Archives for May 2011

No. 7 Is Packing Her Bags!

If you follow No. 7 at all and, have read some of my memoir and essays, then you know that I have a habit of hittin’ the road when the poop hits the fan. Well, despite some completely out of character patience, I have finally given up on Blogger. I can’t access my drafts and they ain’t fixin’ it. I can’t edit and whole pages are missing on my end.
Adios, Blogger. You were a wonderful starting point. You helped me travel down a road that I’d always dreamed of but I never had courage to explore. It’s been fun but now you’re making my road too bumpy.

I’ll keep you all posted. My blog will always be at http://www.narragansettnumber7.com/ regardless of the platform I use. Bear with me as I begin the big move and I’ll see you at my new place!
narragansettno7 @ yahoo (dot) com
on Twitter: narragansettno7

on facebook: narragansett number 7

Social Graces

One of my favorite people came to visit last weekend. She flew in from Dallas on Friday and hopped a return flight on Sunday. She personifies class and fairly drips with social graces. She can hobnob with socialites and celebs as easily as she can hang with, well…me. So why then, when she left, was my four year old daughter able to say, “Eat me?”

In her defense, it all began innocently enough. Dave and I were recounting a stupid conversation that we’d had the night before. It had been one of those evenings where I was utterly besotted with love for him. Despite our 10 years together, I have the tendency to become overwhelmed with butterflies at the sight of his magnificent face or the sound of his voice and follow him around like a puppy dog. Mostly, I assume he’d like to choke the life out of me, but I’m not entirely sure about that. Anywhosey…as we were explaining to my sister-in-law, I’d been blathering on about how much more I love him than he loves me when, in a semi-psychotic sounding attempt to impart the actual amount of love I hold for him, I said, “I love you so much that I want to crawl inside your skin. No, I love you so much that I want to eat you!”

Before you jump to conclusions, I’m not related to Hannibal Lecter and Jeffrey Dahmer’s sociopathic methods of victim possession (cannibalism) aren’t high on my list of aspirations. I’d simply had three glasses of wine and this was the most eloquent description of my love that I was able to muster whilst riding my pinot grigio buzz. Poetic, aren’t I?

So after we finished laughing ourselves silly at my expense, Dave and I rolled over and fell asleep minus bite marks and cannibalistic husband noshing. I squished myself against my love’s warm body, leaving a vast expanse of king-sized bed behind me. He’s cool like that – not minding when I squash him onto the edge of the bed just so I can snuggle and regale him with disturbing professions of my abiding love.

This is the conversation that we were recounting to my sister-in-law as we drove her around the sights of southern Maine. She laughingly said something which ended with the words, “eat me” and not in the context that you think. Get your mind out of the gutter! Gwen ran with it. For the next 15 minutes the minivan was filled with Gwen’s filthy and highly inappropriate order. Her response to everything became a simple, “eat me.” Despite ourselves, we quietly giggled and attempted to hide our bemused smiles behind the headrests where Gwen was unable to see us.

Child Rearing Tip No. 235: when filthy, socially inappropriate words and/or statements are spoken by preschoolers do not, under any circumstances, laugh.

The humor began to fade as we imaged Gwen at preschool on Monday, parroting those nasty words to a classmate or teacher. Horror washed over us and with grave expressions David and I forbid her to repeat those words again. Ever.

Why?
Because it isn’t a very nice thing to say.
Eat me isn’t nice?
No. It’s rude.

Why?


Aunt Sara flew back to Dallas on Sunday, leaving her words here in the capable hands of the niece who idolizes her. Love you, Sara!

Brimfield 2011

You really never know what you’re going to get when you approach the wares of an antique dealer at an outdoor market. My best line of defense is to deliver a sunny hello, good morning or, by day three, some weird introduction/acknowledgement of the person’s presence. Let’s face it, some dealers are crotchety, some are uppity and some are just down right mental but that’s part of the experience. If you buy antiques you know this and embrace the vibes, good and bad.

The vibe at this year’s show was all sorts of fantastic. Maybe it’s just because I’m cooped up with toddlers and preschoolers for 99.9% of my life but I had the pleasure of meeting some of the most engaging and friendly dealers in the three days I spent at Brimfield.

My first day there, I ran across the enormous tent of one of my favorite places to shop when we lived in New Hampshire called, Sage Farm Antiques. I spent a whole lot of money at Sage Farm Antiques as we renovated and furnished our 1860 house in Newfields, New Hampshire. Sage Farm is a market place where multiple dealers host a three day antique show on the first weekend of each month beginning in April and ending in December. I bought my yellow chest of drawers there, added to my ironstone collection, bought a corner cabinet for Joe’s room, mulberry (black transferware) and much, much more. Thankfully, those items slid right into place in our new house.

It was nice to see the dealers from Sage Farm again even though they have no clue who in the hell I am. As usual, I ask dealers if they mind me taking photographs which leads to inquiries like, “Are you a dealer/interior designer/buyer?”

No, I’m a writer and I have a blog…nothing you’d know…

Oh, what’s the name?

Narragansett Number 7? It’s not really…

You’re Narragansett No. 7? I read that blog!

For a moment my face must have registered that lady, you’re so full shit look because she quickly referred to a post and said she found me on a site that lists blogs by state. The next expression on my face was shock and awe. For a nanosecond I felt famous…I was the shit. Then I got over myself, bought some pottery, chatted about the origins of my Sea Bag and promised to give Sage Farm Antiques a shout out on my minutely famous blog. The next Sage Farm market is scheduled for June 3rd – 5th and the theme is Worn Whites. The trip from Boston is an easy one and you can combine it with a trip to Rye Beach and Exeter.

Glass Beads

 
 

My favorite field this year was J & J. First thing Friday morning my friend Grace and I hit the ground running and, right out of the gate, I spotted a fantastic white powder-coated industrial stool. I made an offer, but it turned out that J Crew had been there just moments earlier and bought it. J Crew and Ralph Lauren were snapping things up all over the place for use in their photo shoots, store displays or, in the case of Pottery Barn, to knock off and mark up 500%. Those chumps were one step ahead me for the entire trip. (Note to self: find out how to make a career out of shopping antique shoes for corporate giants.)

I’ll admit that it took me all of 2.2 seconds to get over the whole stool-thieving incident because, in the first aisle of tents that we walked through, I found an art dealer with antique oil paintings, watercolors and…wait for it…etchings! Here’s the one I bought.

 

I didn’t want to blow through my budget but I was tempted by one of the oil paintings. I’m pretty sure that the dealers were married. She was lovely, he was cranky and I scored one of my treasures after a good round of haggling and that’s all I care about.

This year I went with a list and vowed to stick to it. One of the items on my list was something large for the top of corner cabinet in our dining room. Of course, the vagueness of ‘something large’ left my options wide open so, when I stumbled upon a dealer with some large baskets I stopped for a look. Admittedly, I know very little about baskets. Baskets have a following and basket people know a good basket when they see one. I saw a big old basket with fantastic wooden handles and a very old, well-done repair on the bottom. I haggled my way down to $45, walked away with that basket and soon found myself being stopped by basket people who oohed and aahed over my find. They gasped at the price I paid and one woman nearly ran for the dealer’s tent when I told her there were a few more. Of course, they could have been secretly laughing at my stupidity but I’m going to stick to the idea that I bought a great basket for an outrageous bargain.



My basket, on the top of the cabinet

 It was the basket that struck up a conversation in the booth of my favorite dealers in the J & J field. Doug and Diane McElwain of Sport & Spool Antiques were perhaps the kindest and most engaging sellers of the day. I was immediately drawn in to their carefully edited and artfully arranged tent of antique sports equipment. The black and white photographs of football teams from years long-passed, stately trophies and the aged leather of baseball gloves caught my eye amid tents brimming with chaotic tables full of glassware and tchotchkes. I spotted a wool pennant from Duke, then one from Iowa and thought of my husband’s Alma mater. I departed from my list and forayed into an area of antique collecting about which I know nothing.

Sport & Spool Antiques

“Do you have anything from Penn?” Doug paused then his face seemed to brighten as he recalled a piece. “I do, but it’s in the car.”

I waited for him to retrieve the mystery University of Pennsylvania item and, when he returned with the most handsome wool pennant from somewhere around 1912, I was thrilled. It was perfect and easily double the size of the others they had on display. The red and blue colors were vivid and the wool was in remarkably good condition.

Grace very nicely held up (hid behind) the banner while I took a photograph. For $100 the banner was David’s, but he’s always so damn practical. I had the bill in my hand, but couldn’t resist talking to him to gauge his interest. His grandfather, father and Uncle Roger all went to Penn. It’s a family legacy! I know, I know…I’m thoughtful and you didn’t think I had that sappy, sentimental side did you? Well, I do and I wanted him to want that banner. He wanted me to use my budget for me and for the rest of my weekend. He’s way more thoughtful than I am. Selfless even, but that’s why I love him.



Opium Bottles found during a Massachusetts home renovation. According to the dealer, there were 8,000 bottles found in the walls. Believe It or Not!

 The worst part about the pennant was telling Doug and Diane that I was going to take a pass. I really enjoyed talking with them and learning a bit about their pennants. Doug and Diane, if you’re reading and you didn’t sell that beauty I’m still interested. In fact, I just rose from my desk, walked through three rooms and informed my husband that the banner would have looked fantastic in his study.

What study?

The playroom…let’s finish the basement and make the playroom into your study.

So…you want to design a study for me so that we can hang a Penn banner up?

Yes.

You’re demented.

Cushy leather chairs…cigars…the banner…your diplomas and law books…cigars…

We could just make a room in the basement for the kids to play in…

Did I mention cigars?

This is how things work in our house. A simple thing like a beautiful wool University of Pennsylvania banner gives birth to the design of a whole new room. He needs a space of his own and that pennant would have been the icing on his man-cave cake. Alas, I said goodbye to Doug, Diane and the banner and walked away. SIGH.

It was at J & J that I scored a vintage marquee number 7 from Bay City Cargo for $2. Vintage letters are huge right now and Bay City Cargo has a warehouse full of them in Belfast, Maine. As they pointed out, their letters once graced marquees in movie theaters and casinos. I love a random letter or number displayed on a shelf or a single word on an empty wall can become instant, inexpensive and personalized art. Here’s where I placed my 7 along with some of the white American pottery I found.

No. 7, top right shelf.

Having walked Brimfield from 8:00 in the morning until 5:00, Grace and I were wiped out. We had just about enough time to get back to our seedy motel, shower and make our dinner reservation at 7:00. I think I was sawing wood by 10:00 and, thanks to the television that I’d never turned off, I had dreams of Angelina Jolie applying mascara to my lashes via infomercial while we ran through dealer tents with Charlie Sheen in hot pursuit. My advice? Never fall asleep with E! on all night.

The next morning I was understandably tired but determined to give the rest of the fields a good look. Despite the fact that I’d completely run out of steam, I was determined to forge ahead to New England Motel and locate the tent of one of my favorite Maine haunts, My Sister’s Garage. I somehow stumbled upon them a few months back as they were opening a new space, which happens to be an entire house, in Windham, Maine. It was there that I found my Terrier burlap pillow and the two chairs that are being put to good use in my kitchen. The ladies of My Sister’s Garage are a talented bunch who re-work garage and estate sale finds into of-the-moment décor. They paint and distress many of their pieces, which range from shabby chic, Maine beach cottage, and Adirondack camp to French provincial and all at very reasonable prices. As far as visual displays go, their shop and their tent at Brimfield are perfection!

My Sister's Garage

Yet again, I was surprised and thrilled to be “recognized” by the Garage Girls. If you are in Southern Maine, they are absolutely worth the trip to Windham. Don’t forget to tell them No. 7 sent you!

My Sister's Garage

 As my fatigue and thirst increased, my ‘appropriate filter’ began to shut down. In one tent, we spied lamps made from decapitated baby doll heads and cans ($150). It was that tent where I picked up a disembodied mannequin arm and feigned a hearty nose picking. The dealer wasn’t amused. I snapped this picture of her freaky wares before skedaddling. Her disapproving glare told me it was time to go.

Cuh-reepy!

Nearing noon, my back was aching and my feet were filthy because I’d forgotten my sneakers and was forced into flip flops for the weekend. I had begun to become indecisive and flighty, both dangerous traits in the antique world. Trying to keep my wits about me and make it to the end of New England Motel, I walked away from a French apothecary jar with intact labeling noon, my back was aching and my feet were filthy because I’d forgotten my sneakers and was forced into flip flops for the weekend. I had begun to become indecisive and flighty, both dangerous traits in the antique world. Trying to keep my wits about me and make it to the end of New England Motel, I walked away from a French apothecary jar with intact label ($45), then 3 very cool artist renderings that would have added to my collection of nudes and another french bottle. All combined that lot would have been $175. I’m kind of kicking myself over those because I’m all over artist renderings and nudes at the moment.

My last stop was at the tent of Duchess d where I met dealer Debbie Freeman. I was drawn in by the artwork in her tent, a wooden folk art carving of a woman and Debbie’s clean, fresh displays. Debbie had a portfolio filled with artist sketches, some from known artists and some anonymous, that enthralled me. I bought this one for $20 and I’m in love. As Debbie said, it has a Rubenesque quality. It was Debbie that sold me the petrified tree fungus. Don’t judge. It’s full of texture and nature provided an amazing piece of sculpture that resembles a sea shell. It spoke to me and found its home.

Duchess D

Duchess D

 

Duchess D

I’ve been home for just over 24 hours and, though I’m still exhausted, I’ve scattered my finds in their new home. I spent the day rearranging and relocating things to new rooms. I’ve stood back and, with a critical eye, carefully edited my own shelves. David has hung the fantastic and heavy oak architectural piece that I bought for $50 when the dealer was trying to get rid of his stock before leaving the show. We think it was part of a sideboard at one time.

 I’m already planning next year’s visit. Gracie, are you in?

Sport & Spool Antiques, Doug and Diane McElwain, Goldsboro, NC www.sportandspoolantiques.com

Bay City Cargo, 93 Main Street, Belfast, ME www.baycitycargo.com

Sage Farm Antiques, 5 Exeter Road, North Hampton, NH www.sagefarmantiques.com

My Sister’s Garage, 610 Roosevelt Trail, Windham, ME www.mysistersgarage.com

Duchess d, www.duchessd.com

The Eighth Year

Hey there, No. 7 Readers! It’s Katie from Chicken Noodle Gravy, and I’m guest-posting today on Narragansett No. 7. I hope you enjoy this story from my eighth year, a story that I thought was appropriate to share in light of No. 7’s haunting ghost stories.

The Eighth Year
The sleeping patterns and habits of an eight-year old rarely make any kind of sense, and my sleeping habits were even more of an enigma than that of most eight-year olds. I know I gave my mom fits as a child. Constantly fighting sleep. Constantly crying out her name in the middle of the night. I can remember our mutual frustration in trying to figure out what was keeping me awake. Even so, sleeping didn’t become a major issue for me until my eighth year.
That eighth year was eventful. I remember a lot from my childhood then. I’ve been blessed (sometimes it’s a curse) with an active mind and can hold onto most memories well, and it seems that most of the memories from my childhood come from that turbulent and tumultuous year.
Daddy had just gotten laid off from his job. He is and will always be the hardest working man I’ve ever known, and during the time between his old job and what would become his new and better job, he did everything in his power to provide for our family.  As an eight-year old, I probably couldn’t fully appreciate the sacrifices that he and Mama were making during that time of struggle for our family, but looking back on it as an adult, I do. I realize just how much that period of my life shaped the person I am today, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the lessons learned then. To this day, I try to never take anything for granted.
When Daddy did land his new job, it was two hours away. Until we could all move to our new town, the family was separated, and the rock and protector of the house was missing. Thus began my sleeping woes. Or at least that’s where I think they began. I can still clearly see myself as if looking down from above. There I am, lying in my tiny twin bed, the ruffled and flowered bedspread covering my slight eight-year old form, an army of stuffed animals arranged around me in a protective ring. When it comes to the dark, I’m a chicken through and through. For as long as I can remember, I’ve feared not the dark itself but what may be waiting in the dark, what the dark hides from me. The dozens of stuffed animals that I slept with as a child were a form of comfort to me, a symbolic means of protection from what was hidden in the dark.

Via
In addition to the stuffed animals standing sentry over me, I took the measure of pulling the sheets over my face when I slept. I still practiced this habit until I got married a few years ago. If I couldn’t see the dark, then it couldn’t see me. To avoid looking into the darkness is the key. 
To this day, I avoid dark windows. When I look out into that cold expanse of darkness, I can’t help but feel that Something, somewhere is looking back at me. I have stood at windows for long stretches, staring hard into the night, looking for a glimpse of whatever is out there watching me through depthless eyes. Daring whatever it is to jump out and reveal itself. 
Lying in bed at night, the fear is of waking up and seeing Something or someone standing beside my bed, looking down at me. This particular fear is more acute, probably because it actually happened to me during my eventful eighth year. 
After what had already been a long night of going back and forth between her bedroom and mine, trying desperately to get me to go to sleep, Mama finally let me crawl into bed with her. The comfort and relief I felt when I snuggled up to her warm body was indescribable. You see, I had convinced myself as long as someone was in the room with me whatever was lurking in the dark would stay away. 
I was wrong.
I woke in the middle of the night, as I had before and have millions of times since, with the feeling that Something was watching me. I kept my eyes squeezed shut, unwilling to let a drop of the darkness in. I listened.  Mama’s soft snores interrupted the silence of the night, but there was another noise, something I’ve never heard before or since. I don’t think I can even describe it, other than it sounded heavy, as heavy and thick as the air in the room felt.
When I finally gathered the courage to open my eyes, a dark figure stood at the side of the bed, bent down over where Mama slept. It was watching her, and it knew that I was watching it. I felt its eyes transfer to me, and pure dread settled into my child’s heart. I gasped. I snapped my eyes shut and scrambled to pull the thin sheet back over my face. I lay there for hours, too terrified to move, too paralyzed with fear to even wake my mother who lay sleeping peacefully beside me. I didn’t open my eyes until I felt the warmth of morning sunlight on my face. It chased the black void from the room and closed that gateway to Hell.
I still feel eyes watching me sometimes, resting upon me as I move through the darkness of our house, as I settle down to sleep at night. Over the years, I’ve grown more comfortable with these feelings. I have never seen a ghost, but I have experienced things, especially in my eighth year, that leave me knowing, without a doubt, that something else is out there, watching from the darkness. 

Things we leave behind…

Well, hello!  It’s my pleasure to be visiting here today, doing a guest post, for Kelli.  My name is Patty from…Another cookie, please!    Actually, I’m quite honored to be in her Manolo blog-shoes today even though they pinch a little.    She has smaller feet than I do.

What a lovely place!  Beautifully decorated, very cozy as blogs go, I must say. There’s even an inviting bottle of Merlot sitting here…with my name on it.  How thoughtful!

Excuse me while I go and find a glass….

Kelli’s been at Brimfield, lucky lady.  I so would love to go there and step back in time, looking at all the treasures people leave behind.

Just to give you an idea of the vast expanse of Brimfield, take a look at this aerial photograph.  Isn’t it amazing?   For both antique dealers and lovers, this largest outdoor show in New England, takes place three times each year, for six days in May, July, and September.

Imagine following behind Kelli’s glorious days in Massachusetts, watching her stop to look at antique mirrors which hold ghostly images of their former owners.  Locked deep inside each mirror are sad reflections, staring back at time so quickly passing them by.

                             

Walking through the maze of tents, Kelli gently touches a set of fine china that long ago graced family tables for holidays and other special occasions.  In the distance, she can hear the timeless laughter of warm family gatherings and visualizes everyone joining hands in prayer before the start of each meal.

The gleam of delicate glassware suddenly catches Kelli’s eye and she stops for a moment to lift a goblet.  Holding it up to the light, she thinks of occasions and celebratory toasts.  With a soft ping of her finger, the glass echoes back with a soulful, tender chime.


                             
Displayed everywhere are old rocking chairs where a young mother once sat, cuddling and nursing her baby while singing soft lullabies.   As the years passed, this same woman would slowly rock back and forth, gazing out a window as the seasons changed; so much older and nearing the end of her life with each creak of the chair.

                                

Photographs, paintings and exquisite etchings, Kelli’s favorite works of art, long to be admired, waiting to again grace the walls of a home as potential buyers glance.. then quickly walk away.

                                   

                               
                                            

What will any of us leave behind, apart from words or actions, that someone will cherish and pass on for generations to follow?  Possessions, our personal treasures, which held such meaning and joy in our lifetime, packed away in the corner of an attic or one day put on display at a place like Brimfield…to become trapped ghosts of our past. 

Until…someone like Kelli comes along…and sets them free, once again.

                                  

Tired of Being That Girl

Hi everyone-  this is Dwija from House Unseen. Life Unscripted.

What I’m sharing with you all today is a lot different from what you’ll read over at my blog.  No. 7 just has that way about her- that way of drawing the things out of you that you didn’t think you’d ever need anyone to know.  Enjoy!

*******

The smooth marble feels cold under her bare feet. A 4:30 a.m floor is never warm, even in the thick of summer. But that boy had slipped when he wore socks.  His head hit the smooth, perfect surface with a sickening thud, and the women, all mumbles and hands holding saris to their heads, had run to surround him. Because of course the children were with the women at the back. And that’s when she decided she would never wear socks to the temple. Cold feet.  A small price to pay to avoid all that commotion. The ruckus.

She wanted to slip in quietly, on time. She wanted to be just like the other kids whose parents woke them up and helped them get ready, and maybe even got ready themselves. Maybe she could be one of the those whose parents came in instead of dropping her off at the front gate. Then she would stop being that girl. 

Instead she is that girl.  That girl who sets her own alarm for 3:30 and slides out of bed in the pre-dawn darkness.  She pads quietly to the bathroom- the same bathroom that her grandmother and those 14 children of hers had used.  The bathroom with the magical laundry chute that the girl and her cousins had used during their Christmas Eve games.  Before grandma had moved out and they had moved in.

Now it’s 3:45.  The house is silent except for the sound of her lukewarm shower.  Hopefully someday she can work up to fully cold water.  A brahman must bathe every morning of course, even if it’s January in Detroit in a house with small radiators and sleeping adults.

She is seven years old.

Dear Spring Bringer,

Last spring, our first in Maine, we visited Mackworth Island in Falmouth for a hike with the children and my mother. Mackworth Island is part of the Portland Trails system and connected to Falmouth by a causeway over the Presumpscot River. The 1.25 mile hike is perfect for children and offers a bit of everything – flowers, sea, forest, bird watching, beautiful scenery and fairies.

The trails are flat and wide, offering sweeping views of Casco Bay and its islands as well as, Portland and Falmouth. Along the way several smaller paths lead to the shoreline offering a bit of adventurous climbing and exploration for the children. Maybe it was just because it was the first truly summery day of the season but there was something magical about that place with its paths lined in flowers and remnants of architecture being swallowed by the forest. My curiosity about the island and the people who once lived there led to a bit of research.
Mackworth Island, the former summer residence of Governor Percival Baxter (1876-1969), is a bird sanctuary and also houses the Baxter School for the Deaf. An active conservationist, Governor Baxter deeded the island to the state of Maine in 1943. He fought to protect and maintain Maine’s natural resources, many of which are still enjoyed today by both residents and the tourists who visit this beautiful state. Like the Adirondack State Park in my native New York state, Governor Baxter led the campaign to keep Mt. Katahdin “forever wild” by purchasing the mountain and surrounding wilderness then donating the land to the state of Maine.

Sadly, as I researched Mackworth Island’s past I stumbled across a dark chapter in its recent history. Not being from Maine I was, until today, unaware of the scandal surrounding what was formerly known as the Maine School for the Deaf. The criminologist in me is interested in doing a bit more research about the men who inflicted such deep scars on this beautiful place and the students who attended the school. From the information that I quickly perused this morning, it appears that Dr. Robert E. Kelly and Dr. Joseph Youngs were truly monsters.

On the day of our hike, the sun was shining and the breeze was just beginning to carry the humid warmth of summer. The view of the bay was so beautifully framed by evergreens and a jungle of lush deciduous trees and shrubs. The Canadian wild fires provided us with a smoggy view while the smell of smoke mixed with the briny scent of the ocean. Our climb down to the shoreline offered up a treasure trove of crabs, sea glass and snails.

Nearing the end of the hike, we rounded a bend in the trail and located the site of the Mackworth Island fairy houses. Using only natural items, visitors are encouraged to build a house for the fairies that are rumored to inhabit the island and, as a result, that section of the forest resembles a booming metropolis for fairy folk. We spent some time carefully building a sturdy and inviting home fit for Tinkerbell herself, complete with a cozy moss-covered bed, a fence built from mussel shells and a birch bark roof to keep her warm and dry.

It was a beautiful day filled with exploration, discovery and creativity. We ate sandwiches overlooking Casco Bay. We investigated tide pools and walked magical pathways leading to the land of fairies. We got wet and dirty and hot and tired and it was good.

At the end of our walk I found a letter tacked to a small sign in the flowers on the side of the trail.

Mackworth Spring Bringer

Dear Spring Bringer,

For the air we breathe here

For the trees that breathe with us and give us beauty…the pine and the birch and the oak

For the waters we see… the river, the bay and the fantastic ocean

For the animals here… the elders and the geese, the turkeys and the fox, the gulls and the squirrels and the chipmunks

For the dew and the rain

For the moon and the tides

For the sun and the light

Spring Bringer,

We thank you.

I also took a picture of grandma in the port-o-potty, but if I post that picture she might actually drive to Maine and kill me.
Grandma – Not in the Port-o-Potty





Out, Out Damn Tick…

It was right around this time last year when I rounded the kids up for a picnic on the lawn. We had lived here for just over four months and most of those months were coated with snow and ice. When the weather finally warmed enough for us to actually see what the yard looked like, we were excited. We ate lunch on a big blanket on the lawn and soaked up the sun. It was nice. Maine is teeeer-rific, I thought, while I ecstatically warmed myself in the sun and took picture upon the exact same picture of my children in our new country habitat.

A few hours later we were sitting in the family room watching cartoons when Joe, who had been scratching and fidgeting for quite awhile, complained, “Mom, I’m super itchy on my head.” Of course, I nearly flew across the family room to inspect his head because my first thought was HEAD LICE! But the thing I picked from his scalp was a cootie of a different variety. I found a tick. By the end of my inspection that afternoon I had removed exactly seven of them from Joe’s body and four from Gwen’s.

You know how as a parent you’re supposed to act calm, cool and collected in situations where your children are coated in things like blood sucking disease carriers? Well, I wasn’t.

To be fair, when I saw the first tick I simply said, “eeeeew…you have a tick” and I removed it. Then came tick number two, three, four and five. By tick number six I was in full blown freak-out mode. I inspected those kids like a gorilla grooms it’s mate. I made them strip down to their birthday suits and lined them up in the bathroom where I scanned every crack and crevice of their bodies which, by the way, wasn’t a pleasurable experience for any of us. It paid off though because the tick that had crawled into Joe’s underwear and attached to his balls was removed before it was able to suck the life out of my future grandchildren. I’m hoping that, over time, his memory of that extraction will fade into oblivion because I imagine that the recollection of his mother picking at his nuts isn’t going to be one he cherishes.

photo courtesy of moviesplanet.com

I put the kids in the bathtub and watched more ticks rise to the surface of the water. If you only knew the level of disgust that was coursing through my body that day… In a state of cootie-induced panic, I pitched their clothes out of second floor bathroom window and left them in the driveway for dramatic effect. I then became overly preoccupied with the thought of ticks crawling through the house. I found myself scanning the vast expanse of hardwood floors, attempting to spot any sign of movement and shuddered at the thought of ticks lying in wait for a host and a moist arm pit.

After I talked myself down off the roof, I took a moment to call my husband at his very important job and provided him with a play by play of my disgust and disappointment with his having chosen a house smack in the middle of a tick infested field. Then I repeatedly shared my disgust with all 227 people who had friended me on Facebook. Finally, I spent the afternoon researching companies that would come and remove said ticks from our yard.

As is typical behavior for me, I was consumed by the thought of millions of tiny brown vampires crawling through the grass in our yard, patiently waiting to attach themselves to my children. My ranting made David so insane that he called a service to give us a quote for tick spraying. It turned out that it would cost us nearly $1,000 for treatment which would be required through fall.

After I talked David down off the roof, I presented him with some cheaper options. In keeping with the essence of me, I spent a large portion of an afternoon researching possible ways to completely annihilate ticks. What I found was an all natural product that is basically super-concentrated garlic extract that  reportedly keeps the ‘squiters and ticks at bay. Well, I can’t rave about the mosquito deterrent part, but the ticks sure don’t like it! I think we payed $24 for a 32 ounce bottle that lasted the entire summer and treated our acre and a half yard about four times. We still have enough left over to get a few more treatments this year.

The downside of the spray is that after treating the yard you tend to smell like you rolled in a giant vat of minced garlic. Thankfully I like garlic so I just put on a pair of wellies and joyfully coat my yard in pungent garlic juice, all the while imagining those nasty little critters recoiling in distaste as they are pummeled with foul smelling garlic bombs. I’m sure that if the breeze is just right, the neighbors might catch a whiff of garlic in air and wonder what in the hell I’m doing up here at Chez Crazy.

In all seriousness, coming from Westchester County/Connecticut area where Lyme Disease and Ehrlichiosis are a huge risk, I’m very careful about knowing what each species of tick looks like and we perform daily tick checks on the children and the dog.  I’d love to stay and chat, but David suspects there’s a tick on his nuts…I’m not sure he’ll have the same distaste as Joe will for when he recalls my inspection.* For tips and more information on ticks click here.

courtesy of CDC

*calm down, I’m totally joking.

I’ll be away this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If you are interested in guest posting at Narragansett Number 7 please e-mail me at narragansettno7@yahoo.com. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Sand and the Soul

My body rose into the air, heaved toward the sky on the crest of an undulating wave that brought me as close to flight as I’ll ever be. Just as quickly, I plummeted back toward the earth as the wave moved forward without me – pulled back where the world attempts to ground me, forever reminding me I belong on its solid surface. I tucked my knees into my chest, avoiding the sand beneath my feet and I hid behind the wall of water. There, in the trough of a chilly Atlantic wave, I relished precious seconds of freedom. Behind the wall of water I was unseen. For a moment, I ceased to exist. I was erased by the sea.

Treading water, I turned my body and faced the horizon to welcome another exhilarating ride skyward, realizing that riding waves still fills my soul with pure joy. The waves are a place where the darkness can’t reach me. The water holds both the joy and playfulness lost so long ago when the darkness began its slow consumption.

My face bore a smile. Unabashed, I played in the waves allowing freedom to wash over me, temporarily cleansing the darkness. I turned once again to face the beach and, there in the sand, I saw my little girls building castles and moats. Their presence suddenly made me aware that I must tear myself away and return to solid ground. I need to walk among them in the sand and allow my feet to sink into the earth, back on land where the darkness hovers, waiting to pull me down.

So this week, we want you to write about sand.
Yes…sand.

It doesn’t have to be summer-related, but the impending summer and my proximity to Lake Michigan and it’s glorious beaches are what inspired me to tell you to write about sand.

So.

SAND.

GO.






Summer Staples

These two salads are staples at my house during the summer months or any other time that I get on a ‘meat is disgusting’ kick and break out my vegetarian cookbooks. Both salads are, hands down, the easiest salad to prepare and both versions are packed with flavor!

Can I also mention that they are also really visually appealing? Look at how vibrant the colors are. I’m a sucker for visual appeal and have been known to arrange every one’s food so that it looks pretty before serving. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what it is… chicken nuggets and broccoli aren’t even immune to an artful arrangement in my kitchen. I’m kind of freaky like that and, besides, the kids like broccoli trees standing tall in mashed potato mountain.

I’ve gone off subject again haven’t I? Shiny things…

Shredded Carrot Salad with Cilantro Dressing
Using a food processor or hand-held grater, shred 2 1/2 cups of peeled carrots and set aside.
Cilantro Dressing
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of cayenne (optional)
With a whisk, combine the ingredients for the dressing, pour over the carrots and toss well. Serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.
 Pretty Beets & Carrots
The bright colors of this salad, combined with its crisp texture and tangy flavor makes it a fantastic summer side-dish.
1 large raw beet, peeled
1 large carrot, peeled
1 walnut-sized piece of fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
salt and ground pepper to taste
1/4 minced scallions (I’ve also used 1 minced shallot)
lettuce leaves, watercress, arugula or frisee (optional)
  • Using a food processor shredded/grate the carrot then the beet, place in separate bowls and set aside.
  • Grate the ginger finely with a micro-plane and combine it with the oil, vinegar and garlic. Toss the beets with half the dressing and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix together the scallions, carrots and remaining dressing, add salt and pepper if you’d like.
  • Arrange the lettuce on a platter, mound the carrot mixture in the center and spoon the beets around it.
  • Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Both recipes were adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics by The Moosewood Collective.

Head over to My3LittleBirds and link up to one of my favorite blogs. While you’re there, take some time to read her work. She is, by far, one of my favorite writers. xoxoxoxo