Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November Snow

Several weeks ago I learned that both of my sons would be spending the Thanksgiving holiday on the west coast. The trip coast to coast is costly and time consuming, not to mention it's not a trip just to Boston but then 150 miles north into Maine by bus or train. This is the first time there will be just three of us home for Thanksgiving, and I honestly couldn't face that reality. So my daughter and I started researching our options and found a lovely B&B on Cape Cod. Ken and I have never been to "the Cape" and off-season rates are affordable. We made reservations for the three of us, and since everyone has today off we were going to make a day of it today, too. That was the plan until Mother Nature decided to start winter early with almost a foot of snow in Central Maine. The bad news is that on top of the snow we lost power at 8:30 this morning. The good news is that the power is back on, the snow has stopped, and Ken has cleared the driveway. We are getting a late start but we are still going. The best news is that the weather for the rest of the weekend looks absolutely lovely. I wish all of you a safe, snowfree Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two Lost Pots

Today had promise. The sun was shining, the air was relatively warm for November, and there were projects that could be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.

If things had gone as planned, that is.

Ken started things off by taking the bucket off the front of the tractor so he could attach the snowblower, which did not want to come off in the spring. Turns out it didn't want to go back on in the fall, either. There wasn't anything I could do to help. My strategy is always to look for answers, so I needed to just get out of the way.

I decided to start at the top of my list with re-potting the shamrocks, which flowered so beautifully this summer, so I could bring them in for the winter. I had set aside two square plastic pots the perfect size to sit down in earthen pots so the plants had proper drainage. But the pots were not where I left them or where they were before that or anywhere else I looked. I walked around the yard picking up a bit of this and that, wondering where those pots could be and deciding to move on down my list while I pondered other locations.

I wiped down the outside of the grill with glass cleaner.

Ken was still fighting with the tractor.

I put ceramic garden figures under the deck.

Then I moved inside to wash the outside of the living room windows. After thirty years of dealing with old, heavy, wood-framed windows with attached storms and screens, this house has Andersen windows that raise-and-tilt-in so that the outer pains [pun intended] can easily be wiped clean from the comfort of my living room.

At least that is how it worked the last time I washed the windows, two years ago. I am not obsessive about clean windows, so every other year is just about right. This afternoon I tried everything but I could not get any one of the six windows to release the top sash so it would tilt toward me. I could get the bottom sash to release but not one of the top windows would let go. I got online and watched a video demonstration on how to clean tilt-in windows. I was following each step correctly: raise bottom window six inches; push in clips on top of window and tilt window toward me; rest window on a stool; lower top sash until it stops; push in clips on top of the window and... it was stuck on the casing. I remember it being tight but I didn't remember having to pull on the window with such force. I checked another website for tips; I got a magnifying glass so I could read the tip strip on the inside at the top of the casing.

Finally I gave one of the top windows a good tug, and it tilted toward me. Success! I generously sprayed cleaner on the glass, wiped it with newspaper, and then went around the entire edge with a clean cloth. There!

I gently raised the window back into the casing, pushed it back in place...but it wouldn't stay up at the top. It kept sliding back down to the center of the casement. I lowered the window as far as I could, because there are clicks to listen for, and raised it again. No luck. The window would not stay up.

I broke the window. After forty-five minutes of fiddling with the windows I finally got one to tilt forward and now I couldn't get it to go back in place.

By now Ken had the snowblower attached. He walked out of the garage and I yelled down, "I broke the window!" He said he'd be right up to give me a hand, thinking that it was a simple problem.

Forty-five minutes later we had taken the window completely out of the casement, and Ken had taken the spring mechanism out of each side of the window to release the tension on the string so it would pop back into place and the window would go up and stay up once again.

Have you ever held an Andersen window in one position for forty-five minutes?

When we finished I was shaking. When I sat down to put my head between my knees, the tension released in me too. I couldn't believe the mess I got into just trying to wash the windows.

I regained my composure, put my coat back on, and determined that if nothing else I would get those shamrocks potted today. It occurred to me that the neighbor dogs may be having a bit of fun at my expense ~ I have noticed empty plant pots scattered about the driveway on the occasional morning this month. I had left the pots on the porch and that is one of the places they like to check out when they come to visit.

No matter. I found two round plastic pots in the garage that would suffice. Mission accomplished.

Ken then took the bold step of putting up the wreath I purchased yesterday. He asked if we should get the picnic table stored on the porch, but I thought that might be pushing our luck.

What I learned today:
Stay out of the way when Ken is detaching or attaching tractor implements.
Do not leave plastic pots neatly piled on the porch or under the deck.
My days of tilting windows are over.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Would You Like A Muffin With That?

In my house muffins are their own food group. They are good at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I have been known to make these delectable little treats the main course. Muffins are great snacks. I don't think I've ever met a muffin I didn't like, and right now our favorite muffin is the Apple Raisin Muffin found in I Remember...Recipes & Memories Cookbook published by the Maine Alzheimer's Association of Portland, Maine in 1999.

Apple Raisin Muffins
from Peggy Thompson of South Portland, Maine

3/4 cup vegetable oil [I use olive oil]
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. cinnamon [or less if that suits your taste]
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups peeled, diced apples [any variety]
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease muffin tins. Beat together oil and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended. In another bowl stir flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add these dry ingredients to oil mixture, stirring just to combine. Stir in apples, raisins, and walnuts. Bake 20 to 25 minutes for regular-sized muffins, 15 to 16 minutes for mini muffins.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Am Learning

I had planned a different post for today. I had a wonderful day with my daughter yesterday, not only because we got a lot accomplished but also because we enjoy each other's company. Today I was going to share that apple muffin recipe that has become a favorite around here. But this morning the disappointment in myself has come crashing down. Then the guilt landed hard because I have no reason to mope around ~ my life is good, my family is healthy ~ and I feel badly because I'm sad. I have errands to do and a trip out always helps. I wanted to check my reader before I left.... You know how sometimes the right words come to you at just the right moment? Well, with tears on my cheeks I want to share the poem that Jan posted today. I will be okay ~

After A While

After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman,
not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn.

©1971 Veronica A. Shoffstall

Friday, November 4, 2011


I haven't been holding up my end in the blogosphere. I so look forward to reading what everyone else posts. In comparison my life looks bland.

So what have I been up to?

The word that best describes my recent activities is wrangling, as in doing my best to get things into shape around here, including things that don't want to go quietly. I have been wrangling laundry, paperwork, and dust bunnies. I have moved furniture from room to room and right out of the house. My daughter has been doing some of her own moving/repurposing of furniture, so this past week we spent time wrangling together.

I bought frames and mats for long-neglected items. Ken got in on the act and cut three custom mats for me.

I got to the bottom of the pile of ironing, only to have it grow again when I got caught up on laundry. Oh, is there no end to the things that need to be washed and ironed?

And there was a significant purchase made. I bought new stainless flatware. The set we have was a wedding present. We found out after the wedding that it was a thank-you gift from a wholesaler to Ken's brother who sold auto parts, but it was nicer than what we had so we used it. Over the years we've talked about replacing it with a pattern of our choice but haven't for one reason or another. The last time my "crafty ladies" group met I asked them what they thought about buying new flatware ~ was it okay when the old set still worked after 34 years? One friend shared that she has had three sets in 50 years, and others shared stories about pieces that were lost and found again. Ken and I looked again online, and then I stood in front of the display at Bed, Bath and Beyond for 45 minutes handling every fork several times. I selected the one I like best of all that I've seen, and I put out a place setting for Ken to appraise when he got home. He liked it and thought it cost three times what it did, which tickled me. I'm going to buy another place-setting-for-eight so we have enough when everyone is home for the holidays and eating round the clock.

It was a good week for all things domestic. The house looks habitable again and Ken will fire up the grill tonight for what might be the last grilled chicken of the season. The snowstorm last weekend dropped just a couple inches in our yard, so we still have deck furniture and the chiminea in place.

Next week I am tackling almost-finished sewing projects because I have new ones I want to start.

Not long ago my daughter wisely said to me that it's important to detach from the outcome. We do what we can do, with the knowledge that we have no control over how things turn out. Right now there are lots of things that I can't make come round right, but by golly I can get my household in order to my heart's content.