Thanksgiving, Cherishing the Past, Embracing Today, and Counting Blessings

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving......can it really be?  Where does the time go?  I feel like yesterday it was summer and here we are mid-November.  I woke up in a snow globe four days this week!  Time certainly rushes on while we're busy trying to keep up.  Some days I don't feel like I'm keeping up at all, but lagging behind, breathless and struggling to catch up.  But time waits for no one and believe it or not, here we are at Thanksgiving, at a chilly 16 degrees, leaves floating atop a few inches of snow, Macy's parade on the t.v., Christmas about to barge into place before the turkey leftovers are packed into the fridge.  The last Thanksgiving post I wrote was in 2014.  I re-read that post today, a sort of reminiscent tale of holidays past.   (  And today, four years later, the day, the traditions, continue to change and evolve.  As much as I love everything that awaits me today, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'd love to go back and enjoy one more of those Thanksgivings of my youth.  I'd love to taste my grandmother's cooking again, and eat hot chestnuts my grandfather peeled for me.  I'd love to listen to the banter among the adults with the wisdom I have today.  Oh how lovely it would be!
We can't go back though.  We can retell the stories and look at photos, but those days are gone and today we make new memories, new traditions, and savor the Thanksgiving of today.  For us that day will be spent down the street at my daughter and son-in-law's home.  My mom will join us and later our daughter, Katie, and her husband and baby Alex will join us for dessert.  I have not spent the week cooking like most.  My bestie, Ann Marie, lives for Thanksgiving.  She loves cooking a full turkey dinner and does so several times a year.  Me....well I did that several years (not with the same enthusiasm as her) but these days and for the past few years, we leave the cooking to the pros.  We order our dinner (and what a dinner it is) from Mazzone Hospitality.   They supply everything to make the perfect Thanksgiving feast, including chopped veggies for turkey soup) and it is delicious and just like my Grams used to be.  I'm tellin' makes the day so easy and is well worth the money to not have to fight the grocery crowds or spend hour after hour in the kitchen.   We'll just gather round, eating, laughing, and counting our blessings and really.....isn't that what today is about?
I have to say, I've always been a pretty grateful person.  I try to not take things for granted, whether it's people or circumstances.  I don't need a holiday for that, but as I was getting ready for the day I was thinking of some of the things I'm especially grateful for this year.  Here are some of them:

  • I'm grateful to have such a patient and giving husband who never fails to support my ideas, is always ready at a moment's notice for photo excursions, isn't a traditional meat and potato for supper kinda guy, tells me I'm beautiful with bed head and raccoon eyes, and cheerfully does dishes and laundry while I edit photos and write blog posts.
  • I'm grateful for two amazing daughters who have successful careers, beautiful children and wonderful spouses who all live within a mile of us.  
  • I'm grateful for three beautiful grandchildren who surpassed my dreams of how wonderful it would be to be a grandma.
  • I'm grateful to still have my mom who is healthy and happy and such an inspiration for living life to its fullest.
  • I'm grateful to be retired and able to enjoy the fun things in life, even if that means sitting in my window shooting photos of my backyard birds, lingering over my morning coffee, waving to the school bus each morning as my granddaughter goes by.
  • I am grateful for those family members no longer with us....their love, their wisdom and their influence shaped me into who I am today.
  • I'm grateful to have finally spent the money to fix some annoying but not life-or-death issues at home and finally have enough outlets in the bathroom, can turn the light on without the fan coming on, have a bathtub faucet that is easy to adjust without going from scalding hot to freezing cold in a millimeter of a turn.  Oh, it's the little things that make me happy!
  • I'm grateful to have found a church that feels like home and a God who loves me.
  • I'm grateful to have things in life that excite me and remind me that while a perfectly kept house is nice, there's more to life than chores and to-do lists.
  • I'm grateful I was raised to have an open heart to love people, to trust and to care.  I'm grateful to be trusting and appreciative and willing to forgive and move forward.
  • I'm grateful for all of you who are so supportive of this blog, enjoy my photos and take the time to tell me or click 'like'.  
I could go on and on, but these are the big things at the top of my list today.  I am extremely blessed in life, for sure way more than I deserve.  I don't take any of it for granted.  On this day of giving thanks, I hope that each of you have a long list of blessings that make your heart full, that you are surrounded by people you love, and that your day is full of good food, and traditions, old and new.  Happy Thanksgiving!
The loves of my life!

Autumn Takes Its Final Bow in Washington County

Wednesday, November 14, 2018 it just me or is anyone else feeling like the seasons are moving at record speed?  Like everyone, we were pretty convinced that this autumn wasn't going to be a banner year for foliage.  We'd taken several rides and everywhere we went, the leaves were still green and dry.  I resigned myself to the idea that there wouldn't be any great foliage shots this season and figured I'd just have to get ready for snow.  Then it happened, we had to drive to Albany for a doctor appointment and holy moly....the foliage was amazing.   As soon as we got back from the appointment, we grabbed my camera paraphernalia and headed to Washington County because, well, you already know.  We love Washington County.  We still had a few hours of daylight, and while it was a grey, cloudy day, we made the most of it.  I can't fit all the photos in this post so watch for them in an album or slide show on my page. 
I love old, worn barns, cows, open fields and everything Washington County offers.  If you've been following for long, you have seen most of these places before.  I can't resist capturing them in every season.  I'm thinking of doing a coffee table book on Easton again this year.  Anyone interested?

 This next one was a new find for us this year.   Love it!  Don't you?

I began and ended with two of my favorite farms - the Billings Farm and the Connor Farm.  Love, love, love both of them! 

There may be snow on the ground today and more coming tomorrow, but on this day, autumn was boasting its last hoorah and boy, it was going out in grand style.  It doesn't get much better than this and it didn't last long.  The next day was high winds and rain and that was the end!  I'm so lucky we were able to capture it before it was gone.  Do you love Washington County as much as me?
Thanks for stopping by.  Don't forget to check my Facebook page....  in the upcoming days for a video or slide show of the rest of our captures that day.  If you live in Washington County or know someone who does who might be interested in receiving a photo book for the holidays, private message me at  Once I have a book put together and have a price, I can let you know the specifics and you can decide then.  Perhaps a calendar?    Bundle up and get those snow tires on.....winter is coming.  Tom Turkey might have to wear a muffler to dinner Thursday!  Thanks for visiting Life As I See It!

Honoring Those Who Served at the Gerald B.H. Solomon National Cemetery

Saturday, November 10, 2018
For anyone lucky enough to live near a National Cemetery, a visit at any season is a humbling experience.  Whether you have a relative there (I do) or not, it only takes a second, a glimpse, to be taken in by the solemn sight of the graves of the many who served our country.  That was especially true on our recent visit last weekend when the foliage was particularly vivid, the gravestones standing out even more than normal.
The Saratoga National Cemetery was established in 1999.  In January 2002, President George W. Bush signed legislation renaming the cemetery the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery.  Congressman Solomon was known as the champion of veterans' causes.  He spearheaded the effort to create the cabinet level Department of Veterans' Affairs and successfully led a drive to establish the national cemetery in which he is buried.
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The Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery is the 6th national veterans' cemetery.  The cemetery consists of 351 acres located on Duell Road in Schuylerville, not far from the Saratoga National Park.  At full capacity, the cemetery will provide burial space for 175,500 veterans and eligible dependents.  Currently approximately 18,000 are buried there, some in graves, and cremated remains in columbaria niches and in garden niches.  One article I read said that about 1500 are laid to rest each year in this sacred resting place. 

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Veterans Day Blog

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While the foliage certainly added a level of beauty to the cemetery, that beauty is present regardless of the season.

Each year volunteers join the Wreaths Across America, a national network of volunteers, to lay wreaths on the graves.  This year that event will be held on December 14, 2019.  Last year, 3,000 volunteers signed up to help place wreaths on 12,000 graves.  The public is welcome and encouraged to help sponsor the wreaths.  One wreath is $15, 5 are $75, or 10 for $150.  For more information about sponsoring a wreath, go to: Sponsor a Wreath Across America   For information about volunteering, please check out their Wreaths Across America's Official Facebook Page:
My personal family connection to the cemetery:
Married for 64 years, George was called to war 7 years after he and Harriet were married.  George spent three years on the South Pacific.  To read more about him and their very special life, check out one of my earlier blog posts: Tribute to a Very Special Veteran

Bell from the U.S.S. Saratoga

 If you've never visited the cemetery, I urge you to make time to do so.  There will be a Veteran's Day service on November 11, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.  So many have given so much to protect this country.  This Veteran's Day.....take time to remember those men and women.

Part II of Our Autumn Visit to Amish Country in Upstate NY

Monday, November 5, 2018

I hope you've had a chance to check out Part I of our recent road trips through Amsterdam, Glen, Fonda, Palatine and surrounding areas, all of which have a growing Amish population.  Did you know that New York has the fastest growing Amish population in the country? According to Amish America ( there are currently over 12,000 Amish living in NY in 89 church districts.  The first Amish settled in NY in 1831 and since 1970 they have had a signifanct presence in the state.

"The Mohawk Valley is home to five distinct Amish settlements, the Old Order, Swartzentruber, Byler, and Andy Weaver Amish.  The Byler Amish settlement in Fort Plain was the first established in 1986 and has grown to be the largest in the area with five districts.  Andy Weaver Amish settled in Montgomery county near Glen and Fultonville.  The Andy Weaver affiliation originates in Ohio.  Settlers to this part of NY left their home community in Ashland, OH due to long-standing concerns over behavioral standards among youth in the settlement.  Andy Weaver Amish are more conservative than mainstream Old Order affiliations, but no less than Swartzentruber Amish.  Andy Weaver churchers typically permit more limited technology than Old Order congregations and adhere to strict shunning." (taken from the Amish America site)
What we've noticed in our travels, from Amsterdam to Glen to Palatine and Fultonville, lumbering is a huge part of the Amish livelihood, along with agriculture.  One thing we noticed when we found the much larger, fancier compounds was the very noticeably larger number and variety of livestock.  Instead of a couple of horses, these larger compounds housed several horses, sheep, goats, chickens and cows.  Consequently the horses tend to look healthier and meatier.  Someone once told me Amish are cruel to their animals.....I've never seen animals that look abused where I've traveled but it's true, Amish horses do their share of work.....just like everyone in an Amish family.

Another thing we've noticed is that children are often outside the grass, in the mud, on the lumber piles.  We've seen young girls working the fields and gardens, just as much as the young boys.  Most of the farms we pass have signs out advertising baked goods, lumber, etc... all noting 'no Sunday sales.'   What always amazes me is the fact that youngsters drive the buggies with their adults present!  Considering how fast cars have come up on us on these roads, it sort of scares me to think of kids driving a buggy.  I'm guessing DMV has no driving test for buggies.

People have asked me where to find the Amish and the short answer is 'anywhere you see the buggy signs'.  That's always our clue. They are scattered all over, but when you find one, you usually find a few nearby.  I'm glad to have them because they seem to appreciate greenspace and wherever they are, you'll find acre upon acre of beautiful farmland.
Of course not every farm in this area is an Amish farm.  There are plenty of non-Amish farms too, some quite old and full of character.  Here's a few of those....near Palatine and Ephratah NY.

Fields of mature soybeans

Fields of Sunflowers  -Ssshhh, don't tell my backyard birds!

More soybeans....

And a few not far from Stone Arabia.....

And some of my Amsterdam favorites:

Whether they're Amish or not, the Mohawk Valley is filled with picturesque farms just asking to be appreciated and photographed. You don't have to ask me twice. I know so many people who take road trips to the Adirondacks or Vermont. I urge you to expand your horizons and take a drive to this beautiful area. Grab your smart phone or GPS and let yourself wander off the beaten path. You won't be disappointed....unless of course your heart is in the city. As for me.....well, you already know where my heart is. Thanks for visiting today. If you haven't already, be sure to check out Part I of this two part series.   Love this blog and want to read more?    Subscribe Here  If you love seeing the Amish and want to see more, you can check out my Blog Directory under the category, Destinations-NY (    See you next time at Life As I See It!
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