Time to Reap What We Have Sown

Blessed Lughnassadh.

Photo by pexels.com/263168

Lughnassadh (pronounced loo-na-sah) marks the almost halfway point between Litha, the summer solstice, and Mabon, the fall equinox and is one of the eight Wiccan sabbats. Back in the day, way back, it was a time to harvest the first grain crop and bake breads for the family and community.

Those of us who are pagan also celebrate this sabbat by baking–breads, cookies, cakes. Yes, even if the outside temperature is a toasty 99° F (37.22°C for those of you savvy with the Celsius scale).

And who doesn’t love cake? Here’s a recipe to get you started:

Delicious Pound Cake

Recipe courtesy of https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/280318/homemade-pound-cake/

Ingredients

  • 3 ¼ cups white sugar
  • ¾ pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 extra large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup 1% milk

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325° F (165° C).
  • Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
  • Cream sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 45 seconds after each addition.
  • Add vanilla extract and beat for 30 seconds.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
  • Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until just blended.
  • Add 1/2 cup milk and beat on low speed until just blended.
  • Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula between each addition. Repeat with remaining flour mixture and milk.
  • Pour batter into the prepared baking pan, filling no more than 2/3 full. Smooth the top with a spoon or a spatula.
  • Lick spoon or spatula.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake is just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 1 hour and 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before inverting onto a plate.
  • Allow to cool completely before serving.
  • Top with ice cream, strawberries, whipped cream, or other lovely delights.

While you’re waiting for the cake to bake, write a list of all the things that form your bountiful harvest. Or type the list, it’s all good. Don’t stop until the cake is finished baking.

And here’s an idea, bake a few extra loaves of pound cake and bring them to your neighbors, just like the people did back in the day.

Way back.

Illustration: http://www.scotsman.com/
May your harvest be bountiful and sustain you through the cold winter months.
May the Goddess protect you.
May you find peace and kindness.
May you live with ease and joy.
Monarch Butterfly.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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What did we do?

Back when I was young my family owned a Dutch Colonial house, modest in size, two stories, with a basement and small yard. Trees shaded the back of our house and one of the side yards, and a row of lilac bushes formed the boundary between the opposite yard and our neighbor’s driveway, until a new neighbor cut them all down.

‘Oh, I didn’t know they were on your property. Sorry.’

Yeah, right, stupid jerk.

Oh, before we go any future, I should warn you that at the present time I am very cranky.

My father was self-employed, and my mother tended the house and the kids. There were four of us, three girls and one boy; I was the youngest. We weren’t poor but not quite middle-class either. Somewhere near the bottom of the pile. Pasta and Jello formed many of our suppers (Yup, I’m from Medford, or Medfah, as we called it; we didn’t have dinnah–we had suppah.)

My father worked hard to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. He and my mother provided ample love and guidance, until a stroke claimed him when I was 12. But this post isn’t about him dying, this post is about the summers when I was young–and heat.

All the bedrooms were on the second floor. My sisters and I slept in a bedroom facing the backyard, my brother had his own room, about the size of a closet, and my parents had a room facing the front of the house. We were all happy until the dark years arrived (There I go again…. sorry.)

Please understand my memories are good ones, for the most part.

Now comes the big question: What did we do during the summers when the outside temperatures soared into the 90’s?

We didn’t have air conditioning, just two box fans, strategically placed in a couple of windows to draw out the hot air. I would reverse the stream and stand in front of the fan in the dining room window until my mother came running in, scolding me, (yes scolding, not yelling or swatting, just scolding) that I was bringing the hot air into the house.

At night my father would set up a tall standing fan so that it blew up the stairs. Needless to say, our house always sounded like an airplane hangar.

Were summers cooler back in the fifties and sixties or are my memories selective? I don’t remember it but the second floor must have been as hot as Hades, yet here I am today, unable to stand the heat, and I have three window air conditioners and eight fans and my house is only 500 square feet!

Yup, still living in an airplane hangar.

Some days my mother would bring my siblings and me, along with a cooler, towels, and other beach necessities, and we would ride public transportation to Revere Beach. Again, my memories are failing me. The adult me knows it would have taken one bus, and two subway trains to get us to the beach but when I look back it seems we magically appeared on the boulevard.

On Sundays our dad would come with us to the beach, and we would dig for clams.

You should know that digging for clams takes talent and skill. You can’t use a shovel or trowel because if you hit the clam, you’ll crush its shell and then it’s of no use to anybody, not even another clam. The only tool you need are your fingers. Only amateurs use shovels.

Seriously, pros use their fingers.

Here’s how one goes about digging for a clam:

Kneel in shallow water with a plastic bucket by your side. The bucket should be blue or pink. When the wave recedes look for air bubbles on the surface of wet sand and dig like crazy. Clams are fast so you had to be quick. If you scraped half your fingernails and skin off in the digging process, so be it. No glory without pain.

Once you caught the clam you tossed it in your bucket and waited for the next wave.

Good times. Digging for clams under the sweltering sun.

Again, let me emphasize that I don’t remember it being all that hot.

I remember the rides home being sandy and sweaty but joyous. Suppah was a delicious meal with margarine dripping from the chewy necks of the clams; steaming corn on the cob drenched in margarine; and Jello for dessert.

After watching the black and white television in our family room bedtime would come. When my sisters came to their beds, and my brother was in his, my parents would sit outside in a little house that my father had built. It actually was a little house, so we named it the Little House.

Oftentimes neighbors would come over and join them and us kids would sit by the bedroom window and listen to the adults. The soft murmur of their voices, the clinking of the ice in their glasses, the glow of their cigarettes was a lullaby I’ll never forget. Every now and then someone would say something that must have been funny because the voices would rise in a collective laugh.

Again, I must ask: It must have been hot, right? What did we do to endure the heat or is it hotter now, in 2022, then it was back in the late 1950s?

On a few occasions we would pile into the family car and head to the drive-in theater. I remember seeing Sleeping Beauty at the drive-in. Let’s see, it came out in January of 1959. We would have seen it the following summer, making me almost five years old.

I recall that night as if it happened last night, but I don’t recall the summers being hot.

It may be an adult thing. Maybe my parents felt the heat more than my siblings and I did because we were kids, and they were…well…old.

Now I’m old and let me tell you I’m ready to run into the river while screaming at the top of my lungs. And not because of joy.

The heat wave of this past week has been brutal. Hot, humid, sultry, sweaty, stifling, and damn steamy. But when I’m sitting outside (because I can’t stand being cooped-up in the airplane hangar I call home) I can hear the kids down the street playing. Their shouts of joy stir the air and I sigh with relief as a cooling breeze travels to my backyard and plays among my wilting flowers.

And I smile despite the sweat dripping from my upper lip.

Perhaps it is a kid thing.

Hot temperatures roll off a child’s back like the water in my river rolling off my ducks’ backs.

And that’s exactly how it should be because hot summer days were made for kids.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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Here We Go!

Summer 2022 arrived here in the Northern Hemisphere at 5:13AM, June 21, 2022.

Summer Solstice 2022

The season rode into my little corner of the Concord River on a gentle Southeast breeze bringing with it wondrous possibilities, and most likely humidity and bloodsucking black flies.

Image courtesy of: https://www.spokesman.com/

I find it hard to practice equanimity when I’m swatting black flies. Sigh.

I’m trying to be hopeful about this summer, but based on the past two months I’m not expecting a whole lot from Mom Nature. I know she has her hands full with global warming, climate change, and all the other shit that’s going on, so I’ll cut her some slack. Besides, I think if I can get through this summer still upright without the need of a CAT scan, or a cane, (let’s not forget it was only last summer when I fell and hit my head on one of my retaining blocks) I’ll be doing okay.

My needs are simple: I want my washer-dryer combo to continue working; perhaps some rain to quench the thirst of the parched and dusty earth; cool nighttime breezes; and low, low, low humidity. Oh, and a new camera.

See, simple, simple, simple.

But hey, who am I to make demands? I’m just a little old woman who lives in a town where people think dumping trash into the marsh is a great pastime. Yep, someone dumped trash in the marsh again. Stupid f#@ks.

I’m going to be positive about Summer 2022. I’m going imagine this summer will be one filled with the sounds of gentle rain, dappled sunlight, low humidity (this is not negotiable), sweet strawberries, crisp green beans, and kindness.

Hmmmm, that last one on the list might be asking for a little too much.

Blessed Summer Solstice to you. May the season bring you joy and ease.

Blessed be :}

Mexican Sunflower.

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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Smiling, Breathing, and Going Slow

A few days ago I woke to a sound that brought me ease and joy–sunflowers being cracked open. Weird sound to instill peaceful bliss, right? Not really. You see, before I even opened my eyes I knew there was a male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak at the bird feeder hanging outside my bedroom window.

Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

There are only a few things that will bring me joy upon opening my eyes: seeing my son’s beautiful face and dark chocolate-colored eyes; or seeing my sister Dyan’s smile; or a butler holding a tray that contains freshly brewed coffee, a croissant, butter and jam, and an email informing me that I’ve won the Blogger of the Year Award; or a male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.

I was going to add Keanu to the list but now that he’s married it feels weird. Plus, I’m too old for love. Bring on the croissants and the birds.

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay.

To be honest, just about any bird will put a smile on my early morning face–except a House Sparrow.

House Sparrows on top of the oak slag.

I know they’re cute but deep within each little feathered body lies a black heart.

I’m not kidding. (The following image is not for the faint-hearted.)

Dead juvenile Eastern Bluebird.

A male House Sparrow attacked the juvenile Bluebird and (swallow) ripped the bluebird’s skull open.

Nasty House Sparrows.

Sometimes, Mother Nature is a bitch.

The North American Bluebird Society has an interesting fact sheet about the aggression of House Sparrows towards Eastern Bluebirds. Read it here.

As long as I’m ragging on Mother Nature…I mean ‘dat bitch’, let’s chat about hornets the size of Texas.

This is the second hornet I’ve killed that measured the length of the first two digits of my little finger, which measures close to one and a half inches.

WTF is happening? Is the Concord River becoming Jurassic World?

I don’t know what type of hornets I’m running into, that doesn’t matter. I want them GONE!

If I get stung I am going to be one angry bitch!

Breathe…breathe…smile…ahhhhh.

Let me tell you a story. I call it The Great ‘Are You Kidding Me’ Escape.

One evening around 8:30PM an old woman was reading in bed and her two cats were by her side. A large insect (probably a giant hornet), being attracted to the bedside light (or the woman’s blood), slapped against the window screen. Samantha, the black cat who always finds a way to get into trouble, leapt across the prone body of the old woman and went for the large insect. Smack. Sam hit the screen and both the screen and Sam went for a ride down to the ground. The old woman looked with amazement at the open window, sans screen and sans cat, and exclaimed, “WTF!” (She said the whole phrase.) The old woman grumbled and mumbled and swore as she put on her bathrobe and slippers and headed out into the darkening night. The motion light came on and the old woman saw Sam, and the screen, under the window. The old woman called out to Sam. Sam looked at the old woman, then turned and ran across the street and into the tick-and-poison ivy infested marsh. The old woman swore some more and went into the house for the flashlight. Fast forward through a very long, tearful night to 4AM and a pathetic mewing outside the kitchen window. Sam had come home, with a tick, and poison ivy.

Sam, sleeping with her brother, the day after her Great Escape.

Sam’s little escapade cost me over $60 for flea and tick treatment for her and Oreo, who could have gotten something from his gadabout sister; $8 for poison ivy treatment for me; and an afternoon spent securing the screens.

Stupid screens.

Stupid insect.

Stupid cat.

Now it’s time for the That’s Creepy portion of the blog.

While walking Harlee…

“I had nothing to do with this. It was all the old lady.”

(Shush Harlee, I’m telling the story.)

As I was saying, which really wasn’t saying, more like typing…actually, I was typing…anyway, moving on…Harlee and I were out walking and passed a house a few streets away from mine. What did I spy? A soldier out with the trash. A pot soldier.

Not that kind of pot.
These kinds of pots.

The pot soldier was made out of plant pots and cute as a bug (but not a hornet, which, in truth, isn’t a bug). I longed to rescue the pot soldier so I texted three people asking what I should do and they all said to walk away from the pot soldier.

Well, to my surprise, he leapt into my arms.

Meet Hermie, my pot soldier.

Who said I was too old to find love?

Oh, I did.

Let’s move on to the topic of my ducks and what the heck happened to my ducklings? Three hens swam by a little over two weeks ago with ducklings in tow.

Mama Mallard hen with ducklings.

That was the last time I saw the ducklings. Except for the lone baby who stopped by my neighbor’s beach, all the other ducklings are gone.

The poor little duckling just sat on the beach and peeped. I only saw him, or her, that one morning. Since then no sighting; no peeping.

But I have plenty of adult Mallards who seem to want nothing better than to loll about my property…

Lazy ducks.

…and eat corn.

Hungry ducks.

At least the Canada geese haven’t shirked their duties.

The Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds are here, flitting about. I’ve waited many months to hear what I can only describe as their chirppy-chittery calls.

Cool.

That’s about all I have at the moment which is what I’m trying to do — live in the moment and not lament over the past or fret about the future. It’s called being mindful and as Thich Nhat Hanh said:

https://positivepsychology.com/mindfulness-quotes/

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

.

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I’m a grandmother!

The Canadian Geese I befriended have blessed me with five goslings.

Cool.

Oh, and I had a tick on me!!

Ewwwwwwwww

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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Jurassic Alternate Reality

Remember the scene from one of the Jurassic movies when the T-Rex was crashing through the trees? I don’t know which of the million Jurassic Park movies the scene comes from and, legally, I cannot post a video of the scene that I’m thinking about even if I could find it, but picture this–a huge dinosaur is moving through the woods and trees are crumbling at its feet. Wood is splintering, tree limbs are shattering, bird nests are getting crushed, along with baby birds and tiny eggs…okay, I added that last part about the birds and eggs, anyway, you’re probably asking by now, where the heck am I going with this story?

Well, Sunday night, while it was dark, there were guys across the river in the woods, along with bright lights and two large machines, taking down the trees in the woods. I lay in bed and listened to trees getting crushed, splintering wood, shattering limbs…I could even hear the sorrow associated with the carnage.

The men decimated the woods until 11:00PM! On a Sunday night!

Being the nosy old woman I am, when the men returned the next day, with chain saws, I called the Conservation Department for Billerica to find out what the heck was going on. I won’t go into the foolish details. Basically, I was told there were no men working in the woods.

Really? I made sure the man on the phone knew I didn’t believe him. There WERE men in the woods and they WERE taking down trees.

Nope, came the disbeliever’s reply. There were NO men in the woods and NO trees were coming down. I must be hearing my neighbor doing yardwork, he stated with absolute certainty. Perhaps a landscaper edging my neighbor’s property, he added with a tone of contempt.

Or, perhaps a T Rex I almost replied.

All things are possible in Billerica.

WTF!

Image by Bianca Van Dijk from Pixabay 

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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Did I miss an important memo?

Seriously, there must have been a memo, an email, a call, some skywriting–something to announce that spring was canceled and we would be moving into the dog days of summer.

Illustration courtesy of Pixabay.com/IsabelaSaldareliDeSouza

What happened to the springtime of my youth when the scent of lilacs would swim on cool breezes? I’m not referring to the gale force winds of the past 30 days. Man oh man, I had to bind my wind chimes they were making such a cacophony of noise.

Am I partly to blame for this global warming mess we’re in? Was it all the hairspray I used in the 70’s?

Anyway, there’s no use in my complaining about the weather. It’s not as if I can do anything to fix it.

Moving on…

I’ve been treated to some spectacular sunrises lately, so that’s a good thing. And the hummingbirds are here. Another good thing.

New and Improved Photo — Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Cool shot, right? I didn’t even use the tripod. Pretty steady hands for an old lady.

Okay, this old lady is going to bed. I’m hot and tired.

Illustration by Tinthia; courtesy of Crabgrass Cards.

And crabby.

By the way, click on the crabby woman’s boobs, or the crabby cat’s collar. You’ll be whisked to my store at Zazzle.com where you can buy lots of crabby stuff.

Come on, help a crabby old lady buy corn for her one-legged ducks.

mallard - duck - hen - wildlife
Hobby2, the second, one-legged duck.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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Right on Schedule

This time each year the Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks come back from their winter vacation down south. I can set my calendar by them.

Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak; May 2, 2022.

The male usually arrives during the second week of May. This year he arrived a tad early. I’m not complaining, mind you; I look forward to that first flash of black, white, and red in my peripheral vision and his sweet call as he sings for his mate.

The male typically arrives ahead of the female but she came in right on his tail feathers.

Female Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. The blurriness is due to her moving around, not the person holding the camera.

Ahhhh, spring is here. The only members of the usual gang that are missing are the Baltimore Orioles. I can be patient, though, because I have a new bird who wants to join the crew.

Male Pileated Woodpecker.

Yup, the Pileated Woodpecker has taken a liking to my yard. It must be all the cool insects I have living around my property. And the snags (the bodies of the dead trees I kept after the tops were removed.)

Summer, 2021.

Okay, back to my Pileated Woodpecker. Gorgeous bird.

And huge. Pileated Woodpeckers have a wing span of 30 freaking inches. They’re the biggest forest birds of the North American continent.

Male Pileated Woodpecker.

You might ask how I know this guy is a male. It’s the red stripe along the side of his face. Females have a black stripe.

Male Pileated Woodpecker.

Sooooooooo cool.

Okay, now for a game. Find the Great-Blue Heron in this photograph.

Great-Blue Heron.

Can you spot him, or her, hiding behind the branch? At least it’s trying to hide; it needed a bigger branch.

Great-Blue Heron.

There he, or she, is. Herons aren’t known for their hide-and-seek skills.

Wow, this has been one heck of a great start to May; I can’t wait to see what other blessings the month has in store for me.

Oh, and happy birthday to my son. Twenty-eight. Wow!

Chris, back in 2013, when I bought my little corner of the Concord River.

But wait, how did he get older while I remained young and vibrant? Something to ponder.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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The Wonderful Month of May

For those of us who follow the Craft, May 1st is the sabbat of Beltane, the halfway point between the first day of spring and the first day of summer. It’s a time to celebrate the blossoming of the fertile earth around us and dance yourself into a frenzy around a May Pole, bonfire, or with your dog while Justin Timberlake sings in the background.

Official Video for ”CAN’T STOP THE FEELING! (from DreamWorks Animation’s “TROLLS”)” by Justin Timberlake.

I choose #3 — Nobody can get an old lady dancing like JT.

At its roots, Beltane honors the return of the light and fire is an integral part of its celebration. Light a candle, either as part of a magical ritual or simply for the beauty it creates.

https://concordriverlady.com/2022/05/01/the-wonderful-month-of-may/(opens in a new tab)

Photo: Pexels.com/Tucă Bianca

Beltane is also a time to give thanks for the abundance the Universe bestows upon us, and what better way to say thank you than with a feast. Your feast doesn’t have to be lavish, a simple cup of tea will do. Just remember to say a blessing before sipping.

After you’ve finished your tea, head outside and spend some time with Mother Nature. If you go out at night, listen for spring peepers and toads.

Another great way to celebrate May is to count the different species of birds you see.

Female Downy Woodpecker.
American Robin
Male Eastern Bluebird.

And guess what? I saw one. Oh, happy day.

I saw a male Ruby-throated hummingbird; I saw a male Ruby-throated hummingbird.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo, so I’ll use one from 2021.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, circa 2021.

However you choose to celebrate Beltane, I hope it brings you joy.

May you be safe and protected.
May you be peaceful.
May you live with ease and kindness.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mio ​​immortale.

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Ruby-Throat Migration Update

THEY ARE HERE!!!

At least in my area, haha.

https://www.hummingbirdcentral.com/hummingbird-migration-spring-2022-map.htm

The Ruby-throats have made it to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and are on their way to Canada. These little jewels of Mother Nature will be hungry after their long trip North so get those nectar feeders filled and charge your camera batteries.

Yipee, they’re here!!!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, waving hello!

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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