Monday, August 31, 2009

Sharing food...

My herb garden was really nice this year. In the last two weeks, however, my parsley and dill plants have been decimated. The culprit? This swallow tail butterfly Caterpillar and a half a dozen of his friends. I had plenty to share, and don't begrudge them the herbs. Much.

Speaking of sharing... last night we had dinner with our good friends. Here in Maine there is quite a culture of raising ones own food. Last nights meal consisted of:
Roast chicken (raised by my friends)
Mashed potatoes (made with fresh milk, from my friends cow)
Green beans (yup, from the garden!)
tomatoes and cucumbers sliced up with onions and chives (all grown by one of us)
Baked Jarlsberg dip (onions from my garden)

In this case the friends did most of the raising of the food, we did most of the cooking... but between the four of us we prepared a meal which consisted of very little grocery store food. And really, it was all simply delicious.

Feelin' frisky...

The lambs do several things well. The eat a lot, pee and poop a lot, and they play "smack the cranium" a lot. As they have gotten bigger, the sound of their hooves thundering across the grass, followed by the CRACK of their skulls colliding is a bit... thunderous.

Having been on the receiving end of a few gentle butts from the boys, I am very respectful of their strength. The dogs are, too. We are beginning to walk softly and carry a big stick when we are in the yard with "the boys."

Saturday, August 29, 2009


This jellyfish floated past me last weekend while I waded in the Gulf.
I was struck by the way its tentacles fanned out around it, ready to touch anything within its reach.

This morning dawned unseasonably cold and with high winds and pelting rain. The hot water heater had hiccuped, so I had to take an icy shower before work. I was not my absolute cheery best when I began my work day.

And then... and then, a vacationing man came and handed me his dog. He beamed at me. He said, "That last haircut was the best one our dog ever had! You did SUCH a nice job. My wife and I wish you would move to where we live and groom!" And there it was. A tentacle. Reaching out, and changing the entire tenor of my day.

I need to spread more tentacles out. Don't you?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fair Season...

It is Fair season in Maine. Many of the small towns that spangle this state host fairs in the late summer and fall. Since Maine is a state rich in agriculture, these small town fairs still boast barns full of cattle, swine, sheep, goats and poultry.

Last night we attended the Union Fair. We watched the horse pulls, where teams of draft horses are hitched to sleds stacked high with granite. Muscles rippling, hooves pounding, they lurch and pull and heave. We saw pens full of sheep, saw teenagers deftly handling beef cattle and other livestock for 4-H, and admired row upon row of lovely, sleek dairy cows.

Of course there was traditional "fair food," sausage sandwiches, fried dough, funnel cakes, french fries, onion blossoms, and more. The air was full of the sounds of the fair; barkers barking, the music from the rides, laughter, chatter, the high pitched screams of girls on the roller coaster.
The smell of fair food was over ridden by the smell of the poultry barn, the cow barn, the pigs, sleek and grunting.

Together we wandered through buildings filled with hand stitched quilts and clothing, projects by children, photography and art by neighbors. We admired tractors and tools, and chatted with friends we bumped into along the way.

We love to the flavor of fairs....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blog by Request...

One of my blog readers asked for a chicken update, and I am more than happy to oblige!
Here is the flock. The three in the background are last years ladies, RoBIRDa, HENrietta and LAYah. In the foreground we have (from left to right) Poach the rooster, Omelet and Quiche the pullets, and the white one is Meringue. The jury is still out as to what gender Meringue is. It's a puzzle that vexes me. And in case you are wondering, the black and white chickens are Silver Laced Wyandottes. The other is a White Wyandotte.

Poach the rooster has learned to crow, and exercises his new voice long and loudly. It is rather amusing at this point... but I can see where one might tire of that particular song. All the birds are enjoying the beautiful late summer weather. They have over an acre of fenced yard to roam, and roam they do, scratching and up dirt, eating bugs, worms and plants, and in general looking just about as happy as chickens can look. In the evening they retire to their secure coop and sleep soundly, dreaming little birdie dreams.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Two sweet....

I could have done worse in the in law department! These two lovely ladies are my husbands big sisters. They are so cute! And sweet, and talented. There is something magical about being around them, with their similar hair styles, and often matching clothing, and endless fascinating conversation. They dearly love to be together, and I dearly love to be in on a visit to see them in action.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hurricane Katrina...

Four years ago hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf coasts of Mississippi and Louisiana.
We have been frequent visitors to this part of the world, as some of our favorite family calls it home.

This weekend we went back for the first time since the storm. If you had never been there before, you might not notice that the place is in a state of renewal, but if the area was familiar to you... oh!

What struck me the most was the sense of impermanence. Places that I took for granted would remain long after I was gone, are now nothing more than a rubble of brick or a smooth, concrete pad. On my in-law's street, driveway after driveway leads hauntingly to nothing. Places where homes once stood are now being overgrown with local vegetation. Birds and wild life are now at home where bedrooms and kitchens and family rooms once housed human souls.

And yet... there is new growth everywhere. Buildings such as these pictured are now dotting the once defeated landscape. Brightly colored, built above the storm surge, evidence of life and hope and growth and renewal dot this ravaged landscape.

My sister and brother in law now live in a home redone. They reclaimed it from feet of flood water, hundreds of pounds of fallen tree and debris. They hauled and cleaned and lost and lost and worked and remade the home where they raised children and fed friends and prayed and loved and grew and still, ultimately lost. They lost much, but not as much as some. And in the end, they gained... a beautifully redone home. Yet... the Katrina hurricane will remain a pivotal event in their lives.

Everywhere along this coast the evidence of tragedy lingers. And in its wake, hope and renewal grow. Bright and clean and full of life. The human spirit shines. Perhaps no more brightly than in the face of tragedy.


We spent the weekend visiting family in Long Beach, Mississippi. It was joyful. And thought provoking. We saw our nephew, 15, whom we have not seen since he was half this age and half this size. I was delighted beyond reason when he remembered that I used to make him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into fun shapes. And that made me think about memories in general. There are so many things that I thought I would never forget, that are now lost in the mists of my mind. The feeling I felt at first kisses, falling in love, or the heart wrenching sadness that losses bring, or even the names of certain people who touched my life in a special way... moments gilded in joy or fraught with sorrow... major moments that one would think would be forever, indelibly etched in our minds. And then the other moments, small ones, that are part of the normal warp and woof of daily life. And honestly, I don't remember cutting sandwiches into shapes, but I am so glad that my nephew recalls it!
And that makes me wonder, too... the storehouse of memories that we do manage to hold onto, where do they go when we die? Do we take them with us, or are they gone, with a feathery, whooshing sound when the light goes out of our eyes? Are our memories a part of the atoms and amoebas that make up our world, or are they gone, gone in a blink, like birds on the beach?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Brown supper...

Call the cholesterol police! My wonderful brother in law, Nevada, has cooked us his very special "brown supper." Other than the pot of peerless Cole slaw, the dinner consists of platter after bowl full of food that is deep fried to an unequalled level of crisp, golden, delicious perfection.
The menu? Fried shrimp, (fresh off the dock!) fried hush puppies, (with the zing of jalapeno, yum!) fried okra, and several other fried delicacy's served up with gusto. We have not had the luxury of this meal in 7+ years. Our hearts are glad of that fact, but our taste buds are gladder still for tonight's offering. Best of all the meal was seasoned with the chat and laughter of family gathered at the long, polished table.

Flower, fruit and picnic visitor...

The sunflowers are decorating my garden with their annual brilliance. The first, sweet tomato has been picked and enjoyed... a sweet yellow variety. And truly, would a picnic be complete without red checks punctuated by the occasional scavenging guest? I add these to my list of summer joys.

Air dance...

Great Blue Heron leaps
From pewter Biloxi waves
into clear dawn sky

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Whales, being mammals, have to come to the oceans surface to breathe. When they submerge again, they leave what is called a "footprint." If you look at the center of this photo, you will see a circle where the water is smooth. That is the footprint left by a Finback whale. Whalers used to think the spot left when a whale dove was oil, secreted from the animal. Instead it is a moment of smooth water left after the huge body of the whale slips beneath the water.

I have been thinking lately, of what sort of "footprint" I will leave when I go. I believe that although all people die, they live on in a way in the memories of those people they have touched while they walked the earth. How will those I leave behind remember me? I have not achieved any measure of greatness thus far in my life, and I rather doubt that I will before I die. But what I hope to leave as a "footprint" is memories of unexpected kindnesses, spontaneous laughter, generous love. And a mean loaf of home made bread.

What kind of footprint will you leave as you go?

Monday, August 10, 2009

First harvest...

I planted potatoes this year for the first time. They are "fingerling" potatoes, the variety is called "Rose," something. I harvested my first few yesterday, seen in my daughters hands above. I am going to dig more tonight and toss them in olive oil with fresh rosemary and cook them up for supper, and they will taste better than any potato ever tasted in the world, I just know it!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day on the ocean...

Today we went out on a whale watch boat. After we motored past several lighthouses, towering fir trees, and typical Maine coastal scenes, we were treated to the sight of 6 or more Finback whales. They spouted smoke-like mist, then arched gracefully into the deep green depths. Finbacks are baleen whales, they eat about 1 ton of plankton per day while in these waters. This one was about 60 feet long.
The weather was fine and clear, the waves gentle 2-4 foot swells. There were multitudes of shorebirds, stunning sailboats to admire, and Chris and I had several hours of summer joy injecting smack into the middle of our lives. Oh yeah.


I think this is a Sharp Shinned hawk. I am waiting for confirmation of this from my very smart bird watching brother in law. There were two of these beautiful birds in my big Bernstein Bear dead tree this morning. They let me take several photos before winging off, out over the pond, crying their "Kee Kee Kee..." as they left. I suspect these are the same birds that nested this summer in the woods to the north of the meadow. I could hear them calling at all hours, and saw them chasing off the local flock of crows at every opportunity. This made for interesting viewing, as the crows were nesting in the same area. There were ariel battles throughout the day all summer long. Now the crows and the little hawks take turns sitting in this huge tree, on the lookout for their next meal.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Creature of Comfort...

I once read that if you put a Pug into an empty room, you can come back and find it happily asleep on a sock it had found.

This is Poppy. 8 years ago she was abandoned at a shelter in Memphis, and by a strange turn of events too long to detail now, I ended up being her foster mom. I had NO intention of keeping her. I prefer dogs that are beautiful. Pug's are many things, but NOT pretty. One day, after a week of having her under my roof, I looked down at her little face and said, "OH! You are SO beautiful." I knew I was sunk. But I digress....

This box held some produce from the local farm stand... including a dozen ears of fresh corn. We shucked the corn out on the picnic table, and somehow the box ended up abandoned on the back lawn.

The next night, Poppy eschewed all the soft grass that surrounded her, and cozied up in this box.
A sock, a box, a pillow or preferably a warm lap... Pug's will find the softest, driest, snuggest place in any spot and put themselves there. It's a gift.

Hello. My name is Daryl and I am a Pug a holic.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


When my daughter was a baby, I took great delight in "doing" her hair. I put wee bows in it, trimmed her bangs and created new styles as it grew, and Grew, and GREW.

One day, when she was 3, she was due for a bang trim. As I got my grooming tools out, she stared up at me with her enormous eyes, stomped her tiny foot and said, "I DEMAND a professional!" Chagrined, I replied, "I'm a professional!" Undeterred, and with a note of real disgust she said, "Yeah, for DOGS!"

Obviously, I couldn't argue with her reasoning. I began taking her to human hair stylists.

This week she called me at work one afternoon. "Can you bring scissors home? I need a trim."
She sat at the picnic table in the slanting afternoon sun, and I combed and snipped and smiled.

I felt so... PROFESSIONAL!

A childish suggestion...

On the way home from work I chatted on my cell phone with my friend, Chez. Her little boy hollered, "Have a weenie roast!"
It was a pretty rotten day at work, so I came home and plunked myself in the back yard. From my vantage point in an Adirondack chair, I watched my dogs, chickens and lambs in the yard, and wildlife beyond the fence. It was peaceful and I could feel the stresses of my day draining away. I pondered dinner ideas... grilled chicken? quiche? stir fry? All of those items would require me leaving my happy post and going inside to cook. Duncan's suggestion echoed in my head, "Weenie roast"
I started a fire and wiped off the skewers. Weenie roast... an excellent suggestion.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kayaking at sunset...

At sunset we put our kayaks into Seven Tree pond. Four of us slid onto the water on the first hot night of this cool summer. (I can't claim this photograph, I am hesitant to take my camera out on the water. I borrowed it from:

Silver fish breached the surface of the glass smooth water, and mist hung close over the meadows and trees that skirted the lake. A flock of Canada Geese winged loudly by, and bats dipped silently over our heads, then away in a blink. Our conversation and laughter echoed around us.

The sun painted the western sky in pastels, and a full moon rose through a smudge of low hanging clouds. It was dark when we beached the boats... I finished the evening with a quick wade into the lake to keep me cool into the evening.

Busy days click by faster than I wish. Somehow an evening paddling in the mist with friends has the magical ability to slow time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My big brother...

My big brother came to visit me from Vermont yesterday. I adore him, and do not see him often enough. This is the big brother that used to plunk me on the bar of his bicyle and peddle me around town. It hurt like crazy but I'd ride any time, just to be with him. When I was really little he had his first business, "Waters Worm Works. He let me help by holding out my little hands for him to fill with worms. He would wait until my mitts were full and then say, "You have a skeeter on your cheek." I fell for it ever time, smashing my face with dirt and worm guts. He would laugh till he cried, I'd just cry. He taught me to shoot and how to swim and water ski. He rode me on his dirt bikes, let me hang out with his friends, and let me go on endless back road adventures. I am so lucky to have a big brother!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Web art...

At the top of the crab apple tree, an orb spider spun her nightly web. The sun illuminated each dew covered strand and sent me in from my morning chores to get the camera.

It has been said that beauty can be found anywhere.
Those who are receptive find it. What beauty have you discovered today?