Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What happens next?

I’m waiting for the dust to settle and for my life to return to “normal” although I’m not sure that will ever really happen.

More than a month ago, my husband Greg had a stroke that caused a fall down a flight of stairs and a subsequent ambulance ride to the hospital where he remained for almost four weeks.  His condition was very complicated and while the stroke was the immediate problem, there were other health issues that made his treatment exceptionally difficult and, well, complicated.  While it was a truly awful time for Greg, it was also a harrowing time for me, our kids and our family and friends.  When he was finally moved to a rehab hospital, we thought that he was beginning to heal, but on November 1, he succumbed to another stroke and passed away.

We scheduled our memorials for this past weekend with calling hours on Saturday and a memorial service at our church on Sunday afternoon.  I was astounded by the number of people who came to offer their condolences and to share their memories of Greg.  People came from all areas of his life, including family from near and far, high school friends, his friends and fellow workers from New England Electric Service and National Grid, our steadfast church friends, our Walker Pond neighbors and other local friends, his much loved biker pals, and even a server at an area restaurant who saw the obituary in the newspaper and wanted to let us know that she remembered that Greg had always greeted her by name and made her feel like a friend.

But that’s just the way he was.  He was not a perfect man by any means and there were times over our 35 plus years together when he drove me absolutely nuts.  But, in many ways, he was larger than life.  People mentioned over and over that they will remember how he loved to laugh.  So many mentioned that when they first met him, they felt they were immediately in the company of a friend.  He was always the life of the party, always one of the smartest guys in the room and always careful about caring for his family and friends and was never shy about letting them know how much they meant to him.  He was a hugger.  And he loved to sing, serving as primary tenor in the Brookfield Unitarian Universalist Church choir for more than twenty years.  He will be hugely missed by so many, not just me, Carrie, Evan and Olive, the pug.

In personality, Greg was the opposite of me as I tend to be socially awkward,  introverted and shy.  Maybe that’s why we got along so well all these years.  We did complement each other in many ways.  But right now, I am keenly aware that the support and love I am feeling from friends and family are really a gift from Greg who never hesitated to make a friend or to celebrate with family.

I am going to try to move forward, to start picking up my camera again and to dip my toes back into the blogging world.  Bear with me as I try to find my way.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Finding the New Normal…

A little over a week ago, my husband Greg became quite ill.  He had been battling a couple of things, but it seems everything came to a head on Monday morning at 1 am and we made a trip to the Emergency Room.  He remains in the hospital at this point while the doctors try to figure out what’s going on.  While he is there, I am a little bit lost in Limbo and my powers of concentration seem to have gone on vacation.  So, long story short, I am going to be taking a little break from my blog until the dust settles and we find our new normal.

My best to all of you who have been following me through these years.  I hope to be back before too long.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Good PEI Fence Revisited…

Around this time last year, Greg, Olive the pug and I took a wonderful drive up to Prince Edward Island and stayed in a beautiful cottage.  Behind the cottage was a field of Queen Anne’s Lace held back by a rustic fence.

After we returned to our hum-drum lives, I believe I threatened to blog about the Queen Anne’s Lace at some length.  Well, knowing how way leads on to way, I never did manage to get back to it.  There were so many less-traveled roads to go down.  (Sorry, Mr. Frost!)

Today, because I haven’t spent a lot of time with my camera since my return from Ohio and consequently don’t have recent fences to post, I have gone back into my archives and am pulling out a few pics from PEI of that fabulous field of Queen Anne’s Lace held back by that rustic fence and here they are.

Believe it or not, I have many more photos on my hard drive of these flowers and that fence.  It was such a beautiful sight.  Well, despite that fact that way leads onto way, I may well be unable to resist taking the road back.

Linking to The Run*A*Round Ranch's Good Fences!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Willy-nilly Friday 5: Going Home...

I spent last weekend in Middletown, Ohio, where I grew up.  My mother was recently moved to assisted living and after a huge amount of work by my sisters and brothers, we had an estate sale last Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Here are some of my observations about the event.

1.  My mother had a lot of stuff.  Here’s a photo of a table full of her stuff on the second day of the sale.  There were other tables full of stuff throughout the house.  We sold a lot of this stuff.  There was twice as much as this there the day before.

In the end, almost all of this kind of stuff sold, but this didn’t sell.

I think that is a statement about how people live today. An almost flawless service for 12, this china was a bargain, but people just don’t entertain formally these days.  Heck, I can’t remember ever eating off of these dishes so we weren’t so formal either.  Or else my mother lived in fear that something might happen to them…no clue.

This didn't sell during the sale either.

I can’t tell you how many people came through and said what a nice piano this is.  “It’s yours!” I’d say.  “Nah,” they’d say.  “Don’t have the space for it…can’t play anyhow… already have a keyboard.”  But, lucky for us, I believe that it has been claimed at this point.  Happy playing to whoever got it.

2.  This is the house I grew up in.  We moved there from upstate New York in 1956 when I was almost three so it is really the only house I remember as a child.  I have three brothers and three sisters, but we managed to fit somehow.  Well, my father added this room and that room as the family got bigger.  There is a large great room on the back that is not visible from the street and at one time, the basement was fixed up and my sister Cindy and I had bedrooms down there.  My nephew Neil is sprucing it up on the inside, then it is going on the market.

When we moved in, the house had no garage and very little landscaping.  In fact, the yard was mostly mud.  But over the years and with lots of work, the yard got nicer.  That huge pine tree in the front yard was our Christmas tree that my father planted after the holidays were over.  I don’t think he ever thought it would get that big or he would have planted it further away from the house.

3.  One of the features of a ranch house is the hallway.  For whatever reason, my father started taking pictures of us coming out of the doors in the hallway.  Here are a few:

This one was probably taken in 1957.  Left to right:  That's me, Judy, Susan and Cindy.

Here we added my brother Mark to the mix.  Left to right:  Judy, Cindy, Mark, Susan and me looking kind of maniacal.

Daddy needed to focus a little better on this one or else we weren't being cooperative, but brother Rob was added to this one.  Left to right standing:  Judy, Cindy, Susan (sans head) and me.  Mark is on the left on the floor and there's Rob.

This photo was taken in 2008 and is the only one that includes all of us.  Any of you with large families know how hard it is to get everyone together in one spot.  Left to right:  Cindy, Susan, Rob, me, Jay and Judy.  Mark is kneeling.

And we took one last one this past weekend in the almost empty house.  Unfortunately, Jay was not around.  Left to right:  Cindy, Rob, me, Susan, Jude and Mark.

4.  As a person who really cherishes my alone time, I spent the nights in a local hotel.  It was nice to be able to get back there and collapse on the bed at the end of the day.  But I did get the wonderful opportunity to see my friend Gloria, who dropped by the house and brought these from the BonBonerie Pastry Shop in Cincinnati so we could keep our energy levels up.  As tempting as it was, I couldn't bite into that owl.  My sister Judy had no such compunction.

Our friends Ruby and Mark brought us gourmet lunches each day giving us a nice, relaxing break.

And I got to see my friends Dona and Joanne who both married men named Bob.  We got some pretty good laughs in.

  Seeing my mother in her new place was not such a good time as she continues to be rather unsettled, but we did have a pleasant visit and I am glad she is in a nice, safe place.

5.  And finally, because this has gone on way too long, we had fantastic weather the whole time and I had great weather to get home. The Accuweather app on my phone didn’t agree but I have proof.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky.  Someone suggested that I had accidentally keyed in some other Middletown, but I checked.  Maybe Accuweather keyed in some other Middletown.

Linking to Tanya's Willy-nilly Friday 5!

Around Roanoke

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

More of the Blues…

I am continuing my 52 Week Project – 52 Weeks of Blue – but it hasn’t always been easy.

Week 31 was a challenge so out came my blue marbles.  I decided to manipulate the photo by layering a copy of the inverted photo on top to create the bright shadows.  I messed with it for quite a while, but eventually liked the way it looked.

We were in Vermont during Week 32 and I came across this rustic old blue door in downtown Rutland.  I think it has a lot of character.

We actually passed this old place in Brimfield, Massachusetts, home of the famous Brimfield Flea Market, on our way home from Vermont and I made a special trip back there to take a photo of this old door for Week 33.  This used to be Joe’s Package Store, but it is obviously closed these days.  I’m glad they didn’t tear it down until I had a chance to snap at it.  

The Brimfield Flea is going on as I type this right now.  While it wreaks havoc in our town traffic-wise and in the local hotels and restaurants, it is a fun experience, which I often liken to going through your old aunt's attic.  Not that I've ever had an old aunt with an attic full of treasures, but some of you must have.

Week 34 was a busy one for us and it culminated in a trip to Bangor, Maine for a wedding.  I thought it would be easy to find something blue on that trip, but when I looked through my photos, this was the best I could come up with.  It was a disappointing blue week.

I had to get creative with Week 35, too.  I have a lot of blue glass and took some pictures of a few pieces of it in the bright sunlight.  I wasn’t pleased with any of the results, but started messing with this one and layered a photo of flowers on top of it.  I like the idea, but I think I will play with it a little more in the future and see if I can do it better.

In other news, I'm heading to Ohio tomorrow morning to help my sisters and brothers with my mother's estate sale.  They have done so much work getting ready for this, that it's the least I can do.  My mother, who was very reluctant to go into assisted living, seems to have settled in at this point and has not tried to escape recently.  There's no doubt that getting older isn't for the fainthearted and dealing with loved ones getting older is almost as difficult, but it is the way life goes.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Things You See Along the Way: Bangor Edition and One Good Fence…

I’m feeling a bit logy today as the effects wear off from the anesthesia that I was subjected to this morning for my colonoscopy.  But I don't think they meant computer when they told me not to operate large machinery.

Most of you out there who have been in my shoes know, of course, that the colonoscopy itself is far less irritating than the prep day before.  But what gets me even more than that is, in my case, to finish off the prep, I had to take the last dose at 1:00 am.  Then, of course, it’s a good couple of hours before you can actually get to sleep after that.  Since my procedure was at 8:00 am, I was up at the crack of dawn and out the door on about two and a half hours sleep.  Soooooo, if I make some mistakes here today, it’s the fatigue speaking.  BUT, I will say this, it’s all a small price to pay to make sure that there’s nothing untoward going on in the old plumbing down there and I'm free for another five years.


When we were in Bangor in August, we didn’t have a lot of time to look around, but if you saw my last post, you know that we did spend an hour or so driving around town looking at stuff, which is one of my favorite things to do.

I was very surprised to see that The World’s Best Drunken Noodles are served in Bangor.  But my surprise was mainly because I have no idea what a “drunken noodle” is.  I’d try one though.

I like looking in people’s windows while we drive around.  But I’m not a voyeur.  I don’t want to see the people who live in these places; I’m just interested in their stuff.  I liked the looks of this place with the fan and the orchids in the window.  The building itself was nice and strong looking.

In case you’re driving in Bangor and forget where you are, I recommend driving by this sign.

This is The Thomas Hill Standpipe.  “Standpipe” is just a fancy way of saying “water tower.”  According to the website 10Places Every Stephen King Fan Must Stop While in Bangor, Maine, “The Thomas Hill Standpipe served as the inspiration for the haunted and dangerous water tower in It and it's said King wrote much of the book, published in 1986, on a park bench in the small park at the base of the tower. The Standpipe was built in 1897 and holds 1.75 million gallons of water for the city.”

  It is one of my favorite King books.  He confirms the utter and total creepiness of clowns in this book.  I remember It keeping me awake at night when I was reading it.  I couldn’t get the line, “We all float down here” out of my head for months.  Well, the line is obviously still in there even now.

But I would say that even if you aren’t a fan of Mr. King's work, this is worth a stop if you’re ever in Bangor.  It is one fantastic building.  Made me wish I had brought my wide angle lens along.  Oh, well…

So that I will be able to link up with Theresa’s Good Fences today, I’m throwing in this pic.  If we had had more time, it looked like a place that would be a very nice stop for a draft beer.  Well, at least it would be on a nice day, which it wasn’t when we were in Bangor.  And that’s why my pictures of the Standpipe (above) look like they were converted to black and white.  Nope.  Those shots are in living color.  It was just a black and white kind of day.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Good Bangor Fences…

We didn’t have a lot of time to tour around Bangor, Maine while we were in the vicinity. But we did have about an hour before we had to get gussied up for the wedding we attended, so we drove around Bangor a little bit.

There were some beautiful houses with fences along the main drag like this one:

But of course, the magnum opus of all fences and houses in Bangor is this one:

This is the house of none other than the prolific and brilliant writer, Stephen King.  Pretty neat, eh?

Looks like Mr. King has a pet frog.

Linking to The Run*A*Round Ranch's Good Fences!

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Concatenation of Ephemeralities and Eons…

I don’t think anyone would argue with me when I say that life can be bittersweet.  This past weekend brought it home to me in a very personal way.

On Saturday, Greg, Carrie and I attended the wedding of Greg’s cousin Anne.  Although I am not linked to her by blood, I am very happy that she is also my cousin, even if only by marriage.  She is a unique and wonderful human.  It was an honor to get to spend this special day with her and her new husband, Peter.   The service was lovely, the bride was beautiful and the reception was a truly excellent way to spend a summer afternoon in delightful surroundings with very congenial, laughing people gathered to celebrate this happy new phase of Anne and Peter’s life together.

We committed to this event a while back and before I knew that a room would become available at an assisted living facility for my 87 year old mother.

  The last time I saw my mother, it seemed clear to me that it was time for her to be cared for in a way that was not possible for me or any of my six siblings on our own and my understanding is that things have gotten progressively worse for her since I was there.

  But dealing with the logistics of the whole affair was left to my siblings who live near my mother in Ohio.  We live almost 800 miles away in Massachusetts, so I am not always up on what is happening on a day to day basis or able to contribute in a concrete, everyday way.

Yesterday, my wonderful siblings did what was best for my mother who was not happy or cooperative about her situation and I have an untold amount of gratefulness for them in my heart.  They are the best!

Life is often bittersweet and the moments, both the good ones and the bad ones, are fleeting.  Although when we are experiencing the bad moments often those moments don’t seem to be so short-lived.

Alfred E. Kahn said, “Life is a concatenation of ephemeralities” – happenings linked together that last a very short time.   To me, that seems right most of the time.  Time does fly.

Last weekend in Maine was certainly over too soon for Greg, Carrie and me.  Still, while this past weekend was technically the same number of hours both in Ohio and Maine, I’m sure the weekend must have lasted a very, very long time for my sibs.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Things You See Along the Way in Vermont…

If you were having your yard dug up, would you want it done by the bourgeois?  When I first saw this, it occurred to me that this might not be the best name for a company, but then I thought about it for a little longer.   The word bourgeois means conventional, conservative and hide-bound and the antonyms are adventurous, inspired and original.  Yes, if I wanted someone to dig up my yard, I’d want them to be bourgeois.  I don’t think we need originality in yard digging.

Ever seen one of these before?  Me, either.  I like the originality though, don't you?

The bears in Vermont are so refined, they wear clothes and they always recycle.

Even without the license plate, I would have a pretty good guess where this car has its home base.  My favorite of the bunch is, “Never give up on your dreams, unless your dreams are stupid.”  Great advice!  Well, I kind of like the “Drink Vermont Beer” one, too.  

But seriously, I really am already against the next war.

Fellow blogger Nicki (Bended Road Photos) recently posted a gas pump similar to this one. The difference is that the one she posted has the Esso logo on it.  Seems her father was an Esso dealer back in the day.  I am sure that fans and collectors of petroliana could point out more differences between the two pumpls besides the brand name, but to me they look like they might be of similar vintage.  We ran across this pump at Calvin Coolidge’s birthplace in Plymouth Notch, Vermont.  My father owned a service station in Ohio and was a Gulf dealer so, of course, I had to take a snap.
Here’s an aside about Coolidge.  An interesting thing to me about him is that before he became president, he was mayor of Northampton, Massachusetts, where my daughter Carrie lives and Calvin’s wife, Grace Anna Goodhue, who was a graduate of the University of Vermont, taught at the Clarke School for the Deaf that is located down the street from Carrie’s abode.

I know that the above is true but is this?

OOPS!  I forgot something.  As we were traveling down the road, we spied this sign:

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you may know that I fell in love with Scotland when we visited a few years back.  While we were there, we visited the Isle of Skye and I wanted to buy a Skye tartan scarf because I really, really liked it.  Well, long story short, I didn't buy it and have regretted it ever since.  When we spied this sign, Greg turned around and let me go in to look for my Skye tartan.  Now, I have it and it's beautiful!  Yay!

Thanks, Greg!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Ilovermont, Part 2…

My Grandpa Lambert worked for the Rutland Railroad in Alburgh, Vermont, about a five minute drive from the Canadian border.  That’s where my father was born and grew up.  So my ties to Vermont are actually blood ties.  I am not sure if that has anything to do with the fact that when I cross the border into Vermont, I tend to decompress and feel more peaceful internally.

This is a photo of my Grandpa's baseball team.  George is the adult sitting on the bottom step in the front on the right.
I come from a long line of baseball lovers, too.

Most likely, this has more to do with me feeling good about Vermont:  The largest city in Vermont is Burlington, which is located an hour due south of Alburgh.  It is a city of approximately 42, 000 people, which makes it about the same size as the city I grew up in – Middletown, Ohio – although Middletown does have a few more people.  Burlington is the most populous city in Vermont, while there are 17 cities larger than Middletown in Ohio.  That leaves room in Vermont for a lot of this:

...and this:

Of course, it doesn’t mean that these kind of scenes don’t exist in Ohio.  They do.  But in Vermont, it's that in between those rural scenes are just more of those rural scenes with picturesque little towns sprinkled around.  I love it!

  Now and then you see a sign that makes a human heart and a pug heart skip a beat.  It looks like this:

Our trip to Vermont this time was prompted by Greg finding a bed & breakfast in West Rutland, Vermont, called The Paw House Inn.  The Paw House caters to dogs and dog-people.  It’s a great place to stay if you love dogs and travel with a dog.

Olive the pug had a great time there as did we.  Unfortunately, I had a brain fart while there and neglected to take my camera down to breakfast so I have no photos of the Inn Dog, Stanley, a friendly, but serious little terrier mix who helped to greet us and make us feel right at home.  You can see a nice photo of Stanley sitting on a big yellow chair on the inn's website.  Click here.

  Stanley and Olive saw eye to eye and that was a good thing.  The seven other dogs who were there at the time were all bigger than pug-sized.  No matter.  They all got along fine.  Well, there were a few episodes of barking and showing off, but mostly there was a lot of face licking and butt sniffing going on. It was a peaceable kingdom of dogs.

I must have been in a haze each morning, because I got no pictures of the other dogs either.  My BAD!  What was I thinking?????  My only excuse is that I had to come downstairs and take Olive out before I had my coffee.  But I did manage a shot of the downstairs parlor with its doggie wallpaper.

Anyhow, it’s time to call it a day here.  Guess what?  I have a lot more photos of Vermont and hope to go through them more thoroughly soon.

 I hope you all have a great weekend!