Archive for the ‘Be Happy!’ Category

Daffodils and tulips, oh my!

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Well… the garden sure doesn’t LOOK like it has had work done.  As a matter of fact, it looks like we’ve done nothing.  But there are 86 tulip bulbs and 300 daffodil bulbs in the ground!

Planting daffodil bulbs on our "meadow" (i.e. a place we don't mow).  I told Eli, Paul, Joshua and Ashley they looked like a road crew:  standing around looking at a hole, holding tools, one maybe working....

Planting daffodil bulbs on our “meadow” (i.e. a place we don’t mow). I told Eli, Paul, Joshua and Ashley they looked like a road crew: standing around looking at a hole, holding tools, one maybe working….

On Saturday I started in on planting the tulip bulbs near the house.  All the bulbs in fact are fragrant.  I picked Angelique, Tacoma and another variety that is a pale yellow peony style (12 of each) and in landscape (ie smaller, less expensive) 50 (!!!) Orange Princess, this incredible orange with pink and green stripes.  I figure I can get some help deterring the deer from walking Widgeon nearby.  Ahem.

That comment galvanized them (Laughing here!)--they were a huge help.  With my arthritis in my wrists and hands it would have taken me forever rather than 90 minutes to plant 260 bulbs!  THANK YOU family dears!

That comment galvanized them (Laughing here!)–they were a huge help. With my arthritis in my wrists and hands it would have taken me forever rather than 90 minutes to plant 260 bulbs! THANK YOU family dears!

Then Joshua and Ashley came over and we had a belated b-day celebration for me (we had to wait for the bulbs to arrive) and planted daffodil bulbs.  Joshua, Paul and Eli dug about 17 holes; Ashley and I planted.   Then, Joshua fixed an awesome mac and cheese with about six kinds of cheese, oven-roasted grape tomatoes, fresh basil, bacon….can you say heavenly?  Finally, I had fixed sticky toffee pudding, which is this delectable English cake-like dessert with sauce, served with vanilla ice cream.  SLURP.  A lovely family day.

Now every spring when I look out on our hill and see the bulbs, I will remember this day.  Of course, the bulbs are on about 1/9 of the meadow, so I’m thinking we may need to make this an annual event for several years.  I’ve always dreamed of having an entire field of daffs–how happy can a garden get, to be filled with daffodils?

Eli brought Widgeon out, so I decided to get down on the ground and take a photo from pug's-eye-level of him and the view.  Except he immediate galumphed over to me....

Eli brought Widgeon out, so I decided to get down on the ground and take a photo from pug’s-eye-level of him and the view. Except he immediately galumphed over to me….

and this is the shot I ended up with!

A happy, wild-eyed pug ready to smooch his mama (that would be me)

A happy, wild-eyed pug ready to smooch his mama (that would be me)

Then today I planted the last of the daffodil bulbs, 25 for near the deck/entry, and transplanted a peony.  We tried to kill a baptisia plant near the peony  so that we could SEE the peony and deal with the VW-Beetle-sized baptisia shrub and failed spectacularly, so I’ve decided if you can’t conquer it, move the peony!

Widgeon looking regal and dignified.  Well, he thinks so.  Then we all crack up because he is so funny!

Widgeon looking regal and dignified. Well, he thinks so. Then we all crack up because he is so funny! Can you say LOVE THE PUG!

Now to enjoy the winter blizzards and blinding beauty of snow, then endure mud season, and finally wait for spring to spring and see how the bulbs look and smell.  Joshua and Ashley will be receiving a fragrant bouquet (provided they bloom!).  And I can tell you if those Orange Princess tulips are as glorious as they looked in the photo, there WILL be dyeing of fabric and a quilt of ginormous tulips!  I promise I’ll share garden photos in spring!

England 2014: the 13th, Stonehenge

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

This late afternoon visit is one of the memorable moments of my life.   If you stick with me and go through this post, you’ll not only see photos, but two short videos I took while walking inside, so you get to walk along with me!

On the perimeter path at Stonehenge at about 7 pm

On the perimeter path at Stonehenge at about 7 pm.  On a typical summer’s day, some 3000 tourists visit Stonehenge, which is located on the Salisbury Plain.  They must keep to this walkway around the stones because they were being loved to death, with folks compacting the soil so much it was disturbing the structures.  But with our after-hours tour, we got to go inside.

The tour Eli and I took, with Premium Tours and here, visited Bath, Lacock and Stonehenge (first part of the day blogged about here).  For a considerable (but worth it!) sum, a few companies are allowed to bring a tour bus in at either sunrise or sunset, before or after the general public is allowed in, so you have the grounds to yourself.  Since at least when I was in school in England in 1978, you couldn’t walk near to the stones but on a path a distance away (where I took this first photo).  Now, these groups are allowed (in groups of 25) INSIDE the CIRCLE!  Keep reading…the best, longest video is toward the end of the post in sequence.

The Salisbury Plain as seen from the grounds at Stonehenge.

The Salisbury Plain as seen from the grounds at Stonehenge.

Eli on the approach road toward the stones, which are to the left of his face.  The new wonderful visitor's center is some distance removed so you get a feeling for the vastness of the plain and the size of the stones as you approach the circle, as people would have eons ago.

Eli on the approach road toward the stones, which are to the left of his face. The new wonderful visitor’s center is some distance removed so you get a feeling for the vastness of the plain and the size of the stones as you approach the circle, as people would have eons ago. Just to the left of Eli’s head, about the level of his chin, you can see a structure beyond the fence post…that’s it.  Seems small on the broad horizon.  Just wait!

The official sign near the visitor's center

The official sign near the visitor’s center

From that perimeter pathway.  As the sun began to set and the clouds began to disperse, a rainbow appeared!

From that perimeter pathway. As the sun began to set and the clouds began to disperse, a rainbow appeared!

I moved a bit around the path so that it looks like the end of the rainbow is in the middle of the stone.  Just looking at this I am transported to the cool evening air, the rustling of the strong breeze....

I moved a bit around the path so that it looks like the end of the rainbow is in the middle of the stone. Just looking at this I am transported to the cool evening air, the rustling of the strong breeze….the hush as we all stood looking.  There were the 50 people on the bus, our tour guide and two security guards.  LOTS better than a throng of thousands like during the day!

The site allows only 25 persons at a time inside the circle, and you are not allowed to touch the stones.  Luckily, Eli and I got ourselves into the second group.

At one of the signs on the perimeter path--yes, we were really there!

At one of the signs on the perimeter path–yes, we were really there!

Even a teenager could be impressed, getting out his camera and checking the photo.

Even a teenager could be impressed, getting out his camera and checking the photo.

Metering the camera on the sky led to this stunning silhouette as the sun started to go down.

Metering the camera on the sky led to this stunning silhouette as the sun started to go down. Notice the guard on the left, to give a sense of how BIG these stones are!

And Eli, moving away from the path and the circle to get a wide angle shot.

And Eli, moving away from the path and the circle to get a wide angle shot. Just by the trees on his right is a major road, the equivalent of a US interstate.  They are working on relocating that major road farther away from the site.

After the first group, it was our turn to go inside.  The guide (the guy in black pants and white shirt on the left) had the kids go first and pretend to push the stones apart.

After the first group, it was our turn to go inside. The guide (the guy in black pants and white shirt on the left) had the kids go first and pretend to push the stones apart.

From inside the circle.

From inside the circle.  That tallest stone in the center has a nipple on top:  at the top of each of the standing stones is a nipple with a corresponding divot on the under side of the lintel / cross-piece.  Amazing to think considering what tools they had when this was built.  

At the top, where the cross beam rests atop a post, a bird's nest.

At the top, where the cross beam rests atop a post, a bird’s nest.

And about five feet above my head, a stray bit of wool blown from a sheep somewhere, stuck on the lichens.

And about five feet above my head, a stray bit of wool blown from a sheep somewhere, stuck on the lichens.

Here’s the first video, me turning around inside the circle; if you click on the four arrows at the bottom of the screen it will go full-screen (then press escape to go back to regular view):

Stonehenge 1-Inside the Circle from Sarah Ann Smith on Vimeo.

 

Decided to lay down on the grounds--no, didn't feel any deep vibrations or c ommunication from the other side!

Decided to lay down on the grounds–no, didn’t feel any deep vibrations or communication from the other side!

Eli at Stonehenge.

Eli at Stonehenge.

And me, carefully NOT touching the rock!

And me, carefully NOT touching the rock!

The sun begins to set on the Salisbury Plain.

The sun begins to set on the Salisbury Plain.

And the second video, walking around the stone circle.  Remember, if you click on the four arrows at the bottom of the screen it will go full-screen (then press escape to go back to regular view).  Come walk with me and listen to the wind and sigh:

Stonehenge 2–Outside the Circle from Sarah Ann Smith on Vimeo.

 

Then the sunset began to glow…OH MY!

Sunset at Stonehenge, August 13, 2014.   SIGH.  Contentment.

Sunset at Stonehenge, August 13, 2014. SIGH. Contentment.

Sunset, again, at Stonehenge, August 2014.

Sunset, again, at Stonehenge, August 2014.

And it seemed the horizon was ablaze...Stonehenge, August 2014.

And it seemed the horizon was ablaze…Stonehenge, August 2014.

Everyone was just awed–we were all walking around smiling and awed from ear to ear.   It was a long day, and at about 8 pm we began the trip back to London and our hotels.  Worth.  Every.  Penny.   Expensive, but worth it.   A memory for a lifetime, and so glad I got to share it with Eli.  SIGH.   Contentment.

England 2014, Here we come!

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Some of you may have already seen some of these photos on Facebook, but many of you haven’t.  So in the interest of re-living a trip of a lifetime, here’s the first of many posts with our trip, inspiration, visual feasting and whatnot!  We left the house about noonish on Sunday, arrived at London Heathrow at 6:30 am (3:30 body clock) and kept going until just past supper time in London.  Going on adrenaline!

Some years ago I wrote a blogpost titled "This is not a minivan."  It is still not a minivan:  this is the view from the inside of the 9 passenger prop plane we take (Cape Air, love them!) to Boston, from which point we can get anywhere in the world.

Some years ago I wrote a blogpost titled “This is not a minivan.” It is still not a minivan: this is the view from the inside of the 9 passenger prop plane we take from Owl’s Head–about a half hour’s drive from home– (Cape Air, love them!) to Boston, from which point we can get anywhere in the world. That’s Eli up in the co-pilot seat.  One does not put feet on footpedals!  Seat assignments are by weight so that the plane is balanced.

Here’s an aerial view of Maine as we left midday:

The Maine coast just south of Owl's Head/Rockland as we headed East "across the pond."

The Maine coast just south of Owl’s Head/Rockland as we headed East “across the pond.”

Methinks Paul was a tad nervous watching us head off on our great adventure.  He didn't want to go to England, so he stayed home and minded the house and critters so that Eli and I could have fun.

Methinks Paul was a tad nervous watching us head off on our great adventure. He didn’t want to go to England, so he stayed home and minded the house and critters so that Eli and I could have fun.

First and foremost:  thank you to Paul and Eli.  Paul for minding the home front, Eli for actually WANTING to go on a trip with his old mom!  Joshua and Ashley, you’re next.  Edinburgh and points beyond, the Smiths are returning to the UK–probably not for a few years (gotta teach and earn enough money to save up and pay for another trip like this!), but we are coming back!

Compare the cabin and view above and below:

Very clearly, this is NOT Cape Air, but in fact the British Airways flight nonstop to London.  The cabin was warm, and tho I dozed an hour or two, Eli didn't on this overnight flight.

Very clearly, this is NOT Cape Air, but in fact the British Airways flight nonstop to London. The cabin was warm, and tho I dozed an hour or two, Eli didn’t on this overnight flight.

I LOVE the in-flight maps.  Here you can see the big picture, from Boston to London.  I was tickled to see Vigo, Spain.  I'd not heard of it before recently, but a classmate in the Sketchbook Skool has shared some of his drawings of Vigo.  Fun to see it on the map!

I LOVE the in-flight maps. Here you can see the big picture, from Boston to London. I was tickled to see Vigo, Spain. I’d not heard of it before recently, but a classmate in the Sketchbook Skool has shared some of his drawings of Vigo. Fun to see it on the map! Can I say again how much I love the internet?  How I have met people and learned so much?

As the plane ducked under the cloud cover we got a spectacular aerial view of London, with the Thames, South Bank on the Left, more of the mass of London on the right, The London Eye (the big ferris wheel), Parliament, Big Ben, the Tower, and so much more in clear view

As the plane ducked under the cloud cover at just past 6 am local time, we got a spectacular aerial view of London, with the Thames, South Bank on the Left, more of the mass of London on the right, The London Eye (the big ferris wheel), Parliament, Big Ben, the Tower, and so much more in clear view.

The fields and hedgerows of England on the approach to London.  A bit more countryside!

The fields and hedgerows of England on the approach to London. A bit more countryside! Let there be quilting!

Rather a difference, eh?  One of the things Eli most wanted to do was run at Olympic Park, in the stadium if possible.  Alas, it was under major re-construction, but he got to take a refreshing trot.  That’s him coming around the corner next to the pink sign post. The velodrome is in the background.  The skies would look like this pretty much every day:  blue with clouds, some of which would sprinkle on us momentarily but–with the exception of one day–no real soaking rains.

We got exceptionally lucky and were able to check in early.  So we ditched our bags and set out to see the sights.

We got exceptionally lucky and were able to check in early. So we ditched our bags and set out to see the sights, starting with Olympic Park.

This ended up being the only real running Eli got to do.  I don’t think he counted on Mom’s ability to go-go-go when on the road with things to do, people to meet and sights to see!

Eli under the Olympic rings after his run.

Eli under the Olympic rings after his run.

Then we took our Oyster cards, re-loadable fare cards for the London Underground (Tube / subway) and light rail system.  WAY easier than the old day of buying paper tickets!  After a bit of lunch, we headed off to King’s Cross.

King's Cross Station, site of the somewhat-imaginary Platform 9 3/4 of Harry Potter/Hogwarts fame.

King’s Cross Station, site of the somewhat-imaginary Platform 9 3/4 of Harry Potter/Hogwarts fame.

The above is the old part of the station, but with the old funky platform signs swapped out for the modern ones that report what train is coming in at which platform and when.  Easier for travel, but not as much character.  The photo below is the VERY new part of the station.  Beautiful, but…sigh…. I miss some of the old stuff.

The new part of King's Cross station.  Both the Tube and rail lines come in here.  King's Cross is the departure points for points north, like York, Leeds, Edinburgh and the fictional Hogwarts.  Thank you to J.K. Rowling for giving such a wonderful world to all of us!

The new part of King’s Cross station. Both the Tube and rail lines come in here. King’s Cross is the departure points for points north, like York, Leeds, Edinburgh and the fictional Hogwarts. Thank you to J.K. Rowling for giving such a wonderful world to all of us!

I had read in my guide book that you could visit Platform 9 3/4 at the station, which is why we went.  WHAT a disappointment!  It was on a wall between two shops, not the actual platform.  Of course, given the queue, I can see why they couldn’t put it between platforms 9 and 10, but…. it was the back half of a luggage cart with old suitcase.

Platform 9 3/4 is under that white tube thingy, on the other side the crowd waiting to take pics.

Platform 9 3/4 is under that white tube thingy, on the other side the crowd waiting to take pics.

If you wanted to stand in line–on this day about an hour–you could wear a Gryffindor scarf and take your picture there.  Since Eli and I had been going for about 36 hours, that was SO not going to happen, but we snagged this photo instead.

Me, with some of the crowd behind me and the Platform sign barely visible.  Happy to be there anyway!

Me, with some of the crowd behind me and the Platform sign barely visible. Happy to be there anyway!

Our next stop that day, just about as we hit the wall from tiredness and collapsed, was the British Museum.   As we would discover about all of London in August, it was PACKED with tourists.  But I’ll save that for the next post because the reason was one of my major reasons for taking this trip.  And yes, it involves art and quilts!

 

 

Dog Walkies beauty

Sunday, July 6th, 2014
Dog walkies

Dog walkies–sweet doggie is usually patient as I stop–almost as often as he does–to snap a pic on my phone

A number of you are my FaceBook friends (and if you’re not already a FB friend and are on FB, for heavens sake find me and send a friend request!), so you may have seen some of my dog walkies photos.  I decided that not everyone is on FaceBook, and everyone can use more beauty, so I’m sharing some of my favorite late spring and early summer photos from my daily walks with our pug-love!

Blackberry blossoms and bee

Blackberry blossoms and bee

And this one is for Gloria Hansen, who loves butterflies and takes far more accomplished shots than I do!

Butterfly and clover.  This one was taken with a zoom camera, not my phone!  I couldn't get that close without scaring the critter off

Butterfly and clover. This one was taken with a zoom camera, not my phone! I couldn’t get that close without scaring the critter off

Crouched down at the edge of the driveway, looking north

Crouched down at the edge of the driveway, looking north

And even the weeds/wildflowers are pretty:

Love the way the blossoms branch on this small flower

Love the way the blossoms branch on this small flower

And who can resist the sunsets:

June sunset

June sunset.  Makes me want to dig out the dyes and cloth!

Mother’s Day 2014–name that gnome (and flamingo)

Monday, May 12th, 2014
Happy Mother's Day 2014!

Happy Mother’s Day 2014!

What a WONDERFUL day!  Hubby surprised me with a lovely card signed by all the kids and a hand-screened kitchen towel of lupine on snowy white cotton.   He said it wasn’t for the kitchen because getting something for the kitchen for mother’s day wasn’t cool, that we could use it maybe in our bathroom.  But I decided kitchen is GOOD and hung it from an old hay fork pully, (how does one spell that?) and it is cheering up the kitchen.  And on Saturday I dropped in to Megunticook Market to get something, say hi to Joshua, and he offered to cook dinner!  WOOT!

Here's our very own sous-chef plating up our chicken and cashew lo mein.  SLURP!  It's always a challenge to cook in a different environment with different layout and pans, but he did great.  Except for our two-watt stove.  We really need a range that can heat a pan hot enough to sear!  It's on the growing "to do" list!

Here’s our very own sous-chef plating up our chicken and cashew lo mein. SLURP! It’s always a challenge to cook in a different environment with different layout and pans, but he did great. Except for our two-watt stove. We really need a range that can heat a pan hot enough to sear! It’s on the growing “to do” list!

Then, to my astonishment, in ADDITION, he said he and Ashley had a gift.  A gift besides the meal?   So I was told to come outside and close my eyes.   DELIGHT!  Hilarity!   A promise I’d made to myself fulfilled by my oldest son!   I’ve sworn for years I wanted a Travelocity roaming Gnome and a tacky pink flamingo.  Sometimes the gnome would lead the flamingo, sometimes vice versa.

The gnome and Flamingo in their first perch

The gnome and Flamingo in their first perch

But we need to NAME THEM!  I think the gnome may be Sven the Svelte (since he so obviously is not), but the flamingo?  Someone suggested Nathan Lane’s character in Bird Cage / La Cage aux Folles, but Albert is sort of ehn.  Hank Azaria’s charater’s name, Agador is a possibility.   So what do all of you think?   We totally need FUN names.  A bit of swish might be good.

And the family portrait with Mom.  We did this photo two years ago, but this year the black flies were more annoying!   Gosh how they have changed!

Mother's Day 2014

Mother’s Day 2014

Mother's Day 2012--two years ago

Mother’s Day 2012–two years ago

LIFE IS GOOD!   And do suggest names for the gnome and flamingo!