Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

I’m trying to keep up with the weekly photo challenges on WordPress. Sometimes it’s nice to have a blog entry that is purely visual aside from the introduction. This week’s theme is illumination and it gave me a chance to look back through my ever-growing iPhoto library of 20,000+ images. From natural to manipulated, I enjoy taking photos of any kind of light so this exercise provided a good excuse to pull out some of my favorites from the last few years.

Sometimes the best photos are the result of not knowing how to work the manual settings on a camera.

Golden Delicious

NOTE: This sweet girl unexpectedly passed away on Christmas night a few weeks ago. Her loss has hit us very hard and I’m reminded of how much we shared during our 9 years together.

I don’t know the exact moment when I became a dog person. It certainly didn’t happen right away when we got our Golden Retriever. She was a very cute puppy and much adored, but since she was also a lot of work her cuteness was overlooked sometimes from sheer exhaustion or simply because it was camouflaged by her own poop. One night she just seemed to go from a round sharp-toothed ball of 20 pounds to an angular shaggy beast of 80 with chronic gas.

Two and a half years later it still surprises me that we have a dog, and I was one of the main forces that pushed to get one, my dog crazy then five year old being the driving force. I have always considered myself more of a cat person even though I grew up having both. I think feline narcissism and independence make them easier pets to deal with from an adult perspective. It really is all about them. Cats do their own thing, make their own way in the world, and generally figure things out on their own. And while cats like people, they can certainly do without them for extended periods of time.

Continue reading “Golden Delicious”

Happy New Year

I’m never one for making resolutions on the eve of a new year. It seems like you should always try to move forward and do things that make you happy rather than scheduling meaningful life changes for one time of year or the first few months of a new year. Besides, I never seem to follow through with them when I have made resolutions and that seems as good a reason as any not to continue. Even my resolution to not make any more resolutions clearly had a shelf life or this post wouldn’t exist.

Why should this year be any different? Well, for whatever reason it just is. This year seems different in ways I cannot pinpoint so I think a resolution is in order. For 2013 I resolve to be more resolute in my follow through. I’m not saying what it is I’m going to follow through with because it doesn’t really matter nor can I even begin to predict what it might be. But I think this the right time to just go with something, anything, and see where it leads all the way until the end.

Happy 2013!

The Yankee Swap Shed

When we first moved to town there were two places people repeatedly asked us if we had visited: Kimball Farm’s Ice Cream or the Swap Shed. We were quick to say that we had visited Kimball’s numerous times and indulged in their mouth wateringly delicious ice cream. The lines never seemed to slow as we stood under the glow of dim and yellow bug lamps waiting for our turn to order obscenely large portions scooped by teenagers with the forearms of a gender neutral Popeye. In no time we learned that in a town of less than five thousand people, a good old-fashioned ice cream stand could become a major social event. As it turns out so can the dump, the location of the Swap Shed, and a place we had wondered about for months before visiting given how many times it was mentioned in conversation.Continue reading “The Yankee Swap Shed”

2012 in Pictures

The year is rapidly coming to a close. It’s been twelve months of delicious chaos with a multitude of kid activities; home repairs; our first time selling a house; moving across the country with two kids and a giant (and stinky) dog; finding a rental; Ben starting a new job; me finding a new hobby or career (we’ll see which way it goes); the kids starting new schools and navigating a new town with new friends; and worrying about everything that could have gone wrong along the way, but thankfully didn’t at least as far as I can tell. Who knows what 2013 will have in store for us, but here’s to hoping our luck continues to hold.

Happy New Year!

Living in a Winter Wonderland

It’s winter in Massachusetts. The air is cold and damp and the ground is constantly squishy from the disappearing and reappearing frosts each morning or the frequent drizzle. We finally paid someone to clear the leaf, stick, and tree debris from the pre-Halloween hurricane. A task I finally had to admit I was incapable of doing alone as I stared at a two plus acre yard piled high with the memory of fall. Fortunately we only lost a few very large branches thanks to Sandy but they proved too daunting for us to deal with on our own – the lone family in the woods without a chainsaw. The forest took the brunt of the high winds and felled a sea of trees with some still attached to root and earth as they toppled, leaving craters in the ground.

Continue reading “Living in a Winter Wonderland”

A New England Halloween

Halloween came and went and the kids managed to make the most of it even though the lack of neighborhoods, sidewalks, and street lamps prevented neighborly trick or treating. We put them in the car and drove the mile or so to the center of town to enjoy organized trick or treating on sidewalks that spread out from the rotary like spokes, but only for a few hundred feet or so in each direction.

An affluently rural New England Halloween is a sight to behold I learned this year. Parents and children happily milled about with bobbing flashlights and headlamps further emphasizing the town’s lack of nighttime lighting. The general store was aglow with blazing pumpkins lined up for viewing and decorated with giant inflatable spiders on its front porch eaves. A large barrel of candy sat unattended on the porch letting kids help themselves, refreshed immediately when the supply was exhausted. A lone policeman stood in front of the small police station glowing with blue lights and passed out glow sticks.Continue reading “A New England Halloween”

Foliage Schmoliage

The weather is turning cooler, the afternoons are getting darker, and I suddenly find myself craving flavored lattes – those embarrassingly delicious abominations from Starbucks layered with whipped cream and nutmeg.  No other time of year would I think about pumpkin or gingerbread-flavored coffee as a must-have or even a must-maybe.  It’s October in New England and I’m in a full-blown fall mania with predictably gratuitous images of manicured leaf piles exploding with color, Golden Retrievers chasing waterfowl through landscaped marshes, overflowing baskets of Botero shaped pumpkins, apples, and gourds, and all of them covered in Scotch Plaid flannel.Continue reading “Foliage Schmoliage”

Walking the Plank

Apparently, in an old house there is a lot of settling.  And I don’t mean settling for inefficient electricity and heat, non-existent closet space, or chimney labyrinths that evade safety lining.  The house itself has clearly shifted around over its many centuries of existence.  One of my many fantasies involving the purchase of this house (it is not for sale) is often rudely interrupted by the presence of an imaginary home inspector and her analysis of its foundation. There is a lot of foot shifting, head shaking, and deep sighing during the presentation.  If I had to guess I would say that the part of the home inspector is played by reason, as in “there are many reasons you wouldn’t want to buy this house and the foundation is just the beginning.”  The inspector gets even more animated as we move on to plumbing and grading.Continue reading “Walking the Plank”

Circuit Breaker

A few nights ago, when the temperature dropped into the low to mid-40s, Ben tripped a circuit breaker after plugging in a small space heater in one of the bedrooms.  The girls were in the tub and the entire new addition of the house went dark.  There was much screaming and splashing of water.  We tripped a circuit breaker again the other night after turning up the cool setting on the freezer and then daring to use the microwave.  The microwave and fridge share an outlet and clearly there is a fixed amount of power negotiated between them. There was much husbandly grumbling about electrical needs and wants.  We knew we were going to be living in an old house obviously, but didn’t know the electricity was also dated.  “Did Barbara tell you about the electricity and using air conditioners?” the handyman had asked last week while de-mousing our oven.  “No.  She didn’t.”Continue reading “Circuit Breaker”

Hidey Hole

Today I decided to finally brave the debris in the cellar hole.  Last week I gave our landlord – and our neighbor – the medicine bottle I found during a 10 minute search of the ground outside of the hole.  I assumed there were so many treasures to be found that I should part with one as a goodwill gift.  Hell, I had already found two pieces of glass completely intact in just a 20 minute casual search, and one was almost 140 years old.  Since I am her tenant, I also wanted to gauge her reaction to me poking around the property.  I don’t want to be viewed as historically disrespectful to her or the grounds.  She was happy to receive the bottle and proudly put it on a shelf where it joined dozens upon dozens of medicine and various elixir bottles from the 1800s.  Some still had the original label or cork and one she tells me still had some of its original liquid contents.  All of the bottles were found either behind her property or in the cellar hole I’ve been obsessing on.  Bottle hunting and gathering had been a pastime for her brood so she didn’t seem to mind that I was exploring.Continue reading “Hidey Hole”

Autumn Pumpkin Seed and Local Free-Range Rodent Roast

We have a mouse in our oven.  Rather, we had a mouse in our oven.  It expired from unnatural causes.  Specifically, the mouse seems to have been electrocuted when I activated the broiler a few days ago.  Chewed wires caused a short to the broiler which extinguished the mouse, which caused some of the stove insulation to singe, which caused some pumpkin seeds to burn.  Of course we knew none of this until the oven was in pieces on our kitchen floor. All that we knew at the time, and what brought the handymen to our rental house, was that the oven produced both a profound stink as well as plumes of smoke.  In the yard.Continue reading “Autumn Pumpkin Seed and Local Free-Range Rodent Roast”

Colonial Cellar Hole

We live in an almost 300 year old house on a pretty busy two lane road.  While the speed limit is 25 MPH and the road twists and turns with multiple blind spots, cars and trucks race by quite often.  So when I’m walking the dog along the non-existant shoulder of this two lane death road, we don’t have the luxury of gazing at things in the woods for too long.  A few weeks ago, however, I did notice a rock wall not too far from our yard that caught my eye.  There are lots of small rock walls that just pop up here and there along the road.  I think they were used to mark off land hundreds of years ago.  We have dozens that start and stop around the property, meandering through the 5 acres we borrow. While they are really interesting to see – and I’m wondering what might be shoved in between the stones – I am also getting used to them.  But this one small rock wall led to what looked like a big hole in the ground and big holes in the ground are not that common in the woods.Continue reading “Colonial Cellar Hole”

Twenty Minutes Away

Local church, town meeting house, and school

It’s a phrase I think to myself throughout the day: twenty minutes away.  As in, grocery store.  Twenty minutes away.  Starbucks.  Twenty minutes away. Take-out.  Twenty minutes away.  Gas station.  Twenty minutes away.  Target. Twenty minutes away.  Shopping mall.  Twenty minutes away.  I find myself trying to gauge just how much I want to buy food; drink coffee; get take-out; fill up the car; or buy anything.  Because just driving twenty minutes to get something, anything, is not a big deal until you remember it’s now another twenty minutes to get back home.Continue reading “Twenty Minutes Away”

Bathtub Mary (or Mary on the Half Shell)

Photo from Wikipedia entry, “Bathtub Mary.

I drove to Waltham today to get a new Brownies uniform.  The troop has decided to go with just the vest which disappoints me greatly because I do love a good costume on a kid.  Every activity I’ve ever volunteered to sign the girls up for required special attire: soccer, ballet, Girl Scouts…  I am presently and actively encouraging horse riding lessons (English for the full dressage look) and some kind of martial art.  I can only hope that one of the kids takes an interest in fencing in the future.  With Brownies I figured I could at least indulge in both the beanie and shorts, but people clearly like to keep things simple. I get it.  This is my indulgence.  Some moms might collect handbags, jewelry, or shoes (something I’ve already seen a lot of at the local school).  I collect tiny costumes.  One has an infant sailor suit and Kimono resting in her baby box at the top of a closet.  The other has infant Halloween costumes in hers.  Neither, of course, has any interest in filing these items away, but I stuff them in the boxes anyway while telling myself it is for them.Continue reading “Bathtub Mary (or Mary on the Half Shell)”

Lobster Pants

I knew it was only a matter of time before I would start seeing that odd New England fashion item that I both (secretly) enjoy and abhor: chinos (long or short) with an embroidered marine life print.  It can also be applied to belts, but the full pant makes a bolder statement.  Today it was lobster pants.  A grown man, walking through the Staples parking lot wearing lobster embroidered shorts!  My day was made.  The fact that he had a tasteful comb-over, a medium shade tan, and was wearing a crisp white button down shirt is to be assumed.  I’m reminded of my family summer day trips to Hyannis as a kid. My brother and I would scour the racks at Puritan Clothing to see who could find the most hideous print.  Navy chinos with bright green whales was a particular favorite.  It’s been eight years – but for a brief visit to Chatham one spring in 2006 – since I have seen this particular brand of Cape Cod couture.

You can go home again.

Update: No, you can’t.  You can never go home.  Apparently, in my absence, grubby little hipsters have embraced the preppy look.  Now I see photos of well styled 20-somethings proudly wearing lobster and whale pants, even sear suckers.  You can’t trust anyone under 30.


Heirloom Spiders

Slowly getting used to our 292 year old house in the forest.  Little things like window blinds and Target and IKEA storage make things surprisingly reassuring.  The newness distracts me from the occasional squishy floorboard I sink into and the various wood and old smoke smells throughout the house.  The weird little window screens that we prop inside the windows are now only letting in half the bugs they were a week ago.  As a result, the moths are no longer flying directly into my forehead while I lay in the bed reading by the glow of my iPhone.  The urge to launder the bedding with DEET has passed with fewer morning mosquito bite discoveries.  The kids have finally discovered the yard with meandering paths, rock walls, old wells, and ferns.  I am slowly letting go of the fear that they will be crushed by the steel cage of a speeding Volvo which leaves room for the new fear of tick bites and the resulting Lyme disease.  Obsessing (a little) on the contents of a black garbage bag stuffed into the top of the well.  Trash?  Remains?  Was a previous tenant being just lazy or were his/her motives more dastardly?  Amazed that my fear of bugs has disappeared on the East Coast.  I am smacking some spiders by hand and only using a 1/2 inch wide wad of paper towels to squish the really meaty ones.  I catch mosquitoes and moths while they fly.  I might have gone rustic.

I have discovered that decay suits me.