Monday, November 13, 2017

Sunny Days

There is no doubt about what I am thankful for this weekend.  I spent all day Friday and had a Saturday night sleepover with my grandson who currently happens to be he cutest thing on two feet, in my humble opinion.  Logan is my youngest grandson...and I think the ages from 2 1/2 to 5 may be some of my favorite.  Memories of my own kids and my other grandsons come back and remind me....these years are the sponge years.  These are the years they are taking it all in!  It seems like every day he is learning something new and I love being able to witness his developing personality.

"I got this Gigi!"
I am thankful for the hours of playground time I've had recently.  Grandparenting is so much easier than parenting!  I am able to enjoy the time together playing without having to worry about a "to do" list waiting for me at home.  It can wait. Another thing to be thankful for is the relative leisure pace of my current life that affords me the time to spend with this guy.  Logan is thankful for a good playground.

Waiting for me to spot him on his slide down the fireman pole.
I found a children's museum/discovery center nearby and Logan and I checked it out on Friday.  It was an excellent morning activity for both of us.  I love it when you find the perfect age appropriate activity.  Each station had just enough fun and learning to keep him interested for over an hour.  I enjoyed just watching that little brain figure things out.  I have learned to be patient enough to let him go through the trial and error process until he finds the correct solution.  Like I said...sponge brain!


Figuring it all out!

Thankful for perspective.  Thankful for opportunity.  Thankful for time spent together playing.

Happiness is a ball pit!
I had a little deja vu on Friday when I turned on Sesame Street for a bit of a break.  I remember my kids and older grandsons were always captivated by that show.   There is something about a cute red puppet named Elmo that grabs their attention.  I remembered this photo I took of Daniel when he was 2 and noticed the same rapt attention on Logan.
Cousin Daniel watching Sesame Street at about the same age as Logan.
Logan watching Sesame Street....guess he needs a giant Elmo!
That show sure does have a mesmerizing affect on them!

Thankful for sunny days and smiles!


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Thankful Month

In the spirit of Thanksgiving I have decided to focus on things I am thankful for this month.  Join me in this focus and let me know what you are thankful for.

Last week, I was thankful I lived in Houston!  In spite of the still-summer-like weather it was a good week to be a Houstonian.  We, and I mean the Astros with my diligent help in the "watching, stressing, cheering, orange shirt wearing" department, finally won a World Series!  The city was the happiest place on earth for the week.  Everywhere you went there were people wearing Astros shirts and smiles.  I watched every inning of every game beginning with the ALCS against the Yankees and then the World Series against the Dodgers.  It was high adventure!  A sports junkie's nirvana!  Both series went the full 7 games, which was exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time.  We were a city full of Halloween Astros Zombies!
Feel the joy!
Thanks Astros!
When the series was over many of us wondered what we were going to do at night, once we caught up on our sleep.  There were many late nights involved in pulling our team to victory.  Anything on television now pales in comparison to the weeks of nail biting baseball.  I am thankful our city has something to celebrate together!

I am also thankful for good friends.  Our anniversary friends came to visit us for a few days last weekend.  We did what we usually do and caught up on life, ate good food, drank some good wine (or good bourbon), explored a new part of Houston and planned our next anniversary trip.  Next year we will both be officially married for...ever!  This anniversary deserves a great trip.  Stay tuned for the destination of choice.  Part of the fun is in the planning.
Waiting to see what is down below....

The Houston Cistern is a very cool place!
Which made me thankful for my photography class that
opened my eyes to this hidden gem.

In closing, now you can all be thankful this is my last post about baseball for a while!  OK, one more time....Go Astros!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Night To Remember

From the title you might think this is some romantic date night post....but you would be wrong.  This is about one of the best nights in my life as a sports fan.  I am admittedly a sports junkie.  College football is my favorite sport to watch but post season baseball (college and pro) are a close second.  I love the playoffs, even when "my" team is not playing.  I can waste spend entire Saturdays flipping between two or three college football games from noon until well into the night.  These game days are only made better with the back doors wide open, a  nice pleasant breeze blowing through the house and maybe some good old junk food to top it all off.

Last Saturday was a banner day in my sports world!  The Astros were playing game 7 in the ALCS  here in Houston, LSU was playing Auburn and Notre Dame was playing USC.  These were all big games.  The Astros game was a HUGE game!  The night before when the Astros won game 6, TJ said...on his way to bed, "You should find some tickets to tomorrow's game!".  I promptly scoured the internet and bought two tickets behind home plate.
WAY behind home plate!
I wondered.... for a moment, how I was going to go to the baseball game and watch both of my favorite college football teams.  The ESPN app is a wonderful thing!  I managed to keep up with both of my football teams (who also won that night) and remain engaged in cheering the Astros to victory.  As a fan...being in the sold out stadium for game 7 was a bucket list event.  The adrenaline and collective energy generated by the crowd when the last fly ball was caught for the win was a sports fan's dream come true!  Instead of jumping and screaming in front of my television at home I had thousands of other fans to jump up and down and scream with me! 
#EarnHistory
The Astros are in the World Series and that just doesn't happen every year!  Here is hoping that thousands of other lucky (Astros!) fans get to experience the joy of seeing their team win the big game.  As for me, I will have to watch this one on the television.  Go Astros! 


Friday, October 20, 2017

Up, Up and Away

So..... I wrote a great blog post yesterday, "saved" it and now it is nowhere to be found.  It was well written, slightly witty, full of beautiful photos and all it needed was a few finishing touches....you know, just like all of my posts.  Where did it go?  How will I ever repeat those words?  Ugh!  As luck would have it, I played in a golf tournament later that day and apparently my golf game ran away with my blog post.  I hope they are having a great time together.  For some reason all I could think of was a line in the song MacArthur's Park, "I don't think that I can take it, 'cause it took so long to bake it and I'll never have that recipe again....".  Here is the closest thing to the original recipe.


My sisters and I continued celebrating my significant birthday a couple of weeks ago and took a trip to Santa Fe and Albuquerque.  Planning a trip for/with other people always makes me second guess my choices. There are so many places to visit in this country, how can I choose just one!  I figured Santa Fe had enough to please all of us with it's culture, art, low humidity, fall like temperatures, good restaurants and beautiful scenery. Opening weekend of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta was the icing on the cake. 
The Cathedral Balilica of St. Francis of Assisi 
Sculptures of the wild southwest!
I did not let my sisters know all of the details of attending the fiesta until the last minute. Telling people they have to wake up at 4 a.m. is not usually met with excitement.  We dressed warmly and hit the road at 4:30 along with 60,000 other bleary eyed balloon revelers.  After sitting for 30 minutes and going only 2 miles I was very worried about jockeying for position on the field and hoping my sisters would not mutiny.  While sitting in the traffic I had that internal conversation where my sisters say, "You made us wake up at 4, drove us an hour away through all of this traffic only to stand elbow to elbow with thousands of other people in 40 degree temperatures for this?".   The fiesta needed to be spectacular for all the pressure I was putting on myself.

The balloons were just waking up when we finally got to the field!
It turns out that the location swallows up thousands of people and hundreds of balloons quite easily!  We roamed around the field armed and ready with our phones and cameras.  The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is one of the most photographed events in the country and I can personally attest to doing my part to keep it that way.  I must say it is awesome and beautiful when over 500 hot air balloons spread out over a massive field, inflate row by row and progressively launch for almost two hours.  So many colors against a perfectly clear blue sky!  It is a photographer's nirvana.

Balloons everywhere!
Penguins!  Lions! 

Cops and robbers!
We could not get enough!  The balloons are so much fun and definitely worth waking up before dawn.  I must admit that later the same day after we made it back to our apartment there was not much moving going on!  I had a private laugh and noted the irony when I crawled into bed for a nap and left my younger sisters covered with blankets watching football that Saturday.  After all, we had already put in over 8 hours by noon!  We did rally for sunset and dinner.

Fort Marcy view of Santa Fe down below
This view was only a short walk from our apartment.  

We enjoyed the morning launch so much that we decided to go back the next day for the evening "glow".  This time we breezed right in and enjoyed the smaller crowd of the night session.  There was a moment of panic when the yellow flag was flying and no balloons were inflating because of high winds but once the sun began to set the winds died down and we were treated to another colorful event.  The "glow" is followed by a laser show and fireworks extravaganza to close out the night.   Best part was that we did not have to wake up early and were home at a decent hour.  Slightly different than the sister trips when our night activities included going out and partying the night away.  We have fun no matter what we do!


5-4-3-2-1 Glow!
All in all, our trip to New Mexico was great!  We did forget that Santa Fe was at 7000 ft. altitude.... so we may or may not have experienced shortness of breath and our headaches were not due to late night drinking and partying....unlike other sister trips. 

Thanks for the all the birthday balloons!


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I'd Like to Give the World a Coke

One of the writing prompts I have been given in classes is to write about something that inspired, surprised or touched me.  On my flight back to Houston...after 4 months at the shore, I had an encounter that inspired, surprised and touched me and I could not wait to get home and write it all down with fresh emotions.  The rough draft was very rough and after several revisions I'm still not sure I am conveying the genuine emotion this individual stirred in me.  Suffice it to say, "he made my day".

 Usually, I stick to myself on planes...I'm not one of those people who strikes up a conversation with the person next to me.  I plugged myself into a movie early in the flight and had that "don't bother me" body language happening.  I noticed the fellow next to me asked the flight attendant for water twice before we even took off, he shyly smiled at me and said he was very thirsty.  We acknowledged each other but did not talk.  I ordered a Diet Coke when the beverage service came.  We both dozed and of course had the elbow war over the armrest between us.  Eventually we finally decided to just share even if our elbows occasionally touched each other.  I'm okay with that, most men (in my experience) try to dominate the armrest so sharing is a step in the right direction.  At one point he was trying to watch a movie and could not get it to work on his screen and tapped me and pointed to his screen as if to ask, "what's up with this?  Can you get the movie to play?".   I gave it my best but had no success either.  He finally did get another movie to play on his screen, tapped me again and pointed to it, smiled and gave me the thumbs up. 

About halfway through the flight, he now had his own can of Diet Coke.  He filled his cup, tapped me on the arm and offered to fill my empty cup.  I can honestly say no one has ever offered to share their drink with me on a plane.  He proceeded to pour until my cup was full.  I was surprised....

We got closer to Houston and I was looking out of the window at my long lost home and took a couple of photos.  He started to look out the window too...with curiosity. I assumed he was from New York since we left from Newark.  I was not really sure what ethnicity he was, I thought maybe Indian and put him in his late 30's.  I figured he was not from Houston because he was wearing jeans, a long sleeved button down shirt and a v-neck sweater.  Anyone going back to Houston at this time of year would NOT be wearing a long sleeve v-neck sweater!  Yes... I was making assumptions about my seat mate.  I asked where he was from and he answered, "India".  I asked why he was going to Houston and found out he was on his way from Mumbai to Santiago, Chile, which explains the sweater and his thirst.  Poor guy was in the middle of a VERY long day or two of travel!  
Back to Houston!
The rest of our conversation was priceless.  He said he had a layover and asked what he could do in Houston.  I mentioned a few things and then found out the layover was only 2 hours. Basically, he had time to go from one gate to another, go to the bathroom and maybe grab a bite to eat.  He assumed he could just leave the airport and take the metro (of which there is none from the Houston airport) and be minutes away from something interesting to see or do.  Maybe in Mumbai but not in Houston.

He asked a lot of questions....
-Is Houston a city or a state?
- How far away is Dallas?
-Is Texas a state?
- How many states are in the US?
-How far away do you live?
-What is there to see in Houston?
 I showed him a map of the US on my phone and explained the states and cities.  He was so curious! This was a turning point for me...after 4 months in another country it took a foreigner to bring me back to America.  Through him asking me about my city and my country I suddenly realized I was back "home".  I have been on the other side of this equation many times and am always thankful for those locals who take the time to help a traveler.

Once we landed he was very polite and asked which bag in the overhead compartment was mine and retrieved it for me.  We walked off the plane together and inside the terminal he asked if he had to go through customs or pick up his bag and re-check it before his next flight.  I explained that he just needed to go to his gate and we checked the monitor to find the gate for his next flight.  It just so happened to be in the same direction as baggage claim so we continued walking and talking on our way.  We reached our parting spot and I said goodbye when he whipped out his cell phone and said he had to have a picture of us.  He flagged down a girl and asked her to take our picture.  I was surprised...again!  He proudly showed me the pictures and said thank you over and over and said he would not forget my kindness.  I admit, way back at the beginning with the Diet Coke, I was a little skeptical and distrusting but his kindness and sincerity were infectious.  I was a bit choked up when he wanted to take a photo.  He kept telling me how nice I was and thanking me for being so kind to him when all along all I kept thinking was how nice and kind he was!  I stood waiting for my bag to arrive with tears in my eyes, a warm heart and an overwhelming feeling God sent this person into my day for a reason!  I really wish I had asked for a picture too!  He touched me!

P.S.   I took Uber back to my house...a good 45 minute ride.  I was quiet for a while still thinking about my new friend.  The driver and I chatted a bit about Hurricane Harvey, we were both spared any flooding, and then I sat quietly for a bit.  I thought about sharing how a kindness can change someones day and was inspired to tell my driver about my experience.  He proceeded to share his hurricane experience and blew me away.  He and his son borrowed his brother's truck (with huge wheels) and went out and rescued people in the flood.  He said he cried when he found a man in a wheelchair alone in his house with water quickly approaching his home.  He said his son rescued a dog that was tied up in a yard.  He said they worked all day giving people rides out of flooded areas and the next day his son went and volunteered at the animal shelter because he loves animals.  He is just one of thousands of people who did the same thing.

There is good in this world!  We are barraged  every day with negative news and stories of horrors happening in our world and if we are not careful we can assume the worst about people, expect the worst to happen and only see the bad.  My eyes were opened twice in one day to the good around me.   I hope you have someone surprise, inspire or touch you today!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Farewell Bill Murray

I would have preferred to just ride off into the sunset at the end of the summer and look back at his cute little face knowing he would watch over the garden and keep the weeds at bay.  Instead I watched him ride off into the sunrise to his new home down the road a few miles.  I'm going to miss him!

Bill Murray has spent the last two summers living under our shed.  I wake up every morning to his little furry body munching weeds next to our flower bed.  He doesn't make a mess, he doesn't bother anyone, he lives under the shed...not in the shed (as far as I can tell) and has provided me with many morning and evening smiles over the summer.  I really do love waking up and looking out my window and saying, "good morning Bill!".  He just stares back and nibbles grass.
Good morning Bill!
Bill has very good taste in accommodations
This morning when I was having my first cup of tea (aka...barely awake and speaking)  TJ said he had an errand to run and was waiting for me to finish my tea before he told me about the nature of the errand.  He knew I would not take it well.  I told him to just break it to me, expecting him to say he needed my help to do one of our many "closing the farmhouse" chores.  To my surprise he confessed that his errand was to relocate Bill Murray who was now trapped in the "have a heart" trap.  I almost cried!  NOT Bill Murray!  TJ knew I would want to go out and say goodbye to the little fella.  Sniff, sniff!

He looked at me as if to say, "why...what did I do?"
We had a moment...or two.  He came right up and we looked at each other much like we have done every morning and evening ...except without the cage.  I think what I liked most was having an animal in the yard again.  With no dog running around the property these days, I enjoyed watching a cute groundhog named Bill Murray.  He did very little destruction and was kinda cute.  TJ was afraid Bill was going to talk some cute female groundhog into moving into his cool shed for the winter and make lots of little Bill Murrays who would munch the entire garden next summer.  I was more willing to risk it and let Bill and his potential family hang out over the winter and deal with the little lettuce eaters next summer.

It will probably be a few days before I quit looking for Bill every time I go to the kitchen window.  I spend a lot of time at the kitchen sink here at the farmhouse so having something to entertain me was pretty nice.

In other news, Bill Murray is not the only thing we are saying goodbye to this week.  Our summer has come to an end.  Part of the reason I was emotional saying goodbye to Bill was that I am also saying goodbye to another summer at the farmhouse.  It is the last week or hell week as I refer to it.  Plenty of emotions flying around this place amplified by exhaustion.  It was a different kind of summer, but aren't they all?  If I had to guess the number of beds I washed and changed over the summer I might just have to take a nap...my best guess is around 25....not that I counted.  We built it... they came... and we loved it!

So as I close the book on another beautiful summer here are a few of my favorite pictures from the summer of '17.

June had a few very nice days!
and some beautiful nights!
In July we celebrated Canada's 150th and TJ's brother's 60th!

This happy little guy and his Mom visited in July!
And there were more spectacular sunsets...over the water.
One of the attempts at a Lee family photo in August
The "cousin party"....one of my favorite
nights of the summer!
Oh, what the heck...there are just too many to share.  I will forever be grateful for this place my family found to spend their summers..... way back when.  We are thankful for being able to carry on the tradition and pass this place on to the next generation.  May they always know the gift that is "the shore" in Nova Scotia.
And Bill Murray....I hope you find a nice girl with a sweet shed for the winter!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

If You Build It They Will Come

247....the number of times, since my last post, I have sat in front of my computer and tried to write something original  anything.  247...times I have come up empty.  Hoping 248 is the lucky number! Summer has a way of gathering momentum and I've been hanging on and enjoying the ride.  Writing requires creative energy.  Something I lack after exercise time, beach time, visiting time, grand kid time, sibling time, cousin time, parent time, doing nothing time, dinner time and last but not least.... watching the sunset time.   Write or enjoy summer?  Summer seems to have won 247 times!  I'm feeling a trend.
I'm all out of energy after this time every night!
One thing I have found interesting this summer is how we, as "summer locals", share this special place with visitors.  We have hosted six "first timers" so far this summer and still have seven more "first timers" before we close down for the season.  Most of our visitors have heard about this place for years from either our kids, our siblings or from us.  They come expecting the greatness that we have made this place up to be in our recollections over the years.  There is no place in the world that can compare to this place if you listen to any of us after an epic summer.  People arrive expecting heaven on earth.  I am not completely sure what they think when they first arrive but I'm pretty sure they don't think "Finally...I've found heaven on earth".  I do think the impression upon departure, for most, is closer to heaven on earth than when they arrived. Surprisingly, there are some people who just "don't get it"....we don't get them either!

Sharing a place you love as much as we love this shore is a nerve racking blessing.  We want our visitors to love it as much as we do and to see the same beauty we see.  Some people arrive on a gray, rainy day to what can feel like the end of the earth.  I'm sure they wonder to themselves why we come here every summer.  Our first weary travelers this summer arrived to.... squishy wet grass, gray skies, and air filled with rain and mosquitoes.  Not the ideal vacation destination unless reading a book wrapped in a blanket is your ideal vacation.  Of course, you could always just forget about the rain and celebrate Canada Day 150 like we did!
What rain?  Bring on the parade and the tall ships!
The sun eventually showed its face for our first visitors and they got to see the real shore!  This place has a way of making you slow down and smell the roses, lilies, lupines or the fields of hay.  I'm not saying there isn't anything to do.... there just isn't the madness that makes up life in the city.  Rural shore life is all about the rhythm of nature. It's about the tides, the winds, the long days and the occasional rain.  The pace of life is slower and later here.  Sometimes visitors have a little trouble adjusting to this pace.  When you come from a fast paced work schedule and live in a big city with lots of traffic you expect things to happen fast.  Things don't happen fast around here.  After a couple of days most of our visitors finally slow down, relax and embrace the peaceful, happy pace of life we lead.
When drying the clothes takes longer....relax,
lay down in the hammock and read.
We always hoped the farmhouse would be a gathering place.  It has too much space for the two of us.  Be careful what you wish for!  Every summer I say to myself I will take it easy and not over plan or invite a lot of people and every summer I don't listen to myself.   I think I was meant to live in a commune.  Having many people under one roof feels very natural to me whether they are my friends or friends of my kids.  Today is the first day in many weeks I have been here alone.  It is VERY quiet!  It is also kinda nice for a change and may just be the atmosphere I need to finish a blog post.

So in no particular order here are some things we want our first timers to appreciate about our little piece of heaven on earth.

-the stars.....because there is very little light pollution up here we can see millions and millions of stars on a clear night!  Just lay down on the ground, let your eyes adjust and wait.  Last night I laid down in our field with my daughter and two grandsons and watched meteor showers....awesome!
The farmhouse at night...photo compliments of  "first timer"
Parked Rangers!

-the tides....low tide is unlike anywhere else.  Walking on the sandbars is one of our favorite things about this place!  High tide is for jet skiing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding but low tide is what we all love the most!  Even if we are just sitting in our beach chairs reading, napping or talking.
The tide is coming in and the kids are loving it!

Low tide and walking on the sandbars!
-We love our family!  This place is all about family and we have a lot of family.  Extended family from great-grandparents to grandparents to cousins to second cousins...once removed.  We know and love them all!  Not many families have such a close connection.  This may be a bit overwhelming for some visitors...and we appreciate that and still welcome all visitors!
-the sky!  The sky is huge up here and the colors are vivid!  It is spectacular, even during a storm.
Soaking up the beautiful blue!
-the flowers!  It may just be me but I doubt it.  The flowers here are prolific and display unbelievably bright colors.  My flowers at home struggle to survive and are bleached out by the heat.  The ditches, as I have shared before, are an ever changing rainbow of color from the purple/blue lupines in June to the yellow and white daisies to the pink wild roses and the purple flowers growing now that I don't know the name of!  Flowers are one of life's gifts here and I, for one, can't ever get enough.
All fresh out of my yard!
-the food!  who does not love garden fresh vegetables?  I love being able to go right outside and pick my dinner.  We can drive up the road and buy our eggs and meat and then we can go to the dock and get lobster off the boat.  It does not get any more local or fresh than that!  The taste of something only hours out of the ground is unlike anything we can buy in a store.  I get seriously spoiled up here!
Teaching them the value of fresh veggies at a young age!
As you can see, I could go on and on.  It isn't for everyone, but for us... it is everything... and we love sharing it!
Happy summer!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Day in the Life of the Farmhouse

What goes on in that farmhouse up on the hill?

 This morning we woke up and smiled!  Well Logan, the 2 year old, smiled and his dimples and zest for life in the morning made the rest of us smile.  Two of us took turns eating breakfast and playing with the happy busy boy instead of going on that morning run.  One of us woke up and went directly into the back yard and began working on his van conversion project.  One of us slept in because she could!
Not a bad place to work on your van.
After we had exhausted the acceptable activities inside the house it was time for a change of venue.  Outside we went to harvest lettuce for dinner.  Logan was happy to investigate the van conversion progress, play in the golf cart, play on the lawnmower, tromp through the garden, play a little ball, and just run around the yard.  We needed a focused activity!  Let's go pick strawberries!

We woke up sleeping beauty upstairs, loaded the car with berry boxes, interrupted the van progress and all headed to the u-pick....only to find it was "closed for the season".  There goes the fresh strawberry jam for this summer!  Oops!  On to the next activity.  Let's go pick up the lobster for tonight's feast.

They were open for business!!!

We procured our lobster and headed home.  Time for lunch and naps.  By the time we got back the cloudy sky had cleared.  We had successfully killed a morning and tired out one two year old!  Nap time on a sunny day is the best!  Just imagine the gentle breeze blowing through the house, curtains slightly waving, the sound of leaves rustling on the trees outside and the radio softly playing some seriously good tunes.  We are all busy doing just what we want to be doing.
One of us is reading in the hammock

One of us is in the sunroom reading and napping

One of us is very happy with the ceiling in the van!

One of us dug those potatoes, cooked them and made them into
potato salad for dinner.  When I was suddenly hit with a blog idea....
The littlest one is napping upstairs and I don't dare open that door for a photo for fear of waking him.  Trust me, he is sound asleep  powering up for his run on the sandbars later this afternoon.
A perfect day....quiet, simple, and beautiful.
Just the way we love them!



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