Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dreams and reality...

Today is the 26Th anniversary of my marriage.
I began the day having a long chat with a woman in her early 20's. Her boyfriend is in the Air Force, currently stationed in Iraq. She was starry eyed, head over heels, first blush in LOVE. And I could remember that sensation as if it were yesterday.

My husband and I took the day off today. We did one of the things we love to do best; we went exploring. We drove and chatted. We drove and were silent. We took in the scenery, we found a new spot to eat and had a favorite meal. We laughed.

At one point we stopped at a beach and went for a walk. The day had started out overcast and rainy. As the afternoon went on, the sun burst through the clouds. The sky was stunning. I took this photo of a wonderful rock wall, topped by an airy bank of clouds. It struck me, looking at it, that this image portrayed the the relationships of the girl I talked to this morning and her boy friend, and that of mine with my husband.

The clouds represent the airy, fantastic dreams of couples newly in love. Castles in the air... splendid to see, dreamy... but lacking in substance.

The rock wall represents the solid foundation that long term couples build after many years together. The hard times dovetail the good times to build something of substance... to withstand the storms and offer shelter along the way.

It was magical to see the clouds looking as if they were perched right on top of that solid wall. A majestic illustration of our past and present.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Love in stitches...

My sister in law, Brenda, is one of those people who gives. Endlessly. She gives of her time and of her self and of her home. And she gives love... in stitches.
Brenda makes quilts. Beautiful quilts made with quality fabric in rainbows of colors. She makes them for her kids and her grand kids and other special people. And she made one for us.

It was in a big box on the deck, tucked close to the door, safe from the pelting rain. I wasn't EXPECTING a quilt... who would expect such a gift... but when I saw that big box my heart skipped a beat. I had the tape sliced in seconds, and gasped when I saw a quilt made in my favorite colors-soft blues, buttery yellows and bright white. The pattern is called Cornflower Fields. Brenda did the machine quilting freehand in blue thread, creating an intricate pattern that shows particularly beautifully on the white quilt back.

And there it is, the sort of gift that makes us wonder how we could be special enough to be worthy of it. A gift filled with love that has warmed us already, and will continue to warm us for years to come.

My sister in law, Brenda... is one of those people who makes the world a better, kinder, prettier and cozier place. I am so lucky.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Siblings unite..!

In the spirit of stretching the celebration of my upcoming 50th birthday just as far as I possibly can, we met up with the sibling group in scenic New Hampshire yesterday. Chris chose two routes for us to get to and from our destination, both roads we had never traveled before, each beautiful. We had breathtaking views of rivers, waterfalls, lakes and soaring snow covered mountains.

A late lunch at the Yankee Smokehouse barbeque joint in West Ossipee was attended by sisters, brother, significant others and one hardy niece. We had a terrific meal with lots of laughter; especially when brother Dana read a little something he wrote called "Ode to Oopy," (my childhood nickname.) He is a funny guy.

I am feeling pretty lucky that I have family to share occassions with, and luckier still that they care enough to give up a day off to go for a drive and then buy me lunch!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


In November when Smooch the Pug had some serious health issues, I took the plunge and began to feed my pack of dogs a 100% raw food diet. This means that they eat raw chicken, beef, pork, etc. with some bone and some organ meats as well. They LOVE the food, and the health problem has been solved. There are other wonderful benefits, too... the dogs breath is no longer of the variety that peels paint and all of them have lovely clean teeth with no tarter build up. There are lots of other good things, but I won't bore you here.

I took this photo when I fed the dogs last. I had handed Lilly the old Boxer about 1/2 of a chicken. She hauled it to the yard to eat it away from the other dogs. As she ripped and gnawed at the meat, the flock of Wyandotte's descended upon her, snatching up any small bits of chicken that she dropped. The dog ate chicken. The chickens ate chicken. It was all rather macabre.

Footnote: My funny husband says, "It's going to be a bad day when the dogs figure out that the chickens are made out of chicken."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Birthday...

21 years ago today I was part of a miracle. I became a mother. Chris and I became a family. All because we brought a very small baby into the world, and named her Rachel and loved her loved her with every fibre of our beings.

The ensuing years flew past just as quickly as everyone warned us they would. A happy blur of kisses and cuddles and firsts. First smiles,first steps, first words, (in order: 1.) Mama, 2.) Shit, 3.)Dada.) There was Montessori school and braces and accidents and triumphs. There were giggles, splashing in puddles, dancing in the rain, believing in fairies. There were conversations with God and about everything. There were a thousand books read and too many songs sung to count. There were trips and camping and pets and toys and friends and epic birthday parties. There were tears to dry and hurts to comfort and joys to share. And oh! we have been a happy little family.

21 years ago today I was part of a miracle. And it continues as I watch my "baby" continue to grow and blossom. It has been such a privilege to be part of this big adventure!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The signifigance of geese...

When I was a very little girl I used to help my dad rake leaves from our large lawn in the fall. He bought me a tiny little rake,(I can still remember the sting of the blisters I would get on the web between my thumb and index finger!) and we would gather piles of leaves into old shower curtain liners and haul them to a place he referred to as "the edge." This was a drop off on our property, and we would pile leaves, old branches, garden debris and the like there. Back then it was permissible to burn leaves, too, and we often did. The smell of burning leaves on a crisp fall day is a sweet perfume of my past. Our home was under a flyway for waterfowl, and leaf raking was usually punctuated by flocks of geese V-ing southward overhead, calling with their haunting voices. It thrilled me.

Then, 21 years ago (tomorrow!) I gave birth to my sweet daughter. It was an unseasonably warm day, and the window in my hospital room was open. I vividly remember lying there, getting to know the new person who would consume all my time, energy and love for the coming years. Outside the warm breeze blew in the sound of Canada geese, flying north for spring. Wave after wave of them flew over, heralding the birth of our new babe. It was magic music.

Today when I see geese like this fine pair, I take a moment to remember the feelings past that were set to the music of their calls. It is a sound to cherish.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Surpised myself!

Last fall I bought some daffodil, tulip, hyacinth and crocus bulbs. I have quite a few daffodils and tulips in my yard already, but desperately wanted crocus (because they bloom so very early and bring such promise) and hyacinths (because they remind me of the day my daughter was born, and they smell the way I think heaven might.)

This spring I was messing about in the garage and noticed bags of unplanted bulbs there amongst the stuff piled about. I was so mad at myself! Why, oh WHY didn't I plant those bulbs last fall? What a waste. Surely there was a fine, crisp day when I could have eked out a few moments to put those smooth bulbs deep into the cool soil so they would cheer us in the last cold days of the season. I have fretted about it, berating myself.

Today as I left for work my eyes were attracted to some early green in the garden by the door, (Maine people call it "the dooryard.") I looked hard... and there I saw the sprouts of crocus and hyacinths! Hooray for me! I didn't plant ALL the bulbs I bought, but I managed to get some in the ground on a day last fall that surely was fine. I am not beating myself up any more. I am waiting happily for the bulbs to bloom, fragrant and bright. Signs of spring and life, and a happy reward for work forgotten.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Property markers...

Bluebirds nest on our property each year. There is something magical about these sky clad birds, and it seems a privilege to have them here from March till September. I await their arrival each spring, and it is a day to mark on the calender when I see a bright male scouting out the nest boxes we have along the fence line. He perches on them, one by one, calling for a mate. When she comes they begin to investigate, going in and out of each box over and over again. Finally they begin to gather grasses and feathers and make a cozy bed down deep inside the chosen box.

A few years ago I had the bright idea that it would be good to put new boxes up to mark the corners of our property. It seemed to be one of those chores that was easy to put off, and put it off we have, season after season. Until yesterday. Chris and I bought some cedar posts and one new bird house. Then I rummaged through the garage till I found another blue bird house I bought from a local guy a few years back. And Chris pounded the posts in till they were secure, then fastened the houses on tightly.

Now we wait-- wait until one day some bright feathers catch my eye, or a clear familiar song chimes through the early spring air. What follows will be long days of watching the busy parents scout for insects in the meadow. They will make a thousand trips to the nest, filling up the beaks of chicks. And then the yard will one day have multiple MORE blue birds as the young ones spread their wings and learn to hunt on their own. Hopefully they will return here next spring and continue to fill the air with song and beauty and more shards of blue slicing through the summer air.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Open water...

The ice on the pond across from us went out this week. And this morning, as dawn broke, I walked with dogs on frosty grass. And I heard it, the sound I have been waiting for... loons calling. The open water has called them back.

If you have never heard a loon, cut and paste this link so you can know the magic of the sound.

The first time I remember hearing loons was on our honeymoon. I was bewitched. I still am. How I would have loved to know that I would be here now, 26 years later, hearing the same tune and thrilling to it just the same. Loon calls and love, I have them still.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Things I love...

I love the puppy, yes, but this post is about my BOOTS! I bought these boots last fall when it was cold and rainy. And I found that they were the bees knees for slipping quickly on and off. Toasty warm and water proof, they are just the thing for wading through snow to fill bird feeders, walk dogs, check on chickens. I like them so much I bought a pair for my kid and then another pair for my husband. The three matching sets stay lined up by the back door on a tray, like boots for Mama Bear, Papa Bear and Baby Bear. If I grab one set... TOO BIG. Another... TOO SMALL, but mine (usually easy to see by the shavings from the coop that cling to the edges of the sole) JUST RIGHT! I love my boots, they make me smile.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What friends do...


There is something weighing heavy on my mind.
When I got home from work today, I looked around. I was not inspired to cook dinner. I was not inspired to tidy up my house. I was. Just. Not. Inspired. In fact, I was in the midst of a steaming blue funk.

The phone rang. It was my friend Marion. "Do you know what time it is?" she asked. "Uh. 5PM?" I answered.
"Close." She said, "It is the perfect time to go for a ride. Get your butt over here."

I followed instructions. And I am so glad. It was the first ride of the season. Marion had tied the horses up and brushed a pile of spring mud and shedding coat off Chanel. In no time we were up and going, our horses giddy with warm air and spring time. With every trotting step I felt my mood elevate. There is not much room for a blue funk in the saddle.

That is what friends do.
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Flirt's first week...

Flirt plays with toys and a REALLY big poodle, takes a nap by the woodstove with new friends, and meets a neighbor. Flirt is fitting in. For a very small dog, she attracts some BIG attention.

Gray days...


March in Maine is a study in shades of gray. And wetness. It is also often cold. The wetness combined with the chill creates days which my dad would have called, "bitter cold." I can clearly recall him saying those words; I can see the shape of his mouth, teeth clenched over the stem of his pipe. I can imagine him giving a little shiver as he shakes off his coat, "Brrr. It's bitter cold."

These are the kinds of days that I leave my camera at home when I go outside. The local scenery does not lend itself to breathtaking vistas. Or does it?
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday...

Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Look what I found under the crab apple tree! Wee little daffodil leaves peeking up. The ground is still quite frozen, but these intrepid hardy plants are making a run for the sun. There are some tulip leaves peeking up, also. The light has changed, too; it has a brighter quality that promises spring is on its way. This coming weekend we will change the clocks, and that will stretch our days out, giving us precious time to putter in the yard after work. Or even take my pony for a ride. I feel positively giddy with the possibilities.

Flirt finds a chew toy...

Flirt bypassed the puppy toys. The soft ones in bright colors, the chewy ones that squeak. She went right for the venison joint that weighs (literally!) more than she does. It offered hours of chewing delight for the wee sprite.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Today's after work effort...

I've been looking for kitchen canisters that were clear, had a wide mouth, were pretty and NOT too expensive. My search was recently rewarded at a TJMaxx store in Augusta, Maine. Two boxes of THE canisters I had been looking for were there, with no price tags to be seen. I asked the surly (yet attractive) sales woman about the price. She looked at another package of canisters, ugly ones, small ones, but with the pleasing price of $7.99. She said, "Those are ALSO $7.99. SOLD! Tonight I set up a little baking center on the antique gate leg table. Bread flour, white flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, brown sugar and corn meal are all safely and attractively housed in my new treasures. My beloved Kitchen Aid mixer stands ready for our next baking adventure. The entire tableau makes me smile with happy baking anticipation.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Meet "Flirt!"
In this photo you see Poppy the pug, who is a very small pug, a svelt 15 pound girl with stubby legs. Beside her, the new addition, "Flirt." This girl named herself by her face forward, devil-may-care, never meets a stranger attitude. She loves EVERYONE and thinks everyone should love her back. As you can see from this photo, Lilly the boxer could be thinking that she'd love to taste a morsel as dainty as this! (Actually, Lilly has been quite fine with the new baby so far.)

This is the tiniest dog I've ever had. She weighs in, at 12 weeks, at a whopping 2.25 pounds. She was a trouper at the pet fair, letting people hold and pet her, using piddle pads in the hotel with much accuracy and sleeping through the night in a nice Hilton bed as if it was what she was born for. And air travel? No problem. She rode in her classy red bag with her baby blanket and her soft toy without a peep of protest. At the New Jersey layover she used the ladies room (I had piddle pads with me) with ease. Then a snack and a sip and off we went for the second leg of our trip to Maine.

I think she is a star.

Atlanta Pet Fair

I am home after my annual weekend trip to "Hot-lanta." The Pet Fair show was packed with vendors and attendees. It is such fun to see friends that I only see at the shows, hugs and laughter abound. A funny bunch of women made sport all weekend by teasing some of us who are "known," in our industry. Every time they would see one of us they would scream like star struck teens, "OH MY GAWD! It's ____" (fill in the name of the person they were kidding.) At one point I entered a packed elevator. This group of ladies was in the back. In ear piercing glee they shouted, "OH MY GAWD, IT'S DARYL CONNER!!" Everyone in the elevator stared at me as my face turned several fetching shades of pink. Sheesh.

I picked up my new puppy while I was there. I will take a photo of her today and post a blog about her travel adventures. There will also be an announcement of her name. Hint; it is a descriptive word that suits her down to her dime sized paws.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We gave her roots, we gave her wings...

We gave her roots, we gave her wings. She has everything she needs. And it is ALL wedged into this small car.

This morning Rachel and most everything she owns pulled out of the driveway and headed south. Tomorrow, (if all goes as planned) she will reach Asheville, North Carolina. Her big adventure has begun.

It was a bittersweet day for her daddy and me. We love this child with every fibre of our beings. Part of us would love nothing more than to keep her here, under our watchful eyes, safe and warm and fed and cared for. The other part of us is rejoicing as we watch her spread her wings and take off to create a life of her own.

At dawn I was striding across my yard; filling bird feeders, watching the dogs, taking care of chickens. It is a slice of my every day that I treasure. I was thinking, as I went about my routine, how much I love my life. This life I have chosen and worked for and created. This is not the life Rachel wants. It is the life I want. And now it is time for her to find a life that brings her joy.

I wish for her clear skies and dreams fulfilled and adventures. I will miss her like fury as I watch her go, and grow.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Wild excitment and a Windsor Chairmaker table...

Jim and Nance Brown from Windsor Chair Makers came today with THE table. I woke up with the kind of feeling I used to have as a kid on Christmas morning- the tingle of electrical energy coursing through my veins and just a little bit of a knot in my belly. I hopped out of bed and raced around all morning, getting ready for the arrival of the wonderful, magical table. And here it is, the finish glowing as if the wood was somehow lit from within. It is so smooth, so silky, I keep running my hands over it as I walk past. I think of the fun and good food and conversations that this table will see....

Jim told me that the top is made of Tiger maple. The wood has beautiful squiggles and lines throughout it. He said those lines are made when the tree goes through storms. The wind bends and flexes the tree, and these marks result. I love the poetry of that; weathering a storm creates additional beauty and interest.

I cannot even believe that a table this magnificent is under my freshly painted ceiling! I just keep staring at it. Happily.