Sunday, November 28, 2021


After nearly a solid week of fighting a respiratory infection, while all 3 kids have taken turns vomiting, I understood the meaning of Gratitude tonight when I saw a Carhartt clad shadow at the window and realized it was my dad bearing a box of gas station chicken, crackers, spray cheese and Thanksgiving fixings.  This is love folks.


Monday, November 1, 2021

Hello friends


Long time no post. It's fall here and how. Cold and wet on the bad days and achingly beautiful on the good. We are all still alive and well. There is not much time now for, well, anything really but I am still cooking and baking when I can. We have the geese, about a half dozen quail and very few chickens as raccoons have been at us again.  I've subscribed to the app 99 Walks and am taking long walks nearly every day. Today was 4.5 miles.  Reading, tinkering with an old typewriter, collecting playing cards, writing postcards, keeping 3 kids and a husband alive, fed and loved. There is not much left by the end of the day besides pajama pants and a good book.

It's enough. 

I may pick the blog up again in the Spring but for now have moved onto Facebook.
For the first time ever you get a name: Tammy Smith-McConnor. Send over a friend request if you really want to hear allll about things like what the cats are up to. It's fascinating, I promise.

Friday, July 30, 2021

A day away, what else is new

Today my mom's beach bag and I played hooky from being a mom and drove up to Lake Erie to spent the day.  All By Myself.  No husband.  No kids. I ate at Sheetz, went to souvenir shops, fell asleep on my blanket, got sunburned and gave zero craps about how I looked in a bathing suit. It was glorious. 

I mean, look at this view.

Here are more pictures. 

Look at these!

I brought home some big rocks and a bag of beautiful pebbles to share.

Here was the view at Walnut Creek. The surf was pretty wild there. 

I felt like myself for the first time in a long time.

In other news:.

Finished this book last night. It's a story about a pandemic that causes the collapse of civilization within days of arrival in Canada.  The book opens with the death of an actor, from a heart attack,  onstage during King Lear. Mostly it takes place 20 years after the pandemic and follows the lives of serveral survivors who knew that man. It was beautiful and I did cry at one point.  I did not continue reading Fight Club.  My books are secondhand and I didn't realize that the previous owner had highlighted all through it. I'll look for another copy.

Love this hosta. Two hostas growing together? It's very pretty. 

Took the oldest 2 camping last weekend at a local place with our neighbor and her son. My husband stayed home with the baby. It rained at night but we had so much fun. 

Aldi had little strings of LED lights for $3. They look really cute in the camper.

Mr. H. turned 6 yesterday! Life is passing by so quickly. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Morning at the lake, other stuff

A cool morning with a nice breeze. Win!

Still working my way through the "Couch to 5K in 8 weeks" app on my phone. Due to children and weather I am currently on week 5 when I should be done with it, oh well.  It absolutely amazes me that i can run for 8 minutes at a stretch now without dying. 

Hot, sweaty, probably stinky and suprised at myself. Who would have thought? Maybe this is my mid-life crisis.

I've started going to a local lake because 1) it's cooler 2) WAY more fun and 3) more private because, well, sweat (refer to selfie above)

This isn't even a hill, it's a small incline. Never before wished the world was flat.

Here she is, watching.

Something unexpected and delightful happened this morning,  I was actively followed by this doe. Running may not kill me, but by the end of the timed part it's pretty ugly. I think she was curious about the heaving panting noises I was making. Three times within a minute I turned around to see her a safe distance behind me, ears pricked, watching intently.  The sounds she was hearing were not unline a deer grunting.  She must have followed along each time my back was turned.

What else.

And there was a day when we were all climbing the walls and I sent them out to play. In the rain. I went too. No one melted. 

The oldest 2 and I slept out again one cool night.  It was nice to read by lantern light.

Not even sure where this book came from, found it cleaning. It was an engaging, easy read.  I would read it again. Yesterday I started the book Fight Club. Love, love the writing but it's a shame already knowing the big plot twist thanks to the movie.

Obligatory cat picture:


We were growing carrots in this basket.  It's now a cat bed.

Monday, July 5, 2021

July babies, summer

Mr. A turned 3 last week, very exciting stuff. He was certain that he wanted two things: frosting and a candle. Done and done! The cake was really fun to make, it's 3 small cake layers with a mini bundt cake on top. The center of the cake spilled out sprinkles and mini M&Ms when it was cut into. We had a small, fun, party with the grandparents and papa. There will be another with the cousins mid-month and a party for Mr. H's 6th birthday at the end of the month. 

This happened yesterday,  oops!

She has 5 perfect fluffy little babies. There were three other eggs in the nest that she got off of to take care of the hatched peeps. They are in the incubator and if they make it I'll slip then under her when she's sleeping.

We haven't slept out again, or actually left the property with the camper. I need to fix that. My dad found us this big heavy tire rim and I made a fire pit in front of the camper, very exciting. It's the perfect size to toast marshmallows. I need to get some plain bread so Mr H can make grilled cheese sandwiches using the pie iron. You can see my friends vintage Shasta across the street in this photo. She fixed up a 1400, which is the same one I had before buying the Metzendorf. 

Summer is in full swing, it's been very hot this year. We spend most mid-days inside the house. Our town had Heritage Days this weekend and Mr. H and I went to the car show and park with friends.

Here are the kids in these bubble suits, which is hilarious.  They could run into each other full speed and bounce into the air or roll away. It was great.

With the kids we didn't get to see many cars. Here is my favorite which was alot smaller inside than you would think.

There is usually a good turnout for the car show but this year there were *800 cars* participating.  Instead of just being along Main Street they overflowed onto all of the side streets and filled the small parking lots. It was so, so nice to see people out and life getting back to the old, pre-covid, normal. 


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Walking a field

What a gorgeous day.

Yesterday my dad and I spent the morning together for a belated Father's Day.  Dad and my husband have been building a playyard for the kids out in our yard so I've seen him every day but this was the first time we could get out when the field we wanted to walk was ready (plowed, disced and rained on). Looking for arrowheads and artifacts is something my we always did together; my mom, dad and I and my grandpa when I was younger. My dad and I still enjoy it. 
You just walk along carefully between the rows and look at what's sitting on top of the ground. It's a nice way to get outside and gives us a couple of good hours to talk. 

We did find one!

Monday, June 21, 2021

Monday morning

Last night was a long one, with a wide awake Mr. A and a miserable and teething baby P.  We all slept in.  When I went out on the porch this morning I found this,  a beautiful Rosy Maple moth. I also found that someone had dropped by our house and left a container of s'mores brownies on the porch for us.  A cup of coffee and one of those was my breakfast,  calories be damned. It was the most amazing,  lofty, chocolatey,  marshmallow-y, googey delicious treat I've ever eaten and felt like a big hug. So thank you to whomever left them.  Today is going to be a good day.


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Well.... still here.

 Hello friends. It's been a long time since last posting, and thank you for your kind comments. Honestly, for weeks there I was just trying to keep myself together.  Then it seemed like there was nothing to say. But here we are with a fresh start. 

 Things are the same in many ways. And different in many ways. Nothing dramatic or terrible. But it's easier to get out of bed in the morning and I no longer feel like my days are a toe dip into purgatory.  The days are long and hard but there are also moments of joy. I had a much needed brunch with a friend today. There is a walk with another friend scheduled for later in the week.  When friends ask how they can help, this is what I need. Truly. 

My husband and I have been prioritizing time for ourselves since Mr. H. has been done with kindergarten.  Basically , when we can, I have an hour or 2 in the morning and then he paints in his studio after that. So.... I've downloaded this "couch to 5k" app and am at the park during the week. With earbuds in, and listening to a funny talk radio show,  I do not notice running for 2 minutes at a stretch.  Which is no chore to people like my sister who run 50 mile races. BUT.... and here it is.... I am 5 foot 6 and, wait for it..... 194 lbs. There it is. I am super fat. I blame this on Baby P., stress and too many cocktails. Trying to run, at any level, makes me a little less ashamed of that. Even if I am out there flushed and sweating and plodding around in a ballcap and sunglasses disguise. The park where I am going is right against our town "senior center ". Today I had a mutual "nod/wave" with another runner in his 70's. 

Good Lord let's change the subject. For some reason playing cards have hit me hard. There are so many decks coming out every day that are just gorgeous. I don't do magic or cardistry (yet) and only play the occasional game of solitaire but who cares.

Mail day! $20 of my "got cash for Christmas and stuck it in a Mason jar" money ordered this:

Don't get worried over the "stripper deck" on the lower right. I've learned it's the term for a deck of cards that has been cut in a specific way to be used in magic tricks, although for the life of me they all look the same. I will try to learn a trick with them to amuse the kiddos.

The kids. Baby P is *just* on the cusp of crawling and has been for days. Up on all fours, rocking back and forth, then dropping to his tummy to army crawl wherever he needs to go. There has been a lot of vaccuming. Mr. A is super polite, super sweet and very clingly. He has been enrolled in preschool for the fall. And Mr. H. has made a big mental leap since graduating kindergarten.  He just seems to see the world in a way that he didn't before. He is still deeply in love with Baby P.

The oldest 2 and I had our second sleep out of the season in the camper last night. We caught fireflies and Mr. A did not go bed until 11:30.

Honeysuckle and peonies.  The house smelled absolutely amazing. 

It's time to reinvent this blog and make it something more sustainable.  I have loved, over the past years,  being able to look back at what my little family has been up to at any given time. I'd still like to do that but no longer have the time for long posts (this one has taken an hour with interruptions). It seems like small "Facebook " type posts with a single photo might be what I am up to. It's better than silence.  

Saturday, April 24, 2021

What we found in the woods


What a beautiful weekend. Especially after the suprise snow this week.  We are lucky that even after two days of snow and freezing temperatures the trees did not lose their flowers.  The oldest and I took a long walk out back yesterday.

We found some teeth and claws that I was missing from the red fox skeleton I'm articulating.  Very, very slowing articulating. 

We found this green Jack in the Pulpit. There is a little cluster of them. I was absolutely thrilled having never seen this plant before!

Morels are up! There are 8 groups of mushrooms out by the shed. I marked them with sticks because they are TINY. Must have just come up overnight.  Asparagus is up too, barely.

And we found this out by the back property line. Yep. 

I wasn't sure exactly what I was holding but a quick Google tells me it's a 9 mm handgun made in Croatia in 1999 and used in the Iraq War. What the actual crap.  The clip is missing. It was sticking out of a pile of leaves back by the old dump (apparently no one living here before us had garbage pick up. It's disgusting) I called the non-emergency police line today and two officers came out to tag it and ask some questions. 

So that has been our weekend thus far. A row in the garden has been tilled. The kids and I will put up a fence and plant snow peas tomorrow. 

I've been missing because this last couple of weeks have, frankly, sucked. It started two weeks ago when the baby fell sick over the weekend. Baby P. vomited for 8 hours straight, many calls were made to the after hours line. Then slowly the rest of the house got it. Hours of vomiting. All except me. Who was playing nurse, cooking, so much laundry and by Thursday night had apparently had enough.  My body reacted by having a full blown panic attack, complete with hallucinations before and after.  I've never felt that frightened. 

I had 5 more of these episodes on Friday.  It happened twice in a row in the morning when I was alone with 2 kids.  I ended up calling my dad hysterical and babbling nonsense until he came over. My husband came home from work. It was terrifying and left me disoriented. My PCP said I sounded exhausted, especially as there was a night where I was up with Mr. A from midnight until noon the next day.  She may have a point. I'm too old for this kind of thing. I now have a prescription for a PRN anxiety medication, am taking it daily  but am feeling mostly better. 

I keep thinking of a line from Charles Bukowski which is this:

I can safely say I've tried it and am ready to move on.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a nice day. Here is hoping for some work done, some sunshine and maybe a nap thrown in.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Sap is done! Flowers.

 I finished up the sap, we ended up with a bit over a gallon. 

 Here is a video of the sap boiling for anyone looking at a desktop. NO idea why it doesn't show on mobile so here is a picture:

You can see that I don't use any "real" wood to speak of, just twigs and small branches that are fed through the holes in the cinder blocks. 

Every time you heat sap, it causes minerals in it to solidify.  This is called niter and a sediment that falls to the bottom.

Gross. Most people filter this out several tjmes through the boiling process but I have yet to try anything that works well and doesn't take forever. So I asked Reddit and found an old timey method of gently heating egg whites with the finished sap. As the egg whites cook they pull all of the sediment out of the sap.

It looks absolutely disgusting. 

But after skimming the egg off the top and filtering it through a damp dishcloth it had worked like a charm.

Maple sap is officially syrup when a candy thermometer hits 219. I pour it into mason jars and water bath them for 15 minutes for a shelf-stable seal.

So there you have it. When I think of the whole process,  tree to plate, it seems like a miracle. That these inconspicuous trees in our yard bless us with a year's worth of sweetness.   I cannot wait to make homemade maple donuts. 

The kids and I raked out 2 flower beds this week.

We have seen a few honeybees on the crocus, not  as many as last spring. In fact my dad across town lost all 5 of his hives over the winter. 

Mr. H is taking these roses to his teacher tomorrow.  

He picked out the bouquet today when I took him to the store. There was a bit of an incident yesterday where his kindergarten class was outside playing and were run up upon by a pack of three aggressive pit bull dogs. His teacher was nipped at getting the kids away and it was later determined that the dogs had already bitten someone else that afternoon.  The owner has apparently been located and fined. I wish I were joking.  So flowers are the least we can do.

Off to bed, morning calls early here.