Tuesday, September 29, 2009

JUST what we needed... NOT!

Four dogs, 10 chickens, 2 lambs, 1 horse, 1 canary, 1 snake. That is the extent of the "critter list." Tonight our daughter added: 1 very tame lop eared bunny. I think her name is Clara. She is awfully cute, very soft, and we did NOT need her. Not even a little.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The power of "we..."

For twenty five years I have been one half of a couple. My husband and I would agree, if you asked us, that we are blessed to have an unusually good marriage. And yet, there are times when I imagine, for a moment or a day, being single again. It may be hormones that cause this thinking, or some irritation that my partner causes, or a combination of the two. At these moments my mind trips gaily along, thinking of what life would be like if I wasn't half of a union. In my imagination, the thoughts along these lines are typically sunny.

And then, I listen to my conversation with others. "Oh yes," I hear myself say, "We liked that movie." Or, "We loved our trip!" Or, "We worked hard on that project." At these times I recognize the extreme power of "we."

Early in our relationship, when I was shallower and even more self centered than I am now, my husband said to me, "I love knowing that we are in this together, that we always have each others back." At that point I was all about him having my back. I was not always so interested in guarding his, however.

Thankfully time has bestowed gifts upon me, and one of those gifts has been the ability to grow into our "we-ness." I recognize the wisdom of my husband when he helped me learn that the way to a long union involves keeping the other half's best interests at the forefront. When those occasions come that have me thinking that flying solo might be fun, I am often lured back into marital harmony by thinking how very much I enjoy all sentences that begin with that magical little word, "we." Those two letters, joined, are a mighty pair.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Our hosts in Germany were so very, very kind and thoughtful to us. On the day we departed, they arranged for a car to take us to the airport. They even had the driver detour so that we could see this amazingly beautiful waterfall created by the Rhine river. It was the perfect ending to our wonderful trip.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Black Forrest times two...

AND... we ate Black Forrest cake IN the Black Forrest. Oh yeah. We did. And we liked it a LOT!

Konstanz, Germany...

This historic city escaped bombing during WWII because of its proximity to Switzerland. Buildings remain that date back to Midevil times! The Rhine river meets Lake Constance here, (also known as Bodensee.) We walked the cobblestones, stared slack jawed at buildings with dates from the 1400's on thier walls, saw a Zepplin and a hot air balloon sail over the lake, and watched the enormous Imperia statue twirl majestically in the harbor. There was music spilling into the air and people wearing colorful traditional German garments.

Our friend Erich gave us the tour... complete with a ferry trip across the lake and a wonderful dinner of fresh local fish in a restaurant that was snuggled up to the waters edge.

We passed immaculate vineyards, apple orchards, acres of rolling farmland, one house more beautiful than than the other. I knew I would enjoy my trip here, but I had no idea how beautiful Germany would be.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What is to love about Germany..?

What I love about Germany:
Art and architecture, flowers everywhere, street mimes in Munich, Swans on the Danube River, bake shops and German cusine, Oktoberfest and public transit, beautiful gates, rolling farms dotted with villages that look like they came from a story book.
I love apple strudel and hospitality and people so well educated that they speak multiple languages with total ease. I love the cobblestones and bicyles with baskets everywhere as people run errands. Did I mention chocolate? Chocolate! I love Lufthansa airlines and dogs in shops and dogs in restaurants and dogs at street cafes. I love the lace curtains that decorate so many windows and the pride the German people have for thier country. I love Germany.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dachau, Germany

Dachau is the most charming imaginable Bavarian village. Bakeries perfume the air with the scent of pastries and breads, houses with high-pitched roofs of russet tile dot the skyline. People are polite and friendly, the word "quaint" keeps stumbling to the tip of ones tounge.

On the outskirts of town is the Dachau concentration camp museum. We traveled there by cab, our cab driver was an elderly German man who was literally moved to tears as he told us of the evil that had taken over his beloved country and caused a place such as this to exist.

I entered with an open mind and heart, and was amazed to feel the oppression that seemed to be surrounding me in the very air I breathed. The museum was wonderfully, honestly and simply presented. "Here are the facts," the displays seemed to say. "This is what happened." No excuses. Photos and words and atmosphere blended to suck the energy from the space, from my body, from my soul. I could barely speak. And on I went, reading each paragraph, viewing each photo, absorbing the facts of the numbers of humans who lived and died in such unspeakable horror.

It was a relief to go outside... but then there were the barracks and the religious memorials and the crematoriam to view and absorb. The empty row upon row where barracks full of imprisoned humans once stood. More than I could have imagined.

My father and my husbands father were both GI's in WWII. This war that forever changed their lives changed the lives of others in ways I had never before fully grasped until now. I have walked the ground where evil dwelled.

Outside the gates to the prison camp is a sign of thanks to the troops that freed the prisoners of this camp. Inside the gates is a memorial containing the ashes of an unknown prisoner. Behind it the words, "NEVER AGAIN" are printed in raised, bronze letters, in many languages. How many times until those words are truely true?

I wept on the grounds of the prison camp. My tears joining the millions of tears that landed there before mine. This place should be a river.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Legs and fuzz and fears and more...

In my previous post I admitted to my fear of spiders. Part of that fear is directly related to the ridiculous number of legs that spiders have. 8 is just too many in my opinion. 8 legs immediatly removes creatures from the cuddly catigory.

Somehow, things with 4 or 6 legs seem just FINE to me. Cute, even... especially if you add fuzz, like this moth has.
My sister, on the other hand, had a horrific fear of moths. Our brother knew of this fear and one time removed the screen to my sisters bedroom window and turned a light on in her room. Years later my poor sister shudders to remember this episode.

What is it that causes our fears? For me it is too many legs, for my sister it is wings and night flight. My kid seems to be frighteningly fearless. My husband has a slight problem with tight spaces and a bigger problem with heights. Some people are afraid to fly, while I find it an exhilerating boost closer to God.

When my baby was little I feared death. Because... my baby needed me. Now that she is grown and smart and savvy... my fear of death is almost gone. As I age I find I lose my fear of small things, (things with too many legs and the like) fades. I feel positively BRAVE as I near 50.

The mirror reflects lines and wrinlkles, folds and flab, gray and sags. And yet... and yet... I am more fearless than I was when I was youthful and firm. Me? I think it's a fair trade.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Web of Seasons...

Autumn is here. The first sign may be a few errant, orange leaves on the giant sugar maple at the end of the drive, but the surest sign for me is that there are fewer spiders.
I have had a bad case of spider horror since before I can remember, a shivery, terrible fear of the eight legged, web-spinning wonders. It was so strong that my first boyfriend used to threaten he’d buy a pet store tarantula and hide it in my bed when he was mad at me. I checked under my covers for years after I dismissed him. The intellectual side of me recognized the goodness of arachnids, how they decimate the insect population, how amazing their spinning abilities are, how rarely one ever causes a human harm, but viscerally I was wrapped in terror at their too-many legs, their venomous fangs, their sneaky, dishonest ways.

And then I moved to this house. This meadow hugged home in Maine, with windows and sun and spiders. Slow moving, long legged, ceiling hugging spiders were in every long-vacant room. Every window had webs both in and out, with a variety of spider types, all seeming to cohabit peacefully. Heaven knows we had bugs for them to eat, black flies and mosquitoes and deer flies and moths and a variety of insects unfamiliar to me, all in vast quantities. I began a spider battle, set off a bomb or two in the basement, which the previous homeowners had stuffed full of good firewood, and spiders. The population in the living areas decreased a bit, daily missions with a vacuum cleaner helped here, too. But outside, outside there were spiders. The porch is windowed all around. Old windows, with wavery glass and peeling black paint framing each pane outside. And spiders. Orb spinners and tunnel spinners, those who make tidy, lacy webs and some that have messy, thick webs. I’ve had to come to an uneasy truce with them, and I am even able to admit an odd fascination for those who stay outside. At dusk they drop from the old eves, where they’ve sheltered on the warm sunny day, and they spin. Up and down, back and forth they move, hopeful, perhaps, that I’ll leave a light on and attract a hundred moths to the traps they weave. Spider riches! Often I do, and from the corner of my eye I’ll see some hapless winged thing struggle, struggle in a web, and then go still. Moments later it is an indistinguishable blob of spider silk, and its life forces are being sipped through the equivalent of a spider straw.

At dawn, which often finds me on the old cottage bed on the porch, the webs are dew covered; free spider art framed by the window. The spinners have gone to where they go when it is not night, and left behind glimmering, glistening, light catching weavings, decorations, free of charge.

And the mornings are chill and the sumacs across the road flame red. The air has begun to take on the smell of autumn, the haunting, familiar smell of falling leaves and cooling dirt, the smell of frost killed gardens. I hear the cry of Canada geese as they pass over our ridge and pond, heading south. The song birds have reduced their calls to mere chirps, mating season has passed, and those who stay are intent on eating and survival, no time to sing.

The cars and trucks that go by the front of this cozy place have trailers behind them. In weeks past the trailers sported canoes and kayaks, bikes and lake floats. Now they are piled high with good oak and hard maple, to be stacked neatly and close to back doors where they will fend off the upcoming cold. The supply of wood seems as limitless as the supply of tourists was all summer, and more functional.

Soon I will plant flower bulbs, seeding the earth with hope for spring, months of cold and dark away. I’ll think of the bulbs hibernating in their dark tunnels in the cold, waiting the day when they burst into riotous bloom in the early sun. I imagine they’ll come forth about the same time as the spiders do, from wherever they have wintered over. I am caught up in the web of the seasons.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Porkchop the lamb likes to make faces. I like to take pictures of those faces.

I decided I should add a few more pullets for maximum egg laying this year. Introducing our four new girls:
(note, we are using "egg" names)
Florentine and

(the rest of the flock, in case you are interested, are: HENrietta, RoBIRDa, LAYah, (last years girls) and Quiche, Frittata and Poach, (this years additions.)

So far they are acclimating well to life here... before now they have never left a cage, but today they spent hours scratching in the dirt, eating greens and bugs, exploring and taking luxurious dust baths. I was delighted that they managed to find their way back to the coop at dusk. I now own 10 chickens... 9 girls and a boy. I feel so RICH.

Who knew I would find poultry to be so endlessly fascinating? (OK, OK! I suspected.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

300th Post!

I noticed today that my last post was #299... meaning that this one is a big, round 300!
To celebrate I am sharing this photo of my friend's horses. Crier, on the left, is a wonderful senior citizen Quarter Horse. Please note the charming clover dangling from his lips. The little guy on the right is my friends new Quarter Horse colt, Jack. He is doing what my horsey friends tell me is a common behaviour, one they refer to as "baby talk." Whenever Jack approaches an adult horse, he chatters his teeth, pulling back his lips in a very comical fashion.
I was happy to capture this photo of the two boys interacting, clover and sunshine and equine loveliness all rolled into one shot.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Maine Meal...

Tonight's dinner was so... Maine-ish. We had potatoes grown from my very own garden, roasted in olive oil with herbs (also from the garden.) Moose steaks (a gift from someone in return for computer repair services) were carefully rubbed with Cavender's seasoning and grilled, and I sauteed zucchini that I found in my car. Yes, in my car!
The local joke is that Mainer's only lock their cars in late summer, because if they don't people will put zucchini in them. I rarely lock my car, and was treated to squash from local gardener who had more than they needed. It was delicious!

Monday, September 7, 2009


Today Chris and I took his boat out into the OCEAN. It was a first, and was it ever FUN!
We put in at Rockland, then motored to Lincolnville. We zipped into coves, saw scenery from the sea that we have only ever seen from land, saw eagles and gulls and ducks and cormorants. Sailboats with their sheets full of wind slid by, leaning at impossible angles. We went FAST, banging over the waves and giggling like little kids. It was a magical day.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pony party...

Chanel did me proud yesterday. She loaded onto the horse trailer like a pro, then backed off of it flawlessly when we arrived at Hill 'n Dale stables. She let me bathe her in the lovely heated wash stall, and we primped and trimmed and groomed her till she shone like a copper penny. We rode a bit in the big arena, too. Today we will go for a trail ride, then back home to her regular abode. It has been a real treat to hang out with the people at the stable, learn from them and watch them as engage in their horse loving hobby.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Today's adventure...

Today I am going to have a BIG ADVENTURE! My friends Liz and Holly keep their horses at a large stable in a neighboring town. They are going to pick me and my horse up today and we are all going to spend the day together. We will ride in the indoor arena and go for a trail ride, as well. My horse will then spend the night there, and we'll do it all again tomorrow. They have a place there to bathe horses with warm water, so Chanel can have a nice bath before winter sets in.
These ladies are experienced horse people, and I am green as grass... so I am a bit intimidated. However, I know they will teach me things and I will stretch and grow. It is one of my goals as I age to keep growing, learning, trying new things.
My tack is all clean and smelling wonderful, and soon I will go get Chanel all brushed up and ready to travel. Stay tuned for photos of todays excitment!

If they do not know...

I was awakened at dawn by visiting dogs who wanted to go outside. Right now. When they woke me I was very comfortably and happily asleep, and I was feeling resentful at the intrusion into what seemed an important dream. The dream, like many, was long and convoluted, but it had a recurring message, "If they do not know how important they are, how can they shine?"
I was pondering this message as I dressed, grumblingly put leashes on the dogs, and took them outside.
I stepped out onto the deck, and the world was lavender. A full moon was nestled in a bed of lavender clouds over the ridge, my huge petunia plant was blooming in lavender glory, and a violet mist hung over the meadows that surround my home. The dogs and I headed up the silent road. I noted the early changing maple leaves, the hundreds of spider webs covered in dew in the grasses and weeds that line the road, and the darting flight of a bat as it returned to roost.
Two loons were calling from the pond. Their voices echoing up to through the purple mist of morning. I gave the dogs a thankful pat. If they do not know how important they are, how can they shine? They gave me the gift of a lavender morning. That will shine in my memory for time to come.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


When my husband and I eat out, he always teases me because I remove tomatoes from salads and sandwiches. That is because those tomatoes are cold, flavorless, pale things. They only remotely resemble what I grow in my garden. Above is a Heritage tomato I grew this year... ruby red, and completely packed with all the flavor that makes a tomato something to relish. I defy some hothouse fruit to match the taste that summer lays out when I plant and prune and tend, then TASTE!