Snow

140118 Snow (2)Saturday we had the most amazing snowstorm.  I have been whining lately about our January thaw.  Mud season is my least favorite time of the year and I felt like we were in it last week.  Everything was brown and ugly, not what I want to look at out my windows.  Walking was a difficult slog.

This storm started suddenly.  It was fairly warm out and the snow came down hard with huge flakes.  Bill and I spent most of the day outdoors just enjoying its exquisite beauty.  There is nothing the dogs like more than us being outdoors in the snow.  Snow makes everything a whole new game.

A Year in Review

CranesJanuary was spent trying to finish my thousand cranes – a resolution I make every year and never quite finish.  I figure a couple more years and they will be done.  I do recommend this to any and everyone.  It’s simple to do and is one of the most meditative things I have ever done.

130227(5)The weather was wintry and exquisitely beautiful.  Each and every storm left behind a landscape that screamed to be walked through on snowshoes and photographed.  The quiet that goes along with weather is restorative and I always look forward to a snowstorms aftermath.

corned-beef-cabbageSt. Patrick’s Day will be one of the most important days of the calendar year to me now, not because I’m Irish but because it was the day I talked to Scott for the first time.  Given up for adoption in 1972 I had come to regard this moment as something that may never happen.  I had left information on a website and through a convoluted chain of events was contacted through an intermediary.  The rest of this year has been spent with each of us getting to know our new family members, a blessing in so, so many ways.

130407 Sugar (3)Sugaring this year was amazing although the snow was rather deep in the beginning.  A lot of work gathering those buckets without the aid of snowshoes.  It makes up for it when we boil and smell that hot maple goodness wafting through the sugar house.

IMG_20130511_104220Spring came in its normal time this year, no hot spells or odd cold snaps and the pear tree was happy.

130609 Throw (2)I made my first overshot throw in wool and discovered a passion for weaving that far and away exceeds any other handwork I have ever done.  My grandfather had wanted me to weave I think, I have a faint recollection of receiving a small, plastic kids loom when I was very young but without someone to teach me.  This has been a special journey with a connection to just about every member of my family.

131225 (4)Every morning the weather cooperates this is what I look at as I drink my first cup of coffee.  There is nothing like walking out the door in your pajamas and sitting in an Adirondack chair overlooking your land.  Day to day the view is different, each having its own beauty.  I feel very, very blessed to have this be such a big part of my life.  It’s grounding.

130817 Heath Fair (3)The end of summer brings with it the fairs.  I took full advantage this year.  Heath Fair is one of my favorites with something for everyone.  I also had some validation with winning a blue ribbon for my weaving.

130818 Wood (4)Wood, wood, wood, we cut and split a lot of wood.  It’s best when it’s like this – family all gathered to make it all go quicker and easier.  It’s also more fun.  Everyone pitched in and Chester thought is was awesome.

130818 Percys PointChester started swimming this summer.  He is a very hot dog when the weather is warm but loves playing fetch more than anything.  This was the perfect solution.  He was a bit of a panic swimmer the first day but after that he looked forward to coming to this spot each and every day we were in Rowe, sometimes twice a day.  He is an amazing animal.

130915 (2)My garden had its issues this year but my popcorn, the experiment of the year was a complete success.  There is no better feeling than finding out there is something new you can grow that’s beautiful and functional.

130904 (1)I went to Belfast, Maine to Fiber College this year and spent quality time with old and new friends and ate lobster every day.  It was a fiber weekend for some but for me it was more about photography.  I need to be alone to do my best work and I came away with images that were everything I wanted them to be.  It was also a time to reminisce about childhood, we spent many summers up this way while I was growing up and I hadn’t been here in a good 30 years.

Red Tree

This autumn the foliage was more beautiful than I had seen it in years.  So many of my friends shared exquisite images of scenes right out their front doors that were breathtaking. Photography slows me down and forces me to look at the details.  The photograph above of the red tree was taken almost at dark.  I drove by it in the center of town, said wow to myself and kept driving.  By the time I got to the bottom of the hill I turned around to capture this.  In my head I initially said “Oh, just take it tomorrow” but a few hundred feet down the road I realized that it wouldn’t be there.  Those are the best photographs, the ones that catch that fleeting moment.

131114 SunsetThis fall I saw some of the most amazing sunsets ever.  Enfield never looked so good under these vibrant skies.  This particular evening it seemed that everyone I knew posted a photograph from a different place.  It was like the sky made everyone stop whatever they were doing to watch.  It’s comforting to know that the people I love were all looking at the sky at almost the same time and then sending what they saw to others.

131129 Bonfire (2)Thanksgiving weekend was about family, our immediate family.  What is usually a crowd was just Bill, me and the two girls, our nuclear family.  It was the first time in so many years that it was just us and it was wonderful.  It’s probably the most difficult thing to experience – the loss of your children to adulthood.  The best time of our lives was raising our girls and they have both turned into amazing, remarkable women.  It was good to have the opportunity to have them all to ourselves.  For a treat Bill built an amazing bonfire to share with them and a couple of their cousins.

131225 (3)Christmas has come and gone, although the remnants are still in the house.  A few decorations will return to their boxes in a week or so and life will begin its new cycle.  There aren’t any resolutions this year for me other than to absorb the gifts around me.  The time seems to go by so fast each year it leaves me breathless.  I will spend the winter months planning the garden, weaving and cooking for the people I love.  I will follow in the rhythm of the seasons and work the way I do for each year.  It may seem a little dull but planning my life around what’s growing or the weather is the most comfortable way for me to live at this moment in time, you just roll with it.  I take every moment spent with the people I love and savor it like a fine wine.  Those times of love and laughter are what sustains me through any other trials that come along.  The simplicity of it is all I need.

 

Cold End and Start

131121(1)This time of year it’s always a more difficult decision to go to Rowe for an overnight and come home.  It’s not that I don’t relish the quiet and solitude, I just have to relish it in a dark, freezing cold house.  That’s always part of the thinking process – do I really want to freeze for an hour when I get there?

Yesterday I decided to go.  I wanted to see how long it would take to heat the kitchen when starting with a cold wood stove and then see how long I could keep the temperature up in the house using the stove through the night.  You know they tell you all kinds of things in advertising, I just wanted to see if it was true.

Chester and I arrived at about 4:30, the sun was down and it was getting dark fast.  Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike this time of year – for that reason – the days are too short.  I grabbed an armload of wood on my way through the shed and proceeded to build a little fire in the stove.  It wasn’t as easy a task as I had anticipated but finally kicked in.  Within an hour it was cranking and three hours from arrival the kitchen was over 70 degrees.  I had bought a kinetic fan that is placed on top of the stove and that was blowing the heat towards the other rooms (and it’s fun to watch – who needs electricity?).

When I had walked into the kitchen with my load of wood it was below 50 in the kitchen and the furnace was running.  It was just below freezing outdoors. Without the stove I would have been listening to the furnace kick on and off all night and the temperature in the room would never have been above 62 or so, no matter how high you turn up the thermostat.  I had all of the other thermostats turned to 64.  The furnace didn’t come on until around 4:00 this morning.  I got up to make my coffee around 6:30 and the little fan was still moving, a testament to the heat still in the stove.  I threw a piece of wood on the remaining coals and poof!, roaring fire.  It’s a good feeling when you know that a major investment of time and sweat is going to pay off.

I spent the evening twisting fringe on a throw that will be a Christmas present and thinking about how many other things I can make and have ready for the holidays.  Chester spent his evening on the floor in front of the stove.

With the payoff in the stove experiment fresh in my mind I took Chester out for the morning walk about and was soo glad I had come up.  It may have been cold (19 degrees)  but it certainly was beautiful.

131121 (2)

Two Dog Night

131114 MoonriseThe days that I go up to Rowe during the week are dwindling.  I went up yesterday to work on a couple of projects and this is what it looked like when I arrived.  The sky was beautiful but I really wasn’t expecting snow on the ground.  It was cold – 26 degrees when I got there.

This is when going up there is not as much fun as other times of the year.  The house is cold and takes forever to warm up.  It’s dark early as well.  I arrived at 4:30 yesterday and felt like it was about 7:00.

I started coming up to Rowe during the week when we got Chester.  He needed to really run around mid week and this was the way to go.  I can play with him for a while or he runs over to see his girlfriend.  During the milder seasons I take him for a swim at the lake.  With the days longer I can garden or can something, hike around the property or visit with my sister.  It doesn’t matter what’s for supper because it’s just me.

We don’t have heat on the second floor of the house but all of the beds have electric blankets.  This is fine when you get in but it’s pretty brutal when you get up in the morning. When I go up by myself the dogs sleep on the bed (that never happens when Bill is there).  This morning approaching 5:30 or so I woke up to realize I was right on the edge of the bed because Chester kept moving over to snuggle up to me.  He doesn’t usually do this, he just curls up on a corner of the bed and stays there.  He must have been cold.

For many years I’d hear the expression “It’s going to be a three dog night” and always thought people would invite all those dogs onto the bed to keep them warm but I realized last night my dogs were having a one person night in order to keep themselves warm.

 

Dogs, Dogs, Dogs

131027 DogsYou should all be happy this is a still and not video.  This is the kind of attention you get when you pick up the squeaker that has recently been removed from a toy and use it for your own entertainment.  Even the dog that HATES squeakers was in for the game.  It was more powerful than food.  No one got it in the end – it was for my entertainment only. No dogs were harmed in the making of this photograph.

Slow and Steady

131016 Moonrise

I arrived late to Rowe on Wednesday to see that the shed was being worked on.  Most of the paint was removed and there was a window in the west wall.  The opening has always been there – there was a screen in that spot in need of repair.  A hinged shutter, a door of sorts, covered the hole year round and has been there as long as I can remember.  It’s always interesting to walk into an interior space where there is light that has never been there before, you feel like you’ve been missing something.

It was still light out as I unloaded my car but fairly clouded over.  I started cooking a little supper on the stove and walked into the living room where the light coming into the east windows was this amazing color, and bright for sunset.  I looked out, grabbed a camera and this is what I saw.  The light reflecting off of the clouds from the west with the moon rising in the east.  It was stunning and there for less that 10 minutes.  Of course Mr. Photobomb was in every shot.

I woke up out of a half sleep Thursday morning to Chester growling – softly (he’s kind of chicken).  I got up to see Mike , my brother-in-law and Jim, his work partner working on the shed wall.  The dogs went out to happily greet them and we took a walk to the back forty.  When I returned Mike and I talked about the condition of the clapboards and where we were going to go with this.  He also told me Jim had found the window at the dump.  Jim works at the dump part-time which gives him access to the good stuff.  He’s always thinking ahead to where he might recycle something.  A bonus for both of us.  I left them to their work and assume that it will look wonderful in the next week or so.  They do really good work.

131017 Paint

Exterior painting is not something Bill and I are interested in doing.  We have done it at the house in Enfield but the house in Rowe is just too tall.  Mike has been painting for years.  When he paints you know he will do whatever he can to get the paint to stay on for years to come.  He repairs, replaces and caulks where needed then primes and paints.  He is meticulous.

We haven’t been able to do more than a side a year because of the size of the job and the expense.  It will be another two years probably before the house it completely painted so for the time being I just photograph the good sides.  They finished the front a few weeks ago and I have to say the house is looking quite beautiful. I am hoping to build a new storm door before winter.  The strap hinges and thumb latch were made at Williamsburg Blacksmith quite some time ago and that aluminum door really needs to go.

131013 Front of House

Of course when you look at the photographs there are more things to add to the to do list.  Antennas and dishes have to be removed, lightning rods reattached.  Every once in a while I look at a photograph like this and in my head just pretend it’s all done.

Mr. Photobomb

130908 Pear Tree PhotobombI just had to take a photo or two of the pear tree.  It is loaded with fruit this year and I am always amazed at how the branches bow down to the ground without breaking.  The light was harsh but it was a beautiful evening.  And guess who just happened to be in the shot.  One of many that he was in.  You’d think he was waiting to see the results.

Dusk on Pelham Lake

130818 Percys Point

 

Percy’s Point on Pelham Lake has become one of my favorite places to bring Chester.  The lake is such a calm, quiet place.  This particular spot boasts a few picnic tables and a couple of benches.  I was leaning against one of the tables the other day and realized my father had made all of them a few years ago.

We started visiting this spot out of necessity.  Chester likes to be in water when he gets hot but the only water on our property now is a slimy, muddy little brook that is trickling water from the beaver pond above it.  There is no other word to describe it other than gross – and stinky.  When he’s hot he will go into the reeds around it and lies down so he comes out covered with this rust colored goo, yuck.  We’ve tried hosing him off but it’s pretty ineffective and he won’t get into the pool we have for the dogs.  Usually I hose most of the mud off and then bring him to the lake and make him swim for a while until he’s clean.  He thinks this is quite a treat and we are now wondering if he goes into that muck just so I’ll take him to the lake.  Hmmmmm.

There are times that are particularly nice to bring him there.  Last night I was canning and didn’t get to go until almost dusk.  On the way a coyote crossed the road in front of my car.  They elicit fear in many and if there is a pack of them near your yard at night I can understand that – they are loud and talkative.  I’m thinking they are probably the reason I haven’t seen a rabbit since winter as well as every other critter that usually makes its home around the property.  I have to tell you though, they are a magnificently beautiful animal.  They have the most intense yellow eyes, they stare right through you.

As I was tossing the ball into the pond a couple walked by with their little dog on a leash.  I told them about seeing a coyote not too far from there.  Anyone here that has small animals knows that letting them loose this time of day always runs the risk of losing them.  As beautiful as they are being aware is always the best idea.  Meanwhile Chester kept swimming after his ball paying no attention to the couple or their little dog.  There’s is nothing that keeps him from his game.

And The Reward

130819 Boating (4)

 

I’m the type of person that needs some sort of motivator when I have to do work that I don’t find particularly enjoyable.  I reward myself with things I enjoy doing, like weaving or hooking or knitting.  If I vacuum the entire downstairs I let myself enjoy a couple of hours of guilt free crafting.  Honestly, if I didn’t do that nothing would get done.

We have been taking long weekends for the month of August.  We didn’t really have a vacation this year and found a true need to get away from the shop even if it is for only an extra day a week.  In doing so we have tried to designate Mondays as a day to do something we enjoy and is relaxing.  With everyone helping us split wood on Sunday we promised a trip to the lake (we would probably have gone rain or shine).

We took one of the islands for our beach for the day and brought Chester and Malcolm.  It was overcast but warm and humid, not enough to go swimming but very comfortable sitting on the beach.

130819 Boating (2)When Bill wasn’t on the boat this is what he was doing.  Chester’s new favorite game – swimming to fetch.  He’s a little obsessed.

130819 Boating (1)It works out well for us in the long run – he does nothing but sleep for two days after a weekend event like this.  It’s a win for everyone.