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It is hard to believe that it has been as long as it has since my keys have clacked on this blog. There has been so much going on that time has flown by. Next week will be the final week of my photography class. We are working on our final projects and I will see if it is somehow possible to post at least a portion of it here.
Thanksgiving break marked the first time that TJ has been home for more than 12 hours since he left for college in August. Words cannot express how full my heart was to have all the boys laughing and just hanging here under one roof. For anyone frustrated by their teenagers it is so weird when even one of them leaves. So many years with the brother interplay…the dinner table spots…so very, very weird.
Truth can be stranger than any fiction. We were reading an interesting article yesterday about parasitic flies that are eating the brains of Vermont honeybees. These flies, known as phorid flies pierce the abdomen of honeybees and deposit eggs. The fly larvae then consume the insides of the honeybees, turning them into what has been dubbed zombees. These bees exhibit extremely strange behavior such as leaving the hive in the dark and have been seen flying around outdoor lights, where they often are found dead the next day. This is strange with a capital “S” behavior.
There have been a lot of sightings of zombees on the west coast and yesterday we learned that these zombees have been found most recently in Vermont as well. There is a site called www.zombeewatch.org which is attempting to document the presence of these zombees. They are looking for zombee hunters, (a/k/a citizen scientists) so if you’re passion has been to hunt zombies, hunting zombees might be up your alley. There is a tutorial on how to become a zombee hunter on the website, which includes collecting the dead bees that you may find in certain outdoor locations into resealable plastic bags. The guide will instruct you on how to make a light trap to capture zombees and how to contain the dead bees while you wait and then watch the larvae emerge. Since I personally squirm when there are maggots in the summer garbage can, I most definitely can tell you that this is not the project for me; I am sure that those who are of much hardier stock may take some great interest in helping the folks at ZomBeewatch.org document the presence of these infected bees around the country. I mean, how cool it is t be able to say that you are both a citizen scientist and a zombee hunter in the same breath?
- Fall Hive Inspection – Lots of flowers are still in bloom (myhoneybees.wordpress.com)
- Zombees (infocult.typepad.com)
- Saving the honey bee response (ethancallies.wordpress.com)
Today is one of those autumn days when you know that fall has reached its peak. You don’t need a weather forecaster or foliage specialist to let you know that we are on the spiral to winter.
Most of the leaves up on the hill are making their way from their home in the branches to the ground where they create a colorful fall carpet and make the wonderful rustling noises that make you unable to resist dragging your feet through the leaves as you walk along. Today it is raining, off and on, and the leaves are falling from the trees like snow. It won’t be long before the trees up here are bare.
Color is about as good as it is going to get, it is almost bursting with yellows, oranges and reds. The surrounding mountains are speckled with the colors of fall.
The other day I found this recipe for chocolate banana bread. I tried it, it was a hit at our house, even among those that didn’t like banana bread.
Personally, I think the chocolate did the trick. How can anyone not like chocolate?
If you’re interested here is the link to the recipe, which can be found at www.cookinglight.com
For my birthday this year Tom offered to take me away. Leave the two boys that are still home alone, a nerve wracking notion, and spend some time just the two of us.
We are here on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island for a few days. We left our truck on the other side and departed, just us, our bikes and our backpacks for a few days.
We explored, walked and biked. If anyone would have told me that I would have biked 25 miles in a day and called that a vacation I might have disagreed. It is beautiful, and as was pointed out to me, I am lucky to be able to see the sun both rise and set over the water.
The boys have been great, keeping in touch like they were asked and making the whole thing that much more relaxing and fun.
The weather has been beautiful so far, I get to spend some great alone time with my best friend and relax. A great way to welcome a new decade.
Today at 4:44 p.m. EDT – just a little while ago as I write this post, autumn rolled in. In these last few days, the leaves have really started to take on color and the mountains are starting to become dotted with the yellows, oranges and reds that traditionally herald fall foliage.
I have to admit that fall is one of my favorite seasons. There is a crisp smell to the air and a chill in the morning and evening air. It’s the beginning of sweater weather and during the fall days the sunshine feels just so wonderful on your face.
This has been a nice, relaxed weekend. I had a fun day yesterday taking some pictures for a friend and getting to walk around outside enjoying the beginnings of the fall foliage season.
Today, I have been baking, making some autumn treats — pumpkin granola bars and pumpkin granola. There are apples in a basket on the table and every visit to the Saturday’s farmer’s market makes you appreciate the fruits and vegetables of summer which will be disappearing all too soon.
Hope in the coming days, you take the time to enjoy the autumn weather if you are fortunate enough to have turning leaves and crisp nights in your neck of the woods.
- Fall Foliage Schedule for the Poconos – Pocono Mountains Pennsylvania (jackikellum.wordpress.com)
- A Detailed Guide to Photographing Fall Foliage (ifancyphoto.wordpress.com)
- Fun Facts About Fall (bostonchimneyco.com)
- Sleepy Sundays: Autumnal Equinox (cardcastlesinthesky.wordpress.com)
- Autumn Equinox: 5 Odd Facts About Fall (livescience.com)
- Savor the Season: Autumn (inspiredhealthyorganized.wordpress.com)
The past couple days the road at the bottom of the hill has been closed due to railroad track repairs. That for us is the easiest and most direct route to Rutland and Ludlow. I have become very accustomed to living here. Driving to get somewhere isn’t really all that big of a deal, however, when a commonly traveled road is closed, it can put a kink in your plans. For instance, one of the boys forgot the other day and for some unknown reason the huge traffic sign indicating that the road was closed from that direction was located about 100 feet from the actual road closure. Not much for notice especially since by that time you have driven the better part of 15 minutes to get to the closed road. Needless to say, he was not a happy boy. Despite attempting to negotiate with the crew working explaining that he lived just on the other side of the closed road, he was forced to turn around drive the 15 minutes down to Route 7 and then into Wallingford and up the other side of the closed road to get home. Not a good time.
As I was driving today, thankfully remembering that the road was closed and actually purposefully driving out of my way in order to go to the post office (which of course happened to be right on the very other side of the road closure) I realized that we do indeed live on a mountain (although we refer to it as a hill) and there aren’t but a few ways to get from one side to the other. Unfortunately, if you are like my son, hopefully you remember before you trek miles essentially on what was for all practical purposes a dead end road and have to turn around.
After traveling to the post office (and double checking that the road was indeed still closed for repairs – because would I have felt stupid if I drove all those extra miles when the road was open) I turned around and cut across the only other way between here and there. In the words of Mr. Frost – the road less traveled (which these past couple days has most likely seen more traffic than normal). It was a very beautiful late summer day.
This afternoon, the sun was perfect and I got out the camera and took these:
It is interesting to see the collection of 9-11 remembrances stream by on Facebook. Interestingly, there are far more of them from my Jersey and New York friends and acquaintances than from my Vermont folk. I attribute this to the fact that some of us lived through it firsthand where others outside of the NY/NJ area didn’t have that experience.
It was a beautiful day, much like today. We had a routine, Tom and I, in those days. I would drive the boys to school, they were all in the same building at that time and then meet Tom to grab coffee. We would grab coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts and each depart to our respective offices.
I had the news on that morning and they reported that a plane had struck one tower of the World Trade Center. The reporter made it seem as if it were a small plane and my first thought was how does a pilot miss one of the tallest buildings in Manhattan? The news was sketchy and when we left, we could see the Manhattan skyline from the highway, and the smoke coming from the one tower. Still, we really didn’t have a clue. It wasn’t until I reached my office that the news came pouring in – the second tower, the Pentagon, the plane in Pennsylvania. Tom and I spoke a couple of times on the phone and since I was closer, reluctantly left my office a little before 11 to get the boys from school. Honestly, I felt a big like a hysterical mom but nonetheless, picked them up. Many of the kids had already been picked up so I guess I wasn’t so hysterical after all and my paranoid husband wasn’t quite so paranoid. The plan at the schools was that those children that a parent didn’t come to get by the end of the day would be taken by the police to the designated bomb shelter in town until their parents came for them or other family members could be reached. You see being so close to Manhattan, there was a real fear that many of those kids, like a lot of children around the area, wouldn’t have parents coming to get them because the parents worked in Manhattan and either couldn’t leave because of the complete shut down of everything or they were victims of the attack and would never be coming home.
With the boys safely at home, Tom and our friend and neighbor who carpooled together, eventually made their way back home. If you think people in other parts of the country were confused about what was happening and scared, imagine how we felt. Close enough to see and yet still in the dark about what was happening. It was eerie and surreal. I to this day cannot even fathom what the people who were in Manhattan that day experienced, although I heard plenty of stories from friends in the weeks that followed.
Planes had been ordered on the ground so the normal background noise of air traffic, consisting of the major airports, the local airports and news and traffic helicopters, was gone. Except for the occasional military jet which was loud and invisible to us, it was silent. Scary silent. Everyone was scared, jumping at any noise since we were all on edge. We speculated and grasped at the tiniest bit of information – correct or incorrect. I remember that our church that night was packed like it had never been even on the busiest of religious holidays, there was a prayer service and it seemed like everyone was there.
Everyone posts “Never Forget” and “Always Remember” — it is etched in my mind and on my very soul. It was a scary, scary few days in our area especially when we began to hear the stories of those that we knew who didn’t make it home or ( there but for the grace of God or fate (whichever you believe)), those that would have been in the vicinity of the Twin Towers or in the Towers on that day but for some reason never made it.
My boys were young and most likely don’t remember too much. The world before and the world after are two very different worlds. They remember the confusion, they remember most likely that their parents were scared and we couldn’t answer their questions since we had no idea what was going on ourselves. We could only reassure them the best we could, that they were safe and they we could pray that we were correct.
Exactly one year to the day, on another beautiful day I was driving down the street to pick up the boys from school. I didn’t get more than 50 feet from my driveway when a huge branch from one of the gigantic old trees that graced both sides of the street came crashing through the front windshield of the truck. Given the first anniversary of September 11th, and everyone’s general uneasiness of what may or may not happen, I was quite shaken. But for the existence of the steering wheel, I would have been speared like a fish. Glass was everywhere. I had a bunch of tiny cuts but thankfully the boys weren’t in the truck since the force of the impact filled the back seat with hundreds of little shards of glass. They would have been hurt and since they didn’t wear glasses like I did, could have even had their eyesight damaged.
So, yes in my book 9-11 is difficult to forget for many reasons but they pale in comparison to the loss and tragedy suffered by so many others.
On this anniversary like each one before and each that will follow, a prayer goes out to all those who weren’t as lucky as we were. May they have some comfort in knowing that their grief is shared by an entire nation.
It’s hard to believe that there’s one less Heffernan boy in the house this year when school started today, although for him school started a couple days ago. This year, of the two boys still in high school, one is a senior and one is a junior. Hard to believe that they are so grown up. They both departed for school driving their respective vehicles since after school activities and jobs will take them in two different directions at the end of the day.
I have a soft spot in my heart for “back to school”. I’m still a student at heart and the newness of a new school year, the possibilities, the clean slate are all good things. Pair that up with autumn, my favorite time of the year and well, it’s just perfection. I am sure however, that a lot of children, especially my own, probably would beg to differ.
The air is different, there are warm days and cool, crisp nights. There are chilly mornings. The color is coming onto the hill, slow but steady – every day there is more and more of it and September hasn’t even arrived yet and the official start of fall, or end of summer, depending on your perspective, is weeks away.
Have a wonderful day particularly if this is the first day of back to school. Whether you’re celebrating a new school year and all the possibilities that come along with it, or simply rejoicing that the kids are back to school and occupied for the majority of the day – enjoy!
Happy First Day of School from the hill here in Vermont.
I made these peach preserves over the weekend with fresh peaches. Oh my goodness, are they good. I found the recipe here at Natasha’s Kitchen and I suggest that you hop on over there to check it out. I adapted it a bit to add a touch of vanilla (about 1 teaspoon) to the peaches before I jarred them. I had my doubts since the recipe takes a couple days to complete, but it seems that it is well worth the wait.
Anyone who has had a child knows “the bag” the one that sits, at the ready, for days or even weeks waiting for the “big event.” The one that contained symbols of the new roles that husband and wife would be taking on — the first outfit, the knitted hat, the snuggly blanket, as well as all the mom stuff that the new mother would need while she was being overwhelmed by those first hours of motherhood.
Here’s that bag for me.
It’s a great bag that my sister bought for me for the baby shower. It not only still exists but it has taken many journeys with our expanding family over the years. Somehow, it seemed appropriate that the bag that brought everything to the hospital when he was born should be the bag that went with us when we delivered TJ to the next big phase of his life. And so, “the bag” accompanied us to Burlington — a symbol of what had been and what was yet to be.
We were off, truck packed and the five of us enjoying a ride through the mountains to TJ’s new home for the school year. It didn’t take long for us to get him unpacked and for him to turn the contents of those boxes, foot lockers and duffle bags into his new digs. By the time we returned with lunch in hand and perishables for his new fridge, he had transformed the stark space into a very comfy spot, very “TJ”.
Everyone says that saying goodbye and leaving your child at college is hard, but the goodbyes weren’t very different from goodbyes when we’ve dropped the boys off elsewhere. Hugs and small talk. Last minute thoughts, a heartfelt “I love you”. Despite the admonitions from everyone including the parking attendants “Mom, no crying!” when we first pulled in, there were no tears. I am very proud of TJ and all that he has accomplished. He deserved to enjoy that day without a blubbering mom in the background or the foreground and I delivered. What was difficult is the coming home to TJ not being here. When we pulled into the driveway, my thought was “oh TJ’s home” when I saw his truck sitting there…only to realize that “no, he wasn’t home, that’s just his truck”. So, the long and short of it, is while TJ got the “no tear” send-off from his mom, the rest of the family hasn’t been so lucky since we’ve been home.
I’m mopey, I admit it. No one but another mom understands that it’s hard to share your life and for the better part of a year, share your very body with another person occupying the same space without feeling sad that things will never be the same. Will things be different? Yes. Will things be better? Maybe. Will you be proud of your child and their accomplishments? Absolutely.
But your family will never be the same configuration and chemistry and you will never be the same person as you were when you got in the car for that ride to college. We all know it’s coming. It might as well be printed on that bag that accompanies you to the hospital for the birth. It’s implicit in the very definition of parenting. The process of promoting and supporting the physical,emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. From the second we are “officially” parents at the birth, it is a process of independence, of teaching another human being to be self-sufficient and in so doing, tearing yourself away from that person that you have created.
Leaving TJ at the door to his dorm, there was not a cell in my body that wasn’t happy for him and confident that Tom and I had done the best job we could in the preceding 18+ years in preparing him for this next journey. There wasn’t a part of me that wasn’t swelling with pride at the young man he has become. At the same time however, there are just as many cells yearning to freeze time and protect the familiar part of my life. In the days that follow “drop off” there will be adjustment…contrary to the “how to” books, it won’t be so much for the college student as for the college student’s mom.
Try as I might I cannot figure out why over the past several nights I have woken at almost the exact same time 2:15 and been unable to go back to sleep. The first time I blamed caffeine as the culprit but night before last, no caffeine in the picture – I didn’t even have two cups of coffee in the morning! I’m blaming it on hormones I guess since sleep problems do not seem to plague our male counterparts. As I lay in bed tossing and turning, begging for sleep to come alongside me, my husband is sound asleep. It is very frustrating, almost as bad as the sober person around a bunch of drunk folks who are acting incredibly stupid.
After it became apparent that I was definitely, try as I might, not going back to sleep and dawn was now approaching I figured I would get up. I got up, made a crumb cake, made the coffee and then went out for a run (or run/walk as may be more appropriate). There wasn’t a car out on the road while I was out. Here are some pictures from the morning yesterday