Category Archives: Community

March Cookie Madness

On Saturday, the Friends of the Bailey Public Library hosted a cookie walk and book sale. Not surprisingly, Clif and I were at the library as soon as the doors opened. We wanted to do our bit to help with this fundraiser.  Being more than a little food obsessed, we also wanted to be first in line for the cookies.

Here is how the cookie walk worked: For $5, patrons got a can lined with a plastic bag. Homemade cookies made by volunteers were lined up on tables, and we got to choose which cookies we wanted. The cookies all looked so good that it was quite a process figuring out which cookies to select.

Here I am, with a serious expression on my face, as I think about the lovely cookies. So many tempting choices. (I am happy to report that the cookies tasted as good as they looked.  Lots of good bakers in Winthrop. Also, the fundraiser was a great success, raising much-needed money for our wonderful library.)

Clif helped me, and soon we had a bag of cookies. Then, it was time to look at the books. Again, so many temptations, especially when hardcovers went for $1 and paperbacks were $.50.  We used great restraint in only picking out six books, and some of those will be going to family members.

This one, however, is staying in our kitchen, at least for a while.

As I’ve written previously, Clif and I are now vegetarians, and although we will probably never be vegans, we are interested in eating a mainly plant-based diet. So this book caught Clif’s attention. The Betty in the title, of course, refers to Betty Crocker, an American icon of everyday cooking for everyday folks.

Full disclosure: I have a Betty Crocker cookbook from the 1970s, and it is my go-to book for cornbread, muffins, banana bread, and chocolate pudding. These recipes are simple but are all made with whole ingredients.

Betty Goes Vegan seems to be designed for people who are on the cusp of vegetarianism. They might like the idea of eliminating meat, but they are unwilling to give up the texture and flavor. The recipes in this book go to great lengths to replicate the experience of eating meat while not actually using meat. Clif and I are not in this category—although we do like faux chicken nuggets with our fries. For the most part, we are perfectly happy to eat legumes and other veggies as long as the meals have flavorful spices.

Still, as Clif pointed out, we’ll be able to get some tips from Betty Goes Vegan, and if we eventually decide it doesn’t need to be a part of our cookbook collection, then we can donate it back to the Friends for a future book sale.

 

A Labor Day of Blue Skies and Water

On Sunday, we took Dee to the bus station so that she could return to New York City, where she lives and works. Always so sad to see her go, but what a fun time we had celebrating our birthdays.

Monday was Labor Day in this country. Here is a short explanatory blurb from Wikipedia: “Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. ”

Very fitting that we should honor laborers who made the workforce a better, safer place. However, for many people it is the long weekend marking the end of summer. Tourists aplenty come to Maine on Labor Day Weekend, but luckily for us, central Maine is not a hot spot for vacationers, and the roads are fairly quiet.

In keeping with our quiet area, we decided that Monday would be a no-car day and that we would bike along Maranacook Lake, one of our favorite places to ride. The day was hot but beautiful, and after our ride, we sat on a bench at Norcross Point to watch the water, the boats, and the sky.

Hydrangeas are in bloom, and I liked the way the blossoms look with the sky as the background.

Also, I liked the way the two bright kayaks punctuated the water. Blue and pink, pink and blue.

As we sat at the park and watched people paddle and swim, we reflected how lucky we were to live in a town where there is ample access to free public areas by the lake. Not every town has this, and in Readfield, the town next to ours, their beach is billed as “a user supported beach.” The town charges $40 per family for an annual permit.

Certainly, $40 is not a great deal of money, but lots of people in central Maine live on a tight budget, and I wonder how many families decide they can’t afford the fee. Much better, in my opinion, to have the beach and the park free for all to enjoy. (I do realize that taxes pay for the maintenance of the Winthrop beach and park, and I am happy to have a portion of my taxes used this way.)

After these musings, Clif and I decided to head home. And what did I see? Leaves just beginning to change color.

It is September, after all, and while the calendar tells us that autumn isn’t here until September 23, the trees are telling us otherwise.

Soon, the most  beautiful season of the year will be upon us.

In the meantime, Clif and I will enjoy as many evenings as we can on the patio.

Those days are numbered.

 

 

Galloping Spring

Spring has galloped into Maine, and she is nearly out of sight. The leaves are full sized, and the early flowers have become a sweet memory. Gone are the tulips and the daffodils, but the irises, daisies, and lupines are in glorious bloom. We are on the edge of summer, lovely summer, so welcome after the long, frigid winter we had.

On Sunday, Clif and I went for a bike ride along Maranacook Lake. A couple of hardy souls—children, of course—were swimming in the cold water.

Whenever we go on this bike ride—our everyday route—we are thankful to live in such a pretty little town that has so much water. Maranacook is only one of several lakes and big ponds in Winthrop.

In between gardening and biking, I have been working on my YA fantasy Library Lost. My first readers—my family—have commented and have made editing suggestions, which I am now implementing. I am fortunate to have a family of such good readers. Their advice is invaluable, and without them, my books wouldn’t be anywhere near as good.

By the end of this week, Library Lost should be ready for copy editing. This is a long process, and while Library Lost is edited, I will begin the third book, Library Regained.

No rest for writers, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

 

The Great Pumpkinfest: Part Two

Here are some more pictures from the Great Pumpkinfest in Damariscotta. Such a fun event! I plan to go back next year, but maybe on the Tuesday after the actual fest. That way, the pumpkins will be complete but won’t have started to decay, and there won’t be as many people.

Now, an interlude with a flower, a beautiful rose that somehow managed to bloom in October.  In Maine. It almost seems miraculous.

Back to pumpkins.

The end. Until next year.

The Great Pumpkinfest: Part One

Yesterday, I went with my friend Dawna to Damariscotta for its annual Pumpkinfest.

Damariscotta is a lovely little village—population circa 2,000—nestled beside the even more lovely Damariscotta River, a tidal estuary of the gulf of Maine. Here is a shot looking out from town onto the river.

Because of the natural beauty, artists have been drawn to this area, which means the village has a zippy, arty vibe.

Yesterday, when we went to Damariscotta, the village was certainly zipping as various businesses and individuals were getting their giant pumpkins ready for the fest. (Today is when the fest officially opens, with a parade and many outside vendors as well as the pumpkins, of course. We were told that the town is packed, and it was best to come very early to get a parking spot.)

But first things first. As the day was drizzly but clearing,  Dawna and I decided we would begin with lunch, and that if we were lucky, the rain would be gone by the time we finished our meals. We went to a place called Crissy’s, a breakfast and coffee bar, open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

I am happy to report that my BLT was mighty tasty and it, along with every thing else on the menu, was reasonably priced. Honest food at honest prices. My favorite kind of place to eat.

And by gum, when we were done lunch, the weather had indeed cleared, and for the cherry on the sundae, the light was bright overcast, just perfect for taking pictures of pumpkins.

Outside of Crissy’s, a young woman was in the process of creating a hatching dragon inspired by one of my favorite series, Game of Thrones.

We crossed the street and came upon this beautiful carved pumpkin.

The man who was carving—I didn’t get his name—explained that this Pumpkinfest was done totally for fun. It was not a competition. There were no prizes. Now, competitions have their place, but I love the idea of a fest where the pumpkins are carved, painted, and decorated for sheer creative enjoyment. However, while I didn’t question the man any further, I expect there is still some friendly rivalry to see who can come up with the most creative pumpkin.  Whatever the case, this master carver looked as though he was having a good time.

Then, for something completely different, stylish black and white.

And next, a hideous clown. (There. Now you know how I feel about clowns. )

That’ll do for today. Tomorrow, I’ll post some more pictures of this fun Pumpkinfest, to get all of you in the mood for this season of ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties.

 

 

 

 

Fire at the Post Office

img_6194Yesterday, there was a fire at our town’s post office, and the fire was so intense that it gutted the building. All morning the fire raged, and Facebook was full of images and descriptions. This put our little town in an uproar, and Clif and I had a hard time concentrating on anything else.

With that fire and destruction, we have lost an essential part of our town. Despite email, FedEx, and UPS, the postal service is vital to our community—indeed to many communities—and now there is great big burnt shell where the post office once stood.

Many people criticize the U.S Postal Service, complaining of how the federal government can’t do anything right. I beg to disagree. Sure, every once in a while my New Yorker goes missing, or we receive mail that should have gone to someone else. But not very often. Mostly, day in and day out, our mail comes, delivered by conscientious carriers who actually bring the mail to our doorstep when we have a package.

While it does cost money to send letters—still a bargain, as far as I’m concerned—and packages, it doesn’t cost anything for individuals to receive mail. You might even call the U.S Postal Service a common good, a concept that today seems as dated as poodle skirts and saddle shoes. Spending for the common good? Where’s the profit in that?

And while I’m on the subject of the common good, I must praise the firefighters, from our town and from surrounding towns, who put out the fire and stopped it from spreading to other buildings. At town meetings, there is always grousing about how much the fire department costs. Yes, there is a cost. But what would our town be like without it?

Schools, fire departments, libraries, police departments, trash removal all cost money, but they are essential to having a decent society. (I could add other things such as public transportation, too.) The point is not that they cost taxpayers money. The point is, how do we collect the money fairly so that taxes aren’t a burden on those who don’t have much?

The postal service has already sprung into action with a plan for Winthrop’s mail. Working out of Augusta, carriers have already resumed home delivery in Winthrop. For those who had post office boxes or need to pick up packages, they will go to the Manchester post office, in the town next to us. The mail will be delivered, despite the loss of our post office.

Right now, fire marshals are investigating the cause of the fire. I’m hoping it wasn’t arson.

And I expect a new post office will replace the burnt wreckage of the old one. But it will be quite a while before that happens, and, in the meantime, our post office will be sorely missed.

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No Lifeguard on Duty

Last night I had a snake dream—unfortunately,  I have recurring snake dreams. It was summer, and I was somewhere high, overlooking a field. Along came the snake, very long and whipping so fast, so fast through the grass. I have no idea what kind of snake it was, but with its brown coloring and huge size, it was probably what we Mainers call a milk adder. Then in my dream, the snake disappeared into the edge of the forest, and, lucky for me, that was that.

Funny to have such a dream because it is January in Maine, and all the snakes, great and small, are sound asleep beneath the snow.  We have had a week of wintry mix, where at times the sleet has tapped, tapped, tapped against the house and windows. Fortunately, the sleet did not leave much of a coating on the trees, and no branches fell to make us lose our power.

Yesterday afternoon I went to the public beach in town, to take some pictures, and I learned that there was no lifeguard on duty.

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The ducks didn’t seem to mind.

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I admired the bare branches of a tree against the sky,

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the weather vane on top of the gazebo,

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and the ice-fishing shacks on Maranacook Lake.

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Soon January will slide into February. One more month of deep winter, even in this time of climate change.