Posts Tagged ‘New England’

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Paper Towels – I Love Them!

Really, I mean really!  I am now officially joining the thousands of people in the Mid-Atlantic and New England states who complain about the weather on a daily basis!  There is no where you go that someone doesn’t say something about the ever-lasting, mother-loving winter.  Where oh where is Spring?  We had two days of hot weather, too hot for April of course and now we are back to weather 10 degrees above freezing!

The calendar says it’s April and for me that has always meant it was time to shut down the furnace, take down the heavy drapes in the bedroom and hang the light weight cotton drapes.  I switch the area rug in the foyer, switch the covers on the toss pillows and put a chenille bedspread on the bed.  Switching the closets around with the seasonal clothing is next and oh God, how I hate that job!  All of the above (except the closets) has been done in the apartment, oh and the windows have to be professionally washed.

However, I’m writing this while I’m sitting in the cottage where the heat has been on since last night when we arrived!  Not only did we sleep with the blanket and the coverlet on, we also threw a quilt over us, (and I thought I was going to turn off the furnace!) That and a warm-bodied cat kept us cosy all night.  So even though it’s cold inside and out, this weekend was designated for Spring cleaning and I was determined to get some  deep cleaning done.  

I started this morning before breakfast and in my own frenetic way I was cleaning the bathroom and the stove top and shaking out rugs all at the same time!  I imagine that an observer would think I was haphazardly jumping from task to task but I know what I’m doing and as I circulate, I finish up what I started.  I took a roll of paper towels and a bottle of Simple Green and a bottle of Awesome and proceeded to wash and wipe everything on the kitchen counter and then every blessed thing in the living room.  Anyone who knows us, knows that, that’s a lot of blessed things!

I had help!  Yes, I coerced my husband into helping me mainly because I really wanted to get behind all the furniture and vacuum the baseboards.  This meant moving some heavy pieces as well as picking up more things off the floor to get behind and under them.  Cobwebs!  I found cobwebs!

The bedrooms got vacuumed and tomorrow morning I’ll finish dusting and wiping down things up there especially the guest room as we have a house guest coming.  When Murray arrives tomorrow I promised to make him matzo bri and then I imagine he will head to the beach with his camera.  I love having a guest who amuses himself because since the weatherman promised warm weather for tomorrow, we are planning to do some yard work.  Time to unwrap the patio furniture, rake the sand out of the lawn and I still have to clip some dead heads off one of my hydrangea bushes.  

I really don’t mind cleaning and thankfully when it’s done, I get great pleasure out of looking at the results!  Poor Peter, I must have told him 10 times tonight how clean I thought the living room felt!  I’m looking forward to being thrilled when I clean out the refrigerator and wash the windows inside and out!

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I’m not thrilled with change in some areas while others like experimenting with new recipes and foods excites me.  BUT I’m not real happy about the change I have observed in the life and travels of the American Robin.  Known to me growing up as Robin Redbreast, I, like thousands of other New Englanders anxiously and eagerly awaited the first sighting of a Robin in the waning months of Winter and those of an early Spring. In fact, as I’ve written in this blog previously, spotting a Robin was certainly the sign that Spring was here!

Sometimes you might spot one standing between small patches of leftover snow in the yard while it pecked into the semi-frozen ground.  It’s really hared to describe the euphoric feeling one felt when seeing that large bird with the plump reddish breast in your yard or along the side of the road.  Some winters in New England could be very long and very gray.

“All my life’s a circle” sang Harry Chapin and of course, he wasn’t wrong.  All of life is part circle and part cycle.  When you live in area where the seasons are clearly defined, the impending signs of those seasons take on a special meaning. Like noticing all of sudden that the sun is lower in the sky and some of your neighbors have put corn stalks and gourds around their lamp posts – Fall is here and Halloween on its way.  And all the fruit and vegetable stands and grocery stores have large displays of gourds and the local supermarket ads are advertising the price per pound of turkey.  You come to rely upon those signs, you are used to them, they are part of the cycles of your year, your life.

Of course if you live in an urban area as I do now, there are also signs of the season to come. Department stores and shops display fall clothing before Labor Day, Christmas ornaments the day after Halloween and winter clothing by Columbus Day and Spring clothes while the temperature is still below freezing.  The problem with these harbingers  is that they are always so early, you begin to wonder if you’re living on a different planet than the stores that are displaying them.  It’s unnatural and a product of man-made capitalism.

That’s why I am unsettled by the appearance of  Robins in January and February.  I believe their presence is more a result of man rather than nature.  I know from articles I’ve read, that people have stated they see Robins all year long;  I just never have until the last couple of years. Is it climate change? Or is it because I now live in a Mid-Atlantic state and it’s warmer all year long than in New England?  The climate clearly has changed since I was a kid growing up in Connecticut;  Winters were full of snow and days of sledding and snow ball fights. Spring arrived with warm, not hot weather and windy days afforded lots of kite flying.  Summer was sultry but not so humid that you never wanted to leave an air-conditioned house and by the way, who had an air-conditioned house in the 50’s?

Robins are beautiful birds so I guess I should’t complain or question why they are here now.  Murray has taken quite a few photos of these lovely feathered creatures and I want to share them with you.

Robin on Winter Branches

Robin on Winter Branches

Robin Red Breast

Robin Red Breast

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Daylight savings time world

Daylight savings time world (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the montra you used to use when you were invited to a cocktail party and didn’t know anyone except the hostess.  This is what your mother told you should begin polite conversation with the opposite sex. Talking about the weather is what you do when you go into the Post Office or the hardware store.  Talking about the weather is what comes up between strangers on a bus or train.  Often, when you walk into any store, the owner/clerk/salesperson opens up a conversation with you about what – THE WEATHER!

We didn’t have any snow or ice storms all winter!  Without the inches/feet of snow in our yards, what reason did we have to call our cousins in Florida or relatives in CaliforniaWinter on the East Coast is a treasure trove of gossip, factoids and is in the news every day, often as the lead story.  I mean weathermen in New England have risen to stardom when we had a couple of severe (as they like to say) winters.  Just think  of the lost career opportunities this past season!

Alright so we did talk about the weather, or rather, we just sort of talked about the lack thereof.   When conversation lagged or out of sheer boredom or better yet the desire to be the one who captures everyone’s attention with a new tidbit, well then you could always drag out September’s hurricane and October’s freak snow fall.  I rode out the hurricane through the night as the wind howled and the rain poured but at the shore in October we only had a very light snowfall so not much to complain about.

Luckily we had a weird Spring or rather a warm extended Winter!  Everybody was screwed up!  The daffodils were blooming in March, the forsythia bushes which are planted along our property burst into a bright yellow line of sentries.  Small talk was revived! Who had early tulips, whose hyacinths were already past, my oh my, chatter again. NOT to mention I for one am still not quite used to this early change date to Daylight Savings Time.  Growing up it was always Spring Forward in April and Fall Back in October. Now we are leaping ahead before St. Patrick’s Day!  Well and that gave a few people something to talk about anyway.

And NOW, we are in the midst of a blistering heat wave.  95++ degrees, God knows how high the humidity is but it feels like about 90%.  Every day the newscasters and weather men are all about the heat!.  Mayor Bloomberg has opened up over 400 cooling centers where you can cool down BUT there’s no smoking and you can’t get a 16oz soda!!  This would probably be the time to stay in my apartment with the blinds down, the air conditioner on high and watch movies….but ah no! We are at the shore where we have been mowing, weeding and watering early in the morning so as not to expire in the heat and so our plants won’t wilt and die.   The cottage is not centrally air-conditioned and our poor little room units are on most of the day – however not all rooms at once because of course this is an old house with old wiring!!!  So it’s like turn off the living room a/c unit and run upstairs and turn on the bedroom a/c.  I think that’s worthy of some casual remarks at the very least.

So as you see, it’s so easy to talk about the weather!  I just did!!

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Everyone knows the colors of Autumn are glorious.  Trips through New England are annual pilgrimage for hundreds, maybe thousands of people.  Here in New York City, the weather is warmer longer and we are south of the New England states.  The leaves are finally turning in the park and the season’s last flowers are in full bloom.  Take a look!

A Bee Bends Over

Yellow Daisies of Autumn

Carpet of Color in Central Park

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Traffic sign alerting drivers for Amish Buggie...

AMISH Crossing

I‘ve noticed  a lot of traffic comes to my blog directed to a post I did quite a while ago about bundling;see  https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/bringing-back-the-bundling-board/ so I thought I should do some research and look deeper into this ancient tradition.

Worldwide Bundling: One of the most fascinating aspects of this subject is that the practice of bundling was not limited to the United States.  I had always associated the term with the Amish and Colonial America.  However, in the book, The Art of Bundling, by Dana Doten, (The  Countryman Press and Farrar & Rinehart, 1938)  there is a paragraph inferring bundling was an early practice in the British Isles and Wales;

“If you are eligible for the Sons or Daughters of the American Revolution you have bundling blood in you. More especially is this true if your forbears (sic) lived north of the Mason -Dixon line, a circumstance which should recompense you for those same ancestors’ failure to provide your line with colored slaves and a “big house before the war.” Because bundling is a proud heritage”.

In another authoritative book on bundling, the:  History of Bundling: Its Origin, Progress and Decline in America, by Henry Reed Stiles, there is a traveler’s account describing the practice of bundling in Wales in 1797.  Stiles comments that this practice was probably limited to the lower class of Welsh society.

In northern Europe, specifically Norway and Sweden, bundling was practiced as a form of courtship and as in Colonial America, long distances led to the practicality of a suitor spending the night before his long journey home.  Swedes referred to the practice of young couples sleeping together before marriage as frieri. In Norway, “night running” was defined as young suitors having to travel quite far to court.  And it wasn’t just Europe;  there is evidence that this practice was part of the cultures in Central Asia and Afghanistan.

Colonial America: In my previous blog, I wrote about the practice of bundling in America;  bundling was both a form of courtship as well as a practical solution to long distance relationships.  It was also a means to earn a bit of money if you rented half a bed. Hotels and Inns were few and far between, so many a household offered to rent half a bed to a traveler for the night.  A traveler might find himself sharing the bed with a young maiden but more likely it would be the head of the household AND there would be a bundling board between them.

Religion to the Rescue: New England and New Amsterdam seemed to be hot beds of bundling, especially Connecticut.  Puritans saw this method of courtship as both convenient and practical.  Bundling fell out of favor in the late 1700’s due primarily to a crusade against the practice led by the evangelical Congregationalist, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1793).  From his pulpit in Northhampton, Massachusetts, Edwards delivered many hell fire and brimstone sermons.  Eventually other preachers joined the crusade and by 1800, bundling had disappeared, at least publicly.

The Amish and Mennonites:  Bed Courtship These two religious sects have their own set of beliefs and practices and what went on in New England had no effect on them.  They continued to bundle through the 19th Century and well into the 20th Century.  Actually, there is evidence that bundling is still used as a form of courtship.  Thaddeus Stevens, a powerful Republican from Pennsylvania once stated that for every case of “bundling” in Lancaster County, there were twenty cases in Vermont. I read an excerpt from a letter written by a Beachy Amish Mennonite woman living in Ohio and she said that bundling was still a practiced form of courtship in her small community.

Bundling was condoned in the Old Testament, if one takes the time to look up the Book of Ruth to prove it; and if it was the custom then among the Jews for “men and women to lie on the same bed, as lovers, without undressing,” then we have little doubt but that our plain friends used the same methods for getting couples into a convivial mood and a convenient embrace.

Harrison Ford bears “Witness”: In the movie, Witness, Harrison Ford spends the night sharing a bed with a beautiful woman. And there it was for all to see – the bundling board!

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Although it’s hard to resist asking God, Mother Nature, the Force or whatever higher power (if any) that you believe in, there’s really no point in asking WHY?


Friday morning about 5:00am; FIRE! A pre-dawn blaze with enough wind to whip up the flames and carry sparks and embers through the air where they landed on another historic home.  Fire in Ocean Grove is a greedy beast, swallowing up as much timber as its tongue can reach.  WHY? Oh there are any number of reasons being bandied about; neglect, arson, faulty wiring, gas  pipe problem – WHY? Destruction, Loss, Damage See photos in


The photos in this link are posted in Blogfinger, a blog with lots of local information and a sounding board for residents.

Friday afternoon in Tokyo; EARTHQUAKE! TSUNAMI! What could be worse than having your house tumble down, the road open up below you,  gas pipes ripped apart, electrical wires loose  with fires breaking out and explosions every minute or two?  ONLY to be followed by a massive tsunami wave.   The tsunami roared over the initial damage and compounded the destruction 100fold. WHY? Destruction, Death, Fire, Flood, Mayhem, Radioactivity

smoke rises, Japan's coast, Ishimaki,Japan, earthquake, tsunami March

photo from MSNBC

Otsuchi, Japan, ferry boat, tsunami, earthquake

Otsuchi, Japan

Photo from MSNBC

total destsruction, earthquake, tsunmami,

Where is his house?

photo from MSNBC


Saturday afternoon: One day later, a few blocks away from the devastating fire site and on the other side of the world from the massive natural disaster, new life is forming.  Why? My daffodils are coming up!  Don’t they know it’s still March? We could have a snow storm.  I thought they would bloom at Easter as they have in the past.  Doubt that I’ll still have blooms since Easter is late this year.  My neighbors across the street who get the afternoon sun in their front yards already have snowdrops and crocuses blooming!

Daffodils, Ocean Grove, La Vie en Rose,March, spring

Early Spring-The Life Cycle Begins

Photo by Lori

Sunday afternoon: Growing up in New England, I can tell you that Spring is a much yearned-for season.  Every kid knows that when you see the first Robin,  Spring has arrived.  This big red-breasted harbinger is a sign that once again life has returned to the gray and leafless landscape.  When you see your first Robin of the season, you automatically smile because you know and anticipate what is coming.  Is there any season more welcomed than Spring?  I don’t know why the Robins have landed so early in March;  I think the ground is not completely thawed and any worms or grubs are still deeply burrowed.  We may still get snow but they’re here bringing a promise of new life.  Why?


harbinger of spring,  Robin, March, spring

Harbinger of Spring

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