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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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

The Ice Castles

My husband wishing I didn’t take a photo of him…but he was part of the adventure so I pleaded with him for a shot.

As winter is supposedly  making its last call,  I am recalling events  of this past season. I spent a  bulk of the season sick with a flu, pretty much weighing me down and leaving me stuck indoors. Although winter was tough to get through,  I do have a pleasant account of a visit to the Ice Castles in Lincoln, New Hampshire.

 

Lincoln is about 45 minutes from us south on route 93, a place we frequent throughout the year visiting one of our favorite Chinese restaurants, Chieng Garden. They serve delicious and fresh food, without MSG. We also used to go to Lincoln to watch Dylan’s baseball games .Those days are long gone but still strong in our memories and hearts.

 

It’s been a few years since people started talking about the Ice Castles. This year I told myself that I would buy Tom and I tickets and just go, seeing what all the hype was. I’ll tell you that if you are ever in the area in the winter, it’s an amazing sight but a little disappointing towards the end of the season.We went the first week of March, probably a little too late. I would recommend going in January…just bundle up and experience an outside wonder. Also the tickets were expensive totaling $35 for two.

 

 

This was the entry way of the adventure.

Upon entering the parking lot of the monstrous frozen structure, I have to admit we were a little disappointed. We had to visualize it looking as a castle. To us, it appeared melted and worn down and the structure just looked like mere ice. Even so, we gathered our hats, gloves and my camera and gave it a try.  I had longed to go for years and the least we could do was check it out once. Sometimes that’s all you need to satisfy your need and then you never need nor want to do it again.

 

See what I mean? Doesn’t really look like a castle from the outside, does it?

 

 

A narrow walkway with flowing icicles actually was magical but drippy. That made me nervous as I envisioned chunks falling as we walked through. But thankfully it was all in my mind.

 

Hundreds of people flocked in the court-yard. Children played and slid down magical slides. Surrounding speakers belted out elevator music, supposedly  enhancing the experience. We could’ve lived without it, you were not going to experience peace here with all the gathered people. I’m sure bringing children and grandchildren is more fun, seeing glee and happiness through innocent eyes.

 

I thought of how they created the ice castles. Tom said they have water guns to shoot the water up and it ices up right away. It looks like a lot of time and hard work involved.

 

 

I thought the interior sides of the ice castle resembled frozen waterfalls, rushing down and stopping frozen in time. It was a magnificent sight against the beautiful March sky. As we walked around the main court, Tom and I were quiet. I think there are moments that call for peace and quiet, to absorb nature. Although we were hushed, many family voices rang throughout and you didn’t reach a peaceful state. I think it would’ve been better with fewer people so you could reflect instead of trying to ignore all the noise.

 

 

This was one of the mini slides with two stalls for wee tiny children to scoot down. I can just imagine how magical it was for them under the iced structure.

 

This was one of the rooms in the ice castle bearing a big fountain in the middle. It’s hard to see from my picture, but actual water spewed up from it. It chilled my insides just to see it, but it was amazing.

 

We were in the ice castle for probably a half hour. Perhaps most families spend much longer perusing the man-made wonder, while their children coast down on slides of sparkling ice. We were discouraged from the long lines at the slides and otherwise I would’ve given a go for laughs. It was an experience we can see we did…finally taking part in something many north country people have done. Tom and I decided that it was our last time because we had seen it first hand . Some events you only need to do once and in my opinion, this was one of them.

 

With this post, I officially say goodbye to winter. I’m ready for spring, with that said all weekend we had snow and freezing rain. This morning is a two-hour delay, a treat for a Monday. I’m having an extra cup of Joe and spending valuable time blogging.

I hope you all have a great Monday where ever you are!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

“Earning Your Keep”

 

I think most writers discover inspiration all around them…in nature’s beauty, in the eyes of their loves, in magical books and movies that take your breath away, to name a few. I watched a movie last night on Hulu, Tumbledown with Jason Sudeikis and a quote struck me so much that I thought about it all night. The female character was looking out over a frozen lake in April set in Maine and her prolific words touched my every being. ” I love living in a place where you have to earn your keep.”

 

 

What does that really mean? I know it was a reference to  living in New England. It can be brutal here with harsh weather with loads of snow and little sun many months of the year to the point of driving many people south for a reprieve. Staying here in this sometimes unforgiving land is”earning your keep.”You have to work hard. Live hard. Love with all your being. You have to accept the seasons and love the changes that are thrust upon you.

 

 

In spring the hearty tulips emerge in patches of snow. Newly arriving robins flutter and fly while frosty snow covers the ground. That’s not what I visualize when I think of spring…yet that’s the reality here.

 

In summer the warmth and pleasant temperatures take over, a season when towns fill up  with returning snowbirds. Small hamlets come to life as economies thrive once again, counting on the hot sunshine, the cool walks in the woods and the refreshing dips in the lake that appeal to any visitor and resident.

 

The crisp fall presence is a prelude of winter but a lingering glimpse of summer. Trees are an outstanding canvas of golden, pinks, bright yellows and rich reds. Mountains call to you to explore and experience the surreal peace on the way to the top.

 

Beautiful yet unforgiving winter brings sparkling whites, glistening sheets of ice and frigid air….testing your endurance. It’s the season your will must be steady and strong. You accept the harsh reality because the splendor and beauty can be humbling yet breath-taking.

 

When I think of living in New England, I think of “earning your keep”. It takes a strong-willed person to not only stick it out, but to love all the seasons for their unique qualities. We choose to stay, to live and love the changes the seasons hand us. That’s what a New Englander does….earns his keep and loves every minute of it!

 

The older I become the more my bones ache ( possibly arthritis) and my patience with the cold waivers at times. With that said, I still love living in the north. It’s all I know and my husband as well…both of us have lived in New England all our lives and I foresee that’s the way it will always be. 

Happy Weekend to you all!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Get Rid of Fear & Learn Something New

 

 

 

Do you want to pursue a hobby or interest but fear is holding you back? Are you petrified of people’s reactions and criticism? Many people hold back from following their heart their whole life, simply out of fear. Sometimes it’s  easier to just be, than to take the steps further to thrive. Fear stands as a gated barrier for fulfilling ones dreams. The journey to your fate is one YOU must travel. For me, my relationship with God leads me to where I need to be.

 

 

 

All my life I’ve kept fear beside me, coddled it and made it a friend. I can’t blame family genes even though my maternal grandmother was fearful constantly.  Neither can I point fingers at the world but the truth is that it started with me and needs to end with me. Now I’m at a middle age, 48, that changes things! The more I learn and grow,  the more I create that strong skin.

 

 

During this journey I have experienced terrible setbacks. Any battle like this tends to have steps forward and a few steps back. Sometimes I think I can’t breathe without fear dominating, but then I regain my strength and squash it. You may feel this too at times and it’s important to know that anything this big and true takes much pain and some setbacks.

 

 

 

My advice to you is do not waste anymore precious time! Simply do it, with a free spirit and resolve. Forget about worrying and wondering about people because it doesn’t matter what they think! If I had kept up with my writing I wouldn’t have lost a few years. With these words I want to encourage you to seek your dreams and find those hidden talents.

 

I’ve taken an art class on painting once and  tried the french horn in school ( this is when I discovered that my interest in music is merely that and not a talent). A few summers ago I dabbled in ancestry and learned tremendous information about my maternal family and some of my paternal.  It was a magical time of diving deep into the past to discover my roots and in turn I made my mom a book. Are you interested in ancestry?

 

You have no way of ever knowing what interests you or what you excel at if you don’t get out there and try things. Experience new classes, journeys and trips with others ( my friend Belinda has gone on bus tours with a local bank and met new friends and has seen new places on her trips. It’s amazing that she does this by herself but has gained so much from her experiences.)

I’m in my late forties and if now isn’t the time, when is? Don’t tell yourself, when the children grow up, when I have more money or I’ll do it when life slows down. If you wait for these things to happen, you’re missing out now! No more excuses, just do it!

 

Get rid of Fear and get out there! Tell yourself, ” I am fearless!” Explore different interests to learn and have fun! That little choice may  fill the void in your life, that uncertainty that has been following you for a long time. What have you always wanted to try? 

 

As I write this I’m still dreaming of writing a book and exploring other ideas to try. I’ll keep you posted.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤👍

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A First Train Ride (Then and Now)

 

The year was 1987 and I was eighteen years old. Picture a young naive kid, who came from a small town, with a dream to seek out what the big city had to offer. So long ago my mom dropped me off in White River Junction, Vermont, so that I could ride the  train to New York City. It was an exciting adventure, my first train ride, to visit my older brother David in Brooklyn.

 

 

I don’t remember all about my train ride but I do recollect that it was a seven or eight-hour stint on a smooth rolling train called the Vermonter. We rode through humble towns like Bellows Falls and  expansive cities like Hartford, Connecticut. The landscape sprawled before me, scenes  of city cars and buildings everywhere and others of fields and barns. At one point the train started going in the other direction, therefore I had to stifle the sick feeling. I had never rode backwards before! Ugh!

Here is my son checking out the schedule with his dad
Boarding the train on a frigid day. Thank goodness for the sun!

 

Now, so many years later I was reminded of my trip through my son’s first train ride on the same train. Branden is about the same age as I was, with the youthful energy to try new things.  I was so proud of his eagerness to travel, exploring new ways of transportation.

 

The station sits in White River Junction, Vermont nestled on the White River, adjoining the Connecticut. Dating back to the 1840’s the city thrived as a railroad junction and continued until its decline in the 1960’s. Then the highway system became the most important means of travel. Yet the station remains and travelers still take advantage of the passenger train.

 

As Tom, my son and I waited outside the station, a well seasoned railroad employee trudged up to us. He jingled his keys in the bitter cold and apologized for not opening the waiting station sooner. ” Lots to do today. ” he whispered, sending plummets of steam from his breath. Since we were early and the only ones waiting so far, we assured him that it was fine.

 

 

Entering the musty room I was plunged back in time. A boarding schedule stood on the wall, not digital or modern,  but resembling the same schedule I saw so long ago. Wooden benches stood in the middle of the room. It was as if we were in the Planes, Trains and Automobile movie beside actors John Candy and Steve Martin.

 

 

 

It was surprising to me to have many people pile into the station at the last-minute, perhaps holiday travelers going home as it was New Year’s Day. At the estimated arrival time we all stood just a few feet away from the track. The wind whipped against us as we stood in the snow, a true New England boarding experience in January. Finally the train whistle sounded, giving me goosebumps and it hurriedly chugged up to us. Right away the attendants lowered the icy steps and herded people onboard. This was it…Branden boarded for his  first train adventure and we drove home happy for him.

 

Do you have a train ride story?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

 

 

First Snow Sparkle ❄️

 

This is a view of our woods bordering our backyard.

 

 

The first significant snow

of the season pounced on us

Saturday night!

Sunday morning and afternoon the fresh fallen snow glistened

on bushes and trees

as the sun pelted its presence

upon us.

Frosted trees sparkled

with glistening milky snow.

The wind softly caressed the branches

while wisps of sparkling snow sprayed in clouds

and fell to the ground.

The air smelled clean and anew,

a sure sign of new fallen snow.

As I trudged up the dirt road behind our house,

the suns rays shined upon the road

with an angelic like aura.

I’m grateful for coming winter and the beauty

all around.

Welcome new snow!

It will be a white Christmas!

 

 

Our front yard
Beautiful apple trees in our neighbor’s yard.
Along the dirt road I spy our garage

Look at the beauty around me!

Do you have snow where you are?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕