The Blueberry Door #SOL

Blueberry Door

Once a year we step through this magical doorway, my mother, my sister, and me. What lies beyond its threshold? Blueberries. Rows and rows of succulent high bush blueberries ripe for the picking. And pick we do, the first week of August. I’ve lost track of how many years we’ve stepped into this black net-surrounded box to do this together. We arrive early in the morning, as soon as the orchard opens, to beat the heat and the crowds. The berries are large enough that it doesn’t take long to fill the green cardboard quart container and secure its precious antioxident-filled contents with a red hair net, as we refer to them.  It fills up even faster if you don’t stop to put them in your mouth so often! But who can resist?

While we pick, we chat, catch up on how our summers are progressing, gossip, and giggle. Oh yes, we giggle while the birds cheerily chirp in the woods nearby and while the orchard’s seasonal help, far from home, works steadily in the heat alongside us, conversing occasionally in a language we don’t understand. And when we are finished picking, we make our way back to the farm store in search of other delicious offerings — early apples, ripe peaches, sweet corn, and donuts. Hot out of the fryer apple cider donuts to be devoured back on my shady porch with cold lemonade. A sweet ending to our annual outing.

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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Welcome to the 21st Century! #SOL

Phones

Sometimes an image is all you need. Yesterday was a big day for me. I know! What took me so long, right? Time to contact the Smithsonian or Antiques Roadshow. I’m not sure which!

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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River Towns #SOL

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photo credit: Dave Griffin

This summer I have been exploring the new-ish Assabet River Rail Trail (ARRT) that runs through my small New England town. While much of it is inland, skirting the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, the section within walking distance from my house meanders along a lovely stretch of Thoreau’s beloved Assabet River. The stone marker you see above marks the entrance to Ice House Landing, a popular kayak launch and small picnic area. My husband and I don’t own bikes or our own kayak (YET!), so this natural oasis is unfamiliar to us.

I have intentionally left a camera of any sort behind on all my walks thus far. When I have a camera with me, I find I tend to be constantly looking for the perfect shot and not open to taking it all in — sight and sound. Of course now that I’m writing this, I wish I had photos to share, but honestly, I don’t believe photos would do it justice.

The Thoreau quote, “River towns are winged towns,” conjures up several meanings for me personally. As a bit of a bird nerd, and just having returned from a week-long Bird Sleuth course at Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, I think of all the birds who make their home in this riparian environment. (I saw a Great Blue Heron almost immediately my first time on the trail!) Then I also think of the movement of the river and how it flows from one  small town to the next, connecting them with its own parallel trail. Lastly, I believe the ARRT has given the residents of the communities it links movement. It’s exciting to see so many residents of my town running, walking, and biking along the trail. I often see adults with children in strollers who now have a lovely way of introducing their child or perhaps grandchild to nature.

What a treasure, and how grateful I am to have discovered it. Next time I’m bringing my camera!

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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Ten Things Tuesday #SOL

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Ever heard of Ten Things Thursday? Here’s a Ten Things Tuesday.

  1. I am looking forward to checking in and settling into my dorm here on the Cornell campus for my PD this week. I’ve been curled up in the student center happily reading and writing for three hours.
  2. I hope I have the wi-fi situation settled so I can make my TeachWrite online course this afternoon!
  3. I wonder if the groundhogs will leave the new plants in my garden alone while I’m gone? I chose them from a list of plants that they apparently aren’t interested in. I’m done fighting with them!
  4. I wish the way too chatty middle school boys on a lunch break from their math camp would go back to class, so I can hear myself think!
  5. I am curious to see if the woman who was on my flight from Philly, then on my bus here to campus, and now eating next to me in the cafeteria is here for the same PD?
  6. I don’t like unloading all my worldly possessions in airport security lines. The sight of those buckets makes me stressed! So worried I’m going to lose something!
  7. I pray there isn’t water in my basement back in Massachusetts. Thunderstorm and flash flood watch alerts keep popping up on my screen.
  8. I am falling behind in my summer reading. My TBR pile is enormous and I haven’t made as much progress as I wish I had.
  9. I can’t wait to go on the Heinemann Teacher Tour again at the end of the month. It was fun two years ago and I didn’t make it last year.
  10. Yeah! The middle school boys are leaving and it’s time to check in!

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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The House By The Pond #SOL

There are so many writing opportunities online for teachers this summer! One of the teacher writing camps I’m participating in suggested writing a Yelp, Amazon, or Goodreads review. I thought I’d give an in-depth review of our Airbnb from last week’s vacation a go! Let me know how I did at selling it!

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“A House By The Pond” is exactly that and so much more. The spotless rental apartment is in a lovely home on woodland-abutting property in an area rich with mid-Hudson Valley history. The delightful host, Doris, grew up in Hyde Park and she knows everything there is to know about the area and its history. The house is private, safe, and served as a quiet retreat. It is perfect for a researcher working in the FDR Library archives (which my husband was), parents visiting their child at the Culinary Institute of America, Marist College, or Vassar College, or anyone looking for a relaxing place to settle into at the end of a long day of hiking or sightseeing.

During our week-long stay, my husband and I were entertained by the wildlife in or near the home’s pond – two adorable sunning turtles, a chorus of call-and-response frogs, a wide variety of bird life, and deer. We were sad the resident fox and her kits eluded us, though!

The garden-level apartment, with its own private entrance, features an eat-in kitchenette with sink, mini-fridge, microwave, and coffee maker. There’s a comfortable sitting area with two couches, a back entrance with large closet and numerous wall hooks, which was served as the perfect mudroom when returning on a rainy day or from a hiking excursion. The bedroom has an en suite bathroom, a desk/workspace, and additional sitting area for reading or watching TV.

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During our stay, we took advantage of the fabulous front porch overlooking the pond. It’s perfect for eating, reading, dozing, or relaxing while gazing out across the pond area. It was shady and breezy on a sweltering summer day and a terrific place to hide out when it was pouring rain. The lovely back deck overlooking the woods and garden, is available, too.

The house is nicely removed from the hustle and bustle of Route 9, the main north/south road running parallel to the Hudson, but not far from the action. The Vanderbilt mansion (a great place to picnic!) and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill are just minutes away. Drive another minute or two and you arrive at the FDR Presidential Library & Museum, the Culinary Institute of America, or Marist College. Charming Rhinebeck village or historic Poughkeepsie and Vassar College are 15 minutes away, if that. Breathtaking hikes (or cliff climbing, if that’s your thing) in the Mohonk Preserve and the Shawangunk (Gunks) range are just a short drive after crossing the Mid-Hudson (FDR) Bridge. And we even hopped on the train in Poughkeepsie, headed south, and spent the day in NYC. Amazing!

The extras. Did I mention the extras? Doris has thought of everything possible you might need, want, or could possibly forget during your stay. Each afternoon, she leaves a basket of muffins, fruit, and bottled water for the following day. Want to pass on the muffins or fruit? No problem. Just leave her a note in advance. When we arrived, the mini fridge was stocked with orange juice, half and half, and bottled water. The cupboards were filled to the brim with all the paper goods, utensils, and cleaning supplies to see you through your stay. A snack basket, filled with more goodies than we could eat, was a lovely welcome. The bathroom had a basket, too, brimming with everything imaginable. Doris really has thought of everything!

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There are plenty of restaurants (including the CIA!) if you feel like eating out or doing take out and enjoying it on the porch, back deck, or the kitchenette’s bistro table. There’s also a terrific Stop & Shop on Route 9, if you want to pick up a few groceries of your own.

Doris is rated an Airbnb “Superhost,” and that she is! She is wonderful and took very good care of us, but also gave us plenty of space and privacy. We are already planning a return visit to stay at “The House By The Pond.”

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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Not the brightest bulbs! #SOL

It wasn’t a phone message I hoped to receive. “Urgent! Please call you bank about possible fraudulent credit card activity.” That is the message that greeted me when I arrived home last Monday. I immediately checked with my bank, and it was true. Someone had used my credit card and purchased close to $700 in Walmart.com gift cards and was beginning to make purchases with them. $700!

As you can imagine, this was extremely frustrating news to learn. What makes it even worse is that it happened just a couple of months ago, so I only just went through the process of cancelling my card, signing an affidavit disputing the charges, and contacting anyone that automatically deducts payments from my card, like my gym, Amazon, etc.

Now for the crazy part, and I do mean crazy! The thief or thieves aren’t the brightest bulbs on the tree. They set up an account online with my name, and are using the gift cards they purchased, but…WAIT FOR IT…they forgot to change the shipping address to their address! They left it my address! Yes. Every day for the last week, I have come home to find packages on my porch. I wish I could get excited about them, but I can’t. They aren’t even anything I want — tongue depressors, a copy of 50 Shades of Gray, Mortal Kombat action figures, a tent light. And, every day I have to call Walmart.com and report them. And everyday Walmart.com tells me there aren’t any more coming. And every day another package or two arrives.

I’m done. So done! I just want my $700 back and to come home one day, just one day, to no packages on the porch. Is that too much to ask?

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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