Monday, February 1, 2016

Seasonal Visitors...

For days and days, I have been taking pictures of the trumpeter swans and Canadian geese that have been gathering in the field just east of ours.

And failing to get a shot that really shows how many there are...

For years, that field has been in berries, but last year a crop of potatoes was grown there. The cover crop growing after harvest was complete has left a very large open area, with a few big puddles of water here and there.

Since early January, the big white swans have been gathering there. First, there were only 6-8, and they gave me quite a start when I walked around the back corner and almost right up to them.

They are big! When they are looking around, I don't doubt that the top of their heads are at the top of my shoulder; and their bodies are not small. Think 25 lb turkey spread out over a larger frame.

Daisie and treated them respectfully. I feared that she would consider them as she does most birds: intruders that must be chased away. However, she seemed quite impressed with their size and decided the better part of valor was to act like they weren't there.

One day, they were but ghostly shadows in the ground fog, gliding about mysteriously. It was a lovely sight, but not one that translated well in the camera.

Each week, their number grew until we estimated on our walk last Saturday that there were HUNDREDS out there. And quite a meeting they were having! They make a pretty pleasant sound, fortunately, and many of them were talking. We saw groups of 8-10 come flying in from every direction, circling the field and gracefully landing.

More and more Canadian geese had joined the swans, They would start circling high above, much higher than the swans. We had to watch for several minutes as the geese kept spiraling lower and lower, landing in the middle of the tribes of swans. Swans congregating with swans, and in the middle, gaggles of geese gathering with their kind.

On Sunday, we walked out to find a couple of hunters parked in their portable blinds on the edge of the field. We saw no swans, and the geese on the ground turned out to be a large gaggle of decoys. Only a few geese were in the air, circling, circling and then wheeling away. They knew what was up. Ha,ha... We weren't much help to hunters' cause, walking around their blind, but I can't say I felt bad about it.

Today, the swans and geese numbers are lower, and I think it has as much to do with the calendar as those hunters. I will miss their honking, and muted trumpeting, and watching the masses of them move around the field.

And I still didn't get a great picture to share. But that doesn't mean I won't share a bunch of bad ones with you! Hope you get a little idea of the beauty of these seasonal visitors.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

All the Christmases...

Once again, it was a happy Christmastime...and once again, it was a busy Christmastime.

This is a problem you have when you have families that enjoy each other, and feel the holidays aren't complete without seeing each other...A full calendar, and an overload of good times and good food.

Such suffering! {wink}

The Season of Goodness began with the Honcoop Family Christmas gathering here on December 20th. The out-of-town Honcoops came across the mountains, and from the south to join us, which made it extra fun. Thirty-eight people in our house all talking and laughing and enjoying the kids antics makes for one loud, but happy party! 10 of the 38 were children -- who provide the entertainment nowadays! We had such fun watching the greats open gifts; and then the grandkids unwrapped their presents from Gramma & Grampa. Gramma always sends them out with money to do their own shopping -- with the rule that they must wrap it up and bring it to the party. I quite enjoy watching her delight at their purchases.

Miss Emma made her debut at the Honcoop Party. Blessings on Dillon and Tiffany, who were experiencing some of those challenging days of beginning of parenthood, for making it to the party, There were many family members eager to meet the Little Miss! Emma took the attention well, sleeping sweetly in many different arms that afternoon. She knows how to handle being adored! It was a great day, and fun start to the Week of Christmas Parties!

On Wednesday night, Emma and I had our own little overnight Christmas party when I stayed the night with her so her mommy & daddy could get some uninterrupted sleep. Please don't take offense, family, but this was my favorite Christmas party of the week...the Little Miss all to myself!

On Christmas Eve, Cait & Jon went south to join Jon's extended family for their celebration. Meanwhile, Randy, Jess & I picked up the Likkel's (Ivan & Kay) for a DQ blizzard and a tour of Christmas lights around town. While we were enjoying our ice cream, who should appear but Dillon, Tiffany & Emma who needed a little Christmas Eve celebrating of their own. A lovely meeting!

Christmas Day was Turkey Dinner Day, and not entirely successful. I had purchased what I thought to be a small turkey for this day. Somehow it turned out to be a large turkey breast instead. No dark meat?! Not Christmas dinner. So I had to find other turkey parts, legs & thighs, to correct this deficiency. However, I found that a whole turkey is much greater than the sum of its parts. The white meat was dry, while the dark was chewy...All I can say is that if I ever needed gravy to turn out well this was it...And thankfully, dinner was saved this way. The Likkels joined Randy, Jess and I for Christmas dinner, and they are a gracious bunch.

I thought that was a weird shaped little turkey...Live and loin!

The RanHonFam Christmas was enjoyed on Boxing Day. Dillon, Tiffany & Emma had returned from their Canadian Christmas to spend the day with us, and we enjoyed the usual fun AND  new fun in having a baby in the family! We have to admonish Grandpa Randy to share Emma. His strategy is to walk in the room, pick her up, and don't give her up until someone makes him. I guess I can just be glad that he has not expressed any interest in sleepover baby-sitting.

Our last party was the Likkel Christmas Party, where we enjoyed soup and bread, a nice change from turkey and party food. People did puzzles, played games, and Miss Emma was once again debuted and enjoyed by more Great Aunties, Uncles and cousins! A few years ago, our family let go of buying gifts for each other, and now do a group gift to a charity, This year the Parkinsons Foundation was chosen. The money box is filled with cash, anonymously...But I am so pleased to know that our kids have inherited their grandparents generous hearts as the gift, when tallied, is always bigger than we expect.

It makes for joyful hearts.

All these parties and gatherings are great, and I look forward to them...And after they are done, I look forward to the satisfied quietness that follows. I used to be so sad when Christmas was over. As the years pass, I find myself more and more content at the end of the season, grateful for times of rejoicing, fun and celebration -- but also grateful for an everyday life that satisfies.

God bless us, everyone!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Miss Emma Pearl...

I’ve been puzzling, for some time now, over what to say about the arrival of our precious little granddaughter, Emma Pearl.

For once, I seem to lack the words, at least the right ones, to describe the wonderful privilege of becoming grandparents. There’s just not quite the right adjective available to characterize such an event.

It was quite a day, December 10th, waiting many hours after knowing the process had begun. Thanks to Caitlin for requesting that I go Christmas shopping with her for some of those hours! It was a pleasant and effective distraction! Yet, it was late in the evening when we finally heard that the baby was going to make its arrival by c-section. I confess that at that point I felt the most worry, especially as we waited with Tiffany’s parents and sister for 2 hours until we heard news from Dillon. What could be taking so long? Fortunately, it was all good news, and they had just been taking their own sweet time with their newborn – of which I approved completely!

Here is Dillon arriving to make us guess: Boy or girl? Weight? Of course, he would make us guess…and most of us were wrong! For some time, several of us were convinced that baby was a boy, which made it even more fun that baby is a girl!! For weight, I guessed 9 lbs., Grandma Pat guessed 8 lbs. and was shocked to hear that Baby Girl Honcoop weighed 8#15!!

The doctor had complimented Tiffany on her toughness in laboring with a big baby, who turned out to be sunny-side up, but the Little Miss was not going to come out in the conventional way. We were all so thankful that they did not keep trying and trying, exhausting both mom & babe before they went to Plan B…so much better for both.

At this point, Baby Girl Honcoop’s name was not confirmed. Though by now it was midnight, we were told if we waited a bit longer, when Tiffany was out of recovery, we could see them both!

And who would leave at that point! No one...

It was 1:00am before we got in to see the new momma and baby girl. They both looked so great! There, Dillon and Tiffany announced that baby’s name is Emma Pearl. Pearl was Grandpa Gordon’s mother, and I think it is a lovely tribute to her.

Besides, this little girl is a pearl to all of us!

Looking over 10 little fingers and toes...

Grandma Pat

"Hi Emma! I'm your grandma!"

Grandpa Randy can't get enough...

...just like Grandpa Gordon!

Auntie Marci 

Uncle Jess...

...found out that holding a newborn is pretty sweet. 

Auntie Cait holding her niece, who looks a lot like HER newborn pictures.

I have always loved newborns! They are just such precious, sweet wonders of miniature humanity. And of course, I feel this way about Emma…But as well, there is the wonder of this new person in our lives. Who is she? What will she like? How will she think? What thoughts and perceptions will come from her little head? I just can’t wait to find out! Things I took for granted in my youthful pursuit of parenthood, I now find quite wondrous. She will bring such joy to our lives with the expression of her personality.

As well, it is a joy and a wonder to see my son become a protective, smitten, gracious daddy. The wonder and gratitude and commitment is plain on his face. It is a great privilege to see him so blessed – and to enjoy seeing Tiffany loving her girl and so naturally mothering her.

I’m so grateful for all of my kids, and so thankful for the family unit we are together…and now to add another individual to this group to love, care for, support, enjoy…I can think of nothing better in life.

Last year, we added a member by marriage. This year, a granddaughter!

God is gracious beyond my understanding.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmastime is officially begun...

It’s cloudy out there today, and it’s okay. We’ve had a run of beautifully clear and cold days, and I have done my best to savor them…my favorite weather! “Sweater Weather is Better Weather” is printed on a little sign I hang amongst my Fall decorations. Clear and cold is the ultimate sweater weather! Even better, the NE wind was merely a breeze, or absent, for most of those days. After all this good fortune in the weather department, I cannot complain about the return to gray and wet that is now occurring. Though a deluge is predicted, it will still be cool, and enhance the coziness I love.

Today is the Official Start of Christmas Season here in the Honcoop Household, and it has been that way since our establishment as a household. Never has a Christmas tree been up before this date, and usually, much later as The Farmer prefers it go up after his birthday on the 7th. Today, the boxes of decorations start coming out, as I have recovered sufficiently from hosting Thanksgiving to consider another project of large proportions.

Our Thanksgiving gathering was so pleasant, and added to our thankfulness. Our group numbered twenty-two, as a few were missing, but still a full house, and a day full of visiting, laughing and savoring the foods of the season. I actually recognized that the turkey was done before the appointed time as predicted by the instructions which is a major win for me! I’m gaining the skill of making that determination on my own…and feeling inordinately proud of it.

My family just loves having pictures taken...'s not just for children anymore!

Part of our afternoon was spent in a shower of gifts for Tiffany and our Grandbaby. My side of the family does showers in the most casual way possible which was perfect for this setting. Thanksgiving allowed family from out of town to participate, which added to the fun. We all delighted in the tiny little clothes, and books, and supplies for the little one soon to arrive.
I did not buy this for the Grandbaby -- but someone who knows me well did.

And we are on Baby Watch these days. Tiffany’s official due date is December 8, but with some fluctuations in her blood pressure, there is the possibility that Baby Honcoop might not wait that long. It could be ANY DAY! I can hardly think of anything that makes Christmastime more fun than this!!

Though, truthfully, it would make ANY time of the year exciting, and unparalleled in the fun category!

I carry my phone AND charger with me at all times these days. Our calendar is full of the usual December meetings for The Farmer, and activities of the season, but I wonder each time I add something if we will be there, or with our new Grandbaby!!

You may have noted that I say ‘Grandbaby’, and not grandson, or granddaughter… The reason for this is that Dillon & Tiffany have chosen to do things the old-fashioned way and wait until baby is here to discover its gender! Somewhat rare in these days of modern technology, but certainly adds to anticipation.

And it has saved The Farmer a lot of money, so far, because I can only buy neutral clothing, of which there is little available.

I’m sure I will make up for that.

In the meantime, I will start on the Christmas decorating, and try to avoid feeling it is a lot of work for a short amount of time, and finish my Christmas shopping so I am ready to do little but rock the Baby at every opportunity.

It IS The Most Wonderful Time of This Year!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Celebrating the First Frost...

It happened yesterday, but I am still happy about it today!

Frost! I love it, and find it so beautiful...And it's about time. The berries need to get serious about going to sleep so they aren't full of sap and vulnerable to a true cold snap, as happened last year.

But while I am celebrating this happy occurrence of frostiness, I noticed that we had a good frost on exactly the same day last year...And then it decided to stay warm for a while...And then we had 2 days of winter that smacked the berries on their tushies...

So I need to be realistic -- but I can still celebrate the Happy Occasion of Possible Wintery-ness!

Like snow paints the landscape beautiful, frost adds wonder to things we take for granted.

I've been finding some ripe berries on my morning walks lately, evidence that the temperatures have just been a little too warm. These premature berries leave canes that will not fruit next year during harvest. Every year this happens -- to some degree, but the more you see, the less you like it.

These little berries were frozen solid on the bush, and I ate every one of them. I have to say that though I've eaten a lot of frozen berries, this is the first time I have eaten some off the bush. They were delicious! (Actually, if I found berries like this in the summer, I would pass them over for better ones, but in November, we have a whole different standard!) ;)

I love finding frost clumps on my boots! Clear and cold -- my FAVORITE weather!

Imogene and Barnaby are fuzzy with their winter coats, and here they are crowded in the corner because that is where the sun was hitting this frosty morning.

They had just spent their first night in the inside goat pen. The Farmer built indoor digs for them a couple weeks ago, but they have chosen to sleep outside, snuggled together. This was the first morning that I found evidence of wallows in the shavings inside. Apparently, 28 degrees is their breaking point for outdoor sleeping!

I'm hoping that they have more nights where they stay inside, and more beautiful frostiness, and eventually a real winter...

My apologies to dairy farmers for the wishes I am making that are antithetical to yours.

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life ( and one where I can vent. (