Friday, July 30, 2010

Girls do lunch

My aunt Sally from Florida is visiting her daughter here in Maine and I met them for lunch today. Sally has a good friend Eleanor in Florida who grew up in Monmouth, and is visiting a lifelong friend of hers here in town. They had been following Ameranth on her Erie Canal hike as well as reading this blog, so wanted to meet us. Luckily, Ameranth worked just a half day today and was able to come along.

Being the introvert I am, I was a little worried about going to lunch with strangers, but it was just fine. (Of course, my aunt reads this, so I wouldn't write anything else, but I mean it- it was like we were all old friends) I also worried about being responsible for choosing the place we ate, but everyone agreed they enjoyed the food, so that was okay too!  It was a cooler day than we've been having, and the restaurant was a leetle bit too cool for us, especially since the AC was blowing directly on us. But Ameranth and Sally got up, moved the floor fan, lowered the AC setting, and aimed the louvers upward, so we were all comfy. I'm not sure what the staff thought of that, but no one complained.

And that was after we came in and milled about, wondering where to sit, since the booths only fit 4 and the two empty tables were not close together. As we discussed moving the furniture around, a nice couple offered to move so we could use their seats. Thank you random strangers!

I meant to take a picture of all of us but forgot to, darn it. Ameranth was told to keep her blog up to date, so they would know when she took off on her next adventure, and I was told to write more often. I told them my life was not that interesting, but that I would try to talk to J more often for amusing tidbits! 

He did come in a little bit ago to say he lost his glasses and would I come look for them. J had been working on the lawn tractor and had taken them off when he was under it replacing the deck. We followed his  path from where he worked on it to where he apparently realized that he couldn't see where he was driving, with no luck. I was annoying him with questions about the last time he saw them, etc, when Ameranth lifted the hood, and voila! the lost was found.

Ameranth just asked me if I was writing a blog entry and commented "Well, aren't you a good person?"  Yes. Yes I am. And I did it first. She's been stealing my life for her blog before I can steal hers for mine.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ladyslipper update

I just got a few more pictures of Ladyslipper from Shoeshine and figured I'd share. She and her mom visited Boulder over Memorial Day weekend.
Looks longer and leaner than my rolypoly babies!  The lack of hair is the same however.

We are still hoping for a visit to Maine but X's classes have caused the original plans to be changed. Maybe in September I'll get a chance to hold this little doll.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My goodness, Mondays are busy blog days

I'm always pleasantly surprised at how many blog posts I get to enjoy reading on Mondays and today was no different. I wrote one yesterday and don't really have much going on to write about today.(or any other day really :o) I called my parents to chat and my mother said wistfully "Your father's on the computer checking to see if there are any blog posts to read * sigh*. Nothing new."

So, even though we talked for 48 minutes and nothing has happened to me in the last hour, here's a new post for you to read. Now, Ma will be all kerfuffled about me quoting her online. She tends to apologize for things that are not her fault or even wrong, and she hates to upset anyone. She is a very nice person, and funny too- even when she doesn't mean to be.

Here's a picture of her holding a puppy- if I remember correctly, my grandfather raised beagles for some time. He was a loud man and would have given her holy heck if that one had gotten loose, hence the choke hold around the neck.
Both of my parents are in this prom(?) picture. What a good-looking 1950s couple!

When #2 and I were around 12 and 13,  we each got a goat as a pet. This led to the family getting into breeding and showing purebred dairy goats for the next 15 years, maybe longer. They also sold goat milk, and each of my kids drank that as babies when no longer nursing.
That's my dad, youngest sister and my mom- I don't know the goats' names, but if you care, from left to right is a Nubian, La Mancha and an Alpine. I always liked the Nubians because they come in a lot of colors and coat patterns.

It was a pain having to get up early enough to milk the goats before school, and no one liked cleaning out the barn, but looking back, it was nice to have an activity that the whole family was involved in. At least for awhile- #2 didn't last too long, and #3 preferred horses. 

This is about the only picture I have with my grandmother with one of my kids, I think. This is me and my mother, with her mother holding Ms. M.  Mama O was already ill at that time and when I visited with the children, it was always a short one. 
When my folks got married, my grandfather gave Ma several acres from his farmland on which to build a house, so we grew up just down the road from them. I remember my mother walking up to her mother's for coffee, pushing the baby carriage and me pushing my doll carriage. After having 4 babies close together, I completely understand her desire for a break from the confusion and noise of 5 of us. Her younger brother was just 3 years older than me, so I think it was a break for both mothers!

I've written before about my parents helping us, both with advice and hands-on instruction for various projects over the years. J and I used to laugh at the back and forth 'discussion' about the right way to do anything, but over the years have noticed we are now doing the same thing! It's hard for my folks having to sit and supervise, but they are still ready, willing and able to tell us the right way to go.

Ma also sews very well. She made us girls matching outfits when we were small, mini skirts and maxi dresses in high school, and wedding dresses for at least two of us. She not only made Barbie clothes, she let us try sewing them too.  She made Cabbage Patch doll clothes for my kids, and curtains, slipcovers and pillows. I recently benefited from her cleaning out her fabric stash, since she said she wouldn't be using it- but she recently finished replacing her kitchen curtains and cushions.  

When I was little, she and my father made braided rugs, my mom braiding and my dad sewing the lengths together. They made furniture, beds, dividing walls and a goat barn, as well as a lean-to shelter early in Maine, then later a cabin. We picked bayberries and made candles. We raised orphaned squirrels and a baby skunk. We had a mean inbred collie named Lassie, and a parakeet named Scrooge who would whistle with my mother as she washed the dishes. After we kids left home, my mom enlarged her flower gardens and they built a waterfall and fish pond. 

It should be no surprise that her children think they are able to tackle just about anything around the house and yard! Or at least they are willing to try. I can't think of any area in which they set a bad example for us- of course it could be I am a little prejudiced! 

So, there you go Ma- a new blog post for you!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

If you hear the sound, did a tree fall?

We missed the 3 tornadoes here in Maine last week, thank goodness, but we did lose a tree to the same storm system. I didn't realize it at the time but had heard the "CRAACK" when it went down, immediately after a very close flash of lightning. I actually expected to see smoke when I looked out the window, thinking a tree had been hit, but saw nothing.

Coming back from the post office the next day, we saw the tree lying in the pasture. J was home, having dropped an antique two-man saw on his leg while putting it up in his shed. After I told him it was stupid to try to hang a big thing like that himself, he changed his story to "I decided to stop when we lost electricity, and leaned it against the bench. When I turned my back, the saw decided to attack and slid down my leg to bite me in the ankle bone"  The stab was not very big, but it was deep, so I was happy that his appointment for his physical was the next day. He got a stay-home-from-work note which would have made him happy had he been able to walk without pain. As it was, he spent most of his time with ice on his elevated footsie.

Anyway- he managed to hobble down to the pasture to check out the tree with me- it didn't look so bad from the field, but the brush was too thick for us to see the trunk clearly. Plus the horses were a little too friendly. I don't like having them stand over me while I am crawling under the electric fence wire.

So, after dinner I went down to take a closer look. There is an old wire fence lining our field, about 10 feet or so out from the stone wall which is our property boundary. In order to bypass that fence, I had to get to the wall about a ways up and balance my way down to the tree. And by stone wall, I don't mean the pretty neat kind you see by people's houses, with the flat tops and all.  These are the big old honking  I-don't-know-how-farmers-got-them-to-the-side-of the-field rocks.

So I teeter my way down, worrying about bee's nests and breaking a leg- J would never hear me yelling, so how long would it take for him to miss me and limp out to check on me? I made it safely however, and found that the tree had not been hit by lightning(darn it) but had been broken right off it's roots. Apparently it grew up between the rocks, or was there when the wall was built.
It's about 30 -36 inches in diameter, and 5 feet  long from the broken tip to the bend in the trunk.  No way was out little electric saw going to make a dent in that- even if we could get power down there!

We let our horse people know about the tree on the fence, and one showed up the next day to cut up the wood and repair the wire.  J assured him that we didn't expect him to clean it up, just wanted them to be aware of the escape potential, but he was nice enough to cut the limbs in the field and left the rest for us to get later. 

Taking this as a sign that we needed a 'real' chain saw, we bought one Friday, and called it our anniversary present. J can't wait until his foot heals enough to try it out. The saw, not his foot.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Still Mr and Mrs Crazy after all these years

Saturday was our 33rd anniversary- go team! We had a very nice day, taking a little road trip and eating out, which we don't do often. More about that in a minute, first I want to reminisce (boy, is that a hard word to spell, it took me three tries to have word checker get it) a bit.

J and I first met in 1974, when I worked in the credit union down the street from his job at the hardware store. The first Friday night he came in to cash his check, I was hooked. He says he was too, although it took two years for us to date. J's story is that was because he knew we would get married and he wasn't ready yet. I left that job and worked one year as an aide at an elementary school where his mother was a teacher's aide, and his brother-in-law taught 5th grade. So I got to know them before I went back to the credit union, and walked past him every day to get a soda from the corner store. J would just happen to be out on the front step most days to say hi.

Our first date was his store's Christmas party, and I believe the only reason he was finally pushed to ask me was that another guy who worked there said he was going to. A couple of weeks later he called again, and that was it, we were engaged by St. Patrick's Day. For such a romantic guy (and he is mushy) the (first) proposal was anything but. Sitting in his truck outside my house, he asked me if I liked camping (yes), kids (yes), and spaghetti(no), then concluded 2 out of 3 wasn't bad. J then stated: "We've been spending a lot of time together. Maybe we should break up?"
Me: "Do you want to break up?"
J: "No. Do you?"
Me; "No"
J: "So, do you want to get married then?"
Me: "That's not the kind of thing you ask after drinking so many beers. You better go home" (Note- Apparently I didn't think he was too drunk to drive home, but I worried that he would forget that he had asked me. How embarrassing would that be?)

When I told my mother about this, she almost died: "You didn't say yes?!" (I was 23 and she was worried about old maidage) I told her not to worry, he would ask me again. And he did. 

And immediately said "We don't have to tell anyone right away." 
After straightening out that he just wanted to enjoy stringing his eager family and coworkers along a bit:
Me: "Okay, when do you want to get married?"
J: "Maybe...1980?"
Me: "How about July?"

We couldn't do the cool 7-7-77 date because it wasn't a Sunday. And we chose to get married on a Sunday because of J's boss. The hardware store was open 6 days a week, and Everett didn't want to have to close so everyone could attend the wedding. He made an offer we couldn't refuse.
                             7-17-77 still sounds good.

Fast forward to Saturday and our ride. We drove east, then south along the Kennebec River, and found some roads we'd never been on. I remembered to take the camera, but J isn't very good about slowing down for photo ops. That's okay, the windshield contributes to the road trip vibe. Some cool silos. Papa, Mama and baby sizes.
                          Over the river in Richmond.

Woolwich, I think? J says these are buoys, but I prefer to think of them as unexploded mines.

Back over the river- I tell you, it was a gorgeous day and there were lots of nice shots that got away! This is what I was able to get.

Okay, now in the interest of national security, I cannot tell you where or what these next shots are. Suffice it to say that J worked here for 15 years- well, his working period covered 15 years, but with several layoffs and a strike, he probably worked about 12 and half of the years. 

As I was photographing the drydock skyline, I commented that I hoped taking pictures wasn't illegal. It was then that J noticed the purple sign stating no pictures were allowed. We quickly left, taking the back roads to shake off any tails. I must admit, I struggled with this since I am a rule follower, but what the heck, I am sure my readers are not troublemakers. Right? 

We then zipped back up to Augusta for some food, along the way passing a snazzy little red sports car.( Obviously, this is not my picture)

J: "When I win the lottery, that's what I want!"
Me: "Well, you'd have to ride in it alone, because I couldn't get in or out of that thing"
J: "Babe, if I drove that, I wouldn't be alone"

Stopping by the grocery store later, we parked right next to a similar car. J takes a good look.
J: "Hon, you could get out of that car"
Me:"Kicking me out before you even get one?"

It was a good day.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ms M sent this video link today and I thought it was well done and pretty funny.

Dad Life from Church on the Move on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Torsey Redux

J got home a little early today, and we took another ride out to camp, hoping to visit with # 5 and spouse. But they apparently are driving up after work tonight (for a weekend with sons and grandchildren) and camp was empty of relatives.

Boomer came with us, so J got a chance to witness his swimming prowess in person. The dock is in and Boomer soon got used to the movement and raced up and down between dips. We are on the end of the lake, and the water is very warm now. I pondered going in, although I hadn't brought a suit--Hold on! No skinny-dipping was done-no need to look away from the screen!

Boomer so wanted to jump in/walk on water- he was leaning forward with his claws hanging over the edge. I waited until he was on shore before going in, but he raced back to check it out.
Then back to land to swim out to meet me in shallow water.
I should point out that there are bloodsuckers in the muddy bottom here and I was trying not to touch down. Boomer felt I should be his personal dock, which caused a bit of splashing and franticness on his part.

Note the lovely mud he stirred up? No leeches were found however, and the humongous snapping turtle that lives there was nowhere to be seen so it was all good.

Normally I would not post pictures of me swimming etc, but without my glasses I can't see far, so no one can see me either. What? Ask any cat about that- if they don't look at you, you don't exist. Same deal.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday Words

Every family has them.

Those sayings from a memorable occasion, story or joke, movies watched way too many times, or handed down from grandparents. The ones where you get looked at strangely if you use them among coworkers absentmindedly. Trying to fall asleep again at 4am, I found myself thinking about this.

"So, I took the $50,000 and bought birdseed for the canary"  and "I see, said the blind man" were used by one grandmother, Mama B.  Meaning=?

Mama O had some that were more, pithy, shall we say, and my mother used the more kid-friendly ones a lot. A fresh mouthed "so what?" would get "Sew buttons on a grasshopper's fly" and if we kept it up, "I'll give you back to the Indians" (which conjured up visions of cartoon braves lurking at the edge of the woods, waiting for me). 

More whining or crying might get us "Choke, chicken, there's more a-hatchin' ". Harsh.

Of course, our kids heard all of those and a favorite of J's mother; "Go play outside and blow the hamburg smell off ".

TV shows contributed a lot too: "What is it girl? Timmy's in the well?!" which we enjoy saying to our dogs, who don't think it's funny. And "one of these things is not like the others" which is usually sung, of course.  "I'm  peckish" (from the early computer game Sheep in Space) to indicate hunger has garnered a few weird looks. {and garner is a pretty strange word too}.

 I don't really have a point to this meandering and the dogs want to go out, so I'll wrap this up suddenly. The end.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Saturday Sunset

A downpour, then showers off and on, clearing just enough for this sunset.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A trip to camp with the dogs

The weather this week has been hazy, hot and humid so Ameranth and I decided to take the dogs out to camp for a swim. Rosie didn't go, and she was very upset about staying home with J. He said she sat looking out the window and howled mournfully- at least until he gave her a special treat and she was over it.

Rosie didn't go because she gets carsick, hates water and would run away. Anna was happy, until she realized Boomer was coming too, and Boomer was, as always, sooo excited to do anything, that he bounded into the car, sat on Anna's head and panted happily.

We drove out to Torsey Lake to the land that my parents bought in the '60s for our vacations, which is about a half hour north of us. My uncle owns the lot next door and he offered the use of his dock and beach, since the other dock wasn't in the water yet, and he has sand rather than mud. Anna had swum before and had her recent exposure to salt water, so she was more interested in investigating smells and running through the woods, but this was all new to Boomer.

Ameranth went in first and coaxed him out to her, and we threw sticks for him to fetch, because he would go through the fires of hell to fetch something, especially if he thinks Anna might want it.  After the first panicky thrashing when the ground disappeared:

He seemed to enjoy it quite a bit, at one point swimming out to a plastic jug tied out as a mooring 30 feet from shore. He came right back when called (after he realized it wasn't going to be fetchable).

He even found a treasure- a tennis ball, floating near the campfire area.

Anna found a 'treasure' too. That stump in the right above has been just offshore as along as I can remember and has several roots that stick out. I looked over at Anna to see her tiptoeing her way along one as if she were on a tightrope. Just as I was focusing for a picture, she leaned down and delicately picked up a sodden lump which clearly had a head at one end. Hilarity ensued as we chased her through the briars and we chased her through the brambles and we chased her through places a rabbit couldn't go. (extra credit if you know that song!)

It must not have tasted good (and how bad does that have to be if a dog doesn't like it?) because she dropped what turned out to be a drowned muskrat baby about 8 inches long. Now what to do with it? Scooping it up gingerly on a stick- I suggested two, like chopsticks, but Ameranth was doing it and felt one would work. And it did. We got it over to our side of camp and stashed it under an overturned wheelbarrow, since that was the only dog-safe place we could find.

My uncle came down to visit for a few minutes between tending the chicken he had cooking, and told us a funny story. He and his son had been standing right here on the beach when my cousin suddenly jumped back. Something had brushed by his ankle- it turned out to be the cutest little baby muskrat, they have their burrow right over there and it seemed lost.  Um, awkward.  We did explain that we had just seen (probably) the same small animal and it wasn't looking too good, but made it clear it was really most sincerely dead before Anna came along. He seemed to take it well.

We don't go out to camp much anymore because we live in Maine, and go to RI for vacations, but we used to bring the kids up every Memorial Day weekend when we lived in RI. This was in 1986.
Shoeshine, Ms M, J, Ameranth, and Sectaurs in front.

And I was lucky enough to find this picture taken in just about the same place.
That's #2 in the back, #3, my father, #5, #4 and numero uno (me) leaning soulfully against the tree. Judging by my short hair and glasses style I guess this was probably around 1968.

Lots of good times out there. #4 and her son run the joint now, and he is out there this weekend with friends, so I am sure the fun will continue for years to come.
(I did warn him via Facebook that we left a surprise under the wheelbarrow-good times indeed)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dutch Island trip

As threatened promised, here's what we did Sunday. For many years J's family has made a day trip to Dutch Island but this was the first time for Ameranth and me. One of his brothers lives in FL and brings his boat up every year when they come to visit, usually around the Fourth. The island trip is often done during the week, and we are not around. Last year J went out, but I didn't, probably because we had the two devil dogs with us.

As I said, J's family grew up with a boat and had visited the different small islands in the area many times, so he was excited about getting the chance to revisit one. There are ruins of Fort Greble near the center of the island so he, his sister Trish and a couple of nephews hiked in. The nephews went back after J and Trish assured them they would be fine returning by themselves.

No surprise, they got lost. I think I may have mentioned J is directionally challenged, and I've been told the sun was overhead and of no use for navigation. Ha. They milled about for a bit, then headed downhill towards the shore, any shore, coming out quite a bit away from the camp. Staying by the water, they circled back, and the nephews eventually found them, guiding them back to civilization and a beer.

J told me the island was around 4 miles long- after I saw it, I checked Google- just under one mile long, honey. Around 100 acres. But it is lovely, and the family had staked a claim to a little cove just behind the lighthouse at the southern tip.
We drove down to a beach just across from this end, and waited for a pickup, after meeting two nieces, a nephew-to-be and their dog, Henry. It was fun going down there because we lived on that road before moving to Maine, and Ameranth remembered walking down to swimming lessons. Although she was just 6 when we moved, I'm not surprised she remembered the walk- it was at least 1/2 mile, (I'm being conservative, since I mocked J, but I think it was closer to a mile) and uphill both ways. No, really, the road goes up a long slope, then down steeply to the shore.  Sectaurs would be in an old-fashioned heavy stroller, and I seriously worried about losing control and tumbling down that last bit.
That's the bridge to Jamestown, a much bigger island, in the background. This beach is where the URI Bay Campus is located and this is their dock:
 There is a little beach to the north which has a sandy bottom, and that is where the kids had their lessons. So they weren't dealing with a slippery rocky bottom, just cold salt water, tides and waves. (When they started lessons at the lake in Maine, they wanted to know when the tide changed) J insists that the water in Groton, CT where he learned to swim is much colder than the water in the bay here. 

Anyway, after a looong wait in the broiling sun, our transportation showed up and we all got on board without much fuss, even Anna and me. A zippy ride over and we disembarked just as well.

We could only stay a little while, since we were double-booked and had to get to my side of the family for a relaxing end to the day.  I don't know what kind of boat the FL brother-in-law has- it's not huge- but the RI b-i-l has a Boston Whaler and man, that ride is a lot bumpier! I'm not sure why Boston Whaler drivers seem to feel that they have to speed directly across any waves or chop, but we got back to shore extremely quickly and didn't bounce overboard as we feared.

All in all, it was a very nice weekend, beautiful weather and the extreme heat wasn't so bad with a shore breeze.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

NOW I remember a good thing about work.

The air conditioning. It was so cold there that I wore gloves and a hat in the winter, but in July, it sure was nice. Except I just remembered that it was too cold to actually dress for the muggies for the drive in, because then I would have frozen again. I think that negates the good part.

Fortunately, the AC in the van was working just fine for our weekend trip to RI, and the weather couldn't have been better to be on the bay. J's family had their holiday party on Saturday and high tide worked out nicely for boat rides for most of the day.

The house is on a cove which ends right beyond their driveway in a marsh, so there is little wave action but a nice breeze. Growing up, J and siblings swam here and I believe even dug clams that were safe to eat! The dogs still swim, and oh, what dogs we had! 4 yellow labs from Florida, one of their offspring who lives in RI, chocolate lab Henry from NY, Mabel from MA, the 3 dogs who live there, Anna who came down with us, and Max, the goldendoodle from next door.
No fights and everyone stuck around, (except for visits with Max to meet his parents) but we heard that old goodie "Mabel, Mabel, get off the table!" (with the second line "the quarter's for the beer" unspoken) more than once. 
That picture looks like fighting, but Anna and Mabel (who belongs to Ms & Mr C) are old friends and that's actually Anna inviting a chase.  The labs would fetch a stick as long as anyone was willing to throw one.
One got going so fast, he actually walked on water!
Okay, not really, there is a big rock just under the surface, but it sure surprised me the first time I saw that!

Lots of family there, cousins from 16 to 37, and a few in the next generation as well. My in-laws and I commented that we were now the "old folks"- how did that happen? I've been coming here for the 4th since 1977 and it really, really doesn't seem like that long ago. Until you do the math.
           She's  waving bye-bye, not "talk to the hand"! 

For some reason, this shelter was erected on the lawn:

                            Then lifted onto the deck:
These brothers found it a lot easier to retrieve an errant frisbee than when they were a couple feet shorter!  Oh yes-the one on the bottom brought his girlfriend and announced that they had become engaged just hours earlier!

It was a very nice day and we even got Mr C to agree to a group picture before they left. He's a tricksey one.
The next day we went to Dutch Island, but that's another story.