A poem by J.F. Conant

He who loves an old house never loves in vain. How can an old house used to sun and rain, to lilac and to larkspur and an elm above-ever fail to answer the heart that gives it love?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I read this on my friend Paula's ( http://onarainynight.blogspot.com/) facebook page: 

100 Books

by Paula Sannar Niziolek on Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 1:59am
The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES. Bold those books you've read in their entirety; italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt.Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses.

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
The Lord of The Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Bible
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Nineteeneightyfour - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women- Louisea M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch22- Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbie - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald 
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath- John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewin Carrol
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis 
34 Emma-Jane Austin
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha- Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd- Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement- Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time of Cholera- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones-Alice Sebold
65 The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses- James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens  
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99  Charlie and The Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Interesting List. It is not clear to me why the BBC chose some of these books and not others. Where's  THE GOOD EARTH by Pearl Buck? Where's THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES by Ray Bradbury? What about MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS  or  MOUSE TRAP by Agatha Christie?  Shouldn't Stephen King have made the list? THE STAND was awfully well written! And Josephine Tey and  didn't you just love the ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL series by James Herriot?  And I love MRS. MININVER by Jan Struther and ENCHANTED APRIL by Elizabeth von Arnim.
  There are tons of books out there that I think are better then some on the BBC list, but the important thing here, I suppose, is just to read! To explore new places, ideas and people. To have adventures all over the world, all through out time and perhaps even underwater or in outer space! 
   I think it's fair to say that the general consensus ist that most of the stuff on television these days is crap. Sure a little fluff won't kill you (that is why God invented romance novels) but have you ever just sat down and figured out how much of your life your wasting by letting your mind be filled with garbage? 
   Come on! Shut that boob tube off and pick up a good book! You won't be sorry and you may even learn something!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trees! Glorious trees!

Last spring I bought several trees from the Arbor Day Foundation (http://www.arborday.org/). They only just arrived yesterday and I spent part of the morning planting them. There are now 20 American Arborvitae lined up on the N.W. edge of our property. These evergreens grow straight up and will be a wonderful windbreak, as well as a natural privacy screen.

I added 10 forsythia into the front hedge as well. Think how lovely they will look in the early spring! They are interspersed with red twig dogwood. Those I chose for the beauty of their red branches against the snow during the winter.

Then there are the willow trees. I bought 2 more to add to the one I planted last summer down in the low spot in the front yard. Water always sits there and since it seems it will be awhile before I can put a pond in that spot, it seemed to me that  the next best thing would be to put in a few water loving trees and plants. I hope to add hydrangeas, daylilies, hostas,  and Japanese Iris as well as coreposis, asters and maybe some cat tails!

There are so many ideas  for this area of the yard rambling around in my head!  How about a boardwalk? Or maybe an arrangement of large rocks (easily found every spring when the local farmers start plowing the fields)?  I wish I could find a place around here to buy statuary at reasonable prices. I 'd love some large garden sculptures.

Any ideas on this subject for me?  Photos of gardens you love? Send them along. I'd love to see them!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Last week, while Joe was in class at the corporate headquarters in Boston, I took the opportunity to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

I had watched a documentary last year all about stolen art. It seems that in March of 1990 paintings, etchings, drawings and other items valued collectively at over $300 million were stolen from this museum (if you're interested, there is a reward of $5million for information leading to their return!) I became interested in the woman who had founded this museum.

Isabella was a wild woman by Victorian standards. While she was from an affluent New York family, she found out after marrying and moving to Boston, that her blood wasn't blue enough to suit the ultra-snobby aristocrats of Beacon Hill.

Through out her lifetime, the people of Boston followed her escapades and gossiped about her "wild" lifestyle. (Evidently she had her dresses made in Paris and she was too "vivacious" LOL!

After the death of their son and a near fatal miscarriage, Bella and her husband Jack began traveling around the world collecting art and first edition books and making friends of the most accomplished artists and authors of the day. (John Singer Sargent painted her portrait more then once, and the heroine of Henry James's The Wings Of The Dove, Milly Theale, was based on Isabella).

When Jack died in 1898 and Isabella soon after began construction of a 4 story, Venetian style palace that would serve as her home as well as a museum. She opened  the museum, on a part time basis, to the public in 1903. At her death in 1924 the palace and all it's treasures was bequeathed to the City of Boston in it's entirety on the condition that nothing be altered. EVER. So much as rearranging the furniture, according to her will, is enough to allow the board to dissolve the entire museum!

Here in lies the biggest problem with the museum. It is DARK in there. Sure, some of it is because they want to protect the paintings, but, on a cloudy day, you cannot really get a true look at the color and detail in the paintings and displays.

Another "problem" for me was that at the museum is built around a beautiful central court yard with fountains and flowers and sculpture  (The light from the court yard, which is topped by a huge glass skylight, supposedly really helps to brighten the 3 floors of the museum on sunny days), but no one is allowed into the court yard. What a disappointment!

Would I go again? You betcha! Some sunny day I would love to go again. But with more reasonable expectations this time.  The staff was helpful, but not particularly well informed. (I mentioned to one gentleman that it would have been interesting to see her living quarters, and was told she hadn't lived there. I knew I had read she had, but why argue?) Post cards are $1, which too me, was kind of pricey. And parking in the city of Boston and particularly in that area, absolutely stinks on ice!

But the collection it's self was gorgeous and greatly out weighed any complaints I may have. Go and enjoy!
You won't be sorry.  Oh, and if your name is Isabella you get in free!!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

He's home!!

In our 20 plus years of marriage, my husband and I have been separated hundreds of times. Some times it's only overnight. Other trips require him  to be away for weeks. And every single time he walks out that door, I still get teary eyed. Mushy, disgusting, aren't I? LOL

But it took me a really, REALLY long time to find my husband in the first place. I not only love him and think he's just the sexiest thing ever, I also really like him quite a lot. He's smart. He's caring. He's funny. He's my best friend. When he isn't home, I feel as if part of "me" was missing. There's no one else who knows me so well and loves me anyway. No one else I share so many inside jokes with (we laugh a lot when we're together). No one else I can talk to about anything and everything and not be afraid. He loves me. Really loves me...no matter what. I have never before had that kind of pure, unconditional love in my life. What a blessing! I never dreamed I would would be a part of something as wonderful as this. Believe me when I tell you: I thank God every day for my husband.

Today he's coming home and this time he's home for a nice long stay. I'll pick him up at the airport and we'll stop and have lunch somewhere on the trip home. We'll spend some time catching up. (There will be smooching and handholding too!) By the time we get home, the children will be  coming in the door from school. Our family will be together and all will be right with my world again.

I love you Joe!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gotta do something and I've heard great things about this

 After too many years of  talking about it, yesterday began my journey back to a size 8.  My friend Ellen has been going on about how wonderful the Leslie Sansone videos are. She swears by them! Basically you walk. You do not have to have any other equipment (though there are several items, weight balls, bands, etc that are available for purchase if you wish).   I began yesterday. I will report my weight loss (or gain  in the box to the left.

Other then walking, I plan to monitor my water intake (did you know that you can do everything else right, but if you don't drink enough water you won't lose weight?) Also, I am keeping a food diary. Weight Watchers has many years of experience in the weight loss business. The simple act of writing down what you eat and drink will keep you honest about your true calorie intake. Those of us who cook for the family are especially  vulnerable to "tasting" as we go. You can add on a lot of calories one little nibble at a time! 

So, wish me luck. Better yet, why don't you try this program yourself? I'll race you back to to skinny!(http://www.walkathome.com)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Life is a funny old thing

Seems like it's always changing...the best laid plans and all that.
So, as circumstances change, so must I. Mind you, I am not a fan of change. I like old stuff, old friends and all things well loved and familiar, but being alive means constantly having to adjust, grow, stretch.

Therefore, I'm changing my blog. I held on to the "farm" for a long time. But, those days are gone...perhaps forever. On to the next chapter!

The kids are growing up and making plans to leave home (I am a little weepy over it. Joe, on the other hand, is helping them pack! LOL)  My husband and I are finding more time for get aways (I met him in Boston last week) and we're making plans for future adventures (Mexico early next year).

And then there's this place. We've been back in this lovely old home for a year now and there's still so much to do. We've got some gutters up (needs more). We still need to paint. Landscaping is an on going thing. I keep the library hopping ordering books on flowers, shrubs and trees!  We have replaced appliance,  cleaned the septic, installed doorbells, removed the old pellet stove and tore out the main bathroom so that we can re-do in period appropriate style.  This will keep us busy for years to come! But, OH! When we finish, this glorious old place is going to be breath taking!

Hope you'll stop by from time to time and see what I'm up to. Leave me a comment so I can stop by your blog as well!

Until next time: Happy autumn!