Thursday, February 28, 2008

What Did I Do To Piss Off Mother Nature?

Ok, I recycle, buy environmentally friendly products, try to reduce - reuse - recycle whenever I can. I even have a degree in environmental science for gosh sakes! So, what did I do to anger Mother Nature so much that she feels it necessary to continue to dump snow at my house! Like so many people in my area, I'm running out of places to put it and the patience to deal with it. According to many news outlets, we are on record to accumulate more snow than many other winters. My Mother thinks that I need to change the message on my answering machine to be "I', sorry I can not come to the phone right now. I am out in my driveway working on removing the never ending amounts of snow. If I do not get back to you in a timely manner, please come by and make sure that the snowplow hasn't buried me."

The stairs into my house.

So I ask you Mother Nature, what can I do to get back into your good graces?

Enjoy ~SJ

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Other than a deep appreciation for popcorn, we Irish's also carry the genetic marker for sending newspaper clippings to each other. It is not uncommon to open my mailbox and find a card from an Uncle, Aunt, Grandmother, or my Mother with a quick note telling me that I must read the enclosed articles. My Mother actually told me the other day on the phone that there is a package arriving for me at the house, but to not throw the newspaper away that it was packed in. Yes, My Mother has used the newspaper articles to pack the package with - that is another level of Yankee ingenuity!

Well, this genetic marker has traveled to my generation of the Irish's. Yesterday I was in the car with Mi Prima and she showed me a newspaper clipping of lectures and concerts that she thought I might be interested in. I must admit though, I have been known to find a website on the internet and send out an email to all the people that I think would enjoy it. I also have a folder in with my magazines where I place articles of interest for certain people to read.

Here is my link for today, it is filled with logic puzzles (thanks Aimil for showing it to me!)
Enjoy ~SJ

Monday, February 25, 2008

The End of Wonderland

Vacation is over and the reality of work set in today. No more lazy mornings of "working" on my laptop and sipping coffee with blueberry milk. No more days with no schedule other than what I can dream up to do. This past week of vacation has been my most treasured vacation where I simply stayed at home and enjoyed the beautiful little slice of paradise that I live in. Just eight more weeks of school, and then I can enjoy another wonderful week of nothing. At that point I will really have something to celebrate - not only will school be in its "home stretch", but I will also have finished with my masters degree!

My little slice of paradise this time of year!

My little slice of paradise in the summer!

Enjoy ~ SJ

Sunday, February 24, 2008


My Grandmother is known for a lot of wonderful things, but my favorite has to be her charm bracelet. This isn't the regular type of charm bracelet like my mother and I have where we get a new charm when we visit a memorable place. Grammy has a charm for each of her five children, seven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. That is a total of 19 charms, with another on the way! Each charm has our name on it, as well as our birthday. Maybe this is how Grammy never forgets to send us our birthday cards!

Like many people are known for a always wearing a specific piece of jewelry, my Grandmother goes no where without her charm bracelet. When I was little and she would come to my viola recitals (she came to all of them) I always knew where she was in the audience by the sound of her charm bracelet. Whenever I hear the bracelet, I know where my grandmother is. Also whenever I hear a charm bracelet I think of her. This is one of the many reasons why she is such a charming person to me!
Here is the Matriarch with all of her great-grandchildren!

Enjoy ~ SJ

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My New Toy!

Bil Keane, the creator of Family Circus has a guest cartoonist from time to time, his son. Well, my blog has a "guest" writer, my cat Stanley. From time to time Stanley will weigh in with his opinion of his world.

Stanley The Manly reporting from Worthley Pond. My Feeder got me the greatest new toy this week. It is better than the string on a wand toy, or even my rattly mouse! Her name is Miss Phoebe and she is only 10 weeks old. Now, My Feeder prepared me all week for her arrival, and even made me wear a tie (see photo). I of course very excited, since the arrival of Miss Phoebe meant that I would have someone new to play with. See, My Feeder isn't home all of the time to play with me, so she got me Miss Phoebe.

Miss Phoebe arrived on Wednesday afternoon in one of those horrible crates used to transport us. She waltzed quickly o
ut of the carrier and I knew right off that My Feeder had gotten me THE most wonderful new toy. Unfortunately all she does is sleep, eat, and poop, and so far has not lived up to my grand expectations of playing all of the time. I can only hope that when she gets bigger I can train her to play all of my favorite games, including fetch the rattly mouse!

Stanley The Manly

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Yankee Ingenuity

In case you haven't heard, the Western Mountains of Maine have gotten a serious amount of snow dumped on us this winter. This excessive amount of snow is beginning to pose a problem for most people due to the fact that we are running out of places to pile it up. The snow banks are beginning to tower well over your head as you walk down the road. This problem of ours brings to mind the term Yankee ingenuity. Wikipedia defines it as "an American English reference to the self-reliance of early colonial settlers of New England, United States. It describes an attitude of make-do with materials on hand. It is inventive improvisation, adaptation and overcoming of dire straits when faced with a dearth of materials.

Yankee Ingenuity was often necessary for New England colonists. Unlike the rich and fertile soil of Virginia, New England had poor soil as well as a harsh winter and had to rely on improvisation and other means for economic success.

Similar phrases relating to other former colonial outposts exist in other parts of the world, such as Kiwi ingenuity, referring to a similar situation in New Zealand." (

Rough time are not a new concept for New Englanders, we have evolved to learn how to deal with all the troubles that we face. There are too many stories to tell about people creating amazing pieces of machinery out of nothing but rusty trash, or creating a five course dinner out of an empty pantry. All of these amazing feats are contributed to our Yankee ingenuity.

Well to overcome my own issues with the vast amounts of snow that I have in my front yard I have employed a little of my own Yankee ingenuity. I noticed the other day when I was trying to put a piece of outgoing mail in my mailbox that the snow bank was so high that the little mailbox flag was no longer visible. The snow literally came up over the top of my mailbox. I tried to dig out the flag, but the snow banks were just too high. I have taken to calling my mailbox the "little cubby hole in my snowbank". So rather than suffer, I invented something to aid my mail-carrier in noticing that I have out going mail. I call it the flag-xtender (flag extender). It is a red cloth that I tied to the end of a yard stick. Now when I have outgoing mail I simply stick my flag-xtender in the snowbank and my mail-carrier can see that they need to stop! Now tying the red cloth on the yard stick has a purpose, because any true Yankee never makes anything for just one purpose, everything must have more than one use. When the yard stick is placed in the snowbank it can be used to determine how much snow has fallen recently. So the flag-xtender can alert your mail-carrier to out going mail, as well as measuring the total snow accumulation of the most recent snow storm! Brilliant, I know, chalk it up to Yankee ingenuity!

One example of my favorite Yankee ingenuity invention would have to be the weather rock. Below is the Wikipedia article on the weather rock.

"The Weather Rock is a prop used to make fun of the intricate technology used to create modern weather forecasts, as well as the fact that their accuracy is still not perfect, or even good, in the eyes of some. Often there is a great deal of fanfare pertaining to the proliferation of the notion that the pilfering of the "weather rock" will result in the ensuance of terrible consequences. The joke varies, but in all cases there is a large noticeable rock or similar, often suspended from a tripod, particularly within scouting camps or activities. A sign next to it states something like,
  • If rock is wet, it is raining.
  • If rock is green, it rained a while ago.
  • If rock is white, it is snowing...or there are birds around.
  • If rock is shaking, there is an earthquake.
  • If rock is dry, the weather is fair.
  • If rock is swinging, it's windy.
  • If rock is warm, the sun is out.
  • If rock is not visible, it's dark outside...or your eyes are closed.
  • If rock is under water, there is a flood.
  • If rock is gone, there is a tornado (Run!!)"

I think I just might be able to sell my flag-xtender to the same people who sell these weather rocks. Watch out Thomas Edison, here comes SJ!


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mi Prima, Mi Hermana

She is the sister I never had, but have always wanted. When I was little, she was the coolest person that I knew, and I wanted to grow up and be just like her. Now that I'm older, she is still the coolest person I know, and I still want to be just like her. Our paths have criss-crossed each others many times. We grew up spending our summers together at Worthley Pond playing in the water, in the stream collecting "clay", and riding our bikes. We drifted after apart after awhile, as all cousins do. We both went to Simmons College, her majoring in Spanish and me in Environmental Science. Since we are four years apart we were never enrolled at Simmons at the same time, good thing because Boston wouldn't be the same city! Our paths are getting ready to cross again on Friday when she moves home from Spain indefinitely. I'm excited for all of our crazy adventures!

According to my Mother, Mi Prima was very excited when I was born. When she first met me, she was sitting in a chair holding me and she looked up at my Mom disappointedly and said "When is she going to be a person?" Well after a few years I eventually became the "person" she was expecting me to be, and we were off on adventures.

One of the most memorable adventures that I have of Mi Prima is when we went to the Sidewalk Art Festival in Portland. We decided that we just had to check in on the trout at LL Bean on our way to Portland. On our way to LL Bean we were driving through the little town of Durham, and they just happen to be having a parade. We were in my little red Plymouth Horizon and we were bringing up the rear of the parade, right behind a giant LL Bean boot (see photo). Well, we felt bad letting down all the people out to watch the parade, so we decided to join the parade. Donna rolled down all of the windows (they may have already been down since the Horizon didn't have an air conditioner) and started to toss all the spare change I had at the people along the parade route! We may not have officially been part of the parade, but we didn't let the people of Durham down. Funny, the didn't call us to be part of the parade the next year.

Later on in the day Mi Prima and I found ourselves going into the Maine Mall. On our way into the mall we walked past a jar of pickles sitting in the middle of an empty parking space. Well, we just couldn't pass up this amazing photo-op. Later in the mall we took the picture of ourselves dressed up in the feather boas.

One winter day Mi Prima and I were sitting in my house looking out at the pond. She looked at me and said "You know, I don't know what the inside of an ice fishing shack looks like. Do you?" To be honest, here were two girls born and brought up in Maine and neither one of us had been inside an ice fishing shack. So what else were we to do? We got all bundled up and went for an adventure!

We knocked on the first ice fishing shack that we
came to, and the two men inside greeted us. After explaining to them that we just wanted to see the inside of an ice fishing shack they invited us in and explained all about the shack. After their detailed explanation, and filled with all of the knowledge about ice fishing shacks that two girls need we went off to take some pictures.

Mi Prima has been living in Spain for the past several years and now I only get to spend time with her on the few occasions she comes home to visit. We chat online as often as we can, but it isn't the same as being together. I am truly excited that Mi Prima is coming home for while, so that our paths can cross again and maybe bring us more crazy adventures. Here's to being a "person"!

Mi Prima sitting on the neighbors stone porch.

SJ "swimming" on the ice

Enjoy! SJ

Monday, February 18, 2008

An Irish Favorite

Popcorn is an Irish family staple. I know that most people think of it as a salty dry snack that gets their hands messy at the movies. But for the Irish's it is a staple of a well stocked refrigerator- the kernels keep better if they are refrigerator says my mother. For us popcorn is more than a movie snack. When I was little (ok, and still now) popcorn can be everything from a snack to an entire three course dinner.

One of my most fond family memories involving popcorn took place in the summer when my grandmother rented a cottage in Ocean Park and it rained for most of the week. So since we couldn't enjoy the sun and ocean, and after days of staying inside and reading we decided to go to the movies. Now this meant that every member of the family needed their own ration of soda as well as popcorn. Now a ration of popcorn for an Irish family member isn't the normal small popcorn at the movies, it is the giant bucket - each! So instead of buying all of the this food for the 15+ people, we decided to go in classic Irish fashion and smuggle it in. This was when you could bring bags into the movies. Good thing we decided to go to the movies early in the day because my mother and I got put on popping detail - it took what seemed to be hours! Once all the popcorn was made and rationed out, along with soda we had to decided how to smuggle it into the theater. The movie theater was near the mall - so we used a couple of Macy's bags and put the food in. Then came the big decision, what movie to go and see. As popcorn is an Irish staple - so is disagreeing. In the end we decided to go and see two different movies. Well, I'm sure you can see where this is going. In the end, all the popcorn ended up in one theater while the soda made it to the other. One group was thirsty with no snacks, while the other had plenty of snacks, but nothing to drink!

There are many different ways to pop popcorn. Some schools of thought prefer an air popper. Any true popcorn lover only eats microwave popcorn when there is nothing else left. I stick to the traditional on top of the stove popper. I think that the popcorn has more flavor, then again it could be because you use oil! According to wikipedia popcorn pops because of the moisture inside the kernels. The moisture heats up and explodes - thus creating the part we eat.

Enjoy! SJ