Mary Ann Appleseed

 

20210917_104136Growing up, I heard the familiar legend of

Johnny Appleseed.  With two apple trees

of our own now, I am reminded of the

tale.  I don’t recall Johnny speaking of

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apple thieves.  We have the four-legged

and two-legged variety.  The four-legged

thieves are messy.  They take a few bites

of an apple and then simply discard it.

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Perhaps these bushy tails got distracted

by a passing car or neighbor out walking

the dog.   The two-legged variety would

refer to neighbors and assorted friends.

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John, Don, and Isaac picked up the branches

on Tuesdays.  I know this from observing and

finally stopping the very tall truck with

my arm in the air and hand motion to stop.

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This week, even the truck driver Don was

emboldened or hungry at the end of their route.

Driver Don motioned to John to pick an apple

off the tree.  Well, well, I thought.  I must

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stop the truck to chat briefly which I did.

John responded he was from a nearby

town.   I informed him that he had selected

apples from my favorite kind:  Empire.

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Next, I explained the other tree had

red delicious variety.  I expect that they

will continue to pluck apples off the

trees as long as they are there.

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A neighbor told me she had tried one

of the Empire apples.  It was so tasty.

Normally, these ripen toward the end

of September so perhaps they have

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matured earlier this year.  We gave

this neighbor a bushel basket full of

our apple crop.  This year they look

as beautiful as store bought ones.

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I imagine our own John Appleseed will

continue his thefts of tasty apples.

Admittedly, who can really resist these

low-hanging gems.  Do you have a favorite?

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Posted in Empire apples, Johnny Appleseed, Red Delicious apples | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

How Was School Today?

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After sitting down to dinner with my parents

at either head of the table, our Dad would ask

this question after we finished saying Grace

together before our shared meal.  Memories

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flooded my mind as I observed how silent

our neighborhood became because the

children had returned to school.  I envisioned

dinner conversations at their tables.  Exciting.

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I don’t remember who started to answer our

Dad’s question nightly.  Whoever had the most

urgent news I suppose.  Results of a test in one

subject or how strict a teacher was.  News.

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Grumblings.  Happy reports.  Our parents were

genuinely interested in our answers.  Education

was at the top of the list of importance.  If we

had something negative to report, more questions

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resulted until a resolution could be discerned.

Our parents were active participants in the

parent organizations both in Massachusetts

as well as in Colorado.  Our Dad brought a

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German guest to one of our high school

meetings:   Herr (Mr.) Bode.  Our Dad spoke

a little German, but his accent when he

introduced the gentleman was such

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that people around shook the gentleman’s

hand while declaring “Glad to meet you,

Herb.”  Mind you, that was not his first name

but the resulting German pronunciation!

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Today in recalling such events, I am mildly

amused and no longer mortified by our

Dad’s German pronunciation.  Our Dad’s declaration

to us repeated quite often over the years

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was that he wanted to live long enough to

see all his daughters graduate from college.

After obtaining five degrees in German,

I surpassed his expectations.  He passed

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during my first Fulbright Year in Germany

but not before telling me how proud he

was of me and of all his daughters.  His words

are forever engraved in my heart.  Thanks, Dad.

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Our Dad’s love and interest in our

education remains today and has been

passed on to our two children.  My fervent

hope is for all parents to take an interest

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in the education of their children and

to talk about it at the dinner table during

those formative years.  From generation

to generation, the seed is thus planted.

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Posted in dinner table talk, education, saying Grace, school | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Our Valued Friends

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Cedric and David are our friends. On Mondays.

we wave to one another, greet one another and

exchange pleasantries.  If we are perchance not home,

David will bring the blue bins up to the door.  These

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are our sanitation engineers whose task it is to empty

trash cans left curbside.  Tony, Desiree, Alexis and

Andy take turns delivering our mail.  Our route is

the longest at 14 miles.  Fae is the early bird who

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delivers the newspaper three times per week.

Where would we be without such great friends

in our lives?  At school, teachers greeted custodians

and had brief conversations from time to time.

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For holidays, we brought them cookies and other

baked goodies or a pizza.  These friends belong

to the family of man.  We remain grateful for

their services.  To break up an otherwise

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mundane day, I have made it my habit to

wave to the truck drivers as they stop to

pick up trash.  It’s not a glamorous job but

a necessary one.   We look out for one another.

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Last October, young David lost his mother and

was not on our route for a few weeks.  I expressed

my thoughts and offered prayers for him and his

mother.  Walking in another’s shoes makes

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for a more pleasant world.  It is, after all, the

golden rule in action.  How do you feel when

someone looks into your eyes and smiles while

saying a few words?  Having compassion for

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our fellow individuals whom we encounter in

life is as easy as a smile and a wave.  Offering an

apple from our apple trees is a simple gesture.

Sharing our abundance with others.

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The world would be a better place if we

practiced the golden rule.  Doing unto

others as we would have them deal

with us, makes for a happier existence.

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Posted in brief encounters, custodians, golden rule, good habits, sanitation engineers, valued friends | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

A Tribute to a Teacher

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Difficult as it is to recall the names of teachers,

Mrs. Hughes was my ninth grade English teacher.

In her class, I discerned that I wanted to be a teacher.

From her I learned kindness and compassion.

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From her I learned the joy of grammar. 

In her class, I learned to love learning.  She had

the keys to unlock the mystery of grammar.

Still today, I love learning, reading, and writing.

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She taught us the questions to ask when diagramming

sentences.  How, when, where, why, and

to what extent.  Sentence structure took

on new meaning as I diagrammed. And still does.

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Around Thanksgiving, Mrs. Hughes needed

some help changing her bulletin board.  I

volunteered and asked for black and white

construction paper and scissors to cut out Pilgrim

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figures freehand.  Mrs. Hughes was impressed

and told me her teacher daughter would love

my idea.  She asked what pattern I had used for

the figures.  It was my own creativity.

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I didn’t know it then, but I was learning more

than English grammar and diagramming.  The

instincts that Mrs. Hughes nurtured with her students

brought out the best in us.  She valued us. She

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listened to us and was patient.  She smiled.

She had unconditional love for us.  Amazingly. 

I learned to use my creativity and ideas in my

own teaching career years later.  I was

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fortunate to be able to study in Heidelberg,

Germany for about three years.  The icing on the

cake was learning aspects of language, literature,

culture, history, and geography.  While

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I did not diagram sentences in German, I

instinctively understood the grammar thanks

to Mrs. Hughes. This school year, I wish

for teachers to impart their own love of learning.

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Posted in diagramming sentences,, English teacher, grammar, learning to love learning, paying tribute | Tagged , , , , , , | 32 Comments

How Does Your Garden Grow?

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Our weather has been a mixed bag this

growing season.  Abundant sun.  Heavy

rain showers.  Not our normal fare.  But

who knows what is normal with the

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weather?  Now we need to find recipes

to prepare the tomatoes. Lots of recipes.

While we harvest some and give them

to neighbors.  We wonder if the food

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pantry will also accept some.  And

still, they continue to grow.  We

literally picked up branches off the

ground and held them to enter

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the garden.  Once inside, the goal

was to harvest a few of the huge

collard leaves to cook in chicken

broth.  Plans were abruptly

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changed by all the big, red, ripe,

and juicy tomatoes in our path.

I began putting tomatoes in the bag.

Soon the bag overflowed with

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about forty tomatoes.  No end in

sight either.  Too bad we can’t put

some in the mail and send to friends

and family.  Sauces, stews, salads.

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Canning does not interest me at this

point.  Cooking and freezing to use

in soups this winter.  Grilling.  When

I am out of ideas, I’ll research online.

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How does your garden grow?  We

have a jungle now.  This winter I

will look back at our pleasant dilemma.

Meanwhile, who wants some tomatoes?

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Posted in cooking, freezing, garden, tomatoes | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Beauty Before Comfort?

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Sighing at some of my clothing and shoes, my

mother’s mantra was always comfort before

beauty.  What teen or young woman wants

to heed that advice?  Not I when I was young.

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Did I learn my lesson during my student days

In Heidelberg?  Certainly not.  Spike heels.

Unlined leather gloves.  Pencil skirts and

sweaters did nothing for warmth.  But,

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they were stylish at the time.  My Birkenstock

years would come later when I was teaching.

Then cashmere layers and long skirts followed

by warm slacks to teach in.  My mother

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declared during a shopping visit to purchase

a longer skirt for herself that she knew

why I wore longer skirts:  they were warmer!

From that point on, she wore longer skirts

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or long pants.  We laughed as I declared

that comfort before beauty is something

learned later in life.  My mother

always wore beautiful, well-crafted clothing.

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When I returned to the US after my three

years in Heidelberg, I stepped off the plane

in a fashionable tan corduroy pantsuit which

was all the rage in Europe. She adored it.

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She loved it so much that she inherited it from

me after I no longer wanted it.  Ditto for a

quality gray wool coat.  I benefitted from her

artistic eye and chose quality clothes later.

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It was in Heidelberg that I gave up carrying

an umbrella against the rain.  After several

mishaps of umbrellas turning inside out, I

opted for hoods on my topcoats and jackets.

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With fondness I smile at my mother’s sage

advice over the years.  Now I don quality

pantsuits and my trusty Birkenstock

sandals.  Comfort with beauty now.

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Posted in beauty, Birkenstock sandals, comfort, Heidelberg | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Your Preference?

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When it comes to greeting cards and notes,

what do you prefer?  Handwritten in cursive?

An eCard, a blank card or one with verses

inside?   Personalize or simply write your name?

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For me, it depends upon the occasion and

the person or persons involved.  Some subjects

are sensitive in nature so I will compose a

poem for the intended person or select a

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beautiful art card.  Some of my favorite places

to find greeting cards either blank inside or with

a simple verse are gift shops at museums around the

world.  Perhaps you have a favorite artist

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or subject matter.  I always scour places for

cards with music motifs or one with foreign

languages such as a thank you card with

multiple languages included.  I seek out

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greeting cards at drug stores too and

wind up in the humor section perusing

several as I laugh heartily.  My daily dose

of humor and amusement.  When I find

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the perfect card, I am known to purchase

several of the same design and motif for

friends and family.  A poetic love message?

Or perhaps a sympathy or get-well card?

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When my stockpile is low, I find the time

and place to replenish the stash.  Gift shops

await me!  Sometimes, with a friend along,

we will both stand and read cards and laugh.

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I try to make a purchase of some cards so the shop

owner will be pleased I found just the right

one.  So, dear readers, what is your preference?

With or without verses? A special motif?

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Posted in art cards, gift shops, greeting cards, motifs, museums, music, poetry, preference | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

This and That

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Life is good; life is wonderful.  New

neighbors are moving in.  A new puppy

is trying its walking legs.  All wobbly, floppy.

Here and there when it walks.  Circled

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around my legs and licked my hand this

morning.  Conversations of all sorts with

neighbors. A substitute mail carrier stopped

to chat of a recent vacation to Maine.

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This year’s garden is lush and full after

all the rain and warm days.  Already enjoyed

a pot of collards, green beans, and tomatoes.

The Montauk daisies are taking over the

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front garden.  They wait until almost when

the first snow falls.  Then they have lovely

white blossoms in abundance.  From early

spring with tulips, we have many-hued

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beauties to feast our eyes upon.  Life

is good.  Mother Nature blesses us.

Saw a Monarch butterfly, hummingbird too.

An assortment of bird houses hang around

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the property.  The various birds sing to

us and flit about.  They seem to have an

inner clock.  Our family of snakes do not

like excessive heat but will sun themselves

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on the garden wall out front.  They live

under our front step.  Our herb garden needs

tending.  I renew fresh zinnias for our vases.

The colors bring smiles of contentment.

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Finally saying goodbye to the mulching mower

which has served its purpose.  Now, we

yield the lawn to the pros who rumble

in on riding mowers and make light the work.

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Can’t complain.  Life is good.  Working on

a new Ave Maria to sing at church in a couple

weeks.  Music is food for the soul.  Our

gardens provide beauty for our spirits.

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Time to kick back, sit in the rocking

chair on the front porch and relax.

We watch the young neighbors play.

Life is good!  Yes, life is grand!

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Posted in gardens, life, Montauk daisies, Mother Nature, music, neighbors, this and that | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

A Fortuitous Chain of Events!

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Who knew that our trusty old lawnmower

would bite the dust this past week? Who knew

that the mower would break down with only

half the lawn done?  Who knew that the man

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with the three small rescue dogs would pass

by our house at that precise moment?  My husband

and I had just had a conversation about hiring a

service to mow our lawn.  Most of our neighbors

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mow their own lawns.  But not all of them.  The

problem being, it was not the right day to

ask those neighbors whose lawns are mowed on

other days of the week.  But not all of them!

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I asked the three-dog-man if he used a service.

Negative, but there was a service around the

corner who was finishing up.  As he drove by,

we flagged him down with our request.

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We knew our mower was on its last legs so

to speak.  Last Fall the wheels had been repaired,

but my husband was told there was not much

life left in our trusty mower.  Enter a teacher

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and a “teaching moment!”  After asking the

teacher who was mowing lawns in the summer

months if he had time to finish our lawn, it turns

out he had time for us.   Long story short, he

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is a history teacher who just happened to have a

classroom next door to our neighbor, also a history

teacher at the same middle school.  He can assist us

through August only which is fine.  We’ll deal with

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finding another service to pick up the slack.  With

many stores closed and parts difficult to come by,

it simply makes sense to have someone mow for

us. This was a fortuitous chain of events indeed!

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Posted in "teaching moment", chain of events, lawnmower | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

Garden Happenings

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There is a never-ending weed growth

in our gardens.  I wait until after one

of our heavy thunderstorms.  Grabbing

a fistful of the myriad weeds, I am

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able to pull up roots and all.  No,

I don’t fool myself by thinking these

weeds will never return.  Mother

Nature keeps us busy instead.

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Today my husband gave me one of

the first raspberries. Such a sweet flavor. 

Under the front step I spied familiar

markings of our resident garden snakes. 

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Yes.  More than one now.  My biologist

husband took photos of a dragonfly which

literally landed right in front of him. A

common whitetail skimmer.

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I admired it for the markings like

smiley faces on its wings.  My mind

conjures up a story of its journey, and

why here?  They like mosquitoes and flies.

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My biology lesson over for the moment,

my attention was drawn to the new twins,

both girls.  Just over one year, they already

gaze at me as I speak to the babysitter.

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Good weather yields a neighborhood

teeming with walkers.  Young and

old and in between.  Conversations.

Smiles, laughter, and delightful interludes.

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Our sea buckthorn bushes are growing by

leaps and bounds. Two years ago in Finland,

we drank tart sea buckthorn juice.  I learned

the berries are picked in the forests there. 

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Naturally, I wondered why our bushes were

getting so tall.  My husband researched and

discovered there are male and female

varieties.  Both are required to get

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the berries.  Who knew?  Shall we

order more?  Which ones do we

have?  Garden happenings are ripe

with intrigue and mystery it seems. 

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Posted in common whitetail skimmer, raspberries, sea buckthorn berries | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments