Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hanging on for the ride

These few days are a whirlwind of stuff needing doing and I feel that if I am lucky I can hang on for the ride.

Yesterday I had a somewhat unexpected day off from the store (this constantly shifting work schedule can be fun to deal with! LOL). Of course there are always tons of projects to fill unexpected time slots...

One of the newer ones -- the deal I made to claim the red painted and faded siding from an old (historical) building here in Corinth that has been left to fall down and is currently being dismantled -- was out of the question due to serious rain. So I went with a plan B... visiting a friend to discuss our cooperative Ebay project.

In the past she has made a "good living" selling stuff through this online venue and offered to collaborate with me as a way to get back into doing this to add to both our incomes. So off I went to her home and computer. This was much more of a blessing than I ever thought it would be, as I was once again reminded how much I need a periodic "driving meditation" over familiar roads, to allow me to ground and open to the possible.

I watched the rain fall -- a serious, pretty much day long rain -- that felt like spring to me. Even though it was cold I could sense it as the "first spring rain" as it washed the earth and helped melt remaining snow banks. And I remembered a year ago, seeing the landscape emerge from under the snowy cover that had greeted us on our arrival in Maine. I enjoy being able to look through the trees -- bare now like they are not in the late fall, all but the beech, which retains its beige leaves to the bitter end -- and see fields and falling buildings that in a month or two will once again be hidden by leaves. And being reminded that I NEED to take the camera out and shoot some of these scenes and compose them into a book "All Fall Down" ... a photographic visit to the forgotten buildings of central Maine. Yes, it's now on the list..

My friend walked me through some of the thought processes that had succeeded for her in the past. We discussed what to sell, listing strategies, and eventually took a wander off to Bangor (as I had other errands there) researching inexpensive things in second hand stores that we will look for as the yard sale season opens, to resell.

I am also revisiting adding my hex work back on Etsy and possibly other online venues, and including other things -- such as my version of "Give us this day..." as a printed and hand-illuminated small poster.

But today is the day for agriculture... I will shortly be off to spend the day joining other friends at a series of mini-classes in a day long Vegetable and Fruit School offered by the Cooperative Extension Service, to be followed by Master Gardener Class this afternoon. Sandwiched in between, hopefully, will be a visit to the Post Office and a quick stop at Sams club to see if Olive oil and shortening are less expensive there for our soapmaking project next week. Which reminds me, before I head out the door, I need to write down the prices the I am to compare with.

Tomorrow, thankfully, is a "short day" at work, as it will give me time to prepare material for two hour-long classes in hex sign drawing and painting that I am giving to middle schoolers nearby as part of their "Spring into Art" program. I am still not sure where/how the school found me to solicit my participation and I am a little uncertain about the class, as this is not an age I am terribly comfortable with teaching... but be that as it may, I will do it and have fun I am sure. Won't get to stay and lunch with the other visiting artists, though, as K's follow up with the kidney doc is early afternoon. I will just have time to pack up my visual aids (I am taking a bunch of art to share), slide by home to pick him up and get him to the doc after classes are over.


Saturday, March 28, 2009


Though I look out my window at a field that is thoroughly frosted and not entirely free of snow, I KNOW things are growing.

Yesterday on a trip back from town the emerging catkins on one of the Salix discolor (known as "pussy willow" in the places where "pussy" still connotes a purring feline -- unlike my favorite forum on City-Data, where my post about this sign of spring was edited into "***** willow! LOL) caught my attention. Three of these little trees that I started from roadside cuttings last spring are now planted along our driveway and one of the three now has tiny catkins! The jury is still out on the other two. While I was admiring the new growth, I checked out the lilacs and found swelling buds as well. Better get to the pruning of the roadside maple, pronto I guess!

Inside, my new growing racks are growing fuller..

early lettuces -- the ones that were large enough to transplant this week

Baby Brussel Sprouts (which I am never sure how to spell but do know how to cook!) This variety is called Oliver.

Early cabbages (Gonzales, I think...)

Danish Ballhead (late) cabbages... I had TONS of these guys, gave away more than I have here

and the leeks

And there are now peppers seeded and more tomatoes will be planted today as I ran out of time yesterday.

Now, all I need to do is to materialize a rototiller or a small tractor with a tiller attachment in the next month.

You listening up there??

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Moon, Stirring the Pot

New natural year, new moon -- both the sun and moon are in Aries which seems to be a time of much "stirring of the pot". I was going to say "..for good and ill" but since mostly I think changes are neutral and the good or ill comes in how we work with and deal with them, well I left that part off.

There has been "drama" at work (mostly one co-worker stirring the pot and her target is -- at present at least -- not me.) I do feel for the younger gal who is current the focus of her fussing, though and will be calling Syn forth in her behalf today.

Riding other threads, I had the thought a few days ago -- after learning that one of my long-held contracts was getting pulled (victim of the recession) -- of a "money spell" that I had been taught and by an online friend and used remarkably successfully previously. It is a visualization spell, and I only just did it momentarily -- almost automatically -- as I remembered it, in the instant of walking between my Craft room and the bedroom to get my clothes for work. That distance is, oh, about 10 ft... so you can see there was not a lot of time put into the visualization!

However since that moment -- this week -- I have had two additional queries regarding hex signs. One is from a disgruntled buyer of someone else's sign that was marketed as being for outdoor use but painted on and with inferior materials, it would appear. It is disintegrating after only three years. This person is querying about the durability of my work and cost for a 3' sign. I had to price plywood, and had told her I would send a photo of my oldest sign (which I think was actually made of the sort of material hers was.. I explained it was an experiment and what I now use) and I need to get the email out to her today.

The second query was in my box this morning -- from a police dept in PA seeking a custom design to incorporate in their patches. Interesting concept... I have told them they were especially in luck on account of my "other hat" as a graphic designer) and asked more questions about the project (size, etc) so I can come up with something that will work in that application.

Meanwhile, the snow is departing and I am actively looking for some sort of tiller, am continuing to plant and transplant in the seedling area and am considering trying to cobble together a cold frame from some of the lumber and windows that I have stored. We got an additional light fixture for the seed racks this week (one each week, most likely, until we have enough) and I taught K how to transplant.

Today will be a busy day, and I have client work to do, hexes to paint, material that I need to send out, and some organizing of the office and hunting down of archived material in the garage that needs doing too.

Brandi-dog, who had her spay on Tues, is doing better. She is not yet interested in her kibble but I have a couple of cans of wet food that I will add to it over the next few days. She has pain meds, 2x a day... I got them in her with a bite of egg from an unsold breakfast sandwich yesterday night. She seems to be going up and down the front steps ok, but I won't let her out the back until she is off her meds.

K, with his sleep machine, is doing less well. I am thinking that perhaps he really needs to have the "over the mouth and nose" apparatus. He can only sleep with it a couple of hours and wakes up with a very dry mouth, despite the water in the tray. He has decided to nap with it, any time he feels sleepy, to see if he can begin to get "caught up" on good sleep, and we will go back to the place that supplied it in a month for follow-up.

I am looking forward to the new moon working this evening. It is especially nice being able to do it on a night when I did not have to work and can properly prepare. Thank you, Universe!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Maine Maple Sunday

I am off in a few minutes to spend the morning, at least, with friends touring a maple syrup producer during the annual spring rite here in Maine known as Maine Maple Sunday.

The sap is flowing, the producers are hard at work and many of them offer tours and demonstrations and treats (and of course use this as an opportunity to promote their products!) each year.

As we drive to Nutkin Knoll Farm we will be talking and brainstorming about business opportunities. My friends Anne and Todd (with whom I am taking the Master Gardener class) have a fledgling farm, Kidding Around Farm, raising meat goats and Anne makes soap and Todd does landscaping (like many Mainers we wear many hats during the year) and like many of us everywhere, we all need more income.

With luck I'll be back in Bangor in time to meet and briefly visit with farmer friend, Robin and friends of hers from "away" who have been here to visit and study four season gardening with greenhouses.

And then there is work at the store 4-9. But it should be a fun day.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Season of changes

Not unexpectedly, the recession has come home to roost. I learned today that my major client, a museum in NC, will be pulling in their belt and replacing me with volunteers. Even before the recession, I expected to loose them at some point; organizations like theirs really DO need someone "on scene" to best communicate their message.

However, these things always hit hard and more so when the director is a good friend and it was she who gave me the news. We've been through a lot together over the years and many folks who know her wondered at the longevity of our partnership. She is a wonderfully fanatical workaholic who has a tendency to attract -- and then also to burn out -- even the most hard workers in a crowd, like moths at a flame.

We will remain friends and, as a professional, I will help make the transition as painless as possible.

At the same time, losing a large chuck of my design business revenue, my brain in vacillating between panic and mad brainstorming ways to make up the shortfall. "What, in THIS economy, will people and/or businesses continue to need that I can easily and affordably supply?" bounces around batting against "What do you WANT to do?" and "What CAN you do?" and none of them seem to want to line up in any coherent fashion.

I can design stuff... but in these days of almost universal computer usage (so it seems) and "everyone" having access to something that at least purports to be a design or publishing program I am not sure how much that will or should figure into the equation. Especially in tight money times, I suspect that the understanding of the difference between professional communication services and what they think they -- or their hotshot computer-user friend or relative -- can do will seem like so much BS or 'smoke and mirrors.' And, at least on some level, I no longer feel driven to do this. At one point it grabbed me and consumed me -- or we became one, or something like that -- but now if feels like the "demon" has spit me out. I CAN do it, but I don't have to and I am not sure I still want to, at least in the same way I did in the past. I still feel the need to use these skills to promote messages and provoke change, but not necessary for anyone else's vision.

I can write. And indeed I have a mostly-completed book that must get off the starting block, self-published at least. In the past I have made a decent part-time living as a freelance writer and that appeals to me again. However, I am not anywhere near being part of the "mainstream" or so it seems to me, and I wonder what, if anything, that I might want to write about would be of interest -- and to whom. "Back in the day" I wrote how-to articles on saving money and making do and gardening and food... but what about all that hasn't been said a million times. How, I ask myself (and you, if you wish to accept this mission) do I make it relevant to this very different 2009 world?

I can do folk art and will continue to promote my hex signs, but as "non-essentials" I wonder how practical this will be? True, the indoor ones are quite affordable and "small indulgences" are one of the trends that Faith Popcorn's Brain Reserve has been talking about for some time. But how does that fit into today? As an amateur futurist myself, I have been following her work since before the publication of her book The Popcorn Report in 1991 and have seen more than a few grains of truth in her observations. For this year, the four trends they are highlighting are: Reclaim, Retrench, Reset and Reinvent so I am keeping these thoughts in mind as I brainstorm ideas.

Nothing has settled yet, except the knowledge that I am on a familiar part of the path, in a new season, walking the road of reinvention. When I put aside the desire to panic (which is, as always, totally nonproductive) I am left with more questions than answers and a hint of curiosity as to what this chapter will hold.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

in preparation for Spring

Whatever you call it -- Ostara/Eostre, Summer Finding or Vernal Equinox -- tomorrow will be marked as a day of transition, the turning point between winter and summer.

Even here in the northlands of Maine, the Turning is obvious. The fields,which a week ago were still covered with snow, now show major portions of earth. More is being revealed each day, as daytime temps come to the 40s and low 50s and we have turned the supplemental heat off the exposed pipes as with the night temps reaching only the 20s, freezing is not an issue now.

The winter birds seem to have left but I have yet to see any of their spring and summer cousins. Some of the trees are beginning to show the barest hint of awakening as their buds show tiny bits of swelling. You have to look close though!

The days are lengthening by seconds a morning, and similar at the evening and more importantly I am feeling the changes inside.

Today, the third of my days off this week, found me busy and motivated with an internal drive to do things that, while they could have been done at any time, seemed to take on new importance as part of a natural ritual leading into the turning of the tide, tomorrow. Clothing suitable for the depth of winter, that I had not worn for a week or more, had called me to gather it up earlier this week. Today I took it to the garage and dug out the trunks, searching for transitional items for the coming weeks. Leather and denim jackets were swapped for my winter coats and a large pile of turtleneck shirts went into storage, replace by a paltry few long or 3/4 length sleeve blouses. I don't have much for this season, for working out at the store, I found.

I also made the quarterly run to the dump, took out the compost and checked on the berry bushes and other perennials that I planted last year. These latter tasks called for snowshoes -- likely their last wearing in this cycle, so they are now in the garage along with the snow shovel.

When I got back in the house, the spring cleaning bug bit me hard and I spent the rest of the day working on the living room (including cutting and hanging herbs from the planter gardens to dry), setting up a fan to blow on my newly transplanted seedlings and spent some time in the kitchen and bathroom as well. Floors have been vacuumed, swept and mopped as appropriate and the hex sign to fill my newest order got its design drawn on and the painting started today.

We had friends for supper this evening. He said tomorrow at 7:44 would find him, beer in hand, toasting the turning of the year. Myself, I'll pot up some more cabbages for those who want them and hail the turning of the season in a more quiet way. I think most of my ritual was done today.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

two days ago they weren't but now they are

I went out to try to shovel some of the gravel -- which has sunk and frozen rather thoroughly into the plowed snowbanks -- OFF said banks and therefore out of the garden and lawn. I was somewhat successful, but next year if we are NOT plowing ourselves we WILL have the gardens staked and woe be unto the Plow Guy who pushes snow there.

While I was out I did a bit of a reconnoiter and discovered some of my spring bulbs pushing through the earth. I have been looking almost daily and today there they were -- daffys I think and maybe a crocus or two -- about an inch or less above the (now somewhat gravelly) bed next to the drive.

It appears that some (but not all) of the birches are just at the bare beginnings of breaking dormancy. The maple is still asleep, thankfully. Looking at it with newly educated eyes I can see it for what it is at present -- a poster child for the Master Gardener pruning class last Saturday. I do not think there is a single one of the basic reasons to prune for the health of the tree that is not represented. Most are there in multiple presentations.

I had originally gone to look at it with the idea of bringing it back from the driveway a bit, however in the process of doing the REQUIRED pruning, that will doubtless follow without specific attention. Most of the birch seem to be in better shape in that regard, thankfully.

But anyway, Thursday I will make sure to buy a decent small hand pruning saw and longer handled lopper to go along with my hand pruners. Believe me, I will need all of the above.

I have also gotten bit with the Great Spring Clothing Shuffle bug. It has been too warm for a couple of weeks to comfortably wear my turtlenecks. I think I am acclimating -- or this year is already warmer than last -- or Corinth is warmer than Milo -- as I have been too warm in my turtleneck shirts at work for a couple of weeks. So I have pulled them and my heavier long johns and all but one of my winter skirts/dresses (most of which I wore very little this year and will be considered next fall for the charity pile) and sweaters and most of my heavier winter outer gear out to bags for a trip to the garage soon. I need to get out there, dig out the storage chests and see what can be brought out of them and how much needs to be gotten rid of just to have storage space. I have way too many clothes for this part of my life, I think. I am remembering back to the "canyon years" when I had a couple of "town outfits" and mostly wore old stuff. The garden and the goats didn't care. Now I have a few things for the store (halfway decent but not good, as they will be bleach spotted eventually), the farm clothes and far too much "town stuff."

This has been a pretty productive day for a Tues, largely because we had no collective errands in town. I studied during K's counseling and then took us both to Shaws, where I get my vigil candles. That gave K a bit of "wander time" in a less familiar and rather neat store and got me a new supply of candles and (finally... mid-March) a bouquet of daffodils (imported from England, no less! LOL)

I took Brandi-dog with me on the paycheck/post office/bank run, but left K at home and the only other errands I added on to that were quick stops at Blue Seal to get a few flats for planting out cabbages tomorrow and a brief stop at Goodwill.

Got some winter clothes in the washer, the first load of dishes done and am off to finish that job (left undone for far too long...) before heading to class.

Oh, and I will shoot pix of the "poster child" tree to share later.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring and days off

Even though most of the fields are still covered in snow, I can feel that spring is coming. We are on our second planting of seedlings (Brussels sprouts and lettuce, planted last week, are showing their cotyledons) and the cabbages are ready to be planted out into the growing spaces for the next few weeks. That is a Wednesday project.

This week I have three days off in a row and Tu is not likely to be a big away day, though we still have Dover-Foxcroft in the morning and my Master Gardener class in the evening), though Th will require us to go do Milo for an extra doc visit and likely to Sams for new/more/different meds. But I won't have to be at the store and I will have time to work on the new hex order that I got last week, and the garden, and decide about the truck.

K got the farm truck going but said there is either a worse problem with our rear axle or a brake than we thought. Thankfully there is a (reportedly decent) garage just down the road. I'll drive it down the road and back and give them a call during this time off to see what can be done.

We also have Brandi's spay coming next week, so $$ will have to be watched... but I do need to get the truck running so I can begin using it for hauling manure soon.

Still not sure how I am going to manage to get the gardens turned and tilled during the year. I am holding hope that something will present itself.

Right now I am just so thoroughly glad to have got the corporate tax returns done and out today and not to have to think about much that worries me for the next few days, save K's health. He has been having more, and more protracted and "worse", spells of "not really being here" of late. He lost most of yesterday and several other days recently he has been out of it in various ways so badly that he cannot even play the video game that he uses as something to focus on to block the pain.

Today must have been better, as he got the truck going/moved and apparently also pattied up the ground beef that I had not yet got done. And for his sake, I am glad of that.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No worms in this moon for us!

Somewhere, in some tradition, this month's full moon (just past) is called the "worm moon" so I read. But not here in Maine... worms are at least a month away, maybe more... I have yet to figure this out.

Here I would call it Changing Moon, for the season IS changing, slowly, and more definitely back and forth between days that feel like spring (like yesterday, with temps in the mid-40s, riding around on errands with the windows down and opening the house to air it out upon our return home in the afternoon) and days that once again remind us that it is not yet spring, either by the calendar or the climate. We have a wet flurry of snow or maybe sleet falling outside the window and the temps have fallen seriously overnight, so that today feels once again like winter.

So it changes, and changes back and will change again, as the sun comes scrambling, clawing, fighting its way back to dominance for the seasons of growth and the old man of winter struggles for one more day, one more week before taking to his grave.

Here at Hearthfire Hill we have seedlings sprouting and soon to need transplant separation and have acquired a new, larger rack for them to live on and the first two, of many, shop lights to augment the sunny south-facing windows in which they live. The new rack is much larger than the first one, and will go in front of the actual window and the smaller of the two (both on rollers) will be eventually rolled in front of the glass paneled front door. This was not my idea, believe it or not, though I heartily seconded it! K came up with it and the plan to roll the seedlings into the light in the morning, with the space next to the door (in the small hall by the heater closet/office/bathroom) designated for the shelving unit when the door needs to be used. The door opens out, so even if the shelves have not been moved when I come in from work, they will not be a problem.

We have also been thinking about this entrance way -- which needs work for many reasons, and are considering opening up the wall and beefing up the wall structure so that when we replace the door, it will be with a sliding glass patio door rather than a solid wood one. We agree that, having gotten used to the openness and light levels of the existing glass door, we would not be happy with a solid wood one in the future. And think of the extra light for seed starting in the spring!

I am so happy to be with someone who "get it" in the sense that our home should be the workshop for our lives and our occupations and avocations; that it should match us and not force us into a mold and a lifestyle that doesn't fit.

Monday, March 9, 2009

By the light of the silvery moon...

No crooning going on -- well at least not deliberately -- just planting. I am going at planting a bit by the moon this year. So far just starting my seeds indoors when the moon is growing (for those things that produce above the ground) and shrinking (for the leeks thus far).

I have put a public garden calendar on Google, and am imbedding it here. If you bookmark this post you will be able to see what I plant when and when the harvest comes and such, if you are interested.

That is about all the news at present. This will be a hectic week, with full days at the store alternating with "days off" that mostly aren't... Tues being Dover-Foxcroft/Bangor (major shopping this week)/home/Bangor for Master Gardener, Thurs I will take K to help a friend with her computer, Fri fortunately is a short day at the store and Sat I get "off" for my full day of Master Gardener classes. Somewhere around there I need to find time to do laundry, cook and wash dishes and maybe even think and sleep a bit.

Wish me luck...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It's beginning to look like MUD season!

Our wet snow of yesterday morning gave way to rain and our temps remained above freezing overnight, with above-freezing highs for the coming few days. This means much of the drive has melted off and the rest of the snow pack is (hopefully) sinking into the earth.

"Mud season" will hopefully soon be upon us, and shortly there after the beginning of the gardening year, "as soon as the ground can be worked."

It's been a wacko week for me, mostly good but still decidedly out there and I will be glad for a return to a more normal routine as the week turns.

Monday I had planned a road trip to Calais (about 3 hours away) to meet some Internet friends who had just arrived in Maine. They moved from TX and are staying with mutual friends there until their stuff arrives, hopefully today. The weather gods saw fit to bring us a nor'easter with snow, sleet and the like that day, but it was not as bad as the weather guessers predicted and, though many businesses and all the schools in my area and theirs were closed, the roads were "not bad" in my use of the phrase. The predictions, I guess, served to keep the "other idiots" off the roads, as I saw little traffic on the Interstate and not a single vehicle off the road either coming or going. My reference for "bad roads" comes from a holiday trip from Spokane to Seattle with the kids, many years ago. We had promised we would go visit friends who had moved away though the west side of the mountains had been hit with a "terrible" storm. We started counting vehicles off the road with the first one we saw after crossing the pass and if memory serves, we lost count, or lost interest, somewhere in the 200s. When we got the the island off Seattle where our friends lived, they were without electricity and we had a grand adventure, as we had both lived "off grid" in the intentional community where we met.

So after a great visit with new and old friends, and having dropped off some tomato and pepper seeds to my friend Robin (who is going to start them in her greenhouse as a backup to my windowsill starts) I made my way home... an entire day away and on the road.

Then followed our usual Tuesday crazyness, early AM counseling appt in Dover-Foxcroft, followed by a trip to my store to pick up the paycheck and a quick trip to Bangor for errands (post office, bank, meds...) which had to be a quick one so we could get back home in time to turn around and take K back to D-F for the second part of his sleep study, the overnight stay. Of course we are still in panic mode with the Park Service project, so some editing and sending of files had to happen in there as well. K offered to be dropped at the hospital earlier than his 7 PM appointment so that I could make it to my Master Gardener class and not be too late (which I did, arriving 1/2 hr into the lecture. I was able to take the quiz that usually starts the sessions during the break and got a copy of the hadout from the lecturer, so all was well.)

After class ended at 9, I had to come home and try to get to sleep so as to be able to pick K up at 6 AM (which meant arising at 5, much earlier than I usually do these days). Unfortunately sleep eluded me and I made the bad choice of eating some ice cream, which I know I should never do just before bed, as it always results in the "drowning in crap running down my throat" phenomenon, which doesn't do much to help sleep... and I couldn't even take an OTC decongestant as I would never wake in time in the morning.

So Wed. ended up being a day to just survive... I napped twice, sent out invoices to clients and managed to struggle through a thankfully short night at work.

Thurs I went BACK to Calais, to deliver a hand truck (dolley) for my friends to use when their stuff arrived. They didn't have one, and I felt it was a good way to be able to help, even though most likely I would not be able to be there in person to lift and carry, due to work.

Meanwhile I have clients wanting stuff, and my heart is not really into it. But it must be done today... fortunately a short evening at the store today and tomorrow.

And mud season precursors, which must truly give a northern gardener hope.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Road trip!

My rational brain was at me, big time, last night, as I listened to the weather forecast... DO NOT make the trip. I had planned a trip on my unexpected Monday off, to Waite to visit my friend Robin who had offered to start some seedlings for me as back up to my windowsill seed starting and to finally meet online friends who arrived Sunday, moving from TX to ME (Calais, to be exact).

And my rational brain had me massively depressed... Yeah, I could have visited later, but somehow rational thought just wasn't satisfying me. When I went to bed last night I honestly figured I would likely sleep too late, it would snow too much (as in I was NOT shoveling my way OUT of the driveway) or some such. But I awoke at a reasonable time and she snow had not accumulated to Subaru-stopping proportions, so off I went.

And boy, was I glad.

The roads were not bad, not in my definition anyway. The snowplow had been down our side road and along most of the road into Bangor, though as always I could tell where the town limit lines were without benefit of sign. There were tracks to follow through the snow, where it had not been plowed most recently and once on 95, plenty of tracks to follow through town. After hitting the outskirts of the Bangor area, I ran out of traffic. I saw only 2 plows (both of which I passed), one UPS truck in my rearview (which got off at the Orono exit, which I had just passed) and an ambulance on the other side of the highway, heading into Bangor. But most of the way there were patches of asphalt showing here and there, from previous plow trips and not a single vehicle was spotted broken down or "parked" in a ditch the whole way. Not ONE.

Obviously, then, the roads could not have been "bad"... for on no other storm day has the warning of the weather-guessers caused the reckless drivers to all stay home!

I visited a bit with Robin as I divvied out the seeds and made little packs for the share I was leaving for her expert ministrations, had a cup of coffee and then was off down Rte 1 again towards Calais, on the US-Canadian border, to meet Tammy and her family and visit with Mary, who is hosting the newcomers until their truck load of stuff arrives, later in the week.

It was a great visit, exactly like meeting old friends and not at all like a first-time visit with someone from the Internet. The kiddos were in and out (loving their second day in the snow) as were the dogs. I felt very much at home in the "madhouse" full of kids, dogs and still-slightly-travel-lagged adults. K had asked several times if I was taking Brandi and I knew I did not want to... and am glad I didn't, as 6 dogs in the house would have been WAY too much chaos, especially as one was a newcomer as of yesterday and had not quite sorted it all out with the resident top dog. I did get plenty of doggie-loving and a good smell-down from Brandi when I got home as there were a total of 8 doggie odors on my from this trip. I'm surprised Brandi is still talking to me!

I realized on the way up that not only do I need a road trip now and then -- several hours of solitude behind the wheel is a good way for me to clear my mind, center and meditate -- but I have somewhat got out of the habit/family tradition of deliberately taking off for a visit somewhere any time the forecasters say "stay home." My dad did it in the winter -- though his was just for a drive -- and in the summer often after a good rain, "to see if I can get stuck" he would say. Either he didn't try too hard or was an excellent driver (my guess is the latter) for he never had a Jeep or even an old pickup but did his excursions in our famly car -- a Buick of some sort or another during my growing up years. And I do not ever recall it coming home looking like it had got stuck.

And raising my family, I would do the same... when we had only one car and lived in Appleton, WI I recall taking Katey and newborn baby Amelia, tucked into a snowsuit, in her front carrier, under my wool cape, by bus in a Wisconsin blizzard, up to Shopko to take advantage of the day after Thanksgiving Christmas ornament sale. We came back with three HUGE plastic bags of ornaments and ornament makings, a difficult haul even the couple of blocks from the bus stop to home, as the wind whipped the huge fluffy flakes around us and Katey (Trina then) struggled to drag the lighest of the three through the snow that was well up to her knees any time she missed stepping in my boot prints.

My other memory of that trip was the strange looks I got from the few other brave bus riders as we waited at the stops. You see, Amelia's warm breath was rising up as a visible mist from the neck of my cape, though the source was totally invisible and (as she was asleep) still and silent as well.

So, I guess, as long as I am able I shall continue to go a-visitng on snow days. I enjoyed the quiet (I turned NPR off after I left 95, to better concentrate and enjoy the drive) and the sound of the snow and later sleet hitting the car. I loved the part of Rte 1 that I drove through the Hollywood-style huge, fluffy flakes. I loved a chance to visit with Robin and hear what was new with her family and the farm, to see her greenhouse-bound seedlings bursting out of their pots under the lights in her living room, and to dream of days when I will have a greenhouse as well.

And it was beyond great to see Mary again and Tammy (again... or so it felt, though it was the first time) and her family. I can't wait to see their new home, overlooking the river and Canada, and her first year garden that she will be planting there. Can't wait to carry seedlings up to share, to see how her first year garden differs from mine. Can't wait to see her kiddos in my wide open, snow-covered spaces and then running free across the 4 acres come spring... feeding apples to the neighboring horses, making friends with Brandi and the kitties (or at least some of them... some won't come out for anyone!)

Tomorrow will be back to a typical Tuesday, with added strangeness, as K is scheduled for a sleep study and I will at best be late for my Master Gardener class or at worst miss it entirely. Day will start early with his counseling appt in Dover-Foxcroft, then by my store to pick up paycheck, post office, credit union, maybe Sams if he needs Rxs (major shopping day will have to wait until next week) and back home so he can bathe and eat and get back to Dover-Foxcroft for his sleep study by 7 pm. I pick him up at 6 on Wed, thankfully it is a short day at the store.

Some time soon I need to get back to the Corinth history web site, though I am still waiting for some content and feedback from the Park Service project, so timing will be here and there until that is over. I was glad to be able to make the Historical Society meeting on Sunday, where I met some very interesting local ladies and volunteered to turn a porcelean doll kit into a finished project for a door prize for an upcoming doll show/fund raiser event. I have never done one and always wanted to!

And now, the bed is calling and I shall listen to its siren song.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Busy time since the last snowfall!

It has been far too long since I blogged, but much has been keeping me very busy. I even took a bunch of shots after the last snowfall on the 25th, which has mostly disappeared in subsequent warm spells and rain.

However, here are a few shots I would like to share..
A weed manages to still show its head, a place where the snow has drifted FROM, with lines from the branches nearby crossing the drift waves, frozen in time.

And several birch branches, reaching down to touch their shadows on the snow.

Followed by a couple of shots K took of me on my snowshoes. That "bush" I am next to is actually a small silver maple TREE that, if it needed topping, would not have been much of a reach for me to do!

Below are the first tracks I have seen in the yard other than the crows feet around the compost. I am not sure what they were...

Anyway, I have been busy trying to get the Park Service project done (we are still in revisions), working, enjoying the snow and the melt, planting cabbage seeds to join the leeks in the front window and spending a lot of time on the phone and in computer chat with daughters in Utah who are all wanting to pick my brain, all of a sudden, about gardening! It's an interesting challenge trying to use my new Master Gardener lessons long distance and in a climate where I have never gardened (but I did do a lot on the western slope of CO, which is not THAT far different... )

I managed to make it to a meeting of the local Historical Society this morning as well... quite by accident almost, as I had not set the reminder right on the calendar program and saw the meeting on the calender with 15 minutes to spare when I logged on to check on bills needing paid. OOPS! Off I went (paid bills when I got back home) to a very enjoyable meeting with several local ladies whom I had not previously met. I am going to enjoy working with this crowd, I am quite sure.

Tomorrow -- despite threats of another storm -- my day will be spent heading out to Calais to greet some new Maine friends who only just arrived today! I met these folks online a while back and had truly expected them to be in Maine far before I was able to move. To have them roll "into town" exactly one year after we did is mind blowing on many, many levels and I am quite anxious to finally meet them in person! So neither snow nor sleet nor having to pass the snowplow will keep me from Calais tomorrow. I just hope my plow guy comes by while I am gone!