Sunday, January 30, 2011


I love Sunday's. We have a bit of a ritual. I am always up early because the dogs wish to go outside. Once up I take care of the animals, make a cup of herbal tea, then snuggle up on the sofa with the dogs and write for an hour. The house is silent except for snoring pugs, and I am cozy and warm and happy. Around 7 AM I call my sister Donna and we catch up on the news of the week.

Next, Chris wakes up and we have a nice breakfast. Then we watch our favorite TV show, Sunday Morning.

When that is over it is time to shower and dress and gather up refuse for the dump. We load the truck up and go to the transfer station. The "dump guy" gives any dogs I have with me a cookie.
After that we do something FUN. Sunday is our day of rest.

Today we "rested" a LOT. We drove to Belfast and went to a book store, a few other stores, and the Co-op (where we bought dried garbanzo beans.) We went to the harbor and took photos of the winter harbor in the snow. Then we went to Lincolnville beach and fed the gulls bread. I took photos of snow covered kelp and shells and birds and icy rocks. My fingers and ears were freezing... the mercury in the thermometer danced in the low 20's. From there we went to Camden harbor (with bread) and I took a lot of duck pictures. The ducks stood so close to me that they put their orange, webbed feet on my boots. They ate bread from my hands and bit my fingers with their flat beaks. I giggled like a kid.

After all THAT we went to see True Grit. I have not seen a movie in a theatre for many years. Chris put his arm around me and held my hand, too. It was all very sweet and cozy and romantic.

Then home and a supper of slow simmered vegetarian chili. As I sit on the leather sofa covered in a warm blanket and a lot of dogs, I feel myself relax into a state of utter contentment. Life? It's good. Did I mention that I love Sunday's?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What I recieved for my first married Christmas...

At heart I am a simple woman. Here is proof. On our first married Christmas in 1984 my sweet husband asked me what I might like to receive as a gift. I gave the matter a lot of thought. Our budget was minuscule, so diamonds and fast cars were not an option. I wanted something meaningful. Something ROMANTIC.

So I did the only thing I could. I asked for a cast iron frying pan.

My husband, who was used to me being a confusing little minx, cocked his head like a puppy and asked, "A what?"

"I want a cast iron frying pan." He, (understandably) questioned my request. (I think he was envisioning a cartoon bubble that included me bashing his head with said pan.)

I continued, "I want to have a nice pan to cook you breakfast in for the next 50 years." He made the "aw" noise and I got my skillet.

The skillet above is actually a replacement of the first one. The original skillet was BROKEN, (yes, I said it, broken) by Tiger Lilly, or bad, bad boxer. This one is broken, too. Note the uneven metal on the left, that used to be a little handle thing till, (you guessed it) Lilly broke it.

The thing about cast iron is it gets better the more you cook with it. It becomes "seasoned." A seasoned pan makes things cook well, bringing out the optimal flavor and prevents sticking. Kind of like a long term marriage, now that I think about it. Lots of flavor, not many sticking points.

See, my gift WAS romantic!
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Life and death in the snow...

I just happened to see a breathtaking life and death struggle when I looked out my window today around noon. I saw something large in the snow where nothing had been before. I froze and stared, trying to make sense of the scene playing out before my eyes. There was a very large bird there in the snow, wings outstretched. Then in a blink it flapped and lifted, a small
dark rodent suspended from its beak. It flew across the field to the woods in slow motion, and took my breath with it.
Of course I had to go and read the story written in the snow. I could see a small tunnel coming up out of a drift. Some hapless vole had been exploring. The little marks you see coming up from the center of the photo are the prints the little animals body made as it hopped across the snow. The depression at the top of the photo was caused by the body of a large red tailed hawk as it landed. And the lines that look as if someone dragged their fingers in the snow (1, 4, 5 and 6 o'clock) were caused by the outstretched wings. As I looked around the meadow I saw two other places where a vole had burrowed up, up to the bright sun. And I could see where a bird, very probably that same hawk, had landed and brushed its bright feathers into the powder. I don't know who won those other battles there, but I did see the outcome from the struggle pictured above.
I don't know what that little vole was looking for as it dashed across the canvas of white, but I do know that a hawk found what he sought.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Storm shades...

Those who know me know that I am fond of decorating with lots of white paint, broken up with splashes of color. Thus a good storm adds to my preferred dwelling design! (Note, the banks at the end of the driveway are around 5 feet tall.)
Here is what my road looked like when I drove home. Un-plowed, the snow at this point was 6 or more inches of slickness. I drove very, very slowly (in what my daughter calls "Mom's Best Old Lady Driving.") Back to that preference for white? I was white knuckled as I made my way.
Once settled safely in our house I was able to enjoy some other shades... like the ember-red of this Cardinal feasting on black oil sunflower seeds. I went out several times to refill the feeders. The birds came in mobs to fill up on seeds, nuts, dried fruit and suet. In moments I was dusted in snow, with icy fingers and skin tingling from the cold. I couldn't resist sticking my tongue out to taste a few perfect flakes as they fell.

As the day closed and the storm wound down, I was treated to the sight of a sky awash in color from my icicle fringed porch. There is a certain sort of hush to a world covered in fresh snow, more pronounced as the day ends and the light drains slow as honey from the sky.

The shades of the storm wrapped up all my senses.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Frosting on the hoof...

When I went to work this morning the cows were snow dusted. And on the way home, more snow. As I slid and skidded past them I envied their 4 hoof drive.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Time is on my side...

I admit it... I struggle with my grasp of time.

A lesson I have to learn and relearn is this; I can accomplish quite a lot in a very small amount of time if I just try. I tend to think that certain tasks will take much, MUCH more time than I have to give. Here is an example; I have a drawer in my kitchen that is euphamistically called "the junk drawer." Any small household item without a home finds it way there. At any given moment you can find a hammer, nails, tacks, tape, a tape measure, a pack of gum, several pens, some paper clips, a note pad, matches, deposit slips, pocket change, a comb for the dog, some random keys, razor blades, sticky tack, postage stamps and a half dozen screw drivers crammed in that small space. It vexes me that this drawer is frequently messy and disorganized. But I put off cleaning it out because it seems like such a huge project. In truth, I can tidy that sucker up in less than 15 minutes if I set my mind to it. I know I can, because I have done it. (This lesson is nurtured by the site

And don't get me started on writing. I tend to put off writing ideas because writing will take SO much TIME. In December I posted about the site Because of this site I have written every day for 30+ days, and in that time I have compiled over 25,000 words. That is a short novel! And it was effortless and fun. I am amazed that I could write so much in such a short span.

Like the old Rolling Stones song says, time is on my side. It is a lesson I have to learn time after time.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Chanel is a foodie. Some creatures eat to live, others live to eat. Chanel is of the latter persuasion. Me too. She has a real fondness for Ginger Snap cookies. And Fig Newtons and peppermints, thankyouverymuch.
This excellent photo was taken by friend Marion. Chanel does not seem to mind being knee deep in fresh snow while she noshes on some good hay. One of the things I admire about Chanel is that she is enthusiastic about each meal, each new thing she experiences. That and she looks darn good in a heavy winter coat.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day off...

When I woke, pre-dawn and bleary, my mind searched to gather information about the day ahead. I knew it was weekend. Then I remembered it was Sunday and MY DAY OFF! I next remembered that my sister Deb was visiting. That sweetened the pot considerably.
After morning chores I noted that the paper white Narcissus I planted had bloomed in the night. The morning light made them glow.

Outside the thermometer hung in the low single digits. The icicles clinging to the house were magnificent in the sun.
After a breakfast of home made blueberry muffins, (and in the interest of full disclosure, though I consider myself to be a good cook, this was a new recipe and very disappointing!) sister, daughter and I piled in the car and went in search of adventure, fun and frivolity.

Found it~ look at the sparkle in Rachel's eye!
We did quite a bit of shopping... the candles below were so pretty I had to take a picture.
We had lunch out, walked Rockland's main street and poked into a variety of stores. We chatted with shop keepers and purchased a few small things.
If you ask my husband what my requirements are for a good day he will say that any REALLY good day for me ALWAYS includes ICE CREAM. And I don't want just any old ice cream, I want good stuff. We had good stuff today, in freshly made waffle cones. I loved the menu board at the shop; it was bright, colorful and delicious.

After ice cream we came home and messed about a bit. Then we made the best pizza we have ever had. It was a new crust recipe... and it cooked up thin, crispy and flavorful. We topped it with fresh garlic, olive oil, fresh basil, tiny Maine shrimp, mozzarella and fresh grated Parmesan. Magnifico! Much like the entire day.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I have blogged before about having to put one of my chickens down. I had to do it again this morning. Henrietta was one of the original group of four pullets that I bought when I fulfilled my lifelong dream of having laying hens. I thought she was particularly pretty, with the most white in her chest feathers, and a very round shape. She was a tame and gentle chicken.

She has not been quite right for several months. Shaking her head and having some balance issues. I should have put her down as soon as she began showing symptoms, but I kept hoping she'd be OK. I researched chicken illnesses; treated her with things that should help what she showed symptoms of. I rubbed mineral oil in her ears in case she had ear mites. I treated her for worms in case internal parasites were a problem. I put supplements in her food and water. She didn't get any worse, and maybe improved a bit. Then in the past two days she got much, much worse. By this morning it was evident that a decision had to be made. And I made it and I hated it.

But that got me to thinking that in general I tend to put things off too long. And that is the basis of many of my regrets in life. It wasn't much easier killing her today than it would have been a few months back.

So, on my long list of things to work on... stop procrastinating so much. It only brings regrets, and I could do with fewer of those.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nor' Easter...

At dawn the roads were dry. By the time I got to work there was an inch of snow on the ground.
When I drove home a mere 3 hours later? 6+ inches of heavy snow and it was coming down hard and fast. I got good and stuck once, but made here driving oh-so-slowly.

Who is glad to be home and safe? (Raising hand and waving wildly, "ME ME ME ME!)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chicken drama...

Every night when I get home from work one of the very first things I do is go out to the coop to check on the "ladies." They are normally very predictable, and such good chickens! At dusk they are all on their roost. I count 13 beaks and lock them all in safe and sound.

Tonight it was quite dark when I got home. I took a teeny little girly flash light outside; checked the food and water, gathered three perfect eggs from the next box and then counted; 1, 2, 3...11. Hmm. Something was amiss. I counted again. Still 11. Missing in action were one of my new Partridge Rocks and my older Wyandotte which has been not quite right for a few months.

Stepping out of the coop I saw the dogs looking at a dark lump on the snow. It was
the Wyandotte. She was lying on an icy slope, looking quite dead. At least, until one of the dogs nudged her and she moved a little, in a slightly undead manner.

I went back to the house, luring the dogs away from the chicken, and grabbed a much, MUCH bigger flashlight. A manly sort of flashlight. Slipping across the snow I carefully picked Henrietta up. She looked at me with a cocked head out of one chicken eye, and I carried her gently to the coop. I tucked her into a safe corner where she could reach food and water if she wanted to. I suspect she'll be dead by morning, and a better "farmer" than me would put her down now. But I'm letting nature take its course.

With 12 beaks in the coop I went out in search of the other missing bird. I walked the fenced yard, no chicken. I went to the front yard and looked in the trees, thinking maybe she had roosted. No chicken. I looked until my fingers were frozen. I was sad, worried that this lovely chicken had been eaten by something or was cold and alone in the long night.

On a whim I peeked in the garage before I went in for the night. My whims are good. There was the chicken, nestled down on a little hay that had fallen on the floor. And, bonus! She had an egg with her.

13 beaks in the coop. 4 eggs in my pocket. Nothing like a little chicken drama to wrap up a day.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


The meadow behind our house is crisscrossed with trails of animal tracks. The most visible from my window are the deer tracks. This afternoon as the sun was sinking low I went for a walk and on a whim decided to follow some deer tracks from where they entered the field at the edge of the road. The snow was deep in some place, up to my knees.

Across the field the tracks went to the little brook that is tucked into the edge of the woods. I stood here for a while in the dim light and just listened. The sound of the water over rocks and ice is a high, clear sound that is very pretty. It beckoned me closer, closer, but I didn't want to break through the ice, so I followed the tracks out of the woods, back to the open.
First I passed this old tree root... it looked like drift wood but has been weathered by wind and weather, rather than the sea.

This tattered leaf was blowing to and fro in the wind. Where it has been worn through the sun shone beautifully, and it reminded me a bit of stained glass.

I tend to think of winter as being all shades of black and white... but warm colors abound.

During my walk I saw the tracks of squirrel's, some from a much smaller rodent, (probably a mouse,) several bird tracks and even what I am quite sure were coyote tracks, faint in the snow. Following the deer tracks reminded me that I am surrounded in color, sound, beauty and unseen life.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


During the course of my 50 years on the planet I have had thousands of creative ideas.

Some I have attempted to implement; one early example would be the countless times as a tiny child that I cut out the little, brightly colored circles on the whisper-thin plastic bag that Wonder Bread came in. I thought they were so pretty and airy and I was certain I could create something artful and lovely with them. I failed in this venture, (and in oh! so many others.)

Some ideas I have been too unsure of myself to try. Others seemed totally impossible, so I didn't attempt them. And many, many have simply been forgotten. Each of these creative ideas was like a seed. Small, dry, wrapped in a shell and just waiting for the right condition to come along so it could grow and become. (In this photo I am holding a handful of seeds hoping to entice a Chickadee to come perch on my hand. This is something I have wanted to experience for years, and I figure I'd better hurry up and at least try.)

I'd like to be kinder and gentler to my ideas from now on. I'd like to offer them the right conditions to try to become something.
What seeds do you hold in your hand?
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Monday, January 3, 2011

The "stuff" around us...

Friends of ours are embarking on a dream this week. They have retired, purchased a motor home, and will be traveling the U.S. I am very excited for them, they are going to have adventures yet unimagined. I admire that they are actually going to do this big thing that they have planned. It is a huge change, and change, even when it's exciting and wonderful is hard.

They came for supper tonight. I got out my grandmothers sterling flatware, and my pretty antique china dishes. I lit the candles in my crystal candle sticks. In other words, I trotted out a lot STUFF. Some of the stuff was very ordinary, such as my favorite bread pans.
One of the things that boggles my mind about what my friends are doing is that they ... GOT RID OF THEIR STUFF. They sold the house they'd lived in all the years they raised a family. They sold grandmas china and the kids beds and the wine glasses. They gave away the bird feeders and the electric fence chargers and the Christmas decorations. This must be incredibly freeing. They have no garage to clean, no gardens to weed, no home repairs. They have let go of the stuff that tethers most of us and in so doing are now released to a level of freedom that most Americans never experience.

I think it takes a great deal of maturity, security and wisdom to part with the security blanket of "stuff" that we surround ourselves with. ( I am definitely not that mature. )
Safe and wonderful travels, my friends! I am watching you and learning and admiring. I can hardly wait so hear of the excitement that awaits you!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Things I never knew I needed...

There are some things in life that I never knew I needed.
Here is an example. On New Years Eve Chris and I had supper at our friends house. My friend said to me, "Guess what I found for sale in the Uncle Henry's?" (This is a local swap type publication.) "Calf hutches!" I barely blinked before I said, "Call them! Call them right now! I need a calf hutch!" And this how I found myself spending several hours of a precious day off driving through the gray and muddy countryside with my friend when I should have been doing something fun with my husband.
We ended up at a dairy farm. The young couple that own the farm have two small kids and 450 head of cows to milk. (And that, is a LOT of cows. Here are a few of them, munching on silage and sipping on clean water.)

And they were selling calf hutches. Which look like this. Calf hutches are the things they put new baby diary cows in after they take them away from their mothers. They live in the hutches until they are weaned and old enough to be part of a herd. Please note that I don't think this is a very nice thing for the cows or their calves, but no one asked my opinion and this is how dairy farmers do things. At any rate, these particular farmers have made a calf barn and are selling their calf hutches at a quite reasonable price.
So, why, you might ask, did I need a calf hutch? Well I'll tell you. I am thinking a calf hutch would make a dandy house for lambs in the spring. Or maybe for turkey poults, (my next venture? Attempting to raise Thanksgiving turkeys.) The hutch would also be an excellent shelter for the meat chickens I plan to raise again this year, or even for a couple of piglets if I get very adventuresome in the food raising scheme of things. In fact, I'd really like to go buy 2 or 3 more of the calf hutches, but I am trying to restrain myself.
So, that is the story of how I had a small adventure and purchased a large, odd object that I never knew I needed. And had a fun time doing it!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Weaving intentions...

At the Common Ground Fair in Unity, ME this past summer I stopped to watch a woman weaving intricately beautiful baskets. Her hands looked strong and full of the skill that years of practice imbue. She used a tool to smooth long strips of wood or reeds, I am not sure what they were, but then she created useful art before my eyes.

I am taking a lesson from this. This year I would like to concentrate on weaving some intention into my days. I am going to do more creating and happening. And you'll read about it here, no doubt.
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