Monday, December 27, 2010


This will be my last Mainely blog for this year.

The 26th of December was my Christmas with my family, those who were able to be here.
I am delighted to say, all three children with their spouses, and four of the busy grandchildren came. Missing were the married grands with their little ones, Aidric, Logan, Liem and Dominic. It would have been wonderful to have them here, but understandably it is a logistical nightmare to travel with one and three year olds, especially the day after a Christmas celebration. For one thing, kids don't usually take kindly to being taken away from their new Christmas toys.

Last night the storm moved in. THE storm which has dumped the white stuff all the way from North Carolina to Caribou, Maine. Monday is trash day in my community so I did a bit of shoveling by the garage door in order to take out the bags. There was a foot of snow right by the garage door, but worse than that there was a drift of about 30 inches just beyond it. I put on my old 9" Bean "Ladies' hunting boots" which I haven't put on for about five years. These are not the "Bean Boots" with rubber soles and leather tops, these are heavy treaded, all leather stompers. I wasn't sure I could bend my ankles enough to get them on. Great boots. Anyway, it is still snowing and blowing as I write this, but the "ground crew" will take care of the rest out front, and my very nice neighbor has offered to shovel off the patio.

This is Maine and we get these wild storms a couple of times every year in a good year.
This is our first major storm this season so we shouldn't complain. But the same people who were saying "I'll never complain about winter again" as the temperatures soar toward 100, are now saying "I'll never complain about the heat in August again." I try not to complain about weather. It's a real waste of brain power. Every year someone forgets how to negotiate our narrowed slippery roads and winds up in a tree. Every year some one goes off train on their sno-machine and ends up in a drift far from civilization. But today there was an accident at one of the ski resorts that no one expected. A lift cable slipped the pulley and dumped a lot of people twenty to thirty feet down the side of the mountain. One new commentator said there was a lot of fluffy snow which made their landings a little softer. Tell that to the people who ended up in the hospital with injuries.
When you land on the side of a mountain chances are you are going to suffer some pretty serious injuries as well as a mental trauma. How to spoil a great Christmas holiday!

I wanted to give a very local newspaper to someone and called for a subscription. The subscription office is in the Philippines. Nice people, I am sure. But they sent the wrong paper (they are a subscription factory) and when I called to straighten it out, I could barely understand the phone persona (a man) and he could not figure out how to handle it. He gave me a number to call, when I told him he was not effectively dealing with the issue. That number took me back to the Philippines to another thickly accented person, female, who also could not straighten it out. She said, "Someone will contact you within 24 hours." I said, "I expect to hear from someone withing 30 minutes." End of story. I mean, end of story. No one has called and it is now two hours later. "This is the most inefficient order service I have ever dealt with. Just cancel everything and I will buy the paper and mail it to her." and when they hung up - both of them - said, "Thank you for subscribing to Portsmouth Herald." I fairly screamed, "I did not subscribe to Portsmouth Herald! I will not pay for Portsmouth Herald. Do not deliver Portsmouth Herald!" I hope the call was monitored for quality control.

So, maybe next year. From Scarborough, Maine Janice Major Happy 2011.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Day Before Christmas -

Yes, it's the day before Christmas in Maine -
There is snow on the ground. The sun is shining, but the warmth is not significant enough to melt it away, so Saint Nicholas will have easy sledding. In my travels I pass many Christmas tree farms where rows of balsam firs, Maine's preferred tree, are growing. Some are no more than six inches tall, and some are over six feet. The tree farmer carefully tends them through the years, keeping them in symetrical shape and making sure no critters are infesting them. Some farms raise blue spruce and some raise Scotch pines. Nothing compares to the balsam for aroma. Branches are cut for wreaths and swags, and other artistic creations. Small twigs are twined into "kissing balls" to be hung in doorways or from the ceiling. One artistic greens person fashioned a Christmas tree on a wire frame. It was decorated for with berries and cones to be hung on a door in place of a wreath.

The Maine Tree is the Pine; the Maine Flower is the Pine Cone. But the Maine Christmas Tree is a Fir Balsam, preferable selected by the kids in a big "forest" of nearly perfect trees, cut by a parent who patiently lets the kids have a turn with the saw, doesn't mind a little pitch on the hands, or "spills" in the trunk of the car. If the tree is big it will ride home like a trophy on top, butt forward so the wind doesn't destroy the branches.

There was a time not so many years ago when after Christmas the kids would collect all the trees from the curb before the city trucks came around. They would pile all up down at the skating rink, or at some favorite gather spot, and light them for a stupendous fire. The combination of dried out branches, and sap still sealed in would throw sparks high into the air and the aroma would spread over the neighborhood.

Dangerous? No doubt it was. And it probably created a bit of pollution, too. But it was part of the winter post-Christmas ritual. And almost as much fun as Christmas itself.

janice major
scarborough maine 12/24/10

Monday, December 20, 2010


Of course, we knew it would eventually come, and today in the late afternoon it did. SNOW, WHITE PURE AND FLUFFY. The romantic kind that makes The Christmas Song have real meaning. The wind blew and the flakes swirled. I don't love the stuff, but the first one, if not too heavy, is sort of enchanting.

In honor of the season, I have put up a Christmas tree. My grandson Noah and I went to get it. No, we didn't go into the woods for it, we bought a nice balsam fir that just fit in the trunk of the car, at a nearby nursery. Noah spent most of the day with me as he allowed me to talk with him on Community Focus about being a first year college kid a long way from home. Maine has a very good University; he wound up in Ohio. Anyway, the tree is up and it is drinking water at the rate of a gallon a day. I have strung the lights and the bulbs are ready to hang. No hurry.

I speak often of my nearly daily trips to Yarmouth where Nick can run in a fenced yard. The road, as I have mentioned, was cut through some very large glacial rock. As the weather changes the rocks change. Yes they do! And right now because we have had some warm days and they retained the heat into night, and then moisture cooled on them, they are totally bearded with icicles on one side of the road. I would take pictures of it, but it is a busy highway and I would be likely to get picked off by a passing motorist.No one seems to care the least for the speed limit.

I noticed today that there is a large building being constructed on the road to the Maine Mall. It will be interesting to see how it develops and what it is for. The Maine Medical Center has reconstructed the large empty strip mall near me. I understand it will house some cancer treatment facility, and a blood lab. As I drive around I see quite a lot of construction going on, and Route 1 between Falmouth and Yarmouth is still under construction. The "flag men" who were neither men nor holding flags, were bundled with layers of winter wear, heads helmeted, ear muffs down, face masks up to their noses. They looked like a robot my kids had. Nothing showing but the eyes. God bless them. They don't have an easy job in Maine.

Some intrepid neighbors here in the Creek purchased a new outdoor grill, and today as the snowflakes were beginning to fall, they were on their patio getting it going. They forewarned me so I would call the fire department in case I smelled the smoke. I wouldn't be out there cooking at this time of year, but to each his own. Maine people are hardy souls (although I think these new neighbors are from away. Maybe that's why they didn't know any better than to cook out in December. Very nice people, but I don't give advice to anyone any more. Gets me in trouble.

Christmas is only a few days away. Am I all done? No, but the maple syrup is waiting; there are candles in the windows, a wreath on the door and a tree in the sun room. Bring it on.

Merry Christmas, Peace, Comfort and Good Health to all.

Janice Major

Friday, December 3, 2010


If we could roll back a piece of our lives I would like a re-take on this one. It has been a nice week in Maine, weatherwise, but personally it's been pretty darned sour.

Early in the week I got word that a dear friend from my school days was losing her life, and subsequently, I word that she had died. Thursday I got word that a nice person in my "extended family" had died. And this morning I got word that a music friend had died.
As all three of these people were suffering from terminal illnesses, I don't know just how much time I need to roll back to, but I do know this: the world is not a better place without them. I will miss them, but I am not alone in my sadness. They all touched many lives and will be sorely missed by everyone who knew them.

Can you believe Maine in December? It is nearly 50 degrees in southern Maine today. I consider I live in Southern Maine although there are some forty miles south of me still within the state boundaries. I did hear that Northern Maine (it's a very "high" state) there is some snow and there are temperatures in the very low numbers. On my journey to Standish to the radio station today I noted that the frost on the fields out that way was thick blurring all the golds and browns. Pretty but a little bleak. An interesting sight today as I drove along (Route 25, I think) (It's not that I don't know where I was, I just don't pay attention to route numbers) Anyway, I saw several really cute little red hens picking through the oak leaves at the edge of the road. There was no fence to keep them from straying into the considerable stream of traffic. I said a quick little prayer that if the "hen crossed the road" it wouldn't be in front of me. I have been to some countries in my limited travel where livestock, particularly hens and roosters, roam free. In Hawaii there are roosters all over the place. I never saw a dead one so maybe they get smart if they are free. Well, I travel a lot around Maine and those hens are the most livestock I have seen all fall.

Wednesday as I was getting out of my car here in Scarborough, a very large bird was flying toward the marshes (and the ocean). Every now and then it let out a really loud HONK. I know Canada Geese and their call, I know herons have long legs that stick out in the back as they fly. This was neither. It was a BIG bird and very loud. And all alone. Maine is a very interesting place if you take the time to look around.

My husband and I were walking by "Back Cove" in Portland one lovely fall day some years ago. I saw some marsh heather in bloom and commented I remembered gathering it at Goose Rocks when I was young. John, being considerate of my feelings about those long ago days, went off the trail and gathered me a sizable bunch of the salty smelling lavender flowers. As we walked along enjoying the day, me with my bouquet, there were many people "power walking" and jogging along with determination in every step.
One lady, coming toward us, powered by without a glance, but then came running back.
"Where did you get that heather?" she asked. "I haven't seen any in years."
"Right there by the side of the trail," we replied. "Oh, my," she said looking at the expanse of purple. "I never even noticed it." HELLO-O-O-O! Stop and smell the flowers, people. Look at the birds; check out the rocks.

From Scarborough, Maine
Jan Major, Mainly Mainely