Tuesday, May 31, 2011

That sweet, sweet smell of .....manure?

Our lilacs are in full bloom, but sadly cannot overpower the manure being spread on neighboring fields.
And I'll spare you the second visual.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday, Friday

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekendTomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes after...wards
I don’t want this weekend to end.

Oh come on, it was only a matter of time before I used that!  (Most of my relatives are probably wondering what this is and what's wrong with me - Google Rebecca Black if you must- that will help with the 'what this is' part)

It is indeed Friday, and I am heading down to MA to flower shop and plant with my peeps. Ms M and Minnie, to be precise. Both have little experience with gardens  so I offered to help them out and am looking forward to it. Ms M wants color now and perennials for no fuss and less future planting so I have been digging up lots of mine to share. Sectaurs and Minnie have a very small yard and the previous owner put in lovely perennials; they just need annuals for some color out front.

The big question is was "will I take Boomer down with me?" Right now, I think no. He would love to go for a ride and visit Mabel, although sometimes they irritate each other, but usually the passenger diverts his attention from annoying the driver, and J is staying home.  I've got an hour or so to decide.

Speaking of J, he is a happy camper since he has the day off and has finally fixed our lawn tractor. Turns out it needed a new sparkplug and air filter, but the biggest thing was a new fuel filter and clearing out the clogged gas line. And boy did we need the grass cut. We only managed it once when we had our one sunny day in May, and that was two weeks ago. We are finally getting our warm spring days but it jumped right to muggy hot weather. But I am definitely not complaining!

Ameranth is fighting the mosquitoes and humidity in Maryland on the Great Allegheny Gap trail, and walking about 10 miles each of the first two days. Anna is not as happy to be back hiking since she can't run loose as she did on stretches of the Erie Canal. Besides being all brush and woods, Ameranth is worried about poisonous (venomous?) snakes lying in wait for her precious pup. She saw one (not poisonous- she thinks) crossing the road in front of them and it reached from one side to the other- about 6 feet, I believe.  I suggested she whack two sticks together for safety, ala The Parent Trap. She was not amused.

J just came in so he'll cut my hair, I'll take a shower and head south even though Weatherbug just warned me of a severe thunderstorm watch. Ms M is on the phone with J and she warned me traffic would be bad since I was leaving so late. I told her I couldn't leave any earlier now, har har.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

She's on her way!

I drove Ameranth and Anna down to R.I. this weekend to visit family, then over to Connecticut on Monday to my cousin Marlow's house. He's her ride to Maryland as he had to drive to PA for business and generously offered to take her down today. Thanks again!

On Saturday we went to a beach a couple of miles from my folks to get a photo of the pair on the Atlantic Coast, midway up the Narragansett Bay. This area used to be the Quonset Naval Air Station, developed during WWII and closed in the 70's. The airport is still there, but it's mainly small private jets now and much quieter than it was when I was a kid. Most of it is an industrial park, with new cars coming in on huge container ships, and other businesses of varying sizes. The town got the golf course, and has opened several beaches, a boat launch and a very nice bike/walking path. Blue Beach was deserted on Saturday so Anna was able to run free to chase the seagulls.

Ameranth reported the water to be freezing, and the day was not terribly warm, but at least it was sunny. We had not seen the sun in Maine at all, for the past week. Of course, it rained again Monday. Hopefully the weather will finally dry up and she won't be soggy all day as she starts her walk on Wednesday. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Small Target Audience Alert- aka Geekery ahead!

As Ameranth planned her trip she thought about what she wants to accomplish. Her goal evolved from a coast-to-coast jaunt to wanting to explore the back roads and find interesting people and places as she wanders westward. I mentioned before that the Rockies combined with bears has convinced her that she doesn't want to walk that part of the map. Not that she couldn't, but that she doesn't want to. I totally support that conclusion.

After she decided to find quirky, famous or historic sites to visit along the way, she thought it would be fun to record them as accomplishments as in an MMO(massively multiplayer online) game with quests and waypoints on the way to the completing the mission or endgame.  So Ameranth has her website set up with her mission and her character sheet. She has some beginning quests and is open to suggestions as to other places she should visit. She'll collect a souvenier or take a picture at each quest marker, and record them in her journal as well as online.

I mentioned that it made me think about comparing her trip to Guild Wars, the game we both play. There are some similarities in the GW landscape and the areas she will be walking through.

Guild Wars starts off with a tutorial set in a beautiful pastoral setting. This area teaches new characters how to use their skills, travel and level up.

I figure the Erie Canal trip serves as her pre-searing area and that she is ready to hit the 'real' game now. In Guild Wars the first area is an arid, ugly, burnt version of pre-searing and it's a shock to end up there after the lovely beginning of the game.
Since Ameranth really has no desire to walk through highly populous southern New England, and even less desire to hit NYC or Baltimore, I'm considering that area Old Ascalon, and she's getting a 'run' (being run through a game area by another player instead of fighting your way there yourself) to western MD.  Here she'll be crossing the Appalachian Mountains, which would correspond to the Northern Shiverpeaks in GW. 
(Although we certainly expect that there will be no snow) After swinging by Pittsburgh and touching base with a cousin there, she'll head west and in game than means she would be hitting Kryta, another green part of the Tyrian world. We hope that the flooding will have subsided by the time she gets there, and that she doesn't end up under water.
It will depend on her route and quests how far south she gets. Since she and Anna don't like the heat, she will probably not get to an equivalent of the Maguuma Jungle, although there are arid parts there too. Though the mission chain in GW goes further west, it is possible to skip that part of the game and walk to the jumpoff mission to get overseas to the desert areas.
Here you will probably hit level 20, the highest level and complete your attribute points. You're a seasoned player, but the hardest gameplay is still to come. As in 'real' life, it's much easier if you have learned to play well with others and cooperate to reach goals by this point.

The game hits the mountains again and finishes in the Ring of Fire islands. Ameranth has yet to decide how and where she'll finish up- but she's got plenty of time!  A quest she would like to achieve would be to visit the office of Arenanet, the company who made Guild Wars, in Bellevue, Washington. (How geeky, eh? But we've been playing this game for 6 years and counting, and are impatiently waiting for Guild Wars 2 to be released.) It's just those darn grizzlies and those very high mountains that stand in her way.

I may have stretched this analogy a bit, but I'm having fun with it and look forward to adventuring vicariously with her, as a commenter said earlier.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


So we are experiencing an "extended stretch of ugly weather" as the Sunday paper's weather forecast put it. It's raining now, has been raining and looks like it will rain forever, world without end, amen.  Unless that Rapture thing happens.  J and I were talking about that and I said I think 'they' (the Rapture-ites) are going to be very disappointed- or the rest of us are going to be very surprised. J voted for the disappointment having the better chance of happening.

In other depressing news, Boomer is a dog without a pack, and he's not happy about it. Ameranth has been in MA since Thursday, dogsitting, and Boomer has been an only dog, oh what a lonely boy. I thought he might be happy without another dog to share our attention, but no. He wants more, more, more. The rainy weather has made walks shorter and less frequent as well. The first day I brought him to the pasture, he ran to the water, then looked around, a little lost. It's not as much fun running when you don't have someone to chase.

You probably can't tell but in that second picture, he is shaking himself as he runs and there is a mist of water surrounding him. He likes to sideswipe me and soak my pants leg as his next step, leading to a circling dance of avoidance. 

Behind him is a willow tree that we transplanted soon after we moved here. It was an offshoot of a tree that my parents had in their yard, planted when I was small. I remember my great-grandfather helping, and that the hole seemed huge when I got to stand in it. Maybe that's a false memory, but I like it. I like the connection between generations that I see when I look at the willow now. 

I got this wisteria from my mother as well- the wisteria from hell- It has never bloomed in over 20 years, and has tried to take over the nearby spruce trees. Last year we cut it down- we thought- but it refuses to yield.  I spotted this new growth and I guess we have to make the effort to uproot it soon.
We also need to tackle the new sumac popping up in the white violets. This is back where our extended chicken yard will go.

We've had some changes recently, some good like finally getting that bedroom finished and some sad like losing Rosie. But the biggest change to come will be later this week, when Ameranth and Anna take off on their next adventure. 

Since their trip last year hiking the Erie Canal in New York from Albany to Buffalo went well, she has decided to go forward with her big trip- walking cross country. Ameranth has spent the last year working and living here to save money for this. I'm driving her down to R.I. to visit with family, then to CT where a cousin has very kindly offered her a lift to MD, where she will start her walk westward.

She will be loosely following the American Discovery Trail. Despite her love of symmetry (or, a leetle touch of OCD) she decided that she doesn't have to start at the trailhead in Delaware, which would have her walking through several large cities. I believe the plan is to dip their toes in the Atlantic Ocean (via the Narragansett Bay) and hope to do the same ultimately in the Pacific. Common sense dictated the decision to not walk across the Rockies and bear country, so Yay for that! As of now, the goal is getting to Shoeshine in Boulder, CO and making further decisions then.

I've been asked why I am supporting her in this. First of all, Ameranth is an adult and has been planning this for several years now. I gave up pointing out reasons not to do it, and confine myself to pointing out what I think are sensible ways to stay safe and making sure she has what she needs- or what I think she needs. Secondly, it is a pretty cool idea and I think she's going to have quite an adventure. She's footloose and fancy-free right now and knows the opportunity might never come again. She wants to do this before "settling down and being a grownup for real". 

The house may be less cluttered, and may be a little quieter, but we'll miss having her here. Her, and her little dog too.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Not a good idea

So, in case you've ever wondered- it's not a good idea to finish up a thriller about a psychotic serial killer at 10 PM when the only light on in the house is the lamp you're using in the living room. Then, don't walk into the dark kitchen and wonder why that frog sounds so darn loud. But especially, don't turn around to find the back door ajar. Because it might scare the bejeebers out of you.

(I naturally decided Boomer needed to go out to pee, so I woke him up. He checked the perimeter for me, plus found a missing ball. All's well.)

Color ME spring-y

That's the view I have while sitting at my computer. Even with the gray skies it cheers me up. Maine changes colors slowly from winter's white and spruce green. Maybe it seems a tease to some, but I think nature is afraid of stimulus overload so eases us into happiness after the cabin fever blahs. 

After the bright neon greens of the maple and birch leaves, we get kelly green grass and the yellows of tulips, daffodils, forsythia and dandelions.
(That bush needs trimming, but there are always birds nesting in it, so it goes wild)
It seems like everyone in town has azaleas, with good reason; the pinks they add are beautiful. Ours buzzes with bumblebees.

Speaking of pink, we are just a few warm days away from apple blossoms.
Next will be the purple of the lilacs and the red/pink/purple of rhododendrons, still all tightly closed buds. I look forward to them, then onto the orange and scarlet and white of daisies, zinnias and poppies. But I am content to wait for them as our glorious summers pass all too quickly.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Trike and a Tick

The trike is good. 

We grabbed this at the employee store on our trip to Freeport yesterday. Yes, it's much too big for a one year old, and yes, she lives in Minnesota but, hell yes, it was a great bargain! How could we pass it up? We'll figure something out. J thinks it's so cool that it even has Ladyslipper's initial on it, and he ignored Ameranth when she told him it probably stood for Schwinn.

The ticks are bad.

Don't worry- I do not have a photo of the tick I found on my leg last night! This is the worst year for ticks since we moved here in 1987. (Well, worst for us, a banner year for the ticks themselves) We rarely found a tick on our first dog, Lizzie, but it seems Boomer is a tick magnet. I don't understand how they manage to jump aboard, since he rarely stands still, but they are evil little bugs. 

And I changed my mind. I am going to post this picture labeled "tick waiting for victim" (image taken from royalty free site all legal-like). They wait on grass blades and jump aboard as hosts pass by.
They have to be Super Tick to jump on Boomer as he flies by and to stay on him as he jumps in and out of the water.  Maybe that's their secret: Super powers. 

But they're not cool ones like this guy :(

Friday, May 6, 2011

What a dingdong!

Why did I find myself singing this earlier?

Clang, clang, clang went the trolley
Ding, ding, ding went the bell
Zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings
From the moment I saw him I fell

Well, we have a string of 3 bells on our door, so we- and the dogs- are alerted whenever it's opened. (They were actually Christmas decorations years ago and we liked them, so they stayed) I started to go out this morning to get the paper and Boomer went on high alert. But, I saw the cats waiting outside and I went to the other door to feed them before letting the dog out. Hence the bell song.

By the time I brushed my teeth I had segued into a different tune:

Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
Wake up - sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead. She's gone where the goblins go,
Below - below - below. Yo-ho, let's open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong! the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.

When I realized the connection my mind immediately hopped again. I could have gone two ways, but I didn't pick the Judy Garland trail, choosing to go straight to Chuck Berry instead.

Oh my ding a ling, Everybody sing
I wanna play with my ding a ling a ling
Oh my ding a ling, my ding a ling
I wanna play with my ding a ling a ling.

Hmm, how many other songs do I know with dinging in them? Not many. The only other one was:

Ding dong merrily on high,
In heaven the bells are ringing.

Oops, now I'm singing this one:

All the chapel bells were ringing
In the little valley town
And the songs that they were singing
Was for baby Jimmy Brown

You wanna stop the madness.
Stop the madness now
Stop the madness
Stop the madness now.

PS. Check out  this video - I think it's safe to say it is the only music video you'll see with Nancy Reagan, David Hasselhoff and Arnold Schwarzeneggar making appearances.

PPS. You don't have to thank me for the earworm music!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Misty May

It's such a misty, gray day here that the maple buds keep catching my eye like lights on the porch.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Since losing our wild child Rosie, we have changed our routine a bit. Besides trying to get out on the road walking to help Anna get into shape for her upcoming trip, we have been letting the two dogs loose in our back yard. Our back yard that is an 8 acre pasture and two ponds. 8 Acres that  has only electric fencing for the horses that visit in the summer.

It's been going pretty well. They zoom out of the gate and run down to check for ducks in the little puddle by the road, then run after them to the pond in the opposite corner. 
 This picture taken last fall, is of the seasonal pool in the middle that usually dries up completely in the summer. Right now it is filled with little tadpoles and growing grass that fools Boomer into thinking he can run across the far end. He chased Anna yesterday and it was like watching Wiley Coyote. Full tilt run from solid ground into a foot of water. I think he actually skimmed the surface for a second!

Anyway, the dogs have been surprisingly good, and we were pleased...until yesterday.  We called them back and Boomer showed up to be rubbed down and put in the back yard, but Anna disappeared, only to be seen running across the street to visit Snowball, the elderly lab next door. Snowball, the perfectly behaving dog that never leaves her yard. They had a brief sniff and visit and I brought Anna home.

Today we drove down to the library and took them for a walk from there, a brand-new experience for Boomer.  He usually runs right out to the car, so we had only Anna leashed as we left. Big mistake. He charged up to the two cats lounging out front and the scuffle resulted in 2 indignant cats escaping quickly, leaving Boomer with a mouthful of loose fur and a bleeding nose. Lesson learned? I hope so, but doubt it.

Since they were excited about the trip this morning we decided we would skip the pasture excursion today. Boomer goes out with me every morning to get the paper and is always very good. Out, pees on the way down the driveway, and back inside with me. Anna always sniffs him as he modestly comes back, trying not to rub his freedom in her face, but managing to convey his satisfaction with his solo outing.

Today he wanted to go out when I got the mail. I checked outside and no cats, so I let him out. Big mistake # 2. Down to the mailbox and halfway back was fine. Then I see him pause, prick up his ears and take off down the road. After an older gentleman with a baby in a stroller and a huge dog on a leash!  I think I may have mentioned Boomer's lack of social skills before- he snarls and charges up to any dog he meets, the bigger the better.  As I ran the hundred feet to retrieve him, I see him launch himself at the dog, who lunges to meet him, pulling the man sideways, tipping the stroller! Thank goodness his dog was well behaved (since mine isn't) and no one was hurt. He didn't have much to say, as I breathlessly apologized while trying to grab my obnoxious beast. Boomer knew I was annoyed and it took a minute for me to grab him. Then trying to lead him back while bending over to hold his collar, roughly a foot above the ground, was a treat. He twisted himself out of the collar but had the grace to accompany me home. He knew he was in disgrace and kept a low profile for the next hour or so.  Bad dog, bad bad dog.

Anna was on the chair in the living room watching out the front window and she gave me a look when I came in which was easy to read. "That's what you get for letting that little dip out, and not me."