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!
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?
EEK! Facebook, email, messaging! Recently I needed a tech break, just a couple of days to let it go. Sometimes in our lives we experience overload from too much information, especially with technology in this age. The reason why I chose to unplug from my iPad was that the minute I got up in the morning to the time I go to sleep, it was an important player in my day and this scares the heck out of me!
While I was away I watched a mother deer slowly lead her young twins across our road, all the while I held my breath hoping a car wouldn’t race towards them. The mother moved confidently and with a proud stature, while her babies swayed to and fro with new naive life. The fawns’ spotted coats stood out in the morning sun and their little white tails flickered behind them as they dutifully followed mom. I could smell fresh morning air and feel a refreshing coolness tingle my skin. All this was a blessing.
I worked and walked in my garden, watching a pair of goldfinches twittering in a nearby bush. Chirping birds of all sorts were my morning song. This is peace, I thought. Forget email and messages and the drama of Facebook. Forget bills and worries, I thought.
The next afternoon ( still under a tech break), I spotted something long and chestnut brown beyond our pond. It moved slowly with slick movements. It paused behind lush vegetation, with a rustle of branches. Suddenly a stunning deer showed itself and looked at me. This creature had a long smooth body and a twitchy whitetail with an endearing head with bright thoughtful eyes. She gawked at me, as if I didn’t belong here. At this moment we shared space, air and the yard’s tranquility. We both were meant to be here, together, staring at each other in vast silence.It felt like hours of gazing but it was just a minute or two, just enough to feel it’s peace and beauty. Then it was over, as sudden as her magical appearance. I held my breath as she gracefully glided across the road and followed the game trail into the thick woods.
All these moments remind me of why I took the break. I needed to reconnect with the simplicity of nature and to soak in all of its peacefulness. There’s a profound need to heal my wounds from the past year, to mend things and recharge for fall. Some people take long summer vacations and do this. We don’t…we never have gone on vacation for more than a couple of days, since my husband has so much work this time of year. A part of me mourns this and secretly wishes there could be a get- away for us. Years ago it was his care taking job in the way and now it’s all his summer landscaping jobs. Don’t misunderstand me, I know those jobs pay the bills! Yet, I worry that Tom doesn’t truly get a break and we don’t get to relax like we should. Even though I’m depressed about this, I look forward to a few day trips and a few weekends away in the fall, when it’s quieter and he’s able to do it.
If there comes a time when you need peace and quiet in your corner of the world, unplug. Forget the cell phone, iPad and email messages. Take a walk in nature. Get out and watch wildlife, birds, deer, and whatever is in your backyard. Breathe deeply and take a moment for peace. I did and I feel great and may just do this again on the weekend.
Most evenings Tom and I gaze at the celestial sky through the window while lying in bed. Just across our bed a small window serves as a makeshift skylight. This particular evening a cloud cover hid the bounty of twinkling stars but instead there was a natural melody playing.
A beautiful chorus of peepers traveled from the pond. We spent several minutes listening to these nature calls, a comforting song of nature. These sounds are actually male frogs calling their female mates. It lulled us to sleep, as sweet as can be. The cheeping sounds reminds me of past nights with open windows and cool air wafting in. They are a sure sign of warmer bright days and a gracious hello of spring.
Across our yard, bordering our property line is a small pond. Sometime in the past ( the 50’s or 60’s) a local ROTC built the ponds barrier.A steady brook from the woods empties this body of water. The run off rushes into a culvert under the road.
When we first acquired the home, the pond was in good shape and healthy. Years of non maintenance has left overgrown weeds and water plants, shrinking the pond itself. We’ve concentrated on our home renovation, not really having the time to maintain it. Our goal is to dig it out with a backhoe and cut back all the plants and weeds that have taken over. I dream of a little dirt path to it, as well as beautiful flowers on its edge.
I expect to hear the peepers tunes hum for a few weeks. Their beautiful croaking is surely a gift for us to enjoy …the sounds of spring.
What signs of spring are you seeing? If you are experiencing a different season, what do you see or hear now?
A piece of my past that was tucked away in my conscience where remembrances hide, came back to life two years ago. I never would have guessed that my middle school dance memories would breathe life again or would even matter.
Let’s fast forward about 32 years and imagine my intense surprise when my son, D told me that his high school prom was going to be held at the Alumni Hall! It meant nothing to him, as I had never mentioned it to him before. He did know that I grew up in Haverhill but didn’t know that the Doyle ( my maiden name) residence stood on Court Street.
The historic Alumni Hall grandly sits on quaint Court Street in Haverhill, New Hampshire. In the 19th century this grandmother served as the local courthouse and later in the 20th century as a gymnasium for the Haverhill Academy middle school.
This place speaks history to me, as I lived a few houses down Court street from her. I was one of hundreds of students who played organized gym games on its old wooden floor with the historic stage in the background. Our school, Haverhill Academy, stood a few feet away facing one of the commons. From the back yard we could walk on a short path leading to the hall. Years later the town built a tennis court with basketball hoops adjacent to the path and it still stands today.
As a seventh and eighth grader, I attended dances at the Alumni Hall. For me, it was magnificent to live just five houses up on the right. I could walk to the dances! It was especially magical strolling back under a cloak of stars and the cool night air enveloping me. I remember having that dance high from the loud music and people and the adrenaline pushing me back home.
I vividly remember taking my cousin Janice to the dance and the fun we had, walking towards the venue. Loud music belted from its every corner on a fine spring evening. I try to forget that sad sorrowful feeling of waiting to be asked to dance by a certain boy. Although it never happened, someone did ask me to dance…but I refused. I had my heart set on one boy and was stupid enough to not even consider others. I danced fast tunes with my friends but didn’t dance any slow ones.
It was an early evening in May and as my mother in law, Theo and I went to the prom to snap photos of D and his date, my stomach was like jello. It was so many years later after that spring dance in this same building….I had transformed from a young teenager with my promising life ahead of me to now, a grown mama and wife. Now I was going to my son’s dance at the same place. It was unbelievable and will never happen again.
All the boys sported tuxes of black or white with slicked back hair and hopeful smiles. A colorful sea of gowns of teals, peaches, bright royal blues to frosty pinks decorated the front lawn. The girls tinkly little giggles and the subtle clicks of numerous cameras was drowned out by the boys chattering. As we took pictures of all the handsome couples on the lawn, a huge green tractor inched by and everyone laughed.
Inside the hall the tables and chairs were gift wrapped in satin like material and tulle. Little white lights twinkled, shining over the renovated wood floor. This didn’t look like the same place where my dance was, a different Alumni hall in a different time ages ago. I still could imagine what our dance looked like.
Soon after our family moved from Haverhill, the town closed the building. It was falling apart and unsafe and needed an expensive facelift. Years later the funds were gathered and renovations busily began. After the renovation, the historic hall remained with all its splendor but rejuvenated into a fine classy grandmother.
Now the Alumni Hall is a great cultural center for the arts. I have gone to a Betty Johnson Gray show there and it was an amazing night. Betty Gray is a prominent singer who hales from New York City but lives in a sprawling mansion next door to Haverhill Academy.
It’s an amazing circumstance when ones past goes full circle and meets you in the present. Those past moments that rise up and come back to life are staunch reminders that life has incredible connections. As a silly teenager girl, I once attended these exciting dances, now grown into a wonderful woman and being a spectator there for my son. That young girl would never have imagined that her oldest son would dance at the same place and how lovely her life would turn out to be!
When you commit to a home renovation project, there are many factors to consider. The obvious ones are having enough time and money for what needs to be done. Another imperative consideration is the vast amount of patience needed to spend months and possibly years on the project. The last challenge that brings the most conflict ( in my opinion) is when the house sits vacant and there is a possibility of sneaky, opportunistic critters moving in…
Eight months ago, when we prepared to move in our new home, my husband and I found a few acorn nuts in a corner of the living-room. It was an awkward moment, when I stepped on them and performed a very ungraceful pirouette, landing on scattered tools. Amid the upset tools were various pine boards and a box of very long nails. Surprisingly we quickly dismissed the presence of house guests because it would have thrown a wrench in our timely plan of moving in! Although we both knew there was exterior work ahead, we thought the house would be fine for the time being.
A few summer months passed by…one night a haunting, scratchy noise violated my deep sleep. My thoughts were that a mouse or two were lurking behind the walls and that our trusty mouser, Smokey would take care of them. During a quiet breakfast the next morning, I told Tom of the suspicious noises and he brushed it off. He was sure it was a mouse.
Days were progressively becoming crisper as summer transitioned into fall. The days were hosted with vibrant sunshine and cool nights brought wispy smoke stretching from chimneys. Chipmunks and gray squirrels hurriedly scampered around our yard, gathering their nuts for the long winter. The lush vegetable garden was no longer vivacious but frosted and tired. A dead plant odor hung in the air as well as rotted squashes thrown in the compost. Tom and I cleaned up and put it to bed in silence, as the scurrying chipmunks and squirrels went about their hoarding. We were all preparing for winter, but in very contrasting ways.
While we settled in one night and watched television, there was flitting, rustling movements above us. It almost sounded like there was an apartment of people upstairs. At one point, Tom and I stared at the ceiling in disbelief. Imagine hearing something running about, rolling nuts in between the floors. What wild creature would possibly be leaving the woods and setting up shop in our attic and between our floors? Flying Squirrels. Little reddish brown furry squirrels that resemble the size of a chipmunk and goggle like eyes popping out.
Christmas vacation came along, bringing a once a year energy! There was excitement in the air, as we trimmed our full Christmas tree and Tom’s mom visited from Florida. The puttering and scrambling was long forgotten and we settled in for the holiday festivities.
In the middle of the night, I awoke to a clanging eruption in our kitchen and reluctantly decided to investigate. Padding down the soft carpet, sleep lingered and I couldn’t wait to retire back to our flannel bedding made up like a hibernation nest. Suddenly another loud bang arose from the far end of our kitchen and our skittish older cat, Katy, raced around the corner with fear. I flicked on the kitchen light, curious now of what was going on! Smokey had to be involved, for he is our trusty night patrolman and prowls the downstairs at night, in search of any prey in his path.
What happened next triggered a hysterical EEK from my inner gut! I discovered Smokey wildly chasing a wild rodent of some sort with a big bushy tail across my kitchen floor! I ran upstairs with as much vigor as a seasoned marathon runner! Needless to say Tom and my mother-in-law jumped out of their slumber and Tom flew down the stairs to investigate. It took a few minutes but he trapped it and we all trudged back to bed.
What nerve these house guests had! I know they must have resided here long before we moved in, but it was time for an EVICTION NOW! Just the thought of flying squirrels in the attic and walls made me squeamish. It’s not that I was scared of them but they are wild and rodent like. Sharing our space with critters sent chills up my spine in a bad way.
Weeks have gone by since the first exciting and eery encounter. Tom and Dylan set up havahart traps in our attics, pretty confident in their trapping ability. Days passed with not a spring, even with peanut butter to entice the squirrels. Then one early weekday morning I sat quietly meditating and drinking my first cup of coffee. A steaming cup on my placemat and twinkling white lights lit above the cupboards made a peaceful setting, yet not for long! Suddenly I heard a clattering up in Dylan’s room and frantic running down the stairs. Around the corner plunged Smokey with a flying squirrel dangling from his mouth! Oh no and Tom had left for work 45 minutes earlier! What I would do? There may be a few brave women out there, who would problem solve and capture the squirrel or remove it from the cats mouth. I am not one of those women. After a call to Tom’s work, he showed up with canvas gloves on and handling a small cooler to catch the critter. Thank goodness for a strong, kind husband and his understanding boss!
Now we didn’t want to harm the squirrels and ideally we planned to avoid that altogether. Sometimes things just don’t go as arranged and the last resort is upon you and there is no other choice. A visit to the trusty hardware store and $20 later, Tom and I held a paper bag of wooden rat traps with huge springs, loud enough to really cause a ruckus. Baiting them with creamy peanut butter and sliding them ever so cautiously between the floors, we waited. Within 5 minutes we heard a vicious snap! Five minutes later another loud crack and our population was two less. We thought there were two or three left scampering about.
Snap, snap, snap! Would you believe after a month of diligent trapping and releasing, Tom has caught not two or three, but twenty four flying squirrels! There were times that’s all Tom did after work was check traps, unload them and start the vicious cycle again. He kept a tally on a scrap piece of paper, every time he caught one.
The entire Landaff flying squirrel population flocked here in seek of shelter and we can’t fathom how they found us or how long they stayed. It’s much quieter and serene here now. The only scampering heard now is of two grown cats and sometimes a teenager upstairs on his exercise bike. In the spring Tom and Dylan will patch up the gaping part of our house, shutting out winter visitors. I’m sure we will be telling this story for years to come, but I hope it’s the ending. Eek!