My Mom’s Amish Country Adventure

 

In April my mom excitedly experienced a week-long Amish Country quilt retreat! Sounds pretty intriguing , doesn’t it? She was invited from relatives to attend this quilt retreat in Ohio and she couldn’t say no since she is a devoted quilt maker.

 

 

The retreat was in Charm, Ohio, a little Amish community. The Amish hosted the participants in a modest yet modern housing complex. Mom and her relative and friends worked on their quilt with help from Amish women. They brought their materials, cloth and sewing machine to work on all week.

The Amish women cooked for the group including providing snacks such as popped corn made on the gas stove. They have this convenience but no electricity nor televisions or modern devices.

 

 

Mom came home with freshly made turnovers, to serve at Easter dinner. It’s not everyday that you can taste something so delicious and made by the Amish. What a treat they were! I just wish I would’ve snapped a photo of them!

 

 

What an experience she had and I’m so happy for her, for she doesn’t travel on her own adventures. I would love to see her go once a year. I feel it’s vital to go on your own treks, to meet new people and see places you’ve never seen before. It’s these times that build your inner self-awareness and confidence.

This is one of the amazing quilts my mom has crafted for us. I love the different shades of blue! It’s comfortable on chilly evenings and mornings and Smokey agrees. Here he is lounging on my bed before I make it for the day.

Have a blessed day and seek adventure whenever you can!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

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Chandler Pond

Our little town hosts serene mountain views as well as farming fields and pastoral hillsides. It’s the type of town you can relax in and absorb all the scenic wonders. One such wonder is lovely Chandler Pond. It sits at the corner of Millbrook and Gale Chandler Road with a mountains in the distance framing it in. Chandler Pond is a man-made water hole and Tom says it was for transporting logs for a business. We are assuming this was many years ago but we don’t know an accurate date.

 

 

Now and then on a spring or summer evening Tom and I will seek peaceful refuge here. A stillness lives here and it settles us. We don’t talk much at Chandler Pond and we don’t need to. We stand and look in this quiet country setting and just be.  Sometimes Tom hooks a fish and others he doesn’t and I don’t think that matters to him other that he is here amid the beauty. It bursts at you right away, for it is reflective of the surrounding trees and mountain ranges.

 

 

There have been moose here and deer nearby. Ducks flock here. Beavers swim and build lodges of sticks and mud. Parading geese and their young trek on the bank. Unfortunately Tom and I had to walk as if in a maze, dodging the poop piles. Most of you must know that geese are great to look at but very messy where they live. It is what it is…a sign of nature.

 

On a July evening Tom and I visited this gem with intentions of seeking peace after a hectic day. Our wishes were met as we walked along the pond and looked for fish, as the night air cooled

There are two places you can park and get out and walk around the freshly mowed edge.The water flows into a spillway, which runs into a winding stream. That’s where Tom likes to cast his fishing pole and catch fish that are stocked there.

 

 

 

Here is the spillway with the Chandler Pond overflow feeding into it. From there it goes in a culvert and into a stream.

 

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This is where Tom fishes over the railing into the brook below

 

 

 

When we first started dating Tom took me on a boat ride here. It was in a cheap blow up boat with plastic oars, one that I won in a work raffle at the store. Shifting every so slightly caused the plastic to squeak and I couldn’t help wondering how sturdy it was. I remember that day and the stillness as my heart fluttered being with this man. Although I should live in the now, coming back to the pond taps into this past memory.

 

How blessed we are to live in this town and reap the ponds rewards. I suggest that you find your peaceful spot in your town. Visit when you need to fill your cup and cherish the silent moments.

 

Chandler Pond in the fall

 

 

Here’s my handsome husband in his element, the outdoors.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Walking the Cat!

Walking the cat? Are you crazy? I can hear your surprised and amused comments and I first thought that too. Until my soon to be daughter-in-law suggested for me to start walking our cat Smokey. She walks her cat Smokey Joe outside and has been for a while.

 

 

Our two cats have always been inside cats. The reason is that we’ve lost two cats in the past, one to a coydog and one got run over in front of our house. We live on an intersection of two busy roads and don’t want to risk our cats being run over. With that said, with our cat Katie it’s always been easy. She loves being inside and secure and seems very content with her home. The few times our kids have brought her out she freaked out in fear. Our youngest cat Smokey is another story. He was born a barn cat and spent a little time outdoors with his mother before we got him. He’s always had a free spirit and would run out whenever he could.

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The last year or so it’s been worse. One time he got out and ran up our neighbors hill. I was afraid that he wouldn’t return and roam the nearby woods and find trouble. With both my sons’ help, we gathered him up and brought him back home. It was then that I knew we had a problem and we had to give him his outside time as he wishes for.

 

 

Branden and I bought a harness and leash in a pet store and started putting on the harness so he would get used to it. We take him on fifteen minute adventures most everyday except on rainy days. The funny thing is that he doesn’t even whine to go out on cloudy and rainy days. Must be that water thing…that cats just don’t like to get wet.

 

Smokey either wants to roll in the dirt, eat grass or hunt. The hunting aspect is a challenge and worry as I don’t want him to kill. There are little chipmunks around the yard and they know of his presence. One time I saw a poor little scared one tucked in between our fuel tank and the house. I felt so sorry for him that I immediately brought the cat inside. Who knows how long he/she would’ve been able to hide there!

 

So the “catwalk” continues…which really isn’t one as he walks in a low position and never gains ground as he stops here and there. There are many smells and textures of this outside world that Smokey has to learn. As he learns, I hope he can have some polite manners. Sometimes he growls or hisses at Branden and I if we take him in another direction from what he wants. The reason we do this is because of the birds and chipmunks and we don’t want him in the Poison Ivy.

After walking the cat I realize the differences between cats and dogs. I think dogs will follow you where you wish them to go, where cats have a mind of their own and get ticked off if they don’t get their way. Oh well, I signed up for this when we got our cats. I have no regrets as I buckle the harness for Smokey’s daily walk. Who knows what we will find but I do know he’s happier with the outside trek and that makes me happy as well.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Saying NO

Credits, from Facebook page Becoming minimalist

I look back upon my busy years of raising sons and keeping our family afloat during times of baseball games and commitments, appointments, school, my college classes, work and housework and I wonder how I did it all. I guess I was young enough with a never ending energy that helped me get through. Life was good but busy! Being busy isn’t always good for you, because you run through life at full speed and forget to slow down and relax.

My son’s baseball team a few years back, the Lisbon Panthers. He’s number 11 in the huddle.

I remember my schedule during baseball season. I loved going to Dylan’s baseball games, they were exciting and it was so much fun seeing him and his teammates play. But it was busy, going to baseball games three times a week and sometimes four. I didn’t have time to make supper for Tom and I know he didn’t like it. I scrambled to find time to do laundry and regular housework as well because I really was never home.

 

I don’t have regrets, believe me. I loved and still love baseball and that feeling of showing up for my son. I do have one regret though. I wish I would’ve said “No” more often to baking for fundraisers and other commitments I should’ve passed on. I was trying desperately to be the perfect mom where I should’ve just said no for my sanity and peace instead.

Warm up at the Senior game a few years ago.
Dylan at bat

I read somewhere that being busy isn’t Godly. I don’t know if I agree, but I do agree with the fact that it’s too rushed and that when you are busy(especially if you are a mother and wife), there’s no time to be quiet and still. In those silent moments a sense of tranquility grows. It’s a time to stop the thoughts and put down the to-do list and just be. If a mom can learn to settle and slow down, then her children will learn from her and reap all the benefits from it.

 

Now it’s easier to say no to events and commitments that aren’t in my heart. Sometimes we moms and wives need to take time for us, to pass on the eternal “yes”answer. For you young moms out there, give yourself permission to say no when it can’t be done or you don’t feel it in your heart. Everyone will be okay and people will respect your answer and move on. No one cares if you say yes or no and if they do, then it’s their baggage and not yours.

I hope you all are enjoying the month of June and finding time to slow down. That quiet time is great for self reflections and with that you and your family will be so much stronger and peaceful because of it.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

One Small Sticker, One Huge Heart

I am always looking for special moments throughout the day, occurrences that restore my faith in humanity. Sometimes it’s a wide smile and a pat on the back…others times, it’s witnessing adults and students helping each other with a kindness that will surely change our world.

 

 

About six weeks ago at 7:20 with a steamy mug of tea in hand and my school bag slung over my shoulder, I walked the path to the school building. It seemed like any other work day. But little did I know I would receive a surprise at the door. A smiling eighth grader sat on the pavement with a book of bright glittery stickers. “Do you want a sticker?” Brendan Wall asked me. This was strange to me, for I am always  giving out stickers to my students, but no one has ever asked me!

 

I immediately thought that it was a special gesture, especially early in the morning. This was a sure sign that this kids heart was in the right place! From that day on, the sticker collection grew. Brendan would have sheets fanned out on the walk with surrounding kids waiting for a sticker to start the day. He would generously hand them out to students and teachers. Smiling and laughing kids and a genuine happiness hung in the air…simply from a sticker.

 

Brendan told me that he hands out the little stickers “because it makes people happy and that makes me happy.” He said some people ask if he wants money and the answer is always no, “because people don’t need to pay for their happiness!” he stated proudly.

 

I remember having this young man in reading a few years ago. What an inspiring gift it is, to see what good he is doing for the school community now! I’m not sure how Brendan got this fantastic inspiration ( I should have asked him) but I do know that with this simple sticker and kind smile, he’s contributing to a healthy and positive school climate. It sends a simple message that you can spread goodness and kindness with a small token but affect others in a huge way!

Upon taking these photos on the last day, Brendan gave out his sticker sheets for the summer. I didn’t ask him if this project would be ongoing and since he’ll be in high school, I expect it may change. One thing that won’t change is Brendan’s huge heart and his gifts of kindness to others. Maybe someday this young man will have a promising career serving others.

Thank you to Brendan for letting me share his story. Also a huge thanks to his mom for her permission to take photos and write about him. She must be a proud mama to have such a giving son and I’m sure her love and kindness has positively influenced him.

As you go about your day, how can you spread kindness and generosity in small ways? If we all do this, in these special and small moments, our world will definitely be a better place! I hope you will feel inspired from this young man and do your part to spread love and kindness to others!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

aka “Mrs. Blowey” as Brendan knows me

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to you all…women who have mothered children or pets! I hope you all have a special day filled with love and family! I’m blessed to be here with my family on a bright sunny Sunday…there’s no place I’d rather be! 

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, who I’ll be visiting this afternoon. Thanks to her for raising me and guiding me through the hardest times of my life. Her sweet little prayers have gotten me through and I am very grateful for her!

Here’s a call all the way south to Florida to my mother-in-law, Theo. Happy Mother’s Day to her..a strong soul with so much love and support for her family. While we raised our sons, she supported and love them as they made their way. Her and my father-in-law Bob were loving involved grandparents and I am very grateful for them and their role in our boys’ lives.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Union Village Memories Part 1

Union Village, Vermont bridge

 

Do you have fond memories of your growing up experience that stay with you always? I think we filter certain memories, some we keep deep in our heart and soul and revisit for a good smile from time to time. Others we tuck away untouched as they aren’t so pleasant to think about.

 

My maternal grandparents lived in a quaint hamlet called Union Village, Vermont just down the hill from Thetford and bordering Norwich Vermont. Just minutes from Dartmouth College and hosting the Union Village dam, this tiny town holds much history for my mom and our family.

My great grandfather Roy Gould lived in a little house on the cusp of the bridge. His son and wife, my grandparents,  lived next door to him, two lots away from the bridge. As a child I thought their back yard was sprawling and huge. It sloped down to the river, one of my favorite playgrounds as a child. Years later, as an adult, I revisited this neighborhood only to be surprised that it was much smaller as I had remembered. I guess this happens to us all…a view from a child’s eyes looks vast and expansive and shrinks tremendously when you’re grown.

My grandfather in his younger days

One vivid remembrance is when our family scooted the car down the hill into Union Village. I would dread the trip over the bridge. Sometimes us kids talked about the infamous encounter miles away, an expected thrill and scary few moments. Upon approaching the crossing, dad or mom (who ever was driving or on the trip) would stop a few feet in front and honk. It was a tradition to honk the whole way through to warn other cars so a fender bender could be prevented. An exciting rush went through me. It was scary but an exciting adventure as well. Sometimes I closed my eyes tight and wished to be through it. Others I watched the dark tunnel as our driver honked through.

 

What a memory! To this day, when I do visit Union Village I still honk and put my lights on to glow and pave my path through. I don’t hold my breath or close my eyes but I’m brought back in time in the 70’s when my grandparents were still alive and living near the bridge.

I truly hope you all are healthy and well. Enjoy the week God has given us!

All my Best,

Heart and Soul