“A day in the country is worth a month in town”Christina Rossetti

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Well! Its a rare time when Thanksgiving and Hanukkah converge, and here we are on the eve, having a late dinner of lox, bagels and nachos! The last time these holidays converged was 1888, and I read that it will only happen three more times in the next 77,000 years. Crazy!

Tomorrow will be the traditional dinner with four generations of my family together for the first time that I can think of.  About as rare as THANKGIVUKAH!

My husband and I will celebrate with my mother, my daughter, her husband, and my grandson. It will be the first time for Oma to meet her almost one year old grandson Jacob, and for that I give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Hanukkah!

Friday, November 8, 2013

New England Fall

One thing about this area.
  Fall is spectacular.
I forgot how long it can last here.
I have a month of photos and its still not done.
It may be getting cold, but the colors are hot.
Click on the photo below for the full effect of the view from my balcony.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Quick and Dirty

After leaving the farm, one of the earlier messages I received on Face Book was, “What are you doing with all your spare time?”  That question should have been answered by regular postings, just to get some of the story out there. Here I’ll give you the quick and dirty.

We left the farm, and the last few miles to our new home stuck following a loaded hay wagon. How funny is that? Not much at the time!
The move in May was generally smooth. Sure a few things got dinged, but it was the insane amount of boxes that was the challenge. Now that I am in physical therapy for my back, I realize it may have started with the unpacking. Pushing all the packing paper back INTO the boxes may have been the culprit, but it’s one of those things that creep up on you and by the time you really hurt, so much time has passed, it’s hard to put a finger on it. And yes – we still have more boxes to go.
Mom at our favorite German restaurant in Glendale, AZ
While I was house hunting, my mother had a couple of falls. While she was being evaluated in the hospital she actually coded(AKA her heart stopped) as she was sitting in a chair. Her medications were adjusted and she went home, only to have more falls, and one that fractured her femur August 10th.  That left her wheelchair and walker bound at a skilled nursing facility. I helped her move to assisted living in September and while there took her to her follow up for her injury. There they determined that her hip replacement needs revision. Basically, her left hip replacement needs replacement if she is ever to be without pain and walk on her own again. That surgery should have happened October 30, but due to an "imperfect storm" of events, a test was not properly completed, and hopefully after today that has been done. That puts the surgery on November 11. What I'm leaving out is that this all takes place in Arizona and I get to rack up frequent flier miles going back and forth for a week or ten days at a time every month or two. This is SO the short and nice version of this story!

Our location puts us within two hours of my 11 month old grandson Jake and so with some warning (or not so much!) I have driven over for four different "Nanny Service" days. That usually calls for an overnight the day before or after. That's been fun. Being with Jake and helping out Kristin and Andrew has been a big bonus of this move.

I finally got back to Germany with Dave on a business trip of his and worked a visit to my cousin Nina's new place in the Alps. Timing couldn't have been more perfect as her town was having its annual "Fest" with the local beer, food and lederhosen clad band that one only sees here for October Fest. After business was taken care of in Mannheim, we took the train to Paris and manage to be there for the Final Stage of the Tour De France.  I also visited the Louvre while business was being taken care of and also went back to the Muse de Orsay. A great day was spent in Giverny seeing the estate of Claude Monet and taking umpteen photographs.

On the more domestic side, I've established a few gardens and beds to spruce up the yard, and I have lots of friends to thank for the donations of perennials to get me started. We've been removing rose brambles and a few decaying trees, while establishing a view in the back yard. We also had six trees taken down in preparation of building a two car garage and also to protect the house from future storms. Some of that wood will be burned next season in our newly purchased wood stove which we just lit up two days ago.

Only a week ago we hung up some paintings and photographs. Around the same time we brought in the plants before the freeze. We are shifting to winter and I just started cutting some squares for a quilt.
Of course Jock keeps us busy with his two or three walks a day. He is our physical trainer and without him, I wonder how much exercise we would get. We have three parks within minutes of us to choose from depending on our mood and time, and Jock has been a great source of compliments for his good behavior. We work on obedience as often as we can, but mostly we just let him have fun.

Well, that's a bit of it, and I'm going to try and get my photos in order and show you some of the pleasurable moments that I think you'll enjoy.

I have to say that one of my dilemmas is trying to find a new name for a new blog, but it hasn't come to me yet. So since the farm has a new name, and I still dream of my life at On the Pond Farm, I'll keep going here for now.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twelve Years And Still Tears

For those that were lost, and the memories that will change us forever, keep us strong in our hearts and souls.

Let there always be a few tears in our eyes when we remember.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Real Fruit. Real Food. Real Fresh.

In the States, we look in the grocery store bins and rarely see a blemish on our produce. Its big and shiny and perfect. If I had to eat out of my garden that way, quite a few of my veggies and fruits would end up in a stew or the compost.
We just came back from two weeks in Germany and France (business and pleasure), and spent a lot of our travels using public transportation. Something I really noticed in our travels were the fresh fruit stands. Not just in the villages or outside, but inside the subway tunnels.
Paris subway fruit stand
And even more, we didn't notice them visually, but by aroma. The wonderful, ripe fruit smell just woke you right up. And it happened again and again.  The fruit was colorful, all sizes and so aromatic, it just made you remember what fruit was supposed to taste like. Wonderful and flavorful.

People walked away with a bag of cherries or a single peach in a napkin, and later you would see people wiping their chins of the juice as they rode on the trains.

I now have a little eight foot square raised bed that we put together in June, and I have a few herbs and veggies coming along, but I need to seek out the good farm stands, and even a favorite grocery store for my shopping. I see that some of the stores are associated with local farms for certain produce, so I will give them a look. Coming from just a few miles away, the food should come in riper and fresher, so we can hope for flavor.

One of the stores wraps up what they consider overripe produce, and sells it at a huge discount. I think its just right and I often see no damage. They are soft and ready to cook.

Actually, one of my favorite pasta "sauces" is more of a veggie stew. I take the blemished odds and ends out of the garden(or now from the discount cart) that won't slice or keep very well because of a crack or stink bug blemish and chop or slice it up into a meaty size.  For me, and my daughter, the texture makes it more of a meal, so while the water comes to a boil and then cooks the pasta, I quickly sauté the onions, garlic and peppers, and then just drop the chunks of ripe tomato on top to simmer and break down till the pasta is ready. There is still a lot of chew and texture to the stew/sauce, and is very satisfying. Of course, we add our favorite herbs and spices, and sometimes we take a small pan to toast a few pine nuts for more "meat". Grate a little cheese. Done.

The fun is in the challenge of the time you have while the pasta cooks and what's available in your garden and pantry. Its summer. Give it a shot. In a half hour you'll be sitting at the table and thinking of the next variation on this theme. Different pasta. Something out of the freezer? I've never made it the same way twice and its always great and satisfying.  And real and fresh!

Bon Appetit!

PS: Send me some new combinations/additions you've tried.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July

Today is Jake's seven month birthday and his great grand father's birthday too.
Hope your day was filled with wonder and pride for the country we live in.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Missing The Little Things

We have left the farm, but the farm has not left us. We cannot have a day where a conversation won't end with, "Too bad we don't have some goats for that,", or "The chickens would clean this up".
FIL Francis feeding fries to the hens last summer
Yep - throwing perfectly good scraps into the compost seems such a shame. Watching the chickens waddle over to tear the latest contributions apart was part of the fun, but knowing we were recycling and feeding them at the same time felt good. You've seen the chickens. Healthiest bunch for miles, or at least fattest. Best eggs ever! I miss those too.

Weeding and Weaning - 2011 -Sweet Pants babysitting
We hate having to mow this little lawn. A couple of goats could take perfect care of it, and then knock back some of the brush. Sigh!

We also really miss the bats in the barn (really cool!) AND...AND - the barn swallows.

Now a year ago, I don't think I would have included the barn swallows. By now the barn is full of their mud nests and they are dropping nesting scraps and their droppings everywhere. We had to be careful where water buckets and food sat. Anything of value was covered with feed bags or plastic. But the one thing the barn swallows and bats were good for - BUGS! They ate lots of them.

Mosquitoes. They love me. I can honestly say that in a mere week, maybe even a day (its been wet lately), I get more bites on my body then I did in ten YEARS at the farm. True. True. True.

Never EVER complain about bats, no matter how much guano is in your attic. Luckily for us, it was all in the barn, and yes, I hated them when I first got the spanking new John Deere. Covered it with plastic for months. Then I just finally figured out where there were the least bat homes, and flipped my seat forward and parked there. It is a tractor!
Boots and Brianna May 2012
One of the things I can luckily do, is follow the farm with the help of the new owners, and you can too. Here is the link to Rush Around Farm. They have already expanded and are having new adventures. I'm jealous, but...I'm glad they have taken on the farm as they have. I think you will appreciate what they are doing also.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Last Looks. Lasting Memories.

This has been a difficult past couple of months.
Budding blueberry bushes
Mostly because it has been difficult to have to say goodbye to so many friends and to the farm that we have grown with - and helped grow - for the past ten years.
As we continued to the last days as if we would be there forever,
Can you see the egg?
...the hens continued to entertain us with their antics like hiding eggs in silly places.
The cats got along with the hens;
the dog got along with the cats;
and with the chickens;
but the cats couldn't get along with themselves
(Look in the background)!
I think it was my neighbor Karen who said that if we weren't On the Pond Farm, we would be named Harmony Farm, because everyone gets along - usually!

It some ways, I am glad the weather became cold and the skies dismal, so that it was no pleasure to venture outdoors.
But the last few days of our stay at the farm brought the blue skies, the warm breezes and dry air that would drag anyone outdoors.
The days became gorgeous.
Moments to cherish.
And then the tears came really close many times.
A barn swallow takes over the blue bird house.
I took my camera out in the fields again, as I had been, but not sharing because I didn't know how to end our stay at this beautiful place. 
Our last Sunday breakfast
Hill of bluets
It all came together beautifully on its own.
Here are the last glances and happy wanderings for me at On the Pond Farm.
The farm's reputation and pride and joy has been the Boer goats. I would love to take them with me, but the last four girls stay with the farm to carry on the herd with the new owners.

Blue gill came to visit in full force
The striped bass were the biggest I've seen in the pond this spring
Blue, green and barn in the middle. My favorite combination.

Jock has his last run of the farm. He is joining us in the move to Connecticut.

 Our final farm memory in Ligonier, taken by the new owner Kris, as we lingered one last time.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Bridge Is Completed (I'll Let Another Blogger Toot My Horn!)

Last Saturday a lovely crowd came to the ribbon cutting for the Ligonier Valley Trail Bridge over Mill Creek.
I have worked for most of my years in Ligonier on this project, and days before we were scheduled to move, the folks involved made sure we could have the ribbon cutting before I left.
Me, Sharon Detar, Ligonier Township Recreation Board President, and Bob Gangewere, VP, toasting the opening of the bridge
Karen Sistek, my neighbor, with me after the celebration.

Here is a posting on Ligonier Living that has the Pittsburgh Tribune Review article included.