Along the Shore

Last fall we had to buy a van to transport me in my wheelchair. At first we saw it as a necessity but as Spring arrived we realized we could now go places we could not go before. We then decided to treat our area as if we had just moved here.

Here is our van with and without ramp. We call him Vinny–


We ended up going to many places but let us start with our favorite place,

Chamard Vineyards in Clinton. It has been here all along but we never knew it had a restaurant.

Chamard Vineyards Chamard Vineyards--BackPorch Chamard Vineyards--Vines

It has great food and entertainment, some of which we can access. In fact we are planning to see a folk performer this Sunday.

Another place that has always been just up the road from us is Chatfield Hollow State Park. It has a lake, a covered bridge and a waterwheel. We just never knew it was there.


We have not really been able to enjoy living by the water but this year we went to three places right on the water.

The Dock&Dine–

Dock&Dine Dock&DineOutside

The Back Porch–


And Abby’s Place–


All three of these restaurants are on the Connecticut river.

Gail remembered a very nice Inn further up the river next to an old opera house that she and her mother would go to.

This is the view from the Gelston House–


This is the Goodspeed Opera House–


The Guilford Green is the largest in New England–

Guilford Green

We were too late to go to Whitfield’s Inn, so we went down the street and found this little Italian restaurant which had the best Italian food we ever had!


We found one place of interest in Essex, the Art Essex Gallery.

Art Essex Gallery

This is a picture of the clay bowl that we purchased. It was inexpensive because it was unnamed.


Jean found a wonderful gift shop in Old Lyme called the Bowerbird.


Next to it was Jessie’s Restaurant where John had fish&chips and I had a lobster mac&cheese.


We took my mother to the Florence Griswold Museum and enjoyed a meal over looking the Lieutenant River.


East of Old Lyme is Harkness Memorial State Park. We visited it with Jean and her friend.


Our furthest excursion was to Olde Mistick Village in Mystic.

Ducks--Olde Mistick Village Tea House--Olde Mistick Village Ten Clams--Olde Mistick Village

This is a shopping place that I would definitely like to go back to again.

One of the nicest things this summer was going to Ivoryton Playhouse to see “Dreamgirls”, the story of the Supremes.


It has been a wonderful summer because of our van.

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We Know It’s Spring When

We know it is spring when our azaleas and rhododendron bloom.

This is the order in which our azaleas bloom.




The pink below is one of four.



We know it is spring when we see this guy–


We know its spring when the birds start to build their nests. This year we had five nests on the property. We always have two robin nests and this year we also had a cardinal nest and a catbird nest.


We know it’s spring when Jess brings my Mother’s Day Present–


We know it’s spring when my birthday Hosta comes up–


We know it’s spring when I have to visit the dentist–


I know it’s spring when I am able to go out. This year we visited the Florence Griswold  Art Museum–


We know it’s spring when our daughter Jess is running in the Boston Marathon–

JessRanAtBoston       JessNumber4100

We know it’s spring when our daughter Jean graduated with a Master’s Degree in Wildlife Biology. We do not have any pictures yet but we will post them next time.

We know it’s spring when graduates are moving to find jobs. Jean just moved to the Kauai Island in the state of Hawaii.

KauaiWaterSpout  kilauea_lighthouse_kauai_hawaii-1680x1050 Kauai-Hawaii-Maelstrom

I know it’s spring when I run low on books. Here are some of the books that I recommend


“The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers

“Woman in Red” by Eileen Goudge

“The Welsh Girl” by Peter Ho Davies

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaleo Hosseini

“Mozart’s Sister” by Rita Charbonnier

“Four Queens” by Nancy Goldstone (this is a non-fiction)

I would like to especially recommend “The Yellow Birds” as an excellent choice for a book club discussion.

We hope that all of you have a nice spring as well.

–Gail and John

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A Good Book And A Warm Meal

During this cold and difficult winter, we would like to share some books and recipes.

First the books. Below is a list of the books with my comments but if you would like a fuller description please click on this link.

Book Descriptions


Next to “Time and Time Again” this is undoubtedly my favorite book. This book is so unique I would recommend it highly. Unfortunately, it was not publicized properly.


This is an enthralling  story that spans two periods, one after the great 1800’s earthquake and one in the 1930’s.


The author gives his fictional account of a horrific practice in India today.


This book shows the very difficult life of woman in Afghanistan and the very positive changes that have occurred just recently. It is also a wonderful love story.


This book has twists and turns so that you do not really know what is going to happen next.


Covering over two hundred years this story circles around the remains of a strange and exotic bird. It will definitely keep your interest.


The author has sailed the Atlantic herself in a small boat as well as other real life adventures and she brings all this to an excellent story about the very dark days in France under the Nazi occupation.


This is a most wonderful love story, as well as a historical fiction. Both John and I loved this book and its characters so much that we refused to listen to the very end, knowing that the two exceptional people were not going to make it. We have come to respect the Welsh much for what they were and are to this day. Seven hundred years after the fact, Welsh people still put flowers on the grave of Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales.


This unique story traces a series of tiny artifacts found in a very rare and valuable book. The main character unlocks the mysteries of the many people of the book. The book is based on a true story.


This is an enjoyable book to read. Caney is a wounded Vietnam vet who has to hire as a cook a man from Vietnam. As you might expect this leads in many interesting directions. It’s also a love story between Caney and a Crow woman who arrives with a three-legged dog…


Caleb is the first native American to graduate from Harvard College. It is also a romance between an English woman and Caleb.


These are two parallel love stories separated in time. Alice went to jail of nine years for attempting to murder the wealthy man who killed her small son in a drunken car incident. The now mayor who she tried to kill is now working behind the scenes to hurt her through her remaining son. This is also a romance.


Now for the recipes. Each is a link to a Pdf file that will open in the browser.

Meat Loaf Roulade

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Sour Cream Chicken

Hungarian Goulash

We hope that you will enjoy these books and warm meals.

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Under the Zinnia Shade

The Fence

As a birthday present, John and Jean created a new garden for me with a very pretty wire fence.

We first dug up the ground and placed some weed blocking cloth as the underlying layer.  It comes in a roll and is very effective in stopping weeds.

Then we covered the top with Canadian peat moss and finally put up the fence.

The individual fence sections have an ocean wave motif.

The Zinnias

About five years ago we purchased some Zinnia seeds from Parks and started on the southern side of the house. We then transferred them to my garden. The seed packet description said that they would grow to two to three feet high. As you can see in this picture they were about four to five feet high.

The above was not their full hight. They actually reached to a bit above six feet. Everyone said they were beautiful but all I saw was the green bottoms. The flowers were well over my head in the  wheelchair. In fact, I was able to sit in the “shade of the Zinnias”. Unfortunately, we do not have a picture of their full height. When John went to cut them down in the fall the bottom of the stalks actually had bark on them. It took three wheelbarrows to clean out my small garden.

The Lily

In the same year, the lily at the back of our house, grew to be about eight feet tall!

This is a closeup of the blossom.

That’s not all that was big.

The Little Pines

About four years ago, we purchased ten pines from the Arbor Foundation and planted them on the back hill. They struggled because the weeds on that hill were voracious. We took advantage of Jean’s help to move the four survivors to a happier place.

Here they proudly stand alone, unmolested and enjoying the sun.

We hope you enjoyed the big and the small of our garden tour.


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A Tour of the Blue Room

The blue room is our multipurpose room and faces the back of our property.

When you open this door–

You will see  our mud room which contains a cabinet of seasonal decorations and flower vases.

 On your left you will find our shelf of commercial DVDs.

On your right is our half bathroom–

On the right side of the door to the mud room is a stain glass made by my cousin Barbara, originally for my parents. My friend, Anita made the quilt as a going away present.

Continuing to your right is the washer & dryer, enclosed behind a double wooden door.

To the right of the washer and dryer is our attempt to grow herbs on the window sill. In place of a shade we use a large hanging (false) plant.

To the left of this window you would see our “Bird & Boat”—

The picture is of the Natalie Todd, a schooner out of Bar Harbor, Maine. We had the chance to go on this sail boat with our daughters when we visited Acadia National Park while camping.

Under the herb shelf is our glass tea table which is a perfect place for my jigsaw puzzle.

Above the glass table is one of the six sky lights in our home–

Jean asked me what I would like for Christmas. I told her a picture of the ocean would be nice. I didn’t think she would take me literally!

Jess gave us the bird with candle set that sits in this window.

The space between these two pictures is for a knot board which has knot happened yet.

In this window you can see the bare limbs of trees weave a pattern against the morning sky.

The baskets below are from my dear friend and prayer partner, Nancy.

In the door frame is a “witch ball” and a clam net.

This is the TV room with our pet “dog”.

Every morning before breakfast we exercise. I am able to park my wheelchair on the end of the BowFlex and use the pulls for exercise. I do 900 pulls every session while John walks on the treadmill.

In the evening before dinner, we also exercise. Three times a week John puts me on the stander which allows me to put weight on my legs. Two times a week I use the Bowflex at night and the other two times a week I use the leg pull device you can see to the left of the stander to exercise my legs. Also note the pull bar which I use for upper body exercises at various times during the week.

We hope you enjoyed the tour of our blue room.


–Gail & John

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Soup and Where it is made

I would like to start with one soup recipe and end with another, putting in between products we have found that are of good quality and most made in the USA.

First is a quick and simple soup from my parents–

Grandma & Grandpa’s Vegetable Minestrone Soup

Kitchen Items

1. Arrow Plastic Manufacturing Company, Elk Grove, IL

Phone: 847-595-9000

With this company it is necessary to call for a price and then mail in your order. Also note that the item quantities are for wholesale. Any item can be ordered as a single item retail. If you call, just have a list of numbers and quantities. The operator will give you the total and where to send the order. All items are made in the USA. We have found no other source for USA plastic items. The prices are low.

2. Nordic Ware, Minneapolis, MN

Almost every item is made in the USA and the prices a quite good. They do allow online ordering.  Here is a roaster we purchased. It is solid and has an excellent finish–

3. We found these items (not USA but not China etc) in a local shop. They ship phone orders. If anyone wants the number, please let me know.–

German Knife, German pounder, German chopper

4. Lamson & Goodnow,Shelburne Falls, MA 01370 for American made knives. We have one and it is quite good.

Fabric Items

1. Hotter Comfort Concept Shoes–USA

Made in the UK but of excellent quality and a low price. Shipping is from within the US. They offer a variety of styles and colors.

2. GOTKEYS Unlimited , Manchester NH

All pajamas and T-shirts are made in this country. Good quality and yet inexpensive. All labels include these alternate washing instructions: For Worst Results: Drag through puddle behind car. Blow dry on roof rack….

3. The Vermont Country Store offers many items made in the USA. Here are three we have purchased.



Shawl (modeled by my mother)

Paper Products

1. Office World for any stationery products. Though some are not USA, they always tell you the country of origin.

2. Dover Publications

As you can see, all their products are made in the USA. They offer children’s coloring books, paper dolls and other craft items. They also offer adult fiction and non-fiction, as well as posters and wrapping paper.

3. Leanin’ Tree

All the greeting cards are made in the USA  and are of good quality.

Other Items

1. Peck’s Multi Purpose Breakfast Tray with legs

With the legs down it can be used for reading or a laptop. There is a tray on the right side for a TV remote or computer mouse. It is made of good quality hardwood but is light weight.

2. Premium Bird Food for Finches – 25 lb

Our two Zebra Finches (each weighing under an ounce) consume about 25 lbs of birdseed every nine months! So to save cost we found a source for made in the USA seed. Of course, they also sell other products (some made in the USA) for other pets.

3. FemailCreations

Most of their products are made by American artisans. They sell decorative pieces, beauty items and jewelry.

Our daughter Jessica on Christmas Eve made this delicious Cauliflower Soup.

We hope you enjoy and find useful this months blog.


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The Birds and the Books

The Birds

I would like to talk about the birds in our area and the books that I like.

These birds are commonly seen along the river banks, marshes and the shoreline.

One of the birds in our area is the Cormorant. We usually see them on power lines along Route 1.

Snowy Egrets are spotted along the Connecticut River banks.

Just recently in the local newspaper we saw the pictures below showing volunteers putting up the pole nests  for Osprey’s in Hammonasset Park . We have seen this bird in our walks along the beach.

When I was a child, I frequently saw these beautiful birds in the marsh behind our house. We spotted this Red Wing Blackbird at Hammonasset in the marsh area.

Here is our favorite shoreline duck.


Here is a real Connecticut shoreline duck (Surf Scoter) , photographed at the Hammonasset jetty.

We chose this Red-tailed Hawk to be included because we saw him while sitting in our front yard. He dove so close that I could see many details.

I saw a Red-shouldered hawk in our backyard killing a mouse with his claws.

The Books


DESCRIPTION: Nineteen-year-old Mary Boulton kills her
                  cruel husband and flees from two vengeful brothers-in-law.
                  Plagued by disturbing visions, she retreats deeper into the
                  wilderness–and into her own psyche–but finds some allies,
                  including reclusive frontiersman William Moreland.

The writer is a poet who has turned to writing novels. This is her first novel. Beautifully written. Excellent book club choice. An intriguing story with many twists and turns.


DESCRIPTION:  When the earthquake brings Annie Lark’s Missouri house down on top of her, she finds herself pinned under the massive roof beam, facing certain death. Rescued by French fur trapper Jacques Ducharme, Annie learns to love the strong, brooding man and resolves to live out her days as his “River Wife.”

GAIL’S COMMENTS: An unusual story that was very well-written. The main story takes place after the 1815 earthquake, but it is given context by a woman reading of the account in the family’s archives over a century later. The characters are strong and the plot does not go where one expects it to.


DESCRIPTION:  His father’s words haunt Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales, who has been ruling uneasily over his fractious countrymen. Above all else, Llewelyn fears that his life and his own dream—of an independent, united Wales—might be lost to Edward I’s desire to expand his English empire.

GAIL’S COMMENTS: We became so attached to the historical characters of Llewelyn and his wife Eleanor who were doomed to fail that we did not want to finish the book. It is that good.


DESCRIPTION: In 1942, Englishman Will Truesdale falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang but their affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese in World War II . Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong to work as a piano teacher and also begins a fateful affair. Then impossible choices emerge-between love and safety, courage and survival, the present, and above all, the past.

GAIL’S COMMENTS:  I enjoyed the romance and intrigue of the novel.


DESCRIPTION: The letters comprising this novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath.

GAIL’S COMMENTS: This novel takes place on one of the islands in the English Channel after WWII. You learn about the characters through the letter format which works remarkably well.


DESCRIPTION: Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert analyzes the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war.  Hanna, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair and she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries.

GAIL’S COMMENTS:  I really liked this book, because of the framework of the plot. The tracing of each of those small fragments led to so many different stories.

I am down to my LAST book. Please share with me any ones you have enjoyed?



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