What is This?

Does anyone know what this rusty object could be? A few weeks ago I was weeding around a stump in our front yard. I planted flowers there and wanted to clean it up. As I pulled grasses and weeds, I pulled on this object that was immersed in the core of the rotting  stump. At first I guessed that it was a type of bottle opener but the more I study it, it doesn’t seem to be. It was made in Taiwan and almost looks like the narrow end was broken off of something. Perhaps this object was part of a machine but how did it get in a rotted stump?

 

 

 

 

I love a good mystery that’s why I enjoy ancestry immensely! It’s fascinating to wonder about what people did long ago,  especially in our house that was built around 1890. Once I found a few pieces of old China dishes buried underneath my garden. Long ago families dug trenches on their property to dump discarded items and apparently there are several on our property. Last summer Tom found a site where he was building his garage. Coincidentally the old barn stood on the same spot and when it was torn down, many objects were buried there. Tom found old chains, tires, milking instruments, animal bones and a rusted jewelry box to name a few.

 

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I’m keeping this piece of history, even if I may never know. It’s a curiosity that will rest in my garden, keeping me wondering and connected somehow to the past. Let me know what your guess is.

 

An update…I just googled ” old bottle opener” and found this image. Could this be the same?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

The First Time

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Photo credit, Facebook.com/BEGINWITHYES

 

Upon seeing this Facebook post, I sat down and thought about it. Since I’m a creature of habit and don’t try new things all the time, it was a difficult task to recall the last time I tried something new.

About a year ago I attended an art class in my hometown and painted an outdoors scene with birches and scattered rocks. It was an amazing learning experience and my first time I really painted aside from Kindergarten projects. What stays with me is not the painting itself or the class, but the fact that I went alone. I had planned to go with my sister but she couldn’t go in the last minute. Worried thoughts plowed through me and I even contemplated attempting to get a refund. But what stopped me was a need and want to go. I had my mind set that I would have a great class. I’m proud of myself for entering that class of laughing and talking women in groups of two or three and stood alone optimistically. That was the first time that I set my mind to attend something alone and I walked away triumphant!

 

Another first this summer is it’s my first time growing corn! In previous years Tom planted it and I really had nothing to do with it. He got discouraged because of raccoons and other critters ate a lot of it. Now we are trying it again, many years later and God willing, our plates will be full of corn in a month or so.

Think about this, friends. Share when was the last time you did something for the first time?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

 

My Top Ten Summer Ideas

My Top Ten Summer Ideas….

 

These are just a few things you can do this summer ( in no specific order, just try them all)

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1. Have your morning coffee on your deck or outside table! Here in New Hampshire the evenings and mornings are mostly cool. The refreshing air wakes you up and of course that delicious cup of Joe tastes delicious outside! Listen to all the summer birds sing their morning song and be grateful for it. I’ve indulged in this tranquil time twice and intend to do it more this summer.

 

 

2. Go for walks before or after work. I find lately I really enjoy walking in the morning while there are less cars and more wildlife. I bring my camera for that sudden photo opportunity and have a little bell to ring to scare off bears. Truth be told I think most bears are more scared of us but the thought of a protective mama bear and her cubs crosses my mind now and then. 

 

 

 

3. Add fruit to your lemonade or iced tea pitcher. I was planning on doing this anyway but I was surprised one day when I caught my son Branden making it. His first pitcher was an experiment and the lemonade tasted primarily of watermelon. Since then he’s abandoned the watermelon idea and instead added a small amount of raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. It’s super easy…wash them good, cut the ends off the strawberries and pick the little stems from the blueberries. Blend well in your blender and then add to iced tea or lemonade! If you don’t have fresh fruit but you have a lemon or lime, slices of that make the drink special too! Don’t forget to add lots of ice to the pitcher!

 

 

 

 

 

4. Fire up the grill and smoker! Marinate beef, chicken, pork, shrimp…you get the idea and grill while you sip a glass of wine. Sit out at your outside table while grilling and enjoy it. Grill corn on the cob or veggies. Sometimes I use foil for potatoes or veggies to grill or I have a grilling pan meant for the high heat to cook sides dishes. It works great and cleans up well.

 

 

 

5.Visit your local ice cream stand! I am lactose intolerant but found that a soft serve cone doesn’t bother me. Yummy! Enjoy that juicy watermelon, sweet strawberries and blueberries, crisp corn on the cob and fresh garden veggies picked from the soil. I know what you’re thinking, that some of my favorite summer things are definitely  foods but how can you truly enjoy summer without relishing in it’s cuisine?

 

 

 

 

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Lovely Pearl Lake in Lisbon, New Hampshire

 

6. Go to the lake. Go fishing (only if you have a license), take a boat ride and snap photos and  swim in the fresh water. Watch the trout jump and the ducks dive for bugs and relish in the goodness of it all. Bask in the sun and be thankful for the quiet moments away from work and the stresses of everyday life.

 

 

7. Visit new places, especially ones that are just open this season. I’ve lived in the north country all my life and I’m just minutes from Mount Washington but I’ve never been up it. This summer Tom and I may ride the Cog Railroad up the Mountain. A hot July day can be cool or even snowy so bring a jacket and take in the amazing views! I’ll keep you posted if we go on this adventure!

 

 

8. Read books! Compile a wishlist…I do this on Pinterest and record the books I read every summer. So far I’ve read Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman. I just picked up The Signature of all Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and look forward to it. She is such a great writer and when I read her books, it flows. A great book sucks you in and you don’t want to put it down. If you’re making yourself read  a book just to finish it but you don’t ENJOY it, discard it! Reading is for enjoyment so choose something that excites and fascinates you.

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9.  Do you have a green thumb? Then start a Garden! In our neck of the woods it’s a short growing season but a beautiful way to become one with nature and feel peace in your heart. Perhaps you want to grow a small garden…if so, plant seeds that grow fast like lettuce, spinach, and radishes. You could always garden in containers, with already grown plants, flowers or herbs. I make it a point to browse through my gardens everyday but if you work then try to tend to it a few times a week. If these ideas aren’t possibilities, definitely seek local farmer’s markets. They sell all home grown vegetables and fruits, honey, have cut flowers, hand made crafts, and many other goods.

 

10.Last but not least spend valuable time with the people you love. Recently a dear co-worker and friend of mine passed away from cancer at the young age of 54. This wake up call further instills the importance of making memories and time count. So far this summer I’ve seen my three siblings at my nephew’s high school graduation, saw my dad and will visit him and Corinne next Friday, my mom, and my friends Laurie and Michelle. My mother-in-law Theo will be visiting in a few weeks and we’ll see Tom’s sister Pam and her husband Jim.  I’ll also get to spend some time with Tom’s sister Bev, who I always look forward to seeing. Although I have summers off, I  have much to do and garden around home. Even so, I make it a point to see my family and friends who I love because time is precious and I know that making time for loved ones builds relationships.

 

My favorite photo of my sister and I taken a few years back and Alexis (my son Dylan’s girlfriend who is part of our family now) and Tom and I in Maine.

 

 

 

Have fun this summer and make sure that you try new things..taste different foods, visit new places and learn more about the world around you. Share with me experiences you’ve pursued this summer. I would love to hear from you.

 

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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Florida Vacation Part I

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We were excited about getting off the plane and seeing Mary and Joe.

An adventure of firsts sprung upon us after a few months of planning. Suddenly  our excursion to Florida to visit family was really happening! It was our first vacation in years. The first get away since our boys left our nest and ventured on their own journeys and Tom’s first jet plane ride.

 
We arrived in Tampa,Florida on Saturday and Tom and I were greeted with warm friendly smiles. Right away I knew that we were far from home…warmth was a stark opposite of chilly New Hampshire Weather. Tom’s sister Mary and our brother in law, Joe greeted us enthusiastically with smiles and hugs to begin our stay.

 

 

 

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Doesn’t Tom look so happy?

 

 

 

Their adorable home is on an approximately 2.0 acre lot adorned with palm trees in the back. A beautiful lot and yard, it’s a comfortable and welcoming dwelling and we both can understand why they love it. Joe’s done much carpentry work inside and out and made a front and back deck. It’s incredible that he has remodeled all the rooms! This self sufficiency and talent reminds me of Tom, two men cut from the same cloth in many ways.
We toured their beautiful home and then visited Fort Gulf Beach in Crystal River. Just a short ride brought us to a sandy beach, many palm trees and the Gulf Of Mexico. Many families were enjoying the beach and water on such a nice day. We walked past the beach to a boardwalk immersed in tropical greenery and Spanish moss hanging from trees. Besides the glowing sunlight, the palm trees dotted here and there and the gray stringy Spanish moss introduced us to the south.

 

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Standing on the dock, we looked over the never ending ocean, the Gulf of Mexico which is really part of the Atlantic Ocean. People fished from the dock as the four of us enjoyed the view and soaked up the sun. It definitely was a beautiful spot to walk, go fishing, swimming and sunning at the beach.

 

 

An afternoon of lounging in the pool ended with a lovely dinner of angel hair and breaded baked chicken. Mary’s daughter, our niece, Joanne and her family came to visit. It had been years since we had seen them…it was so wonderful to see her and her family and visit. Her boys are good kids and growing so much! God bless them as they grow.

 

 

We feel so blessed to have such a great, magical stay for a couple of days. Many thanks to Mary and Joe for their hospitality and love!

 

My next few posts will focus on our Florida stay, from visiting Silver Springs State Park to Circle B Bar Reserve and our stay with his sister, Pam and our brother in law, Jim and his mom, Theo. 💕It was an amazing few days all around and now we all have wonderful memories of it! I hope you’ll enjoy my posts and Tom’s photos! 

 

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

 

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Long Forgotten Luggage

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Willard Beach in South Portland, Maine. A beautiful spot for a vacation.

 

 

Long Lost Luggage

 

In the midst of a dry and dark attic

lies long lost luggage.

Forlorn and forgotten somehow,

hidden among the moth balls and insulation.

Cobwebs tangled throughout.

Enveloped in a coat of aged dust.

Husband and wife dusts them off.

Regrets of non existent travel

linger thick in the air,

but are quickly replaced with

curiosity and hope.

Their dreams of a get away

turn the mundane into

extraordinary events.

Perhaps these suitcases will live again!

It’s their turn to travel to different places

and take turns on the tarmac.

Symbolic of journeys…

they remind us to

experience the adventure more often!

 

Hello readers, my husband and I are traveling to Florida soon for a get away to see our family. It’s our first trip without our sons and a milestone for sure. I believe that we are going to travel more now, possibly once or twice a year to new locations and adventurous experiences. I look forward to sharing our trip with you!

 

All My Best,

 

Heart and Soul ❤