Sunday, November 23, 2008

"A duck...."

...that's what Milo would say, as we drove past these things.

All over town, we began to notice, there were these ducks. Okay, really, loons. Over time, we noticed more and more of them.

[this one is right down town, near the library]

Certainly, the first one we noticed was the one at the top of our very own street. Day after day, we'd drive by, noticing, but never stopping.

Finally, one day in October, I decided we needed to go on an adventure. Find them, photograph them, figure out how many there were. Pay a little more attention to them. I think Ray was away that day, and I hucked the kids in the car, and off we went, for a local drive.

We stopped first at the one that we consider "ours". Closer inspection revealed that it was the "Bass Shoe Duck". This town used to be home to the Bass Shoe factory, and this particular duck commemorates that, with its cobbler's apron, pictures of factory workers on the side, and, a tiny painted picture of one of the factories in the loon's eye.

All in all, we counted seven, I think. Later, we were at the town hall, and asked a few questions about the loons, and discovered that there are a total of twelve, though some of those are privately owned, and therefore might not be visible to passersby.

[this one resides outside the town hall, and has "blueberry" as its theme.]

Sometime in late October, they suddenly disappeared, gone for the winter, just like many of the real birds... We'll look forward to their return in the spring.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obligatory Fall Foliage Post

The strip of trees outside our house was spectacular, for days.

I actually think I took some of my best and most interesting fall foliage shots the weekend we went to Hancock Point to close up the house.

Then, we moved into the more brown and dull stage of fall, but even that has its beauty.

Including the beauty of taking our children out for a little walk, on a rainy morning that got less rainy and allowed them that classic childhood pleasure: throwing rocks into water.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Time to get blogging again

We've been back for months now, and have I posted? Not once.

Need to change that.

Lots of time spent getting ready for winter. Gathering food and wood. Two essentials.

Unfortunately, I don't actually have any photos of the "food gathering" efforts. But, one of the major ones was blueberry picking. We went, a number of times, to a local pick your own blueberry place. Picked pounds and pounds. In the end, between the blueberries picked this summer, and ones picked this fall, I think I have somewhere in the vicinity of 30 cups. Just the other night, after our quick weekend away to the south, we came home and ate blueberry waffles for supper (and watched ski movies, as we get psyched for winter...).

Thursday, July 3, 2008

It's Summer

So, I'll be taking a break from here.

You can find me here for the summer.

I'll be back in the fall.
Blue and yellow flower combo from the side of the road at Hancock Point. Just growing wild.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Ray was feeding Milo some pretzels the other day. Or, at least sitting with Milo while he ate some pretzels. He randomly started reading the label on the pretzels, noting that they were organic, and, then, with a slightly shocked tone, he says “hey, these are organic, and they came from Reny’s??!!”

I reply: “Yup. Amazing what you can find at Reny’s.”

I have to say, I was pretty damn excited about moving to a town with a Reny’s. For the last few summers, while at Hancock Point, I have been having a growing love affair with the Reny’s in Ellsworth. Just from an architectural standpoint, the one in downtown Farmington is way nicer looking – right on Main Street (which is actually called Broadway) and in an older more interesting looking building.

The Ellsworth Reny’s is right smack in the middle of one of the yuckier parking lot/strip malls. Oh well.

A partial list of things we have gotten at Reny’s this year includes:

Boots for both boys (one of the more expensive items - in the $30s. But, given the amount of snow we had, well worth it).

Snowpants for me and Ray. (I loved my snowpants this winter, and I think they were $20).

New juice glasses (69 cents a piece. Not kidding).

Sun hat for Milo ($3.99).

And on and on and on. You can find almost anything you want at Reny’s. And, it's cheap. Really.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Green :: Spring

Note: this post may just be a shameless excuse to post more pictures of the flowers and lawn I am currently enjoying so much. Its content may seem on the lame side. The real post I've got cooking in my head (just wait, you'll see, it'll be so much more deep and full of substance than this one) has to wait till I get the photos I need.

After moving to Colorado (back in the summer of 2002), we returned to Seattle the following spring, for the shorebird migration. I still vividly remember driving south from Sea-Tac (the airport), heading out towards the coast of Washington, and being amazed by how green it was. Coming from Colorado, it was a striking difference. Sure, Colorado has some green times, early in the spring, when the hot dry summer has not yet set in, and there is still some moisture left over from the winter. But, on the whole, you could not characterize Colorado as a particularly green place.

Here in Maine, this spring, I have been struck by the green, the quantity, the variety, the lushness all around.

And, of course, all the flower and bush blooming activity.

Ray was worried that our lawn was too much of a hill, too steep for good play activity. But, it turns out to be just fine, and he and Alden mowed their own little soccer field in the lawn.

Finally, Ray on his "portable deck", talking on the phone to his brother (portable deck: also known as the wagon-soon-to-become-a-woodshed... For the full story on that, see flickr. Really, the story starts here: at crowbar, and then on towards "destruction".).

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Introducing Ada and Lula. Or, a little bit about pond life

Alden yelled to me, one morning a little while back, to come and look, there were "some ducks on the pond." We have this little pond at the bottom of our backyard. Alden has a view of it from his bedroom window.

I loved it that he was doing a little birdwatching out his window, and up I went, to see what he was seeing. I figured it would be something boring, maybe not even a duck… I looked, and I looked again, and some more. Got the binoculars out and, after looking through them, decided that what he was seeing was something way more interesting than I ever could have imagined: mergansers. Wow. We made Ray get up and come look and his determination was a pair of hooded merganser hens.

We continued to see them for days, just in the early morning, before the day had really begun. After a number of visits, I said, "one more day of seeing them, and I’m going to name them." and, indeed, they showed up again. So, I give you Ada and Lula, our very own backyard hoodies.

Don't bother squinting: they are not in the pond in this picture. Sorry, never managed to get any pictures of them.

They did then stop coming. Sad. Although, as the days get longer and longer and the sun rises earlier and earlier, maybe it is just that they are there at dawn, but head out before we get up. Ray and I are also both pretty sure we saw at least one of them on a nearby body of water.

In other pond life and pond sightings: we have at least two resident turtles. The one I have seen is impressively big and suns himself on the edges of the pond when there’s good sun for sunning. Ray has seen two of them at one time, so we know there are more than one.

Wandering around and looking in to the pond we have seen fish and crayfish, quite a good number of them, in fact. Then of course there are the frogs, quite a few, cute little things. And, finally, our best recent sighting was of a pair of wood ducks, again, pretty early in the morning. They stuck around for a good long time that morning, and we were able to really get a good look at them. Sadly, they were only here that one morning (so far.)

Note: Ada and Lula are old family names on Ray’s sides. Once upon a time, if we had had a baby girl, we might have named her Ada. Some of you may also remember Esme, our resident nesting mommy robin, last spring in Colorado. Esme was another choice-name for a hypothetical baby girl. Apparently I am still trying to figure out ways to use those names I loved. So, if there’s a bird hanging around my backyard for more than a fleeting moment, I’ve got a good name for her!

New note: Closer inspection of the bird book (I prefer National Geographic), and a bit of actual reading of the labels reveals the possibility that this was not a pair of hens, as we suspected, but rather a male/female pair, with the male being "first spring", and therefore not yet in typical male plumage. So, perhaps Lula is not in fact Lula, but rather Lou, or Louis, or something like that.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Boston: April 2008

Lots of pro and con list making occurred, when we were deciding whether or not to move to Maine. On the “pro” side of things was “being closer to Anne”. Anne has been a good sport over the years, first flying out to Seattle, then to Colorado. But, in truth, she doesn’t love flying, and has long wanted us to live closer.

I also will admit (though she won’t be all that thrilled to hear it) that I also thought living closer to her as she gets older (shhhh… just say it in a whisper) might not be a bad idea. You know, I want to be a good daughter and all....


Small side story: out of the blue, last fall, she had the occasion to need emergency abdominal surgery. Don’t worry – she’s totally fine and everything was okay. But, there she was, in the hospital, and there was my saintly sister Samantha, going to see her every day and taking care of all sorts of details.

Well, wow, I thought to myself, here I am, just a few short hours away. Now I can do the helpful thing, something I never could have done had we been living in Colorado. So, I offered to go down to Boston to help. No no… Anne said. No no… Samantha said. We’ll be fine. Things are really okay.

Well, okay, I said… but, if you change your mind, or need me, let me know. I’m just three hours away, I really can come down.

Fast forward: Anne is just fine. The post-Christmas slump is approaching (not for me, just for the rest of the world. The skiing was so good here, the slump didn’t hit till about mid-April, okay, early April, when there was STILL feet and feet of snow on the ground), and I’m talking on the phone to my sister, one night. Out of the blue, she cheerily announces that “Mom’s taking me to Sanibel Island, Florida, in March.”

Whoa, wait, I say, what’s up with that?

Yeah, Sam says. You know, to thank me, for everything that I did when she was in the hospital after her surgery and all.

Hey, I said I’d come down and help, and you told me not to!!!

Okay, really, it’s okay, I’m not being totally fair. [But I just had to tell the story]. Mom says she wants to take us all on a trip next year. And, in truth, I have not been having any great Florida cravings lately, so it really is okay. But, here I am, all moved out east and ready to help, and when the call comes....

Anyway, back to the present:


I wanted to do something for April break, but, it needed to be easy and cheap. So, I decided that the thing to do was to head down to Boston, see Anne, and be tourists for a few days. Spring was coming pretty slowly up here in Maine, and I knew it would be warmer there, and that it would be good for us to get out of town for a bit. It's pretty easy to come up with lots of ideas for fun things to do in Boston (especially when there are still feet of snow on the ground in your own backyard, and Anne is talking about how she is out in her garden planting things). So, I planned to take the kids for a few days and leave Ray at home to work (poor guy).

We headed down on Monday afternoon, and proceeded to have a lovely three days, alternately being tourists: first up,

The Aquarium

then, the Peabody Museum, at Harvard, for Alden's current interest in all things Native American Indian.

On our last day, we met Sam and her kids at the Public Gardens, and took a ride on the swan boats, followed by the obligatory visit to the Make Way for Ducklings duck statues.

And, visiting local playgrounds and skateparks:

the first one, in the posher Arlington suburbs.

Then, on to the grittier Medford one:

and, then, Milo enjoying long distance communication at your better basic playground.

Truly lovely spring weather:

Anne took great care of us and Alden had a lot of fun at the skateparks. Actually, Milo did too, and upon arrival home, had to be pulled out of the car kicking and screaming all the while, going on about how he wanted to go to Grandma’s and the skatepark.
Way more pictures at flickr.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Endings and Beginnings

Well, in theory, it is the beginning of spring. Really, it is pretty hard to imagine spring, given how much snow there is on the ground still.

(not going to torture you with more snow photos, there really have been enough, I think)

But, Giffords opened, and that must be some sort of a sign of spring. In the fall, we ate A LOT of Giffords. An embarrassing amount. But it was so fun. So many flavors to choose from, all so good. It was exciting to see that they were going to open, and I quickly pulled over to take a picture. But, in truth, I don’t quite feel like it is ice-cream eating season yet.


Today was pretty much the end of the ski season for us. It was the last day at Titcomb, and Alden and I had a perfectly wonderful few hours skiing, while Milo was home napping and Ray was stuck at home (okay, home being the responsible adult for Milo, but, in truth, it was all planned as it was because Ray is on call at work, and is therefore tethered to his phone and computer, not really able to leave the immediate vicinity of the house.).

Titcomb was actually supposed to close last weekend, but, they stayed opened one more Saturday, because the conditions have been so good. We are quite sad that they are closed and that we have to be done with the winter fun that we have been having there. But, I guess it is a good thing that we had so much fun there in the first place. Only nine more months until they open again.


In other juxtapositions, there’s the indoor woodpile, with all the wood we’ll still need to burn, because it is still pretty damn cold.

And, there’s some seriously good late afternoon light – picture taken at about 6:00, or even a bit later.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Seven Days

Only in Maine. Only in Farmington. Only at Titcomb.

Alden and I, just for fun, set ourselves a goal, a challenge, really: ski every day for seven days (in a row, that is).

We did it (concessions, confessions, and more details below.)

It began on Saturday February 23rd.

Saturday: weekend, family skiing (which means the juggling - one parent with Milo, staying home at first and then heading to Titcomb, the other at Titcomb with Alden skiing. Lunch together as a family, parent switch, one person goes back home with Milo for the nap, the other gets to ski.)
[picture is of the "apparatus" at the top of the T-bar. I know it just looks like some strange contraption, which I suppose it is.]
Sunday: repeat of Saturday..

Monday: I pick up Alden from school, we head over for a few runs before going to get Milo.

Tuesday: Alden has his after school ski program. I go over during that, ski by myself for a bit, then he and I ski together after his program ends.

Wednesday: we have our x-c program this day. All season, Alden has been wanting to ski alpine after finishing with x-c. Today, we do it - switching skis at 5:20 or so, and heading up the T-bar for a little under the lights/in the snow skiing.

Thursday: repeat of Tuesday, though Alden skis after the program with Ray, while I manage Milo.

Friday: Annual Winter Fun Day for Alden's elementary school. They spend the day at Titcomb - you guessed it - skiing... Like I said at the beginning - only in Farmington...

That's seven days.

Concessions: I actually only managed 6 days. Alden and I would have needed to ski together after school on Friday for me to get seven. He was so wiped out by his full day of skiing that by then that he didn't want to ski more.

Confessions: Thursday, annual potluck for Alden's Alpine Snow Kids program. Milo ate really well (there were about 6 kinds of mac and cheese on offer. Toddler culinary paradise.) Alden was so busy skiing with Ray, and then playing outside with friends, he never even came in for the supper part. So, cake for supper when we got home. It was carrot cake, though, so, doesn't that make it sort of reasonable??)

more details: Alden went on to ski Saturday - on x-c skis, but hiking up and then skiing down a downhill trail; and then on Sunday we skied at Mt Abram - his first real "big" ski mountain experience.