Sunday, November 27, 2011


Driving through the Maine countryside on a recent errand I passed this place and snapped a shot.  The old barn is huge, and snugged tight by the side of the road.  I like to think of someone out there, on a ladder, carefully painting stars and stripes onto the ancient, thirsty wood.  What made them think of this, and how did they execute their vision so perfectly?  I am constantly fascinated by what motivates and inspires people to do the things they do. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Giving Thanks and more...

 The day before Thanksgiving we got snow.  Lots of it... 9 inches or more.  I spent the day indoors, cooking, cleaning, decorating and preparing for the feast.  It was lovely watching the snow come down, listening to the wind howl around the house as the wood stove snapped. Peaceful.
Thanksgiving day dawned clear and the temperature soared.  My sweet brother in law, John, helped out by clearing up the drive and walk ways.  He soon got so warm he peeled his shirt off.  I had to laugh when I saw him, surrounded by snow yet shirtless!
 We cooked a total of FOUR birds.  Here are the two we smoked; a home raised Muscovy duck on the left, and a locally grown heritage breed turkey on the right.  Chris did the smoking and the birds were excellent!  I also roasted two small turkeys, one a locally raised Broad Breasted White, (the type we all buy in stores) and the other a Heritage breed. The Heritage birds (more like wild types) have less breast meat, more dark meat, and a denser texture. I found the flavor to be superior.
 Niece Aimee came with boyfriend Tim and baby Lucy, Flirt's puppy.  There was a joyous reunion of mother and daughter, and they spent the entire visit playing and cuddling.  It was fun to watch!
 As always, Chris set up a giant trough full of ice, wine, soft drinks beer and more on the porch.  My niece, Emily, brought AMAZING eggnog made at a farm near where she lives.  The best EVER.  Chris also set up a full bar, with a billion bottles of booze and mixers, sliced limes and lemons and a variety of glassware. He likes to think that people can walk in and have any drink they desire.  They way he sets it up always elicits a cacophony of  "oohs" and "ahhs" from our guests.

We fed 20 people and the house was filled with laughter and chatter.  There was no angst. Just pleasantness and helpfulness and good conversation.

The next day we gathered and assembled Ginger Bread houses.  My sister Deb started this tradition a few years ago.  Guests come back and nosh on left overs and we put the houses together.  It is very relaxed and happy, with just a bit of competitiveness.  Niece Emily and her husband Jeff always come up with the most elaborate, fabulous house.  They work together, heads close, plotting their strategy as they decorate with gum drops and frosting.  It is delightful to see. 

And then... everyone goes home and this old house is quiet again. All of the build up and planning and preparation is over. The cold porch is laden with leftovers, and we find ourselves ducking out there to snitch a bit of turkey, a taste of cake, a glass of wine, a slice of good pie.  As for me, I usually take a nap or two in the days following.  I bask in the memory of the joy of being together, remember the echoing sounds of good conversation and savor the flavor of the left over goodies.  The thankfulness?  It lingers.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mice beware..!

Our home is in the country.  We are surrounded by wildlife of all kinds.  Eagles, fox, coyotes, turkeys and deer are all regularly seen on or near our property.  All of that makes me very happy.  But sometimes the wild things get, uh, a little to close for comfort.  This time of year I sometimes find evidence that mice have been tap dancing on my counter tops.  It is then that I wish we had a cat. 

Recently one of my grooming customers told me that they wanted to find a home for their Maine Coon cat- a huge guy with a sweet disposition.  I thought of the mice and looked at the massive cat.  I think the mice have met their match. 

We dubbed the new guy "Catfish Hunter."  He is settling in, getting to know the lay of the place and meeting his new staff.  He has the dogs trembling in fear as he stalks about.  One impressive feline; I have a feeling he is going to earn his keep.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


This morning, as dawn slips pinkly through the wavy glass windows of this old house, I am thinking of relationships. I have worked every day for years with a woman who will now no longer be there.  We have swapped recipes, shared laughter, teased, gotten on each others nerves and spent countless hours talking.  Today for the first time I won't know what she is planning to cook for supper or what her kids are up to.  And it is going to be strange.

There are all these intricate connections in our lives.  Some we take for granted until the link breaks.  And then because life is the way it is, we move on, stronger for the experience, saddened by the loss.  It's a lot to think about.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The world, she is...

 My husband, daughter and I just returned from a magical weekend in Quebec, Canada. The people of Quebec speak French as a primary language, so though it is only a 6 hour drive from our home in Maine, it feels quite exotic to be there.  We loved the wording on the can of sardines above, "Fish She is Very Small."  The world?  She is very small, too. 
 And very beautiful.  The area called Old Quebec City is like a slice of Europe.  Copper roof tops, cobble stone streets, wrought iron and ancient brick work were eye candy. 

We sampled Poutine, a Quebec favorite dish that features French fried potatoes covered in gravy and cheese curd which squeaks when you bite it. You can add other things, if you wish, such as bacon or sausage or... well... most anything.  We are going to have to learn to make it here, too.

We stayed in the home of our friends. They offered us the warmest, most gracious hospitality.  The first night we dined on Couscous made by their friend (and our new friend!) from Algeria.  Another amazing woman from Germany joined us for the feast.  So it was 3 Americans, 2 Canadians, a German and an Algerian all at the table.  As we ate and talked and laughed I couldn't help but look at this bunch of us; a blend of languages and cultures and experiences, all joined together because of... pet grooming.  I could never have imagined that my passion for grooming dogs and cats would take me to the places it has.  On Sunday my friend and I gave a seminar on cat grooming to 16 women from all over the province.  Our work was well received and I think all of us had a good time.

If I could have looked through the key hole to my life and seen the bright kaleidoscope of colors that would ebb and flow to create the wonders I experience, I never would have believed my eyes.  I can hardly wait to see what happens next!