I have to admit, fleeting summer has raced by and even though I’m not working at school it seems that I haven’t stayed in the moment. I’ve been “busy” with many things, one that my youngest son has rented an apartment in Cambridge and the other is getting married in three weeks. But what really is busy, is it a flimsy excuse to not slow down? ( this idea from my sister Barb and it’s so true).
A few days ago I had a conversation with my sister and her valuable advice stayed with me, something I really needed at the time. She told me to “live in the now, the present.” My “living in the now” consists of watching wildlife roam our backyard trails, listening to the melodies of local birds, watching the fierce acrobatic moves of hummingbirds and working my garden. The last few days I’ve been happier and more centered, all because of these important things. These things that are vital to me and my peace of mind!
What better way of living in the moment than taking my niece Ella overnight. First we visited Grammy and Grandpa Doyle and had lunch with them. We were taken on a tour of his bountiful garden and were sent home with his raspberries and blueberries. Next we took Smokey for a walk and saw a black garter snake! Yikes…snakes and I don’t get along but thankfully he slithered away! Imagine Ella letting the leash go and Smokey running around while both of us screamed in terror. haha. Smokey is getting trained with the leash for he came right back to us.
On Saturday we checked out my garden and saw how a few sunflowers have opened. Their rich red color will certainly match Lexy’s maroon and gray theme at my son’s wedding. If you don’t already know, I’m growing this patch for Lexy to use in the wedding in three weeks. I am pretty sure they will all be opened by then and I can’t wait to see what other colors they will be as it’s a Mexican mix of sunflowers.
After playing a two-day game of Monopoly and lathering in sunscreen in the sun, Ella’s mom and dad picked her up. We talked and laughed and saw a Monarch butterfly on one of my flowers. It’s these moments and memories that ground me, something I will need in the rush and planning of the next few weeks.
I do hope you can “Live in the now.”
Have no regrets.
Just peace and relaxation and absorb what is happening
It’s hard to believe that here we are, emerged in August! June and July have hurried by and left behind much rain. Summer days of indulging in iced tea and watching flowers grow have commenced. August brings steamy yet comfortable temperatures in the 80’s and relaxing breezes in our humble town. Flowers have bloomed and brought vivid colors to yards. The rich green grass is soft to my barefeet and cool to the touch.
It’s been awhile since I updated you all on our renovation and building projects. Some of you may remember my post last summer of my husband building his beautiful garage/barn. It’s pretty much finished besides pouring a cement floor and we need to purchase two industrial sized doors. We feel very proud of this structure and by chance it’s foundation is built where the old barn stood many years ago. This was done by accident, for we didn’t know, but what a wonderful coincidence, don’t you think?
This summer Tom has started siding our house with cedar shingles. This is where we tore down an attached shed, leaving original clapboard ( not in the best shape) and unfinished work and insulation from many years ago before we were owners. I feel like I should help but I’m not too confident of using the nailgun. I hand him the shingles, alternating between fat sturdy pieces and the thinner shingles and of course I gab the whole time to keep him company. Tom was smart enough to keep the awning up to keep him out of the sun and rain. Eventually we can enjoy that side of the house with light brown shingles and a new window installed.
Summer is the one of the best times to create new gardens. Tom helped me dig out a space in the corner of our house facing the diningroom and the kitchen. I planted little purple coneflowers which hopefully will rise towards the sun in magnificent height. To compliment that color, I included coreopsis with a warm yellow glow. While it’s pretty much done, I have a few finishing touches like the gorgeous bird bath my niece made and wait until you see what it’s made from! But that post will come later so be looking for it in a week or two.
August not only brings warm pleasant temperatures, but family! Tom’s mother, Theo, has visited all the long way from Lake Wales, Florida. She arrived last week with Tom’s sister Pam and her husband Jim. After a long tedious day of traveling, I served my chili for dinner. It was a little different than what I usually concoct because at the last minute I added garden zucchini and I think that was a great decision!
We’ve spent the week talking, eating wonderful meals and enjoying the outside with walks(one walk through our town took 4 hours and about 6 miles). We also visited Tom’s sister Bev and her husband Chris last weekend in Easthampton, Massachusetts. It was a great drive down on 91 and the trip was a little under three hours. Bev and Chris are immersed in a challenging renovation project, a huge three story home on a quaint small town street. They are restoring it to its original state, which takes time and patience. They reside upstairs and eventually they will rent the bottom half to responsible renters. I look forward to seeing their progress the next time we visit.
During our weekend we explored the bike path on that area, walking in shady and sunny parts and met the nicest people. Bev pointed out how many dads walk their children there and we saw families taking advantage of the trail. Bev served us scrumptious scallops and a lovely hearty breakfast of blueberry oat pancakes. It was special spending time with Bev, Chris ( I love how he laughs at my jokes, one of the few), my niece Michele and of course Theo. It was a magical weekend and I didn’t want to say goodbye but I was itching to hit the road and make the trip up 91 to home.
As August has started, the summer clock is ticking away and I glance now and then at the calendar. I believe that I have to be back at school in three weeks. But as the clock continues to tick outrageously fast, I intend to savor the rest of the summer and welcome what happens in those days.
Theo and I are camping in a cabin at a campground north of us for about five days. In that time I won’t be posting or responding to comments but I will rejoin you all when I get back home. I’ll be sure to jot down notes and take pictures of my adventures. Blessings to you all and your families.
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!