Birds on the Lake

Despite being quite built up—at least for Maine—Maranacook Lake attracts various kinds of birds. On a bike ride not long ago, I took pictures of three different kinds of birds.

The first was a seagull. I guess nobody told this bird that the ocean is about fifty miles away.IMG_4383

The second was a blue heron. The lakes and ponds around Winthrop have many blue herons, but I don’t usually seem on someone’s float. This bird very obligingly posed and gave me plenty of time to get a picture.

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The third was a loon, and as with blue herons, we have many loons in Winthrop. At night, Clif and I can hear them as we sit on our patio. Unfortunately, this bird was too far out for my little camera to get a good shot.

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Summer continues to ebb, but the heat and humidity stubbornly persist. Supposedly, a cold front is coming to clear the air. It can’t come too soon for me.

In the meantime, I work on my YA fantasy, Maya and the Book of Everything. Clif has set me up with Google Translate so that I can hear my story read back to me. LibreOffice, the word processor I use, has a read text extension for Google Translate so that my English text is read back to me in English. I expect other programs have a similar feature for Google Translate.

Sometimes the pronunciations are a little funny, and there are glitches from time to time. But all in all, the Google Translate voice is very good, and I have found it enormously helpful just to listen, not to read, Maya and the Book of Everything. I’ve caught a mistake or two, and it really makes me aware of the cadence of my prose. I would highly recommend Google Translate as a useful tool for anyone who is working on a book. It’s slow going, but that’s just fine with me. Too much speeding during the editing process can lead to undetected errors.

Finally, in honor of National Dog Day, here’s a picture of my dog-buddy Liam. He’s unfortunately dealing with a major infirmity, which I will write about more in another post.  But he’s still our boy, and we still love him.

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Hydrangeas, Rose Petals, and Little Red Apples: Late Summer in Maine

Summer is winding down, and as always, I have mixed feelings about this. The days are getting shorter, and already I miss the extra light. In the summer at day’s end, Clif and I like to sit on the patio, have drinks, and chat. Only a month or so left where we’ll be able to do that. Our time for barbecues and grilled bread is also winding down. The gardens are looking ragged.

On the other hand, this summer has been very hot and humid, and I am ready for cooler weather. By late afternoon, both Clif and I are zapped. It’s been this way in Maine for several years—quite unlike summers when I was young—and it’s my guess that this is the new norm for Maine. The bonus: September has become utterly delightful, almost like “old” August, and this means we can squeeze in a few more patio gatherings than we could in year’s past.

Whatever the season, there is always something interesting to see by the lake where we park the car when we go on our bike ride.

Looking out onto the lake.

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Oh, hydrangeas!

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A closer look.

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Closer still.

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Hanging rose petals.

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Little red apples. (In the spring, I took a picture of this tree when it was a froth of white.)

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More Work On Maya and the Book of Everything

This week (and perhaps next week), I won’t be posting many pieces on the blog. All of my writing energy will be spent on Maya and the Book of Everything as I work on the final editing. How exciting it all is, but I must admit I’m also a bundle of nerves. However, as I mentioned in reply to one of the comments about Maya, I’ve been working toward this for a very long time.

With all the work on Maya, there will be no homemade bread (to my husband’s dismay). It will be an English muffin kind of week. Meals will be very simple. Only the minimum housework will be done to keep the house clean.

Onward, onward!

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But I always make time to take pictures of flowers.

 

 

First Draft of the Cover for Maya and the Book of Everything

Even though it’s still early, today has been a most exciting day for me. I received the first draft of the cover for my YA fantasy, Maya and the Book of Everything. Simply put, the cover is beautiful. I know. All mothers think their children are beautiful, but this cover—a rich blue with a book motif—really and truly is. I even love the font that was chosen.

Just seeing the first draft of the cover has put me in a happy state of jitters, and it will be hard to focus on anything else. But, cover or not, the laundry needs to be hung, and we will be going for a bike ride on this fine summer day.

As soon as the cover is finalized, I will post an image of it on this blog. This means, dear readers, that aside from family, you will be the first to see it.

Exciting times, indeed!

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Book cover or not, the laundry must be hung to dry.

 

 

Cocoa Muffins in New Silicone Muffin Cups

The day before yesterday, our friend Diane surprised us with a gift of twelve silicone muffin cups. Thanks so much, Diane!

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Naturally I had to immediately try them out, and at Clif’s insistence, I made cocoa muffins, which are really a dessert but with less fat and sugar than a cupcake. To guild the lily, I added three-quarters of a cup of chocolate chip, placed half a pecan on each muffin, and sprinkled the tops with a bit of sugar.

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The results? “Pretty darned good,” Clif said.

And best of all, there was hardly any sticking. I let the muffins cool and peeled away the silicone cups. Voilà!  Perfect little muffins with no bottoms left behind.

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Cocoa Muffins with Chocolate Chips

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 3/4 cup of chocolate chips
  • 12 pecan halves (optional)
  • Sugar for sprinkling on top of the muffins

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in medium-size bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg.
  4. Beat the vegetable oil and milk into the egg.
  5. Stir in the sugar.
  6. Sift dry ingredients into the wet mixture.
  7. Stir just until the ingredients are mixed. Do not overstir or muffins will be tough.
  8. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  9. Put the batter in either a greased muffin tin or ungreased silicone cups. (Makes twelve medium-size muffins.)
  10. Place pecan half on top.
  11. Sprinkle the tops with sugar.
  12. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  13. If using a traditional muffin tin, let cool for five minutes before removing muffins. If using the silicone cups, let the muffins cool completely before removing from the cups.
  14. Butter, of course, goes with any kind of muffin, but berry jam tastes pretty darned good with these muffins, too.

 

 

A Curve of White Through Yellow, a Leg Full of Pollen

Summer is winding down, and so are the gardens at the little house in the big woods, which are at their best in June and July. Still, despite their raggedness, there are still things to admire and find in the garden.

This curve of white through yellow.

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This leg full of pollen.

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The crickets sing, the grasshoppers buzz, and the yellow jackets, out in force this year, pester us when we eat on the patio. (Not everything is sublime at the little house in the big woods.)

Such a sweet, sad time of year, when the dark comes earlier and earlier.  I love fall and the crisp energy it brings, but I am always sorry to say farewell, for another year, to the flowers and the hummingbirds and the loons.

 

A blog about nature, home, community, the environment, food, and rural life.

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