Saturday, October 31, 2009


1971 was an interesting year.

It was the year this overpass was built over a new connector in a growing city.

According to Wikipedia it was the year the U.S. banned all cigarette advertisements on radio and television.

All in the Family made its debut on television, while Ed Sullivan aired his last show.

There was this little upstart called NASDAQ. Who’d have guessed it would come to take partial control of our retirements and cause so much stress?

There were a lot of natural disasters. Mount Etna erupted in Italy, a tsunami hit the islands off Japan, earthquakes left destruction in Turkey, and a cyclone killed 10,000 in India.

The U.S., and Washington D.C. in particular, saw many Vietnam War protests, with 60% of the population against the War (per Harris Poll).

Charles Manson received his sentence.

Koko, the gorilla, was born. Shamu (the original one) died.

The Soviet crew on the Soyuz 11 died when a faulty valve leaked their air supply.

Read the other fascinating facts here.

That September I started my high school senior year. But you won’t find that in Wiki. :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Golden Days

October was a beautiful month. The colors rivaled those of the first spring bulbs. But as the saying goes * ... "the days dwindle down to a precious few..." I hope you're enjoying these precious days! And maybe looking forward to what's around the corner.... :)

* Maxwell Anderson, playwright, 1888-1959: "And the days dwindle down To a precious few, September, November - And these few precious days I'll spend with you, These golden days I'll spend with you"
The first time I heard this it was being sung by Frank Sinatra, but here is a LINK to Willie Nelson's version.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh, no....

It seems that this is what happened when the previous administration gave land rights to drill for gas.

I remember the discussion. They made it sound like it was useless land.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Time to Do Something

By the posts I've read these past few months, we've all enjoyed a beautiful Fall. The trips, the foliage, the hikes, it's been one of the best. There were dozens of blogs I have stumbled upon with stunning photos in forests and from mountaintops that really made me want to be there. But what if those forests and mountaintops were no longer there? Think about the photos you took this season and imagine them gone due to man-made deforestation.

By no means would anyone call me an activist. I live as I believe, trying to walk lightly and leave behind only memories. But this post on the Green Phone Booth really shook me. I can't possibly say it any better than Green Bean or the folks at CoalRiverWind. Please read it, watch the video, help spread the word.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Past Due Tuesday (1)

My head was reeling with flashbacks after stumbling upon this blog last week. The link to farmlady's Ronson table lighter brought back dozens of memories that had been stored far back in my mind. My "We-had-one-of-those!" moment had me visualizing the room it was in. I decided to post a "Past Due Tuesday" entry the following week.

As I looked around my little dwelling, I saw everything there as if it was still in its "former" place. Each piece has a story, some of which I know personally, whereas others will always be a mystery to me. I chose a piece to include in my Past Due Tuesday post, a lamp that was in my family since before I was born. I took the obligatory photo and thought about what I would write. But while getting out a cereal bowl this morning a sparkle caught my eye. The salad bowl.

It's simple. It's common. There's nothing spectacular about it. I'm sure thousands of them still exist. But it was the bowl which my mother used to toss together a salad to go with supper. A simple salad. Lettuce, tomato, and cucumber perfectly seasoned with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. No recipe, she just poured and mixed, and it always came out right. The olive oil was not fancy, extra virgin. It was the big pink and silver gallon can. This was before the "healthy" corn oil revolution. The salad was made when supper was almost ready to serve so that the greens were crisp.

This bowl held more salads than I dare guess.

Now I use it to make a simple summer salad. But the dressing isn't quite right. It might be time to buy the big pink and silver can of olive oil. :)

Monday, October 26, 2009


Wouldn’t you know it? The rain started on Saturday morning just before the train arrived with Son#2 from NYC. We stopped at the farmers’ market and the store to grab fixings for lunch, and brought them with us to surprise my mother (his Grandma).

She was thrilled to see him, as I knew she would be. That’s why I kept it a secret from her. She dotes on all her grandchildren. They all either live far away or have very busy lives, so she is very happy when they visit.

We had lunch and chatted for a while. Then he and I took a ride so I could show him more about the area where I grew up. He’s been by there before but this time I drove down the back street, pointing out where the neighbor’s chicken coop was, and the hill we used to go sledding on. I explained that this was the poor section of town, as in – poor. Then I stopped by the old stone house on the street. It used to be rented out as apartments and had a HUGE garden on the side. Several families had lived there when I was young. I even used clamp-on metal roller skates on that front walk because it was the only level place to skate. I have a photograph of some neighbors standing by the corner of that house, with a big pumpkin they grew. The garden has been gone for more than 30 years. Many of the houses on the street have been replaced by brick office buildings. Now the stone house is the home of one of the most expensive restaurants in town, possibly the county.

The irony of all this (explaining to him the history of the street) is that his boss has been to that restaurant. But I was there first. A long time ago.

(No, that's not me in the photo. The miss in pigtails and her older brother lived next door to me. The older couple were our landlord and his wife. One sunny day I'm going to go back down there to take some photographs from the same angle as the old black-and-white photos.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009





White, Red, Black


Winter 2009 Project #2

Thursday, October 22, 2009


We had a bright, sunny, 76 degree day today. It was that perfect fall day, the one you read about in regional magazines. The trees were dressed in their finest outfits. How could I pass up a lunch break at the park?

I love the crunchy sound of walking on dry leaves. I indulged in kicking them up as I strolled.

I had expected a crowd but there were only a handful of folks present at 12:30. A couple was having pictures professionally taken by a man with impressive photo equipment. A young mom and her toddler were enjoying one more day of getting around without coats and scarves. There was a gaggle of these web-footed friends, so I watched where I stepped around them. (The ratio of their input to output makes me wonder how they even gain any weight.)

I know there’s a scientific reason why leaves change color, photosynthesis and decreased daylight, yearly rainfall, and so on, but today was just a breathtaking day. Nature’s natural equivalent to fireworks.

While driving home after work, the trees seemed to reflect the sunlight.

Oooohh, aaaahh!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I have a curious mind and enjoy watching what happens daily as our world turns. Right now I am trying to pick up the trends for this years holiday shopping. While you can listen to the news that the economy is improving and the recession is over, I look at the lack of advertising "excitement", the emptiness in the stores, and the financial situation of both myself and those directly around me.

While there is quite a buzz online with patterns and tutorials for the most adorable crafts and gifts, the stores in my area are quietly filling spaces with red and green decorations. The toy aisles are not expanding but the shelves are full. And they seem full of the same toys that have been the standard for years.

Have we (the frugal/environmental/broke) finally spoken loud enough for Big Business (Retail edition) to hear? Will the lines at JoAnn's fabric cutting counter be longer this season? Will we spend our lunchtime with a sandwich and a skein of yarn?

When Crunchy Chicken posted her Buy Hand Made for the Holiday Challenge, I signed up, envisioning a stack of handmade goodies waiting to be delivered. (By this time last year, I had knitted quite a few hats.) Now, after looking around at the economic situation I decided to alter the guidelines (just a little) to include things like grocery store gift cards and movie passes, which will be appreciated while adding very little plastic waste to the environment. Especially when packaged in a hand-sewn reusable gift bag accompanied by a jar of homemade Peach Banana Jam. :)

In the meantime, I'll keep one ear on the business news reports while I drive past the half-full retail parking lots. How many people have their arms full of shoping bags in the mall near you?

I highly recommend giving the holiday challenge a try. Let's have a happy and sane season. Hmmm, will I still say that around 10:30 on Dec 24th, trying to get the last project completed? :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Life is a reality show

Fascination with reality shows is beyond my comprehension. What is it that lures folks to watch others be nationally, and sometimes internationally, defeated? And on the flip side are the astronomical odds of winning the prize on one of these shows worth the effort? For every contestant on the screen how many were turned away in tears at the local level? And these thousands, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, will watch the next season and laugh at entrants who sing off-key, meet challenges on desert islands, and set their hopes on the deal. But it’s not “real”. The contestants on these shows may be put to a test to see how they hold up but basically it’s Fantasy, for them and for the viewers. As in the movie “The Truman Show”, people are manipulated for the benefit of the audience.

Real is walking on the sand or in the park or through the neighborhood. Real is time spent reading to a child, or tossing leaves in the air to make a toddler giggle. Life is a reality show whether you are making dinner or plans for dinner out. When you drive home through traffic after a day at work it’s real. Making a grocery list or keeping a doctors appointment may be mundane but it’s what happens everyday to real people.

In all the years that these shows have been popular, I can admit to watching about as many episodes as I can count on my fingers and toes, and not enjoying any of them. Does that make me odd? I don’t think so. I’d rather deal with life’s realities than take pleasure in watching the disappointment of others whose hopes were in something that was never there in the first place.

Side note: Perhaps we should learn from the ending of The Truman Show, where he discovered the truth and became his own man, leaving the audience to find their own reality.

3:18pm (update) Case in point; it has been announced that the "balloon chase" was a hoax choreographed by the parents, who have been trying to get their own reality tv show. They may be facing jail time. Now that's real.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Nellie Knopf

As I watched Antiques Roadshow last week I scribbled “Nellie Knopf” on a piece of paper as a reminder to find out more about this artist on the internet. There is very little about her but what there is packs a punch.

As an artist, she often traveled to the west to paint, including taking two sabbaticals for her passion. What makes her so unique is that she was born in 1875, was deaf, was a department head at the Illinois Women’s College, and created bold paintings when women were still limited on their own independence.

The following quoted statements are from the Antiques Roadshow website:

APPRAISER: You've brought in a painting by Nellie Knopf, and interestingly enough, she's actually from Chicago. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and in the summers, up to the early '20s, she went to Ogunquit, Maine, and studied with an artist there named Charles Woodbury. And then, after about 1923, she actually went out West and began painting mountains and pueblos; and for a woman at that period, that was very rare. She was almost like a pioneer, because keep in mind that Georgia O'Keeffe didn't go out West until about 1929, so quite a bit later. She also was challenged in a couple of other ways. She was deaf, for one; and secondly, as a single woman, a single woman artist, she had a very hard road to travel. Because women artists, um, at this time, were not supported very well-- even the ones that were married. Often they were overshadowed by their husbands if they were married to artists. If they had husbands that weren't artists, perhaps they had extra support. But she really had to go out on her own and do that.

And the other thing is the wonderful brushwork here. It's very bold, broad and gutsy. And again, for a woman...

GUEST: A woman.'s very, very unusual.

For all those gutsy women out there, bravo!

(Sigh) no snow

I was actually disappointed this morning to look out and not see a dusting of snow on the grass and cars. Some towns just north of here were getting snow yesterday while we were getting steady rain.

But there is a pretty dove at the puddle outside my door.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tech reduction

I unplugged my television this past May for a one month reprieve from the advertisers, the biased media, and the mind numbing drivel that is pushed into our living rooms through that little cable. I came out of the month generally happier than I started. Yes, I found other things to do. I went walking with friends, read a book or two, did some crafting, and re-introduced myself to the radio that sits in that same living room.

In two weeks as I set my clocks back, I will also unplug the television for the month of November. And even as I will miss the good shows on PBS, I am looking forward to being outside, working on crafts, and digging into some good books.

Tonight I haven't been able to find good music on my local stations. Perhaps there's an online station for jazz or big band era music. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Continuing on

When I was in junior high school, home economics classes were still held as a mandatory course for the female student population. A firm, but helpful woman taught girls how to sew, understand the food pyramid, and follow a recipe. As a hold-over from more economically stressful times, girls were taught that a wife’s duty was to save the family money by things they would learn in this class.

I had no interest in learning to cook although we made a terrific strawberry-rhubarb puff that semester, which I still make now and then. And I had already been sewing simple jumpers, but picked up quite a few tips in class and my sewing really took off. Fabric was my addiction, and I enjoyed the freedom in creativity. I found that I could exchange sleeve styles among dress patterns and have something completely different.

Years later I took one class for a patchwork wall hanging and jumped into quilting with both feet. I put some small quilts for sale in a local quilt shop. The owner admired my work and hired me to do the hand-quilting on some of her quilts that she entered in contests. Then life went in other directions for me and I stopped quilting. Basically, I was working two jobs and taking a college class.

Over the years I’ve come across old quilt tops or patchwork squares that were started by women who passed on long ago. In some cases I have completed the quilts, in others I have sold them as is. It is my desire to preserve or carry on the dreams of women who came before me. So when I came across these few patches and scraps last year, I knew I would make a quilt from them. Having only a few pieces to work with became my challenge.

I took them out this past weekend and bought the extra fabric I needed. I’ve been working on the piecing and the top is almost finished. So far, I think it is a fitting tribute to the original seamstress.

This creativity has encouraged thinking about what I want to do for myself. Anyone who creates a quilt will dream of all the different ones they would like to make, knowing that there really isn’t enough time to make all of them. I’d like to start to tackle that list in my mind, making as many as possible, hoping that someday my children will find them safely stored away for them and their children to enjoy and know that I made these for them.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's a Family Tradition

A sweet gentleman passed on almost two years ago. He was loved by people who never knew him. The local newspapers put in a beautiful article about him.

For over 50 years he would decorate his house for the major holidays, adding to his decorations each year. People would come from miles away to see his handiwork. Of course, Halloween was special. His family said they would get "about 1,000 trick-or-treaters. One Halloween, they said, a wedding party stopped to take pictures in front of the house." The neighbors caught the spirit and started decorating their house, too.

Like everyone else, as Halloween grew close we would drive by after dark so our children could see the lighted characters.

Everyone wondered if the decorating would stop when he left, but the family has carried on his work to bring joy to everyone who passes by.

Spread a little happiness.

Quote in second paragraph is from a photocopy of the original news clipping; undated and newspaper unknown.

* * * * * * * * * *

I stopped at the Italian bakery today for a small treat, no baking this weekend. And I have lots of meals tucked in the freezer, portioned in single servings (well, single servings with double helpings.) Today was for errands, tomorrow is for staying inside and getting some sewing done.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's all in how you look at it

Being the ardent explorer, this is one of the roads I found that will lead to the place where I work. It’s a pleasant avenue, passing through a smaller town where I can do my banking, mail a letter, pick up books at a library, and shop for groceries. But the most interesting thing along the route is this fence.

It must be at least one hundred years old and it still standing after that many snowy winters, summers of hot sun, and rainstorms in between. The detail that remains is a reminder of the homeowners pride that once was. If I had a professional camera, I could present a photo of this fence that would be worthy of Halloween.

Complete with broken gate.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Summer has always been my favorite season. Stemming from my gradeschool days, I fare best in bright sunshine and vistas of green growing things and blue water.

Spring is the runner up, with flowering bulbs and trees and playing outside in the dirt. And the promise of summer soon to come.

Fall and winter tied for last. They have each had special memories over the years, mostly connected with my sons or woodstoves. But neither has really captured my heart.

This year I am determined to woo Autumn and Winter. Call me fickle, but I'll dance with any available partner, season-wise, that is. That being said, I will post some "valentines" to Fall.

This is where I had lunch yesterday. It is a very small park near where I work. The sun was strong. There were geese in the road stopping traffic. I brought a book but decided not to read.

Not bad at all.


While dashing around on errands this morning (on a legitimate half-vacation day from work) I spied a Farmers' Market, turned the car around, and bought a beautiful tomato and a multigrain with flax seed bread for lunch along with some apples for snacking. Oh, if everyday could be like this.....

Monday, October 5, 2009

Harvest Time

I've had dirt under my fingernails for as long as I can remember, maybe even longer.... :)

This weekend I harvested the "crops" on my back deck. I now have bunches of parlsey and basil to freeze, some hot peppers, and pepperoncini (which has already been processed into giardinere.) I'm letting the rest of the dill go to seed for next years planting, and the cilantro did not fare as well this year.

Now, I wish I could grow some of those tomatoes my mom did back in the 50's.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I took this photo last year when visiting my grandchildren. This is from behind their barn, facing southwest. And part of the reason why I visit as often as I do.

Have peaceful thoughts.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Before they're gone

As I do on many Saturday mornings, I took my mother to the Farmers Market. We purchased a beautiful tomato for lunch, some Italian green beans, garlic, and Macintosh apples. We enjoy seeing the vendors and the people, and seeing how well the market does in this busy town. This time of year the winter squash are in the market, alongside beautiful sweet potatoes, garlic, and turnips. They are hoping to stay open until December, weather permitting.

Every time is a pleasure. But the day that stays with me is the one early this summer that my mother, while walking in the market, started telling me the history of that piece of land.

When she was a child (she's 90 now), this parking lot was all water - part of Long Island Sound. Another piece of land nearby that is a parking lot was a marsh.

At one end of the lot which holds the market there were stone steps going into the water, which people would use to get to their boats. She came here with one of her brothers to catch horseshoe crabs and clams. Her mother would have a large pot boiling on a fire outside, waiting for their catch.

The water wasn't very deep but was moving water with a rocky bottom. One young boy she knew drowned there.

The stone steps are gone, the water has been filled in to make way for the Interstate, her brothers all passed on many years ago, but to hear her story was to be there.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sharing photos of a trip

I tagged along on this road trip to NYC, and wanted to share the scenes with you.

Actually, I found the photos at a secondhand shop. Looking at them took me back in time. I wish I knew more about these snapshots; who took them, the exact year they were taken, and whether this was a business or pleasure trip.

It looks like late winter, perhaps February. There is no snow or leaves left on the ground, and the trees have not yet started to bud. I’m guessing that the car from CT is the one they drove into the city.

There are a few photos of the Empire State building, being the tallest building in the world at that time. I especially liked the ones where this building is in the background of a bridge. Is that the Brooklyn Bridge?

There are a few photos with the UN building and flags. I’m not sure it still looks the same. Have they put protective barricades in front of the building?

Looking at the people and the cars is interesting, but what is most dear to me is the photo of the stellar building standing tall above the others. It brings back memories.

In the 1970’s, Budweiser and Dr Pepper sponsored summer concerts at Wolman Rink in Central Park. For a reasonable ticket, maybe five dollars or so, we would get seats back in the bleachers. It was a small arena so the seats weren’t bad. We would drive in to the city after work and leave the car at one of the garages, then walk to Wolman Rink.

Tickets to the best performers went fast, but we were able to attend concerts that have stayed with me all these years; among them were Harry Chapin, Judy Collins, Barry Manilow, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Bless her and may she rest in peace, during the intro Mary Travers stated that she lived a block for the park and had walked to work that evening.

Sitting in the warmth of the setting sun, we would see the beautiful and stately apartment buildings and hotels surrounding the park. Millions of people have lived in these over the years and looked out over the trees and lakes in the center of New York City, watching the seasons change.

I had planned on scanning in these photos for posting, but my computer couldn't open the scans this time. They will be posted for better viewing in the near future.