Happy Halloween


Funny holiday…Halloween. I decided to research a bit; how and why did Halloween become a holiday?? To keep it short and sweet…’cuz Pope Gregory III said so..well, not exactly.

Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. Originating with an ancient Celtic festival, Samhain. People would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.(uggh) In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs. All Saints’ Day, which incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter…Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.
american Halloween traditions began slowly; celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems. As the beliefs and customs meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge; public events were held to celebrate the harvest, neighbors would share creepy stories of the dead (ghost stories), tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing, and make mischief of all kinds. As time went by, annual autumn festivities became common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country…As America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Halloween thus became a holiday more about community and neighbors partying than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. Parties focused on games, food, and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived; families gave out treats to help thwart the “trick” part of the Halloween celebration… and new American tradition was born, fulfilling every child’s dream of having so much candy, you have absolutely no idea how you will ever eat it all; then when you do, you have absolutely no idea how you will ever sit still again.

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,
Voices whisper in the trees, “Tonight is Halloween!”
~ Dexter Kozen


On Hallowe’en the thing you must do
Is pretend that nothing can frighten you
And if somethin’ scares you and you want to run
Just let on like it’s Hallowe’en fun


It’s Halloween! It’s Halloween!
The moon is full and bright
And we shall see what can’t be seen
On any other night.
Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,
Grinning goblins fighting duels
Werewolves rising from their tombs,
Witches on their magic brooms
In masks and gown we haunt the street
And knock on doors for trick or treat
Tonight we are the king and queen,
For oh tonight it’s Halloween!
~ Jack Prelutsky


Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth
boil and bubble
Shakespeare “Macbeth”

From ghoulish and ghosties and long leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
Scottish saying

The Legend of Sleep Hollow
What fearful shapes and shadows beset his path, amidst the dim and ghastly glare of a snowy
night! With what wistful look did he eye every trembling ray of light streaming across the
waste fields from some distant window! How often was he appalled by some shrub covered with
snow, which, like a sheeted specter, beset his very path! How often did he shrink with
curdling awe at the sound of his own steps on the frosty crust beneath his feet; and dread
to look over his shoulder, lest he should behold some uncouth being tramping close behind
him! and how often was he thrown into complete dismay by some rushing blast, howling among
the trees, in the idea that it was the Galloping Hessian on one of his nightly scouring!

Be wary then; best safety lies in fear,
Jess

Secret Pumpkin Whoopie Pies….shhh


I always look forward to this time of year; an in between time. In between the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and the jammed packed schedule of the fleeting summer months. A time to collect my bearings, look at where I’ve been and where I am heading, start holiday to do lists, take down and launder summer curtains, pillows, and porch furniture cushions…hang the heavier, cozier, cool weather drapes, toss the comfie blankets, and pillows on the sofas. Time to stack fire wood for the kitchen wood stove, and the time for my families favorite: PUMPKIN WHOOPIE PIES! I have shared this recipe with very few folks over the years..they are fabulous and the recipe was my secret; after several friends asked for the recipe, and neighbors declared,”It’s almost whoopie pie season isn’t it?”, I suppose it is time to share this favorite recipe with you. Guard it well. I hope that you enjoy them as much as we do.

Secret recipe for Pumpkin Whoopie pies

Cookies
pre-heat oven to 350
2 cups brown sugar (tightly packed)
1 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups pumpkin, cooked and mashed ( canned will do if in a pinch)
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla (real vanilla)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Cream sugar and oil.
Add remaining ingredients, mix well.
Drop by heaping tsp. onto parchment lined cookie sheet ( I use a cookie scoop, to obtain a uniform size)
Bake for aprx. 10 minutes ~ be careful not to over bake, you want them moist and cakey ( is that a word?)

Let cookies cool.

Filling

2 egg whites
4 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla ( the good stuff)
3 cups of confectioners sugar ( use in 1 cup increments)
(1 1/2 cups shortening)

Mix together the egg whites, milk, vanilla, and 1 cup of the confectioners sugar.
Then add 1 cup of confectioners sugar and and 1 1/2 cup shortening..mix well
Then add last cup of confectioners sugar

Make sandwiches and enjoy! Remember, these are secret…shhh.

early morning light filtering through the snowy trees

early morning light

misty morning chill

barn roof tops and snowy glitter

frosty pumpkins

nature's sparkle

silly tree...every other one has lost their leaves...

rosey

Blue birds and empty nests


Sorting through boxes of my children’s past and feeling rather moody…I am attempting to organize and pare down. The organizing is going ok; the paring down ~ not so much. How do you decide which kindergarten painting to keep, or 5th grade book report, or lace vest hand made by Juli (she was the best clothes designer when she was 5) I may need this some day; and her paintings (I may be rich someday). Jenni loved rocks; her jewelry box is chock full of them (gotta keep those). We actually mined for some of them in New Hampshire…she and I and a thunder storm. Stacks and stacks of Justin’s wild life drawings..couldn’t part with those, actually I should frame a few.
So you can see the problem. Maybe… I will just store it neater?! After a couple hours of this, and a few too many cups of tea…feeling a bit melancholy; I took the dogs out for a walk. We walked up around the llama pastures, down past the ducks and chickens… As we came round the side of the house, I thought I saw a blue bird..and then another. Surely I was mistaken. I went in to gather my Audubon Society book. Could they still be around? Turns out they can! I followed those poor birds around for 20 minutes trying to get a good picture; they flitted away and I don’t have a lens capable of capturing them at a great distance.
How quickly I put aside thoughts of my impending empty nest and was overjoyed that theirs was still full. (I found out that the last brood usually stays with the parents through out the winter months)

There is always a blessing somewhere..just gotta look!

Be Well and count your blessings.
Jess

Life is too short for traffic…


It started like any other Friday; feed the dogs, feed the cat, feed the chickens, grain the ducks, muck the barns, hay…grain…and water for the llamas…all done with my coffee mug, Lexi (the lab) and Finnegan(the bernadoodle) in tow. One thing was different however; my husband had the day off. He had a lot more interesting things on his to-do list than I did mine; and his included a long drive up Route 22…to Hartford,NY.
“So, what’s happening in Hartford”?
“We are going to look at a truck for sale”.
“In Hartford?” “Where is Hartford”?
“I don’t know yet”….(Shudder)
The ride was nice enough, kinda overcast, and Harry Connick,Jr was crooning in my ear ~ well for awhile…you see my husband’s hearing is not what it used to be… and to add to that my voice can be rather soft. He leans over, and looks a me while I speak…I look across at him – briefly – and say I don’t know whether he should be looking` at me or not. It isn’t a good idea to take your eyes off the road too often.
With that – someone – has decided, after much braking and accelerating – (that Hubby has not seemed to notice)- perhaps turning to the right is what they want after all, but it doesn’t occur to them to put on their blinker until after they’ve slowed almost to a standstill. I quickly notice a mother deer and 2 nearly grown fawns) I am not sure what happened to my quiet ride in the country – Route 22 had become a Disney theme park – and we’re all just extras from a Bambi remake. As this all transpires in ostensible slow motion…Hubby doesn’t seem to have noticed the emergency stop – he’s looking at me, laughing softly; “So – anyway- this other guy – who is he exactly?….” I tell him B R A K E (loudly)… He slams on the brakes.. He whistles, laughs some more, then he looks serious and says some of his teenage driving skills come in handy…Then luckily we turn left and head up Route 149…, so, I forget all about it, you see the road we just turned onto ..leads up away from the valley and into some beautiful hilly farmland…the sun has just burst through the cloud cover. The result is nothing less than amazing light. The distant Vermont mountains looming grey in the background, the sky moody and threatening, yet, there are streams of bright sunlight illuminating the hills and fields.

Here are some of the resulting pictures…all unedited; I wanted you all to see (as exacting as I could) what I saw… hope you enjoy them too.

I drove home!

I wish you all peace.
Be well,
Jessica

An Ode to My Sisters…


Sisters, biologically speaking I have two older, two younger. Metaphorically speaking ~ I have many.

Sisters, a closeness, a bond that only sister get to experience. You love them dearly at times, disagree fiercely other times…Sisters annoy, interfere, and criticize. Indulge in epoch silent resentment, in fits of anger, in spiteful remarks. They borrow. They break.

But if a calamity should ensue, sisters are there. Defending you by any means available. They see you at your worst moments, your shining moments, and love you through all of them. She might be your partner in crime, your midnight confidant, someone who knows you, really knows you. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, sometimes even your therapist.

Sisters ~ We’ve fought, we’ve made up. We’ve laughed at jokes, until milk came out or nose, that no one else would understand. We’ve said some mean things to each other, yet we’ve defended and protected each other when others won’t. We did some of the strangest and perhaps silliest things together and there’s so many stories to be shared when we are together.

Some of my sisters, have a mutually shared passion, some a bond so close it may never be severed, even with all of the changes and shifts life brings. Some of us share secrets we will take to the grave and never tell another. Some have taught me about about life…quite often the hard way.

Sisters, we all have roles; roles we were sure we could have let go with the passing of childhood – the baby, the peacekeeper, the caretaker, the fixer…. It doesn’t seem to matter how much time has elapsed, how far apart we live, how much has happened in our lives… no matter what we choose to make of this, we are, if by fortune or fate, connected our whole lives long. It may seem, to the rest of the world, we are older and (maybe) wiser; but, to each other we are still the same girls who made perfume from weeds and berries, tried to save kittens (not so effectively), who “trimmed” her sister’s hair, walked with for miles so that she could see her boyfriend, protected from the thieves of innocence.. clambered through waste deep snow, suit case in hand… laughing all the way, yet by passing the snowmobile that could have been our saving grace…and later, helped each other through troubled marriages,relationships, and financial hardships.

Sisters; we know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share jokes. We remember quarrels and secrets, troubles and joys. We live outside the touch of time.

I think of sisters as flowers; all different, yet all beautiful.
Do you have “sister” stories, you would want to share? Subscribe, and post your thought…I’d love to read them.
Be well,
Jess

Homecoming 2011- Senior year


What is Homecoming all about?

School spirit! A high school and college tradition. A football game played on our home field,a Pep Rally,”powder puff” football game with a bonfire , and a dance?

Do you know how it began? Around 1911, The athletic director and football coach of Missouri University, Chester Brewer, challenged former MU students to “come back home” to Missouri for the annual football game against the University of Kansas, their biggest rival. Former students came from all different states to watch the game and show their loyalty to their alma mater. Ever since then, schools all over the U.S. have been honoring the tradition.

Jenn is a senior. As I have mentioned before, this is taking some getting used to. This past weekend, Jenn and some her friends gathered at our home for pictures with friends and family, a spaghetti dinner and last-minute preparations before their last home-coming dance as high school seniors. This marks a turning point for me, as well as for them, a series of lasts…their last homecoming dance, last high school field hockey, football, or soccer season, last spirit week..
As parents we have worked hard to prepare them for the coming years and their future; they are now at a point in life where they are eager to leave home… with memories and lessons from childhood, indelibly etched in their hearts; as it seems what we remember from childhood we remember forever. We know all too well; home is something you start out wanting to leave, and then spend a great deal of energy wanting, indeed, trying to get back to. Staying connected with old friends, will be a common thread with this bunch; I believe one of the most beautiful discovery these friends will make is that they can grow separately without growing apart…I hope they enjoy and make the most of the year to come and I wish them the best of luck as they make their choice of colleges..and important decisions for the years to come.

To me, Homecoming means football, festivities, and friendship.

Carsen and Jenn

Stephany and Jenn

The dynamic duo, Jenn and Nicole

Emma, Emily, Nicole, and Jenn

the guys...

the girls...

Rachel and Jenn

Jenn and Juan

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose…
Be well,
Jessica

As time goes by…my list gets longer


Do you have one of those lists, I guess they call them bucket lists now. Well, apparently I have two.
One short term and one a life long list. Dreams I have ,things I want to achieve, do, see…time goes by so fast it is easy to lose sight of these things. My list(s) remind me of what I love and what I am passionate about doing, creates a whole new level of enthusiasm for what I set as my goals. Actually writing down these wishes and dreams became very insightful for me, a focus of sorts.
Here are my lists…
Short term:
learn to spin fiber (properly)
learn to weave what I have spun
create and maintain a color harvesting garden ( to dye the fiber before/after spinning, before I weave it)
master the art of portraiture
add sheep to my farm menagerie( I am beyond smitten with them)
finish a few watercolor works
build a studio ~ maybe this is long term?

Long term:
travel in Europe
visit as many of our United States as possible
teach my (not yet born) grand children anything
perfect my cottage garden
hike all of NH’s 4000 footers
Help homeless, orphaned children
meet Maya Angelou!!!
write a book
learn Italian

I am certain this will be edited as time goes by, but for now ~ this is it. What are your biggest goals and dreams?
These photos are of my “neighbor”, my animals, and a friend’s animals…all wonderful creatures! (and leaves)

last bloom

blue...

llama...

what a pair

fell in love...

wondering what they are thinking...

gives new meaning to bird bath...

country grls

looking from the hills of East Hoosick toward Vermont, you can see the Bennington Monument

What’s on your bucket list?

Be well,
Jessica

Autumn barns…and leaves.


I don’t recall a more beautiful Columbus Day weekend; the weather has been incredible. Although the leaves are not “prime” color yet, they are still glorious against the azure blue of the Autumn sky.

As much as I yearn for the color of spring blooms, and the blush of my first rose; Fall colors are akin to a second spring (if you think about it…too much..perhaps). This year it seems as though all of the rain has washed away the grime of summer, and the winds swept the haze from the sky…and the fields and trees on Upstate New York stand in stark relief. A new painting around every bend in the road; as we drove home yesterday from my daughter’s near Schenectady…I was awestruck by the beauty that surrounds us in this area of the Country. I could travel the world;(if I had money) and I may find such pastoral beauty, but until then I will be glad to be where I am…on my little farm in Upstate, NY.

“The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools.”
- Henry Beston, Northern Farm

“The hazy, cloudless skies of Indian Summer. Leaves scurrying down the street
before the wind. The cold shiver from an arctic blast. Indian Summer. The last
warmth of the sun. Chilly mornings and glorious warm afternoons. The Harvest
Moon. The Hunter’s Moon. The Rainy Season. Dry corn stalks clattering in the
wind. The touch of frost on grass and window pane. The smell of burning leaves.”
- Keith C. Heidorn

I hope that you enjoy all that this season has to offer. What’s your favorite Fall tradition? I tell you mine next blog.
Be Well,
Jessica