Farm in the Valley

The cat on the lawn lives here. They grow corn. And hay. Plus some veggies. It’s a lovely place.

There used to be many more working farms around here, but the farming families have grown old. Their children don’t want to work that hard. Who can blame them? Farming anywhere is a difficult life, but in New England?

I love this region and this valley, but it’s hard to figure why anyone would choose to farm here. We have terrible soil, if you can call it soil. It’s all roots and rocks.

The “New England Stone Fence” … those scenic stacked rock walls you can find just about everywhere were not built for some special mystical reason. It was just something to do with all the rocks farmers had to take out of the fields so they could actually plow the ground.

A stone fence along a country road.

What thrives here? Apples. Dairy cattle. Horses. Short growing season crops like tomatoes and cucumbers and a particular kind of corn, called locally “butter and sugar” because it’s yellow and white, and sweet as sugar. This is the time of year when you can find it in the local grocery stores. It will be gone in another week or two.

Most of our local farms are organic … sometimes too organic for my taste. I like my milk homogenized and my eggs unfertilized. It may not be politically correct, but I can’t help it. I’m me, un-PC and all.

The farm is lovely and the farmer is a friendly guy, but he’s getting old. When he’s gone, the fields will become sub-divisions, if property values rise even a little bit. Otherwise, as is happening all over the valley, the fields will go back to woods and stream.

Cat on the lawn.

This is one of the few places in the country where wild life is returning. Animals that have been gone from this region for as long as a century are coming back. Fishers (also known as fisher cats, though they are weasels and closely related to mink, not cats of any kind), coyotes, bobcats and now, bears too. Deer are everywhere and moose can’t be far behind. Racoon and skunk, out-of-control chipmunks … we’ve got it all.

Stone fences are great homes for snakes and rodents, but when they meet, the snake usually wins.

The eagles are back, too. We have a nesting pair of American Eagles in our woods.

We had rabbits and squirrels, but the bobcats ate them. Almost all of them. That’s okay. They will be back, but then, so will the bobcats. The circle of life is in our yard.

Blackstone Canal – View From a Bridge

View of the canal from the bridge in Uxbridge.

A couple of hundred years of polluting the river nearly killed it. How fortunate for us that nature is resilient.

Today, The Blackstone Canal is beginning to recover, but it’s slow. In the early autumn it is as smooth as glass and reflects like a mirror. A bright day in mid September.

Mammoth Mill in Waterford, Rhode Island in North Smithfield pictured at the turn of the 20th century by Mrs. Nelson Wright

Getting the Liebster Blog Award!

Sharla Lee Shults writes beautiful poetry. She publishes it and gives you a delicious taste of it on her website, The Catnip of Life. I have been enjoying her work for a while. She has been generously made it mutual. A big thank you for this award!

Also a big thanks to all my friends who have followed my writing, ranting and photographic ups and downs over the past six months. Has it been only six months? I feel like I’ve been writing this blog forever.

I know, I’m a little obsessive about writing, well, about almost everything, but I shan’t dwell on my psychological idiosyncrasies. If I don’t grab this by the horns (virtual horns, not real ones) and wrestle it to the ground, it will hang over my head as a Big Task Undone. For anyone with a streak of obsessive-compulsive to their personality, that’s bad. That’s like a virtual Sword of Damocles … and who was Damocles anyhow and how dare he bring a sword into my house?

A long digression. 

Digression is my nemesis. Although to the naked eye, digression may look the same as procrastination, its psychological origins are completely different. True, both behaviors land one in the same place: work needs doing and hasn’t gotten done. Now, time for the “but.” There’s always a “but” ….  so wait for it … wait … okay, now.

But. Whereas procrastination means that one has intentionally put off performing an essential or at the least, important task(s), digression means one has forged ahead fully intending to get the job done, but somewhere along the way, was diverted. For me, it means that on my way to accomplish a task, I noticed something interesting. I stopped to read it, take a picture of it, ponder it … maybe do a little research on it …  after which I fully intend to get on with doing the needful task, assuming I still remember what it was.

Take last night. At around 2 in the morning, having already brushed my teeth, straightened the bed, and put on my nightie, I began to climb into bed. I just then noticed the telephone was not in its cradle, which meant it was still on the desk in my office. I got up and went across the hall to grab the telephone and return it to its charger.

Once in my office, just a few feet from the bedroom, being as I was at my desk, I figured I’d take a quick peek at my email. I wanted to check out the Liebster Award that Sharla has been so kind as to award me. I have gotten a couple of awards before … Lovely Blogger and Versatile Blogger …  and each of these has entailed some effort on the part of the recipient. I was sure there would be some stuff to go with this one, too. No idea what the Liebster is, so I should at least acquaint myself with it, shouldn’t I?

At about 2:30 in the morning, my husband is snoring softly and I’m reading about The Liebster Award in my office. The window of opportunity for snuggling together as we fall asleep has already been missed (my very bad). Even the dogs, all four of them, are passed out. I’m trying to be oh so quiet and not wake them. My computer’s speakers are off and even if they should, as they are wont to do, decide to turn themselves on, I have the volume all the way at zero so I won’t wake anything up. I am enthralled, reading the list of nominees and the rules of acceptance, pondering to whom I can confer this honor and what would be a proper acceptance blog. Shall I be humble (pronounce that, please, as does John Wayne “umble”)?

Perhaps I should throw caution to the winds. Show the world who I really am: arrogant, proud, and puzzled:

  • Arrogant: I know I write well and take pretty pictures.
  • Proud: I no longer grovel with gratitude when someone compliments me. I can say thank you while remaining upright. This is  a huge  improvement on earlier behavior.
  • Puzzled: I love awards but always wonder why anyone would pick me? My professional life was long in work and short in recognition. That’s what you get for working in a field that doesn’t give awards. Where I come from, you get a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly award. It’s called a “paycheck.”  On a really good week, you get the money and don’t get informed that you’re redundant (aka “fired”) or the company is closing for lack of funds … the price for working in tiny start-up venture capital development groups run by people who have wonderful ideas and absolutely no clue about how to handle finances. They make fun bosses until the money runs out.

My tech writing roots are showing. Who else uses bulleted lists in their blog?

The bird clock above my desk chirps the hour of 3 AM but I ignore it. I’m deep in the throes of the Liebster Award. Finally, having satisfied myself that I know what to do, I amble off to bed. As soon as I am comfortably arranged, clutching my pillow and sighing with pleasure (I love my bed), I realize that the telephone is still in the office. I get back up and get the phone so I can, as originally intended, return it to its charging cradle.

While I’m gathering up the phone, oh no! I’ve left a couple of dirty dishes on the desk and a not-quite-empty coffee cup! Evil bad Marilyn! I am torn. If I take the dishes and the cup to the kitchen, I might wake up the dogs. If I go anywhere near the  biscuit box, they are on me like giant furry ticks. All bets are off until I give them a piece of something. Into how many tiny pieces can you break a small, tasteless, hard biscuit? It takes skill. It’s late. I’m tired. But I have to take the dishes in. If I don’t, bugs might find them. Oh yuk! No no, anything but bugs.

What’s that blinking on my screen? Incoming mail? Ooh, it’s a “Like” notification. Someone likes me. I  love those likes. Someone besides my husband thinks I’m a good writer. I’m all atwitter. I feel like Sally Fields at the Oscars. “You really LIKE me!” Which reminds me about the award. I have begun to worry passing it on without insulting anyone to whom I am NOT passing it along. I certainly don’t want to offend anyone. That would be dreadful!

I am getting sleepy, probably because it’s nearly dawn and I haven’t gone to bed yet. Realizing that I’m asleep sitting in front of the monitor, I grab the telephone and go to bed. Out cold before my head is on the pillow.

Today, the next day, the two unwashed dishes are still on my desk but do not seem to have been infested by vermin during the night. I washed out the coffee cup and put fresh coffee in it and fortunately, managed to finally get that phone into the recharging cradle. I know because it rang at 9 to remind me that I have prescriptions waiting at the pharmacy.

And here I am, writing about the award, sort of. In my world, this is progress.

Now, where was I?

Oh yes. I was about to thank Sharla Lee Shults who is a charming and talented author and blogger. Please take a long look at her blog, the catnipoflife … which I follow with something slightly south of religious fervor. She writes lyrical poetry that is balm to my Type A nervous system. She also gets published which for anyone who writes poetry is no small feat. Actually, in today’s publishing environment, getting published at all is quite an achievement.

The Liebster Blog Award 

What is the Liebster Blog Award?

The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers. “Liebster” is the German word for “favorite”. Thus this award is the “favorite blog award.” In essence, someone likes you. This is a good thing.

“The rules state that winners  pay forward to other people whose sites are worthy of recognition, and have fewer than 200 followers. If they accept the award, they should:

  • Thank the person who nominated them
  • Link to his/her site
  • Nominate between five and eleven (5 to 11) favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers
  • Copy/paste the Liebster Blog Icon into their post.”

In doing some additional research about this award, some say pay it forward to five (5), others say pay it forward to eleven (11). Sharla has graciously left it to each of us to make our own decision in the matter. Some nominators give questions to be answered; others require none. I put some in, but if you’re shy or whatever, you don’t have to answer. I’m easy.

Q & A

NOTE: Since not all sites feature stats some nominees may actually have more than 200 followers. If so, please graciously accept the award as a way for you to pay it forward to someone you know that is deserving of its recognition.y:

1. What brought you into the blogging world?

I started reading other people’s blogs, especially the ATMTX Photography Blog devoted to those of us who work with of 4/3 mirrorless cameras. I was so grateful to have someone of whom I could ask questions and get correct answers that somehow, I got hooked.

2. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

Freedom to write and post what I want, when I want, with no one second guessing me.

3. What do you remember about the first movie you ever saw??

I was sitting in the first row watching “Gunfight at OK Corral” and the heads of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas were 15 feet high.

4. What sitcom that has aired its final season would you like to see returned to television?

Murphy Brown. Just loved her character. She reminded me of so many people I know.

5. What is your favorite animated character?

Mr. Incredible.

6. What is your favorite all-time classic movie?

Casablanca. Saw it recently on the big screen for the first time. I forgot how funny it actually is.

7. If you had a time machine, where/when would you go and why?

The 14th century before the Black Death because after the plague, the world was entirely different.

8. What are your interests/hobbies other than reading and/or writing?

Watching movies with my husband and all the dogs. Taking pictures. Talking and thinking about what it all means.

9. What is your dream vacation?

An ocean voyage to Europe, then Paris, Rome, Dublin and maybe London … and a long, peaceful sea voyage back. NO airplane travel!

10. How would you change the world if you could in one way??

I’d try to make people care about each other more than they care about getting rich, becoming famous or powerful. I would try to make everyone treat everyone else with respect and civility. It sounds so small, but the results would be huge.

11. What are 5 words that describe your personality?

Creative, outspoken, generous, opinionated, talkative. Those are my good qualities. I won’t mention my evil side.

And now for my questions:

  1. Why do you blog?
  2. About what are you passionate?
  3. What makes you happy?
  4. What did you want to be when you grew up? Is that what you have become?
  5. If you could fix one thing that’s wrong with the world, what would it be?
  6. If you could travel in time, to when would you travel? Why?
  7. What do you do for fun? If you don’t do it, but would like to, that’s okay.
  8. Name two friends, one human, one four-legged.
  9. Do you like thunder storms?
  10. What’s your favorite season and why?
  11. Describe yourself briefly as if you were someone else. Single words will do and no need for full disclosure!

And the nominees are. . .(drum roll) …

I’m delighted to have an opportunity to showcase some blogs I feel are worth your attention. I hope you will take the time to visit them. You won’t regret it and they deserve it. There are so many … if I could nominate everyone, I would. Instead, I’ve tried to choose blogs that I think can use the bump in readership and deserve attention. Decide for yourself. Take a look and see what others are doing! I get great ideas that way and probably so will you!

  • Leanne Cole’s Photography Field Trips – Great pictures and a lot of really useful photographic information.
  • RumpyDog – Saving the dogs of the world, one dog at a time.
  • TheLintInMyPocket – S. Thomas Summers is an author, historian, and poet with a strong emphasis on the Civil War. If you have any interest in this era, check it out. Even if you don’t have a special interest in this period, check it out anyhow. Good writing is good writing, whatever the subject matter.
  • My Kidney Transplant Story – Faced with terrible odds, sickness, possible death, a young man soldiers on, fighting off the triple demons of depression, self-pity and despair while maintaining a sense of perspective, humor, and irony. A good place to learn about organ transplant … the real story, not the tidied up versions you get on television.
  • Text From Dog – I know with all the serious stuff going on that I should be serious. Sometimes I’m downright grim. I promise to be depressed — even demoralized —  tomorrow, if that will make you feel better. In the meantime,  I need to laugh. Laughter is the only thing that lets me hang on to my sanity in this crazy world. This blog is cartoons the form a continuing cell phone dialogue between a guy and his dog. It makes me laugh. Come. You laugh too.
  • Divide and Nurture – A rather new blog about design with original illustrations. Really love design work and some good information for those of us who design our own books and websites. I think this one’s going to be big!
  • Clotildajamcracker – The wacky stories of a crazy lady: Exactly what it sounds like!
  • BunnyandPorkBelly – Food reviews, pictures and interesting stuff about restaurants and tourist sites up and down the east coast between Boston and Virginia. Is it poetry or prose? Both, I think. This young woman has hit that misty mid region that like between the two forms. She’s young, lovely, and talented, so take a look and see where she goes.

I would have nominated more, but many of the blogs I follow are already very much more popular than this award allows, so I tried to find people like me who are relatively new and might appreciate a boost. Hope I chose well and hope you all enjoy these wonderful blogs.

Thanks again Sharla!