Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Did you know

that if you are over 55 you can get a coffee or a soft drink at Burger King for only 49 cents??? Just finding that out felt like a little smile.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kiley's new purple hat...


Kiley got her first tooth today!

These are the things I hate today:

1. The rain is stripping all the leaves off, even the pretty ones.
2. I got an assignment at 9:48 a.m. to be somewhere at 9:30 a.m.
3. I was reading a fabulous book at lunch and was deep into the plot when the restauranteur decided to vacuum the rug.
4. Emma threw up.
5. Two young people just walked by under a big green umbrella, with their arms around each other. Laughing.

I'm crabby and jealous.
And I really need some chocolate.

Monday, October 27, 2008

While I was walking Emma this afternoon -

- my Goddess, isn't it beautiful today - we took a shortcut through Hathorn Park and Emma went inside the baseball dugout. Russell's spirit struck me so hard I could almost smell him sitting there in his polyester uniform, chewing gum, his tanned face full of laughter, fooling around with his was almost like a pain. Sometimes I miss my children so much I can't breathe.

I'm working on a story about gratitude and

it has really got me thinking. I proposed it for a Thanksgiving feature and have sent out queries to nearly everyone on my email list.
But as I waited for comments, I began reflecting on gratitude and the role it has played in my life. Of course there are the obvious - my children, my health, my little dog Emma, the kindnesses of friends, butternut squash and cold milk - but I wanted to think beyond that.
What came to me at one point this afternoon was a comment my father made back in 1966. We were riding to work together (yup, I was a working woman way back then!) on a warm summer morning and passed this house with a HUGE front window that consisted of about a gazillion tiny panes of glass.
"I've always loved that window,'' I said.
"It would be a great window for a Christmas tree,'' he answered.
A small conversation, one that could have easily been forgotten or ignored. But from a cold, untouchable dad like mine, those words pierced me. You mean, my dad, MY dad, actually thought about Christmas? It was amazing - the man who had never kissed me, not once (and still wouldn't at the altar when I married), the man who had never shared one single intimate moment of his life, or one thought beyond "what's for dinner?'' or "did you do your homework?'' actually thought about soft, family Christmas stuff. Whew!
What this one tiny exchange did was to change the way I looked at EVERYTHING -it forced me to look for the detail, the picture INSIDE the window, beyond just the glass or the shape of the pane. This clearly has translated to my writing career. I try not to just tell the reader what the person said, but how they scuffed their shoes, or rubbed their fingers on the edge of the tablecloth, or swallowed twice before answering a question. In essence, that window became my opening into meaningful description and life: look beyond, my father's few words taught me. Look past the obvious. Look into and through the window.
And so, if I cannot find one other thing to be thankful about when it comes to my father, this is huge. This is amazing - that he could affect my career and life in such a profound way. Can you imagine what could have happened if he had actually been PRESENT? Gratitude...ok I get it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm rethinking my election temper-tantrum...

Okay, so maybe I was acting a bit rudely and was grumpy and needed to eat at regular intervals and - most certainly - could have used a glass of wine. But...I did not vote early. I found out that it causes a LOT of extra work for the town clerks and besides, I did not want all the apathetic nay-sayers out there to ruin my election day.
So...I'll stand in line, proudly, to cast my ballot and I'll smile and know that this line, this privilege is my birthright.
And besides, it's really fun to see everyone and I really like the feeling of dropping those papers into those old, beaten up wooden boxes and knowing they count.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I think I need to clarify since there apparently

was some misunderstanding. The 84 year old former WASP was a Women Airforce Service Pilot in WWII - not a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (although she may still be that as well.) She flew open cockpit planes towing targets so male gunners on the ground could practice. There were 25,000 women that tried for the job: less than 1100 got their wings and less than 250 are still alive. These women broke ground: they taught the male pilots so they could go overseas and paved the way for today's 4,000 female commercial pilots. It was a fabulous interview but hard to picture the sweet little old lady I was talking to as a hardened war veteran...some days I really love my job.

At first I was really angry when

only a handful of people showed up at the traditional candidates' night last night. In years' past, people have filled the room, standing along the walls and waiting in the hallways for their chance to meet and ask questions of the candidates. Last night, only 3 of the 15 invited candidates attended and only about that many interested residents. So I was mad. In fact, I was furious with my fellow citizens - upset that they would let this opportunity pass so easily.
But what is really going on here? Was there not enough publicity to draw people away from t.v.? Are voters just so saturated with national election publicity that they can't stand to come out for one evening of local politics? Frankly, I think they just don't care. Their lives, their families and their survival are taking all their time and energy. They seem to focus on the issues that affect them but not the very people who will decide those issues. They are so busy railing against the soda and beer tax that they can't see the forest for the trees. Who do they think wrote that tax into law?
I'm going to vote early today and not stand in line and visit with folks and experience the atmosphere of the polls. I think the process has been ruined for me. Why not - who really cares?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Well, I discovered one thing about returning to Pittsfield...

there has been no decrease in the traffic outside my window, the kids still yell loudly to each other as they leave the movies at night and artificial light pouring in the windows is still gross. Today I interview a former W.A.S.P. who is in her 80s - an interview I've been really looking forward to...that will distract me.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'll hold this little place on Roque Bluffs in my heart until I return.

This is it, the last few moments of my last vacation of the year...

Machias is feeling more and more like my true home and so, of course, I am filled with sadness as I make the last few preparations - making sure the woodstove is out, the garbage is removed, the lights have all been turned off and the thermostats are at minimal settings. As if to tease me, Otto the Buck came out into the backyards today, standing there munching on the apples Faye put there, showing me his glorious self one last time. He only raised his head briefly when Matt came out to start his car. He is beautiful and my spirit is relieved that he has so far survived hunting season. If I see him this winter it will truly be a time for celebration, knowing that he made it through. I wonder if any of the does will be missing...

As I sit here on my little makeshift desk in my studio, there is brilliant sunshine outside the window and enough of a breeze to lift the leaves and send them twirling and skittering down. Even the evergreens are raining pine needles. The crow, Mr. Meyers with the strangled voice, is sitting up high in one of the maples but his call is quiet today, maybe because he has been feeding so well on my offerings. The crows have scarfed up the apple bits and the stale Kix cereal but have left the carrot pieces alone. A junko, all by herself today, also visited this morning, scratching through the Kix on the well cover to find the seeds I put underneath. The chickadees continue their race to the feeders - flying drunkenly from the Beauty Bush to the feeders, quickly grabbing a seed and then rushing back to the safety of the bush's branches. They are in such a hurry and don't even mind Emma, who sits on the back of the couch ignoring them. I think she has figured out that they are outside, she is in. She still gets mightily excited, though, when a sea gull appears. Ah, she almost says, a bigger threat!
Well, I'm putting it off - I must leave. I can take solace in that the leaves are still brilliant and the ride home will be pleasant...

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm just realizing

how hard it will be to leave my woodstove and the smokey smell it wraps around my yard;
how hard it will be to leave the doe and her fawn that visit my evergreens every morning;
how hard it will be not to hear the crows and the chickadees and the nut hatches talking;
how hard it will be to leave Kiley since she accomplishes something new everyday;
how hard it will be to see Emma forced to be on a leash all the time;
how hard it will be not to see the fog slowly creep through the woods and envelop the yard;
how hard it will be to eat all my meals alone again;

BUT how wonderful it will be to see all my dear friends again.....

Today is a quiet day...

as my vacation starts to wind down. I must admit, I am getting a bit antsy, even though I wrote three stories while here.
Today I watched Kiley for a while as her mom worked and her daddy bought a car and brought his high-school best friend home from the airport. Poor Pat has spent 17 hours trying to get here from Wyoming! They hadn't seen each other in six years so they are going to have a wonderful visit.
The last few days have been full, though. I hiked Roque Bluffs trails and they were VERY different than Cutler. They were mostly paths through apple orchards and fields followed by a section through the woods to a salt water marsh. I could hear the waves from the ocean during the whole hike, though, and it distracted me to no end. Of course when the 3 miles were up and I got back to the car, the first thing I did was cross the street in my barefeet to go to the beach. There is something deeply sad about an empty beach in the fall - all the gulls vying for spilled lunches are gone, the children's toys and sandcastles have disappeared and even if a tourist stops by, they take a picture from the observation deck and quickly leave.
Wednesday night I went to Perry for dinner with friends. They have a spectacular home on Gleason Cove with views of islands and Canada, and surrounded by lovely gardens. I brought them tulip bulbs and they fed me was really nice but a DARK drive home.
Yesterday I had a visit from an old friend, Dawn, who worked at the Morning Sentinel in the Pittsfield office back in the early 1990s. We have kept in touch over the years and now she is a contractor in Bar Harbor. She stayed overnight and went on to a conference in Calais this a.m.
Tomorrow Danny and Amanda arrive and we're planning a huge lobster feed (can you believe they are selling for $2.50? It is horrible for the lobstermen and women....we're going to buy a whole bunch and freeze the meat on what we don't eat.)
My order from the buying club came in and I'm going to try a Hungarian Pepper Soup with the most beautiful, thick orange peppers you ever saw....

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I am having such a great vacation! Today, Faye and Kiley and I went to Cobscook Learning Center and listened to Passamaquoddy children drummers. FUN!!

Faye is dancing The Friendship Dance at the drumming circle.

Here's the little one, helping to weave on an Earth Loom Community weaving project...

This is what we wove for Kiley, a momento of her first drumming circle and her Blackfeet heritage

This is Jim, a friend of Matt's, adding his offering to the loom.

Here are the pictures from my hike: the paths, the coast, and even the little hidey-hole where I believe a fairy lives...

I am feeling so proud of myself

today. I hiked the Bold Coast in Cutler! Although I took the short route - three miles versus 7.5 - it was perfect for me. The solitude, the peacefulness, the extraordinary beauty of the hike followed by the view of the Bold Coast, which I admit has to be one of the most gorgeous sights I have ever seen, slowed me down and forced me to think about A LOT.....The woods were spectacular. Tiny yellow leaves floated down in a welcome while peppy squirrels urged me on with their chatter. Lots of birds, whose names I wish I knew, called to me and the smell was so thick, so pungent, almost a sweet, candy smell. In places the trail was harsh and it was good to be challenged. In other places it was easy, a stroll through carpets of moss that were such a vibrant green that it tricked me into thinking winter wasn't around the corner. Suddenly I noticed that the light was no longer just filtered down through what leaves were left on the trees but was also coming from in front of me: THE OCEAN!!! Bold Coast views are beyond breathtaking. They make you want to cry for the beauty that surrounds us. I was a bit scared up there on those peaks but savored my accomplishment and sat for while, just contemplating. I couldn't keep the smile off my face on the return hike. At one point a large breeze blew through the woods and I lifted my arms and tipped my head back to catch the cooling air. I felt like flying, I was so proud of myself. I did it. My first hike. I didn't think I was capable but I was. Just think: I am 60 years and 2 months old and I did it: I embarked upon a physical life. Nothing can stop me now....I think I'll hike Roque Bluffs this afternoon.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Well, here I am

on vacation! My last free week of the year.... My little house in Machias is a very different place in the fall. My summer vacation was spent with the windows thrown open, the smells of blooming flowers and the sounds of wheeling gulls in the air. But this week, the windows are shut tight against the chill, the smell is of wood smoke and the sound I hear most often is night honking by the thousands of Canada geese headed south. I was cuddled under my comforter last night trying to fall asleep and their calls were so haunting and sad. I'm feeling a bit abandoned by them! Today, my first full day, began so lazily - a late breakfast, writing in the new cookbook and then making Seven Onion Soup for dinner. But the most important chore of the day will be to head to the hardware store for mousetraps and some plastic to winterize the foundation. Even though the geese have abandoned me, the tiny mice have not. It feels like an invasion... Really, though, they only got into the dogfood treats! This afternoon is supposed to be so beautiful that I think I'll head to Cutler for short hike.

This amazing woodcarving, called "First Breath," is one of woodcut artist Gillyin Gatto's works. I interviewed her Thursday and I am captivated!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Here's the mountain woman in her hospital sad...

What a weekend...

poor Donna slipped Saturday afternoon on wet rocks while hiking a very fierce mountain, White Cap, in the wilds of the woods, and broke her leg! She laid on the cold ground for six hours waiting for help to get her out! And then she had to wait until morning for surgery to repair the damage. Trudy and I spent a few hours keeping her company Sunday and she was in great spirits! It looks like she will be home early this week and with the wonderfully wide and devoted circle of friends she has, we'll all take turns making sure she has help and what she needs to be comfortable...Her son may come home from Kentucky and her sister might come up from Massachusetts as well.
It's so frightening when a friend gets hurt, especially a friend like Donna, who is so incredibly self-sufficient and independent. She is so active that this is inability to get around is going to frustrate her to no end! But it will also give us all the chance to show her how much we love her and care for her - a good gift. She was going to come up during my vacation and stay over the Columbus Day weekend but now that won't happen. I guess I'll concentrate on painting now...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Well, well, well - it's been quite an adventure

here in Machias. I was sent up - very quickly and with no notice - Sunday morning to cover the impending hurricane, which turned out not to be a hurricane. I did have a good time, though - talking to people in variety stores, on beaches, on wharves. The air was warm and of course it goes without saying that any excuse to go to Machias puts me within hugging and kissing distance of my little Kiley girl. I got an extra dayoff so Faye, Kiley and I just had the whole day together Tuesday. I put a few things in the car Tuesday night, in anticipation of leaving first thing today, and when I woke up discovered my belongings strewn across the backyard. THEIVES I SAY! THEIVES WERE AT WORK! They grabbed three bags: my backpack with laptop - which they tossed; a supply bag - which they also ransacked and tossed; and my pocketbook. They dumped its contents on the wet grass and took everything, including debit and credit cards, out of my wallet. They apparently were only interested in cash, which they took from my wallet, but nothing else. Unfortunately, however, they took my NEWS camera. Luckily, the company will replace it and any personal photos on the card were backed up in my computer. I had locked the car but failed to notice that a back window was open about four inches. They were able to reach in and pop the lock. I feel VIOLATED and that sense of safety I had in the woods of Machias is compromised. I only hope they come back and meet the skunk that lives in our back yard....that would be payback. Matt is also installing motion sensor lights today on the big pole by the driveway that will light up both his and my driveways and cars. I am sad today.....