You Might as Well Jump

For six days of the week, Clif and I eat a healthy, plant-based diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit, legumes, and salads. However, on the seventh day, we rest and eat what we want. We find that a regular splurge once a week keeps us on the straight and narrow the rest of the time.

This week, our splurge was at the incomparable Red Barn, where the fried food is so fresh and so reasonably priced that it has almost become a landmark in central Maine. All right.  Maybe I’m exaggerating just a little bit, but I’m not kidding about the quality of the food and the prices. For a treat, the Red Barn is the place to go.

On Saturday’s trip to the Red Barn, we had mixed veggies—I guess we can’t totally get away from our plant-based diet—and homemade chips. Oh my, they were good.

The place was packed. All the tables were taken, and we had to sit on stools at the long counter in the new addition.

A woman who worked there was wiping the counter, and I asked her, “Is there any time when the Red Barn isn’t packed?”

“Not in the summer, ” she said. “It’s like this all the time.”

And why not? For the veggies, the chips, a drink that we shared, and a whoopie pie we split, the bill came to $11. Plus this is a very local business that pays its employees well. What’s not to like?

While we ate, it rained. The counter where we sat runs below a long bank of windows overlooking the parking lot, and we watched people hurry back and forth from their cars. Trees line the edge of the parking lot, and we saw two small birds—we couldn’t tell what they were from that distance—harass a crow.

By the time we were done eating, the rain had stopped, and we decided to go to Hallowell, to the long concrete deck by the Kennebec River, to see if the sturgeons were jumping.

Sturgeons are a fish that has been around since prehistoric times, and they do indeed look like ancient ones. They are an endangered species, but but according the website Maine Rivers. “the Kennebec River has some of the best habitat for sturgeon in Maine. When Edwards Dam was removed…the sturgeon regained access to their full historic range on the river. In time, these spawning grounds may help the fish to recover. ”

In late June, early July, the sturgeons spawn and jump. Did they jump for us? They did not. All we saw was were some big ripples and an occasional flash of white. But no leaping prehistoric-looking fish.

For some great pictures of jumping sturgeons, here’s a link to a website by Linwood Riggs, a Maine photographer.

And to the sturgeons, here’s a song for you, a blast from the 1980s by Van Halen.

Yeah, sturgeons, you might as well jump.



Three Things Thursday: Winning a Book, A Literary Conversation with a Blogging Friend, Jeeves & Wooster

Three Things Thursday is a  weekly tribute to being grateful for the good things in life. This tradition was  started by Emily of Nerd in the Brain and is currently hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.  

First, a book I won from Stafford County Master Gardener Association. This was a thrill on many levels, and could probably be used for all three things. Who doesn’t like to win a prize? Who doesn’t like to win a book? And, this particular book—Vertical Vegetable Gardening by Chris McLaughlin–is perfect for my part sun/part shade/part ledge, quite small yard. Anyway, many thanks Stafford Master Gardner Association! Such a treat to get the book.

But, there are other things to be grateful for, especially a recent conversation—via the Internet—I had with one of my blogging friends, Sandra from Wild Daffodil. Sandra wrote a post called “Fiction,” where she described Norah Pulling’s Miss Richards’ Mouse, a book from childhood that both scared and fascinated her.  As I enjoy reading children’s books every bit as much as I enjoy books for adults, I decided to see if Miss Richards’ Mouse was available in our library system. Unfortunately, it isn’t, but on doing further research I discovered that the illustrator, Susan Einzig, also illustrated Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philipa Pearce. I just happen to own Tom’s Midnight Garden, and it is one of my favorites, a lovely fantasy that involves time travel. As my own novel Maya and the Book of Everything illustrates, time travel is a subject I am particularly keen on. Anyway, how wonderful to have a literary conversation with a blogging friend. And Sandra, you might be interested in knowing that the illustrations in Tom’s Midnight Garden are nowhere near as dark as they are for Miss Richards’ Mouse.

Speaking of dark…when it comes to television shows and movies, my tastes can be a little dark. Clif and I just whipped through The Walking Dead, and I have a weakness for dystopian fiction. However,  I occasionally need a bit of humor and light to add some zing and fun to my life, and this brings me to my third thing to be grateful for: The television series Jeeves & Wooster, based on novels by P.G. Wodehouse. I had watched Jeeves & Wooster when it first came out in the 1990s, and I wondered if the series had stood the test of time. I was able to get the complete series via interlibrary loan, and readers, I am happy to report Jeeves & Wooster is still very funny. Stephen Fry, as the all knowing, very controlling butler Jeeves, and Hugh Laurie, as the dimwitted but endearing aristocrat Bertie Wooster, are the perfect team. Jeeves is the straight man, Wooster is the wild guy, and the show skips along with impeccable timing as Jeeves rescues Bertie from one scrape after another. The dialogue is so fast and funny that at times Clif and I actually laugh out loud. Besides, where else are you going to hear the farewell, “Tootle pip”?

Turtle Dreams

Yesterday’s bike ride seemed as though it would be a bust. The air was so heavy and humid that my chest felt constricted. And then there was the heat, which could only be called oppressive.

“Let’s go on a short ride,” I said, and Clif concurred.

We were both disappointed as we are trying to build strength to go on longer rides. But  neither of us had the stamina to tackle hills in the face of such heat and humidity.

“No matter,” Clif said. “There will be other days.”

On our rides, I almost always bring my camera. (One of the benefits of having a small camera is that it can be tucked into a bike bag.)  Much of our ride goes by Maranacook Lake, and you never know what you are going to see: Herons, loons, ducks, geese.

And turtles. We were almost back to the parking lot when I spotted this turtle, resting on a rock. This is a painted turtle, I think, but if anyone knows otherwise, don’t be afraid to comment.

What dreams go through the turtle’s head, I wonder? Dark water, food, finding a mate, avoiding danger? The lives of wild animals are often hard, yet there are moments of relative peace, as this resting turtle shows.

For this human, yesterday’s bike ride was a good lesson—even on a short excursion there is plenty to notice.

Happy Birthday, Meridians!

On Saturday, Clif and I went to the town of Fairfield, about thirty miles away, to celebrate the third birthday of Meridians. a snappy wine, beer, and food shop owned by the son-in-law of some friends. Because of the distance, Clif and I don’t go to Meridians often, but we always enjoy this local shop whenever we do visit.

For the third birthday celebration, there were beer and wine tastings plus utterly delicious chicken tacos courtesy of Outland Farm in Pittsfield.

Here are some pictures of the event.

A happy little crowd tasting wine, beer, and chicken tacos.

An Asian chicken taco with slaw and a zesty peanut sauce. I could have one right now.

Michael and Heather Holland, the owners of Outland Farm. How lucky Maine is to have such a wealth of young farmers. At their farm, along with chickens and pigs, Mike and Heather have apple and peach orchards as well as other varieties of fruit. We will definitely be making a trip to Outland Farm when the peaches are ready. Oh, fresh peaches!

One of the great things about a wine or beer tasting is that you actually get to sample different types that you probably have never tried. I’m not a beer drinker, but Clif is, and he found a beer he really liked that was brewed in Bend, Oregon. Naturally Clif bought a four pack, and what better place to drink beer than on our own patio?

A very happy birthday, Meridians! May you have many, many more.

Three Things Thursday: Summer, Dragonflies, Irises

Three Things Thursday is a  weekly tribute to being grateful for the good things in life. This tradition was  started by Emily of Nerd in the Brain and is currently hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

First and foremost, summer, beautiful summer is here. And although we had a couple of brutally hot days, the weather has turned delightful—warm and sunny during the day and cool at night. Despite the sometimes stifling heat, I love this time of biking, patio days, and flowers.

Second, the dragonflies are here, and they have come in squadrons, zooming, zipping, and nearly hitting us as we bike. But those daredevils pull up at the last minute. They are expert pilots, and it makes me laugh just to watch them dip and dive. The fact that dragonflies eat lots and lots of mosquitoes makes me even more grateful for their arrival. Welcome, welcome, dragonflies!

Third, when irises are in bloom, I am always grateful,  and right now my irises are abloom. They are gone too soon, but while they are here, how I love them. I know. I’ve featured them in previous posts,  but I just can’t help myself.

A bonus: Chives, because you can never have too many flowers.

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