Sunday, April 28, 2013

Shirt for Grand Son

Last week when I was visiting my daughter and grand kids, we saw a Minecraft ® shirt in JC Penney's. 

It's a computer game that my grand son is currently into.  From what I can tell it is much like building something out of Lego® blocks except in the virtual world.  I am not really sure what is wrong with actual Legos, but I suppose that just shows my age.

So the little man really, really, really wanted the shirt.  The problem was it was a men's size medium and way too big for a six-year-old.  What is a grandmother to do?

Well, I got out a "print and iron" cotton sheet and took a picture off Google Images to make him a shirt.  I am probably going to go to jail for violating trade and copyright laws, but it made him very happy.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday So Fast?

Honestly, what happened to the rest of the week?  This is quite distressing that time is going by so fast. 

It was a week's school vacation around here.  Vacation weeks always went fast.  But wait a minute--I am retired.  Why should the fact that it is a "vacation" week affect me in any way?  That is not my life any more.

April vacation was always the time I devoted to a thorough spring cleaning of the house and maybe, in a good year, a bit of yard work.  Mike and I did do some yard work this week, but the housework is lagging.  I don't have much to show for a week having gone by.  The dust bunnies are winning the battle this week

Reading?  I was going through two and three books a week during the winter.  I am half way through Sweet Tooth and I have had it out from the library for two weeks now.  I can barely get through blog reading before I am distracted by something totally nonproductive.

Exercise?  I count the yard work and a few brisk walks, but that hardly cuts it.  I have not reached the "zone" since our return to Vermont.

Sewing?  Nope.  I put together a couple of sample things for the library summer program.  No work on finishing my quilt top (well, except buying the materials).  No new projects.

This is a slump.  I need a spring tonic.  
Spring Tonic, Norman Rockwell
Spring tonics are supposed to be spring cleaning for the blood.  They are supposed to supply the body with vitamins and minerals that have become depleted over the winter months.  It sounds like it makes complete sense.
That is until you think about digging up dandelion greens and roots, nettles, rhubarb, and other weedy things and boiling them for the "pot likker."  A sassafras tea sounds a little bit more appealing, but I have really no idea what sassafras actually is.
There has to be something to this whole early greens thing though.  I have eaten spinach three times in the past two days and already plan to put the rest of it in an omelet for Sunday breakfast.  It has been a true craving, so my body must be wanting something that spinach supplies.
I can eat all kinds of greens if they are sitting on a plate, but I just cannot do a green drink. 
If you need a little inspiration to get started on spring cleaning, as I did, read this at FamilyHomeandLife.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Garden Work

A garden is all about patience and endurance.

It is not a competition.  Well, I guess it certainly could be and probably is for some.  But my time working in the garden is for me. 

Although, to be completely honest, it is hard to look at the photos of the Reeder gardens, and not feel twinges of envy.  Still, I know that their gardens are the result of long labors and loving, patient tending over the years.  Clearly, their gardens feed their souls.

So I try to be patient with my fumbling efforts and my evolving gardening sense.  I know that this year I have a lot of work that needs to be put into the soil.  There will be no expansions, but what I have will take all of my available garden time and then some.  I will probably end up tearing out more than I plant this year, but that will be okay.

DSCN2618The first task is clean up.  This border along the garage is pretty tired looking.  When the coreopsis and Shasta daisies are in bloom it looks better.  (But if you have seen the Reeder’s garden pictures you can certainly understand my twinge of envy, right?)

DSCN2617I made some progress and discovered that the daisy shoots are in evidence.  I should have daffodils in bloom by the beginning of next week.  That will help me believe that spring will make its fleeting appearance here.

So with patience (a little bit of work) and endurance (each day), I am off to play in the dirt.

P.S.  I do have one thing in common with Linda Reeder:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Two Breakfast Recipes

Marvelous Muffins from Cooking Light.
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 3/4 cup oat bran
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup non-fat powered milk
  • 1/4 cup flaxseeds
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 2 cups chopped Granny Smith apples
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 orange, unpeeled and quartered
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (first 10) in large bowl and whisk together.  Add carrots, apple, and raisins.
  3. Combine milk, oil, vanilla, eggs, and orange in blender or food processor.  Process until smooth.
  4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the milk mixture into it.  Stir just til moist.
  5. Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake in batches for 20 minutes.  Muffins should be brown and should spring back when touched in the center.  This makes about two dozen small muffins, about 115 calories each.
Note: I have made these muffins using coconut oil instead of the canola.  I almost always use two large eggs instead of the egg whites—so that will change the calorie count and the cholesterol.  Of course, dried cranberries or other dried fruit can substitute for the raisins.
Want to see what they look like?  Click:

Quinoa-Pumpkin Seed Granola
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa, well rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup whole or slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup flaxseeds
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 3/4 cup of desired dried fruit
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine quinoa, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and flaxseeds in a large bowl.
  3. Heat honey in a microwave container on high for 20 seconds.  Stir in oil, cinnamon, and salt.  Pout over quinoa mixture in bowl and toss to coat.
  4. Spread mixture on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake, uncovered for 15 to twenty minutes, stirring twice during the baking time.  It should be a golden brown.
  5. Stir the fruit into the mixture in the pan and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  6. Spread on foil, breaking up any large chunks.  Cool completely.
  7. Store in an air-tight container for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Note:  Mix this into a bit of yogurt and it will fuel your whole morning.  As you can maybe see, I believe the more nuts the better.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Getting back into the groove…

The first week we were home from Florida, I really felt at loose ends.  I had things to do around the house after more than three months away, but I didn’t feel energetic and I didn’t feel like I got much of anything worthwhile accomplished.

DSCN2581After palm trees and sunshine, these scene from my front window does not inspire me.  My sister told me that the entire winter was this grey.

This second week has been a bit better—at least for me.  Mike has been down with a stomach bug that he cannot seem to shake off for much of the time.

I got back to the town library on Monday and Wednesday to do some of my volunteer tasks.  Also, the annual poetry workshop started there on Monday evening and our regular writers’ group met there on Tuesday evening.  So quite a bit of time spent at the library.

I went to lunch with my friend Ginnie on Tuesday.  We went to the Cobblestone CafĂ© in Burlington.  The draw was that they serve handmade pierogis.  We each had a plate of peirogis filled with mashed red bliss potatoes and a cheese blend served atop a bed of sauerkraut, topped with carmelized onions and a dab of sour cream.  Heaven.  We had a good chat besides.

Then I got to go to visit with my daughter and my darling grand children.  They got me out in the fresh air.  Although Friday was very windy, it was quite warm and it felt good to have some play time.
DSCN2601Inside playtime for Dane, 
DSCN2602and outside playtime for everyone.

The pig popper was a great hit.DSCN2611You squeeze his tummy and the soft ball flies through the air.  It is no end of fun.

Saturday, I spent a couple of hours working on cleaning out a flower bed and playing pick up sticks, but the warm weather had disappeared.   I finally had to give up.

DSCN2582DSCN2580The maple tree by the road is not faring well due to salt used to clear the roads.  It is going to be a while before spring comes to Jericho.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I was visiting my daughter and grand kids so while I was aware of some of the developments in Boston,  I was having a blissful, play-filled, lovey time totally free of television images.  Well, we did watch Tom and Jerry and Tweety on the cartoon network Friday morning--that is like a cultural history lesson.

It was I drove home Friday evening with NPR on the car radio that I caught up with the timeline of events that had unfolded in the night and through the day.  When I got home, the TV was on and the boat was being examined by a robot.

Such intense police drama--and it was all real.  The technology that is available today is mind boggling.  At least for a moment, the people of the Boston area could breathe a sigh of relief.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Five Books

Margaret of mag offleash passed along the five book charge.

I have been asked and so I ponder--five favorite books.

Five.  Only five?

Favorite?  No other categorization?

Oh, and my brain has been so very muddled for the past  weeks.  This task demands some thinking.

Thinking?  Oh, no.  My sister was recently taken aside by a  member of one of the book discussion groups she attends to be asked if she could not, please,  just read and enjoy (or not) the chosen books and kindly stop  thinking about them quite so much.

Choosing five books.  A Sisyphean task indeed.  Perhaps pushing the rock up a mountain a few times will clear my head and set me free for other endeavors.

Let me start at the beginning.  My reading life started early on.  So my first favorite is not a single book but an entire collection.

#1 Favorite Book: Childcraft, an anthology of books for children published by the World Book encyclopedia company.

My maternal grandfather bought these books for me and my mother read them to me right from infancy on into my childhood.  There were volumes of short stories and folktales, poetry, myths and legends, art, sciences, mathematics.  I never went to a pre-school/nursery school, but I had a prodigious early education.

That early enrichment of words and stories served me well, and I must thank my grandfather often in my thoughts.  His additional dream of my becoming a world famous Russian ballerina did not work out quite as well.

#2 Favorite Book: No Children, No Pets by Marion Holland

This was the very first book I picked out myself and purchased from the Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club.  I still have the book.  A collector’s edition is currently available for $89 on Amazon I see.  Mine is not in collector condition.   I plan on a re-read soon.

#3 Favorite Book: a whole series of biographies for children that was available in the tiny Richmond Library, then located under the hardware store in the Masonic Temple building on Bridge Street.  

An early feminist at the age of nine, I read only the biographies of females.  Amelia Earhart was a particular favorite.

#4 Favorite Book: The Pearl by John Steinbeck

Assigned in a high school English class and read in a single sitting as I sat up in bed while home, recovering from strep throat, this book taught me that books can take me not only to better places but to disturbing places as well.

#5 Favorite Book: It’s a tie--Beloved and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Sometimes a book sears into one’s soul and leaves a lasting mark.  Both of these books did that for me.

There are my “five” books.  In truth, the list could go on and on, but the order gets less and less important.  I always have a favorite going.  I live the reading life.


“Clearly one must read every good book at least once every ten years.”
So, I would like to know...What are your five books?

Saturday, April 13, 2013



The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He'll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

Making a List and Checking it Twice

It seems that a lot of people have been mentioning organization and getting things done.  I was reminded that I did a post on keeping myself organized and somewhat focused on what I need to accomplish some time ago.

I friend asked me if I had yet restocked my kitchen.  I have not entirely.  “But do you keep a list of what you need to have on hand?” she asked.  Of course I do.  It is in a pocket folder that hangs on the refrigerator (usually on the side).

It contains a grocery list based on the general aisles/categories in the supermarket, a basic pantry list of staples, a note pad to jot down things as I notice things getting low or as I plan meals, and a pencil.  And, yes, I have a duplicate folder for the house in Florida.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Oh what the heck is this??

While we were away someone broke into our house, washed all my jeans in really hot water and shrunk them down a size or two.

Who would do such an evil thing???

I am demanding my money back from the neighbor who was supposedly watching the house.

Google image. (But it might as well be me.)

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Well we are certainly not in Florida any more.  I had to dig out my winter jacket, knit hat, and gloves this morning.  I was going to do a bit of yard work, but did not get very far.  I have been so tired and feeling blah in trying to recover from the trip home.

Honestly, I think it would be better to take a slower trip and stop to sight-see along the way, but Mike is all about point A to point B.  I think it is because he had so much driving to do when he was working, and in that case time was money.  We are retired now.  We have friends and family we could visit along the way, but he says things like, "That would take us 80 miles out of our way."

The house was pretty much as we had left it--except for all the dead cluster flies.  I had to vacuum before we unloaded the car.  ICK.  Also there was the typical wind damage.  I piece of trim was ripped off the shed and the chimney cap was blown off.  I held the ladder for Mike when he climbed up to put the cap back on, but I hope he never does that again.

I have to get out to the grocery store and start restocking the cupboards.  Again, general ennui has prevented me from taking that on.

We did spend some quality time with the Comcast people.  We have the cable suspended for the winter.  Mike's TV came back on just like it was supposed to, but my cable box would not work.  I switched it out, but then could not get the new one to communicate with the television set.  It is set now, but I will have to re-program my favorites.  I have a list for the grandkids' to use when they visit, a list for movie channels, and a list of the HD channels that I might watch.  There are those hundreds of other channels that I don't even want to flip through.  I do miss the On-Demand feature when we are in FL.  Actually, I wish we had DVR service here.

I also really am glad to have my NECCI sewing machine to use and the gas stove.  There are things I miss abut Vermont.  We have a nice new glass top electric range in FL, but I really do not see the attraction.

I think that the idea of a trip to the quilt shop is perking me up!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013



I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
      all this fiddle.
   Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
      discovers in
   it after all, a place for the genuine.
      Hands that can grasp, eyes
      that can dilate, hair that can rise
         if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
      they are
   useful. When they become so derivative as to become
   the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
      do not admire what
      we cannot understand: the bat
         holding on upside down or in quest of something to 

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless
      wolf under
   a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse
      that feels a flea, the base-
   ball fan, the statistician--
      nor is it valid
         to discriminate against "business documents and

school-books"; all these phenomena are important. One must make
      a distinction
   however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the
      result is not poetry,
   nor till the poets among us can be
     "literalists of
      the imagination"--above
         insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them,"
      shall we have
   it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
   the raw material of poetry in
      all its rawness and
      that which is on the other hand
         genuine, you are interested in poetry.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Getting Ready to Leave

Wow.  Yesterday was a stormy day!  Lightning and thunder storms rolling through right on through the night.  So I guess it was kind of a good thing since I was not wishing I was at the beach or out on my bike while I was cleaning and packing.

We are just about ready for an early departure tomorrow morning (Saturday).  We are getting tired of the long drive and have been talking about getting a small car to leave down here.  Of course we are not crazy about air flights these days, but at least it is over within one day...usually.

I am anxious to get back to see the grand kids.  The librarian where I volunteer has already asked me to come in on Tuesday.  I doubt that will happen since we won't be home until Monday afternoon, but it is nice to have something that makes me feel useful.

I will miss our Florida life style though.  Life seems simpler here.  Among the things I will miss (in no particular order):

1.  Sunshine.  In spite of the fact that we call it the Sunshine State, Florida is actually not the sunniest place in the country.  However, it has VT's average number of sunny days beat by miles.

2.  The evenness of daylight hours.  I like that daylight varies only from ten to fourteen hours, if that.
In VT, we will be heading into those days of 18 hours of sunlight.  Frankly, the sun coming up at 4:30 a.m. is a waste of sunshine, pure and simple.

3.  Our friends on the beach and in the park.  On the other hand, there will be friends and family at home.

4. The proximity to the stores, restaurants, recreation.  Everything I like within walking distance or a short ride.
       a.  Hot take out pizza.
       b.  Fresh bagels on Saturday mornings.

5. Flat bike paths and miles of them.

6.  Lemons.  Yes, I can buy lemons in VT but they are not as juicy.

7.  Palm trees and blooming plants.

8.  No need to put on socks.

9.  Colors, so many colors.

10.  The hair salon.

11.  Honestly, the high toilets.  I know from experience that I will hurt myself the first time I use the low toilet at home.

12.  The Italian deli
and Pop's for lunch.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

April is Poetry Month

Fire and Ice

  by Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire, 
Some say in ice. 
From what I've tasted of desire 
I hold with those who favor fire. 
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate 
To know that for destruction ice 
Is also great 
And would suffice.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

And a poem about shoes...

I wrote this poem in 2010 and posted it once before.  In light of my recent shoe obsession and the fact that April is National Poetry Month, I repeat it here.

Shopping for School Shoes

From the parking lot of Abernathy's--
where Dad waits, listening to the Red Sox,
playing ersatz head coach and umpire both
shouting over the static of the car radio--
Mom and I walk through the back door,
right into the shoe department
with its unctuous wooden panels
and little altars lined with footwear,
the air thick with the incense of leather.

Mr. Adams, priest-like in his dark suit,
cloud-white shirt and shiny black shoes,
greets us, solemnly nodding his head.
Quietly I sit beside my mother.
The worn seat gives a soft whoosh
and the chrome edge cools my shin.
My yearning eyes take in penny loafers,
white Keds sneakers, and -- Oh --
buttery soft slip-ons with ribbon bows.

A fetish chosen, I bow my head in prayer...
"Thou shalt not put false gods before me."
On this, Mother and Mr. Adams agree.
In stocking feet, I step on the metal trap.
My size noted, boxes appear in a stack--
saddle shoes, oxfords, sturdy maryjanes--
my silent pleas effectively ignored.
Other kids will get to wear the pretties;
I take the sacrament of practical shoes.

Ugly Shoes

Being from Vermont, I am of course quite familiar with ugly shoes.   So, Margaret Finnegan, consider these.  I really want the fabulous prize.

Birkenstocks are always a favorite, but it is cold in Vermont much of the time so socks are a must.

Clogs are poplar, too.  Sometimes they are worn with socks as well, but you really get the full ugly effect by going without socks and without ever attending to the layers and layers of built up callousing on the heels.

Vermont teens are tough.  They wear flop flops like everyone else...

or Uggs or mukluks, depending on what would be considered most inappropriate.

And we certainly cannot forget barn boots:

In recent years, Crocs are more and more common.  They are especially attractive with the fuzzy lining. 
  I guess they should be considered more colorful clogs so the lack of foot care still applies.
This is what I most dread about the future:  
I have yet to see a pair like this walking around Jericho, Vermont, but I suppose it's a matter of time.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Disturbingly Ugly Shoes


The always charmingly amusing Margaret Finnegan has posted about ugly shoes.  I would say that these qualify for that designation.

Beyond that--poster child for ending violence against women?  This is surely kin to foot binding, when broken, folded up feet that hobbled women was the ideal.  A helpless women is a sexy woman?  Really, are there still those who believe that?


Monday, April 1, 2013


It is national Poetry Month.


This is may letter to the World
That never wrote to Me--
The simple news that Nature told--
With tender Majesty
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see--
For love of Her--Sweet--countrymen--
Judge tenderly--of Me
Emily Dickinson