Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sweet Smell of Early Summer...

The lilacs are in full bloom right now... too overpowering for me in closed spaces, but wonderfully sweet in the great outdoors. I love smelling them as I walk up to the house. I know Richard loves them, so I do too. My grandmother had a big stand of lilacs on the lawn she shared with her neighbor who happened to be my friend Robin's grandmother. That's how Robin and I met years and years ago, hanging out under the lilacs. One of my favorite color combinations is deep green and purple... coincidence or connection?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Workin' the Soil

It has been wonderful having a few days of rest and relaxation, and the time, space, and energy for "special projects". With the spring semester officially completed, and the May term class starting on Monday, we managed to use the five day interim effectively... rototilled and prepped the garden plot (and expanded it from last year), picnic on the beach, cleared off my desk, baked some bread (thank you Kathie), put up a couple of clotheslines and got ALL our laundry dried in the sunshine... and managed a couple of short afternoon naps and some walks through the woods.
The garden is looking really beautiful. We have just one more corner to plant with beans, and the peas and sunflowers on the north side of the plot. We built up a raised bed for the carrots to encourage them lengthwise, and hilled up the rows a bit for the other seeds so the walking trough is a little lower and more packed (hoping to deter weeds, I know it's a losing battle, but we'll see if this helps). The greenhouse starts got started late (thanks to a rigorous study schedule that distracted me from remembering to get out there), so we'll probably purchase a few starts from the local greenhouse... I'm hoping my late seedlings might produce a later crop if the season is long enough (and mild enough toward the end). I'm happy to have worked my summer schedule out so I can be home and tend to these things... add to that a couple of short term courses and an independent study, and this looks to be a super summer!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Caught in the Act...

Today was so nice and warm, we decided to make some sandwiches and head to Popham for a stroll along the beach... of course, it's always colder at the coast than inland and even though we brought sweatshirts, we decided to forego the walk until we'd at least eaten our supper. As we sat on the bench between the old fort and Spinneys, we noticed activity in the harbor... lots of activity. Seals, seals, and more seals were chasing, diving, slapping the water as they flipped around in what appeared to be either a lot of play or some courtship behavior. Judging from the many pairs forming, we think the latter. Amazing to witness it at all, but in such numbers! I don't know much about seals, but it looked like they all chose this harbor on this afternoon to choose a mate (one or more, I'm not sure).

Happy Birthday Mom

If you see my mom today, wish her a Happy Birthday :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another chapter...

This semester officially ended today as I took my final final :) A nice long weekend before starting the next class... we have quite a list of things to keep us busy! We started by having a "date night"... dinner at the Chuck Wagon and a movie- the new Star Trek film - which we both LOVED... highly recommend it. Richard got a jump on the chores list by getting a load of manure for the garden, and tilling it all in. He enlarged the plot so we can get a bit more growing space. He also installed two nice pulley clothes lines which we have already put into use... very nice!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

There's nothing like being a mom... it's one role that has no boundaries. There are a lot of things I'd try to be better at if I had the chance, but as I look at my now grown children, I'm not sure I'd really change anything. We're lucky- we've managed to maintain pretty close relationships through the years and be part of each other's lives even when the distance prevents regular face-to-face contact.
Watching my daughter join the ranks in motherhood has been a joy beyond measure and adds a wonderful dimension of understanding to our relationship. While my past parenting blunders will likely NOT be repeated by her, I feel like she maybe understands some of the incredible pressures and emotional choices that get made 'in the moment'.
My mom has been my baseline guide for how to be a good mother... we don't always agree 100%, and I don't always do what might be the 'right' thing, but there's still that lifelong influence underlying that has been developed through generations of women before us. My mother-in-law's ways or mothering are very similar to those I grew up with and I think that has helped us establish a good relationship.
So, for all the moms, alter-moms, young moms, old moms... happy mother's day.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Barefoot... or not

I woke up thinking about my carbon/ecological footprint- different models have different criteria and measure things a little diffeently. Regardless of which web site or calculation method we use, the results are similar... we all use a lot of natural resources to maintain our American lifestyle. This could be a long post, but I'm gonna keep it short, sweet, and simple.
Carbon shoes cost a lot of money... reducing your carbon footprint, even a little bit, will reduce strain on your budget. Buy less. Buy local. Turn off the lights. Walk around the block. Sit down and have a conversation with someone. Think about what kind of shoes you want to wear, and then put them on.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Flutter By

Add ImageI got to attend a workshop and training session for the Maine Butterfly Survey today, held at Colby College. By the end of the day, we were each given a net and collection packet... now to figure out how to perfect my swing... maybe A can give me some pointers based on t-ball :)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Living my true life...

I heard some awesome words on the Writer's Almanac this morning as I was driving in for lecture... "Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there." These are words of Gary Snyder, and they really rang true for me. So, I thought I'd share them with all of you.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

T-ball Season

It's T-ball season! Avery and his friends are learning how to play the game one step at a time. It was ridiculous how cute and funny they all were... the little girl with the pink glove, the little boy who ran to third every time he hit the ball (had to get re-directed), and the pile of kids jumping on the ball after it got hit... none of them thinking to throw it anywhere, just happy to stand up proudly from the midst of the pile with the ball held high above. I was thorougly entertained as they skipped, twirled and hopped their way from base to base and how they really listened to their coach when he asked them to do something. Miss Paige was not completely left out of the excitement, though we did manage to keep her off the playing field durig the 'game'. All in all, I was really happy I could get up there on a weekday afternoon (and happy that the rain held off so they could play).

Monday, May 04, 2009

Me n' my dad...

My mom took this photo of my dad and me on Friday afternoon. I'd stopped in on my way through after class, and dad had a plant for me to identify - turned out to be a woody invasive, Euonymus alatus. I was pretty happy to have made an instant and positive ID.
You can see from the photo that their garden plot is looking really good, much further along than ours so far! Another week until finals are over and I can really focus on getting the early seeds in (after Richard tills the soil of course). When I was a kid, my sisters and I were in 4-H and one of my favorite projects was Trees... my dad and I spent a lot of time walking around looking at tree bark and leaves. Who knew how much that would influence me so many years later!


We have a lot of oak trees on our property, mostly Northern Red Oak which until this winter I would have assumed to be ALL of our oaks. Closer inspection of the leaves, acorns and acorn caps, and buds leads me to think we probably have another species, or some hybridization of the red with something else. There are seven different species of oak known in Maine, and of those there are a few possibilities based on leaf shape, acorn details, and habitat. One of the possibilities is Scarlet Oak, but it has not been documented in our county (although it has been seen in neighboring Androscoggin County). One of the things I'm thinking about for the summer is a focused observational study of our oaks, to find out if indeed we have more than one species and to explore the hybridization process in oak trees. Jen was down yesterday with Avery & Paige, and managed to get a couple of soft whistles from blowing across acorn caps -- I'll work on that skill as well :)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Winter Fields and Forests

UMF hosts Symposium Day every years, it's an opportunity for students to present their creative and scholarly work, or research projects they've conducted over the academic year. I started a comprehensive study of our property, using what I learn through course work - it's a nice way to gain practical experience from lectures and reading. I began with a winter botanical study and survey of the plants on our property as well as the surrounding area. It's been an amazing winter, and it was a joy to put the presentation together and share it publicly. It was received better than I could ever have imagined - fellow students and faculty have offered very positive feedback, and several have said they're inspired to go out with a hand lens and see what they can find themselves... exactly what I'd hoped for. I thought I'd share a few sketches from teh preseentation.

Acer rubrum- Red Maple
Acer saccharum- Sugar Maple
I'm hoping, over the course of the summer, to put the sketches and the story online. Not right away though, I still have finals and an end-of-semester project to put together. Gotta go...