This Year’s Garden Plans

 

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I can’t wait to see these rich and green beauties grow in the sunshine!

 

 

 

In New England we are immersed in the dawning of spring…forgotten melted snow, sporadic warm sun and plenty of rain showers are here. The  plant buds are waking up and grass is turning a rich green in our neighborhood. With this season we read about  gardening plans highlighted in ads and in newspapers, making it extremely easy to become excited and enchanted with gardening!

 

 

 

The first of May is pretty early to plant here unless you’re doing it inside with a greenhouse room or under a bright heat lamp. But the first few weeks of this month is a good time to reflect on last year’s garden and what went well and not so well. 

 

 

In late March or early April, I start to contemplate my garden. It all starts with jotting down vegetables and planning what different ones I’ll try. Every year I change up my squash variety so that our family harvests something different. Last year I grew butternut squash and summer. This summer I may grow summer, zucchini, and buttercup, shaped like a queen’s crown.  I decided to daringly skip the zucchini deluge last year( see another post about this). 

 

 

 

I must mention that if you are an amateur gardener you must read up on plant companions and crop rotation. Certain crops grow well together like tomatoes and basil cucumbers and spinach and lettuce. If you search on Pinterest or Google for vegetable gardening companions you can learn more information about it. I also rotate my crop every year, because some vegetables drain all the nutrients out of the soil and so switching their locations is a bright idea. I never plant tomatoes or the squash in the same place.

 

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A section of last year’s plot

 

A drastic change in this year’s garden will be the long lost corn. My husband and I decided about twelve years ago not to plant it anymore and I bet you can guess why not. When we grew corn, we had raccoons and deer eating from the cobs and that would leave us with the just the corn stalks for October decorating. The mere stalk doesn’t seem worth all the trouble and it’s a huge disappointment when you’re expecting scrumptious corn smothered with butter and salt.

 

 

 

This year we’re trying to grow corn once again, with some tips taken from my dad, who’s an avid gardener and was influenced from my grandfather. My dad uses a screen attached at the top of the fence that keeps critters out. He did the enclosure last year and had success with it.  

 

 

 

As our region experiences a rebirth in spring and the air becomes warmer, I’m grateful for it all. My garden is so short lived here, making it special. Immersed in soil and surrounded by green lush leaves, I thank God for being able to garden every summer.

 

 

 

During the year I work/ teach at school and have the summers off. I’ve always asked my husband if I should get a little part time job but he says that I don’t have to. I am grateful for this time and for my husband, who works all year round for us. I make it up to him by caring for him in the house, growing veggies, cooking and taking care of the house. He’s happy and I’m happy to be home for the summer and it allows me to tend to our vegetable plot and flower boxes. That’s how a mutual respectful relationship works.

 

 

 

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Last year’s window boxes!

 

Are you planning your garden or have you planted already? If so, I hope you are enjoying your planning as much as I am! Happy planting!

 

All My Best,

 

Heart and Soul ❤

 

 

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These summer squash plants grew so well that spacing was an issue.

Welcome Home Nest

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Do you know that exhilarating yet tiring

energy you feel when returning from vacation?

We, the hurrying travelers arrived home

in the midst of a cloudy afternoon.

Doors wide open, we anxiously hauled

our suitcases in with dangling tags from the handles.

Glancing towards our home in a sweet sentiment,

I spied long sprigs of dried grass hanging from the eave.

Upon a grassy bed almost hidden out of  sight 

laid a nest, welcoming us home.

Suddenly a Robin hurriedly flew in.

Her resting place for her young was

built while we were away.

She’s an opportunist!

While the house quietly sat,

she made no haste.

Now we are home

But she is too.

With kind hearts and open minds,

We leave the nest be.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

Isn’t it the best feeling to experience a wonderful vacation and then being able to go HOME? Home sweet home, wherever it may be that’s where we belong.

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An Angel Sent to Me

This post is dedicated to all angels and their believers!:)

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A photo from the farm, where we use to live and caretake. Whenever I see a sunset I think of God and angels.

 

 

 

 

As my ears popped and my belly stirred, we sat on a Southwest flight to Tampa. High above the clouds and riding with the wind, I was proud of myself for having the bravery to endure it and face my anxiety. I haven’t flown much in my life, two trips to be exact (one to Florida and one to Dallas to see my brother) and the last one was  6 or 7 years ago. I’m not sure but I’m surmising that my apprehensiveness is due to the unknown or if it’s because I’m not firmly planted on earth.

 

 

 

When you fly, you give up your control. Do you know that need to control everything around you? I do, which I think is common for many women. Here’s my reasoning… most of the time women are in charge on the household and that means making sure the housework is done and the house is organized. It means the calendar is full of written commitments. When your children are home, your the taxi driver, nurse, psychiatrist, cook, cleaner and you have a firm clutch on how the children are raised. Sometimes it feels like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, doesn’t it? Yet, even so,  there’s a choice you can make to rid your life of that pressure…do you know what my choice was?

 

 

 

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Another one of my favorites from our old house…such beauty and peace. The same feelings I feel when I pray and trust God.

 

 

 

I chose to follow the Lord and to pray. Believing in him gives me peace and restores my control. Even if I’m out of that strict hold, God has it, a firm grip on everything. He is in total control of your life and we go along for the ride. That doesn’t mean that our choices don’t affect things because I believe it matters.

 

 

 

It’s a free feeling to let go and trust. Completely trust God, for he is the ultimate soul in control. He watches our every move and blesses us as we go about our day. I know deep in my heart that he protects us and watches over. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be trials and tribulations in life, but through it all he carries you, teaches you a lesson and happens to leave his calling card.

 

 

 

I’m always watching or listening for a sign or angel sent to me from God. This time He did his tremendous work through a lady from our state. She sat on the aisle seat in our row. I talked lightly with her in the beginning and found out that she was a nurse at a school in the Concord area. We went about our ride, her watching TV on her tablet, Tom mesmerized out the window ( he saw clouds, fields, water, really interesting) and I wrote on my blog and reading from my book.

 

 

 

 

While the plane was descending, the kind lady, Laurie, started talking with me. She told me of how her family traveled all over the world, Caribbean islands, Greece, Italy and Ireland to name a few. I mentioned how Tom and I were empty nesters and of our dreams of travel once or twice a year. Laurie suggested various get always, travel tips and places to steer clear of. Being immersed in this interesting conversation while Tom watched out the window, I totally forgot that we were landing (a source of anxiety for me, as well as taking off).

 

 

 

Suddenly our plane touched down and the pilot heavily laid on the brakes. A few jolts and bumps and within moments it was over and the plane glided on the runway, waiting to approach the terminal. As I thanked Laurie for our talk and travel hints, she laid her hand lightly on my shoulder. “ I knew that you were anxious, honey, about landing and that’s why I kept you occupied.” Right away I felt in my heart that God had used Laurie as an angel to help. He does listen and answer prayers in many ways!

 

 

 

Have you had special experiences that you know there was divine intervention? ❤

I feel blessed that I can spot these signs and gain the ultimate comfort when doing so. These powerful occurrences just reassure me even more of God’s presence in my life.

 

All My Best,

 

Heart and Soul ❤

 

 

Monkey Island & Circle B Bar Reserve

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It was a beautiful April day in Homosassa, Florida. The wind whipped more than usual, while the sun shined as it only can there. At the Homosassa Riverside Resort, on the Homosassa River, there’s a dock and a few boats alongside it. Imagine a pelican flying by and a heron hunting on the edge of the dock. Silent and still, it intently gazed at the water for its next meal.

 

 

 

 

Fifty yards away sits a diminutive island dressed up with a lighthouse and tree house structure built up high from the water. This just isn’t any island, for five spider monkeys inhabit it. Sassy, Ebony, Emily, Eve and Ralph entertain visitors, the show monkeys can only give. These primates swing and climb and bask in the sun. Sometimes they will approach the edge of water but don’t proceed because they don’t like water. Supposedly they scare any approaching alligators by throwing rocks in the water and seek the higher ground, the house. ( credit to abcactionews.com from Tampa Bay)

 

 

The Resort’s owners are the monkey’s caretakers, who feed them and take care of them. When hurricanes approach they keep a close eye on the monkeys and have an evacuation plan if needed. ( credit to abcactionews.com) I had to mention this because this worrying thought came to my mind and it immediately made me feel better that they were monitored and protected.

 

 

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Tom and I being silly, the others did this too all in fun!

Tom’s mom, his sister Pam and husband Jim,his other sister Mary and her husband Joe, and Tom and I ate a nice lunch together at the Resort’s restaurant. Many of us enjoyed the fried Grouper fish sandwich while watching the monkey theatrics across the way. Good company and food brought us together, something we all don’t do often. The only sibling missing was Tom’s sister Bev and her husband Chris.

 

 

The monkeys were amusing as I watched closely. One laid out in the sun, stretched long while another sat up in the house. Two hung out together and it looked like one was being a mother hen and was picking off something off the other. I’ve read somewhere before that they have a tendency to groom each other, so that was interesting to watch.

 

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We were planning on  going on a boat ride but the captain called in sick. We went to plan B and enjoyed our lunch and it all was wonderful. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and in that case, I use my co- worker Laura’s thinking, plan B. If the first plan doesn’t work out, then no big deal, switch to an alternative option and if that doesn’t work, there’s plan C. Life has disappointments all the time and it’s up to us cope with it and make special moments anyway. ❤

 

 

 

Then it was time for goodbyes and hugs to Mary and Joe. It was the second leg of our journey…over to Central Florida in Lake Wales. Jim drove us all back to the house, about a two hour ride. Along the journey we were still amazed to see palm trees and orange groves. What we didn’t find were mountains like in New Hampshire. It was refreshing to spy different scenery!

 

 

 

Upon arriving, we toured Pam, Jim and Theo’s house. It’s tucked in a community called Tower Lakes with homes weaved around the park. The park has a few ponds, a community pool and hot tub, and walking road and bridge. Theo told us that an alligator was in the pond but when he gets big, they will get someone to take him out. Yikes!

 

 

 

Their home is lovely decorated and with a Florida and seaside theme. It was homey and comfortable and so nice to see it after a few years.We slept in their guest room, opening from the living room through French doors. They have a futon serving as a sofa and a guest bed.

 

 

 

The next morning after Tom shot pool with Jim and his friends, we visited Circle B Bar Reserve  in Lakeland, in Polk County. This is a free state park open to the public. Paths lead by the lake, tropical forests and by swampy areas. Words are hard to do this place true justice, but I’ll try to describe it the best that I can. Tom’s wonderful photos may paint an accurate picture and can hopefully bring you right there and share our beautiful experience.

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Once we got down the trail a bit it all started happening! Everywhere we looked, there were alligators and many times they were a few feet from the trail, lying on the bank. Hundreds were in the lake that day, heads out of the water swimming slowly. It definitely was the most alligators that Tom and I’ve seen and the rest of the crew too probably. We went on April 25th close to alligator mating season and that may be why we saw many of them!

Tropical birds were everywhere, as well as blue herons hunting their prey in the swampy water. A flock of pure white birds were spotted in the distance with a pink flamingo in the mix. An osprey busily dove into the lake for a catch and we spotted a few huge osprey nests on the trail.

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What amazed us all was how mesmerized Tom was. Jim was very kind to lend Tom his digital camera with a zoom and let him try it out for the day. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen my husband that infatuated and inspired. As he walked, he slowed and snapped photos with a burning passion, probably the same deep feeling that I have when I write.

We were all happy for such a special  walk ( one that was almost three miles) and the natural wonders that we were treated to, but especially for Tom’s amazement and wonder. At times I didn’t talk but walked and gazed at the Florida wildlife and soaked in my husband’s happiness like a sponge. When your spouse has these moments, you feel good about it and ultimately happy for him. I enjoyed it as well for the reserve had more birds, gators and turtles than I’d ever seen. I have to admit that I ran and jumped when I felt threatened by the gators. There’s nothing holding them back from crossing the trail so I felt excited but a little scared too.

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Towards the end of our adventure, we all decided that we would stop and rest on benches by the water. No sooner had we sat down then we spotted a big alligator in the water a few feet away! At first I wasn’t worried but suddenly the big guy slithered out onto the grassy bank next to another bench. Tom wanted to get a good picture and boy, did he! He, Jim, and his mom hung out just a few feet away with a group of spectators, while Pam and I hit the high road! I’m not embarrassed to inform you that fear made me run, I love my limbs and didn’t feel like giving any up that day! It all ended okay after a few minutes of worry and excitement. After turning down our trail a bit and shocking everyone, this monster sized gator decided to retire in the water across the way and then the show was over.

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That was the closest we’ve ever been to these amazing creatures and that’s enough for me! I’ll enjoy the pictures and remember my racing heart and cries for Tom as part of my vacation memories! Ha! We all enjoyed a lovely seafood dinner at The Port after we went to Circle B. Thank you, Theo for treating us to that! 

If you happen to be in the Lakeland area, look up the Circle B Bar Reserve, it’s an outstanding natural habitat of wildlife to see and snap photos of!

The very next day it was already time to bid our goodbyes with hugs and a few choked up tears. Airports are really sad for me for some reason. Jim took this photo of Tom, Pam, Theo and I just before we checked in at Orlando International Airport. It was a great couple of days and we want to thank all three for making us feel welcome and for such a nice visit!

leaving Fla

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

 

Florida Vacation Part II: Silver Springs State Park

 

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Tom and his sister Mary

 

While visiting Florida on the west coast, Tom’s sister Mary and our brother in law Joe brought us to Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, Florida. This park was the first tourist attraction in this state, before the iconic Disney Magic Kingdom became the place to go.

 

 

 

 

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Joe, Tom and I

 

 

 

It’s a magical place of tropical ferns, wooded jungle like scenery with walking paths and ornamental gardens along the way. As you enter the park, a fountain sprays water, peaceful and serene. Fountains are good luck and paved the way for a really nice walk. Boardwalk paths weaved through the park overlooks lush plantlife, where the old Tarzan movie was once filmed.

 

 

 

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The water was from the Crystal River, sporting a bluish green hue ,resembling a lagoon. Butterflies fluttered on a bright orange flowering bush and black Comorans sat around the edges. Amid the swampy rivers edge, an alligator hump floated but never moved. Further up the river, a small gator sunned on a log for all visitors to gawk at and perhaps some to shy away from in fear.

 

 

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I highly recommend the boat ride if you ever visit the park. We rode on a glass bottomed boat on a little tour. The tour guide was informative and talked in a true southern drawl. “ Take a good look, folks” he kept saying as the boat coasted across the river and spun in circles for good viewing. We saw many fish, small and much larger. We went over five or six Springs, one about fifty feet down below. Much fresh water bubbling up and contributing to the crystal clear river.

 

 

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It was cool to see three unique statues below. They were in the filming of the James Bond movie Moonraker starring Roger Moore in 1979. The movie takes place in space, Italy ,Venice and Rio De Janeiro. Tom and I look forward to seeing it to spot the familiar scenery and say, “ We’ve been there before!”

 

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To the right,amid the seaweed lies three statues filmed in Moonraker.

 

 

We saw geckos in the park and our brother in law revealed a new talent he has, he’s the gecko whisperer! Joe was making noises to get them to flap their throats forward in response. Haha, a little entertainment emerged on our trek.

 

 

The bent palm tree, the horseshoe, on a wooden dock was supposed to give you good luck for five years if you touched it. So, of course we joined the fun and the poses were great photo ops! Tom humorously said that we had to come back in five years to continue our luck! That man cracks me up!

 

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The tall statue was of Osceola, an influential leader of the Seminole tribe. It looked important and was beautiful to look at, overlooking the river. We couldn’t pass up a photo with it in the background.

 

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Our second day in the sunny state drew to a close. The next day we met Tom’s mom, Theo, his other sister Pam and our brother in law, Jim. My next post, part III will focus on Monkey Island and Circle B Bar Reserve.

 

 

If you’re currently on vacation, I truly hope it’s as wonderful for you as it was for us! It’s amazing how a few relaxing days can brighten your life and make you look forward to the days ahead!

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

 

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