Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Look out 2009, Here we come.....

I finally realize what my parents, and their friends, were always talking about when they would say to me, "You just wait, the older you get, the faster the years go by." It seems like just yesterday I set up this blog, and now an entire year has gone by. When I first started it I wanted to be able to have a small way of keeping a running journal of what I did for the year at The Flower Tree. What it has turned into though is more of a look into my world. The Flower Tree of course plays a very large part, but it's all the other great stuff that filled my year that found it's way onto these pages. Thankfully, family, plays the largest role in my life. Not just the family here at home, or the love of my children and adorable grandchild to the east, but the Flower Tree and Red Zinnia family. We are a group of incredibly compatible friends, who are amazingly encouraging of each other, talented, thoughtful, and just plain fun to be around. It is this that makes everyday an adventure, in life - and friendship.

During the past year we saw some tremendous accomplishments - with the opening of Red Zinnia. For something that was merely a small thought last winter, it blossomed into the exact kind of store that we were hoping for. Now over the course of the next year we will continue to strive for new and exciting things to fill the shop.

As for me, I am not real big on New Years resolutions. I choose instead to live each day as the gift that it is, the present. I will make a vow though, to write more, and more important, to listen more. To walk under the stars and listen to the trees, to laugh till the tears come, to cook good food, plant more flowers and do more be a good wife, Mom, Nana, and friend.

Happy New Year! Susan

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the store,
Not a creature was stirring,
No one came through the door.

Harriet was safely sleeping,
On her bed on the floor,
When outside in the trees
She heard quite the roar.

She ran round the table,
And put her face to the glass………….
To see what could be causing
This loud sounding crash.

“It’s just us”, we say,
As we open the door
We’ve coming bearing gifts
Catnip, treats and toys galore!

We picked up sweet Harriet
And cuddled her well,
Filled her food and water
And pulled out her new bell.

We left with a smile
Harriet’s blanket tucked tight,
Merry Christmas to all,
And to all a good night.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Down to the wire.........

Another holiday season is coming to a close in our world, and with it comes some wonderful memories. The children walking through the store staring at all the ornaments on the tree, the excitement on the faces of the women in Michelle's classes when they have finished their wreaths and are headed home with something beautiful to hang on their front door. The scent of hot apple cider rising from the urn and the thrill of helping someone find the perfect living Christmas tree that will grace their landscape for years to come. Oh, and we can't forget the site of Harriet sleeping under one of the trees.

I am not going to try and fool you into thinking that "Retail World" is always a pleasant place to be. There are the days that the forklift won't start and you have a huge tree to load or something crashes to the floor and breaks into a million pieces because little hands just had to touch it. But somehow those are few and far between. The majority of our time is spent helping people. The last check mark on the wish list completed, the perfect gift for that hard to shop for friend that has everything, and some days, the really best days, are the ones that someone stops by just to say hi and see how your world is going. I am one of the lucky ones, I have a lot of those days.

Now that my time is split between The Flower Tree and Red Zinnia, one of my favorite moments in the day at Red Zinnia has to be when I see a look of puzzlement on a customers face. They know they have seen me SOMEWHERE before, they just can't place me. Then I start to talk to them, or ask them if they receive the emails from The Flower Tree, and the smile starts to cover their face "I knew I had met you before, your from The Flower Tree". The conversation quite often turns to brown lawns, pruning roses or watering tips at that point. I love it.

So as the winter solstice is now past, and Christmas eve is quickly upon us, we bid farewell to this busy time of year. We will take some time to rest and enjoy the lights of the season. And wait patiently for the 6 days to pass until our children safely arrive for a beautifully long 3 week vacation. Merry Christmas, Susan

Saturday, December 20, 2008

And The Winner Is

Jennifer Williamson and her forever friend, joined Marlea today to pick the winning ticket for our winter raffle. With your support of our CAPS fundraiser we sold $179.00 worth of raffle tickets. Add that to the tickets that were sold by CAPS members and that makes a lot of dog & cat food. Watch for our next raffle of a flowering tree this coming Spring. For more information on all the wonderful things that CAPS does for the animals in our community:
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Friday, December 19, 2008

In the Shadow

Came across this picture from our trip back east in October. Kathy - Me - Charma......just playing shadow yoga.
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2008 Winter Wine Event

Last year we thought it would be a nice treat to have our monthly wine tasting in the evening. The soft glow of the lit Christmas trees, the aroma of the fresh pines filling the gift shop, the lights of the holiday displays outside, the cool, make that cold temperatures that required the roar of a gently built fire in the wood stove........and it was a great event.

This year, when we opened the wine shop in Red Zinnia in November, we became acquainted with one of the executives of Southern Wine and Spirits, Joe Canale. We had told our sales rep Spencer about what we had done the year before, and they thought that they could help us put on another event, but even better. We spent the better part of the week picking out the wines that we would taste, and then another week getting everything else lined out. The food, the music, the helpers all arranged. Invitations went out in the mail to all that had supported the wine departments at Flower Tree and Red Zinnia over the past year, and we made sure that our emails filled in everyone else............and then the day came quickly. We didn't have our greenhouse room set up for Christmas this year, too many leaks last winter to do it again this year. Michelle and Lucia didn't let that stop them. They spent two full days filling the room with huge living Christmas trees, sparkly lights and candles. By the time the lights were dimmed, and the rooms were filling with people you would have thought that you had stepped into a beautiful park, filled with holiday cheer.

With the help of Spencer, Joe and his lovely wife Katy, and John from Encore Beverages, a supplier of some of our smaller boutique wineries, we had five tasting stations set up. Jaime and Bob were our guest sommeliers at one tasting station, and Bill & Korena Mewaldt at another. Everyone was given a card when they arrived listing all the wines available, and we stood back and watched as the evening progressed into one of good cheer, friendship and community camaraderie. It was a great time and we are already looking forward to planning next years event. The best part, all of the wines we served that night, over 40 varieties, are now available at Red Zinnia. A huge thank you to all that helped put this event together. The Flower Tree and Red Zinnia family, we can sure throw a party!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Art by Amy Paul

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Sometimes, while on vacations with my traveling buddy Kathy, you turn around and she is nowhere to be found. You backtrack a few yards, look left - look right, and there she is stopped in the middle of the sidewalk taking pictures. "What type of tree is this?" she asks me when she spots me staring at her. " A ginkgo" I reply. "I thought so, hold on while I get some pictures for Amy". And so it goes for the rest of the week as we take pictures of ginkgo trees, telephone wires, open fields.

About three weeks after we returned from our trip back east a box full of artwork arrived at the Red Zinnia. We had talked with Kathy about carrying some of Amy's artwork in our new store and we were excited about unpacking and displaying them as soon as possible. I have met Amy many times on her and Chad's (Kathy's son) trips north from San Diego for the holidays, and she is a beautiful woman, inside and out. Having only seen her artwork via her website though, I wasn't really prepared for how amazing they are up close. She has an innate sense of detail and color that fills her creations with beauty. Carefully unwrapping the artwork, I suddenly realized the reason for so many of our photos during our trip. Ginkgo leaves fill the first one I unwrap, telephone wires the beautiful backdrop of another. Kathy was filling her camera with future inspiration for Amy's art. The prints that we have hung up at Red Zinnia are small versions of her originals and I can only imagine the impact of viewing one in it's full 3' x 5' glory. The prints are signed and numbered and sealed with an acrylic coating that brings the artwork to life. I am including her website here, but stop by and see them in person. They are beautiful.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Return to Flower Tree

This week marked the return of "normalcy" in my working/play world. Now that the Red Zinnia is up and going strong, I get to go back to my true love, the garden. It does not hurt that the weather has been absolutely gorgeous this week. The sun shining, no winds, the birds by the hundreds picking at the seed heads left on the sunflowers out front. I walked and walked the nursery grounds today in between trying to get caught up on paperwork. The rose garden that just a few short months ago was filled with beautiful color is now sitting empty and sad, but the memory of the confirmation form for the 1500 that will arrive in 2009 that sits on my desk fills me with hope for next spring. The River Garden out back is so peaceful. I sometimes wish we had heaters out there so that people would just go and sit on the bench that overlooks the riverbed and enjoy the view. With most of the water gone you can see all the tracks of the wildlife that live there. Deer mostly, but smaller footprints that I don't recognize, perhaps skunks or muskrat. The hawks that have taken up residence in the giant cottonwoods across the river were circling in their hunt for food, their dance in the air, so graceful. I wandered down to the dock that sits behind the house and glanced down the river and spotted two deer crossing, probably just a small glimpse into the family that was with them. Harriet of course was with me the whole way, jumping out from behind bushes.....hiding behind blocks....waiting for my next move. Life is good. See ya soon, Susan

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving at our house..........

It's a quiet day at our house today. No store (s) to rush and open, no yoga class to get to, the dishes are already done and the house is all picked up. Thanksgiving is a day of rest at our home, and as we sat here this morning and had our coffee, what we did do was plan out the family phone calls, webcam visits and thoughts for the weeks ahead.

We are blessed with a wonderful family, but unfortunate on days like today, they are spread out all over. We will make a phone call to Robert's Mom & Dad in Brunswick, Ga. here in the next few minutes, and then one to my brother David and his family in Ft. Lauderdale. Then we will call his brother Ralph and his family in Homestead, Fl. The phone call to his sister Lisa in South Carolina was enjoyed last night. We will finish up the morning with our most anticipated, a webcam visit with our daughter Sara, and grandson Cash. You might have seen one of the commercials on TV for webcams, or enjoyed a visit on one yourself, but if you don't know what a webcam is, it is a small camera that attaches to your computer. It allows you to "dial up" the person on another computer in real time, and visit. It is as close as we get to visits with our children when they are at their home in Maine. Cash is now at the age, 17 months, that he understands and remembers who we are, so he is anxious to get up close to the screen and "talk" to us. He shows us his newest book, his latest feat on his play truck, how he can carry a chair across the room, and occasionally he trys to get to the back of the computer screen with a "hey....where did they go" look. We look forward to these calls and it keeps us connected in a way we would not have with phone calls alone.

The one phone call/webcam visit we can't make this year on Thanksgiving is to our son-in-law Travis. He is overseas at the moment, but I know he reads these posts when he gets a chance, so this is to you......."I know they don't celebrate Thanksgiving where you are, but we want you to know how thankful we are that you are in our lives, and the father of our grandson. Come home quickly and safely, we can't wait to see you in December, love Sue & Bob."

Yesterday as Lucia and I spent the day at Red Zinnia, it filled my heart with joy as time after time the door opened and in came a family from Fallon with visitors from out of town. The usual "teasing" from one relative to the other, the family histories and recipes that were shared. The swapping of tales of Thanksgiving's past. The new memories that will be created by one family as they planned a new family tradition, the simple act of taking a small book in our shop called "Gratitude" to place on the table for everyone to write in. The phone call from my daughter asking for my Mom's recipe for Green Bean Casserole and Waldorf Salad .It is one of the wonderful parts of living in a small town when you know most of your customers, and they become in a small way, your family also. These "visits" at the store mean so much to me. So even though our family is spread out all over the world, we are thankful for our friends that are close by, and we will joining with some of them around the table this evening.

We are blessed with good health and great family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving, to one and all! Susan

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fall gardening in my world

Living in a yard with huge cottonwood trees surrounding you can be a joy in the summer and a "much avoided" task in the fall. This year we didn't get hit with the leaf minor bugs to bad so all our leaves held on through the entire summer. But they certainly have lost their grip now. The entire front yard, side yard, back yard and flower beds are filled with brownness. This morning I headed outside to start on some of the fall clean-up chores that should have been done weeks ago. Opening a new store, and vacationing with the kids in Maine has put me behind by at least a month but as someone who always tries to see a silver lining in the cloud, at least all the leaves have fallen now. No raking twice this year!

The flowers on the mums have all turned a nice shade of cocoa, but the plants themselves are still very green. The tomato and pepper plants have all been composted and I have pruned back some things, but not to many. I am of the "leave it alone until late winter" group of people regarding pruning. I think that the layer of protection afforded by the remainder of the plant will keep the roots warm in the cold, cold days coming. Think of it as a little warm chenille blanket, comfy and soft, protecting your young roots from the cold. One question we have received many calls on at the nursery this last month though has been about roses. If you have just moved here from warmer locals, now is NOT the time to prune back your roses. Tax Day, April 15th is the earliest recommend date for heavy pruning. We still have many warm sunny days left in the fall, and pruning encourages growth that would just freeze and set your plants back come spring.

I am not at the point yet that I start browsing through the seed catalogs, or planning my early spring garden. I am still trying to get through the bulbs that sit un-planted in the garage, the late fall fertilizer that never found it's way to the lawn, and the drip lines that need to be blown out. I am way behind this year, but I have a new store to appreciate, and memories of an amazing vacation to fill my thoughts. It's back out to the leaf pile for me. Take care, Susan

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We dance with the wind

Softly the wind carries our arms
round and round our circles form
the breeze we long for to carry our words
our elders reach farther with their thoughts
the children play but leave no mark
winter is coming, and with it our silence
until spring brings us warmth- to continue, circling, circling

One of the many special moments of our trip back east was a walk on the beach at Cape Cod. My Aunt Sue parked at the lighthouse, and settled into her front seat with a book and the warm sun peaking through her windshield. Kathy, Charmaine and I set out through the sand, shoes shed at the long steep stairs that led down to the beach. Looking out to the horizon, Charma and I headed straight to the waters edge, the surf loud and inviting. Kathy set out for the upper area of the beach, sand dunes calling her with her photographers eye. We met up about an hour later, many many photos taken by all of us, but Kathy says to us "Did you see the circles in the sand?", we looked at her with a small amount of puzzlement........circles in the sand? No, we were busy looking at the sailboats, the pebbles, the shells........"No, look at this photo I got, the plants, they make circles in the sand from the wind." she tells us with the childlike amazement that only a true photographer can display. We walk back up to the dunes with her, and study the different patterns the native grasses have made. I had walked by at least a 1000 of these same grasses.........before.....but never noticed them, as she had. Makes me want to slow down a little......and enjoy...the patterns in the sand, the pattern in my life. Thank you Kathy, for bringing them to my, and everyones, attention,
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Friday, November 14, 2008

America's Stonehenge

Now that the Red Zinnia is finally open ~ my life has taken on a small amount of normalcy. I wanted to try and get caught up on some of my latest life's adventures.

America's Stonehenge October 2008

This picture was to amazing not to share. While on our trip back east we planned a day at America's Stonehenge. Charmaine and I had been extremely fortunate to visit England's Stonehenge while in Europe back in 2001. We wanted to see what Salem, New Hampshire had to offer. She had found out about it while searching for things to "See & Do" in the area before we left. We traveled down a winding tree lined road, filled with detours and entered a wooded parking lot. While we realized that it would not have the same huge formations that we had seen in England, we weren't really prepared for the magnitude of this one. We entered through the gift shop, oh no, another gift shop, and got our tickets, sat through a short film about the area and what we would see and then headed out through the forest. It was a very cool rainy day, and the trails were slick with dew. The scent of the forest rose up all around us and as we were the only ones on the trail that morning it was all ours to enjoy. The guidebook that they had given us pointed out the different rock formations to look for, and their significance in monitoring the days of the year. We spent the better part of the morning here, lost in thoughts, taking at least a hundred photos between us, and just sitting in the forest. This photo was taken inside one of the many "caves" that were built out of rocks. It was just to awesome not to post. Kathy captured Charmaine and I was we walking out of the darkness. The rest of the day, our last full one on the east coast, was spent in quiet reflection of the enormous accomplishment of whoever had built this beautiful wonder.
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Someone has to do it!

I would have to say that one of the best benefits of owning a new wine shop is taking the opportunity to educate myself whenever possible. Every year Silver State, one of the largest wine distributors in Nevada, invites all of the wineries that they represent to Reno for a gala tasting event. We arrived not really knowing what to expect and we were greeted with a lovely book to keep track of our tastings, and a nice crystal glass. We entered the huge ballroom at the Silver Legacy and stopped to take it all in. Posted by Picasa With the assistance of our Fine Wine Sales Rep, Calen, we set off for the tables to see what we would like to sample. I was accompanied by Jaime, her husband Kevin, Michelle, and Robert. We thought that if we each tried different things we might be able to get a good feel for what we wanted to order for the shop. Michelle started out with the whites, while Jaime and I hit the reds, Bob and Kevin following us, just picking from their favorites. What we ended up with was 5 books full of tasting notes, a HUGE bottle of Klinker Brick to take home, thanks to Bob's winning raffle ticket, and a night full of memories. Jaime and Kimmie went to Southern Wine's Tasting Gala Event the following week. Me - I was in Maine, trying out some East Coast varieties, and believe it or not, found some great California wines while I was there. Our next project is more classes like the one Michelle and I took through Truckee Meadows Community College, on wines and regions where the grapes are grown. My latin from The Flower Tree will come in handy! We will keep you updated as we find out about them. Perhaps a carpool from Fallon is in order. Stop by the Red Zin Cellar, we would love to show you are favorites. See ya soon, Susan

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Wow, what a wild ride this last two weeks have been. While we were been busy putting all the last touches on the Red Zinnia, my life seems to have flown by me. Without the grounding force of a great husband, daily updates and smiles from my amazing daughter, and an incredible circle of friends.......I am sure you would have seen my head rolling down Williams Avenue by now. So here is what I learned in the last two weeks.....

No matter how much planning you is never enough.

Don't think that you have all your bases covered until you actually open the door.

Computers will play havoc in your life...just count on...plan for it....and go with the flow.

There is not nearly as much daylight in the day as they promised you in kindergarten. it or not, sometimes you really must stop for some of this stuff.

We had an amazing opening day. The rooms were filled with wonderful energy and excitement. Words are never enough, but it is what I this moment in time........Thank you, thank you to all of you that helped me make this next dream of mine a reality, and I promise, I won't try and think of any new project...........for at least a year ... : }

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

George's Fans

With all the excitement of leaving for my trip back east, somehow I never got all these photos posted. I flew out at 6pm the night of our annual Harvest Festival. After a full day of fun, music and kid's activities, I grabbed my already packed bag and headed for the airport.

Absolutely !!!! Without a doubt !!! the hit of the day was George, the Giant Turkey! Kevin and Jaime Sammons have raised George to be a polite and very friendly turkey. He lives at the ranch with his mate, and when called upon to do duty as the official greeter for the Harvest Festival, he was only to happy to oblige. Jaime and Kevin patiently visited with each child, describing George's home, his habits ~ and the kids loved him! I hope that he will join us for years to come. As the sign said, "Hi, My name is George, and I live in a Vegetarian Household."

Donna and Eleanor thrilled the children with stories, Michelle helped them create a special painted pumpkin to take home of their very own, and for the adults ~ we were entertained by the soothing sounds of Jim Moore, a lovely wine tasting by Bill, and the great beer basted brat's by Bob. And George, we will see you again next year I hope!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Plymouth Rock & The Mayflower 2

October 13, 2008

We spent the better part of one day of our East Coast travels visiting the Plymouth area. Driving along the colorful back roads of Massachusetts we arrived in the town center in search of the Mayflower 2. Thanks to my Aunt's Sue's numerous trips here with other out of town visitors, we had an on board tour guide that not only filled us in with the historical sites, but also - best restaurants, favorite shopping sites and photo op's.

Nothing really prepared me for the sight of the Mayflower 2 though. I don't know why, well yes I do, it is because as a child I think you get it into your mind's eye what something is supposed to look like, and it stays that way forever.......but I really thought that the ship that had brought over so many of our early settlers was going to be huge. It is very small....and the thoughts of over 100, women and children....crossing the ocean, not having any idea where they were headed, or what would await them, was awe inspiring. We wandered around reading all the historical markers, taking photo's from every angle, and at one point I just sat down on a bench facing the ship and tried to take it all in, and imagine what it must have been like, so very many years ago. The most moving tribute to the families on board was found on a massive statue that sits on a high hill overlooking the site where the Plymouth Rock is located. On the statue they list the names of the travelers that passed away that first year in their new land. The poem on the back was especially powerful, and I wish I had taken the time to write every line down.

The day would not have been complete without a trip to the Cranberry Shop, and then lunch at the Lobster Hut where Charmaine and Kathy had their first "Lobster Experience" of the trip. Over the course of the next two weeks there would be many, but nothing compares to the two of them, with Aunt Sue's expert guidance, tearing into their first "Twins" as it is called when you order a double. As for me, the vegetarian in the group, it was coleslaw and corn, but it was good coleslaw!

Tomorrow it is on to Cape Cod and the first of the antique hunts! Till then, Susan

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Keeper of the Bridge

October 22, 2008

Thanks to my daughter Sara's navigational and Internet skills, we set off from her house on Wednesday morning for a tour of the covered bridges of Maine. It was with a heavy heart that we bid goodbye to her, Travis and Cash ~ but Christmas is coming soon, and they will be joining us here in Nevada for the holidays.

With assistance from the GPS that Bob had thoughtfully got for me before the trip, we plugged in the names of the towns that Sara had recommended and started the amazing trip down the back country roads of Maine. Covered bridges are sure to be on most peoples minds when they think of the quintessential New England photo, and we were no exception. All three of us traveling together are avid photographers, granted some better than others, but we all enjoy the experience of the hunt for the perfect photo that will capture that moment in time. Many times it takes me back to a creative writing class that I had at Coral Park High School in Miami. Each week we were assigned an exercise out of "Pictures in Writing" by David Sohn, yes......I still have the book and actually use it occasionally when I hit a block.....but back to the covered bridges.........

We arrived in Andover, site of the "Most Photographed" covered bridge in America, mid-morning and stopped at little country store to find directions. The GPS coordinates only taking us so far. We were told to "head on down the road a piece, about 3 miles or so, you will see it on the right" and off we went. Ten miles later, and a couple of u-turns, and photo stops, we realized we had gone to far. Turned around again, and stopped at a small house that advertised fresh Maine Maple syrup, but no one was home. Next door though, a women came out and gave us some good directions to find the bridge. Back on down the road we went, not really minding the long way as the colors of the trees, and the sites all around us were so amazing, and there was the sign, COVERED BRIDGE, oh! that sign! Seems we must have been looking at one of those beautiful trees when we went by the first, second and third time. Took a right and headed down a short way and there was the bridge. First of three that we would find on this trip. It was magnificent, and one of the few left that you can actually drive over. We drove through and then parked on the other side, a wooded area that was a likely place for summer swimmers and sunbathers as the sandy beach looked inviting even on the coolness of this day. We spent the better part of the next half hour taking photos from every angle, climbing up and looking out the small windows, envisioning what it must have been like for early settlers in the cold cold winters of Maine, crossing to get to the small town many miles down the road for supplies.

We were setting our camera up to do a time-delayed photo so that all of us could be in the shot, something that we actually mastered by the end of the trip, when a car was approaching to cross the bridge. We looked off to the east and a women was approaching on her bike and she put her hand out for the car to stop, the action saying to us with a smile "Wouldn't want to spoil your picture now". Kathy had a few more shots to take, and we noticed that the women was coming back over the bridge, a few pieces of torn cardboard in her hands. We started up a conversation...........

She had lived down the road for 54 years, and twice a day she made the pilgrimage to the bridge to pick up trash and make sure that is was in good order.... "Saved her one time from a fire ya know, the son and me" she tells us of the time that they thankfully were passing over and saw a smoldering timber, caused by juveniles she feels, burning their tires to leave a mark in this place of history. "The last time I cross it, they will be taking me to my grave" she tells us. I think that she is happy with this thought, her and bridge connected in many ways. She is a weathered women, and time has taken its toil as she struggles to climb back on her bike. We head back to the car, and wave as we leave. I don't think these bridges will just be a "Photo op" anymore. The history of each and every one will play out for us now.

Over the course of our travels we find two more bridges. Both spectacular in their own way. The oldest was found after traveling down a rutted dirt road for over 5 miles. It - to us - was the most spectacular and we picnicked on the shoreline of it's shade. Even though, the first bridge, Andover...... will be the one that stays in my memory the longest. The Keeper of The Bridge, the reason.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Marvelous Maine

We have made it up to Sara's, and the days are filled with laughter and joy. We arrived late yesterday after traveling up from Duxbury, Ma. We spent the days previously with my Aunt Sue having a wonderful time visiting Plymouth, Cape Cod and touring around the local area. I find it hard to describe the beauty of the trees on the drive north.......every shade of orange and yellow wrapped up in a big red scarf. Every time I think I have found my "perfect tree", the one that I will keep in my visions memory for weeks to come, we go around another corner and it is surpassed. The rolling hills, the grass so green, and the skies so very blue. It is truly a beautiful time of year to visit this area.

Today was on of those "make a memory" kinda days. Kathy, Charmaine and I spent the better part of the morning wandering around Downtown Brunswick while Sara and Cash were off at a play date with their local Mom's group. The downtown area is filled with quaint little shops of all kinds, cobblestone sidewalks and friendly shopkeepers. When Sara and Cash caught up with us we headed to the farmers market that was going on in the town common and after much contemplation, we decided that the Wild Maine Blueberry pie would be the one that would come home with us for tonight's dinner. The afternoon was spent with a picnic lunch and a short drive to Bailey's Island to see the rocky cliffs that make up the shoreline in this area. It was quite a contrast from the sandy calm waters that we had been walking on in Duxbury.

On the way home we took the back roads and stopped at Sara's favorite apple stand, but instead of picking up a gallon of cider from the roadside building, she grabbed a wagon and the next thing I knew we were walking through the orchards to the back acreage to pick our own apples. I hope that I keep the memory in my mind's eye forever of Cash taking a huge bite out of a sweet juicy Cortland apple fresh from the tree. We wandered through the trees for the better part of the hour picking the perfect apples to fill our bag to take home. Kathy has promised a pie, and we are going to hold her to it.

The dinner table was filled with conversation of our day as we tried to fill Travis in on all that we had seen and done. The blueberry pie is almost gone and the night is quiet. My heart is sure is good to be with the kids.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cranberry Bogs

I have to admit, I didn't really know how cranberries found it from the field into my cupboard. On a beautiful sunny day we set out from my Aunt Sue's house in Duxbury, Ma. to find out. We traveled down the back roads, filled with beautiful trees, dressed in their fall wardrobe, until we found a cranberry bog. This one had already been harvested, but we got out of the car and proceeded to the bogs edge to see what the field looked like. There were still cranberries on the side of the field and we picked some up to take back to the house with us. I decided to venture into the field a little ways to get to a large pile of juicy red berries calling out to me, and found out why bog means "extremely soft soil filled with water!" With wet shoes and socks I climbed back in the car and we headed on down the road.

About a mile or so later we came across this field, in harvest mode. We parked at the end of the field and walked in about a half mile to where the action was. We spent the better part of the hour talking to the workers, and learning all about how they harvest the berries. They were using two different methods, flooding & dry harvest. They use the water method for the berries that will be used in sauces and juice, and the dry method for the fancy things, like chocolate covered cranberries. It was a great learning experience, and one of the highlights of my trip so far. This is the website of the company that we visited if you want to check it out.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

East Coast travels

We arrived in Boston bright and early on an absolutely gorgeous Fall day. Sun shining and cool breeze blowing we picked up the rental car and settled in for the short tunnel ride under the bay that would take us into the city. We had decided to take advantage of the early morning hour, 7am, and the fact that it was Sunday, to visit a few sites and hopefully avoid some crowds before we headed south to my Aunt Sue's home in Duxbury. I am traveling this trip with my very dearest friends Kathy and Charmaine. We have traveled many, many miles together over the last 20 years - and with common interests, love of history, gardening and antiques - it makes for a great trip.

We cruised around the downtown area and the financial district before the waterfront area called to all three of us, so after coffee fortification and a great breakfast at a local corner shop, we set out walking along the waterfront trail that leads towards the The North End. This area of Boston is made up of small blocks, all different shapes, and they don't really seem to connect in any certain pattern. What at first seemed to be a big puzzle though allowed us to saunter around at our own pace until we eventually saw some signs for the Freedom Trail. We followed those signs for the better part of the morning, humbled by the history presented before us. We stood in awe at the architecture that greeted us around every corner, the gardens that were cleverly tucked into tiny side yards, the colors of the trees as they displayed their Fall wardrobe, and the history that oozes out of every cobblestone. One of our most amazing moments was found at Copp's Hill Burial Ground, where Charmaine located one of her ancestors graves.

We ventured over to the Market area before leaving the city, and the empty streets that had greeted us early morning were now a thing of the past as it seemed that half of the cities population was out to enjoy the beautiful weather. We did get a great tour of Faneuil Hall and the Quincy Market before heading out of the city though. We could easily spend weeks here taking in all the sites and sounds of this beautiful historic city, but..........

It is on to Duxbury.....and the beauty of the sea that will greet us. Till then, Susan

(Pictures posted during this trip can be attributed to all three of us, but the best ones.....are Kathy's. )

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Giant Pumpkin

This years Giant Pumpkin arrived last week, huge as any we have had before. Scott Goodpasture, of Pioneer Farms, grows us a beautiful specimen every year on his land down on the river. We wait in anticipation to see what shape we will get and this year is a beauty. Thankfully we had some strong assistance the afternoon he arrived with it, thanks Dan, so we were able to get it off the truck with little trouble. It now graces the front of the store where it will be on display until the week before Halloween. Then it will be off to Michelle's house, where she will work her magic on it to create the largest Jack-O-Lantern in town.

Don't forget to stop by and guess it's weight. We are giving away two gift certificates this year, one for the adults, and one for the 12 and under group, to the person who guesses the closest to its actual weight. Scott even sealed up the envelope so we can't peek! We will be dividing up the seeds come spring, if you would like to try growing your own, just let us know. Happy Fall, Susan

Sing Along..........

Well.......................I wish I was an ......Oscar Meyer.......yeah...I am sure you know the rest of this little tune. We were traveling into Reno the other night for the Silver State Wine Tasting and as we entered downtown we were greeted on the right with this memory of our childhoods. Of course Michelle, Jaime and I had stop and take a picture. Now if I could just get the song out of my head. Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 3, 2008

Red Zinnia, at last

Sometimes - in the back of your mind, lives a thought or dream. It can work its way to the surface many times, over the course of many months, and then for some reason it starts to take flight. Such is the story of Red Zinnia. Over the past few years, as we have expanded the offerings in the gift shop at The Flower Tree we have wished for a space that would be separate from the garden center. I envisioned it in an old house, with creaky floors, and lots of light from old windows cleaned to a squeaky shine. When I was visiting Robert's Mom, Sharon, a few years ago she took me to such a shop. It was located on Jekyll Island not far from their home in Brunswick, Ga. It was made up of small rooms, each having their own distinctive feel, but cohesive at the same time. It was filled with lots and lots of books as well as an amazing selection of gifts for the home and I remember making a few purchases to take back to Nevada with me.

Fast forward to 2008 - many, many times I would throw it out to those with me in this little adventure called life, "Wouldn't it be nice to have a little wine shop?" ,"Wouldn't it be nice to own a bookstore", "Wow, don't you think we could have just a little gift shop in town if the right location came up?" Somehow, the right place never came up, until this winter. In walked Peggy Hernandez one late winter day, she was just doing a little shopping, and she asked me if I ever thought of opening another store. Marlea was working with me that day, and I turned around and looked at her with a little inside knowledge smile. "Yes, I have thought of it before, but there never seemed to be the right location in Fallon." She asked me if I would consider coming by and seeing what they were doing down on Taylor Street. She and her husband Steve were putting their heart and soul into opening a new restaurant called The Slanted Porch.

Eight months have now passed. Their restaurant has not only opened, but been a huge success in our town. Over that period of time we have patiently waited while the work was done on a little house behind the restaurant. A little house with creaky floors, and old windows that will soon be squeaky clean. Our store will be called Red Zinnia, and will be filled with books, gifts and wine. We are shooting for a November 8th opening, the week after we open the Holiday Room at The Flower Tree, always a much anticipated day. We aren't making another Flower Tree gift shop. Of that there can be only one.

The Red Zinnia, a dream that has taken flight. See you there soon, Susan.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another Ahhhh....... Moment

Last weekend we had the luxury of staying up at Lake Tahoe for a couple days. While some might find our older Airstream more on the "retro" side, than luxurious, it has everything we need to enjoy the great outdoors. The true luxury though, was having an entire weekend to just relax in the most beautiful of surroundings, Fallen Leaf Lake. We road our bikes every day, with only one of us deciding to go off on his own and get lost -that would be Robert. We went to our favorite used bookstore, Keynote Used Books & Records in South Lake Tahoe -prepared amazing meals in the dutch oven, biked and more biked.

We were camping with our dearest friends Ron & Kathy, also "Airstreamer's" , and because it is the second year we have gone up there for Ron's birthday, it can now be considered "a tradition", which is a great way to say - we get to do it every year!

The mornings were very cool, in the upper 30's, but by the time the sun came up over the tall trees it was absolutely wonderful weather. Robert had downloaded the coordinates into his GPS for a geo-cache that was right there at Fallen Leaf, ,and we took off one afternoon to find it. With dogs in tow, we hiked around the northern part of the lake until we reached the old mill. There we found our "cache" placed in the hollowed out end of an old tree. If you have never had the thrill of finding a "cache" - try it. It is the treasure hunt of your youth only better. We placed a trinket inside, and took one out, and signed the log book that was included. I think this was a pretty popular site as the last sign in was only days before ours.

Evenings were spent around the campfire, stories unfolding about our childhoods, our beliefs, our shared histories, and thoughts on what we would do the next day. Bike rides are always included in these wishes for the next day if Kathy and I have any say.

If you get the chance, head on up there even for the day. The quaking aspens are especially beautiful this year, their golden yellow leaves gently shaking in the breeze. We spent part of one day at Tallac wandering through the historical buildings and it's the best time of year, with the crowds gone and the air crisp.

We set off for home on Sunday afternoon, way to soon in both our eyes. Ron & Kathy, being semi-retired got to stay until Tuesday! It was a great relaxing weekend. If you haven't been to Fallen Leaf, stop by.....I will give you a list of my favorite stops. Till I see you in the garden, Susan


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