Category Archives: Celebrate

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!



A Sad Fourth of July

Tomorrow—July Fourth—is a big day for our country,  a time to celebrate its birthday. Accordingly, there will be parades, picnics, barbecues, and fireworks.

We will be having friends over for an appetizers and salad party, where Clif will make his legendary grilled bread. I’ve made a homemade vanilla ice cream pie, and I’ll drizzle blueberry and strawberry preserves over the slices for a touch of red and blue to go with the white.

I wish I could write that I am approaching this holiday with excitement and joy, but I am not. Never, since I have been politically aware—a necessary qualifier—have I seen the U.S. in such a terrible state,  with a leader who feels perfectly comfortable tweeting about women and blood and a congress gleefully intent on stripping millions of people of health care while giving huge tax breaks to the rich. In short, it is heartbreaking to see what this country has become.

I know. We’ve been in dark places before, and we’ve somehow manage to work our way out of them.  So perhaps we will  be able to shake off the greed, hate, nastiness, and fear that has gripped this country and emerge better and wiser. But, of course, there are no guarantees.

Therefore in sadness and in hope, I am posting a picture of this lily, a lone survivor of lily beetles and marauding  skunks intent on finding grubs.

May this country survive its marauders and bloom, bloom, bloom.


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.

Happy 200th Birthday, Bicycle!

Today, on the excellent website treehugger, I learned that today is the 200th anniversary of the bicycle, which was invented because of an environmental crisis—a volcano that caused a famine that led to the slaughter of horses and thus the slowing of transportation. Treehugger’s article is fascinating, especially to a bike lover like me.

So happy birthday, bicycle! I have had my own Blue Beauty for twenty years. I’ve ridden it many miles and plan to ride it for many more to come. Not only is it a great way to stay in shape, but the bicycle also goes at exactly the right speed, fast enough to actually get somewhere but slow enough to smell, notice, and enjoy everything around you. (Thanks to Cheryl and Kerry for pointing this out.)


Memorial Day Weekend: First Bike Ride, First Barbecue

We’ve had a cool somewhat rainy May, but Saturday and especially Sunday turned out be warm and sunny. Accordingly, Clif brought up the bikes from down cellar, and on Sunday, we went for the first bike ride of the season.

A brief backstory: Through last fall and winter, I have been, ahem, a bit sedentary. I do have an excuse—I’ve been extremely busy with Maya and the Book of Everything—but let’s just say that my body has not been impressed with this excuse. Or with the amount of chocolate I like to eat. So the beginning of May, I took the exercise bike by the seat, so to speak. I decided no mater how busy I was—and I continue to be very busy—I was going to ride the exercise bike for at least thirty minutes a day for six days a week. Oh, that road to nowhere is a boring one, but I persevered.

Yesterday, the pay-off was more than evident. We went eight miles, which included a decent hill, and I was neither winded nor exhausted after the ride. We started out at lovely Norcross Point, where families were enjoying the sunny day.

As we biked by the lake, I heard a loon call. A little later, I saw a blue heron fishing by the shore. (Alas, I didn’t get a picture. ) I could smell lilacs and lilies of the valley. People grilling meat. Such a day!

We stopped to take a picture of our friend’s garden. Very fitting for Memorial Day when we honor the men and woman in the military as well as the people who have passed from our lives. Gone, but still remembered.

Here’s a closer look.

When we got home, up came the big green patio table, and we were ready for our first barbecue of the season—turkey burgers.

We settled at the table, enjoying our drinks—beer for Clif and iced green tea and honey for me.

After a leisurely lunch, Clif mowed the lawn, I planted, and we both pronounced Sunday a finest kind of day.

The cherry on the sundae? Later that night, I was listening to the New Yorker Radio Hour before falling asleep, and David Remnick, the incredible editor of the New Yorker, referred to something someone said as a “quotation” rather than the more commonly used “quote.”

I must confess, this is one of my grammar crotchets. Quote is a verb, and quotation is a noun. But, as with many things grammar, this is changing with use, and most people say or write “quote” when they really mean “quotation.” I’ve resigned myself to this. Why fight the inevitable?

But, oh, it made me smile to hear David Remnick use the correct word.