Friday, November 15, 2013

Lake Ontario in the Late Fall

Although it was windy, the weather was mild enough yesterday for a long walk down to the lake shore. Bumble has learned to enjoy the shore even when it's rough like yesterday, but it was clearly Willow's first experience being next to a large and noisy body of water. Bumble was calm and that apparently gave her some confidence as she ventured near the edge. Our little pack slept well last night.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sweet Willow Adjusts

We could not have asked for a better weekend with our newest addition, Willow. She has settled right into our lives, and snuggled right into our hearts. She slept on the bed instead of in her crate for the first time last night, and she didn't move all night. Even when Bum decided we should all get up this morning she stayed with us until we got out of bed. I had visions of her chasing after Bumble but it did not happen. She can be a couch potato.

Currently we sleep in a queen sized bed, and thankfully we are getting a king for the new house. 2 big people and 2 squirmy dogs requires a king!

Part of this success is because we let Bumble establish his alpha position. Willow will now play keep-away with the toys, but once Bumble catches her she lets him have the toy. We were concerned about him letting her on the bed, but he seems comfortable and not jealous at all. It seems like as long as everyone knows their place in the pack then there is harmony. 'Kinda cool, actually.

~ clearly feeling comfortable with this new family (filters courtesy of Instagram)  ~

~ helping write this post ~

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Willow's First Week

We are in love with our new little girl! We spent the week getting to know each other, and having Willow getting used to her new life. She is adjusting so well, and Bumble seems to love her, too.

This sweet mutt appears to be a Jack Russel/Daschund mix. She is cream colored with some light freckles of brown, and she is long with short legs and perky crooked ears. I have discovered that she is affectionate, smart, feisty, sweet, and precocious. She loves to chew on anything in her path, and she snores when she sleeps. She sometimes sounds like a snorty little piglet when she is itching herself (no fleas but maybe allergies?) and she has already tried to dig a hole in the yard.

Willow is doing very well on the leash as long as her prong collar* is on, and I can walk her and Bumble together perfectly with Bumble on my left and Willow on my right. Cesar would be proud ;) She has already learned to sit when we stop on our walks, and she will now "wait" for her food and treats until she is given the okay to gobble. She is highly food motivated and has an excellent appetite.

Have I mentioned her energy level? Extremely high, and clearly that is why she has been rejected multiple times in her brief fifteen months of life. Managing that energy is a challenge but necessary to help her become the good dog she really wants to be. Our controlled walks do wonders for both her and Bumble, and their constant wrestling and playing also helps to burn off some hyperactivity. They will wrestle and play until neither one can move, and then they both go to the water bowl to drink together. After a few minutes of rest they are at it again until I give them crate treats so they can have a break and we can all take naps. Once we move into 1776 I will train her on the invisible fence, and having an acre to run madly in will help enormously, but right now all this loving structure is exactly what she needs.

Today was their first joint car ride and it went perfectly. Bumble assumed his position with his hind paws on the back seat and his front paws on the center console, and Willow was happy sitting nicely in the passenger seat. Today was also Willow's first trip to 1776 where contractors are feverishly trying to wrap up the trim in time for the painters, carpet and appliances that are coming in next week. There are saws and nail guns and banging and loud music, and both pups were uneasy but did okay "watching" the boys work.

I have never loved Bumble more. I am so proud of how he is responding to her high and unstable energy, and how he hasn't yet hurt her despite her constant chewing on him. He is listening to me and obeying even while she ignores me, and it reminds me that he has come so far in the last couple of years. He was very similar to the way she is now, and he used to chew on my old lab Mari non-stop. I have been telling Bumble that this is what Karma is all about.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that Willow was meant to join our family. She is far from perfect but she is a darling dog that just needs someone to love and train her, and we are honored and blessed to be that someone.

first car ride

with Mommy in her new scarf from her thoughtful friend Liza :)

watching Larry measure

hearing scary loud noises but we have our Mommy here to protect us
*Prong collars do not hurt and are not cruel if used correctly and the dog responds to them as they should. I couldn't use one on Mari because she pulled hard despite the collar, but both Willow and Bumble instantly become submissive and do not pull. In the right hands these collars are an invaluable training tool.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This scene goes through my head a lot:

Welcome, Willow!

"Each year, approximately 8 million stray and unwanted animals are taken in by shelters across the country. Tragically, about 3.7 million -- nearly half -- of these animals must be euthanized because good homes cannot be found for them. In fact, shelter euthanasia is the leading cause of death for both dogs and cats in the United States."

Wow. How shocking and sad. The above information comes from the American Humane Association site, and it's heartbreaking to read. What can we do to help this situation, short of each adopting a bazillion pets? 'More from the same site:

What you can do to combat pet overpopulation:
-- Always spay and neuter your pets.
-- Always adopt your pets from a legitimate shelter or nonprofit rescue group.
-- Consider all the responsibilities and consequences of pet ownership before deciding to get a pet and always make a lifetime commitment to your pet.
-- Educate your children, friends, family members and co-workers about pet overpopulation, adoption and the importance of spaying and neutering.

After much consideration, we have decided to adopt Willow from the Eastern Niagara Animal Welfare Alliance. YAYYYY! We are very excited, but we also know the challenges that are ahead of us. Yesterday's "date" between Bumble and Willow began rather roughly, but ended leaving us feeling optimistic about adding her to our pack. Here's how it went down:

I knew that Bum would be pretty wild as he was alone all day, so my first goal was to get him in the right frame of mind and to reduce his hyperactivity. We took a little walk by the Erie Canal in Lockport, but I wasn't dressed warmly enough so it was a short walk :) We then headed to the heated Petsmart where the meeting was to take place. We spent 20 minutes walking around the store, practicing our "heel" and "leave it" and getting used to the many smells and the energy. Bumble was eventually in a calm and submissive state (as much as a perky terrier can actually be "calm") and we felt ready. Then we heard crazy barking -- it was coming from the training room where we were going to meet Willow so of course I figured it must be her. And it was. 

Willow was in a halter and on a leash, and she was basically air born. Her energy level was through the roof, and I figured this wasn't going to go well. My concern for Bumble was that he was going to rise to her level rather than her calming to his, and at first it looked as if I was right. Both Willow's handler and I had full control of our dogs, and let them sniff and mouth and paw each other until it escalated, at which point we would pull them apart to calm a bit. I was so proud of my Bumble! He was very responsive to me, and he didn't try to eat this little crazy bitch (I just had to get that word in here, haha!) that was trying to run the show. We repeated this routine several times, and each successive time things were looking more like play and less like aggression. Both dogs were tiring out as they got to know each other, and eventually they were fairly calm and we gave them water. Willow licked water from Bummy's mouth and it was pretty sweet :)  

Willow is so little and cute but so feisty -- I know that we have a whole lot of work ahead of us. My main concern is my schedule: how can I spend enough time walking her and training her when I leave for work in the dark and soon will come home in the dark? I figure that I am able to give her a great shot at being a happy and well-adjusted dog, and I won't give up until that happens. Bumble will benefit as well, and continue to evolve just as he did when he joined our pack a couple of years ago. We are all works-in-progress, aren't we? Dogs and people alike. I feel like our WHOLE pack can afford some growth, and after all the hard work and dedication we will be better for it. Willow will join us on Friday afternoon - I am so excited!

My boyfriend, Bumble 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Second Date

Last night I met Willow, a sweet rat terrier mix that is looking for a new family. She caught my eye on Petfinder because she looks just like a white Bumble, she is a rat terrier mix just like Bumble, she is lonely and needs a companion just like Bumble, she is active and needs to run just like - well you know. All of that plus the name: earlier in the day Chandler and I had been discussing pet names we liked, and "Willow" made our short list. What are the odds?!

Bumble has been lonely since the school year started. All summer long he spent hours with me and hours outside hunting squirrels. Last year when it was time to head back to school our pack included Mari and Sophie, and Chandler still lived at home. Now Bum is alone for much of the day, and he has taken to some anxiety driven behaviors such as angry barking as the last person leaves the house and table surfing. We (I) really believe he needs a buddy, either feline or canine. Truthfully this is a tough time for us to adopt a pup due to the move, but if it's the right pet then we need to take the plunge.

Is Willow right for us? Will Bumble accept another dog or will he be jealous and aggressive?

My meeting with Willow was lovely. She is a lively, curious and obviously bright little bundle of energy, and she responded well to me. My heart melted when she rolled over for me to rub her cute spotted tummy, and although she clearly needs some training I think her potential is great. Tonight I will bring Bumble to Lockport for a meeting, and hopefully he will fall in love with her, too. This second date will determine whether or not we move forward with the adoption process, and whether or not Willow joins our pack. 'Fingers crossed!

Some links that offer suggestions for first-time dog meetings:

Bumble, looking like the imp that he is :)
Meet Willow, currently a resident at the Eastern Niagara Animal Welfare Alliance in Lockport, NY
Her Description: Willow is a young Rat Terrier mix dog that is very smart, affectionate and eager to please. We are looking for a "playmate " for Willow since she currently spends much of her time alone and would benefit from having a "buddy" to play and frolic with.She is energetic and loves to run and play and needs open space in which to do so. She is spayed and fully vetted. Please call 716-434-0604 to discuss adoption opportunities for Willow. She is a real sweetheart!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What I Will Not Miss

windowless bathroom

lack of closet space

old refrigerator

noisy dishwasher

lack of a mudroom

noisy furnace

carrying buckets of water from the house in the winter

fish pond far from house

lack of garage

kitchen separated from living space

cramped laundry space

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What I Will Miss

looking through the rows of trees to watch the wildlife

my perfect little shed

the majestic sycamore tree

my hammock spot

the lanes through the orchards and vineyards

my perennial gardens

the variety of birds that live in the scrub

the absence of visible neighbors

Bumble vs. Snarly Raccoon

Remember the scene in Old Yeller where the wolf and dog were viscously wrestling around, snarling and growling, snapping and biting? Well a very similar scene took place in my backyard this morning between Bumble and a raccoon who was clearly caught off guard.

I let Bum out and as it was only 5:30 it was still totally dark. Immediately the fight ensued, and I ran out screaming "Bumble!!" like a banshee. The raccoon tried unsuccessfully to climb a tree, and finally gave up and fought back. Growling and snarling, the two wrestled around like cartoon characters, each hanging on to the other's throat. I grabbed the nearest "weapon" - the pooper scooper - and tried hitting the raccoon to make him let go. Every time they separated, one or the other would lunge back and start rolling around again. I cannot believe the neighbors did not call 911 as I was screaming and yelling as if I was being murdered. (Note to self: if ever I am being attacked there will be no one to come to my aid.) Jim was still in bed, but then appeared with a flashlight and laundry basket. By this time the fight had moved way out beyond the porch lights and in the total darkness of the back yard. After I had them separated momentarily, Jim dropped the basket on the 'coon, and carried Bum in the house while I held the basket down. Poor little 'coony was growling and panting before finally settling down. I don't think he was hurt, and he looked really fluffy and healthy when I saw him in the light so I am fairly certain he wasn't diseased. I stayed for a few minutes, catching my breath and talking to him gently, and then he put his little "hand" out through the basket and even his cute little black nose came through a hole. It was pretty adorable, even after all of that. I decided he would figure how to get out from under his temporary prison, so I just ran toward the house, leaving him and hoping he wouldn't come running after me.

Bumble was doing what Bumble thought he should do: guard the yard. I wish he would have listened when I tried to call him off, but I think he thought I was yelling at the intruder. In any case, my little man was pretty tired and dirty, but I saw no signs of blood. I had to give him a bath, and I lathered him up with deodorizing soap and rinsed him thoroughly. I think he will be sore, and I'm pretty certain he will sleep well today. At least it wasn't a skunk.


not always cute!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Good Writing

Good Writing is to Lots of Practice as Good Health is to Lots of Exercise.

That makes me a poor writer in poor health haha! Well, honestly, I lead a fairly physically active life and, honestly, I write some for my job, but both areas of my life could use some serious tweaking. See how many commas I used in that awkward sentence? Yup - flabby writing skills.

I have allowed myself this year "off" from intentional writing as we are working hard building our dream home resulting in over-scheduled days, but I am feeling the itch.

My ultimate goal is to retire from teaching and have more time for my animals, my family, my friends and creativity. My creative outlets will include writing and making art for the fun of it as well as teaching art lessons to children. How cool would it be to take a small group of children through the woods to find leaves to press into their little clay pots? Or to have them sketch a sleeping baby bunny? Or to learn how to take photographs of moving objects by snapping pics of leaping goats? I think that life sounds perfect, and it is my "happy place" when I find myself sleepless in the night. Lake Orchard Farm and Lake Orchard Studio will have a very symbiotic relationship in my near future. Of course I also plan on making "art" with my girlfriends - we laugh about making crooked pottery as we drink lots of wine.

As Christians we need to follow the commandment of Jesus to serve others, but in addition life is about following our bliss. I best get writing.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Craftsman Style

Our new home and farm, currently under construction (read about it here), is designed with the Arts and Crafts movement in mind. We are not following the style exactly in everything we are doing, but the overall aesthetic reflects the general ideals of the movement. From the site Arts & Crafts Style:

The Arts and Crafts Movement revived traditional artistic craftsmanship with themes of simplicity, honesty, function, harmony, nature and social reform. The movement promoted moral and social health through quality of architecture and design executed by skilled creative workers, and was a revolt against the poor quality of industrialized mass production.

More from that site:

The ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement are aesthetically expressed, in the past and present, in beautifully handcrafted household objects, useful and uncluttered home decor, homes and landscapes built with local materials, and home environments blended with nature.

The truth and beauty in these simple ideals can be an inspiration in today's busy and often crazy world. Here are a few Craftsman Style ideals for you to enjoy and use as you see fit:

  • simple, refined aesthetics (beauty)
  • simple, functional design (utility)
  • living simply
  • social reform (individuals more rational; society more harmonious)
  • the virtue of a well decorated middle class home
  • handcrafted objects
  • high quality craftsmanship
  • the joy of working and crafting with one's own hands
  • creating objects well designed and affordable to all
  • creating harmony with nature
  • using and sustaining natural materials
  • maintaining a sense of space and environment
  • staying spiritually connected to home and nature
  • creating space for inner peace away from jobs and factories

The Roycroft Logo,  trademarked by Elbert Hubbard in 1906
From Wikipedia: Roycroft was a reformist community of craft workers and artists which formed part of the Arts and Crafts movement in the USA. Elbert Hubbard founded the community in 1895 in the village of East Aurora, Erie County, New York, near Buffalo. Participants were known asRoycrofters. The work and philosophy of the group, often referred to as the Roycroft movement, had a strong influence on the development of American architecture and design in the early 20th century.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
“To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
“The lord begot me, the first-born of his ways,
he forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
From of old I was poured forth,
at the first, before the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no fountains or springs of water;
Before the mountains were settled into place,
before the hills, I was brought forth;
While as yet the earth and the fields were not made,
nor the first clods of the world.
“When he established the heavens I was there,
when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
When he made firm the skies above,
when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;
When he set for the sea its limit,
so that the waters should not transgress his command;
Then was I beside him as his craftsman,
and I was his delight day by day,
Playing before him all the while,
playing on the surface of his earth;
and I found delight in the sons of men.

                            Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

~ Lake Ontario ~

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Life is so beautiful it almost hurts.

'Beautiful and imperfect. If it were perfect, then how would we realize what our blessings are?

I am so thankful for my life ... for my husband and son ... for my family and friends ... for my church and the people there ... for my fulfilling career ... for my home and yard ... for my faith ... for so much that I cannot write it all down.

There is a lot of tragedy and pain on this journey, but it is punctuated by beautiful days and beautiful moments. Grab hold and savor ... never take a second for granted.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

For Sale By Owner

Okay - moving forward - we "officially" put Mom's house on the market yesterday by posting a website of info on Craigslist in Plattsburgh and in Montreal (for all the Canadian buyers, ay). By the way, I used Weebly to create the site and it looks pretty sweet, if I do say so myself :)

I sold my last house myself, but I was in the perfect village location with an adorable and affordable house, so I simply had to put a "For Sale" sign in front, take calls, make appointments on the weekends, and I had a buyer in two weeks. This sale is different, so we needed to do a bit of marketing. Realtors are awesome and if we need to we will definitely go that route, but here's hoping to saving a bit of money.

Anyway, we already have an inquiry! I did a bit of research on how best to handle things, and found a helpful article at Here it is:

... So your house may be prepared, as gleaming windows and a polished front door are all ready to greet your first prospective buyers; but how prepared are you as a seller? Here is a guide to what you should say to buyers and what questions you should ask them.

** 1. What type of buyer are they?
Before prospective buyers arrive at your door, try to gain as much information as possible about them beforehand. Find out from your estate agent what type of buyer they are, for example a professional couple, young family or retired. This will then give you the opportunity to mentally adjust your 'sales pitch' accordingly by preparing relevant information that your buyer may be interested in; a young family may want to know about schools and nearby recreational facilities whereas a young professional couple may be more interested in nightlife and transport links. Establishing your buyer type will also give you the opportunity to think ahead of how they may use your house. For example you could describe your conservatory as ideal play area when showing a young family around; whereas the same space could be described as a party zone to entertain friends when viewed by a young professional couple.

** 2. What's on their wish list?
Selling a home can be a fairly straightforward process and it is always so much easier to sell a house if you understand what the buyer wants. Only then can you demonstrate how your property fulfills their needs. The easiest way to find out what's on a buyer's 'wish list' is to start asking a few simple questions early on in the viewing, such as where are they living at the moment? Why are they looking to move? This will give you an indication of why their current home doesn't fit the bill; for example it could be too big, too small, in the wrong area, too noisy or too quiet. Whatever the reason, you should always be genuinely interested in their answers and point out the features in your home that they are specifically looking for.

** 3. Are they serious?
When a house is put up for sale it will inevitably attract a few 'window shoppers'. You can usually establish whether a buyer is a serious prospect or not by asking if they have viewed other properties in the area? If so what did they like or dislike about them? Or how long have they been looking? A genuinely serious buyer will normally be happy to relate tales of memorable properties or how difficult their search has been. Again this will give you the opportunity to relate to the buyer and mention aspects of your property that fulfills their needs.

** 4. Are they ready?
You may be very fortunate and find a buyer who falls in love with your property as soon as they walk through the door, but you need to establish whether they are in a position to be able to buy it. You may receive offers from more than one buyer and you will only be able to decide which one to accept if you know all of their buying circumstances. The following simple questions during the viewing should cover this:

Do you have to sell another home before buying? If they have already sold their property are they in a chain? 
Do you have a pre-approved mortgage or funding in place? How soon are you looking to move? Immediately, less than a year, or no hurry at all?Their answers will give you a clear indication of how soon they would be able to complete the purchase once an offer was accepted.

** 5. What do they think?
Buyer feedback is essential yet many sellers hesitate to ask direct questions. Without feedback you won't know what you are doing right or what aspects of your home could be improved upon. So, perhaps the most important question to ask a prospective buyer who has just finished viewing your home is:

What do you think? Buyers are not generally expecting the question, so they will instinctively give you their true opinion. If their response is a little weak or general with terms such as 'nice' or 'okay' then your property may not have sparked their enthusiasm and you may need to probe a little deeper to find out what they really thought. They may add in a few extra compliments because nobody wants to offend you, but it's generally a good sign that they are interested if they want to talk to you more about the house after the viewing has finished.
How does this house compare with others you have seen? This will give the buyer an opportunity to talk about what kind of home they want to buy and how yours compares to their ideal. You may also find out about other houses for sale in your area and what aspects of your home are better than those in other properties for sale in the neighbourhood.
How would you live in this house? What would you use this room for? If a buyer happily tells you where they would place their furniture, that their leather sofa would fit beneath the window or they could use the third bedroom as a home office, then you can safely take this as a positive sign of interest. If the buyer says 'I don't know' or 'I'm not sure' then don't be afraid to ask why. It might be a simple answer such as the buyer wants three bedrooms with a separate home office, but your house doesn't have a spare room to accommodate it. You may be able to point out another place in the home that would make an ideal study area which may not be obvious to most people.
What did you like the most? This should get the buyer to think positively about your house and give you some inspiration for future viewings. There may be many attractive features in your home that you have simply forgotten about or other aspects that you may not think would make much of a difference to a buyer. The answer to this question will give you invaluable information about how buyers see your home, along with the opportunity to focus their mind on its positive points. Additionally, if a buyer enthuses about a particular feature in your home, then you can always add it to your future sales pitch.
What did you like the least? Many home sellers don't really want to ask this question, but all feedback should be welcomed and acted on. For example a buyer might mention a small aspect such as the colour of a room or maybe the flooring needs to be changed. You then need to ask the buyer at the next viewing what they think about the colour scheme or flooring. If you keep receiving the same negative comments then you will be able to identify the problems that could prevent a swift sale - and deal with them!
What do you think of the price? A buyer will almost certainly never admit it if they think the price is too low; rarely will they offer more than the asking price, except in the case of a bidding war. However, if a buyer immediately says the price is too high, then it may just not be within their price range. Sometimes buyers cannot afford the asking price but want to look at the property anyway, so you need to determine on what basis they think the price is too high. You could ask how they feel the price compares to other homes in the same price range. If you know of other homes for sale in the neighbourhood that are cheaper, then you need to find out how they compare to your property, why are they a lower price and why should a buyer pay extra for yours? If everybody says the price is too high then maybe you need to adjust it - you could always ask buyers what price they think it should be, at least then you'll get a clear idea of how serious they are about buying.Showing buyers around your home for sale can be a daunting experience, especially if you're not used to being in a selling environment. If you choose to conduct the viewings yourself, then a few simply prepared questions and answers will make the whole experience more informative and hassle free for both you and the buyer.

Article Source:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Jack in the Pulpit

Along with the trilliums, we currently have many Jack in the Pulpits (Jacks in the Pulpit?) growing on our new property. It was an exciting discovery! I did a little research to learn more about these unusual plants and found many useful sites, including the following brief by Jill MacKenzie on the University of Minnesota Extension Service site:

Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) can be an interesting addition to shade gardens and wooded areas. This native of moist eastern woods as far west as Minnesota is easily recognized by its unusual inflorescence that appears in late May. In botanical terms, the 'pulpit' is a spathe and the 'Jack' is a flower-bearing spadix. The spathe is often striped purple and green. Tiny flowers on the spadix may be male, female, or some of each. Female flowers give rise to bright red berries, revealed when the spathe dies and falls away in late summer. Also attractive are the plant's two large leaves, each with three leaflets, usually held about one foot above the ground, although some specimens can be more than two feet tall.

The red berries, along with all other parts of the plant, contain needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate that can cause irritation to sensitive or broken skin when touched, and a burning and swelling of the lips and tongue if eaten. This burning sensation is immediate and so intense that it is unlikely anyone would manage to swallow the berries; however, if plant parts were swallowed, they could cause a severe irritation of the throat and digestive system that would require medical attention.

Jack in the Pulpit is tolerant of a wide range of soil pH, from somewhat acidic to somewhat basic (alkaline), and will thrive in dappled to deep shade. This plant is winter hardy into zone 3, and will grow best in moist but well-drained soil. The below-ground parts of the plant can be harmed or killed by excess moisture during the winter or early spring. For this plant to thrive, the soil should be high in organic matter. Incorporate compost, well-rotted manure, peat moss or other organic matter before planting, and mulch the plants with compost, grass clippings or decorative organic mulch, such as cocoa bean shells or pine needles, each year.

Don't collect plants from the wild. Instead, buy them from nurseries that specialize in native plants and wildflowers. Some general garden centers will also carry Jack in the Pulpit plants in the spring. You can transplant the tuber of Jack in the Pulpit in early autumn, after the above- ground plant parts have died back.

You may be able to buy seeds through the mail, collect them in the woods, or get seeds in early fall from a friend whose Jack in the Pulpit has ripe red berries. Remove the red flesh and plant the seeds immediately; don't let them dry out. Sow the seed outdoors where you want the plants to grow, covering the seeds with ¼ to ½ inch of soil. Seedlings should come up in early spring. Another method is to refrigerate freshly cleaned seeds in a plastic bag with some moist sand or potting soil for six weeks, then sow the seed in pots. In spring, plant the seedlings outdoors. Once plants become established in a favorable site, they are likely to self-seed.

Some additional resources I explored - many of which cover many of the species found in our Western New York woods:

~ from Google images ~
Apparently Georgia O'Keefe liked these strange flowers, too ...

Neil Gaiman: Make Good Art

I happened to stumble upon an interview on NPR with Neil Gaiman, and he blew me away. Apparently he gave a commencement speech last year at Philadelphia's University of the Arts, and his speech has gone viral. According to the NPR blurb:

A year ago, author Neil Gaiman told the graduating class at Philadelphia's University of the Arts that life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and love, and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, Gaiman said, this is what you should do: Make good art.

Gaiman said he never expected to give advice to people graduating from an establishment of higher education, since he never attended college himself.

Gaiman has written a number of novels, children's books, comic book series and screenplays — and has a new book based on the commencement address, titled Make Good Art.

I intend to have my high school students listen to the speech on our last day of classes because I think it applies not only to those who will "make art" in their lives but really to anyone. 'Love everything he has to say!

Incidentally, my dear friend's son earned his degree from the University of the Arts, so I have had the opportunity to tour some of the studios as well as to witness the great success her son has found since graduating. It is a school I would strongly recommend to anyone looking for an arts-related career.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Missing Our Girls

I found this video on a thumb drive this morning ... both Mari and Sophie are no longer with us, and Bumble has the house to himself. I think he misses the girls as much as we do.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Zen ~ Creativity

The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.

Albert Einstein

photo by Chandler

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Disclaimer: This post is simply a personal reflection ... thoughts swirling through my head ... 

I have come through a very foggy period, and the scary part is that I wasn't aware of the fog I was in until I stepped into the clearing. Looking back I realize that I was not functioning as well as I thought I was: I was missing meetings, forgetting what I was scheduled for, behind in my laundry, my pantry cupboard was a disaster, my clothes were all over the spare room. 'Funny how hindsight is crystal clear.

The fog was created by family losses, and the struggle to be supportive and still personally survive. Following Thanksgiving we put down our sweet lab Mari after almost 16 years of having her loving presence in our lives. In December my husband's brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, placed in hospice house, suffered and passed away in January. Meanwhile our sweet Sophie lost her battle with her health issues and we had to put her to sleep. Then another brother-in-law's cancer returned, and he passed away suddenly from complications with his chemo. This allll happened within a couple of months, and I wonder why I was in a fog?? But really I felt as if I was handling everything just fine. I really did - until I look back at my "performance" and shudder.

It occurred to me only yesterday how much the Bewley family has taught me about dealing with loss. They handle things with so much grace and humor and laughter and cocktails. There are tears mixed in, but the laughter wins in the end. I was raised in an environment where my dad's Germanic tradition was one of "ve must move on and ve must not cry and ve need no help" and my mom's more emotional response of open tears and much emotion. I think that all three coping mechanisms balance nicely. Unfortunately I know that this journey we are on includes many heart aches so I am grateful for the "tools" I have been given.

Fortunately, my relationship with my husband has not only survived but thrived. We are working on our house project and that is giving us so much joy. We are embracing each day and living fully, whether that means taking a nap without guilt, or opening a better bottle of wine for a weeknight dinner. We look ahead to the future without fear and we savor our happiness.

My son is doing well, gearing up for college. He, too, has suffered and in some ways been "deserted" as his mother was dealing with her own issues. I am so proud to say he is growing up to be a strong man, prepared better than many for the hard knocks of life.

Some mornings after cocktailing the night before I look back and know I was tipsier that I realized. This is kind of like that. I look back on those past few months and know I was closer to the edge than I realized. Thankfully through family love and the grace of friends I was able to survive and emerge stronger than I was before.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Trilliums carpeted the woods behind my childhood home, and covered the surrounding forests known as Happy Valley. We were told that they were illegal to pick, and apparently that's true. According to The New York State Conservationist (a magazine that my dad always subscribed to):
The red trillium is listed on New York State's Protected Native Plant List. It cannot be "picked, plucked, severed, removed, damaged, or carried away" without consent of the landowner. A more natural protection from picking is the nodding habit of the flowers, which tends to keep them hidden.

An interesting fact I just learned from Wikipedia
Trillium is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants. At maturity, the base and core of the trillium ovary turns soft and spongy. Trillium seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants extract the seeds from the decaying ovary and take them to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes and put the seeds in their garbage, where they germinate in a rich growing medium.

I am hoping that our new property will have trilliums growing, and if it doesn't I am going to have to plant some. Apparently you can purchase them for planting, and they aren't too difficult to grow

Red trillium (Trillium erectum L.)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Let it Be

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!
Worship the LORD with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the LORD is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
                                    Psalm 100 (NLT)

photo by Chandler

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Snow Moon

Last night the full moon was magnificent. My bedroom was illuminated as if from the sun, and early this morning my walk to the shed was bright and magical.

From the Old Farmer's Almanac:

February's full Moon is traditionally called the Full Snow Moon because usually the heaviest snows fall in February. Hunting becomes very difficult, and so some Native American tribes called this the Hunger Moon. Other Native American tribes called this Moon the "Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Moon" (Wishram Native Americans), the "No Snow in the Trails Moon" (Zuni Native Americans), and the "Bone Moon" (Cherokee Native Americans). The Bone Moon meant that there was so little food that people gnawed on bones and ate bone marrow soup.

image from

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Zen ~ Lamp

Be lamps unto yourselves. Be a refuge unto yourselves. Do not turn to any external refuge. Hold fast to the teaching as a lamp.        Buddha

At first glance, this teaching appears to be anti-Christian as we are taught to put all of our cares into God's hands. The idea that the answers lie within ourselves suggests that we are on our own and there is no available help.

I would disagree with this interpretation.

I believe that God gives us strength at birth that we can access at any time if we so choose. Like Buddha's "lamp", this energy - fed by love - is there within us, and everything based on love originates from God. We are so much stronger than we think, thanks to our God and His generous gifts.

From Bergdorf Goodman ... a beautiful lamp for only $5,995