Thursday, December 31, 2009

Old and new...

Standing on the bring of a new year, most of us spend some time thinking of the days past, and wondering about the time to come.

Today it snowed; slow, lazy flakes that fell from a leaden sky. I went for a walk. The icy flakes frosted my hair and muffled the sounds of the world around me. I was taken by the look of this leaf... last seasons life, now dead and frosted with winter ice. Still beautiful. In mere weeks new growth will spring to life here, a different beauty, and wonderous just the same.

I am looking towards the new growth potential that 2010 holds. Of all the things I hope for, I especially hope for growth. I dread remaining stagnant... there is so much left to learn, experience, taste and delight in.

Happy New Year! I wish for you... growth.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


My friend raises cows. This year she harvested two steers. We are buying one half... in fact, we currently have two freezers packed tight with what we call, "grass fed, free range, dolphin safe, beef." We cooked the first of it recently, N.Y. sirloin strip steaks. Delishious! And tonight I cut the heart up and let the dogs dine upon it. The advertisements are right, beef, it's whats for dinner. For a long, LONG time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pony in the snow...

                              Chanel, with her deep, plush winter coat, looks delicious against the snow. 

Sounds of winter...

Last night a cold front blew in, and I do mean BLEW.  The wind whipped and raged so loudly it woke me from a sound sleep.  I could hear the flag on the deck snapping and cracking, and the "whoosh" of the trees at they bent  and swayed.  I dozed off and the next sound I heard was the scrape of the town plows as they rumbled by.  Snug in the dark I knew that this meant that the cold wind had brought snow with it. 

I went for a walk in the morning light, up the hill, over the rushing creek.  The creek cuts a dark swath through the newly whitened woods as it sings.  I try to capture the beauty on film, but pictures don't do it justice.  Chickadees punctuate the air between the branches, the only life in sight.  Back home they stay close to the deck, feasting on seeds and nuts, calling to each other through the frosty air. These are some of the sounds of winter.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Springtime in December...

Today dawned unseasonably warm, and it got warmer. It rained, and rained and rained some more. High winds blew the rain sideways, it hit the windows in a billion audible "pings." The old snow was mostly washed away, leaving behind bare ground dotted with icy patches. Walking to the chicken coop was treacherous! The streams and brooks that lace the Maine woods were swollen with the rain and snow melt, rushing loudly over granite boulders. It felt for all the world like spring. Tomorrows forecast? Snow. And that, dear reader, is why they say, "If you don't like the weather in New England, wait a minute."

Friday, December 25, 2009

Santa visits the dogs...

"Look! And SMELL! Santa filled our stockings! He must not check to see if dogs are naughty, or those socks would be full of air instead of treats, toys and goodies." (Tiger Lilly the bad, bad boxer and Smooch the rather naughty pug kept watch over the stockings while we whipped up breakfast. They were very happy when it was time to see what delights were stuffed inside.)

Poppy pug got a cushy new bed, too. Because she has been very, VERY good, (the elf hat is hiding her halo. She is an angel dog for sure!) She prefers the sofa of course, but a soft bed by the fire is also perfectly acceptable to a comfort loving Pug.
The dogs have had a very nice Christmas day. I hope all of you have, too!

Not even a ...

Not a creature was stirring... not even a mouse!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sweet things...

Tonight, with Christmas music playing and the fire snapping warmly in the stove, my daughter and I made cookies. Sugar cookies and peanut butter, too. We do this every year, and it is one of my most treasured holiday traditions. It is sweet on so many delicious levels.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Put a bow on it...

My dear friend Terese is an artist... especially when it comes to wrapping gifts. When we lived near each other, every gift giving holiday was heralded by Terese bringing lovely, thoughtful gifts, wrapped to absolute perfection. The kinds of gifts I always want to present, but always fall short of. Terese would spend hours upon hours creating the beautiful packages. As for me, my intentions are good... I choose a theme, pick nice paper and ribbon, and go to town. But when it comes to measuring, cutting, folding, taping, I am unable to create the packages I see in my mind. My wrapping is always lumpy, uneven, childish and overly taped.

My husband, when he was new, was even worse at wrapping than I am. He would take a sheet of wrapping paper and swaddle gifts in multiple layers of it. Wad up the ends, smear with tape and add a tacky stick-on bow. I used to tease him about his wrapping. Then, one year he worked at a place that sold high end retail, and offered gift wrap. He was taught how to professionally wrap gifts. That Christmas every gift he gave me was wrapped to perfection. I hated it. I wanted the lumpy, wadded, over taped gifts of the past. I suddenly missed the very things I used to taunt. (Thankfully, he regressed. I am delighted!)

This year, as I wrap and tape and be-ribbon the gifts I have chosen for those I care about, I recognize that I am not so skilled at making lovely packages. But I forgive myself... I have learned that I love imperfectly packaged gifts. I trust that those I care about can love my messy attempts as well.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Work crew...

Did you ever stop to think that you spend more time with the random people you work with day in and day out than you do your own family? This is the crew of folks I work with. An eclectic and talented bunch-- mostly delightful people to spend my hours with. The pets are a bonus, for sure!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Blue cold...

Today dawned so cold that the wooden planks of the front deck groaned beneath my feet, the snow was frozen to a crust so hard it bore my weight as I walked across it, and the thermometer read in the very low single digits. I was delighted to find that the chicken coop, equipped with a heat bulb, was a cozy 32 degrees. The flock, cloaked in their thick feathers, seemed quite content.
The jays and other wild birds took turns eating sunflowers and suet from the feeders, and my local flock of 7 crows swooped down eagerly when I tossed food for them and called, in the still morning air, "HERE CROWS!" I always feel silly when I do this, but then I am awash with glee when they call back to me each day, "Caw, caw...." Next they call to each other, a wide range of sounds from croaks to chortles. Today's feast included pastries left over from a holiday party, a handful of dog food, and some chicken skins. They dove for the latter items, but seemed quite terrified of the pastry. I guess they'd never seen a cream horn or eclair in the wild.
We have a new "pet." A stray cat has taken up residence in our garage. He is wild and shy, we've only caught the rare glimpse of him. I've built him a cozy nook out of a Styrofoam cooler stuffed with straw, and we have begun to offer him food and water, worried about him in this brutally cold weather. I have been calling him "garage cat." He needs a better name. Ideas welcome.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fine friends...

Six and a half years ago we moved to Maine and left good friends, good jobs, familiar places and a home we loved. It was wrenching and difficult and stressful and challenging. If only I could have known that I would land here, in a meadow hugged home with a fun job, bolstered by people who like me, challenge me, bolster me, tease me, support me and fill my life in general with prism bright shards of color... embarking on that venture would have been so much easier.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter porch...

In the summer, this porch sofa is one of my favorite places to be. From this vantage point I see a variety of wildlife, mostly birds that feast at the feeders nestled in the pines you see outside the window. My glorious chickens run about outside on nice days, and they are such fun to watch. The porch is not insulated, so is really a glorified freezer all winter. Still, some days when I go out and see the cold sun glinting through the wavy glass, I feel a strong desire to curl up in this spot with a good book to read and day dream and watch the quiet world outside the window. Alas, were I to do that, my digits would freeze off and I'd be unable to take pictures and type this blog! No porch sitting till it gets warm. June, perhaps?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

As luck would have it...


Some days I just am struck by how lucky I am. This past week I had a veritable shower of those feelings. The most tangible was when a car plowed into a parked car I was sitting in. That might not seem so lucky at first glance, but it was. Because if that same car had hit where it did 30 seconds earlier I would have been outside the car and most likely squished. And I am not a fan of being squished! Add to this a favorable report on a medical woe that had me worried, and the fact that I was able to save my dog when she choked on a bone and all in all it was a very lucky week. I can't wait to see what next week has in store!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Choir of angels...

My mother owned two copper angel candle sticks. She kept them, polished till they glowed, on the kitchen table. I loved them. When she died they were passed down to my sister. She saw me eyeing them one day and sweetly sent them home with me. I treasure them. My friend Liz saw them and a few days later handed me a bag with 5 similar angels, in a variety of sizes. They had belonged to her mother, and didn't have a place in her home. Suddenly I had a whole flock of angels! Tonight I polished them all up and put fresh candles in them. I decided they would be pretty on the old drop leaf table. (I will add some seasonal greens to Christmas things up.) When I had them all placed and took a photo, I realized that the portrait of Rachel at age 4 was overlooking the tableau. Truly, a choir of angels!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

White on white...

Today was the first big storm of the season. There are 8 inches of wet snow coating the world around me. The view from my porch is shades of white on white... roses, paint, snow and sky.
A peaceful palette.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The tree is up, and lit, and festooned with decorations collected over a quarter of a century. I well remember our first small tree in Lynchburg, Va. There were only about 10 ornaments, all wedding gifts from my sister, Deb. We strung miles of popcorn and cranberries to decorate the bare branches. I can still remember the scent of the corn and the sting of the needle as I repeatedly stabbed myself during the stringing process. Imagine our dismay when Drummer, our naughty Cocker Spaniel, ate every bit of popcorn he could reach. The tree looked mighty sad with saliva soaked thread and squished cranberries draping the branches. This years tree is big, bright and shiney. Each year I say, "It's the prettiest ever!"... and the multitudes of decorations are a culmination of all the years of Christmases past. The collection of brilliant ornaments cannot outshine the collection of memories that surround me when I gaze on this tree and see, in my mind, all the ones that came before it. Trees from my childhood, our newlywed years, the years when a baby cooed with glee at all the pretty lights. There is such joy in this symbol of Christmas, and such remembering.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas decorations by God!

Out for a walk in the meadow today, thinking about the upcoming holiday and the shopping-wrapping-decorating-busy-ness of it all, I was arrested by this image. All the good stuff... the evergreen tree, the pine cones promising new life, the clean sparkle of snow and ice. Decorating at it's finest. It seemed a shame that I was the only one there to see and appreciate it. So I share with you!

Sunroom for the birds...

With the addition of our new coop this summer, we felt the need to create a new "Florida room" for the chickens. Last years addition consisted of strips of wood and sheets of clear plastic. It was pretty trashy looking, but the birds enjoyed it. This years more upscale efforts consist of straw bales lining the left side, and corrugated fiberglass panels bolted to the metal roof. I filled the inside of the area with a bale of straw and one of shavings. I lined the front with some old bricks to keep the bedding in and blowing snow out. The chickens dislike snow, and we had a few inches come down Saturday night. This little space gives them a place to get out of the coop for a change of scenery, get some fresh air and sunshine, and scratch around for the seeds I sprinkle for them. They can also get under the coop for a nice dust bath. It's good to be a chicken at my house!

Friday, December 4, 2009


From the time my daughter was a baby, I have pampered her. I kick that pampering into overdrive any time she is sick. Yesterday when I came home a bit under the weather, she:
  • ran me a bath with my favorite bath oil
  • made me get in it!
  • brought me a cold glass of water
  • brought me clean, cozy pajamas
  • tidied up the kitchen and arranged for dinner while I soaked
  • tucked me in on the sofa with a hot pack, a pillow and a blanket
  • waited on me hand and foot

I gratefully wondered to myself, "How did she learn to be so caring and thoughtful?" And then I grinned really big when I answered my own question. We done good!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Celebratory moments...

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." -Thornton Wilder

Like many people, I begin each year with a list of goals I wish to accomplish in the next 365 days. One of goals I set on New Years eve '09 was to have an article published in a non-dog related magazine. As the last days of this year go flipping by me, I was feeling disappointed in myself that I had not pursued this goal. And then, magically, I was offered the opportunity to write not one but nine articles for a magazine that is definitely NOT a dog related publication.
I mentioned this delightful turn of events to my sweet husband as I was whipping up an easy work night supper of tuna patties, pasta and green beans. He did not hesitate to delight me. In 30 seconds flat he popped the cork on a bottle of champagne and dragged our rarely used flutes from the back of the cupboard. We sipped bubbles happily over dinner.
The cake of my new opportunity was sweet... but it was sweeter with the frosting of celebration.
What have you taken time to celebrate lately? Are you concsious of your treasures?