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I’ll Keep Trying

Spring is most definitely here.

The lawns are abloom with tiny spring flowers that are not always easy for the wee camera to photograph. But by gum, yesterday the light must have been just right for the camera to capture this dandelion,

some violets,

and even this tiny flower on a plant I was given and have no idea what it is.

No blooms yet in the back garden, but I did come across this feather.

Even though there are no flowers, everything is growing splendidly, and I love the green of spring.

Yesterday, we put out the hummingbird feeders.

Already, the little will-o’-the-wisps have begun coming to the feeder.

It is not easy for me to get a picture of them, but I’ll keep trying.

These Are the Days

This morning Clif said, “My underwear is in the mailbox.”

My first thought: What a place for underwear!

But this is life during the time of the coronavirus: Underwear in the mailbox because we don’t want to go to Target. Instead, we have been ordering online the necessities of life.

In the days before the coronavirus, we ordered online maybe five or six times a year. Now, it’s about five times a fortnight. I wonder how it will be when this is all over. Will we go back to shopping the way we did before?

Or, will this new habit of online ordering become a trend? It’s hard for me to predict. However, after a year or a year and a half of doing something, it could become permanent. We shall see.

In other groundbreaking news…Because Clif is still recovering from his sprained ankle, I hefted the round table up the bulkhead stairs from the cellar and onto the patio. Although my knees did not thank me when I was done, what a sight for sore eyes to see the table on the patio.

Soon it will be warm enough to have a glass of something nice as we sit on the patio.

After cleaning the table and taking pictures to celebrate the arrival of the table on the patio, I poked around a bit and discovered the that the ferns have begun to unfurl.

By the basement, where it’s warm.

But even a little farther away, in the leaves.

Despite having underwear in the mailbox, despite covid-19, despite the isolation and confinement, spring has arrived. The trees are in blossom, the ferns are coming up. As Natalie Merchant so beautifully sings, these are the days.

 

Winter Again

Last night, we got around five inches of snow, and as we Mainers would say, it looks like wintah again. Somehow this didn’t bother Clif and me in the least when we got up and gazed at the white beauty of the newly fallen snow. This is March, after all, and in northern New England, we frequently get snow in March.

Outside, everything looked soft and calm, soothing, even, in the face of what’s going on all around us.

I particularly like the tangle of snowy branches.

The temperature is supposed to be in the 50s today, which means the snow won’t last long. But while it does, we will treasure our winter wonderland. As my blogging friend Eliza observed, we northern New Englanders are half crazy, but in a good way.

Coronavirus News from Maine

From Maine CDC

Maine’s number of cases of the coronavirus: 118

From the Bangor Daily News

Only a week earlier, Maine had fewer than 20 confirmed cases, and health officials expect it to continue to spread.

The News from All Over

From CNN

Nearly 1 in 1,000 people in the greater metropolitan area [of New York City]  have now contracted the virus, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus coordinator, said yesterday. That makes the “attack rate” — the percentage of the population with the disease — five times higher than the rest of the US…

From the New York Times

“Look at us today,” Governor Cuomo warned the rest of the country. “Where we are today, you will be in four weeks or five weeks or six weeks. We are your future.”

The latest numbers from CNN:

Global Cases: 387,382

Global Deaths: 16,767

From Mother Nature Nature: More Unsung Heroes

There’s no shortage of people facing extraordinary adversity to help us maintain some semblance of civilization in these pandemic times.

There are the usual suspects — doctors, nurses, firefighters — who make courage under fire seem so routine.

And then there are truckers.

Rain, shine or pandemic, the U.S. relies on about 3.5 million truck drivers to keep goods — the lifeblood of an economy — in circulation.

That includes canned foods and non-perishables like tuna and rice and beans, bound for small stores and shops in every nook of the country. And yes, there’s always a need for more toilet paper on Aisle 12.

My own take: When this horrible time is over, I hope we can respect all the workers who actually keep things running: The truckers, the cashiers, the clerks, the workers who stock shelves, the receptionists, and many others. And pay them a true living wage with benefits such as health care, sick days, and vacation time.  Those at the top never fail to remind us how valuable they are and how much society needs them. Uh-huh. We know the truth now. And let’s not forget it.

 

 

Snow-Gauge Clif and Some Amazing Numbers

Another wee break from the coronavirus. Yesterday’s post was pretty heavy, and I thought I’d leaven the blog with something a little lighter. (I’ll be back on Monday with news of the coronavirus from a Maine perspective.)

Here is the second installment of Snow-Gauge Clif, who yearly measures how fast the snow melts from our home in the woods.

This is Snow-Gauge Clif in the front yard. The snow is almost gone! Very unusual for our yard in mid-March. Amazing, actually.

And here he is in the backyard. Note the mud in the foreground. See those footprints? I nearly took a flip once or twice as I went back and forth with a wheelbarrow full of leaves.

Here are a couple of photos of the front garden. For those of you in warmer places, this might not look like much. But this Mainer is very impressed with how little snow is left.

And here is a little acorn that fell on our front porch. It looks as though it has split and is ready to sprout. I am going to throw into the woods where it will have a chance to grow.

To continue on with the theme of amazing…here are some pretty amazing numbers—1,261, the number of e-books that was downloaded during our giveaway last week. To try to cheer up people and give them something do while they were hunkering in place, we offered my two YA fantasy novels, Maya and the Book of Everything and Library Lost, as e-books for free of charge for five days. (Amazon’s limit, not ours.)

Initially, I thought  we’d give twenty, maybe thirty, of them away. But, no. There are now 1,261 of my ebooks zinging around the world. Holy cats! I know free is a good price, but I never expected so many people to take us up on our offer.

I hope readers can take comfort from Maya, the main character in both books. She faces formidable adversaries, and although Maya is at times afraid, she faces and acknowledges her fears. Then Maya goes forth and carries on.

May all of you carry on.

 

 

Some Small Comforts

Today I am going to take a break from writing about the coronavirus pandemic and focus on a few good things. How? Let me count the ways.

First things first: I started the morning with cinnamon toast made from homemade bread. Also, a mug of tea featuring one of my favorite dogs.

This year, March 19 is the first day of spring, the earliest in my memory. While in Maine rough winds might not exactly be shaking the darling buds of March, the snow is pretty much gone from our yard. Yesterday, Clif took down the Christmas lights, and he didn’t even have to clamber over a snowbank to do so. I swept the patio, removing piles of dead leaves and dirt. It might not be time to bring out the chairs and tables, but it sure is good to see a clean patio with just a little itty-bit of snow left. More like mid-April than mid-March.

Our library is closed because of a certain virus I promised not to write about. Has that deterred our intrepid adult-services librarian, Nick Perry, who leads the library’s book group and trivia night at Van der Brew? It has not. Nick has started a virtual book club and movie club.

Our first book will be Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence. I Haven’t even started the book, but just from reading the description, my feminist alarm is already shrieking. Should be a good discussion.

The movie is going to be The Hours, which is based on the book by Michael Cunningham. Clif and I have already seen this movie and liked it very much. However, we saw it ten years ago when the movie first came out, and we will have to watch it again to refresh our memories.

Not content with these two nuggets of awesomeness, Nick has made a video of several movies that he likes and that are available on Kanopy, a library streaming service. Holy cats, Nick is good! His observations are right on the mark, and his delivery and pacing are pitch perfect. Nick is so good that he could be on NPR. Watch out Bob Mondello! But don’t take my word for it. You can see for yourself on this video.

 

If you are unable to get Kanopy through your library, many of the movies Nick recommended are available through other streaming sources.

Finally, today is Clif’s and my forty-third wedding anniversary. We will obviously be spending a very quiet one at home. Because I am a committed homebody, this is just fine with me. We have cake in the freezer, pizza, and rum for cocktails.

Tonight, we’ll settle down with one of Nick’s suggestions, Ernest & Celestine.

Small comforts in troubled times.

 

 

From Our Small Corner in Maine

Normally, I publish three posts a week, with one of them being a photo for wordless Wednesday. But these are not normal times, and for a while, at least, I will be publishing more posts than usual. This will help me make sense of things in my small corner of the world and leave some kind of record of what we did and what we thought. It won’t be complete, of course. No one record ever is. But it will be my contribution to these extraordinary times.

As of this date—March 17, 2020—President Trump is finally taking the novel coronavirus seriously. It took him a very long time to figure out that he couldn’t bully the virus into submission. The virus doesn’t give a hoot about President Trump. It will go where it can and infect the powerful as well as the weak. Now, let us hope that President Trump actually does something useful. There’s talk of a stimulus package, and I’m praying that some of the money will go to people who really need it as opposed to all the usual rich suspects.

Maine is fortunate to have a strong, smart woman—Janet Mills—for governor. Today, according to NBC News, she “has requested that the Small Business Administration help Maine small businesses get supportive loans to overcome the loss of revenue during the COVID-19 concern….Additionally, Mills sent emergency legislation that would temporarily extend eligibility to unemployment to workers that have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.”

In Maine, as of today, thirty-two people have tested positive for Covid-19, and three are in the hospital. So far no reports of death, and may it stay that way.

Our children are well. (Picture me knocking furiously on wood.) Dee, who lives in New York City, is working from home and can do so indefinitely. Shannon and Mike, who live in Asheville, North Carolina. Tomorrow, Shannon will begin working from home, and Mike will, too, unless he is considered a mandatory employee.

Clif and I have been staying safe and sound in our own snug home, and so far, at least, life isn’t really that different for us than it usually is. We are both introverts and homebodies. Even in normal circumstances, most of our time is spent at home. We cook almost every meal that we eat, so we can’t even say we miss going to restaurants. Although we are introverts, we do miss getting together with our friends, and I have been staying in touch electronically, through messages and phone calls.

While we are well supplied with food and toilet, I have found that there are some things I didn’t think of. For example, the Sunday newspaper to read and then to use as a starter for our wood furnace. As a result, we have been scrounging various sources of paper.

But yesterday I looked outside and saw a solution from nature—pine cones scattered throughout our backyard.

Out I went to gather them.

Clif used some pine cones this morning, and he said they worked really well. Because of the pine cones, Clif didn’t have to use nearly as much paper as he usually does to start the fire.

A moment of triumph for me. I spent a happy hour in the backyard in weather that was brisk but pleasant. The yard is mostly free from pine cones, and they have been put to good use.

What have you been doing in this time of the novel coronavirus?

 

The Astonishing Case of the Disappearing Snow

A week has passed since Snow-Gauge Clif made his first appearance of the year, and what a long week it has been. The news about the coronavirus changes daily. As we watch the news,  we wait in apprehension, hoping that family and friends, near and far, stay safe and well.

But let us turn our attention back to Snow-Gauge Clif. The snow is melting at an astonishing clip. Here is Snow-Gauge Clif in the front yard.

And here he is in the backyard.

So much snow has melted that a couple of days ago, I did my yearly chore of picking up branches and sticks in the backyard. And, no, that little buddy didn’t help me.

Winter storms always blow sticks and branches down, and believe it or not, I actually enjoy this chore that tells me, “Spring is coming, spring is coming.”  Beside me, a beautiful ghost dog barks and leaps as I throw the sticks over the fence into the woods.

After cleaning the yard of sticks, I grabbed my wee camera and looked for signs of spring. I was not disappointed.

Somehow, this green looks even better this spring than it normally does.

 

 

 

 

The Return of Snow-Gauge Clif

It’s the beginning of March, and at our home in the woods this can only mean one thing—the return of Snow-Gauge Clif to keep track of the melting snow in our yard. In Maine, March marks the beginning of the end of winter, and there is always speculation about when the yard will be snow free. Enter Snow-Gauge Clif with his trusty yardstick to measure the retreating snow.

Both Clif and I have had the notion that this winter has had much less snow than last winter did. As it turned out, our notions were correct. Here, in the front yard, is Snow-Gauge Clif at the beginning of March 2019:

Here he is in 2020, about two days ago.

Backyard, 2019:

Backyard, 2020:

Fortunately, we seem to have had enough snow to protect the perennials. I remember one year when we had a scanty snow cover, and I lost almost all the plants in the backyard garden. Because even when it doesn’t snow, it’s usually very cold in Maine in Winter. Believe it or not, snow provides insulation for the plants, and uncovered plants are not a good thing.

Now, blogging friends, brace yourself for excitement for the next month or so. If the snow continues melting at this pace, then it’s highly likely that the snow will be gone by the end of March. Last year the snow was gone in mid-April. What will it be this year? Only time will tell.

So stay tuned! Each Friday will bring a picture of Snow-Gauge Clif with his trusty yardstick.