Friday, December 31, 2010

raise your glass

here's to (in no particular order):

the nearest and the dearest!
my family!
enjoying the ride!
laughing 'til you cry!
dancing 'til dawn!
no judgements!
no questions asked!
peace on earth!
best friends forever!
cold dog noses!
my faithful blog readers!
those who are there on a moment's notice!
those who have your back!
sunday morning (and new year's day!) and lazing around with pajamas on!
seizing and squeezing the most out of each day!
taking time to smell the roses!

happy new year and happy weekend to all....see you next year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

light forms around portland

beautiful blue balls at a private residence in cape elizabeth. december 2010.
pandora lacasses's light sculptures brighten even the darkest coldest nights in portland, maine. in downtown portland her lights are everywhere. l. l. bean in freeport has many of her sculptural forms in the park-like area outside the store. at a private residence in cape elizabeth, where we enjoyed a festive christmas party, lacasse's work in blue illuminates and dresses up a large tree. i like how the multi-colored christmas tree in the background peeks out around the right side of the big "blue" tree's trunk. the blue lights are my favorite of all lacasse's colors.

lacasse creates these works of art, these bursts of brightness, with spring wire, stainless steel tubing and LED lights. you are drawn to the lovely, almost floating, sculptures which exhibit stunning color, light and form.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

loving a blizzard

 snowy lille smiled a lot during monday's blizzard.

lille, lizzi and i love a good blizzard, a good whiteout. (as long as the whiteout is happening in our yard and not while we're driving!) finally i have some decent snow to talk about. lille went crazy in the snow on monday. (so did i.) lizzi has arthritis so she took it easy. we dashed around the yard. i threw sticks. lille fetched every one and dropped them neatly at my feet as she always does.

while i was shoveling lille amused herself by making up her own game. lille tossed a lacrosse ball in a pile of snow and then burrowed her entire head in the pile to sniff it out. if burrowing didn't produce the desired result, she began to dig in the snow until she retrieved the ball. she messed up my nicely shoveled paths a little, but who cares! we had fun!

it snowed all sunday night and most of monday, adding up to a grand total of 12 inches. the wind was fierce, so we played and shoveled for a while, went inside and warmed up, and then went back out again. we repeated this scenario several times on monday. as you can well imagine, the dogs and i slept deeply and soundly on monday night!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

tropical seas

diving off the florida keys, october 2010.  photo by jonnie yaptengco.
around this time of year we mainers know that there are obviously still months of cold and snow and ice left. in our neck of the woods, snow shovels, four wheel drive and wood stoves had not seen much action so far this winter until yesterday's blizzard. (more on that tomorrow.) yet, around this time of year, knowing the deep biting cold has hardly flexed its muscles and shown its power to turn our toes and fingers and brains to icicles, we never-the-less still start to imagine the warm air and warm seas of summer. we torture ourselves with these visions despite the fact that we love maine, and enjoy [some aspects of] winter. or else why the heck would we live here? (good question, huh?)

right now i'm thinking about warm air and warm seas. i will leave my beloved maine in the near future and allow the seductive power of warm southern seas into my heart. but just for a little while; i'll be back in maine before ya know it. here is a picture of the deep rich blue green sea off the florida keys, where james did some diving in october. just as warm as bath water....i'm headed in that direction for a good soak myself.

Friday, December 24, 2010

merry and bright

this is my christmas "post" card: on this christmas eve a little wish is drifting out from me in the maine woods to you and yours, helped along by the song white christmas.

i'm dreaming of a white christmas
just like the ones i used to know
may your days (and your dreams!) be merry and bright
and may all your christmases be white.

wishing you merry and bright and happy
days and dreams and christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

glittery reflection

 all that is light, bright, colorful and glittery catches my eye today.......

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

portland at night

lights and colors are everywhere! we were zooming around in downtown portland on our way home from having dinner in a restaurant, and as ed went zipping along i pulled out my camera thinking that when he stopped at a traffic light i would take a snap. i love all the holiday lights that seem to be growing on every tree, bush, building and pole. stop he did, but i was busy doing something else at that exact moment so i ended up taking this shot not at a standstill, but as the car started to move again at congress and high street. the christmas trees are great triangles of light. i think the red was holiday related, too. various mundane, non-holiday-related signs and lights make up the rest of the blue and purple colors.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

white pine

many white pines grow in the woods around here. back in early december, right outside the door, these white pine needle clusters were decorated with frozen droplets of water. the rain had dribbled down to the needle tips and then froze in place overnight, creating the look of tiny glass beads suspended on the strands of green, nature's own wonderful attempt at seasonal decorating.

speaking of decorating, i am going outside in the snow (yay!) to get some fresh greens for 2 vases on the table. the white pine sprigs that are on the table now are a little dry and brittle. while i am outdoors i am going to haul in several armloads of wood (if i have the energy-i have a nasty cold) for the fireplace.....there is always one more thing to do, isn't there?

a tiny snowfall

late yesterday afternoon, on the cusp of winter, we had our first real snowfall, a tiny lovely two-inch snowfall. it came down hard for while and was absolutely husband called and asked if i was happy because it was snowing. yes, yes, yes. delighted. i hope some more comes this way....

Monday, December 20, 2010

getting ready

cooking, cleaning, decorating, wrapping presents (just a few of those since we have a family tradition of keeping christmastime more meaningful and relaxed, and less commercial, by keeping it simple) and stuffing stockings.....oh and doing a little artsy-fartsy ornament project thing (i'll do a post about that when i get a chance after the holidays) that's what's been happening around here. i am now ready. i think. the kids will be home soon. i love it when everyone is under one roof. are you ready for christmas yet?

Friday, December 17, 2010

a little scandinavian folklore
a tomte spotted in our maine woods. hand-made figure crafted in sweden by rolf berg.
this tiny, 4 inch tall gnome, is called a tomte in swedish and a nisse in norwegian and danish. he is a mythical character in scandinavian folklore; gnomes are related to fairies. my of-norwegian-descent friend got me thinking about the tomte/nisse when she commented on my fairy brunch post.. she knows her norwegian folklore.

this is what i know about him. if anyone wants to add more, please do. the tomte is small and magical and has a long white or gray beard. he usually dresses in a gray clothing and always wears a brightly colored (often red) knitted hat. a house and farm tomte is a solitary fellow who is in charge of protecting a farmer's house and barn. he is very good at his job. if you have a tomte around, you must not EVER forget to leave something for him to eat (he is a vegetarian) to thank him for his protection. at christmas, the tomte especially likes a bowl of oatmeal. if you fail to take care of him (extremely unwise), he will leave your farm unguarded. even worse, he might tip things over or break things, OR even tie your cows tails together! ghastly!

so, if you have a tomte/nisse in residence, please feed him, and DO NOT FORGET the oatmeal at christmas!

wishing you all a splendid weekend!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

everything's coming up roses

i love roses. i love to buy roses. i wish roses would last longer than a week or so because i don't like it when they die and i don't have any more roses left. when the roses die, i throw them away. or not. i have found a way to extend the life of a bouquet of roses. these rose leftovers really turned out well, and looked good in a little pottery vase, although i admit they are obviously not as glorious as roses in full bloom. even after the rose blossoms faded and fell off their stems, these star-like seed pod shapes that were left behind were cheerful and quite nice, i think. festive and even a little christmasy. roses coming up roses.....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


i am sitting here tapping my fingers on the table and waiting. ok, so where is the snow, huh? more accurately, where is OUR snow? the real stuff. (a dusting does not count.) paris, france had snow. most of great britain had snow. athens, greece had snow. all around buffalo and syracuse had snow. places out west had snow. iowa and wisconsin and minnesota and a lot of the midwest had snow. vermont had snow. northern maine had snow. we have not had any snow, we have had tons of rain! what is the deal? I WISH FOR SNOW in little old southern coastal maine, and so does my pillowcase snowman buddy up there.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


the holiday wreaths at our locally owned garden center boast a magnificent scent and lovely shades of green; the greenery is a combination of fir, balsam, juniper and cedar. 
i hang the wreaths on the lamposts and door at the beginning of december and usually leave them up for a few months. one year, though, the wreaths greeted spring, and they stayed exactly as their name implies -evergreen. i have heard that birds will occasionally nest in a wreath if it remains in a quiet and undisturbed location through nesting season.

i like displaying the wreaths for a long time. a coating of fresh snow on the deep green brings out the wreath's wintery lushness. (there is no coating of fresh snow around here, though...only rain, rain. rain....) the greens will remain outdoors all winter; they are simply too beautiful to toss in the compost heap too soon. who knows, maybe i will even leave one out until summer this year and see if any feathered friends take up residence....

Friday, December 10, 2010

wrapped up

hannah montalvo, shell. wire, plaster, plastic, glue.
november, 2010
in maine, as we draw near to the winter solstice, we think of wrapping up gifts for christmas -and wrapping ourselves up snugly in warm layers against the icy cold that has descended on us the last few days! so many things are wrapped up....

wrapped up

outer layer
shell, carapace, husk,
integument, cover,
crust, plastron,
pod, wrap,
rind, skin, hide.

encasing, enshrining
that which lies
hidden beneath.

inner layer
the gift,
essential essence,
priceless seed,





and now we've wrapped up another week....wishing you gaiety and glee this weekend (and still wishing for snow, too)!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

winter holiday inspiration

the mailbox has been full of holiday catalogues over the last couple weeks, signaling the season of celebrations ahead. some catalogues offer the same-ho-hum-old-things, but others offer truly unique and fun items. my winter inspiration note board includes hand-made stockings for the fireplace, vintage furniture, one-of-a-kind still life bags, ski motif pillows, playfully painted dishes and lots of animals to liven up the space.

two catalogues stand out - the november and december anthropologie and the winter gifts garnet hill. anthropologie had some fun in the november issue by featuring cute and whimsical photos of animals with its gift ideas. also, the artist original still life bags are lush. the december anthropologie used a backdrop of woodland scenes. my favorites were one with a huge moss covered boulder and another with a tiny cabin with a moss covered roof....absolutely green and delightful!

as always, garnet hill's clothing is classic. the beautiful sweaters stand out; they create a feast for the eyes, and are truly practical for our maine winters. and, of course, something a frugal new englander really notices is the fact that just looking at all the pretties doesn't cost a penny....

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

welcome christmastime

i remember this: at christmastime in the early 60's, when i was very little, we had wonderful cardboard christmas houses that my mother would decorate with around the livingroom. she would put a few of them under the tree, and when the only illumination in the room came from the christmas tree, the small village of houses glowed merrily in the soft, dim, welcoming light of those big, old-fashioned, colored bulbs. i would lie on my stomach under the tree, head resting on my outstretched arm, and gaze into the lit up village for a long time. i would imagine the people who lived in the christmas houses, and what they might be doing inside. were they snug in there? (it was stormy outside because several of the houses had snow on their roof and chimney.) were they playing games and drinking hot chocolate? were they busy enjoying their own winter celebration?

i don't know what happened to those houses from the 1960's. these are some of my own 1990's collection of cardboard christmas houses. the brown gingerbread house welcomes you with its tiny sign. welcome, christmastime.....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

a charlie brown christmas tree

growing straight and strong and mostly nicely shaped right smack against our deck, was a 7 foot pine tree. since it was growing in such an awkward location, most people would probably have cut the tree down and burned it up ages ago. not me. i have been keeping my eye on the tree for several years, and i have had big plans for it all along. now that it was blocking the stairs, the time had come. this christmas, the charlie brown tree is going to be our christmas tree.

the tree is no beauty. far from it! it is a runt compared to some of our past christmas trees (we have had 14 footers a few times). its branches are not lush and full and even, and it has a small bare spot on one side. but somehow the thought of simply getting rid of the little tree makes me sad....

i guess it comes down to this: most people spend a lot of time in search of the PERFECT christmas tree; i, however, find joy in an IMPERFECT one, one that most people would ignore or ridicule. i am delighted this scraggly tree decided to sprout and grow under the big ma and pa pines right beside the house. we cut the scrawny mite down on sunday. soon it will not seem so small anymore; it will stand proud and tall in the livingroom with the magestic designation of c. b. christmas tree 2010. once it is decorated, the small wild tree will be as beautiful as any pampered farm-raised christmas tree. actually, make that more beautiful, since our little tree has been loved since it was 6 inches tall.....

Monday, December 6, 2010

christmas with alpacas

on saturday i drove over to estabrook's "christmas with alpacas" event in yarmouth to see the alpacas and the wonderful maine alpaca wool crafts. alpacas are nice animals. (and man, do they have the most beautiful eyelashes!) they did not at all mind having their pictures taken; they were much more interested in eating. not to be confused with llamas (several people insisted the larger animals were, in fact, llamas and not alpacas), the largest alpacas in yarmouth on saturday were 150 pounds, versus around 300 pounds for llamas! no sir, no llamas were present - the name of the event should have been a clue!

there were alpaca/merino and alpaca/silk sweaters, scarves, shawls, socks and more. the colorful skeins of yarn were exquisite. all these maine artisans raise their own alpacas, and spin and dye their alpaca wool themselves. also displaying at the event was portland fiber gallery, where they offer lessons in weaving, spinning, dyeing and felting.
sweetest of all were the baby alpacas, who were just a few months old. the babies, and the adults, made the cutest humming sounds, their only sound, except for a seagull-like shriek, which is a warning call when alpacas think there is danger nearby. a festive and fun christmas with alpacas....but still no snow! i think all our snow is in the british isles. sigh....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

bells on her toes

these are jingling in my mind this nursery rhyme....

with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
she shall have music wherever she goes....

i have always liked that sentiment. i think it would be fun to wear bells on my toes, but here in maine, that's only gonna happen when my flip-flops get dug out of the closet in the summer. tell me, where do you buy toe bells? and to have music wherever i go.....fantastic. music brings joy; it lifts the spirit; it sends sweet sounds soaring to our ears. music is a good thing. classical, rock, oldies, blues, jazz.....and have you ever heard those maine bell ringers? 'tis the season for holiday music played non-stop on the radio. most people get sick and tired of it. i'm weird, i don't. tra-la-la-la-la....have a marvelously melodious day!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

the st. croix river taketh....

.....and giveth back. before i tell you what that's all about, i just want to say that since it's the beginning of december, holiday party time is here again - as if you didn't know this fact already and needed me to inform you. anyway, party time made me think of wine and beer and martinis and so on. my husband and i do not drink much, and, for me, parties do not mean time to get wasted (sorry for being so boring). parties mean getting together with friends and family, yakking non-stop (i excel at that) and laughing uproariously, without the help of a lot of alcohol. ok, so now you have heard my holiday party philosophy.

what does all this have to do with rivers? you will soon see - booze is the common thread here. bear with me. the river in this story is the mighty st. croix in northern maine. james and five buddies canoed the st. croix river this summer. only one canoe dumped during the entire trip, and, not to worry, the two guys in it were fine, albeit soaked to their bones. all their gear floated downstream, and everything was recovered, with one VERY IMPORTANT exception: the extra special, extra large, "the lumberjack!" cast-iron frypan (from l.l.bean) had (naturally) sunk with alarming speed straight to the bottom of the st. croix.

trevor, who had conveniently brought a mask (where did he think he was going, the reefs off the florida keys?), was ready for his first dive in seconds. he had a vested interest in all this -he was the keeper/pan master of "the lumberjack!" frypan, which was an absolutely necessary item on a camping trip where the main food group was meat.

into the river trevor plunged. (well, it was really only 3 or 4 feet of water in this section of the river, but doesn't "plunging" sound so much more dramatic, folks?) each time he surfaced, his hands remained empty. no frypan. tragedy. (how were they going to cook all that bloody meat?) down he went again. trevor's arm suddenly flew into the air. he had found, not the frypan but (drumroll, please) a snorkel! that would certainly aid in the search! unfortunately, things were not going well. after lord knows how many more attempts at locating the pan that the river had obviously claimed for itself, james shouted to trevor over the river's din: hey, man, give up the search!

trevor decided he'd try one final time. down he went, and when he came back up this [hopefully] last time, he was determined not to ascend empty-handed. with renewed vigor, trevor fought the current, and with mask and snorkel in place, stuck his face in the water and looked down into a shallow rocky area of rapids where the canoe had tipped. what was that down there? he reached into the mighty st. croix river; then trevor's arm shot triumphantly up in the air. the river had decided to make a trade: one extra large (the lumberjack!) frypan for......a full, unopened, unscathed bottle of vodka! oh happy day! as trevor turned to his buddies to savor the moment, the snorkel suddenly slipped out of his hand and was never found again. the st. croix, to the very end, was master of the maine wilderness and had the last word: an even trade, one bottle of vodka for one (the lumberjack!) fry pan....