A Fox in the Morning

An early Saturday morn brings a vibrant sunshine sparkling the blanket of snow. It is late February, just weeks away from spring and possibly a long anticipated melt. An unexpected visitor saunters down the neighboring hill carrying a hunting vision with him.

This fascinating wild animal stares right at us, as I snap a photo of him. I whisper for precious permission to invade his privacy for a second. I try to keep the camera steady as I watch his intense beauty and wonder if his den is nearby.

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He hosts a full orange brownish coat and a bristly thick tail that trails behind him. His muzzle is pointed and slender, yet his frame resembles a stalking cat from the distance.

His name is fox.

Sly Fox spies something in the snow, a mouse perhaps. Quietly with a purpose of surviving, he peers without movement.

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Minutes pass by as stillness envelopes the fox. A loud barraging truck lumbers down the road, just a few feet shy of this beautiful creature. He runs into the woods desperately and the moments have passed.

We will watch now and then, eager for a peek of the neighborhood newcomer.

Hurry back, little fella.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

The Little Things

 

                                              Celebrate the little things in life.

 

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Sometimes we get so busy going through the motions that we actually forget to live. Living is not getting by or getting your work done. Truly living is making the best of every moment and appreciating the little details. A few years ago I saw a post with a spectacular photo of a sunset and the words, Someday you will know that the little things in life were actually the big things, and that’s my inspiration for this post.

 

 

 

Thinking about this, my morning cup of coffee comes to mind. Every morning (unless he is sick), Tom prepares my coffee and leaves it on our counter. It’s more than a cup of joe that I certainly need with my caffeine addiction, but is filled with a steadfast love. It tastes strong and sweet with a dribble of honey. It’s all about the little things.
I love it when my kids are both home and actually talking with each other.  It does my soul good to know that now that their young men, they are actual friends. It’s all about the little things.

 

 

 

 

A smile, a friendly nod, kind words from a friend, a hug, your family eating and talking at the dinner table…

 

 

A rainbow in the middle of winter, a stunning sunset that speaks to your soul, a fluttering butterfly in October….

 

 

 

                      All these are valuable little things and add up to big things.
Open your eyes to the little things, for if you let them all pass by without noticing, you are missing out on special occurrences. Someday you may wake up without these little things and wish you paid attention to them.

 

 

All my Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

 

Planning the Garden

 

As I sat quietly in the pristine hours of morning, sleet drip dropped on the newly fallen snow cover in the front yard. No cars rushed by that particular morning, as a shrill phone call from school pierced the silence. A two hour delay. While winter forced its power still, I dreamt of late spring. That is the crucial time to plant seeds and I hope to God it will bring forth another plentiful harvest this year.

 

 

 

 

 

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Our garden a few years back at our old house

 

 

 

 

 

Cucumbers growing entwined on a tripod trellis

 

 

 

 

 

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Our first garden at our renovated house

 

 

 

I try to keep a map of last years garden plan, so we can rotate crops. By rotating crops annually, you are preventing pests and keeping the nutrients intact. Most of the time I plant tomatoes close to my cucumbers, lettuce and spinach. Carrots and green beans grow well together, for me. Squash grows  well anywhere, as it’s pretty hardy.

 

 

 
Our planting time is usually early June on a weekend, when we are off from work. I know this is a little late so I’m striving to plant earlier this season. Some north country gardeners relish their planting schedule and confidently plant in mid April or early May. As long as plants are in the ground ,they are safe. We plant green beans, peas,carrots,herbs like parsley, basil,oregano,chives,lettuce,and spinach all from seeds. Other vegetables we buy the plants since our season is so short. Plants that we buy from a local nursery are peppers,tomatoes,cukes ,eggplant, and squash.

 

 

My main problem is spacing. After ten plus years of vegetable gardening, I still don’t have it right. The problem is that you never know how full the plants will grow. I realize that some plants need more space to thrive, such as squashes because of the long and winding vines and tomatoes. It seems that we measure right but it always turns out squished and growing on top of each other.

 

 

 

A neighbor suggested to me to use trellises to gather cucumber vines to save space. This really worked for me and makes it all compact and is easier to pick the cukes hanging instead of lying on the ground. The problem of veggies on the ground is that small animals will eat them, so hanging them on a trellis tripod gets them out of reach. One year when I didn’t have time to put the tripods up, a mole kept eating tiny bites out of my veggies. Needless to say, I wasn’t a happy gardener!

 

 

 

 

It’s definitely time to jot down garden plans! Decide what seeds and plants you will buy and where. You could also plant seeds in containers in your home, for a head start. I can’t do this because my cats would dig them all up. Happy garden dreaming to all fellow gardeners!

All my Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting for Spring

 

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I woke up yesterday with that dreaded cabin fever feeling. Spring is less than a month away.
Living in New England means most of us feel this way every February. I’m sick of the cold and ice and the little snow we had this year.

 

It’s time to breathe fresh air and watch the fluttering birds come back.

 

It’s time to feel the bright sun on skin as we walk or work outside.

 

I long for green grass, budding flowers and open windows.
It’s time for tin buckets hung on trees and the running of the sap.
I know it’s soon but I don’t want to wait!
Even if Mother Nature has handed us a mild winter, I still crave the sun and warm temperatures.
Who else demands spring?

The Happiest Moments of a Life

While browsing through blogs this week, something jumped out at me. One blog was written to help fellow bloggers with unique suggestions for entries. We all know that writers stumble with writing blocks from time to time, needing urgent inspiration. Thought provoking questions were meant to kindle writing ideas, such as how a hard experience taught you a valuable lesson. One question stood out to me…what is the happiest day of your life? Maybe a teacher long ago asked me to write an essay on that. How could an inexperienced teenager completely answer a question when I hadn’t lived long enough? Back then I wouldn’t have been able to muster enough words, for my happiest days or moments came later.

We always received beautiful cards for special occasions from Tom’s long time employer, Mrs. Geneen. They were special ordered and packaged in nice papered envelopes. What impressed me was not the expensive cards nor the amazing artwork upon them, but the hand written closing sentiment, Happy Days. Living life to the fullest is one’s happy days. We all yearn to go through the motions of everyday life, experiencing happy days.

How could one blissful day complete a life, since it’s packed with multiple joyful moments? As I ponder on this intense question, I simply can’t narrow down all of my happy memories to one specific day. It seems impossible to do this, considering that a completely happy life is a patchwork of moments. If you live successfully, then your life would host a slideshow of blessed moments, not necessarily a day.

 

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Perhaps I could say the day I  graduated from community college, which really meant much more to me than high school. As I walked on the stage and shook Senator Ayotte’s hand, it meant more that my husband, dad and stepmom, Corinne were watching from the crowd. Also the fact that I could teach my sons the lesson that it’s never too late for a dream.

Perhaps it would be the moment that I met my husband in his parent’s dining room. Our eyes locked and something clicked, even before our love was born. One paramount day that stands strong in my heart is our wedding day, which was special in every way. That was a beginning to my newly generated life.

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As our sons’ birth milestones qualify as happiest days, each was unique and special in many ways! The birth of our first child was our son, Dylan James. He burst into this world after ten hours of labor, with a dark head of black hair and was perfect in every way! His birth brought all the immense happy and proud overwhelming feelings with an enormous love that moms and dads can describe. I never quite expected it to be as strong and deep, definitely life changing. Then when I thought there wasn’t a possible way to love the same, little Branden was born two weeks early, wanting to enter this world. Again, after 8 to 10 hours of labor, our youngest son was born and my heart filled with this overwhelming love once again. These prominent remembrances resonate strong feelings within me and I realize that they have shaped my life. These moments made my life what it is today and I am extremely hopeful that God will present other milestones in my life, such as the gift of grandchildren and other unknown joyful events.

Envisioning these powerful moments in time is similar to a movie reel. I believe when we pass away, this movie of happy times will replay itself. Moments of intense love, strength and family would come to life once again. All these give us a distinct purpose, to live the happy moments. I attended a celebration of life for a friend’s ( and former co-worker) husband who died a month ago. I had visited with him several times at his house, chatting about life and all his life experiences. You see, he wasn’t an ordinary guy but was an Australian sea captain and owned a charter boat. He took parties of tourists and various people to the Great Barrier Reef. At the service a stunning and organized slide show of his life’s happy moments brought those stories to life. A much younger good looking man proudly smiled at the audience of family and friends.
I could almost hear the crashing waves of the sea, as beautiful panoramic scenes of the ocean and his boat flooded the screen. We watched pictures of him and my friend when they met, both so much in love. Photos of his three sons and how they grew over the years and then his grandsons held in his arms, growing toddlers and then school age. His black dog, Spud perched on his lap, who died years ago before him. All these happy moments must have shaped his life, a life lived to the fullest with adventures that led him to the states with his American wife.

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As these memorable flicks of time passed on the screen, tears salted my cheeks. I could only hope to generate this much love and memories in my own life. A melange of all the memories encompasses one happy life and that’s something to strive for. Maybe upon reflection through the years, the happiest moments remain in the heart and soul and could never be replaced or forgotten. With these words, my advice is to live and acknowledge these joyous moments, living every moment with a purpose, for they are what builds a meaningful life.

Read Across America

 

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Who was hanging around our school all week? Why Dr. Seuss, of course! The school I work in celebrated Read Across America Day yesterday. Most of the time schools acknowledge it on March 2nd, to honor Dr. Seuss’s birthday. We celebrated early, a week before vacation, for some fun for the kids because it’s Winter Carnival week for the middle and high school. As the middle and high school seeped with a carnival enthusiasm, why not include the elementary children in the wacky antics?

Everyone knows Dr.Seuss books, like Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham or Hop on Pop. I’ve worked in a school/preschool setting for 17 years now and I’ve never encountered any children disliking his books!  They’re fun! They’re creative! Zany characters jump off the page, making children smile. The words rhyme, while entertaining kids of all ages, and teaches the rhythm of language.

Read Across America started on Monday with Grinchy Green day. Teachers and students dressed in varying shades of green sweaters, shirts, socks and even scarves to mark the occasion. I had a perfect ensemble of a green sweater and a vivid lime green scarf wrapped around my neck. Tuesday was Foxy Sox day, a day to sport crazy and funky socks. In my travels, I spied socks bearing foxes, vibrant striped tights, camouflage socks and pink and purple glittery colors flashing around the school. Then Wacky Wednesday arrived with a sea of backwards shirts and cockeyed hats while unmatching socks and shoes paraded the halls. Some Kindergarteners and First graders wore stiff gel in their hair, to make it wacky.

One day the fifth graders visited the elementary classes for book buddies. Each fifth grader read Dr. Seuss books to a younger child and some of the blossoming younger students read a page as well. Laughter and genuine conversations about the book hung in the air. It was apparent that this activity was valuable to all and that we should do it more often like once a week or once every two weeks!

 

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Thursday was the special day of Read Across America events, starting with a monthly Community Meeting. Our elementary school has this meeting every month in the morning. Kindergarten through fifth grade sit in the huge gym and kids take turns running the meeting, even able to use a microphone. We all say the pledge of allegiance first. Then it varies by month. Sometimes a class will read a Reader’s Theater or perform a skit. Sometimes the Principal gives awards for Honor roll and we all clap for every student, with the hope others will join the group next quarter. Usually there is an organized game for all to play with the mixed grades. It’s great to watch the older kids helping their younger peers. Most of the time the music teachers create a hype with a fun sing song or dance, generating a contagious excitement as kids bust a move, laugh and prove that we do have fun in school!

This Read Across America meeting was special. Everyone was wearing red and white stripes for Dr. Seuss’s the Cat in the Hat. Honor roll students were called up and given their awards and teachers took pictures for the newspaper. Our Title One teacher organized the festivities and came up with the brilliant idea of making paper chains, one chain per book that a student read. We broke up into groups and the children each made their own mini chains, some with five and others had fifteen chain links and hooked them together ceremoniously. Excitement was in the air, as all the groups attached their colorful chains together and it spanned the monstrous gym. Kids held on to them and paraded around proudly! Last, we hung them up in our hall, to symbolize all the books we had read collectively. What a beautiful rainbow gallery we will walk through the next few weeks!

Later in the afternoon, we divided all the kids with mixed grades into groups for activities. Every group was led by a teacher and covered a unique theme. There were groups reading about bugs and dug for bugs in dry coffee grounds, one group read about cars and made cars and roads. Another group read Rainbow Fish and had a painting project, while another read Harold and the Purple Crayon and made purple yarn mobiles and painted the foyer windows with bright happy pictures. Closing our joyous day, all the groups had a little treat of blue jello with a couple of gummy fish.

All in all the children and adults had an exciting week with all the activities. It was amazing to see all the excitement and love for books! All week classes read the rhythmic Dr.Seuss classics and cemented the fantastic idea that reading is fun! Want to make a huge investment? Read to your children, grandchildren,  nieces and nephews, friends and neighbors!

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

 

 

 

 

Vivacious Eggplant 🍆🍆🍆

For several years I didn’t bother growing eggplant. My lack of attempt was purely based on no interest and I thought southern gardeners would reap its fruits more successfully than I would. Then one day my husband suggested we try planting it, for we had nothing to lose. At my other house the soil was nothing to be desired, a rocky soil with weak topsoil, needing a revamp. We did have a nice garden but not the best for eggplant. Although we had this negative downfall, we chose young eggplant seedlings and tenderly positioned them in the family plot. I watered them, watched the sisters with a keen eye and prayed to the cultivation heavens for success. Looking back, that first year proved to be a disaster and for some odd reason the veggies that did make it were bitter. Maybe it was the soil or they were too ripe? I’m not sure but there’s more to this story…

Every year we have grown eggplant since, with our mouth watering visions of eggplant parmesan and fried eggplant with marinara sauce. Even our son, who can be a picky eater, likes it. So every year we are happy with settling for three or four nice deep purple eggplants, cut from the vine and carried proudly to our kitchen for preparation.

Last year was a record breaker, a year of magical outcomes and everything in the universe was lined up to harvest eggplant! With hopeful hearts,we planted a row of five in June. As other years, it started out slow and we were resigned to settle on a handful. Then it happened! It seemed like overnight and the plants flourished and powered up, reaching with a healthy stretch to the sky! The roots were firm leading to a strong trunk, with a hearty strength unheard of! Unbelievably we harvested too many to count. At last tally, twenty rich and purple amazing fruits lined our wooden bar. I made several eggplant meals, trying to change it up every sitting and gave away many. It resembled a zucchini harvest, when you give away many to total strangers, leave them on empty porches and convince family that they need more.

The rich vivacious eggplant season ended as the hearty plants started to die. Their leaves withered and drooped, as I graciously thanked them for their harvest. With our tummies full of its delicious taste, we relished in gardening success. I had taken pictures for posterity and all that was left to be done was to rip the dying plants from the ground. Tossing them into the heaping compost pile, I vowed to remember the marathon of the eggplant.

Cautiously I plan on reproducing last years crop. Not only was it a record breaker, but a sure sign that everything has its season and 2015 was my eggplants year! To my fellow gardeners, may your eggplant harvest be as rich and fulfilling this year!

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Thriving eggplants taken in August
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Eggplant sisters neighboring green beans and parsley
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A New Hampshire Garden in 2015

 

 

All my Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️