Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sara and Santa

A few weeks ago, Sara got to go on an adventure... a car ride to Grandma's house . She doesn't get out much - our backyard is her domain... her safe haven. So, a car ride to Grandma's house was a big deal.

There are two things that make our puppies shake and shiver. The first thing is their leash. We rarely use one (obviously, it's not needed in the backyard!!) and they don't care for it when it's necessary. The second thing is going out the front door. Seriously. Here's how they see it: back door = backyard; front door = scary unknown territory.

(By the way, our puppies will be two in June. I don't think I'll ever stop referring to them as "the puppies.")

Anyway, the leash went on and out the front door we went without too much drama. Although, she did quiver all the way there. Thankfully, the journey is under 3 miles.

When we got there, though, Woohoo!! a new back yard to explore....

Me: "Hi Sara. Whatcha doin?"

Me: "How about going to find a toy?"

Sara: "Okay! Found one!"

Sara: "Wanna see?"

Sara: "I'm coming... Look, it's Zoe's stuffed Santa."

Sara: "Watch this, Mom!"

Sara: "Gotcha!"

Sara: "Here I come!"

Sara: "Whoopeeee!"

This went on for a very, very long time........

Me: "Okay, Sara... time to go."


Sara: "What...? Why...? But... I can come back, right?"

Sara had a blast at Grandma's house! Next time we'll have to go when she's home... she and Zoe were traveling. We stopped by to water plants, take in the mail...

I think it pleased Sara a great deal to 1) have a new space to explore, 2) have a new (different) toy to play with, and especially 3) have us to herself for a couple of hours!

Stay tuned for Blaze's Big Day at Grandma's House!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Blackbird and My Dogs

This afternoon I was in my laundry room, merrily putting in a load of wash... when all of a sudden I heard a horrible raucous coming from the other room.

It was in the family room... it sounded like a fight was breaking out... a canine fight... two of my canines! I dashed out there to see what it was all about, and imagine my surprise when I discovered it was Zeila and BooBoo!

What the...? They don't fight. They're pals, best friends...

They love each other!

"Hey! What's going on here?!" I yelled. And then I saw it. Oh, groan! They were fighting over a dead blackbird. BooBoo had brought it inside and lovingly placed it on the landing in front of my garage door. He was warning Zeila to backoff! it's his prize (or present for Mama?).

"Oh! You two... everyone, outside! C'mon. Let's go. Aw geez. Ack. No! Don't touch. Get. Get. Get outside! Everyone... let's go!"

Ugh... I'm going to have to do this (Joe's not home). I go gather some paper towels. On my way by, I nudge it a little with my toe (shoes on, of course!) just to make sure it didn't flinch and was really DEAD-dead.

I have a thick wad of towels and gingerly lift it off the floor. "Oh - this must have just happened. It still has a floppy neck." {{BIG Groan}} It wasn't at all bloody, though; it was actually really pretty. The silky black feathers had bright hues of blue and purple. I comtemplated taking a picture of it, but thought that somehow the pretty colors would lose their appeal to you knowing the bird was dead. The temptation quickly passed.

I wonder how they did it... they must not have bit it since there was no blood... and which one of my precious furry pun'kins actually did the deed? Hmmm...

That was my excitement for today.

Dead blackbird gone ...and Zeila and BooBoo love each other again!

All's well.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

North Carolina-Bound

So, it's been determined; we're definitely headed for North Carolina.

We tried desperately to make Vermont our destination. When we learned that Nic and Kristiina were expecting, we thought... "what are we doing moving to NC? If we're moving... let's move near them!" It made us open our eyes to how much we miss them and want to be close-by again.
We looked and looked for jobs in the Vermont/New Hampshire area. But, as of late, there are none to be had.

Remember this post... "Sightseeing in Newbury, VT?" I didn't spill the beans then, but we were actually house-hunting and could have rented this home and acreage very reasonably! We're initially intending to rent vs. own so we can get a lay of the land and determine where we want to establish roots.

Ahhh... But, it wasn't to be.

The fact that our precious little Gabrielle DiOrio* has already gone to heaven has absolutely nothing to do with our decision to go back to the NC plan. It's strictly for the sake of our income-to-debt ratio... we had to choose North Carolina... jobs there are in-line already! {{Oh, such a heavy sigh}}

We're continuing to keep our eyes and ears open for Vermont opportunities. Whether or not we have grandchildren there in 1 or 2 or 5 years... our kids are there now; and we want to be with them... even if they do have horrendous winters!!! (Kristiina and Nic have come to love snowboarding. I'm not sure that would be my hobby of choice... but we'll see??)

In the meantime, we're going to live here, on 10.8, mostly wooded, acres (though the requisite ample space for the dogs is available; and Joe is there now, fencing it for their benefit!)...

So... I'm going to live here, and I'm going to work here... after letting the dogs out to "do their business" in the morning, imagine me grabbing a cup of coffee in my kitchen and scrambling down these steps to my office...

There will be no traffic to endure!! (I'm looking forward to getting flowers in those flower-boxes!) While it doesn't have the historic prestige of the 1830's Old Colonial in Vermont... it appears to me to be a happy, roomy-enough, mountain-home. I'm looking forward to moving in. (And hooking up my internet so I can blog regularly!!)

I'll be managing the office for the development of this gated, mountain-community, Wilderness Creek Falls, across the street from us...

Yes, this is the view from our front door and master-suite balcony. I'll be hiking this property regularly... camera in-hand, so stay tuned!

- - - - - -
As for our Gabrielle*, Kristiina said they didn't want to keep referring to their first child as "it" or "the baby" so they have named "her." Kristiina felt certain through-out her pregnancy that it was a girl; and while Kristiina was able to see her precious little form completely (face, arms, legs, etc.) when she was passed from Kristiina's womb, it was not obvious to her whether it was a little boy or girl.

In keeping with her initial "feelings," they have named the baby Gabrielle, the female version of Gabriel, God's warrior angel. She said if she's wrong about the baby being a girl... well then, "Gabriel will be waiting for her in heaven."

Be still my heart, and

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Dear Grandma

I just love her...

I intend to post a blog about grandpa's memorial service, with some pictures.

But, till I can get to that, I just had to share this picture of my little grandma.

This was the day of the service for grandpa. She was getting ready to go home after a very long day, when I captured this. I was struck by her class and poise... and by the fact that at almost 89, she's still comfortable in her high-heeled pumps!

I thought she looked beautiful and dignified.

This is my grandma when she was in her 20's. She was beautiful then, too!

As lovely as she is to behold, she is twice that on the inside. Like the rest of us, she's not perfect; but she loves her Lord with all that is in her, and it shows ...she lives a graceful, Spirit-filled life. I esteem her.

Someday, I'll tell you more about her, too. But, for tonight, that's all. Time eludes me.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Retiling a Bathroom

My daughter and son-in-law are totally redoing their downstairs bathroom. Even the wiring and plumbing, I think! Totally revamping the space. Kristiina's father-in-law went up to help them out with the project (he lives down here, in Florida, too).

Yesterday, he emailed this photo to Joe:

It's of my girl, down in their basement, doing her part with the tile cutting.

I find it to be adorable!

It's still snowing like crazy up there... another 8 inches the night before last, and they were expecting more last night!! Whew!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm a People Person

I like to meet new people and make small talk with them. It's fun to learn about people's interests and perspectives.

I've been working part-time at the Gap since Christmas. Having closed the title company, I decided to pick up the [menial!] job for the holiday season (employee discount came in handy at Christmas-time... guess where I did all my shopping!!). After the holiday passed, they asked if I would stay on until we leave Florida.

I said yes for two reasons, 1) the discount, and 2) the people. I enjoy the people I work with, and also enjoy the new people I meet every shift. For example, here's who I met last night:

1) A family from Finland. I overheard an accent I thought sounded familiar and had to ask, "So, from where are you visiting?" "Finland." they replied. I thought so! A pleasant bit of small talk about Finland's weather (compared to Florida's) and locales ensued. They were also eager to hear what I thought about our new savior, I mean president, Barack Obama. Ack... that's another blog post; but I gave them my opinion, hopefully without being too scary!

2) A young man about to go on a date. He was very excited and wanted a new shirt (he was going directly to pick her up). After a bit of deliberation about long sleeve vs. short, button-down vs. polo, and whether his budget could handle the new duds plus the evening's dinner, he settled on a polo and new T for layering. He really wanted the button-down, but also wanted to go all out for dinner, so he compromised. He said this is about the 20th date they've been on. "She's beautiful!" he said. He was giddy. He came out of the fitting room seeking my approval - then off he went. He was so eager to impress... I hope she was.

3) A little girl shopping with her grandma. I sold her a pair of sunglasses. She was 5 or 6 years old (we also have Gap Kids), and so adorable. Grandma was teaching her how to conduct herself in a purchase transaction. She did very well; even counted out the money herself. After removing the tags so she could wear them home (she had about an hour of daylight left), she modeled them for me before leaving the store.

It's really very enjoyable (aside from having to do "recovery" which basically means refolding piles of denim and "whisper soft" T-shirts... some customers have clearly never worked in retail, or they'd be more considerate!), I'd even consider transferring when we head to NC. There's none close enough, though. Too bad... I'll actually miss it when we go.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Black Bean Soup

I found a Black Bean Soup recipe I love! I had it recently at my friend, Alicia's, house. Mmmm! Then, made a batch and took it up to Crystal River last week. It seemed to be popular there, too. Here you go:


10 slices bacon, finely chopped
2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
6 garlic cloves, pressed
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used 2 cups of homemade chicken broth)
1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes (I used 2 cans of Rotelle Diced Tomatoes - mild heat, dump the whole can - undrained)
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder (I skipped the chili powder since I had the heat from the Rotelle tomatoes -and for me, it was just the right amount of heat)
4 (15 1/2-ounce) cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch cilantro
juice of 1/2 lime
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
Sour cream, for garnish Grated cheddar, for garnish

Put the bacon into a large heavy pot and place it over medium heat. Cook until it starts to give up its fat, about 4 minutes. Stir in the onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until you can smell it, about 1 minute.

Add the broth, tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire, and chili powder (if you choose to use chili powder). Stir in the beans, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, pick off all the thick stems from the cilantro. Wash it and shake dry. Chop the cilantro coarsely and stir it into the soup when it has been simmering 10 minutes. Cook until the soup is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Serve with the garnishes.

So yummy...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Grandpa Staub

has gone to heaven.

Though he was 92, it wasn't expected. He was relatively strong and healthy... he just played a round of golf little over a month ago! Actually, he played golf every chance he got.

He did, however, also have some moments of unsteadyness, and took a spill last December. He didn't think it was any big deal and barely even mentioned it. The problem is, he hit his head hard enough to cause a bleed. It went undiagnosed for several weeks and by the time it was revealed, had become very serious requiring immediate surgery to have it drained.

Grandpa pulled through that surgery remarkably well; the doctors and nurses marveled at his age. Soon, he was well enough to be transported to a rehab facility closer to home. He spent a week or so there and was doing so well, there was talk of him "being able to go home in a week." The day following that good news, however, he took another tumble; this time from his wheelchair. He reinjured his head which caused another bleed. We were devastated to hear that he would have to endure the same surgery a second time.

He did not respond as well to the second surgery. Actually, he declined very rapidly. The day following his transfer to a Hope Hospice home, he spent a full afternoon surrounded by his beloved wife and children, and passed away later that evening.

Today, we'll be remembering my grandpa, and I'm happy to have the opportunity to share one of his favorite scriptures at the service.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Romans 8:38-39

Yes, grandpa was convinced that nothing ever could or would separate him from the love of God. And it was that love… that deep, rich, perfect love of God that filled grandpa’s heart. Only it didn’t just fill it; it bubbled up and spilled all over us.

I remember a time when I was a very little girl, we had a fun family weekend at my grandparents’ summer camp in Quebec Canada. At the end of the weekend, my parents left with my little brother but allowed me to stay behind to play with my cousins who weren’t leaving for a few more days. I think it was the same day I gleefully hugged my parents goodbye, that we were swimming in the lake and I got the worst swimmers ear ever… and by the next day, they had turned into two utterly horrendous ear infections.

I remember waking in the night from the pain, and it was my dear grandpa who responded to my cries. He came and sat on the edge of my bed, and stroked my hair while singing soothing lullabies until I fell asleep again.

It’s a sweet memory I’ve carried with me for nearly 40 years, and a prime example of his gentle, tender heart. I am so blessed to have been loved by him.

Melvin O. Staub
December 17, 1916 - February 7, 2009
He was a devoted, tender-hearted husband, father and grandfather (great grandfather... and great, great grandfather!); a gentle and faithful friend, and a wholly commited servant to his beloved Savior.

With his littlest great grandson, Jim. (I believe they're discussing the cake!)

Grandpa and Grandma with their kids.

A happy family celebration.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Joy Turns to Sorrow

We have sad news. Kristiina and Nic learned recently (2/3) that they lost the baby.

Without elaborating on the details, a sonogram revealed that the baby stopped developing at about 9 weeks. Kristiina said the doctor was very comforting, and told her there's nothing she could have done differently; that the 9-week mark is a very crucial time for the baby's developing organs and, on the pregnancy calendar, it's not an uncommon time for miscarriages to occur.

It's hard to describe how Kristiina and Nic are feeling. To say they are sad and disappointed seems like such an understatement. But, they are also remaining strong and courageous. Though tearful, Kristiina told me "Everything happens for a reason. We'll try again." I'm proud of her optimism, even at such a sorrowful time. There have been some agonizing moments in the last 10 days, or so, but each day that passes seems to be a little better than the one before.

A doctor's appointment this week revealed that she is perfectly healthy and able to try again when they feel ready. We're so thankful for that.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
~ Phil. 4:6 & 7

About Me

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I'm a wife, mom, and grandma living in rural Vermont. I spend 40 hours of my week working outside my home and away from my garden, but am nevertheless passionate about healthy eating and sustainable living. By sourcing nutrient-dense food from local farms and avoiding processed foods, we are realizing how our over health is being impacted for the better. I’m excited to have you join me as I share what we’re learning and invite you to offer your insights in the comments. “…giving thanks in all circumstances…” 1 Thess 5:16-18