Saturday, March 31, 2012


I FINALLY figured out how to change the format of video from my new(ish) camera so that it will upload to Blogspot!

That means that the video of J's Christmas recital is now posted. You can see it here if you missed it in person!

BTW: A HUGE thanks to my Mom who took care of my kids for most of the day yesterday. We had a nice time out with our friends for dinner and a movie. "Hunger Games" was good, but between sitting in the front row with my neck craned, a mild episode of biliary colic following the greasy meal I ate, and sea-sickness from the shaky-cam cinematography, it wasn't the greatest movie theater experience of my life. Hope "Catching Fire" is a little smoother...and I'll eat a salad first!

Also, we got out the GIANORMOUS crate last night and put Kali and Stella in together. They were both quiet all night. Poor Kali was stiffly sitting leaned up against the side of the crate in the morning, while Stella was sprawled out in the middle of the cushion!

Friday, March 30, 2012


Driving home from work earlier this week, I happened to hear these letters read on NPR. Basically, they were responses from dog owners to an earlier report about a "Stella and Stanley Calling Contest" (based on "A Streetcar Named Desire"). It gave me the idea to call our new puppy "Stella" instead of "Fluff Butt" or "Puppy". Everyone else is on board now with the idea, and so the new pup is finally named!

Right now, however, I desire a good night's sleep. Although it is better than the first night, where she was awake and crying every 2 hours, she is still waking at least twice a night to howl.

Kali has finally started to accept her. They played downstairs for at least 15 minutes straight yesterday afternoon. Stella was chasing Kali in circles around the couch...Kali would jump over the footstool, and the puppy would run under.

I'm also desiring to see "Hunger Games". The plan is for a bunch of our friends to have a group date night for dinner and a movie tonight. It always seems that something comes up at the last minute, so I'm not holding my breath, but I REALLY want to see it!

Happy weekend to all!

Monday, March 26, 2012

New Addition

We have a new baby at our house! She was awake and crying every 2 hours last night, and I feel once again that I have slept the sleep of a new mother. But who could be angry with this little cutie?

She is a Moyen Poodle, which is a size between Standard and Mini, more popular in Europe than America. Having had one of each size, we thought we'd split the difference this time, and get a playmate for poor Kali.

So far, Kali plays a bit too rough, but it doesn't seem to deter the little one. They are actually cousins, as Kali's father, and Puppy's mother were siblings. She is still un-named. We are open to any suggestions that don't include any fru-fru poodle names like "Fifi", "Fluffy", or "Cream Puff".

We were supposed to get her last weekend, but the long trips to Washington last week for testing, and the day trip to Somerset for the Memorial Service for JP's friend took precedence over taking a puppy outside to pee every 2 hours.

We had guests for most of the weekend. These guys, plus the wife of one of them, came Friday night, and drove to the Memorial Service with us. That night, after returning from the service, we played cards and ate homemade pizza and popcorn late into the night in R's honor.

I'm not sure why I'm feeling such pain for his widow, much more so than in other situations I've been faced with recently. Perhaps it is because I have known them both so long - before they were married, in fact. I have always know them as R & B: an item on campus.

B is not tall, my height or perhaps a bit shorter. Following the service on Saturday, we were encircling her - JP, his tall roommates, and we two spouses. She looked up at the men and and asked, "You won't get together without me, right?" Of course we can't - she is part of the equation!

In the meantime, my Dad finished our garage! It looks wonderful! We had considered going out for dinner to celebrate, but we felt too exhausted emotionally and otherwise from the weekend already.

JP spent some time on Sunday, while I was trying to catch up on laundry, organizing some more both in the garage and in the barn. He rigged a 3 pulley system from the barn rafters to hang his bicycle and mine. It worked fine, until a cable pulled loose and they plummeted to the floor. Mine looks none the worse for the fall, but JP's rear wheel is no longer circular in shape.

Unfortunately, the lack of sleep last night did not put us in prime shape to return to work and school today. We're doing our best.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I have been trying for several days to write this post. First of all, I couldn't find any pictures. JP solved that problem last night by spending several hours scanning in old photos.

And now, I just don't know what to say. How can I describe the life of a man who was the best friend of MY best friend?

JP met R in college, where they were roommates, classmates, and confidants. JP told me time and again how brilliant R's mind was. (JP is on the far left, R is the tall one with glasses, second from the right.)

We were lucky enough to be close enough to R and his wife geographically to get together every now and then. As R, and then JP became busy with their careers, and JP with his kids, life got a bit busy. We weren't able to fit in all the visits we wished we could have.

I knew R slightly in college, and got to know both him and his wife better after JP and I were married. I knew him as a very cheerful and gentle person, a respected Physician, and truly part of my husband's heart.

They were in each other's weddings. R's:


They went camping...

and golfing.

He was always up for a good game of cards,or watching Monty Python (both he and JP knew all of "Holy Grail" by heart.)

When he became ill, about 3 years ago, he didn't stop working. He didn't stop smiling or laughing. He didn't give up.

We learned last Thursday that his long fight was over. Though I am saddened by his loss, I cannot imagine the pain felt by his wife, or his best friend. I am so sorry.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Still Alive!

Whew! We made it through 3 days of PSSA testing, driving 25 + minutes each way, attempting to avoid the ever present road work delays, dashing home to change and let the dog out before rushing off to work on the first two days. Even though J didn't have other school work due to the testing, Kindergartner L, did. We were able to get guest passwords to connect to the wireless Internet at the testing location, so L and I would find a cozy corner to do school work in. It went surprisingly well!

Now, while we are making the transition between 3rd and 4th grade Language Arts for J, and K and 1st grade Language Arts for L, our load is a bit lighter. I was so glad not to have to rush out the door this morning with backpacks, lunchboxes, computers and my coffee, that I let the girls sleep in a bit. Consequently, we have just finished violin practice, and J is currently at an on-line Math class.

J had so much fun being with kids her age, that it makes me feel a lot better about my (almost) decision to send her to public school next year. It has been a good run, but the past year and a half of Math class have been extremely frustrating, and I am ready to let someone else take over...someone with a degree in education!

It has been so warm lately, that the dog, in her long, black winter coat, is sweltering. I spent over an hour attempting to trim her last night. Today she looks as if someone untrained cut her hair! I'm not finished though, I bathed her this morning, and when her dreads are finally dry, she is easier to brush, and hopefully also to trim. Round 2 tonight, Kali-Girl!

Today, I finally have the chance to take stock of Poplar Ridge in Spring time for the first time since the weekend. The Cleveland Pears lining the curve of the driveway are blooming. This year 8 of the 9 are still living! (The first winter, at least half of them died, and I had to replace 2 last spring.) I am finally able to get an image in my mind of the trees, large and shady, blooming in their lovely cone shapes along the drive.

My Weeping Cherries are weeping long ribbons of fragrant white flowers, and are completely covered with bees. Plants are popping up all over in my flower beds, many of which are likely weeds. I'll deal with them later. For now, the green is very pleasant to behold!

The seeds I planted indoors are sprouting: pumpkins, winter and summer squash and cucumbers. The peppers and tomatoes are taking a bit longer.

The hens are laying 6-7 eggs a day. That's alright for 9 hens, I suppose, but we are planning on a new bunch of peeps in a few weeks. When those are laying, the old biddies will be "retired".

It's the circle of life, and I really enjoy this section of the circle!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I Gave Up Winter For Lent

I'm not even Catholic, although I attended St. Mary's Catholic School for 2 1/2 years of my education. I actually LIKED the plaid skirts, believe it or not! In any case, giving up something for Lent is not something I actually do.

I am, however, enjoying my Lenten Roses. I found another one blooming this week.

They are each different. I have 3 more that don't really look like they will bloom this year. I have seen pictures of chocolaty brown ones, and I am hoping that one of my hold-outs might turn out like that!

This weekend I moved the chickens out of the garden and gave their coop a long overdue hose down. They are now stationed on our front lawn...strange, I know, but we are hoping they can green up the poorly growing grass there.

After moving the coop for the first time in 3 months, I hauled 3 wheelbarrows full of poo to the compost bin. The bin is now filled to capacity, since my Mom cleaned out her flower beds of Fall leaves this weekend as well.

Now that the chickens are moved, we can start planting the garden! JP tilled lime and compost into 2 beds, and my Mom and I planted peas. We got them planted between rain showers. Once it dries up a bit more, I'll prep another bed for lettuce and radishes.

JP worked in the garage all weekend, and I helped him some, in between washing and hanging out 5 loads of laundry. Mostly everything has been retrieved from different temporary storage places, and have found permanent homes in the cabinets. There will still be a tall closet and a low set of drawers to go in, then the last couple of bins can be emptied. What a difference they all make! (I'll post pictures next week, when it should be completed.)

The girls had a great weekend as well. They spent all day yesterday outside in the fresh air and sunshine.

Tomorrow, J starts her 3 day stretch of PSSA testing...required for all students in PA. We have to travel to another University about 25 minutes away. L and I will work on school work from the laptop. 2 of the 3 days I will have to dash off to work once we return home. It will be a crazy next few days.

Maybe I should give up Cyber Schooling for Lent next year?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jeepers, Creepers

The Spring Peepers down by our creek are raising their little voices in song these days. In fact, it sounds more like they are trying to out-shout each other. The volume is incredible!

Not only the frogs feel that Spring is worth singing about. We had another lovely day today. My hyacinths are now blooming too, and many of my other perennials and bulbs are coming up. I wanted to fling open the windows to let the fresh air in, and the stale, winter air out. Unfortunately, the flying insects are floating in waves over our yard, and I really didn't want to let them inside!

L and I worked for a couple of hours washing the window screens that have been in storage all winter, then washing the windows, and putting the screens in. Now they are all open to the evening air.

We ate our dinner on the deck, and stayed there, enjoying the view, until the sun went down. L announced that this day was "more awesomer!"

I agree.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


We had a beautiful weekend! The girls spent their entire Sunday out of doors. JP grilled dogs and burgers for dinner, and it felt just like Spring!

We finally got the bird feeders hung! They are viewable from our great room and deck, out of range of squirrels and cats, far enough away that we won't be walking through bird doo-doo all the time, and easy to lower and refill. We also managed to solve all of the Physics problems concerning wind forces, gravity, and pulleys, and arranged a ratcheting winder so that it is simple to use. I never thought it would take us the entire winter to accomplish it!

The birds are already using it. We saw a huge flock of these big birds yesterday, although they are more interested in our bugs than our birdseed.

Because my Dad keeps working away in the garage, we are getting more and more built in storage! We were able to empty 2 big plastic storage shelves from the garage, which I washed and took downstairs.

I had barely room enough in the storage room for my canned goods last year. I replaced a narrow bookshelf, that JP built with his Dad back when we were penniless newlyweds, with the two shelving units. That gives me an extra 2+ shelves for canned goods this Fall.

We are no longer penniless, but being Mennonite, remain thrifty, so I refinished the bookshelves this weekend to use in the girls' room. They had been a dark, mahogany brown, and now they are a fresh cream color that matches the trim in their room. This enabled us to remove 2 smaller bookshelves from their rooms. Where these will go remains to be seen!

We also managed to fit in a matinee of "The Lorax" on Saturday. The girls liked it, JP fell asleep, and I remain ambivalent.

The Spring-like weather continues, and my seeds have arrived. I'm hoping to plant things to start indoors, such as tomatoes, peppers, and squash. By next weekend, I plan to plant the peas, lettuce and radishes out in the garden.

Hooray for Spring!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The "Ayes"Have It

This evening, I was unanimously voted in as the newest member of the Board of Trustees of our local Library. I am now finally a contributing member of the community! My first task is to try to recruit my friends to the Library Association, which is dwindling in numbers. Watch out everyone...I may be calling on YOU!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bursting Out

Spring is bursting out all over up here on Poplar Ridge! The weeping cherries, my Mother's Day gift last year, are covered with buds, as are most of the Cleveland pears, as well as the fruit trees up in the Orchard.

Another Helebore is budding, this one is a bit darker in color.

The crocuses, which have been pointing their tiny green spears of leaves through the mulch for the past couple of weeks, are finally blooming. This year I believe I can save them from being munched by the resident Odocoileus virginianus population, since they are safely behind bars.

The daffodils are rising from their long sleep as well. I am happy to see the ones that I transplanted from a bunch that was growing down by the mailbox (and fought a crazy rooster for) are coming up as well. Last year the deer ate the buds off the daffodils too, but maybe they won't be so hungry this Spring as last???

Little Miss L's teeth are bursting out also! She lost another one on the top yesterday.

The Toothless Wonder
JP was sick yesterday, so our original weekend plans have changed. We must (somehow) move things around in the garage AGAIN today if we want Dad to proceed with the cabinet building. It will be lovely to have a weekend where we don't move things in the garage or try to hang the bird feeders (we've ignored that project for a couple of weeks now).

In the meantime, the pulse of Spring is faintly pounding in my own veins. It will gradually work itself up to a crescendo, at which point I will be unable to do anything but dig in the dirt. It's coming...!