The Mandatory New England Fall Foliage Blog

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When you live in New England, you’re just expected to fall in love with fall all over again every year. Continue reading

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SWEET DREAMS AREN’T MADE OF THESE- 7 Items to Rid Your Home of House Guests in Record Time

I’m not fully committed to being a people person: I don’t like hugs from non-spousal adults whether friend or stranger or especially business acquaintance, I think friendly people are probably planning to rob me or do me harm, and I go a little crazy in cramped quarters, more so if they are inhabited by more than just me.

So after another charming visit to Nova Scotia where all the good kind people go out of their way to show you the best they have to offer, my twisted little mind pushed back.

img_5318 snake

I started to wonder:  if the pineapple is the symbol of welcome, what is the symbol of “unwelcome”? What could one put in a guest room to keep guests from overstaying their welcome. Ages ago on a tour of a Newport RI mansion, I was told by the docent that in the old days, when subtlety was an art, a homeowner would remove the pineapple finial from the four poster bed as an indication that it was time to find a new place to stay. Or someone might short sheet the bed linens. But we are no longer a society of nuance, so something more overt is necessary. Nothing as clichéd as the Von Trapp family staple of rubber snakes and frogs. How then could a hostess decorate to say  “inhospitable” while moderately hiding her intent?


IMG_1229 unwelcome

My stepdaughters, Nissi and Grace, pointed me in the right, or is it wrong, direction. Spiders worked. They’d run shrieking from the most inauspicious little eight-legger.  But they’re big chickens, evidenced by the fact they couldn’t sleep in a charming cottage we rented without pushing the antique baby buggy and staring doll from their shared bedroom. But antique dolls and bugs aside….could I find anything that might work.

I did find things….strange things….that seemed harmless enough in daylight but that might make the bumps in the night a bit more suspect.

Here are 7 Ideas for Guest Removal that beg the question: “How long could you stay in a room guarded by these mysteries?”

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1.  CLOWNS…is anything creepier than a clown? Their fake smiles, hiding all sorts of trauma and malcontent. In fact when I feared one of my nieces was mistreated by a friend, I threatened to regularly leave clowns in the offender’s mailbox on random days. No message just another freaky/freakin’ clown with the offender’s name on it. Wisely she advised me that the slight didn’t warrant such a harsh reaction.

2. SYRINGES AND AMMO CASINGS – not out in the open but close to trash barrels as if to signify a mistaken toss away. I do have syringes but only because I syringe fed my sick rabbit. And FYI they don’t hold needles.

3.  A SCRAPBOOK WITH NEWSPAPER ARTICLES OF UNSOLVED CRIMES  especially when paired with a box of surgical rubber gloves in the same bedside table drawer, next to the Gideon Bible with a scratched note – “STOP ME, PLEASE”.

UNWELCOME .BeFunky_1947news

4.  A BADLY SEALED WALL INDICATING A HASTILY HIDDEN ROOM…nothing spells “danger”  like a boarded over door. Were the homeowners trying to keep something in….or out?

5. HUMAN OR OTHER BONES AS DECORATIONS. This may seem over the top, but real bones are surprisingly easy to come by. These red white and blue painted porpoise vertebra were being sold in an antique shop as objets d’art. If you are wondering, they are surprisingly light and therefore useless as bookends.

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And these bones came from a collection of antique medical stuff in a doctor’s estate sale. You could also check with your butcher.

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6.  A SET OF BRONZE-TONE SCULPTURED LAMPS DEPICTING A NAKED WOMAN BEING KISSED BY A HALF MAN HALF TREE. Admittedly your chance of finding these gems is slim unless you know where I saw them (and then only if I didn’t already purchase them). But this set is such a curio – why was the man half wood/tree; there is no classical mythological story where that happens. A woman turned into or out of a laurel tree in one myth, but no guys that I or my crack team of researchers have unearthed. Note: Top half of man is human though a bit “barky”, bottom half is tree trunk.

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7. A LEECH CANISTER FROM A PERIOD IN MEDICAL HISTORY WHEN BLOOD LETTING WAS THE BEST MEDICAL ADVICE. Ideal, too, for hiding cookies you want to keep just for yourself.  BTW this was sold at an estate auction for $1900, and we lost out with our $50 max bid for this item.

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Beach dwellers, nature cabin couples, ski lodge owners, introverts: now it’s  YOUR TURN……

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(c) 2014 by Alison Colby-Campbell

NOTE: With the exception of the newspaper clipping all items were found by me and many might still be available today.

PS We have family including two grandkids visiting in October and none of these items will be in evidence. The only scary thing they’ll see is the Jumbotron rabbit named Bongo.

Apple Picking Etiquette


Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious.”  attributed to Bill Meyer

This blog was originally intended to discuss the subtle variations and preferences in apples available throughout New England.  But when I got back and realized even with labels I started to doubt my memory on the types of apples contained in the pics, I realized I was lucky to be annoyed by what I call “the antics in the orchards”. 

Apples like jewel clusters, Barkers Farm

Trust me, eating the apple in Eden isn’t the only apple-based crime. After a recent trip to three orchards, I witnessed a need for a course on Apple Picking Etiquette. I figured this out after finding myself insulted by a number of accusatory signs posted throughout Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, Smolak Farm in North Andover and even my beloved Barkers Farm also in North Andover. 

Any marketer would tell you “Don’t accost your potential customers with “No shoes, no shirt, no service”-like admonishments even before they

Barkers Farm No Andover MA Rules for Apple Picking

enter your store when in fact you are trying to sell them something, and the VAST majority of people have no intention of coming in shirtless and shoeless”.  I was immediately put off by this practice on PYO farms.  But my experience in the orchard and in speaking with proprietors made me realize that people are more horribly mannered than I had naively believed, and the signs are needed.

I now deliver my rule list to the world in the delusional belief that it may help parents who weren’t taught “the Golden Rules about

Macoun Apples at Cider Hill Farm, Amesbury

Golden Delicious” and so never passed that info on to their offspring, and that through this newly educated generation of parents, we will eliminate the need for cranky-spirited signs on the idyllic landscape of PYO orchards and farms.  And for those who can’t find it in their hearts to help the farmers because it’s the right thing to do, I also present a list of legal ramifications you may encounter if you go astray.  These were reviewed lightheartedly by Atty. Walter R. Colby, my dad, who is still practicing law in Wakefield, Massachusetts,  as well as by anonymous proprietors of PYO farms throughout the region.

Here is my list of the TOP 10 “DON’TS” of APPLE PICKING: 

  1.  Don’t climb the trees. Farms are always struggling financially to stay alive; help keep local farms around by protecting their revenue sources.   What doesn’t help –  destroying a branch, injuring a tree,  and suing when you get hurt falling out of the tree you shouldn’t have climbed in the first place. Legal speak- Any branch you break will be

    Abundant Apples at Barkers Farm

    bearing dozens of apples this year and throughout the life span of the tree. Hundreds of thousands of apples are at risk and if you break a branch, you technically owe restitution for the lost revenue.   

  2. Don’t wander outside the specified picking areaReal life story – One family with an apple picking bag  traipsed through the orchard, down to the cornfields and stomped into the stalks to pick their own corn then, stopped to pluck a few sunflowers from the farmhouse residence garden and jam them into their over stuffed bag along the way.  Legal speak – the PYO contract is between you and the farm that has the right to designate what may be picked and where. Any breach of that contract is grounds for dismissal from the grounds, restitution for damages and charges of trespassing.  Better hope Mrs. Greenjeans wasn’t planning to enter her sunflowers for the big cash award at the county fair. 
  3. Don’t eat the apples in the field. They haven’t been washed and

    Damaged property

    probably contain some pesticides on the skin as well as bird and bug poop, acid rain, deer saliva and squirrel urine. (Hoping I don’t need a rule that people must not relieve themselves in the orchard; this is food after all.)  Legal speak:  “What? Are you nuts?”  Okay, that’s not legal speak, that’s Alison speak, but legally this rule is in force anywhere it is not specifically unenforced by signage.  Also food consumed onsite has a different (read “higher”) tax basis, and if you do not pay the additional tax there is the possibility of tax evasion charges. 

  4. Don’t think an apple in the orchard is any freer than an apple in the store.  Think of an orchard as a grocery store in the rough, but the good kind of rough, that lets you take in the outdoors in exchange for “doing it yourself”.  Legal speak:  If caught pilfering an apple it could be considered petty larceny, and unless you’re a minor that will go on your permanent record. 
  5. Don’t waste the apples.  Did they stop teaching “waste not, want not”

    Fortune Apple Cider Hill Farm

    after the 70’s?  What on earth would make you think it was okay to pick an apple, take a bite and throw it on the ground, not because it was bad or bitter, but because you just wanted a taste and after figuring out it was good, wanted only whole apples in your bag.  Legal speak:  This is destruction of property and the practice should be nipped in the bud. 

  6. Don’t knock down six apples trying to get one (admittedly mistakes happen.)  Legal speak:  See Rule #5. 
  7. Don’t rationalize that apples you pick and discard or knock to the ground will be used for other customers.  Health Dept. restrictions prohibit reusing “grounded” apples.   Discards will become fodder for bugs, worms and deer, and represent a loss of revenue.  Legal speak:  Damaged or partially-eaten apples cannot be used as food stuff in any manner by the grower.  This is destruction of property, and ignorance of the law is no excuse. 
  8. Don’t pick more apples than you can pay for in the mistaken belief you are helping out the farmers by picking for the farmstand.  Believe me the farmstand has

    Instore Macs at Cider Hill Farm

    higher picking standards for display in their store than you do and is carefully monitoring the quantity harvested for this purpose to ensure the best product for its customers who don’t pick.  This would be like going to the grocery store, picking up a bunch of grapes, removing them from the stem, and handing them back to the store for resale.   Legal speak:  This is destruction of property. 

  9. Don’t bring in outside food, set up a blanket and picnic on the grounds.  Most orchards do not have the necessary permits to allow for onsite consumption.  Real life example – a family came in with a blanket, several kids and a can of whipped cream, sat beside the strawberry picking area and ate their fill without washing or paying for anything.  Legal speak:  This is trespassing and larceny. 
  10. Don’t let this list prevent you from having a nice time in the orchard, but be careful out there; the fields are full of crime.


Have a sampling station in the field (if health restrictions allow) with those slips of paper one gets at sushi restaurants that provides

  • A chart where people can mark off what apples they like and want to pick
  • A key to identify a quantity range for how many apples make up a pound
  • An apple locator map on the back

Then, very visibly identify the tree and apple types.

ADDED BONUS FOR READING TO THE END:  the best apple in the world is Macoun.

©2011 by Alison Colby-Campbell



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Last night I chased the moon. In response it taunted me, briefly poking out between trees and around buildings but never quite allowing the image I wanted in my viewfinder. Continue reading

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Bird Watching for “Night Hawks”

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11 Awesome Nova Scotia Stuff for OTHER PEOPLE to Do (Pt 3 of 3)

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You don’t have to share my taste to share my love of Nova Scotia, and here are 11 reasons why. Continue reading

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