A Testimonial to a Tree

Yellow Transparent Apple Tree
See that beautiful yellow transparent apple tree over the shed, shading our kids as they play?

We almost chopped it down the year we bought our house. That was 20+years and un-countable pies and cans of applesauce ago. We had this large tree right smack where our driveway ought to be, and it didn’t even bear fruit.

Or so we thought.

An elderly couple stopped by and asked if they could continue getting fruit from the tree. Observing our baffled looks, they explained that we had a unique tree in our yard. It was the yellow transparent apple tree and bore fruit every other year. It was the key ingredient in applesauce such as you have never tasted before.

That tree inspired us to chop, peel, and puree and even inspired this high-powered applesauce gadget. When winter winds trapped us indoors, we could pull a frozen pie out and pop it in the oven. The aroma and slightly bitter taste brought back memories of blue skies and picnics up in the branches of this beautiful flowering treasure.

Two years ago we came home from a trip to my mother-in-law’s and discovered that the tree was so heavy with fruit that a giant limb fell. It was a sad moment for all. But time went on, and the tree still showered us with enough fruit to keep us super-busy at canning time.

This Tuesday morning was pretty uneventful. My husband and I were were at my mother-in-law’s house once again while the kids held down the fort at home. The phone rang, and when I answered, my son said, “Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that we are all fine. The bad news is that the apple tree fell during the storm last night.”

That tree gifted us right to the end. It blew down in the sweet-scented pile of its own blossoms. While it could have hit cars, the neighbor’s house, our house and/or our shed with kayak and canoe on top, it didn’t. It slightly scraped the neighbor’s house (and she didn’t care at all, bless her heart), and fell without damaging anything. I took pictures just in case we needed records of this in the future then put my phone away and moved on with life.

Later in the day, my phone chirped, telling me it put together a Life Events reel. I giggled a little at the dramatic impact music the device threw upon the saga of our fallen tree. But as I reflect, I do believe the phone was right. It was a life event. That tree gave us food and beauty, drew us closer to neighbors, gave our kids a hangout spot when they were younger, shaded our yard, and it will now provide warmth for my husband’s studio this winter. Thanks, tree.

Introducing Henry

IMG_20150420_231244978Once upon a very real time back in late January/early February, a glimpse of warmth appeared in our home. Outside winds blew, prolonging the brutal dip of our temps. But inside, a flurry of tiny little wings reminded us of warmth. It was sweet and endearing for about twenty seconds before thoughts of disintegrating clothes and blankets flashed through my mind.

A moth invasion! Kill it was my instinct. Before Hudi stopped me.

“Don’t kill Henry!”

Say what? The moth has a name? A pet? How can I kill it when my 15-year-old had already named it? And how much damage could a little moth do? My moth-murderous hands dropped.

Two weeks later I was re-evaluating the situation. Henry had a penchant for dive-bombing my face as I innocently walked through doorways and around corners. Henry also liked to share my evening drinks. Not cool.

After an incident where I narrowly avoided Henry’s rapid swoop toward my open mouth, I had enough. “Dude, I have to kill Henry.” I told my son.

He agreed.

Then another Henry appeared, and another. The Henry pictured here is, according to a very non-scientific guestimate, Henry the 128th. Where were they coming from?

IMG_20150428_181204424Friends shared their own moth stories, and we learned that Henrys can originate from birdseed (nope), furniture
(great, we had gotten a new-to-us couch last summer), and clothing (nothing seemed eaten yet). Some friends had lots of Henrys flying around at once (the most we had at one time was two).

As it usually goes, one day when we weren’t even thinking about Henry, Chris discovered the moth origin. A bag of rice we had never opened.

Now it’s warmer, and we can offer the last few Henrys a catch-and-release option. It’s nice knowing that the dive-bombing days are nearly over. Part of me is going to miss Henry a bit, though. Henry provided an interesting twist to our long, drawn-out winter.



This Mommy-pot vase was made by the children of one of my dearest friends. And she made the basket behind. God gets the flower credit.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but this winter felt especially brutal temperature-wise here in western New York. I always associate Easter with spring, warmth, flowers, and sunshine. A re-birth that’s refreshing for my soul, my house, my closet, and life in general.

With Easter coming so early, and winter-like temps stretching so late, it felt like the rebirth wouldn’t happen. According to the weather forecasters, it still won’t happen Easter Sunday, but we did get it today.

The holiday, the 65 degree temps, walking my dog with friends (and without a coat) under a blue sky and finding the first flowers of the year for me was such a gift. I’m feeling the love and the hope. May that feeling spread to you all as well.

Coming Home on a Day Off

IMG_20150312_165054453_HDR-EFFECTSToday was a day off work for me. We homeschool Hudi, and Zeb had a day off college, so we decided to use the reciprocal we got with our Swain season pass to go to Holiday Valley.

It was a beautiful day. Hardly a cloud in the sky and 34 degrees when we left (we were sweating like crazy after getting used to sub-zero temps for so long). What did I discover?

  • There is definitely nothing like a day out with family.
  • Our family doesn’t feel whole without CJ, although we know he is really enjoying his time as a ski instructor at Deer Valley in Utah.
  • My men love to go fast and jump and turn.
  • I do not do so well in slush and ice, and I have a sore shoulder to prove it.
  • No sore shoulder can take away the joy of a perfect day.

There are some video clips of my guys at the end of this post.

I also tapped into some of my Photo 101 experience to grab some nature photos:

But while I learned these things, and they are all super true, I think we all learned that there is no place like our home ski slope with our buds. So we packed our gear and headed off for chicken wing night with our friends at our favorite home slope, Swain Resort. This is why we love it so much:

Then to top it off, we had a Skype call with CJ, making the day complete:


A fantastic day off. And it’s true what they say. There’s no place like home.

Videos from today:


My Favorite Beach

While I love the Long Island Sound and have body-surfed waves in the east coast Atlantic and the west coast Pacific, my favorite beach is filled with love, laughter and a few tears. It’s a beach on Lake Ontario, and we camp there every year with our kids and friends.