Today a special message popped up on WordPress, something that surprised me to the core. I’ve written 100 posts since January! It doesn’t seem possible that this is true! I want to thank everyone who have read my posts and commented as well. It’s motivated me to plug along, even on the darkest days when a writers block hung around me like a dark storm cloud. Someday I wish to compose many entries and compile them in a book. The challenge is to blend them together to complete a story about country life. This life includes family, gardening, nature, wildlife and much more.
With this morning message I am compelled to think of my blog’s birth. I know what you’re thinking! Oh no, another birthing story! This story is about something that was given birth to and swaddled with care…yet it’s not my two birthing stories… I’m celebrating writing this blog for nine months! Like a new born baby, this was born in January with my fondest hopes and dreams with an apprehension of uncharted waters.
When I was a new mother, I felt so much love for my child yet had profound insecurities. I compare starting my blog to this because it is similar to that cherished experience. I’ve always been a writer but got discouraged from negative feedback at one point and didn’t recover for many years. I think this was pushed aside when I learned of my sister in law’s book project. This fueled my desire to continue my writing. So thank you dear Bev, for your writing helped me get back into it!
With an open heart and strong backbone, I’ve plunged into this world of blogging. This experience has already taught me that tapping into your heart and soul and pursuing your passion is the only way to live! It’s not only the way to honor my true self but share this with you and the world. As I grow in this project, I challenge you to be true to YOURSELF. Is there a talent or interest that you have been hiding? Do you long to go out on a limb and take big chances but fear holds you back? If so, take the plunge and don’t think about it. Just do it…you don’t need to think it over or worry about what ifs! Be the best person you can by honoring your God given talent!
Every Fall season I look forward to walking among my tomato plants, spying red and ripe fruit. With vim and vigor I snap them off the vine and dream of making delicious homemade spaghetti sauce. Most years I make endless batches, a weekend project lasting well into October. I relish harvesting these Crimson beauties and lining them up on my counter to see. Once they ripen and age a bit, it’s time to get to work!
I put them tenderly in a hot bath and boil for a few minutes. You can tell when it’s time because the peelings will start to give in the water. Next I drain them and place in a cold water bath. Sit them in the bath for a minute or two. This helps peeling the skins easily. Peel the tomatoes and discard skins. Put tomatoes in blender or food processor to purée. Sometimes I skip this step for a chunky sauce and I figure it will cook down.
Dice green pepper ( if you’re lucky you’ll have some garden ones, mine didn’t grow this year…beautiful healthy plants bearing one sacred pepper) and onion. Add tomatoes and a few cans of tomato sauce or jarred spaghetti sauce to thicken. This is kind of cheating but is homemade with the fresh tomatoes. I’ve added fresh carrots and zucchini before, a splash of olive oil and a tablespoon of sugar if you don’t add the carrots. Don’t forget the chopped fresh basil! Yummy!
Simmer an hour and shut off. Let set for awhile and then simmer again for 45 minutes. Let set. I do this in stages and have had great results. I usually save a portion for dinner that night and scoop into freezer containers. Let cool. Freeze and label.
It’s a great staple for pasta or eggplant parmigiana and is refreshing to find in the freezer in the dead of winter. It’s a gift tasting your harvest a few months later, some motivation to plant again in the spring!
While I’m knee deep in homemade sauce I’m thinking of possible other tomato uses. Do you have any ideas?
My husband and I are practicing spontaneity in our new life. One Sunday afternoon, on a whim , we decided to pack up the little boat and go to Pearl Lake in Lisbon, New Hampshire. It had been a few years since I rode in the boat, far too long to stay away from this vehicle of peace. Life gets hectic and filled with plans and every time Tom got the boat out it was for a long fishing night when I had other things to do.
With a bottle of bug spray, a tall blue cooler jug of ice water and my trusty camera, I boarded the boat. Tom brought his fly fishing pole and kit of flys and his trusty binoculars he brings everywhere, with hopes of discovering wild life. I expected a quiet afternoon and couldn’t wait to snap photos.
Tom backed his Chevy truck back on the boat ramp. Getting out, he warned me that poison ivy was laced along the bank and to stay away from it. I’m dreadfully allergic to it and always end up going to the doctors for a prescription when I come in contact with it. With significant apprehension, I squeezed by it. This endeavor was worth the risk, for once in awhile a peaceful adventure involves a little peril.
Cool water lopped at the sides of the boat, as my husband rowed us into a swampy area with lily pads and strewn logs. A hot sun cooked our faces and arms, as if we were roasting in an oven. Nearby lively teenagers hooted about their catch. Don’t they know the rules of devout fishermen? No making noise, for that scares the fish away! But seriously it was awesome to see teens enjoying the outdoors! Quiet whispers came from our boat, as I snapped photos of the welcoming country landscape and my handsome husband.
” Look over on there!” Tom pointed out two turtles sun batheing on a smooth rock. There was a mother Painted turtle and her young offspring. Tom said they resembled Jurassic creatures. I agreed, as I peered through the binoculars to get a clear view. Their shells were dark with a faint colorful design, while their underbellys had a rich red pattern. Their heads poked out proudly, reminding me of snakes for some reason. I liked the looks of these guys but don’t particularly like snakes.
Tom cast his line and it cut a few feet away in the water. Something jumped ten feet away, leaving a big pool. Wow, a huge bass or trout! I watched as he calmly and effortlessly reeled in a small perch. It bounced wildly in the boat with a free will to survive. He smiled and dug his little trusty tool from the lining of his pocket. With a snappy thrust, the hook was removed and Tom threw him back home. ” I’ll catch him another time.” His usual statement, as most of the time this nature lovin’ man practices catch and release.
After a few hours we looked at each other, heard our rumbling tummies expectant of a late dinner. Tom rowed us to shore and led the bow on land. He gingerly stepped out first. I stood up too quickly! I guess this was my inexperience, rocking the craft on the water. I almost lost my balance and I imagine those onlooking teen boys got a good laugh!
It was a relaxing and peaceful boat ride and I do hope we do it again before a few years pass. Have you gone on a boat ride lately? Possibly on a familiar body of water or maybe in a new exciting spot?
You can tell it’s September in our neck of the woods. Crickets chant opposed to peepers, the hummingbirds desperately sip their nectar to fill up for their long journey. A few Oak and Maple leaves have already changed into vivid yellow and red colors. Nice sunny and pleasant days turn into cool bearable nights with windows wide open. Fall is springing upon us in New England and I couldn’t be happier!
Something else that I notice is that my garden is dying back. Boo hoo, this statement is told with sadness and regret that I didn’t spend as much time as I wanted out there. Cucumber leaves have shriveled up to rusty brown and crinkle as I walk among them. A few last stragglers continue to hang but Im not sure if I’ll pick them soon or not. Tomato plants have spiked into full trees, bearing nice red scrumptious tomatoes for homemade spaghetti sauce and sliced in meals. Butternut squash are just turning that creamy tan color and just wait to see how huge they are! Tom and I will take a good month to eat all of these beauties…time to give away again!
As turkeys trot by our yard and a doe and fawn pass on the game trail nearby, I know this change is good. All seasons must end and change…this change into fall is exciting because it’s my favorite season, and Tom’s too! I love the vibrant hues of yellows, reds and pink leaves draping over branches and wispy, floating towards the soft ground. The cool air revives us after spending hot sticky days outside. Pumpkins and gourds scatter on porches and stoops with homemade scarecrows placed nearby. Lofty winds pick up and wildlife desperately search for winter’s rations.
Yes, I left my bygone lettuce in and for the first time in years, my carrot tops are dying. Maybe not enough water? I’ve picked carrots well into November before.
The garden is almost ready to put to bed until next year. Tomatoes, carrots, squashes and new eggplants still need a little time. Thoughts of its beauty remains, even with its latest brown colors. Every year I truly regret not spending more time out there, for it’s my sanctuary. As always I’ll vow to do that next year but what will happen is yet to be determined. I may not know this but I do know our family and a few others reaped its rich benefits and I thank God for the harvest.
Is anyone else seeing changes in his/ her garden? Do you see the change of seasons in its veins?
Listen to a true story of a few men from my family. I proudly tell it, fortunate to have witnessed it.
When people say ,” like father, like son”, what do you vision? A father and son who are mirrored images of each other in every way? Do you think of the son fitting the mold that the dad was made of? Let’s think about this…many sons are their own person ( as they should be, following their path) and go about their life somewhat separate and independent of dear ole dad and that’s okay. However, there are dad and sons who amazingly enough resemble each other in many ways and become best friends.Sometimes you will encounter or personally know of a magnificent father son duo, a twosome who do everything together in complete joy. I know such a team, a special father son relationship. These men I grew to know and love, my husband Tom and his dad Robert, but everyone called him Bob.
Tom and Bob were best buddies and did everything together. Dad and son worked hard at whatever project they were immersed in. They mowed lawns together as a fast acting team and prudently labored on car or building projects. This team” ran the roads chasing parts” for mowers and machines, and various other projects( our house project coming in a few paragraphs). Of course while traveling for parts, a frequent stop to Dunkin’ Donuts was called for!
Not only did Bob and Tom work hard, they had a passion for play as well. There were May fishing trips to Moosehead Lake, Maine with Tom’s brown van. The van served as a camper, where they cooked and slept. Years later they took our son, Dylan on a special fishing excursion when he was five. It was amazing for them to see Dylan magically catching fish left and right, as if he had a special power! It was such a spectacle that neighboring fishermen crowded in around this special boy, who could lure fish in better than a grown man. They wanted to know his secret.
Most of the time if one was nestled in the bowels of the garage, the other wasn’t far off. It was always important that they stay connected and if too many days passed, Bob would call his son or Tom would stop in at his folks’ home.This strong connection impressed me, for I had never witnessed anything like it. They were like two peas in a pod, not only in interests and talents, but also in their appearance. Picture them sauntering down a hill towards the family pond, each sporting a cap, their broad shoulders in flannel shirts and jeans. Two men, walking in the same shoes in complete cadence, father and son in sync. I wonder if they were aware of this, their distinct similarities.(Thanks for this idea, Bev.)
In the tradition of farmers of long ago,Bob had the magic ingenuity to rebuild broken items instead of throwing them away.He wasn’t one to spend all his money but saved it. He taught his son and his daughters this principle and it stands true today.Tom, his only son, learned this from his dad and continues to fashion parts together to fix household items and lawn machinery today.
My father-in-law made do with what they had in the garage or cleverly took parts off of random machines at the landfill. When equipment, appliances or mowers broke down in exhaustion, Bob and Tom used their fast thinking and solved the problem every time. They cleverly invented and built side mowers ,so that they could cut an extra five feet of growing grass, therefore completing mowing jobs faster.When Bob’s girls were little he even built a go-cart for them by himself!
One time Bob fastidiously fashioned a part on his friend Marilyn’s furnace so it could temporary work until the serviceman arrived. Another time my father-in-law created an ingenious cab for his mower in the summer to beat the sun, made of spare metal parts. In winter the same handy contraption supported Bob’s warmth , providing comfort in the frigid New Hampshire elements. One snowy day he carried his grandson Dylan in the cab to plow his neighbor’s driveway.
My husband and I acquired our house 22 years ago, a fixer upper which we bought cheap( with the help of family). The renovation project handed Tom and Bob not only a new challenge, but a pet project to complete for father and son. These two guys didn’t let the unforgiving New England winter hold them back! Instead of waiting for spring, they wrapped the 1899 cape up in plastic, resembling a gigantic Christmas present.While everyone in town passed by with amazement, inside the plastic cover they had heat and worked at tearing boards off. These ambitious guys worked on the house cedar shingles in the cold of winter just to get it done. Laughing, talking and their companionship saw them through. They made lasting memories and accomplished much.
It’s been thirteen years since Tom’s dad has passed away. There have been tears and painful moments. Yet through all this, we all hold these lasting memories close to us, shaping the way we live today, as we live with strength. Bob’s legacy lives in his son and three daughters, his beloved wife, grandchildren, great grandchildren, in the walls of our home he renovated, and in his daughter’s homes that he helped in various projects.We persevere in our lives and live to the fullest because he would’ve wanted it that way!
I tell this story with a happiness and not sadness, that my husband was fortunate enough to have this father and son relationship and that his daughters and grandchildren had such a special role model. I feel blessed that I could witness it and continue to see Tom and his dad in him and our son. The next installment will involve our oldest son and how Tom has taught him as his dad did. Be looking for it in a week or two.
As you reflect on this post, do certain people come to mind? Do you know a father and son duo like I do?
It was a peaceful and beautiful ride home. The sky above us was a stunning shade of blue, coaxing me to snap its portrait. Thick fingers of puffy white and gray clouds spread across the sky. Staunch rock mountains bordered the road, enclosing us in. Perfect pine trees stood as erect as can be, like guarding soldiers lining the way.Our beautiful mountains welcomed us to New Hampshire, one of our favorite landscapes and sign that home was near.
We had just dropped off our youngest son to college, so exciting and new to him. As we drove through Lincoln and then Franconia Notch, profound thoughts came to life. Not only was Branden starting a unique journey in his life, where he had never trod before….but Tom and I were as well.
As the road stretched before us in the light of this day, I felt strange yet exhilarated. The interstate ahead ( nestled in the valley of magnificent mountains) represented our journey in coming years. It’s a time of reconnecting as husband and wife. There will be no more homework sessions, baseball games with late hurried meals and no more drama performances with camera in tow. No more piled up stinky teenaged laundry, pleads for the car keys or staying up late waiting for him to come home. ( Not for now anyway, school breaks I’ll probably revisit this).
With the slow motion ride, I thought maybe this time was a gift. A remarkable present of alone time, peace and quiet, spontaneous trips and certainty. This certainty would be that we, as devout parents, completed our tremendous job with so many memories along the way! I think I’ll treasure them and put them in my pocket to bring out from time to time to cherish and reflect on.
Great times are ahead and as we see our sons, most of the unsettling and exciting child raising is caput. What remains is simply enjoying them and watching them go about their adult lives. There will be times they need or want us and that’s something to hold on to.
Coming home that night, the house was quiet and it seemed odd. We were here together in this space without our sons. A road lies ahead of us and our experiences are yet to be determined. This uncertain journey may be scary with bumps along the way and we may not know what to do at first, but I have confidence that it will be as wonderful as our last 22 years.
Here’s a BIG shout out to all my readers! Thank you for reading my material and responding with love and friendship. I have not posted as often as I like lately but intend to write more and post few times a week. Future posts I’m working on include A Father and Son story ( one close to my heart) and my garden in its ending stage.