Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No Kids for Christmas

Wow -- for the first time we will have no kids waking up on Christmas morning.  They will be here Christmas Eve, then go home.  We will go to Matthew and Gabe's for brunch and to Andrew and Melanie's for  Christmas dinner.  Well, I'll try to not to get blue about this.

Check this link:  Gabe produced this You Tube video with the Christmas song Rich wrote and recorded.  Love it.


Anyway, we needed a new tree and decided we needed a really tall tree to fit the room.  Ha Ha.  You should have seen us trying to get it up.  You know -- one of those "WHAT WERE WE THINKING?" moments.  We were really cracking up...........................but now it's beautiful.  Gabe came over to finish the decorations at the top.  So on to Christmas..........have fun getting ready. 

A close up -- the gold ornament balls (on the right) finally have a tree big enough tree to show how beautiful they are.  Fun.  It is about five inches across.

So working back here are some fun pictures of our grandkids.
Our adorable Charlotte
 Look at this hair.  Beautiful
 Nathan will be walking soon.  He's 9 months.
Carsen lost another tooth and is now 7
 Tanner and Emme
 Emme, our sparkle princess asleep in her princess dress.
Wow a blond blue-eyed princess
 Tanner and Carsen getting ready for soccer.
These Crowley boys can play.............Carsen on the move
Tanner getting ready to kick the ball.

And my boy -- the coach

 Audrey, our darling little witch
Jocelyn, our baby witch

Love these fun kids.  They are such a joy in our life.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

my New England

New England became my own after my almost three weeks there.  I loved this statement about Rhode Island.  It helped describe all of New England.

Rhode Island is a poetic kind of state. A drive through south county in July or apple country in the fall will thaw a frozen brain and make even the most tv-addled reach for the right string of words to describe .

That is just how I felt as we drove New England.  My frozen brain began to thaw.

Hang on........................here comes an English lesson.

New England has always been famous for its poets, writers and authors. Being the nerdy English major that I was, I have always been enthralled with everything written – yes, I still am. I have to admit the first time I was in New England, my brother in Connecticut ask Rich and I what we wanted to see. We had only one extra day.  I told him I really wanted to see Mark Twain’s home in Hartford. What a nerd. Not Boston or Newport? Crazy -- Mark Twain’s home was so interesting to me.  He actually has a phone booth in the entry foyer.

Few Americans realize (according to the New England Book) that Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), better known as Mark Twain, settled in Hartford, Connecticut at the age of 35.  Though Missouri-born, Twain wrote his masterpieces Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in Hartford, as well as The Prince and the Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Touring his grand Victorian mansion at Nook Farm is the high point of a visit to Hartford.

As we traveled through all of the New England recently, I could see many reasons why many writers came from or settled in the New England area. The area is captivating. An entity unto itself. I found myself wanting to write something also. The problem – I'm not a writer.  Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the pleasure of New England and reading again about some of my favorite writers and poets in the New England book.   I had my Kindle and could download anything I wanted to read.  So .........this was extra fun for me.

 Emily Dickenson

Besides the Autumn poets sing 
by Emily Dickinson

Besides the Autumn poets sing,
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the Haze -

                     This was the setting as we wandered through the poet's New England!

One of my favorites of Emily's is

I'm a nobody, who are you
Are you a nobody too?  don't tell......
A great poem for those who do not want to be the center of attention. 

Emily Dickenson (1830-1886), a native of Amherst, Massachusetts, who lived there in near seclusion most of her life. (Sadly)Only seven of her poems were published during her lifetime, but the posthumous editing and publishing of nearly 1,000 poems established her reputation. Her influence on American poetry is matched only by that of Robert Frost.

                                                           America's Poet - Robert Frost
              He has some of the most memorable and unique quotes -- not to mention his poetry.
Fire and Ice
by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

This is not my favorite Robert Frost poem by any means, but I quoted it because we ate dinner at  Fire and Ice Restaurant after wandering the town of Middlebury, VT where Maren Younce lives. 

I have quoted from this Robert Frost poem in my head so many times on a busy day:

       And I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep.

I like this quote from Frost, "A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness." 

So many of the scenes we loved in New England put a lump on our throats.

Robert Frost (1874-1963) was born in San Francisco, but his family had lived in New England for generations. He moved to New England early in life, attended Dartmouth and Harvard without taking a degree, and later returned to teach poetry at Amherst and Harvard. His many books capture the quintessence of New England living and the Yankee soul.
Just a tidbit I read in my New England book:

The runaway bestseller of the early 1800's was not a book of sermons, nor a novel, nor even a history of the late war with England; and the book remains a bestseller to this day. It's the American Dictionary of the English Language, by Yale graduate Noah Webster (1758-1843). First published in 1828, Webster's 70,000-word dictionary was bought by hundreds of thousands of Americans every year—and still is.
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), was born in Salem, Massachusetts, attended Bowdoin College in Maine, then pursued a career which produced The Scarlet Letter, Twice-told Tales, and The House of the Seven Gables. Hawthorne is thought by many to be the writer who established the truly American short story.
I always loved the scary stuff.  The House of Seven Gables was a favorite.

Maine born -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Among New England poets, the 1800's belonged to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882). Born in Portland, Maine, he attended Bowdoin College, taught at Harvard, and lived in a big yellow house on Brattle Street in Cambridge which is now a historic landmark. Several of Longfellow's poems are so much a part of Americana that many forget that he wrote them: "Paul Revere's Ride," "The Song of Hiawatha," "The Village Blacksmith," "Excelsior," and "The Wreck of the Hesperus" are among the better-known ones.

This is one of my all time Longfellow favorites:  Starts lyrically and ends with wisdom.  Love it.  I had to memorize it in school.


Under a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;

And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan:

His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hear the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter's voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.
It sounds to him like her mother's voice,
Singing in Paradise!

He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.

Onwards through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night's repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought!

Experiencing New England and the connection with the first American authors was a homecoming for me.  It was thrilling.  It made me remember why I love to read.

I think Maine was my favorite state in New England, but I could live in any of them in a heart beat.  Here is one last picture of Maine.

 Here are Rich and I in our "Maine coats"

We could be longshoremen!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Loving Our Trip

We've had a busy week.  We have seen so many beautiful areas.  It's so funny because we weren't anticipating how close everything would be in New England.  We have covered all of the states.  They are full of beautiful mountains, lakes, pine trees, and my favorites -- spruce trees.  The fall colors on the leafy trees are breath-taking. 

Starting on Oct 3rd - Stayed in Bangor

Monday  - Wolfeboro , NH

Tuesday - Vermont

Wednesday - New York - Adirondacks

Thursday - Palmyra

Friday - Niagara Falls

Saturday - Niagara Falls

Here we are in front of Stephen King's house in Bangor, Maine.

           Next, we stayed in Wolfeboro, NH at the Pratt's summer home.  What a heavenly setting!  They have built a 12 bedroom , 4 story home on the Lake Winnipesaukee.  Words can't describe what they have created here for their family and friends.  The home is so large, it took us the first hour to take the tour.  In spite of it's size, it's so homey and cozy.  It was just a perfect place.  Very New England.  We walked the village of Wolfeboro -   unique and fun and right on the lake.

                                                   Off the deck
Rich standing by the fireplace gives you the perspective of the size.
Loved the moose

 This was on the way to the boat house and dock - several docks
                                     Very large kitchen - also very New England
                                 In Sharon, Vermont at the birth place of Joseph Smith, Jr.  A tender place where a doctor from Dartmouth performed surgery on his leg, saving the leg.  The doctor later became renown and was the only doctor in the US that could have performed the surgery.  I think he later started the medical school at Yale and Harvard.  Joseph Smith's life was preserved by a miracle.

The most fun surprise of the trip was hearing from Maren Younce Mecham.  She sent me a message on Facebook and said,  "Come see me in Vermont."   So we did.  Maren and her husband, Quinn,  live in Middlebury, Vermont where Quinn is a professor of Middle Eastern studies.  We had lunch at a very picturesque setting on the Otter Point River with Maren and her two adorable boys.  We loved Vermont.  Surprise Surprise............................we love it all.

We then moved on to the Adirondacks.  We purposefully drove smaller roads avoiding the interstates to get a really good feel for the surroundings.  The GPS took us to a couple of dirt roads in Vermont that cracked us up.

The Adirondacks in New York are so full of lakes.  Lake after lake after lake.  It was a beautiful drive.  The fall leaves were different in every state.

                                I know my pictures do not convey the beauty of the Adirondacks. 

                                                            Palmyra Temple
                                     Sacred Grove in the afternoon
                                                 Sacred Grove in the morning

                                                                 Hill Cumorah
                                        On to Niagara Falls

Rich at the bottom of the falls in his slicker

                                   The Niagara River before going over the Falls

Yes, we are having such an enjoyable trip.  It's a funny time of life to be able to just pick up and leave whenever we want.  We have both been working since we were teenagers and now it just feels funny to have free time.  We love it tho'.  We feel lucky.