Category Archives: Celebrate

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.

Seventy Turns Around the Sun

My week off was quite the busy one. Much of it was spent in the bathroom…painting trim. Very fussy work, especially when a dark color—red—is being replaced by white. It has taken four coats to get everything to look the way it should. My goal was to finish the painting by the end of the week, and I almost made it. Just a bit of the trim left to go, and for that I must stand on the toilet to do a good job. (Some of the trim needed to be replaced. Painted and ready to go, it is down cellar and waiting for me to finish.)

We even bought a new cabinet and light, replacing the ones that had been there since the house was built in 1969. I wish I had thought to take a picture of the old cabinet and lights, but here is a picture of the new ones, with knick-knacks that illustrate how our minds naturally turn to fantasy.

We are certainly not ones to replace things willy-nilly.

My birthday was midweek, and my present to myself was to take the day off from painting. Nerdy woman that I am, I spent the afternoon reading on the couch. I might have had a few special treats, too.

The big event of the week was the celebration of Clif’s 70th birthday. (His actual birthday is September 27. Never fear. There will be more little celebrations to mark this milestone event.)

We had a brunch with food we seldom indulge in.

And a geeky birthday cake for a man who is still young at heart.

We Zoomed with our North Carolina kids, who had cupcakes to celebrate from afar.

We all chipped in to buy Clif a new television to replace our old, smaller one. We are film buffs, and it will be a treat to watch movies on a bigger screen. The sleek white cabinet, which replaces an old clunky one made for a deeper television, was my birthday present. (We will be getting white covers for the cords.)

Despite the pandemic, which prevented our North Carolina kids from joining us, it was a jolly celebration.

Happy birthday, Clif!

Drinks on the Patio

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, our daughter Dee is staying with us until she must return to her office. (No official date on that yet.) Having her here has been like a tonic for Clif and me, a real pick-me-up during this time of Covid.

This week, Dee is on vacation, and we have a week planned with simple pleasures, including a trip to the ocean, friends coming over for drinks and appetizers, and Thai take-out.

On Saturday, to kick-off Dee’s vacation, we had drinks on the patio

along with Clif’s legendary grilled bread.

Little Miss Watson joined us for drinks,

as did Chip. (Or was this Dale? We have a hard time telling them apart.)

We also had this jumper come to the table.

A note about Little Miss: She is an old cat whose instinct for hunting is weak.  Basically, she is an indoor cat and usually only goes out with us and then comes back in when we do. The chipmunks do not fear Little Miss, and they run around freely when she is out. Little Miss watches the chipmunks as they scamper, and I get the impression that she doesn’t think it’s worth her while to chase them.

Anyway…as we are on vacation with Dee, posts will be short and filled with pictures. Next Monday, I’ll return to sharing posts from blogging friends.

 

Happy Earth Day 2021

Today, as you all know, is Earth Day. In our household, in addition to celebrating this beautiful planet we live on, we also celebrate the birthday of our beautiful daughter Shannon. Because she and her husband live in North Carolina, we will actually be celebrating, via Zoom, on Saturday. But today is the anniversary of the day she was born forty-two years ago. Happy, happy, happy, Earth Day girl!

This year, to honor Earth Day, here are some pictures of small things taken in my very own yard. Now, I love grand vistas as much as the next person does, but there is a special place in my heart for the small things in the world—creatures that hop, creep, or fly as well as tiny plants that often go unnoticed as we hurry from task to task.

They have their own quiet beauty if we but take the time to look.

Happy Earth Day to you all!

Friday Favorites: A Forty-Fourth Anniversary, See’s Chocolates, and Jon Batiste

Today is our forty-fourth wedding anniversary.  Hoo-boy! As I like to note, those who get married in Maine in March are apt to be hardy couples who can weather most anything. And so it is with Clif and me.

Because of the pandemic, there will be no going anywhere special. No matter. We bought plenty of tasty treats, including shrimp—the highest on the food chain that we’ll eat—good bread, real butter—oh, wowsah!—and a small chocolate cake. Holy cats! I can’t remember the last time I had chocolate cake.

We also bought some Sees chocolates and nuts, which will last us for a long while.

As we got married in March in Maine, you might think that we went somewhere warm for our honeymoon, but you would be wrong. Instead, we went to Montréal, where the snowbanks were as high as they were in Maine, and the snowplows traveled at a clip that was terrifying.

But what a wonderful trip it was, and yesterday Clif and I had a lovely time reminiscing about that gray European-like city. We ate tourtière pie, went to small cafés and pastry shops, visited a museum with a fabulous King Tut exhibit, stayed in a delightful hotel that could have been in the middle of Paris, and laughed at a smartly dressed woman who swore in French when a car splashed her at an intersection.

In those days, we traveled with the help of AAA, with little bound paper strips of maps called TripTiks. Readers, they were awesome and really made traveling easier. We found our delightful hotel through AAA. I think we just stumbled on the cafés, but that was forty-four years ago, and we might have used AAA for guidance with that, too.

Anyway, despite the passage of time, it made us both smile to talk and think about going to Montréal.

This week, for music in honor of our anniversary, I am turning to the buoyant Jon Batiste and his “I Need You.”

 

Here are some simple pleasures and favorites from blogging friends.

From Piglet in Portugal, a jar of smiles.

Ju-Lyn, of Touring my Backyard, got warmth from a snowy scene. (Someone from Maine just might have sent her a card.)

Thistles and Kiwis shared the many wonderful things popping up in Wellington.

Dawn, from Change is Hard, featured a picture of one of the loveliest harbingers of spring in the northern United States, the red-winged blackbird.

 

Friday Favorites: Scenes from an Inauguration

Wednesday was a huge day for Clif and me, for this country, and, I think, for the world. Despite the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago, we had a lawful transfer of power. Joseph Biden is now the president of the United States.

Finally, finally, Trump, his family, and their entourage left Washington, DC. I could write all kinds of snarky things about his departure, but I won’t.

Instead, I will focus on President Biden’s inauguration ceremony. Despite the restrictions that were put into place because of the raging pandemic and enough security after 1/6 to make the Capitol look like the Green Zone in Baghdad, the inauguration was a joyous, beautiful event filled with firm resolve and hope.

Here are some scenes, clipped from YouTube, that I was particularly struck by.

First, Lady Gaga, who sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem. As the comedian Stephen Colbert noted, Lady Gaga looked as though she were wearing a red carpet instead of walking on one. Yes, she did. Lady Gaga is someone who certainly likes to make an entrance. But holy cats can she ever sing. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not a song for the fainthearted, and Lady Gaga didn’t stumble even once. Indeed, she knocked it out of the park, as the saying goes.

Wednesday was also a day of firsts as Kamala Harris—the first woman, Black, and South Asian—was sworn in as vice president. Even though it has taken too long to have a woman as vice president, this was a proud moment for this country. I hope I live long enough to see a woman sworn in as president.

Then, of course, the main event—Joe Bidden and his uplifting yet honest, plain-spoken words as his speech outlined the many challenges this country faces. And his confidence that this country was up to overcoming those challenges.

The most beautiful, luminous part of the inauguration was when a young poet, Amanda Gorman, delivered her radiant poem, “The Hill We Climb.” When she was done, I wanted to stand up and cheer.

For comic relief, there was Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders, one of my favorites, complete with mittens and a practical jacket. Bernie is never anything less than who he is, and for this I am grateful.

Finally Demi Lovato’s soaring song “Lovely Day” from the Celebrating America broadcast, an evening program which followed President Biden’s inauguration.

In the background, as Lovato sings, are faces that are black, brown, white. There are women, men, and children of various ethnicities. This is what America looks like, and we should rejoice.