the authors that were/are repeat winners.  What an honor!  Did you know Laura Ingalls Wilder won FIVE honors (the most of anyone)?  But no Gold medal?

I love the “one hit Newbery wonder” author (did they empty themselves out in one book?  Then I want to read that book!!) and am in awe of repeat winners.  Their names are familiar to us now, Avi, Kate DiCamillo, Eleanor Estes, Elizabeth George Speare, Scott O’Dell, and on and on the list goes.  Check out wikipedia for more information.

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I couldn’t possibly collect all of the books without the help of a printed list of all the books from year 1922-to present with me.  So off I go, with a three-ring-binder under my arm.  As I find a book, I circle it on the list.  You wouldn’t believe how many double copies I have even with my list *that I am now religious about bringing with me at all times*.  I’m particuarly excited when I get “a complete set”,  (the medal winner and the honors for that particular year.)  My current complete sets are years 1944, 1977-81, 1990, 1995, 1998, 1999, and 2003.

I counted up how many I have left to find:  201

And I thought I would read them in one summer!!!!  (long laughter)

Short Reviews of the Titles I Have Read so Far, (humble, ordinary reader of 42 years of age, stay at home Mom, & lover of books.)

Shen of the Sea (short stories, with flashes of brilliance but dragged)
Gay-Neck  (unfortunate title in this day and age, but wise.  Took me to another place. Pigeons, quoteable quotes)
Hitty, Her first Hundred Years  (cute, illustrated, boring, I love my red covered copy that I found for free at the coffee shop “take a book/leave a book”)
Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze (wise, character building)
Caddie Woodlawn (based on true story, homey, family-centered)
Roller Skates (absolutely LOVED)
Pecos Bill (fun to read out loud to your husband)
Call It Courage (Armstrong Perry teaches deeply through a deceptively simple story.  I love my ex-library copy, hardcover with great illustrations)
Johnny Tremain (loved reading as my older 3 all read the same paperback covered copy (now gone) when they were homeschooled, very good story, historical, with a loveable main character.  Makes you want to visit Boston.)
Fog Magic (sweet and yes, magical)
The Twenty-One Balloons (brilliant fun, another favorite of the kids who had it on audio)
Miracles on Maple Hill (seemed so familiar, with land, flowers, farmers, and maple syrup-making.  I want my mom to read it, she will like it, too.)
Onion John (good book but can’t remember much of it now.  Hmmmm)
The High King (“mom, you won’t like it if you don’t read the first 4 books of the series” He was right.)
The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm (Oh my word, Nancy Farmer what a mind you have!  I can’t wait to read her other book on the list.  Highly recommended, SO many layers of fun.  The title is also the name of a detective agency in the book! LOL )
The Midwife’s Apprentice (perfection, I love the medieval time period)
Out of the Dust (very moving, unique but effective writing style.  Another author to admire!)
Dead End in Norvelt (fun and moving)
Doll Bones (fantasy about a doll who influences three children to go bury her, in another town, so they have to run away in the night to travel there.  So wonderfully weird!  Also teaches about friendship.)
One Came Home (wow, I loved this book, a mystery for older children)
Piecing me Together (It wasn’t TERRIBLE, but I didn’t think it was worth the Newbery honor.  Great cover, though.  Dull, under-seasoned story.)

 

I HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO SAY.

stay tuned.

big bow, books, and a heron

I had serious reservations about Sarah’s requested hair style this morning (I’m her hair stylist).  “I want the ponytail on the top of my head like this,” she turned upside down and gathered it up in her hands, “and then put the bow on.”  The bow was all of 8 inches across, large, white, with silver sequins all over it.  She won the bow yesterday by “moving up her clip” at school.  Rather ridiculous.  Still, I couldn’t see any reason to deny her.  Up up and up went the hair, with the big bow on the very very top.

Two hours later, I was sitting in the front row of the auditorium trying to find my girl, the one with the big white bow on her head.  And to my amusement, there were girls all over the place with big bows of all different colors on the tops of THEIR heads!  It’s a trend!  An 8 year old school girl fashion trend!

*****

After the concert, where I heard adorable songs sung by adorable children, I decided to check out a local used book store for more Newbury books.  I’m trying to collect all the gold and silver medal winners, and read them all, too.  Or rather, I determined I would read them, and then found myself collecting them.  I have already read some of them, of course.   And we owned a surprising amount.  But there are over 300 titles and now that I’ve set this goal as a 40-something year old woman, it will be an absolute treat to read most of them for the first time, and some of them over again.  I’ll be sharing most of my “Newbury book news” on my instagram account, with some now and then updates here, too.  Since I began my challenge, I’ve read 1)Roller Skates 2)The Dark Frigate 3)Sounder 4) Secret of the Andes 5)The Twenty One Balloons  and am currently reading 6) Hitty, Her First Hundred Years.  It feels like it’s taking me a hundred years to finish it but that’s not to say that it isn’t a good book because it is.  It’s just taking me almost a solid week to read it.  Next I’ll read Out of the Dust because when I posted a photo of it on Instagram two of my friends said it was a favorite.  If I’m going to read them all I want to own them all (a treasure of a library for myself and my family) and since I love a bargain and a treasure hunt I’ll be spending the summer searching.  It’s such fun.  I get confused.  Some of the titles I’ve never heard of and don’t know what the covers look like.  So I printed off a big long list of the titles to check and double check and rely on my phone to look things up, too.  All that said, I still have managed to end up with some “doubles”.

*****

I didn’t realize my laptop would stay connected to the internet away far over here by the chicken coop but it is and it does so I am!  The pond is just down the bank in front of me, and I am sitting in an Adirondack chair, with my purse on a little table next to me.  Inside the purse there are 8 eggs as I didn’t want them to roll out of my pockets and crack against the chair seat.  The chickens wandered around my feet for a while, one of them beaked my toes!, but have mostly wandered away, eating bugs and grass while making soft cooing sounds.  They look so pretty against the tall dark pink clover and daisies in bloom next to the coop.

*****

When I stopped outside with my book to read, I saw a heron at the pond so I put the dog in the basement (he would bark and chase it away) and put my zoom lens on the camera.

They aren’t the best photos in the world but they’re special because I took them standing on my own front porch!

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I’m mainly amused by the long legs.  And knowing eye.

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“The Knowing Eye”

After trying to hide from me in a pine tree, it flew far far away and I retrieved my laptop to try to post the photos outdoors in the very best office in the world!  Nature!  I heard someone say this morning that nature isn’t romantic it’s just out to kill you but you know what, that’s just part of the charm.  At the moment, I feel perfectly safe.  I doubt the Heron would say the same.  He probably thought my long camera was a gun.

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The parting shot.

*****

Back to Hitty!  I’m determined to finish it before 2!  That’s when I need to pick up Grace from school (she’s been helping her former HS English teacher this week!  One more step closer to her dream of becoming a teacher herself).

Happy Thursday!

mark twain house

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Grace and I FINALLY, after all these years, went to the Mark Twain house in Hartford, CT. It was easy to find, there was nice parking, and it was a charming destination for a half day exploration.  Grace has read several of Twain’s books and I read Volume 1 of his very large autobiography.  What a character he was, and what a treat it is to enjoy his writings.

We did the “Living Tour” with a man who was pretending to be the butler.  Indeed, he said he WAS the Butler.  (5 dollars more per person).  The house is heavily protected…..you may NOT sit on anything, you may NOT take ANY photos, also NO CELL PHONES, and you may NOT carry a pen in your hand.  (pencils only).  Because it was a living tour set in the year 1897 we were NOT permitted to ask any questions that didn’t have to do with that time period.  By this time I was so nervous I said not a word.

The inside of the house was GORGEOUS.  So lovely.  I have no photos of it, though!

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Thank Goodness we could take all the photos we wanted, outside the house!  And that was gorgeous, too.

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Look at pretty Grace.

The tour ended in the basement where we were allowed to take photos again, ask any question we wanted, and touch things.  I slowly thawed.  There were photos and books on a long table and while there was a question and resulting discussion (involving math) about exactly how old Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was when he spent time in Europe, I took a couple photos.

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His daughters and their friends putting on a play.

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Mark Twain’s Scrapbook!

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My favorite rooms inside the house were the library, the nursery, and the conservatory.  I could only get outside-looking-in photos of the conservatory.  Incidentally, if you would like to see photos of the rooms you can do a quick google search and find them all.  Check out the wallpaper in the guest room and master bedroom, it’s so elegant and whimsical.

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beautiful white lace curtains and the outside brick of the house

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THIS IS MY MOST FAVORITE PHOTO OF THE DAY; Of Grace in her skirt, by the flowerbed at the carriage house.  Our tour guide made a point about how the family of Patrick McAleer, with seven children, lived upstairs in the carriage house back in the Clemens’ day.  So Grace and I were intrigued, as that is the number of children in our family.  We were glad we did not have to live in the upstairs of a carriage house.

Well, actually, I may have gotten the feeling that maybe Grace would have enjoyed it.  🙂

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It was a wonderful house and beautiful morning.

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We left and went to lunch at a place called Tangiers International, which was a Middle Eastern Market half a mile down the road.  We shared an order of stuffed grape leaves.  I had a lamb gyro for lunch and she had chicken curry.  We bought a couple boxes of Turkish Delight on our way out.  David had asked for some at Christmas time and I finally found some, 5 months later.

“I was born modest, but it didn’t last.”  Mark Twain

1, 2, 3

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And the third?  Coming soon.  😉

*****

I liked this quote:

“I never saw my mother sleep.  In fact, she only sat down during dinner and later for about three minutes in the tub of our one bathroom.  Although Mom was perennially pregnant, she was always on the move–a blurry blue Sears housedress topped by a wavy blond perm and supported by two sturdy speed-walking legs.  She had bulging varicose veins that grew with each child, and I was always worried they were going to pop, but they didn’t.
“On any given day, Mom could be found in one of two places:  the outside landing, where she hung the laundry, or the kitchen, where she jogged between the ironing board and the oven.  It seemed my mother could do a hundred things at once, all the while keeping at least one of her blue eyes on her ten children.
“‘Watch yourself, Eddie!’ she’d shout down from the landing to my oldest brother in the side yard.  ‘Remember, you’re a born leader and all the boys are watching you!’  Then she’d vroom down the fourteen wooden steps, hip the laundry basket through the banging screen door into the kitchen, and dump it onto the table.
“‘You’re the absolute best helper, Ellen,’ she’d say as my eager sister did the folding, ‘You’re going to make a wonderful mother!’
“Shortly after noon, Mom would begin preparations for dinner, served nightly at six o’clock sharp, ‘Barbara Ann!’ she’d yell down the basement stairs as she peeled potatoes.  ‘Come on up here and take Florence, Tommy, and Mary Jean.  They need some entertainment and if you’re going to be a star, you’ll need to practice.’
“And that was my mother’s genius.  She kept her house going by putting her finger on the special gift she saw in each of her children, and making each and every one of us believe that that gift was uniquely ours.  Whether it was true or not, we all believed it.”

~Barbara Corcoran, in her book Use What You’ve Got

 

 

 

bringing it back {this moment}

I hope blogger soulemama doesn’t mind!  She was the original mastermind behind these posts and a whole bunch of us were following along and had great fun.  Alas, she discontinued her “this moment” Friday posts a while back now.  However, I missed the opportunity and the fun it was to be on the look out for that “something sweet” to photograph and put on the blog~with no words.  She intended it for sharing so I don’t think she’ll mind if I once again take advantage of her generosity, so without further ado;

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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