Saturday, December 29, 2012

Old fashioned snow

Christmas came and went with very little evidence that Maine was four days into winter.  But the 27th blew in with snow and wind and falling temperatures. No one should have been caught off guard, it is after all, winter in Maine.   But the plows were late getting around and the careless car owners forgot about parking bans.   It's an expensive experience - leaving your car on the street costs around $270 to retrieve your car from the "storage lot".  Parking ticket, towing, and storage fee add up fast. Anyway, just about when the supermarket parking lot got cleared another storm is passing through, expecting to give us another four to eight inches, depending where in the state you are.    I am near the coast so may get extra, or not as much depending on the direction the storm comes from.

Nick isn't so crazy about the snow anymore.   Nor am I.   I went to the recycling "bullet" to leave old catalogs, news papers and lots of Christmas envelopes, wrapping and boxes.  The containers were overflowing, they had not been cleared of snow, and thoughtless creeps had piled trash bags, boxes, old clothes and toys up outside.  Since the trash collectors also took a holiday, and then could not operate in the storm, it was a disgusting mess.   But it brought to mind that the victims of Sandy were facing that multiplied a hundred fold.  

I put a live tree (well, truthfully a dead tree since it had been cut down) in my patio room, with the help of my son Tom.  I put a few ornaments and a string of white mini-lights on it.  My family came on Sunday before Christmas.  Some extended family joined us and I think everyone just likes being together.  I cannot do sit-down dinners and the roast beef was first not done, and then done too much.
I finally made a pot roast from the remainder.  We had the traditional lobster and shrimp.   Salad and deserts. Lord, give me one more chance to do it right.  NO more uncooked/overcooked roasts. No more  have done roast vegetables.  Next year lobster, shrimp, cold cuts and a veggie platter (home cut, of course),  

Tom came again to take the tree out.  Now the room is a little empty, but I'm sure I'll find a way to fill it.  It's in my nature:  an flat surface, and empty space - I'll find something to put on/in it.

Have a great New Year's weekend.  Have a great 2013.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Maine is green!   We have had only two significant snowfalls in this early winter season, which doesn't officially begin until tomorrow anyway, so they don't really count.

Several weeks ago we had just enough to bring the plows into the Creek, and then last Sunday, there was a 3+ inch covering  which brought them in again.    Monday it rained and most snow washed down the drains.
The only remaining visible evidence was where the plows heaped it up beside the roads and driveways.   The plows are too big for the job, and all they accomplish besides heaps on the lawns, is leaving behind a hard packed skim which can be very slippery if not scraped off by hand.  Monday's rain washed the skim away, so my son needn't have worried that it would be come hazardous.   The ever zealous shovelers threw coarse sand (read small rocks) be the doorways in spite of signs asking them not to.   Insurance issues, they tell us.   Personally, I think walking on small rolling stones is more likely to cause twisted ankles.  Yes, the rocks are that big.

The pond was again frozen over for a couple of day, but the mild temperatures have melted it once more, and although the ducks have left, the seagulls, ever opportunists, have been seen floating around, and I heard the deer are going down to it and getting drinks.   Awfully steep banking, meant to discourage people from getting into the water, would seem to be hazardous for the deer.  I have no idea how deep the pond is.    It would seem to me it would make a lovely skating rink, but there are signs that say no to going there.  One of my neighbors told me when she first moved in her son was delighted and was skating on it, when along came the local lawmen and shoeed him off.    

My dog has gotten very reluctant to venture off the patio for his business.  I have told him repeatedly going on the patio is bad, but if I don't stay out there with him, he takes advantage.  Last night I stood and goaded him into going into the wet grass and he was like a timid ballet dancer mincing his steps and looking over his shoulder at me asking if I was serious.   Hind quarters still on the patio, he squatted like a girl dog and watered into the grass.   Sissy.   Today it is nice and mild.  I put him out and left him while my friends were here for music.   

If you're interested in know about the music group, go to (you might be able to get it that way, I'm never sure if it works or not).

So, tomorrow is he first day of Winter and the days will begin to lengthen which is always welcome.  We are the first to see the sun rise, and the first to see it go down.   There are still only 24 hours in each day, it just matters how they are divided into day and night.   

Merry Christmas to everyone.   Hanakkuh is over; I hope it was pleasant for all of our Jewish friends.   I don't quite understand Kwanza, although I did a little research on it.  It seems it was created recently and is a symbol of freedom.  Happy Kwanza to all, Freedom is precious.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


If the there are crops left in the field, they will be turned to compost by next spring.   We have had several frosts, one plowable snow, and lots of cold mornings.  But today, it is sunny and God willing, I will finish what little I do in the back yard - covering the roses and unhooking the hose. I have already shut the water off inside, but probably should open the tap outside.

Yesterday I picked up a sandwich at a local deli, drove Kettle Cove and walked the dog a little.  I didn't go on the beach as it was littered with seaweed in huge heaps, the residual of the big storm a couple of weeks ago.   I saw a very brave and hardy young woman coming up out of the water. I used to do that - swim in late fall if the weather was nice.   It gave me shivers to just watch her.  She tossed a couple of towels around her shoulders, pulled on a pair of pants that had been in the sun, and left in a neat black SUV.  For a few minutes I was envious, and sad for my "lost youth." But for just a few minutes.   Memories should not diminish the moment, and the moment was sweet.
Two middle aged men were sitting on a bench.  One had ridden his bicycle there, clad in flashy blue biker suit, helmet and all; the other had arrived in a somber gray sedan.  If I had a camera with me I would have asked to take their picture just because it was quite classic.  

Going back toward home, I drove around the "other waterfront" where you cannot park unless you get there very early because it is the best location in the area for surfing.   There I took advantage of the five minute "drop off" area and watched a man with graying hair, skinny as a stick-drawing, don a full body wet suit, get a surf board which, as he carried it  completely hid him, and head for the waves.   I did not waste even a minute of time envying him!  Getting dumped and washed over by angry ocean waves would not ever have been my favorite pasttime.  

The trees are bare, except for those oaks which hang onto their brown leaves until heavy snow brings them down.   The crop fields are brown with stubble if they were planted with corn.  Other gardens are bare rows of earth waiting for planting next spring.   As I drove along through Cape Elizabeth I saw two does running across the low land.   I have seen three deer in our condo area this year, two gray foxes and the neat little red one that likes to take his nap in the sun on the berm in the back of the property.   We have some "city folks" who have moved in here who would like the foxes trapped and disposed of - humanely of course - but they are welcomed to live here as far as I'm concerned.   The pair of grays were standing in the road as I drove in and I stopped to watch them. They stood and looked at me and then with what seemed like a shrug of their shoulders they wandered off into the woods.   I saw a gray cat walking in the neighboring development.  I hope he and the foxes don't meet up on a day when the foxes have not found a turkey or a squirrel.

The farm stand at Higgins Beach is boarded up.   The little farm stand at the corner of Black Point Road is also closed.   The sign, which will sit by the road all winter,  still reads "IN GOD WE TRUST" .   I hope the lady who runs it for her son is there again next year.  She is somewhere around 90 years old.    

I will be with family this year as usual.  Not always the same family, but I am grateful that some one always "takes me in"  their circle.   Happy Thanksgiving.   (Which should be the last Thursday in November).

jan major

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Here we are approaching the end of October, and the end of the hurricane season, and I heard today there is threatening weather in the Atlantic which may impact us early next week.   I guess the weather gods did not get the message about November 1 closing the window on hurricanes.

The leaves are mostly down, the sky is brillian blue today.  As I drove along Commerce Drive on my way home today, I noticed the oaks still have those dry brown hangers-on.   They will be the last to fall, and will plague us maybe even after the first snowfall.  And maybe will still be there, soggy, slippery and ugly come spring when the snow melts.  But I think before the days when we raked so conscientiously (incidentally, I don't have to rake, the Ground Crew does it for me and my fellow Creekers) the dry leaves nurtured the ground they lay on.

As I drove out of Stoney Creek, onto Commerce Drive, earlier this week three lovely young does crossed in front of me from the pond side into the rather sparse woods between us and the Maine Veterans' Home.   And on coming car missed what I meant for a signal to slow down, and very nearly had venison for supper.   And a badly damaged car.    That's the second threesom of deer I have seen in the last few weeks.  BUT - today as I turned into my driveway I saw two full grown gray foxes crossing Stoney Creek Road.  I have heard they are around.   They are fully furred, very pretty (although not as colorful as the red fox which rests in the sun behind #1), and very healthy looking.   I am not afraid of them having rabies, the raccoons worry me more and we have plenty of them also. 

 NOw why would they be so close to a "colony of 30 condos" ?  The burgeoning building in Scarborough is taking out the woods and the town deems it necessary to make every open field into a ball park.  More clearing and more building is taking place as I write.  And much more is to come.    Scarborough needs to start thinking "up" now low and sprawling.

I am going on a three day hiatus to connect to more music enthusiasts, but before I go I need to do a number of things.  Shorten a pair of pants, decorate a pair of old shoes with frilly pink yarn (to wear instead of slippers for "pajama party" night, and maybe dash of a bit of a music blog about Steve Lawrence.   I'm feeling pretty positive about gettingit all done, and if I remember to pack my shoe horn and music glasses, I'll be all set.

Meanwhile, I'll take a few minutes to look up from my patio at the moon because tonight is clear and no one knows what tomorrow will bring.  And if I am out this afternoon again, I'll look up to see if the red tailed hawk that circles over head nearly every day is still up there enjoying the up-drafts.   It's a good day to be me in Maine.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Rare Event

There is a song which as words something like " it an earthquake or is it at last love?...."  Well, it was an earthquake.   And I remember a few of them in Maine where they are relatively rare, but I never experienced one like last night's.

My dog had come in from his nightly business mission and should have been settling down.  He began pacing and looking at me expectantly and my response was, "Go lie down, you just came in."   Yes, I do talk to my dog. And I did say to him as he was looking at me, "I wish I knew what you are thinking."   Shortly the house began to shake as though a train had derailed (the tracks are only about a mile south as the crow flies), or a plane crash (the air port is about three miles to the north) -  and then the room  became a Disney attraction, shaking  in all directions.  AND THEN BOOM!  and explosion of epic proportions followed by a diminishing of the trembling.
The dog looked at me one more time and I am sure he was saying "I told you so!".

Every week there is an "Emergency Management Alert"  test on televison which interrupts programming.  Each time there is a severe storm in New Hampshire to our west, or in the northern part of Maine which is miles away, the raucous claxon pierces our ears and the red banner streaks across the screen with the printed warning while a robot issues a statement.  SO, WHERE WAS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT LAST NIGHT?   Couldn't they have come on to let people know this was an earthquake which registered on the Richter Scale at 4.0, and had a scope of several hundred square miles?   What good are they if they are not on top of what's happening in real time? 

Well, it's a lovely day today.  If there have been after shocks, I haven't been aware of them.  After a lot of rain and a couple of heavy frosts the plants are ready to be prepared for winter.  I will find my clippers and gloves and do the job over the next few days which are predicted to be good.

I had hoped to make a trip into the middle of the state this fall but the rainy weather dampened my enthusiasm.   Maybe next year.

"October gave a party,
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks and Maples,
And leaves of every name.

The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band."

"October's Party" - George Cooper

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Like Falling Leaves

The descent into Fall has been swift, like the leaves when they leave their trees.  Some 65 years ago we were so dry and hot half of Maine burned; little local fires which became huge conflagrations that wiped out whole communities.   Bar Harbor's seaside mansions owned by industrial and fnancial magnates burned as quickly and efficiently as the little hundred year old farms in the western part of the state.  And my families own modest but comfortable and much loved seaside cottage in Goose Rocks Beach.   Colorful hardwood foliage, some dry and fallen, some still glorious in gold and orange clinging to their branches, and deep green conifers thirsting for water needed to keep them alive through winter - all burned with ferocious intensity of color and heat.  Acrid smoke drifted where the fire did not.

 As I looked out my bedroom window from the cottage where we were still enjoying the last of good weather, I saw the balls of fire "topping off" over the tall pines of Crow Hill in Cape Porpoise and heard the screams of the fire engines as they raced here and there trying to find places where they might  - just might - be able to stop it.   My father said "Go to bed.    There's a whole marsh between us that the  ocean keeps wet every 12 hours.  The fire won't cross that."   How wrong he was - not often - but never more so than that night.   We left that morning and by afternoon the our cottage and five others on that remote end of the beach on the edge of Batson's river was gone.

Well, we have had rain enough to  keep the conifers healthy for winter.
The rocks along the roadside are weeping; the foliage which should be peaking in glorious crisp orange and yellow and rust and pale green is hanging limp and soggy, sad in the air which is also soggy and limp. 

Turn on the furnace in early October?   Unless you want to mold, you had better.   Hunger for hot soup for supper?  Absolutely.  My grandson made me a large batch of Borscht; I revel in it's satisfying red warmth.  Pack up the summer weight pants and shirts; put away the patio furniture; plant a few extra bulbs if you dare work in your soggy yard; hope for at least one really nice dry sunny day before snow-fall so you can clip back the roses and cover them, trim the butterfly bush and do one last round of weed-pulling to discourage them from coming back in April.  

Maine is an interesting state which cannot be counted on from one year to the next for consistency.  It;'s consistency is inconsistent, at best.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September song

September is 2/3 past and I have again this year come down with a cold.  This ritual began when I worked in the school system.   When the students came back with a variety of ailments,  I always came down with a cold.  NOt a bit convenient with the opening glitlches, and one of our key people taking several days off to attend the US Tennis Matches in New Hampshire.   It was a given if they wanted her capable services the other 50 weeks of the year at least one week would be spent in NH in September.     Anyway, it isn't quite as critical that I be well in September, but it is still a nuisance to have a cold.

The weather is beautiful!  In this area everything is still green.   The apples are ripe (and they've gone from $6 a bag of utilities to $10 three years.).  I have been making apple sauce and have enough in the freezer to last about two months, which is fine, because by then I will be ready to face another cook off.  I don't bake pies or crisps.  I don't peel the apples, just wash them, core them and cook until tender.  Then the Foley Food Mill, that marvelous invention, comes out and I set about grinding the pulp to a fine sauce.  A little sugar (doens't take much) and a shake of ground cinnamon finishes it off.   I put the end product into little 1/4 cup containers, as many as I have, and the rest in whatever I have handy.    When my mother was making apple sauce, she peeled and cored and the apple sauce had chunkier texture.  Next time around I might do that.  Somehow, I think there is goodness in the cooked peels.  OF course, she used to "boil down" the skins and cores, drain off the liquor through cheese cloth, add some pectin and make a fine jelly.   Too much work for me.    Smuckers is just fine.

Well, the hibiscus is still blooming as are the roses, Rose of Sharon and the purple and white butterfly bushes.   The butterfly bushes are sometimes laden with Monarchs, and smaller similar butterflies.   I would think if they are going to go somewhere for the winter, it is time for them to gather and leave.
Today the ground crew mowed.   I think this has to be the very last mowing this season, but I did notice the sprinklers are still on in the early a.m.    I think growing season is over, however.   

I have seen a few skeins of geese flying over the marshes.    And the egrets are still in town.   I have not seen a great blue heron this year, but I haven't really just sat and watched for them.    The marsh grasses have yellowed and the heather is purple.   The scent is salty and smells more like straw than a month ago.   We have had some really high tides and lovely "rollers".   The surfers are having a bonus year.  

Here in the Creek several neighbors have already gone south.  Makes me wonder why they come at all - if they come in May and leave in September they miss a lot of nice Maine season changes.    This time of year inspires an "end of season" outing, so the ladies of the Creek are meeting for lunch Saturday.  

There are less than 50 days left until the Presidential election.   I am truly sick of the vitriol, the lies, the flip-flopping and the endless phone calls.  I had a call last night from Brunswick, ME. which was a four question quiz from the Angus King people  They have a litany to read from and you can't throw them off course or they have to start over again.   I thought I would give the young man with the deep voice and slight accent which I couldn't identify, a few minutes of my time.  I've done those phone banks and it's a miserable way to spend an evening.   But after asking did I know Mr. King was running? Yes.   How likely are you to vote for Mr. King?  Not likely.
May I send you some material which I think will help you understand him and how qualified he is? No.  I was here when Mr. King was Governor King.
But if I send you some material, you might find it interesting.  No, thank you, I don't want the material.  I have seen a lot of the commericals and read quite a bit in the papers.   (Big sigh) But that material may not be doing him justice and is probably slanted adversely. WHAT?  THE ads which Mr. King "approves" might be adversely slanted?   No, the opposition ads.  I don't want any material.  It will only ad to my recyclables.   At which point I did hang up.    You know, today's young people really don't know the meaning of the word "NO".   That's sad.

We must make the most of the next few weeks which will bring us into fall with it's new palette of colors. I had been thinking I would take a trip into the middle of the state somewhere to really see the colors of the Rangely area.
But I am taking a three day trip to Massachusetts for a music event, so I probably won't,   Big ideas, no action.  I took a trip into the White Mountans a few years back by myself and the problem was, there was no one to OOH and AAH with.   I did get lost, but I wasn't worried.   I knew if I didn't drive over the edge of the road into a ravine, I'd eventually find my way out. But I did take a left turn at one point and ended up in a farmer's yard.   He looked at me.  I looked at him.  I waved, smiled and said, "Sorry, I took a wrong turn."   He nodded and walked toward his house with his Heinz 57 dog at his heels.

Enough.    Unless we have something spectacular weatherwise, there isn't much happening to write about.   

No matter when happens in the rest of the world, and right now horrendous things are happening, we circulate in our own sphere which here in Maine is reasonably peaceful and calm.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Into the Stretch

When I turn the calendar to August I know summer's days are numbered.   This is a "blue moon" August.  Don' t know what that means?    It's the rare occasion when we get to enjoy two full moons in the same month.   There was a full moon August 1, and we are in the waning stages of it.  But the 17th of the month brings a new moon, and August 31 will see a second full moon.
Yesterday as I drove Route 1 through the Scarborough marshes I saw they were very flooded.  We have not had significant rains so I am assuming we were experiencing a very high tide.  No doubt the creeks were full of minnows and the bigger fish that follow them.   I am not sure what is "running" right now, but the bridges and piers were lined with fishermen;  men, women, little kids of all sizes, shapes and colors.  

Wherever I lived before I had a quince bush.   At my home on Dane Street in Kennebunk there were huges ones.   WHen I had my first home on Maine Avenue in Portland I had one; and when I moved to Virginia Street I had one.  The leaves always began to fall off on August 5th.  And the hard green apples were exposed for ripening.  But you wouldn't eat one even when ripe.  If you were ambitious you might make quince apple jelly, but don't try to compare it to Smucker's Apple Jelly.   It takes a lot of apples, a lengthy  cooking, draining and straining and the result is not very flavorful.  

In my yard here at my condo there are yellow, pink and red roses coming into second bloom.   The Stella D'oro lillies, hardy and plentiful, hosta, and honeysuckle in bloom.  The Rose of Sharon which I thought was dead two years ago when we moved it, has grown to three feet tall and loaded with buds about to burst. 
The butterfly bushes in front and on the side are in full bloom. 
I am aware that their days are short so will enjoy them while I can.

As I have mentioned before, Maine has a plethora of music events in summer.   Every park, pavilion and gazebo is booked. Last week there was a concert in the Scarborough Downs property.   Thousands of people gathered to hear Wiz Khalifa and
In Portland the Gentlemen of the Road are appearing on the Eastern Promenade.  It will be a huge event which will temporarily (hopefully) transform the Promenade into a mini-arena.  

This is now August 20.  I am playing catch-up and saw that several issues were still in draft.  I don't know why that happened, but I have not put them all into "publish" so if you're interested in the mundane happenings here, it's there for you.

My grandson Noah leaves today for Ohio State, third year.  We had a nice visit Saturday and went to lunch.   He is all grown up, finding out that what you think when you are 17 and 18 is not necessarily what you will think when you are 20.  But he is smart and  I feel confident he will find his passion in due time.   He is the last to be in college until the next generation comes along. 

All is well in the Northeast Corner - I like that thought.  Look at a map if you don' t believe we own that title.  The crickets are chirping tonight, or maybe they're some other leg-rubbing creature.   They are noisy and all around the  patio, along with a horde or herd of mosquitoes and night flying moths.   I sat for about three minutes and decided I was seriously outnumbered.

Two nights ago there were thunder showers for several hours; last night the delayed fire works from Summerfest shook the earth for 45minutes; tonight it's the crickets.  And when Nick settles down on his bed on the floor (since he can no longer easily get up on my bed) , he will begin his nighly groans which will give way to snores.   Comfortable sounds that tell me I am not alone.  And he doesn't complain about my snoring, so I won't complain about his.  

Happy Blue Moon

From the Northeast Corner

The Northeast Corner of the US is a beautiful place to be today.  It is not too hot, but nice enough to go to a beach, either at the ocean on on a lake.  The air is clear, the sky is blue and the land is lush.  Lobsters are plentiful, therefore, a little less expensive; the fresh vegetables are ready for picking if you like new corn, cukes, and tomatoes.  Not sure who is growing spinach outside, but I would be glad to have some.  

But across the country - nearly all the way across - there is chaos.  And because news travels fast in todays electronic world, it is coloring the lives of people everywhere, even here in the Northeast Corner.  It is hard not to listen to the news, watch the televised reports.  There is no good explanation of why we are fixated on such a tragedy.  I certainly do not get a thrill out of it.   I can't help anyone; even if I knew them, I couldn't help htem.   I can, like most others, say a silent prayer for the comfort survivors, the relatives of the living and the deceased.  I can even say a prayer for the perpetrator because he must surely be a tortured soul.   It is tragedies like this that make me question my faith in a higher being that would allow such a thing to happen; that a child should die at the whim of a nut case. 

Lest you think the Northeast Corner is totally devoid of them (the nut cases) let me remind you that several years ago a parishoner laced the after Sunday service coffee with arsenic which caused deaths and lasting illnesses.  

Back to the Northeast Corner, the purple butterfly bush is truly gorgeous and yes, the humming bees have returned.  Their memories are good.  Where ever you are when you read this, remember -

"There is a crack in everything.  That's how the light gets in."
Leonard Cohen (1934 - ?)



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Short Cuts

I was sitting in my car this morning waiting for the AC to kick in, meanwhile, with the window open letting out the heat from the early a.m. sun.   I was on my way to music class in Portland, with plenty of time to spare so sititng for a minute or two was pleasantly relaxing.   The butterfly bush had begun to bloom with great purple blossoms, and the bachellor's buttons, also purple were in bloom.   I can hardly wait for the little humming bees and humming birds to return to enjoy their nectaring.    My neighbor came out to chat and while standing there a rather agresive bee flew between us.   She stepped back and the bee flew into the car.   She said, THAT IS A BEE!" and I said, "I hope it finds it's way back out."   But it already had.  It was taking a short cut through the car to the butterfly bush.   Smart bee.

When I got on the road I contemplated which route I would take.   Of several ways from Scarborough to Portland, all have ongoing construction.   The Maine Turnpike seems to take me too far afield to be a practical choice.  SO, I opted for the shortest route, which I have navigated many times lately so I do know the construction routine:  stay right here, go left there, watch for the shifting lanes, etc. Jersey barriers, (you know, those cement monuments to construction crews) orange barrels,signs that say Double Fines for Speeding.
At least this route would take me to an off-ramp which would put me on the correct avenue for my destination.   Getting to the construction area, traffic stopped.  A screaming police car passed in the "NO TRAFFIC" lane. (I am already thinking I should have taken the long way around.)  We crawled several miles, and several minutes, finally coming upon a tank truck a quarter of a mile long (well, maybe that's a littel exaggeration) which had broken down.   Once past it, traffic began to move at a normal speed.  And then, at the off-ramp which would have taken me to Forest Avenue, there was an army of orange barrells and signs "Ramp Closed" .  Now I had two more choices:  the next off ramp which would necessarily take me through three lighted intersections; or the next one after that which would take me further away from my destination, but onto a scenic route on which to backtrack.
I chose the next ramp thinking it is, after all, the shortest route, and once again found myself behind a street sweeper going five miles an hour and leaving more dust than it was taking.  So much for "short cuts."  And speaking of same,  I had my first grade grandchild and a four year old pre-schooler girl I was taking care of in the car with me.   I asked my grandson how come he was not where I expected him to be and he said, "I took a short cut."  The four  year old said, "I had a short cut once and I was mad at my mother.   I like my hair when she braids it."    I still chuckle when I think of it.  American English is hard to get around even for natives!

So, in the heat of July, and it is hot today and predicted to be hot for the next three or four days,  I will avoid "short cuts" except at my hair dressers, where I am headed as I end this.   I expect her to give me a very "short cut." 


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Deep Summer and Loving It

This is what I call "deep summer".   When July 4th arrives it signals we are into what Maine is all about.   The last couple of weeks, since summer was marked by the calendar, have brought us rain, thrunder, hail, wind, humidity and what some think is unseasonable heat.  Now we settle into summer with all the tourists,  town fairs, old home days, art shows, clam and lobster festivals, and the great MOXIE DAYS, which is held in Lisbon Falls, Maine, the second weekend in July (this year on June 8th).

A doctor* created Moxie as an elixir which was given by the spoonful for a variety of symptoms.    Then in 1876 it was made into a carbonated beverage in Union, Maine.    My father liked Moxie.   When we went on picnics that was the drink we took.  I didn't like it as a child, but acquired a taste for it as I grew older.   I haven't had any for many years, and don't know that I would like it so much now.   I have a tendency to like sweet things as I age, and I hardly ever drink carbonated drinks.   The Moxie Festival has grown since the first one in 1983, and now includes a 5K road race, car show, lots of memorabelia and souvenirs.  It is a "three day powwow."  (It's a wonder that is still poliltically correct language, since it's not connected to the Indians in any way.)  There is no reason to be bored in Maine in the summer.  This year, lobsters shed their shells early so the delicacy is plentiful and slightly less costly as they re-emerge with soft new homes; the beaches are clean, (yes they are, in spite of what the government says) and the  ocean and lakes are warmer than usual for this time of year.   

I deadheadded the roses; poor things were beaten and battered by the recent high winds, hail and rain.   And cleaned out the foxglove which is so beautiful when in bloom, but downright nasty looking when they "go by."
I cannot keep the weeds out of the mulch bed, but the mulch bed was a bad idea to begin with.  It seemed so reasonable that it would be a good place for Nick to "go" and much easier for me to keep clean.   He doesn't "go" there, but he loves to lay down in it, and being a hairy monster, he drags in mulch with every trip.   I have taught him to shake on command out there, (which proves you CAN teach an old dog new tricks)  and it eliminates some, but I am constantly fighting to keep it out of the carpet.
I think in the fall I will spread some loam and seed it for next year.  

July's moon is the Buck Moon.  It was full last night, but in the early waning nights it will still look bright and wash my yard with cool light.   The mosquitos found the patio last night, so I will enjoy the adjoining four-season room with the screened door and windows open.     A well known poet implied there is nothing so "rare as a day in June" but I am inclined to think evenings in July in Maine are practically idyllic, and pretty rare as in a good year we probably can only count on 25 of them at most.

*From Maine but practicing in Massachusetts 


Credit: Moxie

Monday, June 18, 2012

Almost Summer

It is now June 18 - Summer IS just around the corner.   The post below was in my draft file, and there is little I will add or I will be boring myself as well as you.   I have been to Yarmouth with Nick a couple of times recently.  I am being  redundant mentioning  that the rock  faces are changing with the season, just as the the depth of color of the evergreens, and the matruation of the rest of our foliage.   In my back yard the roses are in bloom, the foxglove is four feet tall by my patio room window.  I am enjoying sitting out there watching the bees and other honey-seekers go in and out on their rounds.   With this much added to the should-have-been-posted blog below, I am now going to return to shredding.   And shredding.   And shredding.   I hope I will not be looking for something a year from now which is ending up in confetti.


It is cliche to comment that time flies as you get older, so I won't say it.  But it does.   Today, June 10 is absolutely the "rare day in June" .  I spent some time on the patio earlier but had to come in because it is just too hot in the a.m. out there.   Probably close to 80 at 9:30.     Night before last we had a couple of thunder storms which produced - I am not exaggerating - hail in size from peas to moth balls.   I sat in my living room beneath my skylights and wondered if the glass would be able to withstand the pounding.   My dog, Nick, is not concerned with weather.  He pays no attention to thunder and lightning, but hail freaks him out.    We were caught in a sudden storm once with sizeable hail stones.   We had been walking in an open field when I saw a storm cloud being driven by a strong wind.   We didn't quite make it to the car before the cloud was directly over us, but the worst was sitting in the car being pelted with hail, watching it bounce around off the hood, the windshield, and the road around us.    It was beginning to build up on the ground, when as swiftly as it came it blew past.   I got home, not more than a mile away and mentioned it to my neighbor who said, "What hail storm?"   It was of small dimensions but very powerful.

Grandkids are home from college. One graduated, one becoming a Junior in the fall. 
Friends are golfing; going off to camp;  talking of family reunions and other summer activities.    Ronald McDonald House held their Purses with Purpose event last week. A fun time with the opportunity to bid on fabulous hand bags, day-at-a-spa gift certificates, fun jewelry, collections of bath products and other personal items.  One interesting item (I did not bid on it) was a three-item "collection"  from a local bakery.   Iced cake, package of a dozen or so cookies and a generous package of home made fudge.   I did bid on "Lunch for Ten" at RMH catered by the staff and won it.   It should be a lot of fun.   SO, Life in Maine in June is good.    Everyting is green and clean.  The only detractor is the road construction and repair going on everywhere!  Getting from Scarborough to Portland is a challenge of patience.   A motorcycle accident on one of the bridges proved there are no sure choices to avoid a problem.   We are at the mercy of the other driver.   

Monday, May 14, 2012

Maine in the Middle of May

Southern Maine is damp today.  It isn't raining, just damp.  I know that because the patio is dark in some places, and almost white in others.   It's cool enough for the dampness to collect in low spots.   I could have discerned the dampness without even looking out the window.   The paper in the printer is soft and slow going through the rollers.   My hair is limp and my toes ache.   Yup, true indications of dampness.

The lilacs are out.   Beautiful purple ( mine are quite dark) plumes of tiny honey filled blossoms.  One of God's truly artistic creations. All traces of the forsythia are gone, even the fallen blossoms.   Of course, the "ground crew" came around a few days ago with their indiscriminate machines taking everything up that isn't pegged down.  I don't miss the dandelions, but the mat of yellow was sort of pretty beneath the forsytha.

The tulips and hyacynths are gone.   We now wait for the second wave of whatever we planted last year, or maybe we've put in some new annuals just for the color.   My butterfly bushes, the beautiful purple on and the not so beautiful white one (barely shows against my white siding) are up several inches and showing promise.  The foxglove is up eight inches so we can expect to see blossoming early on those.   The roses are all leaf at this point.  

I drove the 35 or so miles to Raymond Hill yesterday (Mother's Day) and was privileged to see the sky dotted with hawks all along the way.   Beautiful free birds.  They don't seem to need an "updraft" like seaguls.   A few flaps of their wings allows them to soar up and down in enviously graceful swoops.   ALthough the trip takes me through a section of the Gray Game Preserve, I have never seen a deer on that trip.    Maybe next time.   YOu have to love Maine in May.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sunshine and dandelions

After several days of rain - off and on, but mostly on - the sun has come out and the dandelions are loving it.   Newly seeded section of the back lawn looks promising. Butterfly bushes both front and back, have new green shoots and the western honeysuckle by the fence has grown four inches nearly over night.   You can't kill that western honeysuckly, you know.  The ground crew has mowed it over, the high winds have blown it and the trellis it grew on, over.  At that point I cut the trellis, vine and and all the little shoots off at ground level.  And there it is again.   Of course, the trellis is gone so I wil l have to do something about that before long.

I had cataract surgery in both eyes recently.  I don't exactly see any better, although, I now have 20/20 vision without glasses which means I don't need them for driving.   I do see a difference in colors, which everyone said I would.  Greens are greener and blues are bluer.   A beautiful sky above the greening of the maples and aspens, and the rusty buds on the oak make the world a better place.

My Wheaton, Nick, is sick and not moving about much so I haven't been to Yarmouth.
I haven't seen what the rocks are doing - yes they do things - they weep and change color with the seasons; their striation shows as seasons change.   The ones I see have been fractured by the encroaching highway, and there are pieces which drop off, exposing other facets.  Little sprouts of green spring up in the cracks.   Some prevail and  become bonafide plants, others die from the lack of nourishment and drop off.  The big ones make the cracks bigger as their roots take hold and then water gets in and the ice in winter makes the crack wider. There are large pine trees growing from the rock crevices where you would not believe there would be enough support to keep them upright.

Tourists are appearing on weekends.    Campers are coming in to get hooked up for summer; cottage owners are opening and airing their homes, getting water, lights, telephone back in place.   Some will find the red squirrels (maybe even grays and chippies) have taken winter refuge at their expense.  Once when we opened our cottage we found a flock of dead birds that had come down the Franklin stove chimney which SOMEONE had neglected to seal off. 

Happy Cinco de Mayo - to all of our Mexican friends.  Kennebunk Maine is holding an annual festival today with a parade of LIttle Leaguers, Cub Scouts, Blue Birds, 4-Hers and the drum and bugle brigade in their serapes and sombreros.   

May is a good time in Maine, when the rain stops, the sun comes out and the thermometer stretches to 55 degrees.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The day that the rains came down ......

All of our fears for  field and forest fires have been taken off the page.  We are getting a soaking that will fill the vernal pools,  bring the earth worms to the top of the lawn, and dilute the salt marshes.  It will also dampen the spirits of the school kids who have to wait for buses or walk to school.  

The dog didn't want to leave the patio, which actually had standing water on it.  He hates wet grass, but he  "had to go" and eventually accomplished his duty.    Good dog! 

I imagine my farm family will not appreciate the mud this day will produce.  The horses will be muddy to their knees and their dogs, like mine, will be wet and smelly when they come in.   Cats on the other hand, will just sit in the window and when neccessary,  go with stately pride to their litter box.   On days like this I am grateful for my attached garage and the drive through drug store.  
WHen the rain stops and the sun comes out we will marvel at the rate the grass grows, but mourn a little bit that the forsythia, magnolia, and azalea blooms have been beaten off their branches and lie soggy and faded on the ground.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hello Spring

Spring came early to Maine.   It actually came too soon, and winter wasn't much to begin with.  Maple trees greedily kept their sap making the syrup harvest light.  Snow left the mountains before skiers had had the last run and retailers were left with shovels, snow blowers,ice melt and winter clothing still on the floors.  Now, April 18, the patio furniture is out, the rakes, hoses and garden implements are on display while the help is still finding storage room for the unsold goods.  Bulb plants which usually appear about now are gone, and the late blooming ones are open.   I have a lovely crop of yellow mustard plants coming up all over the small plots I am allowed to plant in.  Condo living, with one floor units, does offer a little leeway in the rear, and conservatively in the front.  The "old guard" never wanted any thing out front, every house should look exactly like its neighbor. I was told "That's what condo living is all about.  We don't want every body doing their own thing."   But in the end, according to the "green book" we do have a little space to display our individualism.  No pink flamingos or little girls bent over with their panties showing, though.  

I went to Yarmouth today.   The rocks along the way, which do change with the seasons and the humidity, are pale and dry.  Greenery is coming up on the roadside.  Last year's cattails and red berry bushes are falling down to fertilize this year's crop.   But everything is critically dry because we didn't get snow on the mountains to bring the spring run-off.   The "peepers" have found their vernal pools are deep enough to sustain them, and tonight  as the last few nights they are singing their wooing songs.   The cardinals are out every morning calling to each other.  One near me and one further off to the east. I don't know if they are marking their territory or attracting a mate.   I try to imitate thier whistle and sometimes it is near enough to confuse them.  I know that because they send me mixed signals in reply.   Yesterday as I stood out back a huge black bird went over my head.  His huge wings were flapping laboriously.   He let out several raucous calls.  I think he is a goose of some variety and I remember seeing one last year about this time.  I know he (she?) is not a Canada Goose and I know it wasn't a wader. No long legs.  Out of sight in a flash.  Even the dog looked up.   Dog walkers, baby carriage pushers, marathoners, bicyclists - welcome Spring.  Maine's a great place to be this time of year.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Good bye, Winter

In the wee hours of Tuesday a.m. (tomorrow, Eastern Daylight Time) Winter will pack it in, making way for Spring to officially begin.  We will hardly notice the difference as we are having unusually warm weather as I write this, and Winter was as easy as I remember in my lifetime.    Today I noticed the little white croci are in bloom in the front garden plot.  

I have heard and seen robins for the last couple of weeks and the cardinal which hangs around all winter is staking a claim on the topmost bare branches of the oak tree next door.   He sits up there whistling and warning, and another across the street answers.   Fun to imagine what they may be saying to one another. 
WHen I put Nick out this morning I could hear the hen turkeys chirping across the street between #s 28 & 29.   I have not seen or heard the Tom this spring. Could it be that he doesn't realize his ladies are waiting for him?    I think there are six or eight hens in the resident "rafter."

I would be headed for the beach about three miles away to take  walk with Nick, but my printer is down and I am waiting to hear from the repair man to call me back.   
For some reason, practically in the middle of a job, it will not print what I write.  I love this equipment when it works, but when it is "fritzy" I wonder if there is any way I can manage without it.   A great nuisance when it is down.
AH, 75 degrees on the patio.   I out of here.    Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


March first brought the third snow of the whole winter season in this area. And it came by the shovelfull. About a foot landed on patio over the course of 24 hours. My thoughtful neighbor shoveled about half of it, making huge hills which my "wonderful Wheaton" played "King of the Hill " of for a little while this afternoon. Not a lot of fun in that game without a challenger, but he enjoyed himself . I could not leave him out there very long because yesterday he went to get his spring shearing.

Now the wind howls and the plows are beeping as they clean out the driveways. It is early Tuesday a.m. so the shovelers will be around before long to make short work of the clean up. Rain is due on Saturday which might take care of it anyway.

In like a lion and out like a lamb, we can hope by April Fools' Day we will see the bare ground, which was bare until today, and the spring flowers will begin to come up again - for the second time if we are lucky. I am not sure what a snowless winter does to them. Some were already up quite a bit, crocuses (croci?) were blooming, the robins have been returning, and I heard the cardinals calling across the tree tops to one another.

The nice thing is the sun is higher inthe sky so all will be right again soon, and come 90 degree weather in July and August we will be wishing we had some of this snow again. RIght now, we are wishing "hurry summer."

Heating oil is over $4.50 a gallon; gas for the car is $3.80, closing in on $4 a gallon. Watch out, south of the Mason Dixon, we're all comin' just like you asked us to.

Friday, January 20, 2012

It's a white world -----


White everywhere. Trees cloaked in white robes; street, patio, dog run all buried in another four to five inches. Small annoying storms that make it hard to keep up with the cleaning up.

Ground crew came beeping around early; shovelers arrived a little later to do door ways and hydrants. Of course, they followed up with buckets of sand liberally mixed with a brand of rock salt that came straight from Siberia and never made it through the grinding process. Chunks as big as the Hope Diamond.

Jenny the next door collie came to visit. Nick, eager to play, did some fancy footwork and scared her off. Then he barked to get her back but she was having none of his nonsense. She is a B-I-G dog. Her keeper tells me she has lost 40 pounds since she came just before the holidays. The dog, that is, not the keeper.

Prediction: more snow Saturday during the day. Not quite ready to call foul yet, but I would be happier with one good storm which everyone expects to deal with, then these pesky every-other-day showers.

Don't blame the weatherman. He just lives in his little cubby hole reading his isobars and dreaming of a really spectacular event. Go, Joe Cupo!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winrter has come

We are midway through January 2012 and winter has come to Maine at last.
In the form of snow and various outher precips depending on where you are, and deep cold descended from across the country. Although, as we are really about as far north as you can go in the contiguous states, I suppose it didn't descend, simply pushed.

Today the sun rose brightly, sparkling over the ocean which was gloriously blue, making blue shadows on the snow as it crossed from east to west and went down with a lovely warm red.
But the temperatures, in spite of the sun, did not get out of the low teens in the Scarborough area. I made a short trip to the Maine Veterans' Home, as I do every Sunday, and then to the grocery store for a fresh salad, and dog food, and it was bitterly cold just going from my car to the buildings and back to the car. I put on a coat. Now you might think that an odd note, but I do not wear a coat much of the time. I carry one in my car - just in case I have to get out - but seldom wear it. Today I got out my heavy wool topcoat and was glad for it. Tomorrow I may hunt up a scarf if the temperature stays low.

There is a pond - I have been told it is an acre in size - which is part of our community property. All winter it has been open and frequently there have been ducks and geese resting in it. Today it is frozen solid for the first time. Because of insurance issues, no one uses it , but it looks like it would be a perfect place for a leisurely skate; no hockey allowed!

I heard a crow this morning which was hoarse. His gravelly caw had me looking to see if I could see him; I could not. But he sounded really distressed. Poor crow.

As I looked out tonight I saw that the snow has a hard glistening crust. When I was young my mother and I used to walk to my grandmothers across a pasture land which had such a hard deep crust, we could walk on it without sinking in. Good thing, that, because there was at least 18 inches of snow under the crust. The area beside my bedroom looks like it is covered with boiled frosting. Ummmm.

Maine is deep in winter. The turkeys are deep in the woods. The foxes are in their dens. Not even the squirrels came out today.

Tomorrow will be another day for most of us.