Monday, February 25, 2013

A Peek Inside The Cottage

Well, another big snow storm hit here this weekend. I think it must be a record with three or four snowy weekends in a row. It really was beautiful though. I took a long walk around the meadow yesterday and then headed into the woods. The only sounds I could hear were the snowflakes as they fell on the branches above my head. It felt like a paradise. On Saturday I attended a lecture about Bolete mushrooms. It's quite early to even talk about harvesting mushrooms, but it certainly gave me something to look forward to this spring. 

Something else I look forward to this spring is painting and decorating inside the cottage. With all the windows and doors closed, I don't dare paint anything for fear of the fumes. There is still much to be done in the cottage, like the stone fireplace surround, electric hookups, tightening up seams in the walls and ceilings and installing window treatments. To be honest, I seem to have shut down. I have no inspiration to do much of anything right now, and I am hoping that it is simply a natural form of hibernation or respite from the non-stop renovations. The only thing I found the gumption to do, was to move furniture around the cottage last week. I plan on selling most of the stuff at a yard sale this spring, but or now I will use what I have. I thought I would share with you bits and pieces of some of the rooms. 

Here is the living room. Notice the fireplace is still in need of a mantle and stone surround.
The shutters are just leaning on the windows. I still need to paint the walls, hang curtains and put up some art. The recliner will eventually be moved downstairs when I make a den there and the hutch is temporarily tucked in the corner.

 I took the rug off the floor because it matched nothing in the living room. It will take time and money to get things that I want, but for now it works for me. Basically everything is temporary.

Here is a photo of the kitchen. I traded out the tall hutch that was in the center, for a table and chairs. 
It's not perfect but it takes up less space than the hutch. 

Here is one end of the bedroom. I set up my office space on this end and moved the bed from the center of the room to the other end facing the french doors. It opened up the room and made it much more spacious. Most of the furniture will be sold but that chandelier will eventually be hung in the center of the ceiling. A new rug, new drapes and new paint will really make this bedroom look pulled together.

I found this chandelier at a thrift shop for $14.00 last year. I put new covers on each candle and will soon have an electrician hang it in the bedroom for me. This piece was hand-forged in the U.S. and has genuine classic crystals hanging from it. 

                                          I just saw the first male cardinal come to the feeder this week. 
                                              Now his female partner visits with him each day. 

                                                                               Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Good Trails Make Good Neighbors

We have had quite an interesting winter this year. Almost every weekend a blizzard or significant snowfall has accompanied it. Luckily we have also had a lot of sunshine, so although the temperatures have been very low, the warmth of the sun makes it pleasant weather to be outside. As I mentioned in earlier posts, local snowmobile enthusiasts cut through the meadow on their sleds as they make their way on miles of trails through woods and fields. I really enjoy watching them whiz by each day and am so glad to know that they finally have a good, snowy winter to enjoy this sport. Last year there was no snow to speak of and they were not able to ride.

I don't own a snowmobile but do enjoy the quiet sport of cross-country skiing. I get out whenever I can but more than anything, I love walking. Unfortunately it is tough to walk on the roads without sidewalks and nearly impossible in the deep snow in the meadow. One morning, however, I was thrilled to wake up and look out the window to see someone on his snowmobile slowly making a loop around the entire meadow! Three times he made his way around, padding down a smooth path. After he was done, he looked up and waved as if saying, "Here you go...enjoy!' Snowmobilers just stay on the straight path across the meadow so I knew he was doing this for my sake. From the distance I couldn't recognize who it was, but I couldn't wait to get out and walk the new trail.  

What a treat it was to be out walking in the sunshine, without worrying about cars, or noise or slipping on ice. I was so happy I wanted to thank him but I didn't know who he was. As I walked, a poem came into my head and I suddenly had a great idea! 

I ran home and found a flat piece of painted wood. With an indelible marker, I scribbled the poem onto the board, screwed a post on the back of it and walked down to the head of the trail.  Pounding the post into the deep snow, I was satisfied to know that the mystery man would eventually see the sign and know how grateful I was for what he did.

Every day since the trail was created, I have had the pleasure of going out for a leisurely stroll around the meadow in the middle of winter! The snowmobilers are polite and respectful and never venture onto the walking path. They enjoy their path and I enjoy mine. I believe he made the walking trail to say thank you for allowing the snowmobilers to ride across the meadow. It's an ideal compromise and although I still don't know who the mystery trailblazer is, I do know he was a very wise and thoughtful neighbor. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Day After...Remembering Relatives, Roosters and Rome

When I was a little girl, we often traveled from our home in Connecticut, to Rhode Island where my father's side of the family lived. While there, we usually stayed with my Uncle Henry and Auntie Ann. Uncle Henry was a well-known sports photographer, but on occasion took photos of special events, especially when celebrities like Elvis Presley or Frank Sinatra came into town. He would also document all of the family events,  gatherings and parties, and for this I am continually grateful. It's hard to find a photo of him because he was always the one behind the camera.

I remember arriving at his home in those days, and upon entering the front door, Auntie Ann would loudly exclaim, "Watch out for the negatives, don't touch the negatives!" This was because Uncle Henry would hang long strips of film negatives from any rod or pole he could find in the house. Those gray, transparent ribbons were suspended everywhere from floor lamps and shower rods to bathroom lights and chandeliers, and still smelled of that acrid solution with which he used to process his film in the basement dark-room. Of course this was well before digital cameras existed.

I loved flipping through the newest batch of B&W photos he kept on the coffee table, and would listen with great interest, to the stories that accompanied each one. Sometimes, while pointing out the dials on the camera, he would explain how he shot the picture and would try to help me understand the intricacies of meter, speed, light and aperture. All too complicated for a ten year old mind, but fascinating nonetheless. I am convinced this is the reason why I grew to became obsessed with taking pictures of everything! My kids can certainly attest to that as can my photo albums and iphoto files.

Anyway, the reason I am telling you all this is because, although my uncle was a prolific photographer, I never once saw a photo he took of the places he traveled with Auntie Ann. I know they traveled around the world, but the only evidence I ever found, was a trinket I had admired each time we slept in the guest room at their house. In this room, upon a small shelf on the wall, sat a little bronze statue of a she-wolf and two human babies suckling beneath her. To say I admired this oddity was an understatement! I was transfixed. I was cautioned never to touch it and so, obediently I would sit on the bed and stare at it for what seemed like hours. A wild wolf caring for human babies? I asked all sorts of questions but was only told that my Uncle and Aunt had bought the piece in Rome when they visited there. The ancient myth was that the babies, named Romulus and Remus, were left in a basket by the river and were found and cared for by a mother wolf. Romulus grew to become the founder of Rome and so the city was named after him. Remus unfortunately, did not meet such a favorable fate.  The unabridged story of the babies, as I learned later in life, was far more sinister and was probably not appropriate to share with a child. 

Beneath the wolf the words read, "Ricordo Di Roma"
This means, "Remember Rome"

Before my Auntie Ann passed away, she remembered how much I loved the little statue and so she entrusted me with it. Even though it is only a simple tourist trinket, to me it holds so many fond memories and remains one of my treasured possessions. It now sits on a shelf in my cottage.

I tell you about it today because it is a symbol of the place of origin for Valentine's Day. Although there is not much that is definitively known about Saint Valentine, we do know that he lived during the Middle Ages in Rome and died on February 14th. There is a famous church there, named after him.

I found this lovely image on the website I've listed below. It gives a little more insight about       
 Saint Valentine. 

 Here are my two Valentine buddies. They were certainly dressed for the day! As I mentioned in a previous post, I've named them Romulus and Remus in honor of my favorite little characters in the statue. After going for a walk with me yesterday, they laid on the steps in the warm sun, while I continued my work at the table next to them. 

A perfect way to spend Valentine's Day.
I hope you had a good day too.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Very Special Day!

Today is February 14th, Valentine's Day. And on this day in 1960, my mother and father were married in the middle of a raging blizzard. Although the weather hindered many of the guests from attending, my Mom's parents included, it certainly didn't hamper the happiness they felt that day.

They were married for forty-seven happy years and raised four daughters. Here we are, my sister Joanne, the 3rd daughter and beautiful bride, Sharen the stunning blond who is the second daughter, Christine the youngest who has grown into a heart-stopping model, and me, the eldest on the end. 
Between us we have eight children in total.

Although my Mom is no longer with us, not a day goes by that I don't hear her gentle voice or remember her giggle. She was the kind of light in this world that is not often seen. I am so proud of my Dad for the courageous way he has carried on without her. I know how much he misses her,
 yet he still finds reasons to be generous, kind and loving.

Happy Anniversary 
Mom and Dad

                                                         Happy Valentine's Day to everyone 
                                                    and may you all find happy, lasting love!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Rooster Ramblings

Good Morning Everyone. It's a bright sunny day today and the birds are singing like it's spring! There are no less than 10 bluejays at the feeders right now, and a couple of very rambunctious red squirrels.
We had heavy rain after the big blizzard so a lot of the snow was washed away, but there is still quite a bit covering the ground. 

Here is the lake just down the road. You can see how high the snow is on top of the lake. 

This is one of the paths I shoveled around the cottage. As you can see, siding still has to be applied to some of the exterior. The Typar has held up very well, despite the high winds of winter.

The deep snow has not deterred the roosters from stopping by to beg for food. They discovered that they can just fly over from across the road. They are truly free-range roosters. They have no coop, but rather perch themselves in a large pine tree each night, and find food where they can. I can't imagine how they survived the storm but they look healthier, and stronger than ever!

This is the "Rooster Rock". It's perfectly cupped to form a feeder in the warm sun.
I have named this rooster Romulus and the other Remus. They are each very true to their namesake. Romulus is much more assertive and daring, while Remus is less of a risk taker, but far more friendly.  

He is exquisite don't you think?

                                    His fire red feathers light up against the stark white snow.

                                          After he finished his feast of black-oil sunflower seeds, 
                                he thanked me by posing for several minutes before flying off.

                                                            Have a fabulous day!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Back With The Blizzard!

Hello again everyone! I'm so sorry to have taken so long getting back on the blog. Fighting the flu, hunting for a job, and handling other life issues has thrown me off a little this month. Besides that, the winter temperatures have been hovering close to zero for the last month so I must confess, my enthusiasm for taking outdoor photos has definitely been waning.

Today, however, I felt compelled to snap some shots. We have been experiencing a blizzard for the last two days, which is like no other I have witnessed in my 27 years of living in Maine! The snowfall is well over 3 feet now, and as of 3:15 P.M., it still shows no signs of letting up. I thought I would share some photos with you just to give you an idea.

                                             Here is the meadow at one of it's clear moments.

  Here is my car which will take hours to dig out once things calm down
  Notice you can't see the driveway to the left (even though it's been plowed two times already).

The apple trees in the front yard look like bushes because the snow is so high.

    Inside the cottage, it has stayed warm and cozy. This photo was taken the day before the blizzard hit. 
        Pots of tea, butterscotch brownies, and a nice warm fire have gotten me through the storm.

I feel badly for the birds, but they seem to be faring well, 
even with the howling winds, and heavy snow.

                               May you keep safe, and warm during the next few weeks of winter.

                      Thanks to all my friends, and family who encouraged me to continue to write 
                                           during these last few weeks. I am so grateful.