Peacocks drop in for a visit

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas ...Way Back When

Once again it is December.  Folks are decorating their homes inside and out with twinkly lights and wreaths, Christmas trees, Santas and Angels.  It is nice to see a  Nativity Scene now and again, the lowly stable with the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths and laying in the manger.  The real reason for the Season!

I am thinking about the stories my Grandmother told when asked about what it was like in the 'old days'.  She would say that things were surely different then.  Not the commercialism of today and certainly not seeing the stores filled with things of Christmas in November, even before Thanksgiving!  This was back in the 1960's when I had young children, her great grandchildren, that I wondered about things in her younger years.

She told of when she was a young wife and mother of two sons, attending a "Christmas Tree".  This was how they referred to the gathering and celebration of Christmas before 1900 in the little town in upstate NY where they were living.  I try to imagine the darkness early in the evening.  The need to light the kerosene lamps, whose chimneys had to be washed often to allow the brightness of the flame to shine out into the room.  Filling the wood stove before leaving.  Getting bundled up, children and adults, possibly needing to take the horse and buggy or sleigh if the family lived a bit too far to walk to the Church or the Hall where the festivities were being held.  Bringing a dish to pass or maybe snacks to share, maybe a homemade decoration for the tree. But like in our day, the excitement the children feel ... probably about the same!

I recall Grammie telling how 'George' her husband, would bring along his fiddle and that meant there would be music.  Maybe others too brought along an instrument.  So, like today, we have family, friends, food, fun and and fellowship as we gather together to celebrate Christ's birthday.

As for presents on Christmas morning.  My dad remembers his father making him and his brother a Skip-Jack-Jumper! ( This was still around when I was growing up and I never could master riding the thing!)   This was an affair for sliding downhill... a one runner thing, made from a barrel stave, serving as a single ski.  A piece of wood, maybe a 2x4 or two nailed together  rose up from the surface of this ski to a height suitable for the child it was made for and a seat was formed by a nailed board of some sort across the top of this 2x4 post.  That was about it!  One would sit on the seat, one leg on each side of the ski and hands on each side of the board that formed the seat.  Feet gave a push and when under way, feet were lifted up off the ground and then the balancing act began and the Jumper went skip-sliding down the hill.
Dad would tell of finding an orange in their stocking on Christmas morning!  Wow an orange in VT, in wintertime (this was in 1909) after they moved to Vt from NY.  The train came into a nearby village bearing wonders, like oranges, from far away places like Florida.  While the boys were in school, the folks would go to the village where they sold apples in fall and maple syrup and maple sugar in late spring and did other trading, buy a few oranges and surprise the boys on Christmas morning. Life sure was simpler then!  No artificial tree and no electric lighting yet either!  There were little candle holders that clamped onto branches. The candles could be lit for a short time being very careful not to catch the tree on fire!
Christmas dinner, while still in NY, was often at Grammie's in-laws with other family coming as well.   And sometimes at my Grammie's own grandparents home.

And so it was, such a different world then. Some things never change though ... still the hand made gifts are prized by many. A simple gift, made with love is still a treasure.

This year I want to make fruitcakes!  My friend in VT kindly sent me her recipe and I think I have gathered nearly all the ingredients so will see how this goes.  Maybe tomorrow or next day.  Come to find out, my friend Pat got the recipe from a lady I had known since I was a girl! So these will be very special Fruitcakes indeed!

Meantime,  enjoy each day, take some time out to be still.  Think on the good times of your life.  Be thankful for all your blessings as you prepare for a Blessed Christmas.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I'm Still Here !!

I'm Still Here !!

"What happened to your Blog?   Where ARE you?  Why aren't you writing any more?  Missing your stories ! "
These are some questions friends have been asking me lately.  I guess I just got tired or a bit to busy or maybe I even wondered if anyone would notice if I didn't post for awhile.  Well, I do miss writing and Dennis asked me the other day if I had been writing anything lately.  That kinda made me think about my blog here.  
I had been reading a sweet story on Face Book about a 94 year old lady who had been sharing her recipes from the depression era with folks and I knew I had a story to tell as well.  What better place than here on my blog ... if everyone hasn't completely given up on me!

As I read about this woman, I thought about my own grandmother, my paternal grandmother and her life,  I thought I might honor her memory by sharing a series of stories about her. These stories I'll
"Meet my Grammy"

Della on the Left and her younger sister, Abbie on the Right
Probably age 13 and 11 respectively 

Her name was Della and she was born in 1876.  She was around two years old when her mama died shortly after giving birth to her sister, Abbie.  Their dad was left to raise his two daughters with the help of his parents and the girls' aunt on their mama's side.
Grammy Della married young to a nice young man and soon they had two sons .  I am very fortunate to have the diaries of her  husband, George during their years together.  The hard work these folks did to keep food on the table is cataloged in the pages of these diaries.  
As I read the stories of the woman of the depression era, I likened her recollections of the 30's to the way things were for my grandparents in some ways, back in the late 1890's and early 1900's.
Life back then was not easy!  But I don't think they even thought of it as a hard life!  Just ... life.  And a pretty good one if one was healthy and not afraid to work and have some dreams and goals. And always their faith in God.

Grammy and her husband lived in the countryside in New York until 1913.  He tells in his diaries of the daily life they led.  How proud and happy when the boys came along and the purchase of their first home.  Altho I am writing about Grammy, I have to tell some things about my grandfather.  He was a "man of many hats".  (So like my own husband!)  He could do just about anything. He tells of going to neighbors and cleaning and repairing their clocks.  Of helping to 'lay out' old Mr. C. when he passed and building his coffin too.  When someone had a bad toothache, they called George to come and extract it for them!  This and many other jobs and all after planting a years' supply of potatoes and hoeing them by hand, planting and harvesting most of their vegetables and raising their pigs and chickens and keeping a cow. Must not forget getting in the winter wood as well as the wood for the cookstove!  Of course all this work gave Grammy plenty to do besides raise the boys.  This life was good.  Grammy was always frugal and wasted nothing.
There were the good times too,  the "Chowders" at the local pond.  Where all gathered to have picnics and good times. They were active in the local church and school and he played the fiddle for many functions. At Christmas they celebrated with friends and neighbors as they all gathered at the school house for the annual "Christmas Tree" as he refers to the occasion in his diary.

I am sad that I never got to know my Grampa as he died before I was born. My widowed Grammy was left to carry on as best as she could.  They had moved the family over to Vermont in 1909 where they purchased a farm that needed repair.  I will leave off here for now and tell more of her story in the next blogging session. 

                               Hoping you will all have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

An appropriate quote for this time of year.

"We would worry less if we praised more!  Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction."    Henry A Ironside

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmastime Again

Lovely spot to rest at Bok Towers

Boy have I been lax about writing in my blog !  Fall has passed, we've migrated once again to warmer, but not by much! places.  We hear that it is still like fall in Vermont.  Christmas without snow,  I remember a few of those several years ago.  It has been too hot here for my liking.  But today we have some rain and the promise of cooler days.  I will enjoy that!

I am trying to have a Christmas season that is not stressful, where I quit being anxious about what to buy for each of my large family.  Since this shopping, choosing and pricing not to mention wrapping and mailing is not celebrating the true meaning of Christmas we decided this year to stop all this flurry of activity.  I wrote a letter to my family members, children, grandchildren and all asking for their forgiveness for not participating in commercial Christmas any more.  If people were really honest they too would say that it isn't the quantity of gifts or the amount of money spent on them that makes them happy at this blessed time of the year.  Being together, if possible with your loved ones sometime during this season is the greatest blessing to be had.  Sharing a meal and a few hours reminiscing, telling family stories, just being happy together is the best thing.  Being so far away, hiding out from winter's cruel cold is,  most of the winter, a blessing ... but at Christmas, it is hard to be away from family.  So I hope mine will gather together and share the love and not worry about how much to spend or what on earth to buy for each other!  

Going out caroling is a great way to share the true spirit too.  I love the candlelight services at church too.  We are having our Christmas dinner again this year here with our Sunshine family. 

 Some  friends and I went on a little outing this week to visit the Bok Tower Gardens in Lakeland, a couple hours from here.  We spent the day in a peaceful, serene place where the Carillon Bells, all sixty of them (the largest being over 6 feet tall!) play out over this peaceful place, playing from the Singing Tower which is made of pink marble and coquina rock, and is 205 feet tall with a moat all around where the pretty Koi fish swim and strange looking lily pads float about. We also had a tour of the Pinewood Estate and Gardens all decorated for Christmas, followed by  a wonderful lunch at the Blue Palmetto Cafe.  

Posing inside a huge picture frame in one of the gardens. 

Petting this really tame fellow on one of the porticos!!

Close up of the Tower

 Front, showing the lovely carved brass door.

The strange, huge lily pads.

I loved the Butlers Pantry!  

I chose to use just our small but lovely Christmas tree this year.  Den puts up his six foot Star again in the back, high above the roof peak so it can be seen from all around.  I didn't get a picture as it keeps getting too dark and my camera doesn't capture that too well.  

Our sweet little tree and coffee table nativity

So this is Christmas!  Enjoy this wonderful season!  Let's be thankful to our God for His Great Gift!  A one time gift and truly Priceless!  A gift that keeps on giving!  The Gift of His Great Love and our Salvation!


Monday, October 5, 2015

Autumn Once Again

As the days shorten and it is finally cooler, a nice long walk seems just the thing to do, especially when one has such great girls to walk with!  Even little Emma doggie agrees.
It has been a busy summer!  One of the busiest I remember for quite sometime.  We have had some wonderful times with our friends, Frank and Cy who we spend time with in Sunshine Village in the winter months.  They journeyed up to VT and spent six weeks here enjoying our wonderful late summer and early fall.  Apples, Apples, Apples!  Right?   Everywhere we turned this season there were events centered around the lovely red Apple.  Tastings of all things Apple,and the watching of cider being squeezed and even boiled into wonderful boiled cider!  Apple crisp and Apple cake, Apple pie and Apple cider donuts were on the menu everywhere including in Dottie's Kitchen!  I finally found time to make lots of applesauce and Paradise Jelly with the quince and apple and cranberry juices.

Now I find it is nearly time to think about packing up and migrating to FL once again.  The hummingbirds have long gone and we saw Canada geese flying over in greater numbers than usual yesterday.  The old owl who has been Who-Whoing us all summer sounds clearer now that some of the leaves have already fallen.  The colors are finally coming to full bright beauty but as yet here in my valley we haven't had a frost.  Nearly had one this morning as the thermometer registered 33 degrees and the neighbors' brown roof looked a bit frosty.  My dahlias are still blooming and they are the first to succumb to a frost.  Guess I will go pick one last bouquet today.

The wood is stacked on the porch ready for us to burn when we get home in March.  All this thanks to our friendly helpers Frank and Cy.  The new (to us) family truck has a nice shiny snowplow and is ready to report to duty soon as the snow flies.  Hubby has been cleaning up the garden which was sure productive this year!  Just picked the last of the late planting of pole beans and the winter squash are ready now.  Grapes have been harvested and the jelly all made.  Cousin Natalie gave us rose hips and that too is now in jelly jars along with jars of pickles and relish.  Didn't make any mustard from the garlic mustard seeds this year as I have some from last year.

We went on a few little trips around VT this summer in the Gypsy Wagon, to the Northeast Kingdom where we make our rounds of family and friends.  Also a trip to Burlington area and a few weekend camping trips with the Rolling Wheels Sams club we belong to.  I am really thinking of some down time after the trip to FL !!   Maybe time to sew a little and finish up a couple UnFinishedObjects, UFO's we call them.  Two quilts to finish and some smaller projects.

Also, a great surprise 59th Wedding Anniversary/ Birthday party for Den and I given us by daughter Angel and son in-law Paul and the grandkids.  We thought we were having a family cook out and we did just that.... then the surprise...when many friends and relatives and neighbors came pouring into Angel's backyard for cake and ice cream and lots of love and hugs.  How about the funny hats and the  old people canes!  

Now I am headed out to pick that last bouquet of dahlias.  It all looks so golden outside with all the yellow and orange leaves surrounding the backyard.  No sun now but the brightness of the leaves really makes the world look so golden and mellow.

This verse has popped up on a few occasions this week as I watch the year move on toward it's end and I guess it reminds me that we are all moving on toward our own time to reach an end here on this earth.  Praise the Lord we have hope and plans for a life in the hereafter!!

Isaiah 46:4  " Even in your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you: I will sustain you and I will rescue you".

Thank you God for this assurance!     Take care and enjoy the lovely, crisp and fragrant days of Autumn.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Listening to the Harvest Fly

How fast the time zooms by here in Summer!   I so enjoy the cool nights we experience here in the hills and the mornings as the day slowly unfolds. The sun, warm on my back as I pick the bounteous goodness of the garden while listening to that boisterous Harvest Fly's loud buzz.  Many cucumbers this year so guess we'll have pickles!
Blueberries are abundant too.  Made a sweet cream blueberry tart today from a recipe in an old Fanny Farmer Baking cookbook.  It looks yummy and we will soon find out if it is as good as it looks!

This spring, Dennis built a new sturdier grape arbor for our Concord grapes and they are showing their appreciation as they spread out across the top and we are seeing clusters of fruit.  These make wonderful grape jelly and jam when ripe and ready.

No jury duty until possibly in September ...yea !   August will be too busy as we await our guests from Fla.  Many great and entertaining  things going on around VT in summer.  I also hope to get to the beach.... Not in least once this summer.

Our little trip to the Northeast Kingdom went well and we enjoyed time spent with our grandson and his sweet family.  Had a nice tea party with the little girls and got some much needed cuddles! As usual it was beautiful atop the mountain where we visited my cousins.  The weather was just as nice as could be, save for a brief and loud thunderstorm just as we were going to bed in the Gypsy Wagon.  We seem to be much closer to the lightening and the thunder when we are atop that mountain!  I also had a great visit with my childhood friend, Janey before we headed back home.  My neighbor is so sweet to come by while we are gone and check on our Miss Lizzie.  She doesn't enjoy traveling and seems happy NOT to have to go anywhere in the car.

Some pictures of the wonders of summer.

Star Gazer Lilies in the front yard

Bounty from the garden

I have enjoyed a few days of sewing with cousin Natalie.  She came down and spent a few mornings with me so we could work on a quilt she is making.  The finished product looks very nice.  Now I have to get busy and finish up a few UFO's (unfinished objects) that I have loitering around in my sewing room.

So, I'm hoping you all are enjoying this wonderful season.  Take time out to breathe deeply of the wonderful scents of summer, be still for a spell and just doze in the sun and dream a dream or two!

"There are angels all around me;
I feel the flutter of their wings
Each time a friend smiles,
Takes my hand or says nice things.
God sent then all, you see,
to bear this world's sorrows
Far away from me.
Thank You ..... All my Angels!"

                             Dottie  2013

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sweet, Sweet Summertime!

What a lovely summer this year!  Not too sticky hot most days ... just real warm and smelling so nice with all the flowers abloom and the scent of new mown hay.  Our garden is doing the best this year, maybe because I have vowed to get out there early in the morning and do some hilling and weeding.  Daughter Angel has joined a local CSA and shares her produce with us.  They have provided the most wonderful greens this year and SO MUCH of each all kinds imaginable!  One of my favorites is tat soy, an Asian green that is great in a stir fry.  But then, all sorts of greens are great stir fried and boy have we had many this spring!  We don't plant greens as we know we will be over run if we do so we put in pole beans, cucumbers, yellow bush beans, yellow and zucchini squash and buttercup winter squash. I have some good sized green tomatoes so will get a treat tomorrow if I pick one and make fried green tomatoes!  I am the only one who eats these.  

Saw this flying contraption while on a little hike into the old Lower Village 

We are doing some camping and some visiting trips this summer between doing the garden and serving on jury duty in June and guess I have to report again in August.  Very interesting process.  Served on two cases and met some nice folks, one lady especially and we have become friends.  Also managed to get in a few paddles in the kayaks.

Spent the 4th of July in Vershire with friends and enjoyed their little parade and all the festivities.  A nice time and such a lot of folks participating in the events of the day.  Then on Sunday we went to the Reading Parade which is always a great one.  

Camped with the Rolling Wheel Sams Club twice this season.  Just this weekend, at Bald Mt. in Towshend Vt.  Nice time and great people.  Learned to make Omelets in a Bag.  There  were two big pots of boiling water where, after choosing what one wanted in their omelet and adding the eggs. sealing the bag and squishing it around well, the bag was immersed in the pot of water for about 12-14 minutes for a 2 egg omelet.  They came out so good!  Also learned a neat new card game called "Hearts Lead", a game well suited for eight players.  We had three tables of eight going and everybody was having a great time.

In Aug. we hope to have company from FL for the month.  Looking forward to this.  So blessed to have good friends and our health to enjoy this wonderful season in this best of all places.

Gr. Grandaughter sniffing the posies! 

I hope you are all having a great summer as well and remember to take time to stop and sniff the posies too!

Remember:  "Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty in every age of life, really never grows old "    Frank Kafka

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How Green Is My Valley!

Again, it has been awhile since I've written here.  Either I find myself busier than I used to be or I am slower than I used to be ... Could it be both ! Or could it be that the years are catching up with me and causing  everything I attempt to take so much more effort??

Whatever the cause, I tend to tire out quicker and when it should be time to just sit at the computer and write in my blog, I tend to walk a bit too close to my big soft chair, which surely reaches out and grabs me and invites me ... Or entices me, to sit a spell first .. Then go about stuff I'd been heading for.  I think I found a solution to that now that I have this wonderful little iPad which can sit so comfortably with me here in this big old cuddly chair!  So here we are ...

This time the old chair didn't have to invite me, I just came in from the early afternoon heat of this truly summer day.  Husband said, "Wow! Is your face red !"  He knows how I really HATE being overheated!  But I had some plants I needed to get into the ground now that I am almost sure it won't snow on them.  But on the way to the potting shed, I noticed a fresh bunch of some Snow On the Mountain, which is a rather invasive little plant that looks great in the right place but NOT in my little  sunny spot by the patio steps! I wouldn't mind too much if they took over here, but being sunny here all afternoon, they soon start to turn brown and look pretty sad.  So last fall we dug them all out, or so we thought.  Now a few roots that survived our invasion have started in great haste and effort to fill up the space again!  Grrrr!  Who said I liked gardening anyway !    Well, after once invading their favorite spot, and a couple other stops along the way to pull some long grass from another bed I haden' weeded yet, I was feeling like I was being sautéed !  Enough!  Knowing full well that I don't belong out here in this heat, In I came to peel off all the 'tick proofing' long sleeves, pants, socks and boots and cool off my flaming face with our very cold water from the deep well, and drink about a
quart too !  Then, pop into my friendly chair with no coaxing at all.

Yesterday, we attended the Celebration Of Life for Den's Aunt Charlotte.  A lovely service for a truly wonderful lady.  She was one of thirteen children and the mother of four.  When we were first married, we used to love going to their farm.  She was a great roll model for her children and for me. I wanted to be able to be just like her. It was always a loving, serene place to be, there in the hills, away from any noise of traffic, and always some bread baking and other aromatic delights wafting around her kitchen.  At her service a few of her insightful poems were shared.

Once Spring decided to come to us, everything has blossomed, from the trees and their greenery and the fields and lawns, so green and bright, right down to the lowly dandelions.  Meadows are yellow with their blooms.  I have enjoyed a few meals of them.  I missed the fiddle heads but sort of intentionally as they aren't my favorites, although some folks really love them.  The invasive plant, Garlic Mustard, which people pull and destroy is very good to eat !  The tender leaves are good in salads or steamed like spinach and quite mild and a favorite of mine.  Last August, they went to seed.  Their little pods resembling small twigs, have a lot of tiny black seeds in them.  Picking a bunch and stuffing them in a five gallon pail and shaking them around frees these tiny seeds and they can be gathered up from the bottom of the pail and dried a bit then ground and a great and spicy mustard can  be made from them.  I made a couple jars and they were good.

On Friday we went to my Class breakfast.  Always a special treat.  Joanie makes it a really special occasion, decorating the tables with a theme appropriate for the month. (We meet once a month). This time was "May Flowers and Memorial Day."  She also has a door praise or two and always bake's something yummy for us all.  What a woman!  We sure appreciate and love her and thank her for caring for us.

Joanie's table awaits the classmates

Joanie and Natalie
Natalie and Me 
Riverside Restaurant morning Special 

Tomorrow we'll get the kayaks out from their winter storage and I hope it is as nice as today and maybe we can have our first paddle of the year.  Of course I'll try to get out early while it is cool and do my planting so I won't wilt !   It's funny thing, how I can paddle my kayak all day without wilting under the very same sun that shines on my back yard!

Enjoy this lovely weather!  Just don't get overheated!  Plant some herbs by the kitchen door and be sure to have a picnic somewhere soon.

A good thought to remember:  

"We are Christ's "letters of recommendation" to all who read our lives"                                                                        Our Daily Bread by Dennis Fisher