Thursday, July 13, 2023

The Maine Thing

The main thing about our Maine thing was the chance to be together for a whole week. 

On July 1, we gathered at the ferry in Rockland: Jack and Kasia coming from Berlin by way of Boston; Mary, Brian, Saltie and Rita driving from Brooklyn, by way of picking up Jack and Kasia in Boston; Maggie, Nate, Hazel and Norbert, Ed and me flying from Louisville to Portland and then driving north to the ferry. Our final destination: Vinalhaven, a quiet island off the coast of Maine. No one has ever accused us of planning easy-to-reach vacation destinations! 

But, we all made it — and what a joyous week it was. One big, rustic farmhouse;  a barn with bunk beds, a swing hung from the rafters and a ping-pong table; acres and acres of fields and woods and a tranquil cove. It was our kind of place. 

For all but two meals, we cooked at home, gathering around a long farm table or outside on a picnic table. Seamlessly, the kids volunteered to grill brats and burgers, flip pancakes, make a run into town for live lobsters, cook up skillets of Polish schnitzel, and pasta carbonara. We all agreed that we ate better that week than anyone else on the island. 

Our time was filled with solving a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, collecting shoreline shells and other treasures, picking wild blueberries, celebrating my birthday, reading aloud from “Charlotte’s Web”, watching birds, improving our foraging skills, cheering for 4th-of-July-parade floats, riding bikes, and swimming in the cool, clear waters of abandoned quarries. 

As a mom, nothing pleases me more than to see my grown children and their significant others enjoy each others’ company and to watch Hazel and Norbert relish the attention they receive from their aunts and uncles. 

Not entirely sure how much the rest of the gang enjoyed the trip, but plans were overheard for a reprisal next year. Hope so. 

I leave you with some (okay, lots of) photos….

Saved the best picture for last. Hazel and Norbert appeared in “Big Cousin” shirts to announce the news that a little cousin would be joining the family in January. Mary and Brian are expecting a baby girl — and we all are beyond excited. The more the merrier -- that's the main thing! 

Monday, June 26, 2023

A Tradition of Gooseberry Jam Continues

Ed has always loved gooseberry jam. If he ever sees it for sale at a farmers market, he jumps at the chance to buy a jar. His love for this jam comes from his love for his Aunt Gladys, who was like a second mom to Ed and a third grandmom to our children.  She always opened a jar of her homemade gooseberry jam for biscuits when we had breakfast at her house in Owensboro. 

At age 95, Gladys planted a new gooseberry bush to replace one in her back yard. Now, here's the thing about gooseberry bushes: it take two to three years for them to produce a significant amount of berries. So she would be 97 or 98 before she could pick enough berries to make her jam. She always was an optimist. 

Aunt Gladys died in February 2011 at age 96. The next month, we moved into our new home at Farm Dover and that spring, we bought a gooseberry bush in honor of Aunt Gladys. For 11 years, we have gotten excited to see our plant produce berries; but every year, the birds beat us to them -- clearing out every single berry on the very day they become ripe enough for picking. 

This year, Ed was all over it. Back in May when the little green berries were just forming, he drove t-post into the ground around our single bush and attached chicken wire to the post, using ground staples to secure it to the ground. He then added netting to the top, making sure that not a single hole could be found for a bird to gain entrance. Then he watched and waited, and watched and waited some more. 

Just this week, we determined that the berries were ready to be picked. All told, Ed picked just over two pounds of the little green orbs. I spent the next two evenings extracting the tops and tails from each berry. 

Yesterday, I turned the two pounds into six pints of gooseberry jam

Last night, I popped open a jar and added a dollop to a cracker topped with Cambozola Black Label cheese. So good. Sweet and tart at the same time.  

Aunt Gladys would be proud of Ed for protecting his crop and of me for turning it into jam. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Capturing memories

Amy Pinney (Nate's sister) married Nathan Hirtzel last weekend in Columbus, IN. Hazel was a flower girl and Norbert was a ring bearer. The wedding was lovely, but it is not really my story to tell. I'll leave that to Amy and Nathan. 

I snapped a few photos of the kids and posted them last Sunday to an Instagram story. I post all kinds of photos to stories; mostly flowers and food. I find the photos fun to take and hope they are mildly entertaining. I think of them as unfiltered glimpses into daily life. But here's the thing about "stories": they are ephemeral, disappearing after 24 hours. I'm never sad when the time is up and they evaporate…that is until Monday afternoon. Poof, just like that, the photos of Hazel and Norbert were gone. Yes, they are still on my computer, along with 16,000+ other photos that may never again be looked at. 

My blog and regular Instagram posts are how I document my life. The photos are evidence of moments that might otherwise fade from my memory over time. At least a couple of times a week, I'll refer back to a post to verify the details of a day now long past.

So, in an effort to restore the memory of this special weekend, I'm reposting some of the photos here. So five, or ten, or twenty years from now -- or maybe just next week -- I can conjure up the time when Hazel and Norbert were asked to be such a special part of Amy's and Nathan's wedding.

If you have already seen this photos in my Instagram stories, just ignore these photos. They are here just for my sake. 

Our only responsibilities were to see that Norbert took a good nap...

had something to eat...

and wore the designated pants, shirt and shoes.

My boys, looking dapper,

Ed offering some last minute advice to the ring bearer.


Making sure that Norbert was ready.

The beautiful bride and her beautiful family.