Tuesday, November 30, 2010

up on grover hill

in the hills above bethel, maine. november, 2010.
joyce and i took a drive up grover hill in bethel. the town and its surroundings are eerily quiet at this time of year between summer and ski season. nothing much going on in this neck of the maine woods. we stopped for a while and looked out over the magestic blue peaks of caribou, haystack, butters, tyler, speckled and lots of other mountains, in the white mountain national forest in maine. over yonder, a few miles in the distance, is evans notch, which is on the new hampshire border. the mountains extend far to the right and left of the photo, offering a great panoramic view. we stood in complete silence - no cars, no birds, no wind, no people. a moment of peaceful meditation up on the hill....

Friday, November 26, 2010

saltypaws on casco bay

saltypaws alert and waiting patiently on stockman island, casco bay, maine. october, 2010. photo by denny denham.

my name is addie saltypaws. i am a labrador retriever. my human, denny, and all the rest of the humans, call me addie, but once you get to know me, you'll see why saltypaws describes me best.

last month, denny and i, and some other humans, were out hunting sea ducks (common eider, longtail, black, surf and white wing) on the ledges at stockman island. what i love most in the whole world, besides running in the yard, riding in the car, and being with my human family, is retrieving. that's what i do; that's what i am, a retriever. remember that. seems obvious, i know, but people forget sometimes, and it's important to this story.

when we motor out to stockman, it is still pitch black outside, and rather nippy. once we get there, denny and his friend, bill green, host of bill green's maine on television (wcsh6), set up 2 strings of 12 decoys each in a "v" formation in the tidal zone beside the ledges. the sun is starting to come up on the horizon. we position ourselves against the rocks to minimize our profile, and wait....and wait some more. i hate waiting. i am quivering from tail to toe in blissful anticipation.

finally (yes!) some eiders fly into view. the guys fire. the ducks drop. i am a shaking mass of dog fur. this always happens to me. it's kind of embarrassing, but i am so excited and happy thinking about when i get the ok from denny to play my retrieve game, the game where i jump in the water, and swim out to bring the ducks in. it feels like it's a game to me, but i have been trained well, over countless hours, by denny, to get even better at what comes naturally. at long last, denny lets me get on with it. all this time, while we waited, i have been in my "heel" position. now he tells me "fetch it up" and with hand signals and whistles directs me to the duck that is the farthest out. i leap into the frigid water lightning fast. to me, the cold sea is heaven. one by one i bring in the ducks. i am so happy. if i were a human, i would be wildly laughing out loud.

bill green, host of bill green's maine. daybreak on stockman island. photo by denny denham.
one time bill green, on facebook here, got an angry email from a lady who was quite upset when she saw a story he did about me playing my duck retrieval game on the ocean. she said why would you put a dog in a situation like that? it is cruel and abusive. dear lady, i can honestly tell you if my human did not take me out duck hunting, that would be cruel and abusive. i do not want to stop swimming when the humans are done for the day. i want to keep playing. i am not cold. i am wearing my neoprene vest, the most advanced technology for dogs out on the water. it keeps me afloat - ha, like i need help! - and oh-so-warm - ha! like i wouldn't jump in the water without it!

my human takes great care of me. the bond between us is strong. he loves me and i love him. we go everywhere together. the maine woods, the open fields and the salty sea are my home......

note: addie saltypaws is our lille's mother - and also mother of alex's montana, james' harper, christina's ollie, and denny's luc, as seen here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

thanksgiving in maine

happy thanksgiving! here are 3 non-traditional maine thanksgivings i have heard about over the years: 40 guests, which required 3 ovens (2 of the ovens belonged to the host family, 1 oven they borrowed from a neighbor who was out of town); a meal which consisted of entirely maine game meat (wild turkey, deer, moose); a thanksgiving meal held outdoors (brrrrr) on 2 pinic tables put together to form 1 long table (actually, now that i think of it, that's probably as traditional as you can get, since the pilgrims, on that first thanksgiving, ate outdoors).

anyway, at our home in maine, we have 1 oven, 1 (23.83 pound) domestic vermont turkey, and an indoor table. how boring. the stuffed turkey is about to go in the oven, the apple tart and goodies are baked, the pumpkin-carrot-potato soup is simmering, and the silver is polished and gleaming. the table just needs to be set, potatoes require peeling, and then we are well on our way to making this feast a reality. naturally, there are always all the last minute preparations still to be done: uncorking wine, making gravy, lighting a fire in the fireplace, and so on.

i love AFTER thanksgiving almost as much as turkey day itself. homemade thanksgiving sandwiches (bits of turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy....all piled on crusty bread, which we first discovered at the mom and pop store down the road);  home-made turkey soup; and leftover pie...for breakfast! sometimes i think all this food tastes better the next day....

but back to today. i am giving thanks for what i see right here in front of me: a husband, a son, a daughter, a mum, a dad, a turkey, 2 dogs, tons of food, a roof over our heads, and ALSO for the family and friends who are not right here in front of me....you get the idea. this is a day for good food, good conversation and, quite simply, togetherness. let's get to it.....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

a cozy fire and a good book

brrrr....the past few days have been chilly, chilly, chilly. yesterday, as evening approached, the damp rainy rawness increased in our little nook of the maine woods, and blustery winds began to whip past the windows. high time for a fire. i gathered some kindling and paper. we needed to burn up the rest of the fallen pine trees that we cut up almost two years ago. at this time of year, especially around the holidays, our maine field stone fireplace frequently displays a huge roaring fire. the crackle and sizzle and warm glow of a good blaze is one of my favorite things.

it was also time to grab a book, maybe something by louise erdrich, and pour a cup of tea....or perhaps something stronger?

i have heard people say you shouldn't burn pine. what are you supposed to do with it then? can these people possibly be from maine? in fact, you can burn it just fine. it won't mess up your chimney! i throw pine in the fireplace with some hardwoods. the problem with pine, if you're trying to heat your house with it in a woodstove, is that it doesn't give off the amount of heat that hardwoods do, so, like i said, just add some other wood. in a fireplace, pine is fine. mightly fine. my toasty toes say so.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

my kitchen god

thanksgiving is almost here. this week is a week of kitchens and cooking and getting together with people you love. speaking of kitchens, i have a wonderful sculpture that james made (thanks james!) on the kitchen windowsill. james calls him fat boy. i call him my little kitchen god. in china, the kitchen god is sent from heaven to keep an eye on the family. he is the important guy in chinese new year celebrations, which start on the second new moon after the winter solstice. the kitchen god's name is zao jun, which literally means stove master. in chinese homes, a statue or picture of zao jun is found in the central, focal point of the house, the kitchen, near the stove.

on the day chinese new year festivities start, sacrifices are offered to the kitchen god. incense, sweets and water and grass (for his horse) are left for him as he leaves earth and goes up to heaven. once in heaven, the kitchen god reports to the jade emperor, the supreme deity of taoism, on what the family has been doing during the year. rewards and punishments are given out by the jade emperor, depending on each family's behavior.

so be good. the kitchen god is watching you.....

Friday, November 19, 2010

flower on the wall

during all the painting, repairing and cleaning that had been taking place around here, i noticed a lovely shadow on the wall one day. hannah's bamboo plant was on the windowsill in the blue bedroom (that i wrote about yesterday), and on a sunny, bright morning it was casting this flower shadow on the newly painted blue wall.

looking at flowers on the wall reminds me of the old song, flowers on the wall, that the statler brothers sang, and lewis dewitt wrote....countin' flowers on the wall, that don't bother me at all, playin' solitaire 'till dawn, with a deck of 51, smokin' cigarettes and watchin' captain kangaroo, now don't tell me i've nothing to do.....of course, that's about counting flowers on the wallpaper. but still, i had a wonderful flower on the wall, even it was just a fleeting shadow flower. i only know that song because nancy sinatra sang it on her boots album. i loved that album when i was little, and i even owned a pair of white go-go boots (just like nancy's on the cover of the album) to dance to the song these boots are made for walkin'....

well, i wish i had more shadow flowers on the wall as nice as this one. i would count them all....and whatever happened to my white go-go boots? happy weekend dearies!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

take a look around

have you ever thought about how little we actually notice about the world around us? you know, the little things. cloud pictures in the sky. the stranger beside us in the supermarket. an intricate spider web in the garden. we tend to focus on what is important to us, what interests us, at the moment. we are often too preocccupied with the daily dramas swirling around our heads to really take in the totality of our surroundings. how often do we hear "i am so busy i don't have the time to...." whatever. everyone is busy, too busy, and our short lives, and probably some important little things, easily slip away from us and are gone forever.

yikes, that was kind of serious, so here's a thought that's a little lighter. i know i could walk into the room with a brown goldsmiths diamond tiara on my head (now that is silly, and not such a little thing, and does judy even sell tiaras?), and if i asked ed how he liked it, he would say that's nice, dear. but first i would have to get him to look up from his iphone or ipad, or whatever, and get him to notice that i had diamonds on my head!  (i am being a bit unfair with this quick example; ed oftentimes notices lots of little things, even before i do, with his keen photographer's eye.)

when i was a teenager, my parents planted a whole row of new bushes in the yard - forsithia, rose of sharon, lilac. they asked me how i liked the new plants. what? where? ha, i could have fallen into those bushes and not noticed they were new. a teenage girl, generally speaking, does not look at landscaping. she looks at boys and clothes, and boys. at that time, what was important to my parents was not necessarily important to me.

today, of course, i notice plants and gardens, whether i am here in maine or elsewhere. it is what i like, what interests me, what grabs my attention. what about you? what grabs your attention? what do you look at, look for, look forward to, dream about, see? do you ever take the time to notice the little things outside your usual sphere of activity, things which are not necessarily something you normally would look at and focus on?

Friday, November 12, 2010

maine coast fairy brunch

today i am daydreaming about what to include in a maine coast fairy brunch menu. perhaps this.....

millet seeds
phlox seeds
sunflower seeds
black eyed susan seeds
acorn shell with water

in order for fairies to notice a meal left for them as they fly around in the garden and woods, and also for them to be able to dine properly, the food should be served in an appealing, natural setting. for example, a good place for fairies to eat is on a lovely bed of moss, a large fallen tree, or, in this case, a nice, flat stone of pink speckled maine granite. do you think a fairy will fly by and see that brunch is ready?

look up. there's a fairy. the fairy sees the food that has been prepared for her. from high above in the trees, she will slowly, cautiously, fly down and eat. welcome to our maine garden, tiny guest. enjoy!

happy weekend kiddos!

note: a delightful book about fairy gardens is maureen heffernan's fairy houses of the maine coast.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

some color for the walls

before you can paint some color on the walls, you have to pick the color you like. my problem is that i like so many colors. every color looks marvelous on the paint samples. i mulled over some samples from a couple paint stores, and also from the lovely maine cottage colorbook. it has great ideas and suggestions for color. aargh! these were my thoughts a few weeks ago: which colors am i going to choose? ok, i said to myself, i will go with shades of blue for two rooms. the rest of the paint i need will be bright white. hmmm...but the clay, bark and moss shades are so inviting...whatever! blues and bright white win! more about color and home renovation next week....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the sunday river covered bridge

the sun broke through the gray, cloud-filled sky just as jon and shannon's wedding ceremony was about to start on the sunday river covered bridge in newry, maine. forget that the weather was a bit chilly. all 100 of us on the bridge were quite cozy as we snuggled up in our specially made fleece blankets embroidered with fall leaves, pumpkins, and the wedding date.

imagine the beauty of the scene: the guests are seated on the old 1872 covered bridge spanning the rushing sunday river, and in that moment, before the bride walks down the bridge's wooden planks from one end to the other, there is a hush. the sun suddenly sparkles, and the sweet music of icy mountain water playing over the ancient stones and earth below us fills the air. we are in nature's cathedral listening to nature's song -so simple, so stunningly peaceful, so quietly calling forth the presence of god in this age of unrelenting noise. the wilderness in newry can truly refresh the soul....

Thursday, November 4, 2010

the perfect name

sitting framed on a shelf in the kitchen is a list of names. you can see some of the list above. the old devil. the shire horse. the seven stars. the blue cow. boot and shoe. the black horse. white house. the grapes. the names go on and on. what are these names? where did these names come from?

here is another list of names. can you guess what these names are? the peach tart. the pop eye. 5 orange potatoes. whiskey marie. the best life ever. pants with names. not enough mud. the blue yak. the time crook. slugs in the refrigerator. lobster and swan. skybluesea. the gentlebear....

give up? the first list shows pub names in great britain. one time when we were traveling in the north of england, i wrote down all the names of the pubs we encountered as we were driving. and no, we didn't enjoy a pint in every one of them (just some of them), but we were tempted.

the other list is blog names. i follow a couple of these blogs. to be honest, what gets me looking at something is, in fact, that oftentimes i am lured by the name. i love names. how do people come up with names?  how do people finally decide on what, to them, will be the perfect name, be it person, pet, pub or blog?