Category Archives: Celebrate

Saturday in the Park

On Saturday, Clif, Dee, and I headed south of the border—to Massachusetts. For many Mainers, our border is the Piscataqua  river that flows between Maine and New Hampshire and the imposing eponymous bridge that spans that river. This bridge is the primary way out of Maine for points south, and it gives the state the feeling of being an island. Silly, I know, but that’s how it always seems to me when I leave or return to Maine.

The Piscataqua River Bridge. Photo taken by Doug Kerr.

Across the bridge we went, through a sliver of New Hampshire and then to Massachusetts where our daughter Shannon and her husband Mike live. Shannon’s birthday was on Friday—Earth Day—and how wonderful it was to be able celebrate her birthday in person. (For the past six years, when Shannon and Mike lived in North Carolina, birthdays were celebrated from afar.)

Saturday was a lovely warm spring day, and for the birthday celebration, we headed to a pretty park in a nearby town.

We set up our chairs and enjoyed the fine weather. Here is a picture of Shannon and Mike. In the background, you can see the fringe of spring green on the tree to the left of Shannon.

We got take-out from Bartlet Street, a nearby restaurant that caters to meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Truly, there was something for everyone.

Dee ordered a bagel with roasted chickpeas and mashed avocado. Quite a feast! I could have a bite of that right now.

As we ate and talked, people and dogs came to the park. A little boy ran in delight, touching and counting rocks and benches. Dogs on leashes sniffed and trotted across the green grass.  A group of young friends, laughing and happy, brought a blanket and had a picnic. Particularly touching was when a couple came with their senior dog, a yellow lab, who was lame with arthritis. They had ramp to make it easier for the dog to get in and out of their vehicle. A much-needed example of how we humans can be kind and thoughtful.

After lunch, we saluted Shannon with cupcakes. Happy, happy birthday!

In honor of this sweet day, here is a song that no doubt many of you will remember.

Snow-Gauge Clif: Let the Mud Begin

On Saturday, March 19, a heavy rain fell as though it were a day in April. If the rain had been snow, as it would have been in years past, Snow-Joe would have gotten quite a work out. Instead, the rain came down, down, down, and most of the snow went away, to be replaced by mud.

Here are pictures of the tracks I made going to the compost bins in the backyard. The mud was so deep that I wondered if I would lose my shoes on the way to and from the house.

As you might have guessed, Snow-Gauge Clif’s job is coming to an end. Barring any last-minute snowstorms, I expect we have a week or two at most.

The shady front yard still has 7 inches of snow at its deepest and a skim of snow over much of the lawn.

The backyard is quite another matter. There is a spot that has 7 inches of snow—where Snow-Joe threw it—but for the most part, the lawn is bare.

Here’s a better photo of the backyard. Note the patio and how the snow is nearly gone. As soon as the mud dries, and we can walk on the lawn without fear of losing our shoes, the blue chairs will come out.

Finally, here’s a photo of our listing clothesline, which is a little on the tipsy side. When the yard dries out, Clif is wondering if he’ll have to reset the clothesline. Never a dull moment at our home on the edge of the woods.

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In Addition: Cheers to 45 years!

On Saturday Clif and I celebrated our forty-fifth wedding anniversary. We marked the occasion with an appetizer night featuring dumplings, a cashew dip, and other assorted goodies. Appetizer nights are a favorite at our home, where with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of enjoyment, we have many different treats to nibble.

There was also a toast where we used lovely glasses given to us by our friend Doree Austin on our first wedding anniversary.

After our appetizer meal, we watched a film that I highly recommend—Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, a sweet low-key movie from Bhutan that has been nominated this year for an Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.

Filmed in Buhatan and written and directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji, this charming movie tells the story of a young, uninspired teacher, Ugyen Dorji, who is sent to a remote mountain village to fulfill his teacher contract. Does Ugyen want to go to this village, accessible only by foot and a journey of many days? He does not. Instead, Ugyen wants to go to Australia and follow his dream of becoming a singer.

But up the mountain Ugyen goes, finally making it to Lunana, a poor village that has some of the most breathtaking scenery I’ve ever seen. During the course of the movie, lessons are learned and taught. In its own gentle way, Lunana examines the notion of culture, of whether to leave or to stay.  Best of all, Lunana manages to avoid being predictable, which gives the movie a nice twist.

For those who have Kanopy, Lunana is available free for streaming. For those who don’t have Kanopy, other streaming options include Vudu and Prime Video, where the movie can be rented for $6.99.

Lunana is definitely worth $6.99, and so far it is my favorite foreign film of the year.

 

Christmas in February

After going through two years of pandemic quiet, we recorded last weekend in the excitement column in the Ledger of Life. (Thanks to Tootlepedal for introducing me to this term.) The cause of the excitement? At long last, our daughter Shannon and our son-in-law Mike came for a visit.

With them they brought the inimitable Holly

and sweet Somara.

The title of this post gives a clue as to how we celebrated this weekend. The Christmas tree behind Holly in the first picture is also a clue.

For various reasons, Shannon and Mike were unable to join us in December to celebrate Christmas. But because we knew they would eventually make it to Maine, we decided to keep the tree up until they did come, which happened to be last weekend.

We had a jolly time of gift giving and conversation. We played Christmas music, and outside there was a soft sprinkle of falling snow. Although it was February, it felt like Christmas.

After presents, we introduced Shannon and Mike to the board game Horrified, which they both liked very much.

On Sunday, Shannon, Mike, and the dogs left Maine to head home, and we bid them a sad farewell.

On Monday, we got up at God-awful o’clock—3:45 a.m.—to bring our eldest daughter Dee to Portland to take a bus back to New York, where she has various things to take care of.

Now it’s just Clif and me, and, yes, it’s more than a little lonely.  Yet I can’t help but think how grand it is that we so enjoy being with our kids. Both Clif and I feel that there is no better company than Dee, Shannon, and Mike. We are lucky parents, that’s for sure.

When we returned from Portland, we each took a little nap. Getting up at 3:45 certainly isn’t our thing. Then, down came the tree.

The living room is now back to normal.

As soon as her business is taken care of, Dee plans to return to Maine for a while, and in March, we will to go to Massachusetts to visit Shannon, Mike, and the dogs.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to play a game we bought Shannon for Christmas—The Big Book of Madness, recommended by Carol Ann on her fabulous blog Fashioned for Joy.

More good things to record in the Ledger of Life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

En Hiver

In the still, in the cold…

Although I love spring and summer and the lengthening of the days, I also cherish this time of year, this time of giving, this time of rest, when I have tea on the couch at 4:00, and out the big window I watch the sky go from blue to black and the bright shine of Venus, which glitters just above the horizon.

I will be taking a blogging break from now until the New Year. Because of Covid, it will definitely be a staycation, but it will be a luxury to read in the mornings, play board games in the afternoon, and watch Oscar nominees at night. And, of course, nibble on treats.

I know many of you are wondering about Little Green, our trusty electric snow thrower. Clif did indeed find the problem—a rascally rodent, probably a mouse, who not only made a nest inside Little Green but chewed the belt in half as well. A new belt is on the way.

Because I am Franco-American, I wish those who celebrate Christmas a joyeux Noël.

And to everyone a Bonne Année.

Whatever you celebrate, have a joyous and safe time. I hope your holidays are filled with warmth, merriment, and good food.

See you all in 2022.

 

Getting Together after Two Years

Yesterday was a big, big day for Clif, Dee, and me. After two years of not seeing our youngest daughter Shannon and our son-in-law Mike, we got together with them at their new apartment in Massachusetts. Previously, they lived in North Carolina, a very long way from Maine. But in November, they moved to Massachusetts, only two and a half hours from our home. We are overjoyed that they are back in New England, where we can have regular visits with them.

Because Covid is still raging in the U.S., we decided we should take extra precautions. Masks for inside, but what to do about lunch? Mike and Shannon came up with a solution—a propane heater for their small sheltered patio. (Who is that strange masked woman in the corner?)

The propane heater was an experiment, with none of us too sure exactly how it would work on a chilly forty-degree day. Readers, I am pleased to report that the heater worked beautifully. All of us, even those who like it hot, felt comfortable for the few hours we stayed outside. When Clif went to the car for something, he said he could feel the difference as soon as he left the patio.

“This is just like a little café,” Dee noted, adding that these propane heaters are common in outside eating areas in New York City.

The café’s bean soup tasted especially good on a chilly day.

Another treat was seeing Shannon and Mike’s two dogs, Holly and Somara. Although it’s been years since we’ve seen them, they remembered us and gave us enthusiastic greetings.

Here is Miss Holly.

And here is Miss Somara.

A final bonus was seeing this tree next to Mike and Shannon’s apartment. I had never seen a tree like this before, and I was fascinated by the peeling bark and the color. I did a little Internet research, and I think it’s a paperbark maple, originally a native of China. If anyone knows differently, please let me know.

Although we have Zoomed with Shannon and Mike many times over the past two years, there is nothing like chatting in person. What a grand time we had talking about books, movies, television shows, and various other things.

Late afternoon, we left reluctantly. But with Shannon and Mike so close to Maine, we will soon be seeing them again. And as long as the weather isn’t too cold, we can eat outside at Shannon and Mike’s café, with the propane heater providing plenty of warmth.

 

The Air Had a Certain Chill to It

On Saturday, we had our first dusting of snow, enough white to see but not really enough to count as a first storm. Still, the sky was a severe gray, and the air had a certain chill to it that let a person know winter was not far away. Even at my age that nip brings an expectation verging on exhilaration—winter is coming, a hushed time of brilliant and blue days mixed with stormy weather.

To take some pictures, I hobbled out to the slippery porch. To say I was mindful of where I put my feet doesn’t begin to describe how I moved.

Here are the pictures I took from both inside and outside.

This one is from the aforementioned slippery front porch.

Still on the porch, looking downward at the red bow on a wreath.

Then from an open window in the living room—snowy leaves on the hedge,

and a frosty birdbath.

Finally from an open window in the bathroom, a picture of the backyard and patio.

If the weather isn’t too cold, we’re hoping to have some more time on the patio with a fire in the firepit. We shall see.

My knee continues to improve but ever so slowly. I still limp from room to room and often use a cane. But, I can bend the knee now, and I don’t spend quite as much time on the couch. I haven’t returned to working on Book Four in my Great Library Series. I plan to do so this week. Again, we shall see.

With Dee’s and Clif’s help, Christmas decorating has begun, making the house look bright and festive. And, most important, now that Thanksgiving is over, we have begun watching Christmas specials. Not surprisingly, the ones that have fantasy and folderol are my favorites, and last night we watched Robin, Robin, a sweet, short stop-motion film from Aardman Animations (Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit). Next on the list: A Boy Called Christmas.

I have some cooking planned—a tofu chocolate cream pie, a vegan tourtière pie—wait, what?—and other goodies. Regardless of whether I fail or succeed, I will be reporting on how they turned out.

The lights, the decorating, the cooking, and the holiday shows all combine to make dark December, right around the corner, a cozy month. Like winter, much anticipated.

 

 

 

 

 

Dee’s Birthday: Once More to Wolfe’s Neck

The last week of October—a vacation week for us—was rainy, and much of it was spent playing a board game (Reign of Cthulhu) and watching movies and television series. (For sheer fun, Free Guy is hard to beat, and if you want a series that is scary, character driven, and philosophical, Midnight Mass is the one for you.)

Fortunately, the weather gods were with us on Friday, Dee’s actual birthday. It was one of those beautiful golden October days I like to gush about. Therefore, off to Freeport we went, back to Wolfe’s Neck State Park, which has become a favorite. It takes about an hour for us to get there, and if we lived closer, we’d go more often.

The air was crisp but not uncomfortably cold. While Dee and Clif went on the trails, I did my usual pottering. Before we left home, Dee had asked, “Will you be bored by yourself?”

“No,” I had answered. “I am never bored on my own.”

I think this is true for most of us who like to write, read, and take pictures, for those of us who are content to just sit and be. There is always something to absorb our attention.

The last time we visited Wolfe’s Neck, I had turned left on the Casco Bay Trail. This time I went right, to the lookout where the osprey nest can be spotted across the water on an island. The ospreys, having raised their family, are long gone, but they will be back next spring to begin again.

I carefully went down these stone steps

and came to a small cove that captures the essence of the Maine coast.that

After taking pictures, I went back to the trail and sat on the edge of a small bridge overlooking the sparkling bay. I smelled spicy balsam—which reminds me of Christmas—mingled with the salty scent of the ocean. Beside me, water from a small stream trickled into the bay. All around me was the dry rustle of falling leaves.

After Clif and Dee were finished with their walk, they joined me at a picnic table in the sun. I had brought a thermos of tea and a pack of Pepperidge Farm cookies, and we chatted as we ate and drank.

Another fine day filled with sweet simple pleasures. Yet again, I am grateful that we are a family who cherishes simple pleasures, not expensive, not fancy, but ever so satisfying.

 

 

A Halloween Treat from Alys

Yesterday’s mail brought an ever-so-special Halloween treat from Alys of Gardening Nirvana—one of her fabulous homemade cards. Onto the metal bulletin board by my desk this exquisite card will go to take its place among other special cards I have received.

Tucked inside the card were three adorable bookmarks designed by Alys’s beloved blogging friend Pauline, who passed away last year.

In honor of Pauline’s birthday on September 5, Alys recently offered to send bookmarks to any blogging friends who wanted them. All we had to do was send Alys our addresses, and she would take care of the postage.

How could I resist? I adore bookmarks, and I have a wonderful little collection on my night stand. Although I never connected with Pauline on her blog, I was moved by the friendship and generosity between her and Alys. They actually got to meet a couple of times, which makes a blogging friendship even more special.

The bookmarks feature Pauline’s orange cat Orlando. He reminds me of my rascal of a cat Sherlock, who died this spring.

Such a lovely way to honor a friendship. Many thanks, Alys for sending me the oh-so-special card and bookmarks.

And many thanks, Pauline. Your beauty and creativity continue to shine forth.

 

One More Celebratory Trip: Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park

Last Friday, to cap our celebratory week, we went to Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park, a rocky spike of land that juts into the ocean. (Maine has an astonishing 5,000 miles of coastline, even more than California. How does Maine accomplish this? By a multitude of peninsulas that cut in and out, in and out, from New Hampshire all the way to Canada.)

The lighthouse was commissioned in 1827 by John Quincy Adams, and it has become an iconic image of the Maine coast. The lighthouse and the keeper’s cottage have a simple, old-timey look, very pleasing to this Mainer who loves clean lines and simplicity.

And what is a lighthouse without views? (Look who photobombed the first picture.)

Maine has been called “The Country of the Pointed Firs,” and the above photos certainly illustrate this.

As we were wandering around, admiring the scenery and taking pictures, dark clouds swept in, providing a perfectly spooky backdrop for the lighthouse. (After all, Halloween is coming.)

Dee said, “We’d better have our tea and cookies before it rains.”

“Right,” I replied, and we found a bench big enough for the three of us.

Amazingly, like a scene from a fantasy novel, the clouds swept by, leaving blue sky and sunshine and time to take pictures of monarchs and asters. Alas, the little beauties wouldn’t pose with open wings, and this is the best that I got.

The bee on the rose was a little more obliging.

Now, it’s back to work and projects, which I must admit is a bit of a letdown. No more day trips to the ocean, no more stops for ice cream on the way home, no more late afternoon cocktails.

But what a grand week we had celebrating Clif’s 70th birthday.

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Nifty Posts from Some of the Lovely Blogs I Follow:

From Touring my Backyard, Ju-Lyn revels in revisiting the Asian Civilizations Museum and discovering that the ice cream cart outside the museum has finally reopened.

From Thistles and Kiwis, pictures of mouthwatering food featuring something I’d never heard of—tamarillo.

Ever wondered how you could make a snappy sculpture out of a cultivator wheel, some red paint, and part of a log? Wonder no more. Judy, of New England Garden Thread, yet again illustrates that she has more creativity in her little finger than most people have in their whole bodies.

Anne, from Something over Tea, shares pictures of various roadblocks she encounters. Let’s just say that roadblocks in Maine are very boring in comparison.

In the northern hemisphere, it is harvest time for many folks, and at Going Batty in Wales it is picklefest time. Oh, yum!

From Lavinia Ross, of Salmon Brook Farm, a seasonal update of what is going on at her farm in Oregon. Beautiful writing and beautiful singing. What a lovely, lovely voice Lavinia has.

 

 

Clif’s 70th Birthday

Yesterday was the actual date of Clif’s birthday. As regular readers know, we are firm believers in celebrating birthdays early and often. We had his big party a week or so ago, but we couldn’t let the 27th go by without doing a little something.

So off to Hallowell we went, to grab appetizers from the local Chinese restaurant and settle by the river to enjoy them.

The day was cloudy but warm, perfect, actually, to be by the water.  In a flash, two hours went by as we ate, chatted, and watched the river, which caught bands of rippling blue from the sky.

We saw a number of cormorants swimming, fishing, and resting. Here is a picture of one flapping its wings.

We also saw gulls, but I wasn’t able to get a good picture as they were on the move.

Afterward, we came home and had drinks on the patio.

We all agreed it was a lovely way to celebrate a birthday.