Category Archives: Animals – especially dogs

A Hot Steampunk Festival in Dexter, Maine

On Saturday, Clif and I took our awning and our books to the Steampunk Festival in Dexter, Maine. The word hot is in the title of this post, and I mean it quite literally. By mid-afternoon, the temperature was 87°F, and not to put too fine a point on it, but we were all a little on the warm side, especially as the humidity was in the same range.

No matter! We sold a good number of books, met some creative people, and even had a couple of dog buddies visit us.

Here are some scenes from the festival.

Visitors were greeted by this fellow. (Is it me, or is he just a teeny-weensy bit scary? As in, don’t get on his bad side.)

In kilt and costume is Darin Beaulieu, one of the organizers of the festival.

Then there were the pirates, an important part of any event.

But best of all were the two dog buddies, Arlo and Cedar, who belonged to the family of the vendors right next to us. When we were asked if the dogs could rest in the shade of our awning, what do you think we said?

Arlo, part Bernese Mountain Dog and part St. Bernard

 

Cedar, dressed for the event

Not surprisingly, Clif’s The Wave of Time and my Maya and the Book of Everything are a good fit for this kind of festival. While our books don’t belong in the Steampunk genre, they are fantasies that feature time travel, and people who are drawn to Steampunk are also drawn to our books.

So when we caught wind of another Steampunk Festival in Kennebunk in August, Clif said, “Let’s go!”

And so we will.

 

 

Father’s Day by the Kennebec River

Yesterday was Father’s Day. The kids, alas, live too far away to celebrate it with us, but Clif and I are firm believers in celebrations big and small.  Therefore, to mark the day, we decided to go to Hallowell, a tiny city on the Kennebec River, order Chinese food, sit by the river, and then go for a bike ride along the rail trail.

After a very cool spring, summer decided to make a guest appearance, and by late morning, the temperature was in the low 80s.  Did the heat deter us? It did not. Clif and I are plucky Mainers who can tolerate heat as well as cold.  After packing a cooler full of water, off we went to Lucky Gardens to fetch our lunch. Clif, naturally, got to choose—one take-away meal is plenty for the both of us—and he picked General Tso’s chicken. (See what I mean about the amount of food? A wicked good deal, as we Mainer’s would say.)

While we ate on the pier, we admired a mother duck and her ducklings.

And we watched a woman in a kayak go by with her dog. What a good buddy to stay put!

I saw a sturgeon jump, straight up and then back down with a splash, but I wasn’t at the ready with my camera. Darn!

Dealing bravely with this disappointment, we took to the rail trail.

While we didn’t see any more sturgeon, we did see this beauty. I am pretty sure it is a  young bald eagle, but if any of my birding, blogging friends think differently, do let me know. So wonderful to see the river full of life, especially as my childhood memory of the Kennebec River is of it being dark and dirty with no fish or birds. (I’m sure there were some, but back then nobody I knew spent their days by the Kennebec River.) What a difference the Clean Water Act has made, and I am very grateful for the lawmakers who worked together to clean our polluted waterways.

After the ride, we were more than a little hot. What to do? Go for ice cream, of course, at Fielder’s Choice, where we shared a hot fudge sundae with peanut butter ice cream.

A sweet, cool ending.

Of Red Squirrels, Hummingbirds, and a Spirit Dog

Despite the cool nights and the occasional cool day, summer has come to Maine. In fact, as someone who has seen a lot of Maine summers, this, so far, has been an old-fashioned June with some rain, some sun, some warm days, some chilly ones. It is only during the past five years that Maine Junes have  become so warm. This June is a throwback to the old days, and it feels quite normal to me.

Rather than warm weather, summer in Maine is heralded by green in all its cool shades. Our backyard, indeed all of Winthrop, is enveloped by green—the leaves, the evergreens, the ferns.

Our patio is our summer living room, and Clif and I spend as much time there as we can. For much of the year, we are cooped up inside, and it is a relief to be outside, unencumbered by hats, coats, and gloves.

Yesterday, after doing yard work, we had our tea on the patio. A red squirrel, in a nearby tree, scolded us. I suspect the little creature wanted to raid the brown bird feeder, and we were too close for comfort.

“Have we ever bothered you?” I asked. “No, not once.”

With a twitch of the tail, the red squirrel continued to stare at me and chitter even louder.

To add to the backyard noise, hummingbirds whirred and chased each other away from the feeders. Occasionally, one of them even got something to eat.

A swallow tail butterfly fluttered by, too quick for me to get a picture. Best of all, the dragonflies have come, and the mosquito population has dropped noticeably.

This spring, I neglected to stake the tall irises, and they have drooped pathetically over neighboring plants—begonias, daylilies, and evening primroses.

Next year, I will try to do better, but even though the irises have fallen, they are still beautiful.

As I sat on the patio and listened and watched, the spirit of a black and white dog zoomed around the perimeter of the yard. Barking and racing, setting the boundaries.

Then the past and the present came together—the birds, the spirit dog, the flowers. So much happening on one little half acre.

Finally, I want to thank my blogging friends for all the kind words over the past two weeks, which have been hard for us. It is often difficult to know what to say when someone is grieving the loss of a beloved pet, or even worse, a family member or close friend. But simple words of sympathy really do help, even something as basic as “I am so sorry for your loss.”

Many, many thanks to you all.

 

 

Make Way for Lupines

In Maine, early June brings many delights, but few are as beautiful as a field full of lupines.  Every year, I look forward to their tall purple and pink spikes in the deep green grass. Lupines look lovely in gardens, but to me they are best in masses, in a field.

Here is a closer look. It doesn’t hurt to have some yellow buttercups in the mix, either.

Closer to home, in my gardens, everything is thriving. The hostas, not yet chewed to green lace by snails and slugs, are thriving and whole.

The chives are nearly in bloom. I like their spiky pinkness.

On a sadder note, yesterday we sprinkled Liam’s ashes in the backyard that he loved so much, by the ferns by the fence. We have a memorial bench in honor of my mother, Clif’s mother, our previous dog Seamus, and now Liam. The Buddha was purchased in memory of Clif’s mother, who was drawn to Buddhism. The cat was for my mother, who had a special fondness for these independent creatures. Now we need a stone dog to complete the set. A collie, if we can find one. We figure that will be close enough to a Sheltie. (Seamus was a Sheltie, too.)

This bench does not make our backyard a morbid place. Far from it. Instead, it is a place of peace and delight, where the memories of those we have loved come to visit us. They are always nearby.

 

Comfort Me with Gardening

It has been a long, sad week without our dog buddy, Liam. I keep listening for him, wondering where he is. I save him bits of toast.  Is it time for him to go out? Very foolish to think these things, as I know he is gone, but old habits are hard to break.

Fortunately for me, the weather has been oh so fine, and I have worked in the gardens all week. Such a consolation, and I can only be grateful that Liam’s decline did not happen in the winter when we were stuck inside. Instead, like a terrier, I have been digging and moving hostas to fill in empty spots left by less hardy plants that didn’t make it. Finally, after nearly thirty years of gardening in this dry, shady yard, after spending too much money on plants that either died or didn’t thrive, I have given into hostas. Now, in our yard, hostas rule.

However, amid the calming foliage of the hostas, there are some budding irises, my favorites..

And front or back, everything is green, green, green. Our yard is held in the palm of the forest.

Amid the green, I love the dash of blue of the little fountain, given to me by “the kids” on my sixtieth birthday. When Clif and I sit on the patio, we can hear the gentle splash of water. So soothing.

And then there’s this dash of orange, which always livens things up.

Believe it or not, wild Sherlock is a comfort, too. He and his gentler sister, Ms. Watson, bring purring life to our evenings, settling beside us as we watch TV.

And so it goes into June. Soon the heavy gardening will be done, and after that, it will be on to bike riding. We’ll probably never be able to keep up with my blogging friend Tootlepedal, who recently biked seventy-six miles in honor of his seventy-six years, but we are going to step up our game, so to speak.

Biking, flowers, time on the patio. Come, summer, come!