All posts by Laurie Graves

I write about nature, food, the environment, home, family, community, and people.

Three Things Thursday: Daylilies, Daylilies, Daylilies

My weekly exercise in gratitude, or as some of my blogging friends put it, three things that made me smile this week.

First, second, and third: my August- blooming daylilies. All right. I know this is a bit of a cheat, but after the week this country has had, I really needed a soothing dose of beauty. It makes up, at least a little, for all the ugliness that seems to be always on the verge of erupting.

But back to the daylilies and beauty. Truth be told, my front yard doesn’t receive quite enough sun for daylilies to thrive, yet still I plant them. The lilies don’t bloom profusely, but I enjoy whatever beauty they give me. (Surely there is a lesson in this.) The other day was a bright, overcast day, which meant the light was perfect for taking pictures of flowers. Here are three of my August-blooming lilies.

Just looking at the pictures of these three ephemeral beauties makes me smile.

A Food Tour in Portland, Maine

Yesterday, Clif and I went to Portland for a food tour. Our state’s largest city, Portland is known for, among other things, the quality of its food and beer. Our daughter Dee gave us this tour as a Christmas present, but neither of us fancied walking around Portland in slush and snow. So we waited until August, when the weather was suitably warm, and I could also call it a pre-birthday celebration.  (Remember, our credo is to celebrate early and often.)

A little backstory: I am, ahem, more than a little obsessed with food, so for me it is a perfect day when I can go from store to store and sample food. One of the happiest days of my life was when we visited Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, New York. As we approached the huge parking lot, and I saw what appeared to be acres of food stalls and food trucks, my heart began to beat with excitement. But I digress. Fortunately for me, Clif is what my mother called “a good eater,” and his enthusiasm for a foodie tour almost matches mine.

Here then, captured in photos, is the food tour we took yesterday.

Vervacious was our first stop, where we had lobster mac and cheese and got to sample some of their delectable spices and balsamic vinegar. (Clif is to the left of the sign.)

After that it was time for chocolate from Dean’s Sweets—salted caramel and a chocolate coconut truffle. Oh, deliciousness! (Clif is again on the left.)

Then onward to the Public Market House, which features many vendors under one roof.  I had a tasty squash soup. (Clif had something else, but I didn’t get a picture of it.)

And a sort of Maine/Thai fusion dish—sticky rice with coconut milk and blueberries. Very good!

Our penultimate stop—Stonewall Kitchen, for scones with blueberry preserves.

Finally, to Bull Feeney’s, an Irish Pub, for beer and Scotch eggs. Two confessions: I am not a beer drinker—I prefer cocktails—but I was more than happy to give my beer to Clif. Also, I have never had Scotch eggs before. In fact, I was only dimly aware of what they were. But I am an egg lover, and eggs done any way are just fine with me.

So there we have it. As my Yankee husband noted, a pretty darned good day.



Three Things Thursday: Agents of Field, A Veggie Spiralizer, Maine Authors Section at My Library

My weekly tribute to gratitude…

First, the wonderfully snappy blog, Agents of Field, where Agent Ade and Agent Sophie write about their allotment (community garden in the U.S.), vegetables, cooking, and their love of gardening in general. In a recent post, Agent Sohpie extolled the virtues of her veggie spiralizer, which she bought for just over ten pounds at a grocery store. She included a very tasty soup recipe, which featured spiralized zucchini—or courgettes, as they call them across the pond. For quite a while, I had been thinking about buying a veggie spiralizer, and Agent Sophie gave me just the nudge I needed.

This brings my to my second thing to be grateful for—my very own veggie spiralizer. We ordered one from Amazon, and it arrived a few days ago. It’s handheld, cost $13, and works like a charm. Clif and I have been spiralizing like crazy, and last night I made a tasty little salad using zucchini spirals, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pretty tasty!

I really like the idea of using spiralized zucchini or yellow squash in a soup, and as soon as the weather cools down a bit, I’ll use them in soup, too.

Many thanks, Agent Sophie!

Third, and on a completely different note, the Maine Author Shelf at my town’s public library. A month or so ago, Richard Fortin, the director of our library, put together a Maine Author Shelf along the railing in the lobby.  Anyone who goes into the main section of the library passes it, and I’ve been told the books have attracted a lot of interest. My own novel, Maya and the Book of Everything, has been on that shelf, and I happy to report it has been borrowed on a regular basis. But best of all, I have been introduced to books I was unaware of, and here is a picture of three of the most recent books I found on that shelf.

A hint to my blogging friends: Perhaps you could suggest that your library put up a display of books written by local authors. Not only would it give them a boost, but it might also introduce you to books you have not heard of.

Going to Circus Smirkus

In September, I will be turning sixty, and with milestone events, it is our custom to celebrate early and often. Therefore, as a kickoff for my birthday, Clif and I went with our friends Lyn and Stephen to one of the most delightful shows I have ever had the pleasure of attending—Circus Smirkus, a youth circus featuring jugglers, acrobats, contortionists, clowns, tightrope walkers, and anything else associated with the big top. (Except animals, and for that I am grateful.) On Monday, Circus Smirkus was performing in Freeport, about forty miles from where we live.

Circus Smirkus is based in Greensboro, Vermont, and as noted in their booklet, it is “a nonprofit arts education organization whose mission is to promote the skills, culture, and traditions of the traveling circus, and to inspire youth to engage in life-enhancing adventures in the circus arts.” Kids go to Smirkus camp and audition for a part in the Big Top Tour, which runs from July through August. If Circus Smirkus ever comes to a town near you, don’t hesitate. Go see this extraordinarily talented and energetic circus troupe of youthful performers ranging in age from twelve to eighteen.

For me, the thrill started as soon as we had parked, and I caught a glimpse of the big circus tent, which transported me to the days of my own youth and the magic of fairs and circuses. It didn’t hurt that the tents featured my favorite color—blue.

Inside, the tent was a glorious night-time blue, and we got seats high in the back, which gave us a terrific view of the ring.

The theme of this year’s show is Midnight at the Museum, where a mischievous young boy unlocks the museum doors at night and lets loose various “exhibits,” which gives the young performers ample opportunity to strut their stuff.

And strut it they did in a series of jaw-dropping pieces. Over and over, as performers whirled, stretched, spun, walked on the tightrope, and did other amazing things, we said in astonishment, “Oh, my gosh! How do they do that?” In one piece, young girls as octopuses stretched and twisted their legs in ways I didn’t think was humanly possible. In another piece, featuring explorers from the South Pole, young performers zipped up and down the “South Pole” at breakneck speed, stopping just short of hitting the floor. Two young girls on the trapeze showed not only great strength and agility but also great trust in each other. One wrong move, and down to the floor they would have crashed.

Here are a couple of pictures from the show. These photos only give the dimmest impression of what we saw and don’t really convey the energy and vitality of the kids.

Two other things of note: There was live music, where the musicians reacted to what was happening in the ring, and the whole show had very nice pacing, with acrobats followed by clowning followed by jugglers.

After the show, we all went to Gritty’s  in Freeport, and we marveled over what we had just seen—the skill, the energy, and the talent of these young performers.

I had one of my favorites—fish and chips—and it was very good indeed.

Lyn and Stephen have seen Circus Smirkus many times, but this was a first for Clif and me. Even though I won’t have the excuse of a milestone birthday, Clif and I decided this should be an annual event, where we get together with Lyn and Stephen for the snappy Circus Smirkus.

What a way to kick off my sixtieth birthday!



Three Things Thursday: The Theater at Monmouth, Summer Vegetables, My Garden Toads and Frogs

My weekly tribute to gratitude…

First, the Theater at Monmouth. In the center of Monmouth, a town next to Winthrop, reigns this beautiful building—Cumston Hall, built in the early 1900s for the then princely sum of $20.000. It’s quite a shock to drive through this small rural town (population circa 4, 000) and come across stately, ornate Cumston Hall.

The building houses the town’s library, and it is also home to the Theater at Monmouth. Here’s a little blurb from the Theater’s website: “Theater at Monmouth is a year-round repertory company of professional theatre artists from across Maine and the United States. Founded in 1970, the Theater was named The Shakespearean Theater of Maine by the Maine State Legislature in 1975. Performances are held in Cumston Hall, listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings since 1976.”

A couple of weeks ago, we saw a wonderful, heart-felt production of Othello. This afternoon Clif and I are going to see The Learned Ladies by Molière. As I have written in a previous post, I feel so fortunate that I can live in a rural part of the state and yet still have access to art.

A side note: When our eldest daughter went to college and took a Shakespeare course, the other students were amazed that she had seen so many of Shakespeare’s plays actually performed on stage. (As opposed to a film version.) Especially since she came from Maine. Thank you, Theater at Monmouth.

Second, and a little more down to earth, summer vegetables fresh from a Maine garden—our own Farmer Kev’s.

Greens are all very well and good, but give me fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and any number of late summer vegetables, and I am one happy, happy woman.

Third, now we go to the silly—my garden toads and frogs.

All right, I know that they are a little tacky and that a sophisticated gardener wouldn’t dream of putting them in her garden, but I don’t care. I smile every time I see them, and I imagine them frolicking at night, joining the real frogs and toads who inhabit my garden.

I have such a fondness for frogs and toads, which might be one of the reasons I included the Toad Queen in my own Maya and the Book of Everything.

Jump, Ribbet, Hop!