Saturday, December 28, 2013


Its that time of year when many of us plan our gardens, leaf thru seed catalogs, plan new flower beds, wonder if the old mower will make it thru another season… some of us wonder if we will make it thru another season.

For a long, long time I have wanted to clear out the thicket on the acre east of the house. It has been a slow job, doing almost microscopic sections at a time, then watching the jungle grow back when I would have a summer DSC_0050with too much pain to do any work out there. Though actually, summer is probably not the right word – most of the work outside gets done in the spring or autumn, sometimes in the winter if it is a mild one, but summer is usually too beastly hot to get much more done than keep things watered and the basic grass cutting. Tree cutting is best done in the winter when the sap is not running. That is also a good time to not get into poison ivy as it is dormant unless you decide to pull its roots. Late fall, winter, and early spring are also the best times to work DSC_0349outside because there are no mosquitoes and ticks are fewer except on those really warm days when they wake up and decide they are hungry and you are delicious. Last year, a friend bought an old house to fix up. I gave him a load of camellias and another friend, an azalea grower, sold me a bunch of azaleas, at wholesale, for him. The only catch was, John had to dig the camellias up. So, while he was digging, he dug up more than he could use and we planted them out on the edge of my “thicket” and another friend put a park bench together for me in the middle of it all. Preston brought me a big piece of slate for under the bench, and things started to look good. I didn’t even mind the other half acre of junk trees and bramble that much. The middle was cleaned and slowly getting planted in baby camellias.

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A couple months ago I posted a couple pictures from the bench toward the thicket. The cedar tree and the trees with yellow leaves are still there, but the jungle behind them is now gone.

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Then I asked Charlie to cut down a 20 foot camellia for me next to the house as it was where the generator is going to go. It broke my heart to have it cut down, but, it had to go. I remembered it wasn’t much more than a twig when I planted it. But Charlie, chain saw in hand, decided to keep cutting. He headed out to the thicket and kept going. I never knew when he would be out there, or how much he was going to cut, but in a couple weeks, the jungle was cleared, his bush-hog chopped down the miles of vines and bramble and I could walk across that acre for the first time since I moved here. I could always see a beautiful old tree in the far end, but could never get even close enough to it to touch it. Now Charlie has even driven my truck around it! I lost count of the truck loads of wood he took out of there, much of it locust and cherry.

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In the middle of this jungle, there is a tree that fell, rooted and kept growing, looking like the Loch Ness monster coming out of the earth. Charlie saved that, too, tho he cut the sucker branches off. It is sort of a built in bench out there. Used to ne that Punkin would follow me everywhere I went, but, he is gone. Imagine my surprise to see Spook, my scaredy cat keeping his distance, but exploring the “new” territory with me.

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We kept a bit of jungle around the edges until I get Preston or someone to plant some evergreens as a wind break on that corner and slowly fill the lot with azaleas and camellias. My goal is to create a meditation garden, a place of Peace, perhaps prayer, contemplation… perhaps a couple redbud trees, a dogwood or two, maybe another fringe tree if I can find one… a beautyberry bush or so to round things out. I think I will sprinkle some digitalis seed here and there, see what grows. Maybe I will put in some daffodils next fall when I have a better sense of the form it will take. Of course, the big challenge will be keeping it clear as the jungle will try to reassert itself come spring.

If you are ever in the area and want to wander by, come on it, sit a spell and be refreshed. Or grab a shovel and plant a camellia!

Thursday, December 26, 2013


While many of you are getting snow,Vermont 16 in snow usually we have been getting rain… but now it has turned cold – 28 degrees when I get up is considered COLD here… and the world is white in certain places – roof tops, some plants but not others.

 DSC_0467 DSC_0468 DSC_0469 DSC_0470 DSC_0472 DSCN2663 DSC_0474 These are azaleas and Beautyberry.

And then it warms up again and the camellias pop open one more time. I was able to pick a nice large bouquet of “Aunt Alice” camellias for the holiday table. That is the name of the camellia and it is one of my favorites. Of course, it helps that I used to have an Aunt Alice years ago. I wish she could have seen these beauties.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013


In spite of a lot of illnesses, our group got together and headed out once again to carol in the neighborhood. The weather was very cooperative with temps in the upper 50s! I remember the first year – we sang standing in snow!

Once again we had singers from several different churches. The Baptists provided the words in English for those of us who learned out songs in Latin! We included the words for Ava Maria for them to ponder. We did not try to sing it. Maybe next year. About half way thru the men disappeared to try to get my van running. Dead battery. Oh well, it is the original battery… I added up how old it is and much to my shock, it is 7 1/2 years old. Since I only have 47,000 miles on it, and it is a Toyota good for another 200,000 miles or so, I don’t think about things like age. But I guess the battery did.

We did not have our usual police escort this year, so that limited where we went. We stayed off the Main streets because of the kids – they get excited and sometimes run across the street. So, to keep them safe, we stayed on the back streets. We sang at the homes of several people who usually come and sing with us. It has been a year for surgeries and such…

Anyway, we had a good time. Lots of cookies, hot chocolate, and a Muslim friend made us a tray of Turkish Baklava. I thought that was a good way to top off my 4th Ecumenical Moment.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013


Santa Train was a huge success again this year. We counted 130 kids who sat on Santa’s lap and a few who did not. Add to that the fact that each kid was accompanied by at least one adult, and sometimes 4 or 5 adults, we know we had better than 300 people go thru our little Station this year.  DSC_0438 DSC_0439DSC_0443DSC_0450

 DSC_0455 The line seemed to go on forever and the office was soon packed with people, popcorn, cookies and hot chocolate! DSC_0452 It was a wonderful treat having real walls, ceilings, and HEAT! And for those of you who remember our first Santa Train, no one had to be under a tent INSIDE the building in case it rained! Ah, yes, those were the days! No tent to keep the cookies dry… did I mention we have heat in the building?


The other big deal this year was having numerous trains running, from the tiny N scale that the tiny folk seemed to enjoy,  to the big O gauge running in the freight roomDSC_0433 and the really BIG garden train running outside.

DSC_0436 But the real star of the show, of course, was Santa and Mrs Claus who once again charmed the kids and even the adults with their patience and kindness, not to mention a bag of goodies.

 DSC_0448 The parents lined up with their cameras and listened in as best as they could. I loved the kids who brought their lists. One kid had printed his list on his computer, single spaced, full page. DSC_0444 DSC_0454 DSC_0461 DSC_0462

Also fun were the answers to “Have you been good?” One kid admitted he had struggled with that but thought he had been much better this year than last. I’m glad they didn’t ask me that question.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


Blogger problems – As computers morph and change into monsters more amazing than my mind can handle, and as sites change to adapt to the smart phone applications and not as easily used on the big screen desk top stuff, folks upgrade and add more and more clever add-ons… and dinosaurs like me get left in the dust. Several of my favorite blogs are no longer totally available to me. Or, perhaps I should say are only partially available as they have gotten so loaded with stuff my computer just refuses to open them. One friend usually loads bunches of pictures on her blog, as do I, but I never get to see more than 1 or 2 of them or only the top of a picture, the rest simply will not open. Not even the pictures that are part of the heading on their blog or the blog’s name. This is also a blog that will now ask me to identify myself repeatedly when I try to comment until I give up and just hit the little X at the top and call it quits.

I remember when several bloggers tried to add music to their blogs. It slowed them down terribly and some blogs would not open beyond a couple notes of music every 15 seconds. Fortunately, thise couple bloggers gave up on adding music to the cleverness of their blogs and now they can be viewed in their entirety and within a reasonable time frame. If anyone still has music on their blogs, I don’t know about it. It doesn’t open.

As someone still with dial-up and who will hopefully never have to have a “smart” phone, and who can’t see anything on those dumb little tablets, I realize I am being left in the dust of modern technology. I have adapted to much of it. I open your blog and go do the dishes. (No, I don’t have a dishwasher, either, beyond the 2 hands I was born with.) When the dishes are done, your blog is up, I sit and read it, and all is well… except for a few people’s blogs. I can go cut the grass or drive to the Post Office and still only 1 and a half pictures are up and never any heading.

So if you are not hearing from me, well, maybe you have grown beyond my ability to see what you fixed for dinner last night, or what birds are at your feeder… I won’t get to see where you went on your latest journey or how much the grandkids have grown. Sorry about that. Just want you to know I am not intentionally ignoring you…

For those dear, dear friends who are of the less techy variety, bless you my children… I still love reading your blogs and seeing your pictures. And I try my best to get blogger to let me comment. Just sometimes blogger seems to be having a worse day than I am having. That takes some doing.

I have been accused of being a Luddite, and there is a grain of truth in that. but I have no need to show the world my great computer purchases and upgrades… in fact I just bought a new laptop and it is at the computer place being DOWNGRADED – getting rid of Windows 8. Imagine that! Yep, I even bought a Windows 8 for Dummies book and still could not figure it out – so Marvin is reprogramming it to Windows 7 which I can manage on a limited scale. LOL! Shoot, I had to call him up to figure out how to turn the damned thing off! The controls are hidden… well, never mind. You will eventually find this out for yourselves. But I have yet to hear anything good about W8.

Anyway, the point is, if you have moved into a different level of cleverness, I am not there, and I really don’t want to be there… Just like I don’t want to own a dishwasher or a microwave, an X box or a Wii. If you have outgrown me, well, sorry. It was fun while it lasted. I will miss you. But, I will still be here, plodding along with no clever add-ons if you want to see what is happening in this little corner of the world.

Friday, November 29, 2013


I am posting this info from the Charter for Compassion website in hopes that some of you will tune in. This should answer some of the questions I have received.

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NOVEMBER 2013 Newsletter

"We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world... indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community."

                                                         ~ The Charter for Compassion


Meeting of the Minds: On Compassion

Tuesday, November 26, 8 pm at the 92nd St. Y, Lexington at 92nd, New York City.  Join two of the world’s preeminent interfaith scholars and historians in a lively and provocative conversation about compassion and its crucial place in both modern and ancient times.

How do we lead compassionate lives? Why should we care? What has happened historically when we allow compassion’s opposite, the ego, to take over? Karen Armstrong and Thomas Cahill will explore these essential questions. Moderated by Rabbi Jennifer Krause.Visit the 92Y site to post questions for the panel and watch and participate in the event as a free live webcast:

Oprah's Super Soul Sunday: Oprah & Karen Armstrong

Twelve Steps to Compassion Compassion" airs Sunday, December 1 at 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network

Oprah sits down with bestselling author and TED prize winner Karen Armstrong who shares her groundbreaking insights into the world’s great religions.  After conducting decades of research, Karen reveals the thread that she says is common to all the world’s great religions:  compassion.  In our perilously divided world, she says we need to live more compassionately now more than ever.  In her book:  Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, Karen outlines simple practices anyone can do in hopes of making a lifelong commitment to creating a more harmonious world. Whether you’re waiting in line at the supermarket or sitting  at your desk at the office, we all can put ourselves in another person’s shoes and offer them our understanding and respect.  Check the Super Soul website for exact time in your location.  The show will be repeated on December 8 and archived after that.  Twitter questions and comments: #SuperSoulSunday.