Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Ta-Da!!

The second Green Gable sweater is finished!!!


  


This yarn is a "softball" cotton, very soft and light, perfect for a summer sweater. I lengthened the sleeves, added one more decrease and increased at the hips. The only issue I had was some slight rolling at the front neckline but I am hoping that washing it will help alleviate that problem.

It is a wonderful pattern and I love my two new sweaters but I have to admit I am ready for a new project. It's time to do Meredith's bag for school using the Constant Companion pattern:
She leaves for school in five weeks so I need to get knitting! Fortunately I have a glorious two week vacation up at our favorite lake coming up REAL soon so I can knit to my heart's content. Yay summer! Here's another picture of my newest FO!


  

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.

Robert Browning's quote echoes through my head frequently during our 30th anniversary trip to Franconia Notch NH earlier this week. It is an idyllic trip to one of our favorite areas to explore. We leave Portland Monday morning and stop at a beautiful spot along the Kancamangus Highway for a picnic lunch:


  

We enjoy our sandwiches and then Brendan hands me a small package and says, "Happy Anniversary." Inside the package is an exquisite pair of silver and pearl earrings as well as a delicate silver necklace with six pearl beads, both from my favorite jeweler in Portland, D. Cole Jewelers. He had checked and found out that the anniversary gem for the 30th is Pearl. Is this guy a keeper, or what?

After lunch we head for the Franconia Inn, stopping along the way at a beautiful site called Beaver Pond:


  

The Inn is a sprawling Colonial style structure with a tradition as a resort dating back to the 1860's, although the present structure was built in the 1930's after a devastating fire.


  

After checking into our room, we take a walk out back past the pool and along a path leading to a small river with a sandy beach.


  

Temps and humidity are both in the 90's so I head for the pool and Brendan opts to crank the A/C in the room and catch some zzz's.


  
(picture from the Inn's website)

Floating around the pool, images of our wedding 30 years earlier to the day drift into my mind. Can it really be 30 years ago that we got married? In some ways it does seem a lifetime ago...so much has happened since then. But it also seems as if we were just walking out of that church, Brendan humming the A&W Root Beer jingle (one of our earliest inside jokes).


  

I get out of the pool and head back to the room. It's now time to give Brendan his gift. He looks puzzled as he opens the CD. He had laughed at me when I brought my laptop into the inn. "You do know that you won't get any internet access here, don't you? We're out in the middle of nowhere." Now I could show him why I brought it. I set it up and we watch the 170 pictures and listen to the music. He obviously enjoys it, chuckling at a few of the pictures. At the end, he asks me how long it had taken me to put it together and tells me how much he likes it. He has forgotten about some of the pictures (as I had) and we laugh recalling some great situations and stories. I declare the gift a great success...he is obviously surprised and touched, no easy feat.


  
(picture from Inn's website)

Dinner is wonderful, a creamy, rich lobster bisque for both of us to start, followed by sesame seed encrusted grilled tuna steak on a bed of wakame seaweed salad with a wasabi dip for me and a scrumptious sea scallop and shrimp scampi served on pasta for Brendan. Our waiter is an adorable young man, tie slightly askew, obviously more comfortable on the gridiron or in a hockey rink than in an elegant dining room. He gingerly carries our bisques to the table, sloshing some over the rims of the bowls. He has no idea what wine Brendan is requesting so Brendan points to it on the wine list. It is a champagne so he nearly panics trying to remove the cork basket. I can see his lips moving in silent prayer (or is he cursing us?) as he slowly unpops the cork. ("Please don't let this put their eyes out, break any windows or knock out the diners at the next table!) All goes well, he looks very relieved and rushes off to get us an ice bucket for the bottle. He is so cute, trying so hard to make a good impression, and clearly feeling like a bull in a china shop.

After dinner we take the rest of our champagne out onto the screened in porch, watch the sunset and listen to the crickets and peepers. We are feeling very contented and lucky.


  
(picture from Inn's website)

Breakfast the next morning is much more chaotic than dinner. A number of families are in the dining room with their wee ones. We smile at each other as we watch parents riding herd on rebellious two year olds, rambunctious youngsters and sullen pre-teens. We are both thinking the same thing: been there, done that and not interested in doing it again soon, thank you very much...but we wouldn't have traded the experience for anything.

As we leave we notice a distinct change in the weather. Thunderstorms have been predicted and they are moving into the notch:


  

We stop at an amazing natural formation called "The Basin" and marvel at nature's subtle and persistent power, as well as its soothing beauty.


  

  

  

We continue our meandering and end up at the Mount Washington Hotel where we have lunch on their protected patio.

  

As an added treat we get to watch a thunderstorm sweep across the valley and engulf the mountain, truly an awesome show!


  

We take advantage of a brief break in the storm action to run back to the car and resume our trip home.


  

  

  

We arrive home refreshed and renewed, with a set of memories of another shared experience to add to so many others over the years. It has been a most amazing trip from
here

  

to here

  
(1992)

to here

  


"Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner."
-- Amy Bloom

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Special Project completed...

I've been absent from the blogging scene for the past week because I have been feverishly working on a special gift for my husband Brendan. Tomorrow is our 30th wedding anniversary and I wanted to do something out of the ordinary to commemorate the occasion. Last Sunday the answer hit me like a bolt out of the blue. I was driving somewhere with my daughter and heard Billy Joel's song "Just the Way You Are" and I suddenly got my inspiration... a music video with pictures from our 30 years of marriage. I have Windows Movie Maker on my computer and a scanner so I set to work.

The first step was selecting pictures to be scanned. It was fun to go through the albums and loose pictures but, being highly distractable, it was a challenge to stay on task as I came across some great stuff I had forgotten about. To keep this blog from being too text heavy, I'll throw in some pictures from the past to show you what I was working with. Here's the first:





Talk about deer in the headlights! It was such a sweet surprise to get a glimpse of my mother in the picture (in the lower left corner). She died just three years later of lung cancer.

The next step was scanning all the pictures into the computer. I had about 170 pictures and was trying to do this in the evening without Brendan catching on to what I was doing...quite a challenge. I didn't finish the scanning until Thursday night.

Meanwhile I was trying to pick out the best music for the project. So much to choose from! I turned to the best source available: my daughter Meredith and her impressive library of classic rock. (Thank God she has such good musical taste.) I "auditioned" dozens of songs and finally settled on twelve classics. I'll list them but first here is another gem from 1976:






Holy cow! We were just babies. We don't look old enough to drive, let alone get married!

Anyway... here are the songs I picked:

Forever Young by Rod Stewart (a no-brainer after seeing those pictures!)
Just the Way You Are by Billy Joel
Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel) by Billy Joel
Golden Slumbers by Ben Folds
You're My Best Friend by Queen
Wherever You May Be by Bonnie Raitt
Still the One by Journey
You Can Close Your Eyes by James Taylor and Joni Mitchell
Who Knows Where the Time Goes by Judy Collins
Long Ago and Far Away by James Taylor and Joni Mitchell
Letting Go by Suzy Bogguss
Blackbird by the Beatles

Here are some more pictures from the "used to" times:





This was taken at my parents' house on our first married New Year's Eve. No, I'm not pregnant...my poor posture just made me look that way!





Brendan's cousin was married in 1979 and this was taken at the reception.





We were living in New York City and took a vacation windjammer cruise in September of 1979. Little did we know we would be moving to Maine just three years later. We look pretty scruffy after a few days at sea. I have always loved this picture and had it in a frame on my desk for years...until the day that someone asked me if it was a picture of my children. Ouch!





I gave Brendan a surprise party for his 30th birthday in 1980 and his best friend gave him a special Dallas Cowboys jersey to commemorate the occasion.




  

Ok, this was a setup...really, it was. It was 1978 and we were on our then-annual Memorial Weekend camping trip with a bunch of Brendan's college buddies. I was reading (notice Anna Karenina to my right), got drowsy and decided to take a catnap. Bad idea, obviously, because the boys gleefully posed me to look like a skid row bum sleeping off my drunk. Good thing I have a sense of humor... and I got back at them all by pelting rocks at the outhouse when THEIR beer kicked in. Ah, good times!



  

Christmas 1980. I think I might still have that skirt!

I ended up with a 40 minute video with about 175 pictures. It was a very emotional experience to put it together, but one that brought back some wonderful memories of times I had nearly forgotten. I think Brendan will like it and we will have a lot of fun watching it together. This will be a very special anniversary indeed!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Take a walk!... a post by Isla


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Are we ready to go, Mom?


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Hurry, hurry, hurry!!!

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Stop and sit nicely at the corner.


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Don't step in the goopy stuff, Mom!


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This is SO much fun!


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We're almost there!


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Yay! It's the stinky fish truck!!!



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My favoritest place in the world!!!


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A cool and shady path in the woods


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Was that a squirrel I saw over there?


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A squirrel herder's job is NEVER done!


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Take some time to smell the flowers.


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It's so beautiful here!


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Hey, it's my buddy, Romeo!


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...and there's Higgins!


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That water tastes SO good!


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One last check of the pond to see if there are any frogs or turtles that need herding.


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Ok, I guess I'm ready to go home now. Can we PLEASE come back tomorrow?


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

HAPPY BIRTHDAY USA!!

Happy Birthday, USA!!!!!




THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
THE SIGNERS

Have you ever wondered what happened to the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence? This is the price they paid:

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the revolutionary army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships resulting from the Revolutionary War.

These men signed, and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor!

What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants. Nine were farmers and large plantation owners. All were men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty could be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

Perhaps one of the most inspiring examples of "undaunted resolution" was at the Battle of Yorktown. Thomas Nelson, Jr. was returning from Philadelphia to become Governor of Virginia and joined General Washington just outside of Yorktown. He then noted that British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters, but that the patriot's were directing their artillery fire all over the town except for the vicinity of his own beautiful home. Nelson asked why they were not firing in that direction, and the soldiers replied, "Out of respect to you, Sir." Nelson quietly urged General Washington to open fire, and stepping forward to the nearest cannon, aimed at his own house and fired. The other guns joined in, and the Nelson home was destroyed. Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis's Long Island home was looted and gutted, his home and properties destroyed. His wife was thrown into a damp dark prison cell without a bed. Health ruined, Mrs. Lewis soon died from the effects of the confinement. The Lewis's son would later die in British captivity, also.

"Honest John" Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she lay dying, when British and Hessian troops invaded New Jersey just months after he signed the Declaration. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid to waste. All winter, and for more than a year, Hart lived in forests and caves, finally returning home to find his wife dead, his chidren vanished and his farm destroyed. Rebuilding proved too be too great a task. A few weeks later, by the spring of 1779, John Hart was dead from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

New Jersey's Richard Stockton, after rescuing his wife and children from advancing British troops, was betrayed by a loyalist, imprisoned, beaten and nearly starved. He returned an invalid to find his home gutted, and his library and papers burned. He, too, never recovered, dying in 1781 a broken man.

William Ellery of Rhode Island, who marveled that he had seen only "undaunted resolution" in the faces of his co-signers, also had his home burned.

Only days after Lewis Morris of New York signed the Declaration, British troops ravaged his 2,000-acre estate, butchered his cattle and drove his family off the land. Three of Morris' sons fought the British.

When the British seized the New York houses of the wealthy Philip Livingston, he sold off everything else, and gave the money to the Revolution. He died in 1778.

Arthur Middleton, Edward Rutledge and Thomas Heyward Jr. went home to South Carolina. In the British invasion of the South, Heyward was wounded and all three were captured. As he rotted on a prison ship in St. Augustine, Heyward's plantation was raided, buildings burned, and his wife, who witnessed it all, died. Other Southern signers suffered the same general fate.

Among the first to sign had been John Hancock, who wrote in big, bold script so George III "could read my name without spectacles and could now double his reward for 500 pounds for my head." If the cause of the revolution commands it, roared Hancock, "Burn Boston and make John Hancock a beggar!"

Here were men who believed in a cause far beyond themselves.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the America revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

Credits: www.whatreallyhappened.com