GoofsI didn’t really realize the implications when Buddy died.  I wasn’t thinking of being dogless.

My daughter has been “borrowing” Sophie to help her get through the loss of Buddy.  I understand this and wholeheartedly support it.  She slept with Buddy for 14 years, she needs something breathing next to her at night.  I’ve been there.

Chester is truly Bill’s dog.  He does everything and goes everywhere with him.  He spent the last week in Rowe with me but I know he missed being with Bill (except maybe for the one night he got to sleep on the bed with Cait while she was visiting).  He seemed to smile about that for days.

I realized yesterday that my life with dogs centers around food and being outdoors.  I was baking all day and doing it with Julia Child’s style – in other words I was making a HUGE mess.  Normally when things end up on the floor the dogs are there to pick it up.  I’m thinking I may not even realize how much of a mess I make because the dogs are cleaning up after me.  This may sound disgusting but I know anyone reading this who has a dog knows exactly what I’m talking about.

The other thing is they love to be outdoors.  Every single time I open a door to the outside world they are out.  There’s something to be said about not having to go out when the temperatures are below zero but there is also something about being forced to breathe fresh air regardless of the chill.  They also show me how wonderful winter can be.  They love the snow – LOVE it.  I forget how much they love it each year until the first snow when their total delight and enthusiasm is hard to miss.  The thing is they never get sick of it, no matter how long the winter is.

We can all learn lessons about loving our circumstances by hanging out with our dogs.  They are happy and content with just being as long as they are with their people.  Definitely something to aspire to.


Our Buddy



There are dogs and then there are dogs.  Those of you that have ever been blessed with the company of a dog understand that throughout a lifetime some of them stand out.  Their personalities are a total fit and they form an unforgettable bond.  Buddy was just such a dog.  After 14 years of making us laugh almost every single day we had to say goodbye this past Saturday.  It was difficult yet not unexpected.

Buddy was our last family dog coming to us when my daughters were in junior high and high school.  He was part of all of their circles of friends and enough of a character to remain in their memories even though they hadn’t seen him for years.  He was the athlete, the clown and the sweetest animal I have ever known.  He moved through the transition of a family of 4 to one of just 2 adults.  He remained my youngest daughter’s best friend, she was his person. He was always part of coming home.

I’m in the same camp as Jon Katz when it comes to the end of our dogs lives.  I believe Buddy’s job was finished here and it was time for him to move on to the next.  We have dogs come into our lives with just what we need at the time.  They have a job.  They are the ones that get us through particular trials and contribute to the joys we have in our lives.  When their job is done they move on.  I like to think of Buddy’s spirit moving on to another family where he can entertain kids and adults with his antics and loved for the gentle spirit that he was.

We knew it was time on Friday and our vet came to the house Saturday afternoon.  Buddy hated going to the vet more than any animal I have known and we wanted to do right by him.  He died in Cait’s lap, his favorite spot for many, many years, giving us a peaceful closure so important to saying goodbye to someone you love.  He will truly be missed.

Morning Walkabout

140624 (1)

This will be a photo heavy post today – just to give you a glimpse of the place right now.  It also serves as a record for me.

Each morning starts with picking up my handy bug zapper.  It’s deer fly season and this has proven itself to be a necessity.

140624 (3)

The patio garden – to my right as I cross the driveway heading for the back forty.  This is an old garden, a friendship garden with almost all of the plants coming from people we know.  My mother worked on this from the summer we moved in, 1967.  It’s going to be renewed this summer since the lawn is really creeping in at this point and things are really crowded.

140624 (5)

Towards the back of the garage there is the newest perennial garden and in the foreground is the raspberry patch.  The raspberries are in their third year and are just starting to fill in.

140624 (8)

We take the road to the back forty, we being me and the dogs.  They know the drill and love being out there.  On the right is the sawdust building for the sawmill.  I don’t think it’s a crooked as it looks in the photo but you never know.

140624 (9)

As I walk around what used to be the back pasture the dogs spend their time sniffing whatever went on the night before.

140624 (11)

From the same spot (more or less) looking towards a road that goes back into the wood lot.  There’s a branch that goes to a stump dump where I’ve taken some very nice compost for the garden over the years.  Everything about gardening is waiting – years not months.

The tete-a-tete chair my father made is up there and it overlooks the pasture back up towards the house.  It’s the perfect spot to drink a morning cup of coffee or that martini in the afternoon.

140624 (15)As I walk the perimeter I check on the berries, deciding what I will net this year so I get more of a harvest than the birds.  These are blackberries and the birds pretty much get all of them – they probably scope them out more often than I do.

140624 (17)

This is the view from the back of the pasture – the table was too worn out for the patio but too solid to burn so there it sits.  Just one more thing to weed whack.

140624 (16)

From the same spot if you turn around you look into the woods towards the wood lot – there are also some old, empty beaver ponds back there as well.

140624 (25)

Back up into the driveway I noticed that this summer is the summer of potted plants for me.  I love the way they look and I’m here to take care of them now.  This is the well by the driveway.  Years ago we replaced the wood cover with stone fearing our kids would climb up on top of it and fall in.  I think it might be usable in an emergency but I wouldn’t want to drink out of it now.

140624 (28)

This is the view from the patio, it overlooks the vegetable garden, the new garden and the raspberries towards the back forty.  I have annuals in pots as well and tomatoes and cucumbers.

140624 (24)

Yes, cucumbers.  I was skeptical at first.  Bill brought two pots of these up that he got from the plant gypsy we have come to the shop in Enfield.  I told him they would never grow.  How wrong I was.  Now I’m looking for the seeds for next year.

140624 (26)

Across from the patio is another perennial garden that has morphed into all kinds of things over the years.  It’s now overgrown as well but I love having the pots for color.  It is also a place for the birds that we can watch from the table in the kitchen.

140624 (21)

Another crazy potted plant.  Its in a pedestal pot so I guess I could take the hanger off of it now huh?

140624 (27)

Heading for the front yard and looking back over the gardens – this is the relaxation spot for every part of the day.  I swear people that drive by only do when we are sitting in those chairs.  I figure they think that’s all we do.

140624 (22)

This is the vegetable garden from the chairs.  It’s slow but steady this year, about a week to 10 days behind last years.  It’s been quite cool.

140624 (20)

But the potatoes are doing great!

This is what I look at every morning (even if it rains).  I check my plants, take a walk, play with the dogs all in about 20 minutes time.  It gives me time to plan my day.  Look around at what needs doing and try not to get overwhelmed by the list.  Prioritize.  Breathe in the fresh air, stand in the sunshine, hug a tree, center.


140611 Blackberries

I walk the perimeter of the back forty a couple of times a day with the dogs.  It’s far enough away from any distractions to make the walk enjoyable for me as well as them.  One of our dogs, now elderly, is hard of hearing with bad eyesight and tends to wander in the road.  There are usually only a handful of cars that pass the house on any given day but this way I don’t have to worry and he can spend quality time sniffing whatever dogs with dementia sniff.

I’m constantly amazed at the things that grow back there.  Blackberries in abundance.  I never really get to harvest many of them because there are also birds in abundance – fruit is a big food source for them and I take whatever is leftover.

140611 Blueberries

Blueberries are everywhere around the edges of the mowing.  There is one large bush in the open that I net every year and it gives me a good supply of berries to freeze.  There is nothing like those wild blueberries in muffins on a cold, snowy morning in January I have to tell you.  There are bushes all over but this particular bush I reserve for myself.  It sometimes seems as if the birds are waiting when I go down to pick them thinking they’ll just help themselves while I pick.  It’s a quiet interlude I look forward to every summer just to spend time in birdsong.

140611 Pears (1)

Then there is the pear tree.  The lone survivor of a number of plantings on a long ago Father’s Day.  This tree has come into its own in the past few years.  It’s spectacular in bloom and there have been years where I thought all of the branches would break under the weight of the fruit.  This, of all the “free” food that surrounds me, stresses me the most.  There is SO much of it. Pears are picky about when they are harvested and ripened and the frost freeze cycle of the end of season can mess you up in the timing of it all.  Did I mention there is SO much of it?  The past few years there have been enough pears to fill the bucket of the tractor three times over.  That’s a LOT of pears folks.  I can them, I eat them, I give a lot away.  I even used them as place markers on my Thanksgiving table with over 40 guests.  There is not enough creativity in the world to deal with this kind of harvest.  Hmmmm, pear cider . . .

Being surrounded by the bounty of nature (and perhaps the forethought of many now gone) is really a wonderful thing.  In the past couple of years that is how I’ve begun to think about the food I grow.  There is always the huge vegetable garden but I planted asparagus last year knowing full well that I would not be eating any of it until the third year.  The glory in it is the bed can be good for over thirty years.  It’s nice to know that someone will be eating that lovely vegetable in 2040 because I planted it.  To me THAT is food security even if it’s only for three weeks out of the year.

Adopt a Mutt

Goofs Dogs come to us in different ways.  For years I went the purebred route – yes, poor Sophie is a purebred.  She must come from a weird line. I adopted a Samoyed years ago that had so many issues it came to a very sad end.  She was a product of particularly bad breeding compounded with initial owners who had no idea what they were doing.  After that I swore I would never adopt someone else’s dog, ever.

Along came Chester.  We’ve had him for almost 2 1/2 years now.  He had some issues when he came to us but this is a classic case of love can fix a whole lot of wrong.  He’s become quite comfortable with us as a matter of fact. He still doesn’t like being left alone but the panic is gone.  He still doesn’t like being in a crate but now he sees it as his bed and not a punishment.  He’s still afraid of everything – not in a cowering kind of way but if something startles him he runs in the opposite direction.  Bill thinks it’s good to have a dog that considers self-preservation.  He’s afraid of the dark so he won’t go out of the perimeter of the spotlight at night.  He will stand on the edge and woof (more of a woo woo).

My sister got a puppy last weekend from a rescue group.  She’s 12 weeks old and seriously cute.  She’s bright and will be a very good dog I’m sure.  Her daughter posted a link today about a woman who’s project it was to photograph the least likely to be adopted dogs at her local shelter. Her photos are beautiful.  When I read it I knew that I could never set foot in a shelter or I would come home with a car load of dogs.

I’m happy to see the shift from owning a purebred to adopting a mutt. There are so many of them that need adoption and if Chester is any indication an adopted dog could very well be the best dog you’ve ever had.

Flashback Friday – Water

900704 Girls TubingFor the past thirty years or so weekends in the summer have been spent on water.  Our daughters know nothing else really, their entire childhood summers were spent in a boat, on a beach or in a lake somewhere.  The photo above is a testament to their lack of fear.  Cait was three years old giving us a thumbs up to tell us to go faster.  The two of them were born to do this.  Fast forward a few years and Cait is still about the speed (so in Amanda) with her whole goal being able to stay on the tube no matter what her father throws at her.

090712 (84)It’s always fun to watch and photograph.  Twenty years of experience has made for some crazy rides.

Boating is about a lot more than pummeling your kids on a tube behind a speeding boat.  It has always been about friends and family for us.  Our vacations have always been spent on water with various other people sharing our experience.  Some of them are avid boaters and have brought their own boats. Others spend a weekend on the water as a first time experience.  These are the best times for me – introducing them to the joys of floating on the water on a hot summer day.  Showing them the beauty of “our” bodies of water.  There truly is nothing like seeing the landscape from the middle of a lake, it opens it up.

080831 Lake (4)This is what boating is all about for us – gathering many for a day of fun and relaxation.  Finding a beach, setting up your chairs, worshiping the sun, listening to the birds, reading, laughing.

080709 Dogs at lakeAnd it isn’t just the kids that enjoy a day at the lake.

So it’s 14 degrees this morning and we had over a foot of snow two days ago, that could be why I’m waxing nostalgic.






140118 Snow (1)

adjective: bracing 
1. fresh and invigorating.
Yesterday afternoon my sister told me she had gone out for a chilly run, followed by a cold hike.  I commented on how much I hated the weather when it was in single digits and the wind was blowing.  She told me it was bracing.  I laughed out loud when I read the word.
Fast forward to this morning.  We didn’t get the predicted 3 to 6 inches of snow but it’s a little after 9 o’clock and the temperature is 5 degrees with the wind blowing what little snow we had.  Last time I checked it’s about minus 14.  The snow that fell was so fine it was like dust.  When you are outdoors and the wind whips it up it feels like you are being blasted with sand, very cold sand.  Suffice it to say it is painful to be outdoors today for any time longer than walking to your car parked next to the door.
The real burning question I have is why do your dogs have to spend an inordinately long period of time outdoors when it’s below zero and you have to walk them one by one on a leash?  For them it’s bracing, for me it was frostbite.


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.

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.


It’s Here

Adirondacks in the snowSnow on Sunday.  Snowing again today.  Nothing has really accumulated but it’s here.  It’s been quite cold the past week or so, cold enough to break out the winter coat.

This time of year is the most difficult for me in a lot of ways.  The days are so much shorter.  The house is cold a lot of the time. I know this is one long, long slog until spring.  We are talking 5 months minimum on the hill.  Yes, we will have a few of those January thaw days and it will warm up in April so we think we can actually do something outside in the garden but . . . never, ever plant anything before Memorial Day.

So what are the advantages of a long, dark winter?  For me it gives me time to work on many different projects.  I have a lot of handwork that sits idle whenever the weather is good enough for me to be outdoors.  It’s a time for woodfires in both stoves and fireplaces.  I love hearth cooking and that is really only fun when it’s really cold out.  If I sit and watch a movie on TV that’s okay – I’m not frittering away a day when there is too much else to be done.  Did I mention weaving?  Weaving, weaving, weaving, nothing more to be said about that.

I love the beauty of the snow on the trees and ground, how bright it is with the moon shining.  I love the sound of the snow under your feet on those cold, quiet nights with a million stars visible from the driveway.  I love snoeshowing the property lines, it gives me a wider perspective of the land (and I can walk on all those wet, swampy spots that I can’t cross any other time of the year).  There is bird song of a whole different kind.

So it’s now time to ease into a slower pace, enjoy family and friends and work on things left since last winter.  This is what the dogs live for.

Sophie in the Snow (1)