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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wasting Time or Mental Health Moment?

With everything that has been so hectic as the holidays draw closer, working overtime for folks on vacation, decorating, maintaining equipment, the house, etc. it is nice to take five minutes out from the to do list, the regular household chores, the shoveling and plowing of snow and life in general.  With a hot cup of coffee the other morning I watched with wonder and the camera.

More posts coming soon, I promise.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Good Food!

When I moved back to Vermont I was concerned that I would miss things like the twenty-four hour grocery store, the pizza place which was open till the wee hours of the morning, the variety of fast food places available who deliver, and a short twenty-minute drive into the Bronx for some of the best Italian food anywhere.  There are days when I still miss those things; but the forty-five minute ride one way for a pizza at ten-thirty at night is a deterrent.  Nothing in the nearest town was open later than 9:00 p.m.; I was forced (I use that term lightly) to start preparing my own meals again.

Fresh Pumkin Pie for the Farmer's Market

I remembered how much I love to cook and how much more I love GOOD food.  My mother is a good cook and an even better baker.  She was kind enough to let me help her prepare baked goods and dinners, even though I am pretty sure I was more of a hindrance than help.  My father taught me to grill.  I have gone through more BBQ grill elements and components that I can count, even grilling when it was snowing.  Recipes like American Goulash, Shepherd’s Pie, Boiled Dinner, and Country Style Spareribs came from my grandmothers, though I have modified them slightly over the years. 

These family meals quickly became staples, leftovers freezing easily and reheating quickly in the microwave.  Roasted chicken easily stretched into several meals adding leftover recipes to the repertoire.  Then I met my DH; I had eaten wild game before, but never so much as when we started dating.  I still can’t cook it as well as he can, but I am learning.  Then the garden, the first one planted, harvested and eaten all on my own, was planted in 2005.  My grandfathers were the gardeners in my family and although I had watched my mother and grandmother can and preserve, I had never tried my hand at it.  Amazed at how easy it was I began adding marinara sauces and salsa.

Armed with old family cookbooks, new recipes from holiday gifted cookbooks, the internet, and great, local food, the variety of meals are endless.  Grilled, stuffed portobello mushrooms; ham, potatoes and green beans in a dill-yogurt sauce; carrot, apple, zucchini muffins; honey, oat, wheat bread; and prosciutto, provolone and basil stuffed chicken breast have quickly become favorites.

Ingredients for Grilled, Stuffed Mushrooms
Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Portobello mushroom tops (cleaning out spines provides more room for stuffing, but is not necessary)
Sausage, ground beef or turkey, or other stuffing of your choice
Fresh spinach, chopped
Small, chopped onion
Two medium tomatoes, chopped
Two cloves of garlic chopped
Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Brush mushroom tops with EVOO and set aside.  Sautee garlic and onion in EVOO, add sausage/ground meat and brown.  Remove sausage, add spinach, toss until wilted.  Mix sausage back into spinach.  Fill mushroom tops.  Grill till mushrooms are almost done 6-8 minutes.  Add chopped tomatoes and cook 2 minutes more.  Add mozzarella cheese and cook until melted.

Serve with fresh, crusty bread.

DH has mentioned lately that we should try to grow mushrooms as portobellos can be expensive; add one more project to the to-be-researched list.  Eventually we would like to start raising our own pork, curing sausage and making pancetta.  In the meantime, the butcher shop and the grocery store will have to suffice.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My to-do list swirled around in my head holding sleep at bay this afternoon (my other job is working nights).  I resigned myself to come out from under the blankets and go into the kitchen and get a pad and pen so that I might expel some of the projects from my brain and onto a list for later planning.  The page of the steno sized notebook was quickly full and I was finally able to lie back down and close my eyes.  Sleep still evaded me and I laid there with my eyes closed thinking about what my farm will look like when it is done.  “Done,” I chuckled.  When is farming ever ‘done’?

A full cheese cave popped into my head, several wheels of aging cheese in various stages of repose.  Next to the cave is the root cellar, full of winter squash, potatoes, garlic, onions, and carrots.  Walking back towards the stairs, the shelves full of preserves and canned vegetables stand proudly in a rainbow of colors.  The two freezers just past the shelves are full of frozen vegetables, berries and meat from the summer and fall harvest and hunting seasons.

Up the stairs onto the wood warmed main floor, the kitchen in front of me, cabinets and walls made from the knotty pine which my father complained blocked his view of the lake.  The maple tree which stood beside my grandparents’ home provides the counter top for the island.  Hours spent picking stones from the corn piece and meadows on the farm are that much more rewarding when the result is the stunning hand stacked fireplace that occupies the center of the main floor living area.  Orange, yellow and red flickers from the fire provide even more warmth as we nestle into the couch to enjoy a glass of cider pressed from the heirloom trees in the orchard we rehabilitated not to long ago. 

Outside, the breeze tosses up a flurry against the oversized windows which look across the deck and down over the hill to the lake beyond.  The chicken coop light casts a gentle glow through the window onto the whitening lawn below.  Smaller outbuildings which house the pigs, rabbits and goats did not get their desperately needed extra coats of paint this year, but perhaps some warmer weather will bless us in the next week or so.  

The kids are sleeping upstairs dreaming no doubt of their escapades with the loose rabbit today.  Small growls, ‘ruff’s and twitches of tail and paws accompany the dreams of the dogs chasing the moles between the Christmas trees.  Gentle snores come from the husband against whom I lean with dreams of the day hunting and the conquest of deer that now hangs in the garage.  Soft flute music wafts through the air as the fire burns down.  I snuggle deeper into my husband’s side sipping on my cider and think to myself, ‘there is probably something I could be doing right now.’  But I think better of it and drift to sleep in my husbands arms, on the couch, in my house, on my small farm in Northwestern Vermont.

I awoke tonight with renewed enthusiasm that my vision/dream of the warm cozy farmhouse will happen.  Tomorrow I will check one more thing off the to-do list with finishing the winterization of the chicken coop on one of the last warmish days I think we have left this fall although with the rain, this chicken coop too will not get the coat of paint it needs.  And even though the mowing didn’t get finished, I think it might be time to put the lawnmower away.  The grass will still be there in the spring.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Greenhouse from Reclaimed Materials

Two years ago I was determined to get a head start on my seedlings.  Scavenging around the farm, I found some old pantry shelves and a couple of extra shop lights – ‘Aha! I can start the seeds in the basement.’  A month later all the seedlings were leggy and falling over and it was still too cold to put anything outside into the ground.  Throughout last summer and fall I looked around the interweb for plans, ideas, and suggestions on how to build cold frames and greenhouses.  In the barn there are several (at least 30 varying sizes) old storm windows that were saved out of various farm buildings as new ones containing descriptors such as double paned, UV protected, insulated, etc. were installed.  They had to be good for something besides dust collecting.  My stack of pallets was getting taller as well, some of that wood had to be useful for making a door or even some gable ends.  I never thought of myself as a pack rat, but I think I have become a careful saver.  I started seeing the value of reclaimed wood from pallets; it makes great framing for things like nesting boxes, mudroom shelves, and display racks for farmers market.

The project started one March weekend when cabin fever had gotten the best of me.  Snow still clung in icy clumps on the lawn and the lake was still frozen over, but the temperature was forecast to be in the low 40s and sun all day – ‘Honey, do you feel like running to the lumber yard?’  With cautious enthusiasm, DH made the 11 mile journey to the lumber yard and brought back some lengths of 2x4 and some longer wood screws – 1” were not going to hold the framing together.  I went out to the barn and started bringing the dusty, dirty windows down from the upper regions of the barn.  Armed with several windows, a drill, circular saw, some screws and a doodle on the back of the misprinted DMV schedule we went to work on the new greenhouse.

Master carpenters we are not, but everything we have built so far has stayed together even in the worst of weather.  Day one saw the completion of three walls, and a desperately needed washing of the windows.  The greenhouse is not very big (I am 5’ 8”) and doesn’t have any supplemental heat, but it was certainly enough to start everything that wasn’t going to be direct seeded.

Day two gave us a roof.  I was surprised that it came together with 90 and 45 degree angles.  To this day I am still amazed I got a B in geometry.

Day three gave us a door and gable ends to the roof.


Each day the snow receded further and on day four shelves were installed (although I didn’t take a picture of those).  Seeds were started over the next several days and by late March we had full flats of seedlings emerging.  At night we covered the greenhouse with an old pool cover (another roadside saved item which we had no idea what we were going to use it for) to keep the frosts from damaging the tender leaves of the seedlings.  We learned that the small size of the greenhouse requires some additional ventilation so we are going to work on a solar powered, thermostatically controlled fan over the winter.  The whole project cost about $30 in new materials and there are still screws and 2x4 sections left over.  Reclaimed pallet wood ended up being used in the framing as well as the door and roof supports.

It certainly is not a sight to behold, but reclaimed hinges, salvaged windows and plywood pieces make an OK little greenhouse for getting the garden started.  Perhaps when a family member has leftover paint from their next project, the whole thing will get a little ‘prettier.’  For now it is functional and it grew some great veggies this year!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall clean up begins (a little late)

Life on the farm continues, albeit with a few brief interruptions.  There are certain days when you plan ahead, you have your list, all your supplies, and even back up parts and fluid for all the equipment you plan to use.  Everything is ready, you have had a great breakfast, several cups of coffee, the temperature outside is perfect, the sun is shining, and you are all ready to go.  Ring Ring…

Thinking nothing of it you answer the phone.  And there goes that days plans.  Pack a bag, make frantic phone calls to see who can take the dog and care for the birds, especially the brand new little ones which require feeding and watering twice a day.  One the road we go.  Five days later, everyone on the mend, the list has grown longer but the farm is still here.  The birds were well taken care of and even though the dog was mad, she forgave us when she got too many treats and was able to cuddle in bed with us again.

Threat of frost looming, all the remaining tender plants needed to come inside.  My grandmother kept a collection of geraniums which I am told are hundreds of years old.  Each year since being back on the farm, they are carefully exhumed and moved inside to be neglected in the cooler regions of the house.  When they come in, they get watered less regularly until such time as we are watering them only every three to four weeks.  Very little new growth appears, but they stay green and healthy all winter long.  Sometime around Memorial Day, when the soil has warmed sufficiently and the weather people are no longer predicting frost, the flowers come out from their long winters rest to spend their summers basking the sun shine and adding great color to the front flower bed.

The neglect which we had shown the lawn for several weeks became quite obvious while cleaning up the front flower bed.  Thankfully we are getting cooler weather else I would have needed to get the bush hog and borrow the neighbors hay tedder.  In the midst of mowing I came across these strange looking mushrooms – anyone have any idea what kind they are? 

When the lawn was all done, I was gathering all of the stuff that the lawnmower couldn't cut up, along with the hay from the chicken coop and getting ready to take it down to the compost pile when I made a concerning discovery.  Some kind of critter had taken up residence underneath the coop.  It has made holes on two side of the coop and associated tunnels under the ground all around the building. 

I am thinking they are mice, but if you have confirmation on what the tracks could be, I would be interested to know.  Attempts at evicting my new tenants have been futile; including burying their holes, adding more dirt, flooding them out, and putting chicken wire down around the base of the coop.  When we get ready to work on the drainage situation in the pen outside the coop it looks like we will be burying chicken wire all around the perimeter to avoid future squatters from taking up residence.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Beautiful Fall on the Farm

Wonderful Fall Colors 10.3.10
Fog Clearing from the Lake 10.3.10
Getting Bigger

Friday, October 1, 2010

Saving Seeds

Every year there is that one crop which is so successful there is no possible way that you or your family could possibly eat, can or preserve it all.  Two years ago a friend of the family bestowed upon me some huge tomatoes after she had canned sauce, salsa, ketchup, relish, etc. and just couldn’t process any more tomatoes.  These particular fruits were so meaty and delicious; I decided to try my hand at saving the seeds.  To my amazement it worked!  About 60 percent of the seeds that I saved grew. 

Since that first attempt was a success, I tried to save all sorts of seeds last year.  Cucumbers, peppers, squash, pumpkins, corn, and radish were all tried in 2009.  The cucumber seeds became a moldy mess.  The squash and pumpkin seeds saved well; however, only about 15 percent of them grew.  The corn takes two years to dry (or so I read) so we will attempt to plant those in 2011.  The radish seeds did even better than those that were purchased for this spring.  Flowers including calendula, sunflowers and lupines were also successfully saved and propagated.

The adage that you learn something new everyday is no where more true than on the farm.  I am learning this summer/fall on how to save seeds properly.  Tomato seeds need to go through a fermentation process in order to grow successfully.  Pure luck is the description for my previous success at saving tomato seeds.  Squash and pumpkin seeds need to be thoroughly rinsed of the pulp and dried for several weeks.  Pepper seeds are probably the easiest seeds to save. 

Once the seeds are completely dry, I place them in a labeled envelope with the name, species and date.  All the envelopes are stored in alphabetical order in a cool, dark storage room at the farm house.

Goals for seed saving this year include jalapenos, zucchini, blue hubbard and patty pan squash, and of course more tomatoes.  With some practice and a little bit of luck we may not need to buy seeds in coming years.

Are you saving seeds from anything special this year?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rescued Kitten

This is 'Squeak' as he was called for his short visit with us.  Squeak was rescued by someone I work with at my 'real job' at just 3-4 weeks old.  Covered in fleas, infested with worms and shivering cold, he was a terrible sight.  I brought him home for a couple days, cleaned him up, fed him and gave him a whole lot of love.  I have rescued several animals and adopted them out to forever homes. Therefore I didn't think it was possible to get so attached to this little critter so quickly - was I wrong.

Several days later it was apparent that he was either going to stay with us for the long haul, a proposition which my four adult cats were not at all interested in entertaining, or he was going to need to find a new forever home.  Squeak came from who knows where to my house (20 miles away from where he was found), went with us to NH (230 miles round trip) for a powwow then two weeks later he went to ME to another powwow (292 miles 1 way).  He now lives way up in Millinocket, ME (another 100 miles north of the powwow grounds) with good friends of ours who we met through the North Country Intertribal Powwow - Holly and Frank.

Friday, September 24, 2010


My husband and I had noted a marked decreased in the number of eggs we were getting from our chickens.  We figured that some of our older birds were getting ready to molt and the new layers hadn’t started yet.  We didn’t think much of it… until Tuesday morning.

When my husband got home from work he came inside and asked me if I had work clothes on because I needed to get underneath the porch. (DH and I are not small people).  My expression must have said it all because he told me that he noticed some strange noises coming from underneath the back porch. ‘The eggs we were missing are now up and walking around’, he said.

He found eight brand new little ones running around.  One of the hens that our friend bestowed upon us when she moved in June had made herself a little nest and had been hiding out under there for at least a month now.  It was forecast to get down below freezing on Tuesday night.  We proceeded to dig out the feeder and waterer which was put away after our spring pullets, ran out to the feed store to get some growing mash, got out the heat lamp from the workshop, and began assembling a brooder box.  We took a spare cardboard box outside and I began squeezing my not so little self underneath the back porch.  Momma didn’t mind so much that I was coming under there to visit her, she was used to us collecting eggs from nearby nesting boxes in the chicken coop.  It wasn’t until I started removing her new babies that she got really upset with me.  Imagine lying on your tummy in a two foot tall crawl space, reaching in front of you trying to catch day old pullets and having Momma peck at your hands, your head, your shoulders, etc.  The pecks don’t hurt so much, but trying to protect my face from flying dirt and debris while she was dancing around was interesting.

There are still eight more eggs in the nest and she is still sitting on them.  We are watching every day or two to see if any new little ones have emerged.  Fall pullets were not in the plans for this year due to the lack of heat and some repairs which need to be made to the weatherproofing in the chicken coop.  Apparently Creator decided that more laying birds were in our immediate future.

To-Do List Items for the Chicken Coop:

  • Re-seal the roof

  • Wash and paint the exterior walls

  • Remove hay insulation (doesn’t work together with leaky roof – very messy and moldy), wash down inside walls with mold preventative and replace insulation

  • Fix drainage problem in coop yard (we are hoping this is as simple as digging out the existing dirt and adding some layers of varying sizes of gravel and sand).

  • Add roof to ½ of coop yard (tarp is getting worse for the wear).

  • Replace coop yard fence running chicken wire 8-12 inches under soil level to deter whatever has been digging at the side of the coop yard fence and to keep the ducks from hiding their eggs under the coop itself.

Hopefully I will remember to bring the camera along as we attempt these and other fall projects around the house.

Stop taking my picture!

Do you have any interesting fall projects that you are planning to tackle?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Brief reprieve

We took a brief reprieve from the farm to enjoy friends and extended family at the North Country Intertribal Powwow in Newport, Maine. It was a wonderful week full of dancing, drumming, celebration, ceremony, and its share of really hard work. My husband has been helping put on the pot-luck feast at this event since 2004. I began helping at my first visit in 2006 and we have been working with the Littlefield and Luce families ever since to make this event better each year. This picture is of the second tipi on Friday morning just as the fog was lifting from the field before sunrise.

We also help with a relatively new powwow only in its third year – the Great Northern Moose Intertribal Powwow in Dummer, NH. This is a small event which feels more like visiting old friends then it does an organized event. The Tessiers have established a great bed and breakfast and they are working on new campground across the road from the lodge. Out in the middle of the north woods, they couldn’t have a better location to gather and celebrate the Native American culture. You can visit the lodge at

My first powwow was in May of 2006 in Tamworth, NH. That weekend I was welcomed with open arms into ‘the family’. The powwow trail has some incredible people and my life has only been enriched by knowing and learning from them. Grandmother Two Feathers and Grandmother Awabejiwani took me under their wing and began to teach me the ways of the red road that weekend. I went to six powwows that summer and at each I gained a better understanding of who I am in addition to meeting and becoming great friends with my husband’s extended ‘family.’ Today, I pray each day to Creator for my friends and family who need help and for guidance in the choices I make and the manner in which I live my life. Sometimes I get so mired down with ‘things’ or distracted by everything on the to-do list that I feel lost. Those days I take out the sage, tobacco, cedar and sweet grass, go outside to one of my favorite places on the farm and talk to Creator. I am left with a renewed sense of vigor and almost always with answer to get myself un-mired.

There are several more powwows in New England between now and the end of October. If you are looking for a great, family friendly and even educational event, look one up. We are hoping to get to at least one more, but it is getting cooler and the fall farm chores are at hand.

May your journey be full of learning today.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hand painted mandelas

Coyote Mandela
Often my husband will place an item on the table in front of me, ‘just for a few minutes’ while he does something… Usually several hours later some new creation rests on the table in place of the original item. I often wonder if he does it on purpose to sidetrack my day or if he just knows that I need some quiet time. Painting is and has always been an outlet for expression of my feelings or a quiet time of self-reflection for me. I lose myself in the landscape, in the world of the animal or object I am painting. Anytime I try to force creativity out of my mind or hands, the result is disastrous. If it just comes to me one day, the result is usually beautiful.

One day a friend of mine asked me if I could paint a picture of her dog for her on a mandela. Mandela’s are decorative shields; symbols of protection. I did not realize how important this was to her until the day that I was inspired to paint him sitting at the kitchen table with some crafting materials on the table in front of me. The leather thong (lace) was resting in a pile next to some beads, a box of feathers and some sticks which my husband was using to craft some drumbeaters. I asked him what he had done with the tops of the branches he had cut off. He told me that they were out on the side of the garage. I grabbed a scrap piece of leather and proceeded outdoors. Two hours later, I had a great sense of calm and achievement as the mandela hung completed from the china cabinet.

Two weeks later I saw my friend and she stopped dead in her tracks as she walked past the china cabinet and broke down into tears. I have since made 10 more to give to her family and friends in remembrance of ‘Axl.’ It is not only a great feeling to make someone so happy, although I didn’t want to make her cry; but also to be able to enjoy the process of creating the craft or painting in the first place.

I realized earlier tonight as I was getting really grouchy that it might be time for me to take out the paints again!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Learning something new each day

September is looming just around the corner and another summer is coming to an end. My garden has been extremely generous considering the amount of neglect that it has received. The flowers are still blooming in between the weeds. The fruit trees are still yielding a bumper crop of apples even after being assaulted by Japanese beetles. Even the Christmas trees are still growing under the mountains of hay that is growing between them. The saying that you learn something new everyday is no where more true then on a small farm. Some of the more important things that have been learned this year include:

Double rainbow from front deck
MULCH, MULCH AND MORE MULCH – The poor tomatoes are only just now turning red as they were buried under weeds for far too long. Next season, each transplant will receive a good helping of mulch in order to keep them moist and in an effort to better control the weeds.

IF IT ISN’T PLANTED IT WILL NOT GROW – May is planting time in Northern Vermont, it was also an exceptionally busy month here both on and off the farm. Lots of seeds never made it into the starter pots, let alone into the ground. Next year we will be looking at adding some supplemental heat to the little greenhouse we built out of scrap wood and windows. More seeds should be able to be started in the greenhouse and we will both be sure not to pick up any off farm projects or overtime so that the garden can be more successful.

PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE – If one does not give old equipment some TLC throughout the year, when one goes to use that equipment, it will show you how much it feels neglected. You have an hour to get a quick project done before you run out of daylight, you run out to mow at least the front two lawns; the lawn mower will not start because it is out of oil. You note the oil on the list of things to pick up on your way home from work in the morning and go to grab the tractor to run through the upper field between the Christmas trees with the brush hog; the PTO will not turn nor will the bucket lift off the ground because the little leak in the hydraulic system got bigger. You note filters and more hydraulic fluid on your list of things to pick up and warn your husband that he will need to pick up some kind of seal on his way home from work in the afternoon once you have had a chance to figure out which one is leaking. Defeated by outdoor chores, you go inside to run a quick vacuum through your car and put air in the tires and check to see if you need oil or power steering fluid (since you will already be going to the store); the breaker in the garage trips and will not re-set because the mice have decided to build a nest in the breaker box. You add a new breaker to the list of things to pick up tomorrow along with plans to clean out the mouse house. Quick projects end up taking far longer if you do not take the time to take care of your equipment, remember to put mouse traps/poison in the garage, or remember to do the simplest things like check your oil.
Chicken prints on the trunk of the car
CHICKENS – If you don’t want your chickens to get into it, it must be fenced, protected or closed. They are more curious then cats, they will get into your garage, your gardens, your raised beds, your car, your tractor, your house… I have never been so angry or laughed so much as I have with my chickens.

SCHEDULING TIME FOR RELAXATION – No matter how much is on the to-do list, we need to remember to find some time to relax, cool down, and recuperate. While trying to make the farm successful, you can get so mired down in your to-do list that you forget to find time to enjoy the little things that we should be thankful for. No matter how much there is to do; it will all still be there tomorrow.

We are enjoying the fruits of our labor from the garden and hope to be able to squeeze in a trip to Maine to visit friends soon.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Best laid plans...

When we are young, we each make plans for the rest of our lives… At 22, I will get married. I will have three kids by the time I am 30. My husband will stay at home and work and I will be the head of a major corporation by the time I am 35. We will have a home in the northern United States, and two vacation homes, one on the coast of Florida and one in a foreign country if possible. I will retire early and be able to travel with my children on their summer vacations. My husband and I will be walking hand-in-hand on the beach in Florida when we are in our eighties. Oh how our plans do change!

Five years ago I found myself in my early 30’s and recently laid off from a really good paying job in Connecticut. The job market wasn’t looking that promising and my only dependents were furry and four-legged, so I made the decision to move back to Vermont. Four years ago I moved back to the farm with four additional four-legged creatures and a fiancĂ©.

This past week, the smell of homemade bread, freshly baked pies and radish relish filled the farmhouse kitchen as I prepared for farmers market. I paused after preparing the labels for the items headed to market and watched the chickens, ducks and geese lounging in various states of repose in the backyard. They had full tummies after getting left over pie crust scraps. My laundry was drying naturally on the line. The berries which went into the pies came from the farm or from our neighbor’s farm down the road. Radishes, all from our garden, went into making the radish relish. My refrigerator handle was covered with flour as I obviously had not wiped my hands between rolling pie crusts and placing them in the fridge to cool. I though back to five years ago, living in the city, looking out my window to see my neighbors’ houses and cars whizzing by 6.75 feet from my living room window, wondering if I would ever find my place in life.

Tonight as I was getting ready for work, my to-do list running through my mind, my grocery list being jotted on an index card, my coffee spilling on the counter, the cats and my husband protesting my departure, and my cheese slicer missing from it’s rightful place; I paused to looked out the window at the moon and the lake and listened to the geese squawk in protest of being penned up for the night (for their own protection from predators) and I thought to myself, I have found my place.