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Wherein you will find posts with humor, photos, reviews, occasional rants and journalistic entries of interest to me alone but that I hope will touch you, the reader, in some way. I remain sincerely yours,
A Work in Progress

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What Summer Means to Me: Part Two

Summer on Oak Street was perfect, back in the days when moms kicked you out after breakfast and you played all day, anywhere you wanted.  Summer back in the days when no one worried about kidnappers and rapists and sex offenders and drug dealers.  When no one gave a thought about about Lyme Disease or mosquito borne illnesses and sunscreen was only for a long day at the beach, not to walk out the door.

Garret's Pond was right down the street.  A decent sized kettle pond it had much to offer.  Deep water for diving off the raft, small quiet pools where everyone knew the leeches lived and a rope swing on the tree that the older boys always dared each other to jump from.  It had this insanely steep ankle breaker of a path from the road down to the water.  An old, barely legible sign read, "Town Way to Water".  Hilarious.

All the neighborhood kids went there.  We'd head down barefoot, in swimsuit and cut-off jeans and spend happy hours playing King of the Raft, swinging out on the rope swing, playing Tom Sawyer poling about on make-shift rafts, diving and swimming until, floating across the water thinly, we'd hear our Moms calling us to come home.

Other days we would spend up in the power-lines, blueberry picking and exploring. It was hot there, dry and dusty, filled with wildflowers, berries of all sorts, hills, plains, boulders and brambles.  It was where we played Indian, painted our faces with pokeberry, made pemmican with our blueberries and wove baskets with long grasses.  

Sometimes we'd walk down the long road to the forest at the far end.  Deep quiet and dappled sunlight, moss-strewn rocks and dark places, birdsong and mystery was the forest.  There we'd be magically transported to Middle Earth, Sherwood or Narnia for hours on end.

Summer was our backyard.  Dad had built us a sandbox, a swing and a seesaw.  We'd  build fairy castles and decorate them for hours with acorn tea sets and stick furniture.  Our backyard was Mom and snacks out on the picnic table and iced tea with lemon.  Summer afternoons at home were hanging out on the big farmer's porch reading and watching traffic go by.  Home on summer evenings was a bath and a crisp, clean nightgown, catching fireflies for our nightstands, Mom reading bedtime stories and having to go to bed when it was still light out.

Summer was walking down the road to the highway overpass to see how far traffic had backed up from the bridge.  Or hiking up to the fire tower on Plum Street, where, after a climb, we could see almost to the bridge, the entirety of Wequaquet Lake and even the beach.  Summer was just kicking a rock as we walked home, band-aids and Solarcaine.

Summer was Sandy Neck Beach.  We would load up Dad's old, red Scout with coolers, beach toys, books, chairs, sunscreen, and the hibachi and we'd head out to join the line of other 4wheel drives waiting to get out to the beach.  Here Dad would stop and get out and do all the arcane magic to the tires and wheel hubs he would do so that we could drive on the soft sand trails and not get stuck.  Off we'd go, out on the trail, out to the beach, to find and park at the perfect spot right at the base of the dunes.  Out we'd get to encamp for the day.  We would spend the day swimming until we were blue and reheating on huge beach towels. Summer on the beach was napping in the sun, dune surfing, long walks, beach combing, diving for sand dollars and playing in the tide pools at low tide.  Slightly gritty meals heartily consumed because there is no appetite like that of a child on a beach.  Staying until the sun slowly sank over the horizon leaving the special afterglow that exists nowhere else on earth than Sandy Neck Beach in summer.

Summer was home and home was the house on Oak Street.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What Summer Means to Me: Part One

I wish summer were more like my memories of summer.  There were events that you looked forward with great anticipation; the county fair, fireworks on the 4th, long, lazy days at the beach and seeing your extended family.  The cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, the people you love that belong to you by blood, the ones you rarely got to see, summer was always the time we renewed our bonds. 

I remember well our summer family get-togethers.  The whole crew would be there, at my grandparents place.  Some of us came from farther away than others, but we'd all arrive, carloads at a time.  

These annual gatherings meant fun and laughter, bocce and croquet, walks to the beach and we kids playing while the grown-ups talked.  It was "witches brew" in the huge crock keeping it well-water cool and pickles and chips, deviled eggs and macaroni salad.  

They were sailing, clamming with our grandfather, long days on Squaw Island beach-combing and swimming and playing.  Sand, salt air , sticky from Popsicles and tar on your feet, climbing the carport rafters to watch the bats sleep and falling asleep on the way home.
 
Over the years, some of those family bonds have become threadbare.  Death has severed a few, but not our devotion.  Distance and apathy have worn some of them thin. Even so, I don't believe that a one of us holds these memories less dear. 
Those were the days of summer.  
And I miss them.




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Friday, July 23, 2010

Five Question Friday




It's been awhile since I played on this one so here goes!  If you want to play,  head on over to Mama M's, My Little Life and link up!


1. What were your school colors?
Our school colors over at BHS were red and white and our mascot was one of   those, now politically incorrect Indians.  We had the now politically incorrect team name, the Red Raiders.  Incidentally, I have never, ever looked good in red.  A nice navy blue would have suited me better. 

2. What's the best compliment you ever received?
My grandfather once wrote that he was proud of me.  I can't tell you how much of a long time coming that one had been.   And I really love when people compliment my writing.

3. Do you buy cheap or expensive toilet paper?
Cheap, recycled, good for the planet, not quite as bad as leaves on your butt stuff from Trader Joes.  I love it.  I can't abide fluffy, perfumed, lint filled, sissy paper nor can I bring myself to pay for such, if you'll pardon the pun, crap.

4. Have you ever had a surprise party thrown for you? Or have you had one for someone else?
No for which I am entirely grateful.   I can't think of anything I would like less that to be surprised with a party.  Not really the party girl type.  I did pull off one for my husband back in college that went over really well.  With enough Jack Daniels he was up for anything.

5. What is one material possession that you "can't live without"?
Tough call, but equally divided between my smart-phone, (more fondly known as my smart-ass phone), my Nook and my computer.  I would be pretty devastated to not have any of those things around.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Barnstable County Fair Day 2

We had a great day today.  We worked in the 4H kitchen and we were working from the  minute we got there.  Turns out the self proclaimed "Kitchen Witch" is a lot like me and having proved our willingness to work, we got along great.  Her husband, bless his heart was also a delight.  We met new people and the girls learned how to work a counter and their way around a retail kitchen.  

Jenny was in heaven, she would have worked that counter all day and with her cheery smile and her, "have a nice day, thank you for supporting 4H", she was adorable.  Rowan worked the hot dog station, very busy spot and today I was really proud of them.  After our shift we walked about for a bit and indulged our love of photography and then we were quite glad to head home and relax.




 



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Monday, July 19, 2010

4H Club at the Fair

This morning we volunteered at the 4H kitchen at the Barnstable County Fair.  We were really looking forward to it, Jenny has been talking about little else for days.

We were scheduled to work in the demo kitchen from 11-2:30, so I figured we'd get there a little early, make sure things were in order and get to work.  It had been impressed upon us that staffing this area and the main kitchen was essential so there we were about 10:20.  We had not got our parking passes so we parked in far, far away land and hiked in leaving our windows open so that we wouldn't come back to another oven, this one to get in to. 

The supervisor introduced herself as "the kitchen witch".  This never bodes well. I'm sure she's a lovely person I reassured the girls.  She had us make bread pudding and then told us to go walk around for a bit til she was ready for us.

I really didn't like feeling useless and in the way and then Rowan picked up my attitude and I had to try to ditch my own and encourage the girls.  Off we went to see the livestock and the petting zoo for a bit.  I didn't have my good camera, only my phone but here are some furry friends. 


Back we went and we ended up baking toll-house cookie bars, helping out at a nutrition booth where they were doing a milk mustache game, and a batch of rolled and iced cookies.  We met some really great people, sold a few cookies and had a good time.


 In the meantime,  the heavens broke open and sheets of rain come pounding down and all of a sudden the 4H Youth Exhibit Hall was the most popular place at the fair!  People came pouring in as fast as the rain came down.  There was thunder and lightning and the power was flickering, it was crazy!  I felt really bad for the lemonade/hot pretzel booth across the way, they got hosed.  Did I mention we left our windows open?


We finished the cookies and were told to clean up and go ahead and take off.  Tomorrow we get the work in the main kitchen where, I am told, our help will be badly needed.  Maybe if I leave the windows open again, the car will dry out.    I am looking forward to hanging out on the fairgrounds afterward with my good camera, there are so many wonderful opportunities for great photography!  Which this clearly isn't,  but you get the idea.


It is how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God.  ~Mother Theresa

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thankful Thursday

After my last whiny post I felt the need for a change of pace and maybe even of attitude. I have so very many things for which I am truly grateful.

I have the most wonderful family in the world.  My parents and my in-laws are priceless gifts to us and our children.  In sisters and brother in laws I am also blessed.  Blessed too in a large extended family, aunts, uncles, cousins, with whom our time together is so very special.  I am also beyond blessed in our church family, every Sunday is like going home.  And as for my friends, I have no words for just how much you enrich my life. 


While money is always tight, we have managed to continue homeschooling for 9 years on one income, even as Mike's salary was cut in half when he left his old job.   We have lacked for nothing and the children are growing up knowing the value of a dollar and that "things" are of little importance.  Hand- me- downs show up exactly when needed, a friend shops a buy two get two sale and gives the free ones to our daughter or the thrift shop has exactly what we need that day.   And like the miracle of the loaves and fishes, there always seems to be enough to invite another person or two for dinner.

Matthew 6:27-34

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own."

We still have our home. It isn't fancy but it is a welcoming place to be and our door is always open. We have been blessed to offer shelter to family and friends over the years, some for days, others for years.  It gladdens my soul to be in this home and keep it and use it and share it.


Our daughters are amazing and growing in grace.  It isn't always easy being with your kids (or anyone) all day every day but I wouldn't have had it any other way.   It astounds me when people say, "Oh I couldn't stand being with my kids all day."  It breaks my heart.  I truly enjoy being with our kids.  Even on their worse days, (and mine), I am thankful.

Matthew 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". 





I have the great gift of having my best friend as my husband.  We just celebrated our 18th anniversary.  I look forward to the rest of our lives together as much today as I did the day we were wed.  He is wonderful. (mostly, he is a guy after all)  Just this morning, my car broke.  Off he goes, takes Amy to work, heads to Auto Zone to pick up a new water pump, rearranges his work schedule, intends to run us down to swim lessons, go back and finish fixing the water pump, pick us up and go to work.  He is amazing and I love him.

Proverbs 20:6, "Many a man proclaims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?"



Our lives are richly and abundantly blessed. Minute by minute, day by day, year by year we are aware that each day is a gift.  Each day and all it holds, whatever it holds.  
And I am truly grateful.

2 Corinthians 9:15. "Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!"

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Opportunities


Swim lessons start at 10:30 am this morning.  I was all set, printed out my application on line, had my check ready, good to go.  It occurred to me at 7:00 this morning, that in order to park at the beach for swim lessons, one needs a beach sticker, and we didn't have ours. 

You'd think that living here my entire life, I would remember that you need a beach sticker from Memorial Day to Labor Day wouldn't you?  Me too, but my memory is shot so there you go.

I went to the town hall website and it says there are 3 ways to get one; mail, town hall, (open at 8am) or the Bathhouse (open at 9am).

There a rules to living on Cape Cod.  One of them is that you get your errands done as early in the morning as possible before every tourist and their mother is on the road.  Town Hall clearly the way to go, in, out and back before they are out of bed.

The website goes on to say that beach sticker are $60 and combo dump sticker $80.  I ask Mike if we have funds and he says sure, decides on the combo sticker and writes me out a check for $80.  He also made me out a check for grocery money.  No doubt because we are out of trash bags and it is getting more evident by the minute.


I made a copy of my registration, filled out the form and was breezing down the traffic-less roads and standing in front of the town hall at 8:00 am on the nose.  

Turns out, they only sell beach stickers at the Bathhouse from Memorial Day to Labor Day, a factoid unfortunately missing from the website.  It opens at nine and I don't even know where it is!!  Additionally, there is no longer a combo sticker.  Straight beach $60 or straight dump $80.    I was a little upset and a little mad.  Ok, yeah, I was sulking.  Seemed like bureaucratic crap to me.  And at 8:07 the time constraints began.


I head homeward, traffic picking up a bit already.  I then notice my gas gauge is on E and I am running on fumes.

I am at the bank at 8:14 and wait til 8:30 when it opens.  While I am waiting, I called my sister to complain because she always sympathizes.  Then I called my friend who also goes to swim lessons.  I figured, hey, no worries, we'll catch a ride!  Worry about the sticker later.  Turns out she had an expired beach sticker so she and her kids were being dropped off and walking home.  This was no short distance!

Finally realizing I am going to have to suck it up and brave the post 9am traffic, I said, ok, I'll head down and get the sticker and you can meet me at the house and we'll all go!  She was pretty happy about that, I figured what the hell. 

Deposit made,  I glided across the street to the gas station, cleverly remembering what side of the car my gas cap is on this time, got out, swiped my card, pushed all the buttons and went to pump gas.  I forgot to hit the little button that unlocks the gas cap.  By the time I went around the car and opened it, it had cleared my transaction.  So I did the whole swipe thing again, pumped my gas, and off I headed home to take our housemate to work at 9:00.

I head back out on the road, traffic quite a bit thicker by now, and realize that the check Mike wrote is for $80.  The sticker is $60.  I figure no problem, I'll write a check, I just made a deposit right?  I rummaged around in my bag and guess what?  I don't have my checkbook.

Deep sigh,  all is not lost, here is the bank up ahead, I will just go get cash from my account.
I fill out the withdrawal slip and as we are chatting she says, "hmmm".  I said, "what hmm?"  She says there is a $75 charge at the gas station!  So there isn't enough to withdraw the money in my account.   "What?  I spent $25.09!"

Ok, still not a total washout, I withdraw $60 from Mike's account and I drive over to the gas station across the street.  I said to the guy, it's about the $75 charge?  He explained that it is a "holding fee"  and that they do that every time you get gas.  Sigh.  So, mystery solved.  Who needs trash bags? Maybe we can use an old pair of pantyhose, you can fit lots of stuff in those.

I get back in my car and I can't find my keys.  Not in my purse, not in the car, crap, deep breath, walk back in and he is waving them at me and smiling. Nice guy.

Off I go, and for once the map quest directions are correct, in I go, easy peasy, off I go with my shiny new beach sticker.  In not quite bumper to bumper traffic. 

This is what happens when you pray for patience, you are blessed with OPPORTUNITIES to practice it until you get it right.  Thanks God.  You're a funny guy.  I'll get it someday.


Psalm 37:7-9
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Another EReader Review: My Nook

I am a bibliophile.  I love everything about books.  I love the feel, the smell, the hunt.  New books with their shiny white pages and stiff binding, old books with leather bindings, all of them.  That having been said, I am also a bit of a tech freak.  I love gadgets.  So when e-readers came out, I wanted one, badly.

There was no way I could afford one, but I could dream and drool and research for someday. 
I spent a very long time researching what I wanted. We had already bought my daughter an Astak EZ Reader for her birthday, I reviewed it here.   And then I wanted mine even more.
I wanted something else for myself. There were two main places I spent a great deal of time on, the Mobile Read Forums and the Good Ereader Blog.
The Nook was not originally on my list for two reasons, no web browser and too expensive. Then the firmware update added the browser and the price came down and they added a $50 gift card. And I was gone within the hour to the closest Barnes and Noble. (Honestly, my Mom bought it for me but I am still frugal.  Thanks Mom, I love you)

I have customized it with wallpapers and screen savers from some of my favorite books as well as some of my own photographs.  Because I can't leave anything the way it is.   Here is the breakdown.

Pros:
lightweight
6" screen
e-ink display and touch screen navigation make it the best of both worlds.
huge capacity
you can page turn on the left, the right or swiping the touch screen in the middle
battery replaceable by user
chess and suduko, if it matters to you, it doesn't to me
outside mono speaker as well as a stereo headphone jack
mp3 player
dictionary
ability to annotate and bookmark
Android OS
supported formats:
* EPUB
* PDB
* PDF
* PDB (Non DRM)
* PDF
* Graphics: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP
* Audio: MP3

Cons:
There is only one and it's a doozy but I expect it to change in the next firmware upgrade. There is no ability to organize your books in My Documents other than title, author and most recent. This absolutely blows at the moment because I wanted to put my dd's Ambleside books in a folder never mind my series and stuff. So I only have a few (hundred) on it until they amend that issue. Same issue with the mp3 player but hey, it's an ereader. I loaded up my Gregorian Chants and Howard Shore scores and I am happy as a clam.



Here is where I get all my free stuff..
Site for Free Ebooks
http://manybooks.net/categories/CHI/77
this is my favorite, it has a huge listing of public domain books in a very friendly format

http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://www.free-ebooks.net/
http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/freebooks.htm
http://www.baen.com/library/
http://www.suvudu.com/freelibrary/
http://www.homeofheroes.com/books/index.html
http://freehomeschoolinglibrar.blogspot.com/

Great homeschool ebooks, specifically, textbooks  
California Free Textbook Initiative

__________________

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Too Early

We went to bed fairly late after watching a family movie.  Upstairs the fans had our room fairly comfortable and the sheets were crisp and clean.  Listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I fell asleep to chapter 27.

Some time later, I became aware of an incessant noise, an angry familiar chattering sound.  
I awoke enough to realize that the Jenny Wren and her mate are extremely pissed off at someone and are telling them in no uncertain terms to stay the hell away from their nest!  
As I am wondering who it could possibly be, I realize that the screen in the window has been popped open!  I fly out of bed, calling Percy Jackson and he isn't under the bed where he usually is.  I close the screen and run downstairs and open the front door to call him.  And here he comes, tail straight up, chirping at me, all happy and dew soaked!  He had gone out the screen onto the porch roof and somehow had gotten down to the grouns and he was mighty pleased with himself.  Me, not so much.  

I fed the animals, Percy was ravenous, poured some coffee and sat down at the computer only to realize it was 5:10 in the morning!!!!!  ACK!
It is way too early.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Scattered

Once again I sit here at my computer, coffee gone cold,  stacks of printed pages to my left and to my right and my thoughts are as scattered as my things.
I love lesson planning.  I may even need a 12 step program for my addiction to it.  The problem is, though I have settled on a general plan for 4th grade, there are so many fabulous resources out there that it is difficult to cull them into workability.

My e-reader has opened new worlds for me as to book availability.  Many times in the past when I have wanted to use a book in the public domain, I have spent a fortune in ink, time and page protectors printing them out and putting them in binders.  This necessarily kept down on the amount of books I was able to utilize.  Now I can simply load them onto my e-reader and bingo, right in my hands the books I needed.  If you are anything at all like me, this has potential for major overload.  There are so many wonderful books to be had, right at my fingertips!!  And in seconds they can be on my computer and in a few more they can live on my e-reader. 

And so I have spent the morning on An Old Fashioned Education and Google Books in a downloading frenzy and now I get to go back into my 4th grade lesson planning.  I have to weed, cull, move around and fit in my new finds as best I can.  Thank God my kids love to read or this literature based education could be a definite issue.  The I get to put them all on my Nook (I know, you were dying to know which ereader I have).  And I have yet to remotely fill it's internal memory, imagine the possibilities when I add a memory card!  So, off to lesson planning with my new treasures, hang on, the master list is here somewhere, scattered amid my stacks..........

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