Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Second Nature

I'm almost finished with this book by Michael Pollan, and I'm inspired to try my hand at gardening again. Last year, I opted for a small corner of the perennial bed, growing basil and tomatoes successfully. It was enough, especially since I ended up spending most of the summer working on Marshall Island with the MCC. This year I hope to stay closer to home and to stay closer to what's going on directly around me. Not really a New Year's Resolution, more of a goal to work toward. I've been washing the house plants, and germinated some sprouts. It's a good start!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Birds

I took this photo a few weeks ago. I've been trying to sketch it and paint but I actually like the photo better than anything I've come up with. I'll keep working at it.
I made some bird suet and some bird cakes... some for gifts and some for the birds here. I think the blue jays are taking the cakes. Although I haven't actually witnessed this, I have seen blue jays circling the top of the post where I put the cakes each day, and then the cakes are gone. That's how I figured it out.
I put the suet in an orange mesh onion sack and hung it on the post. It has been attracting what appears to be a female hairy woodpecker. She's come two days in a row now.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Cutie Pies


Taken yesterday at Jen & Jason's... thought a bunch of you out there would enjoy :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Awesome Snowblower & Awesome Snowblower Guy

Da Slockit Light

It's been crazy busy -- like it is with everyone these days -- and we (well, Richard actually) finally got our holiday lights down from the closet. We don't have a tree up, and I'm guessing we probably won't at this point but you never know...
So, we have string after string of lights -- strands of red, blue, green, multicolored, little lights, big lights, icicle lights -- and not one of them (except for two unopened boxes bought on sale last year) had all the lights work. Harumph. A few strands wouldn't work at all. Some of them had half the lights lit. Richard multi-tasked by watching the football games and trying to figure out which bulbs were burned out, and which strands had defective fuses. He managed to get a few strands operational and strung them up over the bushes and shrubs in front of the house... absolutely beautiful in last night's storm... like melted candy. While he was busy doing that, I got candle lights in the windows and tidied up the house a bit... nice to just be hanging out.
Then, while the snow was accumulating outside, we watched I-Robot.
Today we're going outside to clear the snow.
Da Slockit Light is a Shetland tune about how people move away from the country to seek their fortunes in the cities... one by one the country houses are deserted, one less light in the night.



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cold Frosty Morning

http://currierandives.net/AmericanHomesteadWinter/
This morning when I leisurely awoke and looked out the window to see what sort of weather the day might hold, I thought of the old Currier & Ives prints that were prominent in my childhood, I think because they were on various tins around the holidays. I think it was the early morning light that filtered through the blackish-greens and the steel-gray-blues, all covered with white from new fallen snow.
As I look out on this winter wonderland from the living room windows, the lines and features are more prominent as daylight climbs over the trees. While times have changed, and we don't have the old farmhouse and horse drawn sleigh, we do have the beauty of living down a snow covered lane lined with tall old trees that lead to our little clearing in the woods. A nice blend of old and new that gives a sense of timelessness that matches my mood today as I write about things that come to mind.



Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter Wonderland

It's beautiful outside today!
It's treacherous outside today!

Winter in Maine- I love it :) Travelling this morning was horrible, but I made the drive to Farmington for my final final... arriving LATE but making it safe and sound. Over an hour to make the usual 35 minute trip. I'll be glad to get home and start thinking seriously about the big holiday that is happening next week... yeah, CHRISTMAS, that's right! Time to climb up into the "attic" and decide what to take out for this season, hang lights outside tomorrow, bake and cook some yummy stuff, get B&E's package mailed (tomorrow) and start/finish some projects that, at this moment, exist only in my head, haha.

Got to swim with Avery, Paige and Jen yesterday morning, how fun! Then, a migraine caught me by surprise and had me down for the count all afternoon and evening... what's up with that?

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

That lone bird at the end of the list is getting closer each day! One more final exam on Wednesday, and 2 essays to hand in and I'll be finished for this semester!
I was listening to MPR on my way home today, and hearing about how devastating the most recent ice storm was to folks in southern Maine. We were lucky here; although the lights flickered, we did not lose our power. We do have a thick layer of crusted snow from here all the way to the end of the road. Someone (in a very, very big truck) has driven down Pine Needle Alley and left deep ruts in their wake. The tire tracks are wider than either our little truck or car, and they're deep enough that we haven't attempted getting the car out yet. We're parking the truck out at the end for now to avoid slipping in and out of the grooves and potentially getting stuck between here and there... just thought we'd let you know in case you were thinkin' about driving in here!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Do the math...

... the countdown...
1 Unit Test + 15 lectures + 1 research paper + 2 final essays + 2 quizzes + 3 final exams = 16 credits earned...
... make that 13 lectures + 1 research paper + 2 final essays + 1 quiz + 3 final exams... not that I'm counting...
... okay, I'm definitely taking some study time to update this post, but hey, it's a good mental break from the books!
... 11 more lectures, 0 quizzes, 2 final essays, 1 research paper and 3 final exam ... is there a partridge in a pear tree somewhere?
... yet another update- 8 lectures, 0 quizzes, 1 research paper, 3 final exams... I'm getting there!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Today is the big shopping day for those who consider shopping to be a BIG ADVENTURE! In spite of being invited on a couple of those outings, I've declined :) To those who were out in the wee hours of the morning, was it worth it? Any great deals? Stories?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

These are a few of our favorite things....

Earlier this week, I emailed my mom and my sisters with a list of some favorite memories for which I am thankful. Throughout the week, they have added their own favorites. Here are the highlights of our lists... for these things, and for each other, we are truly blessed and thankful.

  • top of the list is... each other
  • the squirrel tree
  • playing in the little woods
  • riding our bicycles through Blackwoods campground
  • sewing fabulous Barbie rain gear out of old shower curtain liners
  • getting lost in St. John
  • riding the ferry over to PEI like it was another world
  • dad singing "Good morning to you" at the breakfast table on weekends
  • having to suppress hiccups at the dinner table
  • going to Ethel Davis' for junior choir practice
  • selling rocks to Mary Moulton
  • riding our bicycles to the store for penny candy
  • playing pick with the new Sears catalogue
  • being in "big trouble" for something
  • jumping off the shed roof into the snow
  • having to do the library summer reading program (argh)
  • the summer we lived in a tent at Canton Lake
  • riding bicycles to Farmington on a Saturday so we could eat at McDonald's
  • sitting in a circle, fixing each other's hair
  • taking turns giving each other backrubs
  • making Lego houses
  • making lawnchair tent houses in the back yard (Slumville per dad)
  • cucumber sandwiches in the summer
  • riding bikes 'round and 'round that little driveway
  • getting dressed up fancy for church on Easter and Christmas
  • playing Ice Cream shop with our bicycles turned upside down
  • blind folding each other to guess what was put in our mouths
  • making stick houses behind the chicken house
  • walking our sheep up and down the road
  • digging worms for Uncle Johnny
  • cooking mud pies in the chimney clean-out
  • jumping off the back porch trying to break a leg (we thought it would be fun to use crutches)
  • having to look up 'bad' words in the dictionary at the dinner table
  • eating mounds of corn-on-the-cob for dinner
  • going hunting with daddy and making too much noise
  • having 2 wonderful parents who cared and nourished all of us into the awesome people we are today!
  • Barbie doll houses made with chairs from tuna cans
  • tracing the outlines of houses in the dirt and playing house
  • trying to build rafts to float ourselves in the little culvert pond
  • ice skating around all of the grasses in the little pond above the house
  • running all the way to Grammie and Grampa's house to watch the color tv
  • playing hid and seek in Grammie's lilac bushes
  • watching Pammiedisect a bird for her science project
  • feeling special to get a purple "banana seat," a cool pogo stick and a gerbil
  • overnights in the camper with the flashlight, putting hands on top to make scary shadows
  • watching stars fall from outside of our lawn chair houses
  • eating the special small boxed cereal the next morning, in our lawn chair houses
  • Popham Beach- the best
  • having so much love from daddy that he let us put barettes in his hair
  • seeing mom's eyes sparkle when she watched the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon to watch "Yaz"
  • night skiing at Spruce Mt.
  • listening to Pam sing "I've Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates"
  • playing with the organ after Sunday School
  • "trying" to play mom's auto harp
  • church fairs... church suppers with baked beans and jello salad
  • opening the chest of hand-me-downs... that was exciting each year
  • the twin beds with the white puffy headboards... they felt like princess beds :)
  • crawling out the upstairs bedroom window, and sitting atop the roof
  • driving our kitties down the sand hill... ooops...
  • watching Deb leave for college in her VW
  • being proud of Kathy at ski events, beating one of the Mitchell girls
  • knowing that the striped pants, made by mom, were the coolest thing ever in 4th grade
  • waiting for the last little snowcap to melt in the Spring time- then school was almost done for the year
  • jumping over the "pucker brushes" in the Cumming's pasture
  • playing "spy" with Joline through the Cumming's corn rows
  • trying to out race the Cummings' crazy dog after getting off the school bus
  • playing basketball in the driveway with mom
  • the day Mom bought us all a chess set at the greem stamp store in Lewiston
  • piano lessons... some of us did better than others
  • Wendy and Joline swimming at the Hammond's pool
  • listening to the little white hand transistor radio
  • picking wild strawberries on the little road for our cereal the next morning
  • watching mom and dad make us homemade ice cream
  • having Dad shovel horse poo for me, even though he knew it was our chore
  • weeding the garden
  • shoveling dirt for .25 a bucket
  • playing "other girls"
  • laying on the cupboard on Sunday night so mom could wash our hair in the kitchen sink
  • water skiing in the summer with David, Randy, Kathy, Jo, Wendy
  • mom and dad going to ALL our sports to watch us
  • daddy's spaghetti sauce
  • 4-H fairs
  • "blink, blink, blink" for a Dairy Queen stop after Popham Beach
  • playing at the frog pond
  • playing in the "shed" building at the top of the hill behind the house
  • getting the so-much-wanted train set for Christmas
  • Grammie Davis' spaghetti sauce (dad's was delicious but Grammie's was the BOMB)
  • going to Augusta to McDonald's after church
  • talking on Grampa's CB radio (Little Peach was Joline's name)
  • making white milk vases with Doris Wight
  • getting ice hockey sticks before Christmas so we could play hockey on the pond at Potters
  • making sail boats to flow through the culvert
  • playing Cowboys and Indians
  • shucking peas on the front door step
  • watching Captain Kangaroo before going to school
  • watching Romper Room waiting for our names to be called (did anyone get their name called?)
  • selling our sheep at the fair
  • the crazy days at the Norland's fair carding wool and spinning
  • cooking potatoes on top of grammie and grampa's stove
  • marveling over grampa's rock collection
  • watching grampa feed chipmunks out of his hand
  • ice skating on Brettuns Pond
  • singing duets with Pam- Jeremiah was a Bullfrog and New Pair of Roller Skates
  • going horn pout fishing at night with daddy
  • riding bikes to grammie and gramp's or up to the corner and thinking some people are not as lucky as us
  • thinking Grange was the coolest thing to be involved in
  • Yum va
  • the trip to DC- "Pay before you pump"
  • Batman "Polly-Wolly"
  • paper doll families
  • Wishniks
  • eating the "skin" off the top of homemade chocolate pudding
  • getting chicken pox just about the time our new sister Joline came home
  • eating Thanksgiving dinner on tv trays at Grammie Randall's while the adults all ate at the table in the kitchen
  • mongloid hair cuts
  • sewing our own clothes in high school
  • home perms
  • putting Bugles on our fingers
  • camping with the Wights
  • roller skating on Saturday mornings
  • the porch of the little house in the summer
  • graduations and commencement exercises
  • mom's favorite birthday cake, chocolate with peanut butter frosting
  • mom and dad waltzing in the kitchen of the little house to Unchained Melody
  • pink fishnet stockings held up with a garter belt
  • finding out that Mrs. Poland, Miss Lufkin, and Miss Boyce all had mom and dad for students
  • Macy's parades
  • playing Hi-Q at grammie randall's
  • Grammie Randall and the aunts speaking French in the kitchen as they cooked
  • the big old Atlantic cook stove
  • looking at Grampa Randall's rock collection
  • the silver tree at Grammie Davis' that changed color as the wheel turned
  • the santa on skis at Grammie Davis' house
  • driving to Wyoming with dad to bring Kathie, Ryan, and Kevin back to Maine
  • looking at the raspberry crosses in the garden
  • helping each other pick up the pieces of our lives as we'd start over again
  • Wendy's quilt-in-a-day
  • crabbing in Maryland with smelly chicken on a strong
  • rationing meat from the one little crab so everyone could have a taste
  • hangovers (glad those days are over)
  • driving down the VA Beach boardwalk listening to Christmas music
  • having Tasha and Tyler spend a little bit of time living with Pam when they were little
  • Pam, Kathie, and Riff sharing a house and a life
  • winter sports with Kathie & David, waiting for the cabana boy to arrive
  • everyone writing their names on Pam's Fayette house's typar
  • getting Mousetrap and Operation from Nana and Johnny & Bea
  • the Browns (Laurette, Corbette, Matthew, Lisette, Nicolette)
  • the little church
  • dogs, cats, bunnies, chickens, cows, pigs (Rosie & Posie), ducks...
  • listening to tapes made of Grampa Randall
  • Deb's whoopie pies
  • seeing who could make it from ME to DC in the shortest amount of time
  • hiding Kathie under maps so dad wouldn't see her
  • the weird man on Virginia Beach who kept burying himself in the sand
  • bonfires at Deb & Arnie's
  • skating in West Farmington
  • picking fiddleheads on the Sandy River
  • hiking up Monument Hill
  • getting Useless in Eustis
  • seeing mom and dad settle back into the East Livermore area
  • pictures of mom, Uncle Bill, and Uncle Tom hanging on the wall in the living room
  • our long formica topped table in our kitchen
  • knowing that our linoleum matched Grammie Randall's
  • knowing we'd be getting our Christmas tree soon
  • having five whole days off from school for Thanksgiving
  • favorite Thanksgiving foods
  • gravy, gravy, gravy... moist turkey (with gravy)... mashed potatoes (with gravy)... squash (no gravy)... peas, onions, fruit salad, boiled onions saturated with butter & cream... Grammie Randall's yeast rolls (dipped in gravy)... pie, pie, pie

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Another Nice Combination


The name of a dance, rather than a fiddle tune, comes to mind when I see this photograph taken recently on a walk in our neighborhood. We started out on a simple walk down the road, and ended up exploring some camp roads- one of which brought us to the back side of Pickerel Pond and this lovely scene. All the deciduous leaves are now on the ground, leaving only the evergreens. Judging from the lack of bright foliage, there is probably not much change from this view from a couple of weeks ago. This photo seems to have a nice combination of earth, sky and water elements- a nice balance.

Thought I'd share a piece of our world with you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Richard

To my best friend, my partner, my love... happy birthday :)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss

Seems like flying around is what we all do these days- life is so busy! Generally speaking, most of us fill our days with worthwhile activities, and that makes it difficult to decide what to NOT do- so we end up trying to do it all. Sometimes we manage to drop something that we think we can live without for a little while in an effort to manage our time better, and to put more quality attention into the "A" list. This tactic has worked pretty well for me; I've put a few activities on the back burner, and a few more have just gotten stored away indefinitely. Playing the fiddle, while an "A" interest, has assumed a "B" list role simply for lack of available time for regular practice. The best I can manage is to play it for a few minutes now and then.
Last night Kathie and I played tunes at a barn dance that Richard called. I'd been apprehensive about it, managed a little bit of practice but not as much as I would have liked (studying for tests this week won my time and attention) but all those hours of practice in the past paid off! We played from our list of "standard" tunes- the ones we know without music- and we had so much fun! I mean, all of us had so much fun! The parents and children who were dancing, Richard who was calling, and Kathie and I. It was one of those evenings that flew by and before we knew it, we were done.
It's nice to know that this piece of my life- music and contradance- has become so ingrained that it still threads through the rest of my activities. Listening to contra tunes while I practice calling during my commute keeps the music in my head and the beat in my heart, enough so that when I pick up my fiddle, that energy can revive my fingers and the music can flow through the strings and the bow.
In the back of my mind, I've thought it would be possible to call and play at dances on weekend evenings while packing my week days full of work and classes, my week evenings with studying and time with Richard, and weekends filling in with chores, visiting the kids & grandkids, and more studying. Possible to do it all, but not sure I could really pull it off. Some weeks I'm not sure I've managed well, but last night was an indicator that it is possible!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Virtual Cake!

Happy Birthday Dad!

Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting- my mom's favorite cake? Hmmmm. Here's the rest of the story (including the beginning)
Years ago, when planning for my mom's birthday, I consulted dad as to what kind of cake should be made. More specifically, what was Mom's favorite cake? Dad quickly answered, "chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting." I wasn't aware of this being her favorite, but of course, I didn't really know what she liked best, hence my asking of the question in the first place. So, chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting it was.
When the cake was brought out, mom was happy enough with it, but without the ecstatic shrieks of glee I had anticipated. I prompted, "Hey, it's your favorite kind of cake!" so she'd know that I really wanted to give her something special. Her reply, "Well, that's your DAD'S favorite kind of cake!" brought a smirk of joy and amusement to dad's face! Aha! I'd been tricked!
Anyway, whether or not I actually get to bake a chocolate cake and cover it with peanut butter frosting today, I want to wish my dad (the BEST DAD IN THE WHOLE WORLD) a very special, happy birthday! I love you!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

SNOW!

I thought I saw snow on my way home from Farmington , but decided I was mistaken- too early in the season, too warm....
A little later, once at home, we glanced outside to see a few small flakes drifting around the yard- obviously not all that warm and not all that early in the season.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Being There"


Monday Night is Movie Night

Richard signed up for NetFlix- a pretty good deal, really. While we may still travel to Waterville to see films at RR2, we like the flexibility of choosing the viewing time, and we REALLY like staying home and conserving fuel. The selection makes it pretty easy to find something we both want to see, rather than choosing from the four that are currently shown in a theater. That being said, RR2 has some amazing films and we know there will be occasions when we just "have to see" something, or just want to get out for a special date night :)

We didn't time the return of last week's NetFlix selections, however, and didn't have a DVD to watch last night but, NetFlix has an option where you can view movies on the computer. Now, this would not be much fun on my little laptop, but Richard has a large monitor - necessary for doing his site evaluations - and, with comfy chairs pulled up close, it made a nice alternative to a theater or the living room. Now, on to the movie....

We watched a 1979 film called "Being There" with Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine and I have to say that I really liked it! A little quirky, not much drama, but as Richard calls it, "pretty cerebral." While we have plenty of opportunity to do things together, it's easy to get caught up in studying or chores, or work of some kind so it's nice to have a designated evening that we choose something together!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TemPEST


After a pretty busy month of September, there's a nice, slower rhythm to life these days with some time to really enjoy doing chores (stacking firewood, pulling stuff out of the garden) and spending time with Richard (movie nights) and the grandchildren (they're amazing and changing so much). I've had more time to spend studying also - not just for the grades, although that is a strong motivation for me, but also to really understand how things work (as opposed to simply memorizing a list of formulas or functions). Good thing because there are tests coming up over the next couple of weeks in Botony & Chemistry. There's a lot to learn, and to be able to apply to classes down the road.
As hard as it seems sometimes, I keep remembering the Chem professor's words "Keep working at it and it'll get easier" which didn't seem true at first, but after almost two months I can see that it does make a difference. Things like moles, for example, seemed so obscure and now I realize it doesn't take much mental energy to slip into that frame of thinking. I have to remind myself of that as I now work my way through gravitational analysis and titration equations. Add to that the microscopic work we're doing in Botany, and I'm even more thankful for the chance to balance the tiny numbers and cells with the big picture chores like stacking firewood, scuffing my feet through the fall leaves, and making little Paige laugh while Avery and I play beside her.
Tempest is a tune that goes along with an old-time dance... the tune can be found in the New England Fiddler's Repertoire.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Flowers of Autumn

My dad asked me to identify a tree behind his house so I set to sleuthing with some newly developed observation skills. What I saw was a tall shrub/small tree with the following features:



Dull purplish berries covered with small warty splotches that make the skin a little leathery. The berry stems are silvery white. A large seed occupies the juicy, fleshy center.



The twig is a purplish brown, smooth textured and splotchy. The pith is brown (not pictured). I think just one bundle scar. The terminal buds are long and narrow.



The leaf is narrow and pointed, not toothed, slightly undulate, green above and silvery smooth beneath with small dots visible under a magnifying glass.
.........................................................................
So, what is it?
I identifiied this tall woody shrub as the Autumn Olive, Elaeagnus unbellata. Although this species can have spiny leaves and some thorns, they weren't observed in this sample. The Russian Olive, Elaeagnus angustifolia has some similarities, but the leaves appear to be more narrow and the fruit is green.


All photograps found on the internet - just search for "autumn olive" and you'll find these and more.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

So, I got to thinking...

It always takes me a little while to really understand (if I really every do) some of the political and financial deals that make the headlines - I usually have it oversimplified, and such may be the case with the current bail-out of bad mortgages, but listening to reports got me thinking.

  • Homeowners who cannot make their mortgage payments are going to get some sort of assistance to refinance their loan AND in the process they'll get their property re-evaluated so the loan will reflect the new lowered value.
  • Lots of people will be doing this, and supposedly they will then be able to keep up with their payments, including insurance and property taxes.
  • What about the rest of us who are making their payments? Will we get our property values and mortgages lowered also? Doesn't seem likely, but wouldn't that create a multi-tiered housing system? And what would the true value of properties be at that point?
  • Who would set the value on property being sold? Seems like property owned by those of us who pay our mortgage would be priced quite a bit higher than that of someone who got bailed out.

I'm sure it can't possibly be this simple, and I'm sure that it will be an equitable housing market... I'm sure all that has been accounted for....

right?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Movie Night

Quite a few weeks ago, we claimed Monday evening as "Movie Night" and for the most part, we've maintained a commitment to spending a few hours together viewing something we've thoughtfully chosen. Monday night is $5 at Railroad Square in Waterville - they have some very interesting films that you don't see at the mainstream theaters. We try to get up there whenever there's something that catches our interest. On those evenings when there isn't time to go or we don't see anything listed that we want to drive for, we rent a DVD and watch it at home. We've seen some really good movies over the past couple of months, after a LOOOONG time of not making an effort to see anything. It's fun having "date night" and intentionally watching something together that we can have a conversation about.
A couple of weeks ago we went to RR2 and saw Burn After Reading by the Coen Brothers - we loved it. Not quite as gruesome as Fargo, and a lot funnier but still dark. Tonight we decided to rent No Country For Old Men (another Coen film) and it made up for the minimal gruesomeness of BAR! For those of you who have watched thrillers with me, you can gauge the film by knowing that I made many, many trips out of the room during this movie! But, it was good. I think I liked it, but I might have to watch it again to be sure (maybe next time I can watch the whole thing). I like the kind of darkness and humor that runs through films made by these guys even when I can barely stand to watch them!
Let me know if you've seen these movies, and what you think of them.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Deer

We've been seeing deer in the yard almost every day now, grazing in the gardens and poking around at the edge of the lawn. This morning we saw a young deer with small antlers (not shown in this photo) and as we watched him go around the house, we saw three more! Last winter we watched a group of 4-5 (depending on the day) deer that regularly came to the back yard... I'm guessing this is the same group! We love living in the woods!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Specialness


We've had a whirlwind couple of weeks leading up to the wedding... and managing things throughout the weekend took a lot of energy for everyone involved! All of us parents are ready to relax and take a deep breath, as are the newlyweds :) Here's a photo of Jen and I discussing something of importance - she was one of my "rocks" throughout the festivities, keeping me grounded and guided! My friend Robin was another anchor for me in the hour before the ceremony. The most consistant and constant suppoorter has been Richard. He has been patient beyond measure, encouraging and supportive, and willing to take on just about anything that I said I needed done. Today I started the process of de-stressing, and ended up coming home from class early - exhausted and having what seems to be an ear migraine (I know, sounds weird... oh yeah, that's part of it, one ear is completely plugged making everything sound weird). When I got up from a nap (right, me? taking a nap? in the middle of the day? now you know how serious this is!) I came back down to my computer to catch up on studying and found beautiful fall leaves displayed across my keyboard and work space... made me want to cry (right, me? cry? now you know I'm really tired because I'm not usually that emotional).
So, I'm a little more rested, smiling, and waiting for Richard to come back from the grocery store with some salad fixings that my body is craving... hearing much better after a little rest, feeling blessed and balanced, happy to have spent time with all of my kids - Jen, Jason, Toby, SK, Bryan and Erin - happy to be home, happy for quietness, feeling pretty special.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Congratulations Erin & Bryan!

Congratulations Erin & Bryan!
Bryan and Erin got married on Saturday at the Bethel Inn here in Maine, in the company of family and friends from California to Florida to Maine and many places in between. The festivities started on Friday with a reception dinner, continued on through Saturday with the wedding and reception, and finished up this morning with a lovely brunch.
You can measure the distance between Maine and California in miles, but this weekend it became even more clear that you measure the closeness of families and friends by the spirit of love that's shared.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Geothermal Heat

I'm excited to be working on campus this year, through the Work Initiative Program, with Professor Grace Eason. Another student, Steph, and I are conducting tours of the LEED certified Education Building at UMF in an effort to spread the word about sustainable building materials and practices. This is an opportunity for me to learn in more detail about resource conservation from a very hands-on perspective.One of the things I'm learning about is geothermal heating and cooling. As with many green technologies, there are many aspects to consider. Simply put, geothermal heat uses the constant 51'F earth temperature (at 357'feet beneath the earth's surface) to moderate the fluctuations in air temperature from one season to the next. Our first tour takes place later today, and this is one of the topics I'll be presenting.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Bog Behind Our House

We live in a really beautiful area. Only a short walk out the old roads behind our house, there is a bog - a nice change in habitat from the woods. The colors haven't changed much... yet... but they will very shortly. Other than the pretty mushrooms I posted earlier, the main colors at the bog are from goldenrod and fall asters.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Colors from the Forest Floor


I've been working with the camera again, after a little summer hiatus of sketching with water colors. I'm still sketching and journaling, but got inspired over the summer to try my hand with the camera. One of my friends from the MCC team, Karla, was using a macro setting that enabled her to get great close-up photos. Here are a couple of my recent favorites! It's the time of year when everyone looks to the trees for color, but there's more than you might imagine down on the ground!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Grandparents Day!

Today, apparently, is Grandparents Day, a fact unknown to us until we were surprised with a lovely visit from the grandchildren! Though it isn't a well publicized holiday, it's a nice time to acknowledge one's roots and celebrate the genetic traits that have been passed down from generation to generation... you know, those things that you love/hate and recognize in your sister/mother/aunt/grandmother? I hope Avery and Paige grow up with a strong sense of connection to their grandparents - all of them!
There are quite a number of personality and behavioral traits that I attribute to my heritage. The "Davis Girls" would not be nearly as special without them.

  • From my dad's mom, Lillian, I get my sense of family connection and wanting to "be there" for everyone and anyone. This doesn't mean I have the time or energy to do it, but I remember my grandmother having lots of friends, lots of activity going on around her house, and some chaotic interconnetions between family members. Lill also taught me to wrap presents at Christmas, although my dad once told me it was only to get me to do the work for her :) Even that perspective makes me smile and remember her every time I put a gift together. Lill also made wonderful spaghetti sauce that had absolutely everything in there... I can remember being surprised to find chicken and pork as well as the expected ground beef, and wondering if she saved a little bit of everything she made all week just to make this sauce super special. When I keep bits of leftovers in small sacks and packages in the freezer, I think of her.
  • From my mom's dad, Merrit, I get a sense of connection to the natural world around me... and a keen desire for order and purposefulness. Merritt worked hard all his life to provide for his family, and he also maintained strong connections within the community. He was opinionated to be sure, and I can guess that I inherited some of that from him! A friend once described him as a wizard in the woods, because you'd never know when he'd appear from behind a tree or a bend in a trail. I like to think my curiosity of nature is a gift from him.
  • My mom's mom, Irene, also maintained a strict sense of order but with considerable respect to the finer things in life. Although they were not rich by any means, Irene had some lovely pieces of furniture and jewelry, and everything in her home and yard was "just so." Although I don't actually exhibit these qualities in my own life - I always seem to have some project in the works, or am too overly involved in some idea to actually KEEP my house clean- I do appreciate having things in their proper place, especially when I go to get them! So, while my floors are not spotless and there is usually dust on the furniture, I occasionally "catch up" on my inside chores and outside gardens to some degree of what she might accept as nice!
  • My great grandmother, Helen, was very artistic as I remember. She sketched and drew, and had a way of keeping house that looked tidy but in reality was simply not used much. I remember hearing that she would wipe her dinner plate clean with bread and turn it over until the next meal, eliminating the need to do a lot of dishes. This was done in part so she could spend her time reading and attending to the pursuit of mental activities and it is to this that I most often aspire.

So, these are small glimpses into the personas of my grandparents, on this Grandparents Day 2008. Because I'm sure their life energies have blended into the community and people nearest to me, including my parents and my siblings, I know that my appreciation for them and all they've passed on to me is recognized somehow.

To my sisters who are also grandparents, how fun is it to know our gifts (good and bad) are going to live on in another generation of 'Davis' boys and girls!?!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

It's Humid...

I spent the better (best) part of the day with Avery and Paige... have I ever mentioned how much I love being a grammah? I loved being a mom, don't get me wrong... every age or stage was my favorite 'til the new one came along and I feel like I'm reliving the best parts of those years. I am continually amazed at Avery's language skills as well as his social skills. He understands so much, and has such a wonderful sense of place and sense of humor for one so young.
While searching for more crackers this afternoon, we found some cinnamon graham crackers in the cupboard. One taste, and Avery remarked they weren't very crunchy. I had to agree, and tried to explain that they were possibly stale, and they might possibly have gotten damp... to which Avery replied that it was probably because it was humid out. Hmmm. Where did he hear this and how did he understand the concept of humidity at the tender age of three? When his mom got home, she explained they'd been discussing weather at daycare. I might also mention that when Avery's parents got home, he ran to greet them, asking his mom, "How was the wedding?" I wish I had as much sincere interest in everyone around me - I can learn a lesson from this little one.
Paige, while not yet conversing as is her brother, is absolutely adorable. She smiles and coos and is truly amazed by her fingers and toes, squealing with delight when she grabs hold of them. She is cuddly, and engaging, and has the most expressive facial expressions... and she clearly loves her big brother.
Sometimes when I relay these stories, I feel like I'm boasting a little bit, when in reality I suppose I am, but my main intent is to express my amazement at what supremely wonderful creatures these children are, and what a great job their parents are doing.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Arboretum



I spent this afternoon in the University Arboretum as part of my Botany Lab. It was fun to go arond and see the trees that I'd been introduced to in May when taking the Nature Writing course. While today's exercise focused on noticing identifying features, rather than looking for an interesting color or pattern, I found myself still looking at the textures and colors of the different parts of the trees... and so this evening, after being completely tired of reading and studying, I took out a sketch book and started scratching out the flowers and leaves I'd noted earlier in the day. What fun! Although I'm a little too tired to write an essay about any of my pictures right now, I did remember that I'd scanned in a lovely maple leaf, and thought I'd write a quick little story for all of my faithful readers!

Fall is fast approaching, you can see it in the red maples standing in low-lying boggy areas. You can see it in the green landscape that is slowly becoming more olive than verdant. You can see it in the blue of the sky as the sun's angle lowers. You CAN'T tell by the temperatures, however! Today we reached 88'F here in Maine, a real scooorchah, and I know Richard is mighty happy that he had finished working on the roof!

Posts may be few and far between now that fall classes have started, but I suppose it won't be too much different than this summer when I was away so much. Such is life :)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Chicken Reel

Fried Chicken for Labor Day! That's what we celebrated, as Richard's mom and dad hosted a family gathering that included the Davis clan in addition to Richard & me and SK... with fried chicken as the feature presentation. Now, I love fried chicken, and am quite a connoisseur, and I can tell you without a doubt, that this is the BEST fried chicken! There were lots of other fine things on the table - potato salad, deviled eggs, fruit salad, breads and more - as well as some delicious desserts... all served up with lots of conversation and perfect weather. A lovely day was had by all. Richard experimented with the video camera during all of this, and we viewed the result before leaving... amazing and artistic in content, it was a mix of time-lapse images and some candid short interviews. We also got to view some of the footage shot in Virginia, including football practice of Jackson and Jake and also the newest episode of Mayberry RFD, both of which are still being worked into a CD that can be shared with those cast members living in Chesterfield VA.
That's it from here, hope you all had a nice Labor Day. This is sort of the official/unofficial kick off for the fall season here in Maine, where all the summer visitors go back to their respective home states and we get a few weeks of respite before fall foliage season erupts in full force! Thanks to all the tourists who made this a good season for all who rely on tourism as income!
Chicken Reel comes from the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Elbow Swamp Rag

East Vassalboro was THE place to be on Saturday night, at the newly resurrected 5th Saturday contradance. I remember going to "the Swamp" as it was known, back in the mid 1990's but there hasn't been a dance there for years. Some very dedicated community members and dancers decided it was worth the investment of money and time, and organized the dance to which they invited Richard to call, and me to play tunes... along with Paul Baines and SK Green. There were (by semi-official count) 54 people in attendance with a range of dancers from very inexperienced to regular-every-weekend folk. Richard chose great dancers that kept everyone moving and engaged while we played our hearts out while we sweated in the heat on stage. The evening was a HUGE success and we want to thank everyone who participated. It was great fun to play tunes with Paul and SK... lots of talent AND great energy which is a winning combination in my estimation.
Elbow Swamp Rag comes from the Reckless Reel.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Flying Clouds

Seems like all the clouds have flown somewhere besides here, the weather has been absolutely perfect for late summer. We are taking advantage of it as much as possible... Richard is shingling the front roof (you may remember the back roof was done last summer) and I started bringing firewood inside. Tomorrow is forecasted to be fair again, though there may be some clouds, and we will be that much further ahead with fall chores.
I also started cleaning out my perennial bed which had a good start to the season and then got quite neglected while I was away so much. There are so many weeds and grasses growing out there, but I know that with a little bit of attention it will be beautiful through the fall months and also that much easier to manage come spring... worth the time and attention.
Flying Clouds comes from the Portland Collection.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Simonton Corners

As some may know, Richard and I took a class for new contradance callers almost two years ago, and have had some opportunities to call community dances, an occasional portion of a regular dance, and some some segments of benefits - all good experience in building a reputation, gaining confidence, and compiling a repertoire. I've been sort of on the slow track, in part because many times the community dances we do need music as well as a caller and I often end up playing tunes. Not a problem because I like playing the fiddle quite a lot, but I was feeling like I was lagging behind my other "classmates" from the class. This evening I got to program and call the entire evening at the Simonton Corners dance in Rockport, and it went really well. I felt good, I was prepared, and I had an awesome band to work with (Fiona Schubeck, John Cote, and Eric McDonald). My confidence got a big boost, and the dancers seemed to have a lot of fun which is a good way to get my name out there. I'll continue to be Richard's trusty side-kick whenever we get gigs together, but I feel happy knowing that I can hold my own!
In other news, I got to hang out a bit with the grandkids today, getting my much needed "Avery and Paige" fix... Avery is "Mr. Personality" with a story to be told about everything. We got to have lunch and then make butterscotch pudding, which he had never tried before but loved. Miss Paige is beautiful and sweet and cuddly and happy to just watch whatever is going on. It was a lovely day.

Dance All Night


We had so much fun last night at the regular 4th Friday dance in North Whitefield. The band was Calliope, and the caller was supposed to be Lisa Sieverts but she was ill... so John Alden, visiting from Cape Cod, agreed to fill in and what a treat we all had. Usually I'm ready to leave at intermission, seeking the comfort of sleep but I was truly ready to dance all night and forego the sleeping altogether. This morning? Back on the road to go see Avery and Paige!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Composing a Dance

While in Chesterfield, Jackson showed me a few dances that he learned in school and while we were discussing them, he asked if it was possible to write a dance himself, to which I replied, "Of course!" So, we started talking about some figures, and how they could go together, and how the dance could tell a story. What we came up with was a really cool contra dance that we named "Summer Storm" and it goes like this:

Summer Storm, Duple Improper or Proper, Circles of four from the top
By: Jackson Green & Pam Green


A1 Circle left once around
Circle right once around
A2 Partner allemande left
Long lines forward and back (3 steps with whoop and clap each way)
B1 Partner allemande right
Longlines forward and back again with whoop and clap twice as before
B2 1’s two hand turn
1’s arch, 2’s duck under to next neighbor

The idea is to start out pretty calm (the circles right and left), then crescendo into small whirlwinds that turn into thunderstorms, one after the other... then settling into a rainbow (the arch). We had a lot of fun coming up with this, and I'm looking forward to trying it out at a family dance sometime soon.

Home Again!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Virginia Beach

We are having a lovely day, relaxing in Virginia Beach. We went out to the Beach last night for a moonlit stroll in the sand and waves before a delicious dinner at Catch 31, and are taking it easy today at home with Joline and the family. The pool is perfect, refreshing and calming at the same time under overcast skies that are keeping the temperatures moderate. It's nice to have some time to hang out and have conversations in between everyone doing their thing - work stuff, newsletter stuff, dance stuff. A good visit!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Virginia Diner and NOAA

We've had a great day, taking a beautiful 3.5 mile walk through the Nature Trails and roads around Burray Road at the Highlands, going to the Virginia Diner for lunch, and then stopping at the NOAA weather station in Wakefield where we got an impromptu guided tour. This evening we went to Jackson and Jake's football practice and are watching a movie on the big screen television. Lots of fun!

Manassas Battlefield Park

We spent Sunday at the Manassas Battlefield Park where we saw Civil War artifacts, listened to a park guide, and walked some of the battlefield areas. We had visited this park a couple of years ago but didn't spend much time due to the lateness of our arrival and the weather. Today was sunny and hot, possibly like the day of the first battle in July of 1861. The soil, red and finely grained, easily produces dust as we walk along the paths and it is easy to imagine the landscape filled with the dust as thousands of soldiers and their horses kicked up the soil as they moved about. Add the screams of terror and death, the stench of torn and broken bodies, and the atmosphere of confusion and dread to the heat and dust - these were the conditions of that day so many years ago. There were hot, dry days this summer on Marshall Island when we were marching down the airfield, kicking up dust from the gravel, that I was reminded of battle conditions, and Sam and Ryan who have been overseas enduring conditions much, much worse. We are fortunate to live in peace and comfort because of the fortitude of those who have battled and continue to battle for us. Thank You!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Off We Go

Off we go! With barely time to get my camping laundry washed, dried, and folded - oh yeah, I still have to do that part - we are off on our next summer adventure TOGETHER this time! A very short week of travel will see us visiting family in Virginia, which will be oh so much fun... and we'll get to spend lots of time making up for being apart for the past couple of months :)To everyone else that I haven't seen in nearly two weeks, I'll see you soon!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Completed!

I completed my terms of service with the Maine Conservation Corps! I learned a lot of cool things like clearing trails, moving rocks, building rock staircases, putting in rock water bars, living outdoors for extended periods of time, Leave No Trace work ethics, and lots more. I also learned how much I appreciate being home with Richard and having amenities, as well as realizing how much I could do without and still be quite happy and content.
After a little road trip to visit some family, and spend some good quality time with Richard, I'll get ready to head back to the University for fall semester classes! It's been a quick summer season by being away so much, so I'm looking forward to enjoying the fall as much as possible!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New Pencils

I'm off for Seboomook Dam for a ten day work session - with new watercolor pencils in hand prepared to sketch a new set of scenes as I continue to journal through my summer. I have not done much while at home this break, there's been so much going on! As much as I miss home while I'm away, I love being immersed in nature and having time to capture moments on paper with colors. So with binoculars, magnifying glass, paper and pencils packed in with my tent, sleeping bag, clothes and boots I head out again this morning. This session will involve doing rock work, a new experience for me! I have also packed plenty of bug spray. While I don't know for sure what the status is up north, our woods are full of mosquitos and horse flies right now! Check back for a new post in a week and a half.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Every Little Bit...

I can't believe I'm doing this, but I'm responding to a political issue of sorts - not to directly support one presidential candidate or another, but to raise some questions on how we as Americans consider our position. First, I have to say that being away from radio and television for most of the summer has left me out of the news loop, so I'm responding to a piece of a conversation about whether Obama or McCain should become our next president based on their energy policy. In particular, to a comment that Obama should not become president if he thinks passing out tire pressure gauges is a way to start solving the energy crisis as opposed to McCain's desire to drill for oil in Alaska or off-shore Florida.
While large-scale, long-term solutions are necessary, I'm not sure I believe we should necessarily go drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive areas. If we are going to drill for oil, why not drill in the middle of cities or areas that are already highly concentrated in pollution and debris? This would make workers more readily available, putting thousands of unemployed people to work making good money rather than transporting and housing people many miles from their homes. It would be a way to revitalize a lot of cities, and oil rigs don't look that much different from the Eiffel Tower - architecturally appealing structures could actually enhance city skylines while providing jobs and boosting local economies. This would leave our wild areas still untouched for many more years to come.
Maximizing fuel efficiency by checking tire pressure is certainly a much smaller scale step in developing a strong energy policy, but one that can be employed by every single vehicle owner in the United States. Not only will it improve mpg, it shifts the mind-set from "What will the government do to fix this problem?" to "What else can I do to make a small difference that, with the efforts of others, will affect long term change?" Personally, I like the idea of people like you and me taking steps toward energy independence on foreign oil. I would love for there to be more alternatives available to the working middle class and the lower classes that were affordable and accessible. I would love for the upper class to take more advantage in securing alternative energies rather than buying bigger vehicles simply because they can afford to own them and operate them.
Maintaining optimal air pressure in tires is only one baby step, but add to that driving the speed limit, combining trips, carpooling, reducing consumption of disposable durables like electronics and plastic crap, buying locally produced goods, supporting community events that help families and neighbors have fun close to home, and many more things, these all add up to big changes for each of our households. Add each of these household's changes into groups and you have community changes and pretty soon the solutions show up regionally and nationally. Yeah, I think tire pressure gauges ARE the way to engage America, much more personally than having some nameless group of corporate sponsors blasting and drilling in areas in which we don't have to witness the devastation to our landscapes.
I admit that I am not up on all the political issues of the day, and I don't really know who I'll vote for. Tire pressure gauges without a more well-planned solution are no more good than defacing the environment behind the public's back... I hope there's a better solution that addresses both ends of the spectrum... large scale energy solutions that are considerate of the environment as well as small scale solutions that engage every American to make a more thoughtful choice today than they did yesterday in how they consume energy.
What do you think?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Waltz from Jarna

My first session out on the island, I brought my "boat" fiddle - the one that is less valuable and more appropriate for living in a tent. What I found was, after working for nine hours and then doing camp chores, there was little energy remaining for playing anything so I brought it home. I also brought harmonicas and a tin whistle, all with the same result - not being played. So, it's a real treat to be at home and have the fiddle (the nice one) on the table, ready to be played at any given moment.
SK returned to the States after a month's travel to Europe, bringing some lovely Swedish tunes back with her. It was fun to try some of them out myself, although I don't have the ear yet to figure out all the subtle nuances that make the music truly Swedish in sound. SK, however, has that gift and we enjoyed listening to her while she visited here.
Richard, Toby and I went to Portland yesterday afternoon in search of the Men's Wearhouse where Toby was to be fitted for a suit for Bryan and Erin's upcoming September 27th wedding. I used the GPS while Richard drove - my first time really using this particular unit (my previous experience was with Bryan's smaller Garmin) and I think I did quite well putting in way points and navigating through the various features, though I never did find out how to get the silly thing to stop avoiding the toll highway (it kept wanting to redirect me to I-295 which we kept wanting to avoid!). The trip was a success, and we even managed to find the art supply store where I found a new watercolor sketch pad and some new watercolor pencils that I love.
Bryan is flying in tonight for a weekend visit, possibly bringing his friend Raphael along. Raphael lives in Florida and the plan is for him to fly into Manchester at about the same time as B so they can finish the last leg of the journey, to Wayne, together. Bryan has lots of plans while he is here in Maine, the main one to attend the wedding of Paul Wilson and Cynthia Phinney on Saturday- it should be a beautiful ceremony and reception.
Jen, Avery and Paige will be coming this weekend as well - an overnight visit so we'll plenty of time to have a lot of fun! I'm looking forward to some good girl time with Jen, and some play time with the short people.
Today I'll be making pesto with basil I picked this morning (before the rain and thunder), cleaning the house up (taking care of the rest of my camping gear), perhaps writing and sketching a bit, and playing some tunes!
Waltz from Jarna comes from the Waltz Book, Volume Three.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good Bye to Marshall Island... for now

The Common Yellow Throat Warbler was an ever present fixture at our camp site near Long Point on Marshall Island, along with the Song Sparrow. Before sunrise, the sounds of the morning would start... the humming drone of diesel engines as lobstermen started hauling their traps, the rhythmic slapping of waves on the cobbled seawall, the constant toot of the foghorn every nine or ten seconds or so, and the witchity-witchity of the Common Yellow Throat.
This summer intership is about 3/4 over, the Marshall Island segment completely done. I've gained a wealth of information and experience from a variety of sources, each having their own particular slant on the concept of conservation, each with merit and each offering the opportunity for questions and ideas on the subject. I've also learned a lot about myself - that I can keep up with young people, that I am stronger than I imagined, that I can work well within the structure of a team, that I love the outdoors more than I ever knew. All good things.
I have a week off before heading north for my final session, that one will be at Seboomook Dam. Until then, I'm catching up with family and friends, doing laundry, enjoying this place I call home.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Logan Bread


I made this Logan bread from a recipe online - the photo is from the same web site - to take with me to the island. I have been buying granola bars, oatmeal packets, and granola cereal but decided to try and minimize my baggage this trip by consolidating breakfasts and snacks into this one hearty item. I used dried cranberries and chopped up dried apricots, along with some sunflower seeds. It tastes delicious! I have a couple packets of oatmeal and a little bit of granola cereal left from last week, I'll take them along for variety.

Thank You


I have intended to get thank you notes out for all the lovely birthday gifts, but I'm afraid I'm running out of time and may not get them out before I leave (there's still hope, but not much!) Just in case I don't finish them, I wanted to extend a warm "thanks" to everyone for the bouquet of flowers, pottery, letters and poems, cake, cookies, bread, pictures, rock, black walnuts, porcelain bowl, cards, hat, and photographs. I had requested hand made gifts this year, and was well rewarded. I loved everything, especially your thoughtfulness and creativity. The "Fireflies" picture was done by Avery.

Happy Shower!





Erin's packages arrived just in time for her bridal shower in California yesterday. Getting married and having families on opposite sides of the country can present a challenge when it comes to something like this, but our family has had some practice in absentee showers and parties over the years - children, nieces, and nephews living far away still have celebrations of which we like to be part. So, in June, we gathered here at our house with unwrapped gifts, piles of wrapping paper, and a table of party food and spent a lovely afternoon viewing presents and then wrapping them. We ended up with three cartons which were mailed out on July 7th, it seemed like plenty of time for them to travel to California for Erin's shower on July 19th. When I got home from the island on Wednesday, I checked the USPS web site to track the packages and was dismayed to see only that they had been "accepted" on July 7th! No other information! I kept checking online, made a trip to the local post office for more information, and then resigned myself to the fact that I'd done all I could, and the packages would either make it or not - because I leave for the island again on Monday, I wouldn't have any other chance to check on their location. Last night Bryan called to let me know that the packages finally arrived - at the end of the shower! Erin had opened all her gifts, and everyone was visiting and relaxing when the mailman arrived with three packages. Erin signed for them, and the party started all over again! The "Maine" gifts made quite a presentation all the way around! We're all happy that we could be part of Erin's big day in California yesterday!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sweet Fern

On the airstrip at the northern end of the island, there are sweet ferns growing abundantly. One day, our team leader picked enough to make a pot of tea. It was one of the few damp, rainy days we experienced there, and the tea was delicious - the first time I've ever had tea made from something freshly picked. Although I'm a coffee drinker in the morning, I started enjoying a cup of tea after dinner, even if it wasn't made from freshly picked sweet fern!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Home for a Few Days

We saw this ship crossing the bay during our lunch on Saturday... quite impressive on the water.

This is the beach at Sand Cove. The water was cool in spite of the hot sun of the day. There must have been a hundred sand dollars down near the water line... maybe it could be called Money Beach?




A lot has happened in the past ten days, most of which can be condensed into working on trails on Marshall Island. Sometimes the crew of seven works together to saw and clear blown down trees, and sometimes we split into a couple of groups to work in different areas of the island maintaining trails. Either way, there's a lot of physical labor and team camaraderie involved. We start our days at 7:00am and finish at 4:30pm, exhausted but happy that we've done good work. Evenings are spent doing chores like cooking, pumping drinking water, or cleaning up after dinner. It's nice to be home, however, to relax and catch up with Richard, friends and family.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Similar, Yet Different


It amazes me sometimes how similar we are, as humans, to one another and that similarity can actually be the cause of discourse! Maybe it's just that I have a hard time accepting my faults and prefer to see them in someone else :) Like these flowers, both yellow centered with white petals, both growing in the wild, both sturdy and beautiful - different sizes, different leaves, other subtle differences. Kind of like humans! I can't decide which one I'm more like today, the smaller flowers with delicate fringy petals grouped on one stem or the taller solitary flower that stands on its own stalk... maybe it doesn't really matter, maybe it's okay to just be a flower today!
I shared my Nature Journal briefly with my friend Robin this past week, and at her request I dropped it off for her to read and review while I'm away. When I dropped it off, she informed me that she had started her own journal and that her granddaughter also wanted one. I can not describe how happy it made me to have passed on this experience to others!
No new posts will be made for the ten days that I'm away, but you can be assured I'll continue to sketch and journal my activities on the island, and that I'll share a few highlights when I get back! And if anyone else out there is inclined to do so, jot down some thoughts and sketches to share with me!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Earth Star


Richard and I went exploring the wilds of Wayne and ended up at a desert-y sand dune not far from where we live. The dune is a glacial deposit left behind in a long esker-like ridge. The vegetation was primarily gray birch, white pine, black cherry, and poplar with some grasses and other things. As I was sketching some trees, Richard brought me some treasures, unidentified until I researched further at home and found out they are Collared Earthstars, an inedible mushroom. I was surprised because I thought they looked like a split nut. These Earthstars are primarily found in woodland litter.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Schoodic

Here's a sketch I did at Schoodic last month. I just got my journal back and wanted to share some of the things I'd done. I was pretty happy with this one, because when my dad saw it, he said," I know just where that is."

Are You Ready?

UnitedHealth cuts 2008 outlook as premiums slipWall Street heads to higher openStarbucks to close 600 US stores, rein in growthJune car sales plummet; more declines expectedBlockbuster withdraws plan to acquire Circuit CityManufacturers struggle to overcome rising pricesOil rises above $141Salvage yard haven for do-it-youself customers

These are all the headlines from this morning's Yahoo opening page. It was amazing to be out of touch with the news for a week, not so much during the week because honestly, we didn't miss having radio or television, staying busy instead with MCC work, camp chores, and experiencing nature. It wasn't until the ride home when we turned on the radio in the Suburban that we all looked at each other incredulously as we listened to the news - news that consisted of the same headline topics as Yahoo posted today. Scary and eerie news that should not be taken for granted and expected to be fixed by the government or even to iron itself out.
So, are you ready? How prepared are you to live simply? What does that mean for you? How much can you comfortably, or uncomfortably, cut out of your life? How will you react when you go to the store and the shelves are less full, or offer fewer choices? What does survival mean to you?
Heavy thoughts for so early in the morning, but I couldn't help but express my concerns and wonder how everyone else out there is mentally, and physically, dealing with what seems to be lurking around the corner...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Fieldy Meadow


This meadow is beside the forest where we camped on Marshall Island. The first couple of days we camped up on the hill at the abandoned air strip, but them moved down to this area where the tents would be more protected from the hot sun. The last few days were foggy and damp with some rain, so the forest also protected us from driving wetness. The meadow is full of grasses and thistles and bayberry, with beach pea near the rocky sea wall and scattered spruce trees here and there.
This morning, on Pine Needle Alley, I hear robins and blue jays and airplanes... different from the warblers and thrushes and crashing waves of the last week. And this morning, I will have at least two cups of coffee rather than the one I've had each day on the island. The hot shower felt good when I got home last night, and it's nice to be washing the smelly laundry. Primitive living is fun and I'm so happy to be having this MCC experience, but I have to admit, the comforts of home are pretty comfortable!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer on Marshall Pond

© Image property of Hale Kai Inc.
This photo shows Sand Beach on Marshall Island, my assignment with the Maine Conservation Corps. I completed my orientation today, and tomorrow morning at 7:00am I will be leaving with my team to spend nine days off the coast of Maine where we will be building and rebuilding trails and constructing tent platforms. It's an experience of a lifetime, and I'm really excited about it for a lot of reasons that are a little hard to put into words right now. There will be no posts while I'm away, but I promise to catch up with stories and sketches when I get back for a few days. I'll be going out on this island three times, for nine days each trip and then finish the season with a trip to Seboomook at the north edge of Moosehead Lake.
Summer on Marshall Pond is a tune written by Pam Weeks.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Marie Sauce ton Pain


I love the smell of homemade bread - the sweet, yeasty aroma fills the house with smiles and good cheer and warmth and all things good. I also love doing so many other things that making yeast bread from scratch doesn't make it to the top of my list very often. There's an easy way to make bread, however, and it produces the same smell and frame of mind as the kind that starts with all the ingredients in their separate packages... frozen bread dough!

Here's a new twist to make it even more special - add herbs or grains to the thawed dough for more flavor! Let the frozen loaf thaw completely; in a small bowl mix about 1/4 cup of your favorite dried or fresh herbs or mix of grains; oil and flour your favorite work counter; as you knead the dough, work in your special mixture until it is thoroughly blended, this will also mean you've worked out all the air and the bread will have a lovely smooth texture; form into whatever shape you want - loaf pan, rolls, long baguette, whatever; bake at 350' until golden on the top and golden on the underneath and hollow sounding when you tap it.
This time I put rosemary, garlic powder, and thyme into the herbed loaf; wheat germ and flax seed into the grainy loaf; and left one loaf plain. The aromas were wonderful, and the breads were delicious!
As well as baking bread, I've been sketching butterflies and catching up on household things while I watch the goldfinches in the feeders... an odd combination of activities that are somehow all connected under the category of "Life on the Alley."
Marie Sauce ton Pain is a really fun French tune that comes from the Portland Collection, volume two. I think this bread would be divine dipped in warm olive oil or in a hearty soup!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fit as a Fiddle


Yep, that's me, fit as a fiddle... which means I'm amazingly healthy for a forty-year old according to the doctor I saw today for my pre-employment physical. "Hehem," said I... "What about for a fifty-year old?" "Ah," he replied, "even better!"
So there you have it, I am ready to embark on a new journey for the summer, as an intern with the Maine Conservation Corps! Although I don't know many details, such as where I'll be or what I'll be doing or even when I will be coming home, I do know that I will be learning a lot about conservation of natural areas, effective methods of erosion control, and general trail maintenance in a variety of settings over the next two months.
The uncertain schedule has me unable to commit to much of anything until the middle of August. I have a couple of important things between now and then that I am hoping to be home for, but we'll have to see. My orientation and training takes place this coming Monday and I should know more then. In addition to steel toe boots, a rain coat, and assorted other clothing and equipment suggestions, they included such things on the list as a sense of humor, optimism, and instruments! Sounds like a great way to work away the summer!

For now, I feel great knowing that I am as healthy as I perceive myself to be!
Fit as a Fiddle is a contra dance written by the late Ted Sanella.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blue Jig


We spent the evening at a cool club in Portland called Blue... SK and her friends Julia and Glen were the featured performers, calling themselves "SK and the Experimental Scandinavian Jug Band Project" or something very close to that. They played some wonderful Swedish sets as well as Irish and other styles of music. After the early concert, the place opens up for session playing. Wednesday night is Irish, and I think there might be other themes on other nights. It's a pretty fun place, and the crowd tonight was all friendly and familiar as we've seen most of them at dances or at SK's place.
Blue Jig comes from the Portland Collection, Volume Two.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bertil Ferneborg Vals

I chose this Waltz title because it had the word 'fern' in it... I didn't find many ferns in the woods this morning. "No ferns in the woods?" you wonder. Well, no ferns in the areas I am studying. I have had this idea of doing a botanical field study since I lived in Fayette years ago. I started a study of our property this spring, thinking I would collect, press, and dry samples but it proved an incredibly tedious job that I could not keep up with. My recent introduction to sketching and field notes have given me new inspiration to study our property - I've marked out 10'x10' areas, three to start with, in which I am collecting data. What trees, ferns, mosses, and other plants are growing? How does the vegetation differ as the land contours change? What are the unnatural landmarks, such as stone walls, iron pins, and old rusted buckets buried in the leaves? What birds are singing and are there animals roaming about? The more I look, the more I want to see. Although I eventually plan to study the entire property, I realize it could take a long, long time at this rate - and that's okay. There will be plenty of casual walks and rambles in which I can get the big picture too.
Bertil Fernebor Vals comes from Waltz Book, Volume Two.

Monday, June 16, 2008

No Red Wing

I need to get some steel toed boots for my internship with the Conservation Corps. Kathie suggested we go to Winterport Boots in Brewer where they sell Red Wing boots - these are recommended not only by Kathie but by the Corps. We stopped at the New Balance store in Skowhegan on the way so we could see what they had to offer - they only had steel toed sneakers which aren't recommended. So, we continued on our way up the interstate. I might mention that any chance to go to the Bangor area is a welcome trip since I get to stop in and see the grandchildren. Even though Winterport Boots is NOT open on Monday - yeah, who would have guessed that!?- we had a lovely afternoon visiting with the family. Paige just gurgles and coos, occasionally stopping long enough to grin and laugh. Avery is full of stories and ideas - we constructed a cell phone tower with his tinker toys and read Dr Seuss books.
The quest for Red Wings and other items on my list of essentials will continue throughout the week. Lamey Wellehan has Wolverine steel toes that will probably work out fine if I don't get back up to Brewer, I'm not too worried about it.
Red Wing is an old tune that can be found in the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Off She Goes

My sisters and I have this profoundly wonderful ability to spring along through our lives, learning and experiencing as much as we possibly can, never really staying 'still' for very long. Deb's fiddle debut yesterday, after only two lessons, is a clear example - as a gift to dad (and mom too), we played a lovely little French piece with Deb playing harmony on fiddle, me playing melody on fiddle, and Kathie playing the chords on guitar (completely by ear since we didn't have any chords figured out). This morning, Kathie headed off for Denver for two weeks of training related to her work. Wendi recently started a new job with new challenges and opportunities. Joline just got her contractor's license, making it possible for her to advance in her position at work. Off we go into whatever new adventures are around the corner!
Off She Goes is a lively jig that can be found in the New England Fiddler's Repertoire.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

I've thought a lot about my dad these past few weeks as I've tromped around forest and field, looking at trees and other things. As kids, my sisters and I were part of a 4-H club, the Jug Hill Jack Rabbits. We got to choose some subject to learn about by doing projects - in addition to sewing and cooking (thanks mom for helping with those), I took outdoor projects like camping and forestry. I remember my dad going up over Jug Hill looking for just the right rocks to use for an in-ground barbecue pit, and helping me identify trees - collecting leaf and twig samples to assemble into a presentation board for the county fair. I'd forgotten a lot of the identifying features of even the most common trees, but I hadn't forgotten how much fun it was to figure it all out. So, thanks dad, for teaching me more than just mere facts about things - thanks for teaching me to love exploring and learning and appreciating nature.
Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Ruby Throated Hummingbird


This sketch from yesterday afternoon made me think of the way people see things, and how we try to describe them to one another. This ruby throated hummingbird, for example, does not have a ruby throat. To someone who didn't know what this bird was, it might be a point of contention that the description is incorrect, that it might be a hummingbird but the throat is actually green. To the person who knows about the ruby throats, the name is just a name, not a description - they also know that this bird is the female. Sometimes, conversations between two people wind up being difficult, I think, because the names and descriptions we put on things come from our different backgrounds and perspectives, neither one being right or wrong completely. I tend to want to state my case and prove, not so much that I am consumately correct, but that my perspective is as valid as the other persons. It's hard to let go of that, but I think I at least recognize what I'm doing these days! That's a start :)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hairy Woodpeckers


You may have noticed that my focus has shifted somewhat, in content as well as in the naming of posts. I'm still fiddling on what has become an irregular but still impassioned way, but I've also been outdoors a lot, especially since the fiddleheading expedition a month ago. I haven't been taking many photographs, relying instead on my senses for input, developing my skills at sketching the details.
These hairy woodpeckers (very similar to downies but bigger) can be heard and seen around here a lot. They happened to be hanging out near the driveway this morning, noticed as I sent Richard off for a day of site evaluation in South Harpswell. Me? I'll be working in the garden and the yard - so nice to have the Nature Writing class behind me! I'll probably tuck my field journal into my trusty hod, along with my other essentials like trowel, gloves, and insect repellent!