Monday, May 26, 2008


This morning we rambled out through the woods, taking note of some really awesome plants including jack-in-the-pulpit, lady's slipper, marsh blue violet and many varieties of fern. We also saw woodpecker holes in trees and a couple of pieces of small skulls (we're guessing we happened upon some wild animal's killing ground). In the afternoon we took the canoe out on Lovejoy Pond and had a lovely paddle.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Gang of Four

First, grades for the spring semester got posted which means I've officially completed my first full time semester of college! I'm really happy with the grades, especially the B+ in Computer Science, which was really difficult for me to understand. The past few months have been a lot of intense work - thanks everyone for supporting me in so many ways!
Second, I did not get the intern position I'd applied for. I'm pretty bummed about that, but as I have been reminded, things happen for a reason and there's something else around the corner. Any ideas out there? I'm interested in working in my field, fairly broad at the moment, which includes: the environment, ecology, nature, writing, plant biology, being outdoors, or anything else even slightly related to one or more of these topics.
Third, I'm enjoying the May class, a four week Nature Writing course. It's intense, and fun, and interesting - what more could I ask for?! We go out on a field trip every day, taking field notes and then writing about the experience. So far we've wandered around campus, toured the campus arboretum, visited an apple orchard, and gone to a gentleman's farm. Other planned trips include hiking along the Temple Stream, going to the Chesterville Bog, visiting the DEW animal kingdom, spending four days at the Schoodic Research Center at Acadia, traveling out to Parker Pond, and floating down the Sandy River!
Fourth, it's gardening season and we're working in the yard. Pruning and trimming along the driveway has begun - the rain this week means we can burn the brush pile that is accumulating. Richard is getting the bigger garden ready for the season, making plans for vegetables to eat and store for the coming winter season. He's also been cutting firewood. My efforts have been directed toward the perennial bed, thinning out large clumps of lilies and other plants, sharing and transplanting the excess. I have one small patch reserved for a "salad garden" where I'll put in some tomatoes, lettuce, radishes and such.
Gang of Four is a dance by Gene Hubert.

Monday, May 19, 2008


I moved my desk downstairs early this spring, still trying to find just the right place to work in this house we bought two years ago. Displacing the table from the dining room into the living room creates just the right amount of space for my desk and study materials... and now I work surrounded by windows and light... and I'm privy to all comings and goings of the household (rather than working in a room upstairs, off by myself, which may appeal to some folk). Not only am I handy to the coffee pot, but my desk faces the greenhouse and the gardens~ easy inspiration and relaxation when I need a momentary break. And, sometimes, unexpected activity demands a break such as the day when a flock of blue jays descended around our house, swarming round and round, swooping up into the trees and gliding down in sweeping circles in front of the greenhouse. I had never witnessed this many jays together before! Their brilliant blue against the green of the trees, their playful air-capades, their tolerance of the finches and robins and phoebes who daily share our yard... a bit of play time in nature.
I'd forgotten about it until I noticed this photo, so I thought I'd share. Have any faithful readers seen blue jays like this? Though the photo shows four, I think there must have been at least 10-12 total.
Bluejay is a tune from the Portland Collection.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Anniversary Reel

Saturday afternoon found us in nearby Mt Vernon calling a few dances as part of an 10 year anniversary celebration. Lovely music was played by John Pranio and Paul D'Alessio at the Mt Vernon Community Center, and we called some fun, easy dances - La Bastringue, Galopede, Family Contra, and The Wheel. Though we were only there for a short time, it was evident this was a celebration of more than just this couple's ten years of marriage. This was a celebration of family and friends, of love and loss, and especially of the connections and relationships that sustain and encourage through times of joy and sadness. The bride said to me when we got there that ten years might not mean a lot to some people, but it had not all been easy and it was time for an anniversary party, or something to that effect.
So, why wait for the BIG DAY? Why wait for the 25th, or 50th birthday or anniversary? Not that we shouldn't celebrate those milestones too, but maybe each day could be shared and celebrated! One of my favorite marketing logos is Pepperidge Farms' "Never have an ordinary day." Use the good dishes, take out the cloth napkins, light the candles at dinner, pick a bouquet of wildflowers... CELEBRATE LIFE and SHARE THE JOY!
Anniversary Reel is a dance written by Ted & Jean Sanella who had been married over 40 years.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mr & Mrs Ma"cLean" of Snaigow

I know this post title is a stretch on the use of a fiddle tune, but it's the best I could find this morning! The theme of this week at home has been spring cleaning, and I'm happy to say we are just about caught up.
It feels really good to wash the windows, clean and reorganize the closets, paint a room, and clear off my desk. All the assignments and papers from last semester's classes got stored in a binder for easy reference. I'm doing pretty good at collecting and pressing plants from the property, although it is a fairly involved process and requires some attention every few days.
Errands will occupy my morning, and the afternoon will likely find me in the yard putting in some dahlia bulbs and zinnia seeds shared with me by my mom (thanks!).
So, you can, if you like, call me Ma cLean this week. Once a new class starts (and hopefully a summer intern position somewhere), I'm not sure how caught up I'll stay on house and yard work... enough, I suppose, to get by and enjoy the journey!
Mr. and Mrs. MaClean of Snaigow comes from the Waltz Book, Third Volume (the red book).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Happy Birthday...

Happy Birthday mom :)
Your energy and enthusiasm for living life to its fullest at any given moment have carried on to your daughters and grandchildren... these are two of the qualities I like best about us as a family and qualities I am drawn to in others.
Here's to another wonderful year! We love you!

Good for the Tongue

This is finals week, and although I have a couple of papers due on Friday, the rest of my week has been oh-so-carefree! Last night I decided to make a nice dinner, something I haven't had the time or mental energy for (thankfully, Richard likes to cook and has taken on that task). I like to create interesting meals using whatever ingredients are on hand, but I also love trying out new recipes from magazines and cookbooks. Disregard the green beans in this photo, they were NOT on our menu - the carrots, however, are worth paying attention to.The basic recipe came from Martha Stewart's everyday FOOD magazine on page 118 of the May 2008 issue (thanks Jen) with a very slight variation. Here's what you need to do:
Preheat oven to 450'F. (I did mine at 400' because I was nervous about charring eveything. This worked out fine.)
  • 1 1/2 lbs carrots, cut on the diagonal into 2" lengths and halved lengthwise if thick
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 TBSP honey

I used about 5 carrots because that's what we had. Toss with the olive oil, sprinkle with pepper. I don't use salt when cooking but I did add a handful of freshly chopped chives from the garden. I baked this for about 15 minutes or so, and then added 4 asparagus stalks from our garden, sliced on the diagonal like the carrots and continued baking for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and toss with the honey.

We both loved this recipe and I know I'll be making it again. The fun thing was adding the chives and asparagus... it didn't take anything away from the carrots at all. I served this with mixed wild rice and sauteed pork steaks with caramelized onions (my pork steak also had feta cheese) Mmmmm.

Good for the Tongue is a lively reel from the Portland Collection.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day...

Of all the great and wonderful experiences in my life, thus far, being a mom has been the most fun, the most work, the most rewarding, and the one thing I wouldn't have traded one single moment for... my favorite image of being a mom is having all three kids scrubbed clean, dressed in pajamas fresh from the clothesline, ready for a story for bed. I know, it's just one small moment in a string of many years, but it's still my favorite :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Last Gasp

One of the classes I just finished was about oil - a timely subject given the high price of gasoline and speculation on the actual amount of oil reserves left in the world. I'm glad I took the class because I learned a lot. Not nearly enough, but a lot. Our oil-dependent culture is in big trouble and it's not anything new. Somehow we, and I include myself here, think it'll all work out and there will be another answer when the time comes. I'm kind of wondering if the time isn't coming soon.
So, I thought I'd share a few things that I found interesting. Out of a 42 gallon barrel of oil, over half gets refined into fuel products like gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. Another portion is refined for heating products, kerosene, and road materials. A fairly small but significant amount gets refined into petrochemicals which are not only environmentally unfriendly, they make up some pretty important consumer goods. Some of them we can imagine doing without but some of them are quite essential. Here's a list of things made from petrochemicals. You be the judge of what your alternative would be:
Roofing material, guitar strings, cold cream, ice chests, sun glasses, cameras, fishing rods, clothing, yarn, candles... not so bad, huh?
Well, how about shaving cream, toothpaste, dentures, anesthetics, antihistamines, vitamin capsules, tires, aspirin, detergents?
Anyone ready to give up heart valves, catheter lines, IV bags, or artificial limbs?
How about asking agriculture to operate without fertilizers, pesticides, or refrigerants used to keep perishables fresh?
These are just a few things made from petrochemicals. So, I just thought I'd share....

Monday, May 05, 2008

Ways of the World

Today was the last "Global Transformations" class! This started out as a difficult class due to the complexity of the material presented, but has become more interesting as the semester progressed. All that's left now is a take-home final... and three other classes that continue to meet all week! This is the home stretch of my first full-time semester of classes since the 1980s. I've gotten a broad range of subject matter and learned a lot. I'll be at my computer revising about 6 essays for final submission... right after I say hello to Richard who has been very supportive and patient with me since January!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Delphiniums and Daisies

This morning I started a long-thought of project designed in my mind many years ago while living in a neighboring town - to do a formal study of all the plants and observe as many birds and animals as possible over the course of a year and compile some sort of scrapbook that might include sketches and photographs as well as some short stories or poems. For whatever reason, I never did start the project but it has resurfaced many times over the years. Last year we talked about doing it together, but again for some reason never did it.

Today we started the project by collecting several samples, mostly of flowering plants but also of some non-flowering specimens. We have a press made of hardwood floor samples that we secure with clamps. A journal will note weather conditions and locations of collection sites. We will attempt to photograph birds and other non-specimen data as much as possible. By conducting the project over the course of the year, we hope to have a broad base of information to use as comparison in the future as well as establish long term awareness and connection to the natural world around us. Although we are fortunate to live in the woods, this kind of project could be done anywhere - in your yard, in a neighboring park, or a wildlife area. While it can be conducted as a solo project, sharing the process strengthens connections within a family or a community. Have any blog-readers out there done something like this? Ideas or suggestions?
Delphiniums & Daisies is a contradance written by Tanya Rosenberg.