Sunday, October 31, 2010

An Apple A Day -

I heard last week that the "apple a day" saying is true, if you eat them at the right time of day and choose your variety according to your needs. But then the commentator said you have to eat three to four a day. That's a lot of apples.

Anyway, the Portland Press Herald (Wednesday, September 8) had a whole article on the various kinds of apples available, and a little information on each one as to use, taste, and availability. I looked for "pumpkin sweets"which was a yellow apple my Dad used to get for us in Lebanon, Maine at a very old orchard, run by a very old man. (I was very young, so he could have been 50, of course.) There were about 40 apple varieties described, several I never heard of. What was interesting about this article - the information as to where each variety can be found (by orchard, not super market) and recommendations about use.

I don't cook anymore, but I make a lot of apple sauce. I buy a half bushel, wash, quarter, core and cook. Then comes the tedious part of putting them through the Foley Food Mill. I always end up with bursitis. The price for the tasty treat I freeze in little half-cup portions and relish daily. It gets to be a habit: a little apple sauce with my daily dose of supplements.

For this annual ritual I use nothing but Macs. I went to the orchard a couple of years ago and the owner and his wife talked me into a crate of Macouns. Big mistake. For eating I prefer the hard sweet Red Delicious, Galas and Paula Reds. In this article there is a Winter Banana. I like bananas, but I want my apples to taste like apples, not bananas. The Snow Apple is listed as an heirloom apple, as is the Wealthy, Nodhead and Newtown Pippin. Now that Pippin is said to be have the favorite apple of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Obviously, I cannot go into all 40 varieties without boring you, but if it interests you, contact the Press Herald and see if they still have the article on line.

The nice thing about apples is they keep in giving. Sauce, Pie, Cider, Jelly, Apple Butter. No wonder God put that tree in His Garden. No wonder the first couple were tempted by it. Not quite fair on God's part to put such an attractive fruit within their reach and tell them not to touch it. But then, they were His first kids so what did He know about parenting. Those first kids are always an experiment.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Indian Summer -

SUMMER, You old Indian Summer -
This must be it. The temp on my patio is closing in on 70 degrees. The sun is shining. I have always believed Indian Summer is the a warm spell after the first hard frost, and it will herald the coming of true Autumn which according to the calendar is October 21.

This morning as I made my weekly trip to Portland for my music class, there was fog so thick you could not see the traffic lights until you were practically under them. As I was approaching the lights at Hannaford Drive, a little black convertible, top down, went flying past me. Did that middle aged driver 50ish driver, coffee in hand, have super vision. I think not as he had to stomp on his brakes at the fog-dimmed red light.
I am not a fan of fog and today's was worthy of a London mystery scene.

Coming home was a bit different. No fog. No sun. Mackerel skies; you know, the sky with all the little disconnected blobs of clouds that resemble the skin of a mackerel fish.
I needed to go grocery shopping and decided it was better to do it on the way home than to have to go out again. I spent quite a lot of time - and considerable cash - at the local Hannaford's Super Store, and when I came out - lo and behold! the sun was shining and the clouds had gone the way of the morning fog.

I understand we are going to have nice weather for the next few days and Hallowe'en will be dry. The kids won't have to wear their costumes over their snow suits as they go out "trick or treating." I don't have many kids at my door usually. I give out juice boxes - maybe that's why they don't come.

Monday, October 25, 2010


We used to be the state that boasted that saying - now there are states that have earlier primaries, and states that apparently have earned the right to it. Maybe Maine was not the first to use it, it's immaterial, I guess.

I used to live in Maine's largest city, but since I am no longer a resident there I suppose any opinion I have does not mean "squat" as the cliche goes. I still read the Portland news with interest. Portland is considering on this year's ballot, making it possible for non-citizen residents who are legally in the U. S. the right to vote on local issues and candidates. Does this mean that they can vote for the candidates who go to the State House and Senate, from their local districts, which then makes them voting summarily on State issues?

Would their ballots be different from the ones handed out to everyone and is that discriminating? Would the city of Portland have to set up a separate voting list of non-citizen legal residents? Has anyone figured out how to effectively and positively making sure there are no errors and how much this whole thing is going to cost the citizen of the city?

Portland's proposal to the voters has made it into the national news. Fox reported on it this morning, and stated that there are at least two other cities already allowing legal resident voting. They also stated New York "used to have it" . Now my questions are: why does New York no longer have it, and how is it working in the cities which do?

Further, how soon will it become Maine law once Maine's largest city embraces it?

You can probably already discern from this that I would not vote for it if I were a Portland resident. Being a tax payer does not accord the right to vote. Becoming a citizen gives one the right to vote.

I encourage all legal residents of Portland to pursue the path of American Citizenship.
Learn the language, become productive members of Maine's population. Then you may vote and feel proud that you have earned that right.

Jan Major

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'm trying -

Yeah, I'm trying -
I'm trying to understand why a seven room three bedrooms house in Scarborough with two baths, a two car garage built on 1.2 acres of land, is taxed at $2833 while my single story condo with living room, kitchen, 2 bedroom, 1-3/4 bath, sunroom, and single garage is taxed at $3088. And I have to pay for trash removal, plowing and street lights. The town says they can't

I'm trying to figure out why I paid a State Income Tax this year, and then got a little check in the mail to compensate for my high taxes/low income. And why am I paying a State Tax when the Fed says I don't owe them anything?

I'm trying to figure out why I have to go to my general practitioner who charges my insurance and Medicare $160, so he can tell me I need to see a specialist - a fact which I already knew. And now the insurance company and Medicare have to pay the specialist.
I could have saved them the $160 because I already knew my GP could not take care of my problem.

I'm trying to understand why the government is talking about proactive medicine, but when I go to my naturopathic nutritionist, who is truly proactive and very effective, the government will not recognize that and contribute to the cost.

And I am also trying to figure out how we ever got to the point where a doctor charges more than he could if he didn't have to figure in how much less the government and the insurance company were going to compensate him for his services.

Dishonesty reigns. Hospitals charge $3 for pills we can buy at the drug store for pennies; bigger bucks for medical kits place in a patients chart but never used. Doctors charge a consultation fee for looking in and saying hello.

How did the ophthalmologist fee go from $220 a year ago, to $479 this year? He didn't build a new building or use any new equipment. He put the same kind of drops in my eyes, and spent the same amount of time writing out a scrip.

Why are all roads and highways torn up at once and the signs all say "under construction" and the equipment is idle beside the road and not a laborer is in sight? The street coming into Stoney Creek was "scarfied" and a layer of recycled paving was put down. The man hole covers were exposed by four inches. Going over them was a jolt so I slalomed around them all through August and September. Last week without warning, the trucks rolled in and the flag people - who hold signs that say stop/slow - took up their stations.
Now we have a nice smooth road with a straight course and no cursed man hole covers to dodge. What I would like to know is what were they doing for the two months between start and finish?

When I am eighty I plan to stop trying to figure out all these weighty problems. But I am only (nearly) 79 so I have a little time yet to solve them. Meanwhile, I think I will go out and look at the lovely leaves along the road and the beautiful big glacial rocks which have been rudely hacked into to provide the road. I wonder why they didn't go over those rocks? It would have made great hills for viewing the world beyond.

Janice in Maine

Friday, October 15, 2010


As many times as they have gotten it wrong, I really really thought the prognosticators were just hyping the weather again. I could visualize them jumping up and down with glee like children waiting at the circus door. BUT - I was wrong; they were right. We are getting driving rain bough bending winds. While the vision of the weather wo/men runs around in my head, the vision of Central Maine Power Company linemen wringing their hands with anxiety is just as vivid. In recent weeks I have seen those "bucket brigades" on the sides of the roads all over southern Maine, trimming the overhanging limbs and making sure lines are in good condition. God Bless Them. Weather is a temporary condition here, as I have mentioned before.

The last morning glory has faded and curled up. But there are still roses struggling to bloom and the snapdragons and salvia are colorful. The beautiful Rose of Sharon tree did not survive its transplant. I didn't take it out because the morning glories used the bare branches for a trellis. I will mulch it this fall and hope that maybe the roots have survived.

I had the bright idea that I could make a mulch bed in an area that the dog enjoys, and the mower had to back into. It is between my privacy hedge of some kind of evergreen and the edge of the patio. It was not my best "bright idea." Nick still enjoys it, but now he brings in scrids of mulch clinging to his underbelly, his feet and his haunches. I try to get it off before he comes into the house, but strangely it clings stubbornly until he gets to the living room carpet where it just drops off readily. Today because the grass is wet he will pretend he is a ballerina and tiptoe daintily off the patio. But he knows what he is out there for and he will make short work of his chores. He will not pester to go in and out very often today. Loves the wind, hates the rain.

Good day to do more sorting of music. Fold laundry. Move dishes I don't use to high shelves. Write letters. Write a racy novel. Call a shut in friend. Carve a pumpkin for Hallowe'en.

What do you get with the divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?

Pumpkin pi.

OOH! that's awful.

Have a great day. Janice

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I have already said much about the colors in Maine and the changing seasons. But yesterday I was driving from Standish to Kennebunk via Route 35, a rural route through farm lands and very small villages - really just corners - with a church, a corner store; an elementary school, a day care, a town hall, a small square building with "library" on a sign out front. A junky front yard belonging to some frugal Mainer who can't resist yard sale bargains even though he has not immediate use for it. Very definitely Maine scenery.

The road is "curvaceous" and has ups and downs in various unpredictable sequences. I saw more than one horse farm. One said "breeding farm" another said "quarter horses" and yet another said "boarding farm." I was upset at the "quarter horse" farm because it was very wet and the fenced area looked to small for the two horses that were standing in it. Behind the farm there was a very nice field, and to one side there was a white fenced area that had two horses grazing. I felt sad for the two horses standing in the swampy area.

As I drove on I saw a nice farm with wire fences which look like the ones at my daughter-in-law's farm. One horse was contentedly grazing inside the fence.
A second was contentedly grazing beside the road, clearly out of bounds. The old "the grass is always greener" syndrome I guess.

I saw a farm with a large field of pumpkins of all sizes resting in the sun amid their limp brown leaves and vines. Charlie Brown's utopia, I thought to myself.
I saw ponds that were full of last week's heavy rain, and little roadside streams that were overflowing their banks. Rain this time of year is good. It assures us of a good hunting season. Wet leaves and soggy ground are quiet to walk in, and the critters leave good trails. Yesterday I heard the gunshots in the Scarborough Marsh as the hunters were out for the ducks and geese that stop over on their way south. I don't like to think of them getting shot. I hear the rest of the flock screaming as they fly away. I am too old and too near my own demise to enjoy the thrill of hunt and kill.

Well, as I drove at my leisure enjoying all the scenery and thinking how much land there is in Maine, and a lot of it is still undeveloped. There are still huge wooded areas and ponds that are not polluted. I glanced in the mirror. My goodness, there were a lot of cars behind me enjoying the day too....or maybe they were not. Maybe I was keeping them from their appointed rounds and they were cursing that "d----- old woman in the minivan" for going 25 mph on a road that clearly could handle 45, although the signs say 35 - but were those the speed signs or the route signs? I stepped up the speed to the legal limit and hope they were enjoying the scenery as I was. I gave them plenty of opportunity - it's their fault if they didn't take advantage of it.

Enjoy the season. It's sometimes all too short. jem

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

God willing and the creek don't rise ....

I wasn't expecting it. Last week were were prepared for a storm of epic proportions, according to the weather men on all the local stations. I wasn't disappointed when it didn't happen, but it took another rung out of the ladder those prognosticators stand on.
They get all excited, go to work in rain gear, warn everyone about driving through puddles, etc. etc. We cancel plans, go to music class wearing puddlesafe shoes, rain coats, carrying "brollies" and protecting our coiffures with plastic hoodies. NOTHING!
That was last week.

I wasn't expecting today's deluge. I may have heard the weather man or woman telling about it, but after last week I didn't pay any attention. I heard we were going to get an overnight shower somewhere between here and there. I did hear something about more precip in the mountains than in the south. Well, I woke up this a.m. to what I think was last week's storm. The rain was washing down Stoney Creek Road in rivulets. The patio was slick. There were the beginnings of puddles. It rained all day; the wind blew and the leaves came down all wet and sticky. They have stuck to the patio furniture; the screens, the driveway.

But as they say, if you don't like the weather, wait a minute. It seems to be clearing tonight and the weather man has told us it will be clear tomorrow. I'll wear my puddle jumper shoes, my rain coat and carry my "brollie" because frankly, I don't trust that guy in the little box in my living room. I think he looks at computer models and maps all day and doesn't go out to look up at the sky or smell the air.

I am just grateful today was rain an not snow. jem

Saturday, October 2, 2010

SIgns of what's to come

I came into my bedroom and on the way to bathroom I stopped to look out the window for a minute. The window is almost always open a little. I like fresh air while I am sleeping. Tonight the little bit of air coming in through the very small opening is cold. I mean it feels really cold. It is only October 3rd and I am thinking I may need to get out my flannel nighties.

As I looked out the street is bare and gray, and the yellow street light casts a limited amount of light across the autumn lawn. An autumn lawn is a little dull and damp looking if there has been rain, and yes, we have had a good bit of rain recently. My thoughts went to what I would be looking out on in a few short weeks. And I wondered as I stood there, do I really want to spend the rest of my winters here in the cold. No, I really don't. But I am no wealthy enough to own two homes, and my income will not stand for renting winter quarters and closing my condo.
So, I am thinking I should sell this place and buy a mobile home. You know, one of those forty foot behemoths that I so hate to be behind when I am traveling. I think about it to the extent I am wondering if my organ would fit in it. Would I be able to take a car along as I traveled. Where would I find a really good park to reside in both in Maine and in a warmer climate. I would have to find a reliable, honest and capable man to drive me as the seasons changed. Does that mean I would have to have him stay in the mobile home with me as we made the journey, or would he be willing to stay in a motel. I would have to pay his expenses and a per diem. I would have to allow stops for my dog. In my head I am working out all the details. Separation from friends. Family. Getting mail. I am sure people do this but it seems like more trouble than I am ready to confront.

I guess I will start getting out my cold weather clothes and stay right here. At least this year. And probably next - and next. When the world is white with new snow, and the street light makes sparkles on the surface, and the furnace warms up my cozy condo; when my family comes for Christmas; when my friends come for music - I will wonder why I every considered leaving it all for a constant summer.

Sometimes it's fun to dream of "maybe" but reality can be very pleasant too. I think my reality is pretty nice.