Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008 - there were parts of you that were glorious.

Glorious #1: Kiley Alane Bauman - I was privileged enough to be present and participating in her birth. She has awakened such a joy in my heart. She is not only a reflection of my past and present, but also of my future.

Glorious #2: Watching Kiley's parents become parents. What an amazing journey this is! They are wonderful, caring, fun, silly, serious, careful, joyful and responsible parents and I have no doubts they will raise Kiley to be a spectacular person.

Glorious #3: I bought my wonderful house in Machias, close enough so I can smell the sea and hear the gulls but tucked alongside a town forest. Deer in my backyard, geese in my sky, my children just across the driveway. It is my own piece of heaven and I cannot wait until I get there permanently.

Glorious #4: Getting to spend almost a wholeextra year with my friends, whom I thought I would be leaving last February. We had planned on a winter move but instead, here I am, still carefully held in their loving arms and enjoying all the fun they can provide.

Glorious #5: Two first place Maine Press Association Awards and a first place in the New England Association of Newspaper Editors. Awards from your peers are always the best.

Glorious #6: All the people who let me into their homes, their businesses, their lives, their joys and their tragedies this year for interviews. It has been an honor and a privilege to tell their stories.

But then again, 2008, there were times I hated you, cursed you and will be so glad to be rid of you. I lost my mother, my dear Betty Lou, in just four days and my heart will never recover. I couldn't move to my home in Machias and instead lived virtually in the office, spending way too much time alone. I failed to understand the complexities of my son Daniel and offended him and caused us to be apart for two long, unbearable months. My beautiful grandsons, Joseph and James, moved even farther away: from Connecticut to South Carolina. Eric went to Afghanistan. Matt lost his brother. I had to watch too many homes burn, too many cars crash, too many people hurt; dead babies, dead soldiers, wounded hearts, lost businesses, failed dreams.

But, right around the corner, comes a second chance, a new opportunity for rebirth, revival and re-energy. 2009. I kind of like the sound of that - I never really liked the number 8 anyway. So here is a toast (okay, so it's decaf coffee, but...) to better days, longer laughs, higher highs, deeper relationships, and growth - personal, economical and spiritual. To love. To life. To moving forward. And here are my resolutions: move, move move. do something as often as possible that scares or challenges me. read even more. write even more. be more understanding, patient and kind. watch less television. find peace.

May your resolutions be achievable and your 2009 dreams come true.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The top ten reasons why I love living in a small town:

1. Three men with dogs jogged past my driveway this afternoon as I was getting out of the car and I knew every one of them: Mike, Ethan and David. I don't know the dogs, however, except by reputation.

2. I was alone, sitting in a restaurant having a salad, reading a book, and my BEST FRIEND FOREVER Trudy saw my car and came in to visit with me, making my heart smile! And she invited me to lunch tomorrow for homemade soup...

3. The librarian not only knows what I like, but will put books on hold I HAVEN'T EVEN ASKED FOR just because she knows I will like them. And she's not even cranky when I tell her I HATED them.

4. When Reny's ran out of ice melt granules, they sent me to Hancock Lumber, where I not only found plenty, but they were CHEAPER. And, because I've wrenched my back shoveling, the Hancock Lumber person carried the big bucket to the car for me.

5. While out and about today, I passed one of the town's sanding trucks three times and I know the driver, John, and he waved to me EACH of the three times we passed. Too bad he wasn't on my street, which looks like a retreating glacier, with ruts that could swallow a horse whole.

6. When I took all my Christmas trash, cardboard boxes and recyclables to the transfer station this morning, both attendants called me by name and gave me two BRAND NEW recycling bins. They also helped carry the stinky bags to the dumpster. Does this make me famous? That the dump attendants know me? Or does it just make me trashy?

7. The dog groomer didn't want to charge me for clipping Emma's toenails this morning because Emma cried through the whole three minute procedure. What a little scam artist, she is, trying to get out of paying...I wonder if I should have tried that with the ice melting granules.

8. The time and temperature sign at People's Heritage Bank said 40 degrees. Across the street, the one at Skowhegan Savings Bank said 41. And my car said it was 39. I'm just going to pretend it is 75 with a balmy breeze from the east.

9. I picked up the mail and the post office had DELIVERED, not REJECTED three Christmas cards that had been addressed to the house where I moved from last February. One of Santa's elves must be hiding inside one of those rolling mail sorters back there because that truly is a miracle.

10. And the best one: I watched THREE, Three, THREE people rush to help an older man cross a very icy patch behind the town office. He was wearing actual galoshes. GALOSHES - with the little buckles and all. In many places, that poor old geezer would have fallen flat on his ass. And that would have started a long, downhill slide because he could have broken his hip and had to be moved to a nursing home, away from his wife of 54 years, who he still very much loved and liked, and then he might have given up on life and .... But not in my town. He was embarrassed by all the fuss but shook hands all around and wished everyone a happy new year. And the three people smiled and went about their business.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Made it to Machias and back - here are some scenes from my Christmas:

My kids really like each other, in spite of their bizarre childhood on a hog hugs when they get together are spontaneous and repeated often. I think they are plotting a takeover here. Either that or someone needs some advice about a personal problem. "Yes,'' Faye is telling Amanda. "I like Colgate best.'' "No,'' says Danny. "Crest is the one.'' Kiley, with only two teeth, kept out of it. And don't pay any attention to the clock and be worried that Kiley is up WAAAY past her bedtime. That clock has said the same time for six months. Those kids. They don't answer their cell phones either!
Faye's cat Orange claimed Matt's sweatshirt present for himself. He weighs about 24 pounds so we didn't put up an argument. Besides, he clearly is giving me the evil eye. I know when to back off.
It appears that Kiley's favorite present was her own remote control so that she would stop ordering movies from the real one.
There was a great sense of disappointment when she found more polka dots. "What is the matter with this family?" she asked. "Haven't you ever heard of stripes?"
The day was saved with some really good tasting socks. They were followed by a bite of a beef stick from Dad's stocking, a mouthful of wrapping paper and a few needles from the Christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the first day of Christmas, my eve wish list:

1. I wish that it would stop snowing and the roads would clear so I won't be afraid to drive the two and a half hours to my granddaughter's first Christmas, holding my breath, gripping the steering wheel for all I'm worth and having to pee all the way..

2. I wish that for once - JUST FOR ONCE - I didn't cry when hearing Johnny Mathis sing Christmas songs.

3. I wish that I could stop eating these damn cookies that seem to be growing by themselves in my kitchen, or the cakes, or the homemade bread, or...

4. I wish that instead of cookies, my friends will bring booze next year. Lots of booze.

5. I wish you could know the joy I felt this morning when my seven month old granddaughter called me on the telephone and said "ho ho ho." As least that is what she thought she said.

6. I wish the dog would poop faster when we go out because last night it was 12 degrees.

7. I wish I had one of those transporters that they used in the Star Trek Enterprise so I could magically bring every soldier home for Christmas, plopping them down at the dinner table where they could shout "Pass the turkey!"and their beloved mothers could tuck them sweetly in their beds tonight and then Santa would leave a note in all stockings that says "No more war" and peace would finally, FINALLY reign and they would never, ever have to leave again.

8. I wish that I could install radiant heat in the driveway so I could turn it on and all the snow would just melt away. (Have I already made an anti-snow wish? Tough titties. I hate it.)

9. I wish the boys on the snowmobiles in the park at my back yard would slow down because I keep worrying about them. And put on a helmet, for crying out loud.

10. And I wish you a very, merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Remember when a good tasting cookie was the best thing in the entire world?

Enough said.

What are you reading?

Fellow blogger Neas Nuttiness asked what I was reading and I thought it might be fun to share our favorites or what we are reading now, here. We have a loooooong, dark, cold January ahead and it can go much faster if we are surrounded and immersed in some good books. Right now I'm reading Jeffery Deaver's The Sleeping Doll, one of about a dozen he has written (he wrote The Bone Collectcor). I'm working my way through all of his stuff. (Please notice the library sticker in the left corner - I take out about 5 books a week. I'm rabid about books.) But in between I hope to balance the harsh cop/dead bodies/crazed killer stuff with something simpler and softer. Any suggestions? What are you reading right now?

Here are some of my past favorites:
Every book by Alice Hoffman
My Drowning by Jim Grimsley
All of Billie Lett's books
Firefly Cloak, and others, by Sheri Reynolds

Please share. January is loooooooooooooming.

And after the storm, the sun comes pouring through the sky.

From the kitchen window it was a very welcome sight. All night I could hear the howling wind and the creaking branches of the poor frozen trees.
The drifts had piled up four feet tall against the back door - I had to go out the front entrance and slog my way through to shovel. I had already shoveled a little cul-de-sac there for the dog to use....the snow depth is over her head everywhere else! It is brisk and windy and very cold - 12 degrees - and I've never seen Emma do her business so quickly - in and out in about four seconds! But, this morning with the dawn, the sun has returned. Being "trapped" inside was a lovely respite from the hustle and bustle of this season. My friend R's party was canceled and moved to tonight so it was a time to snuggle in with a good book, finish the last of the wrapping and get a little more baking done. I put the finishing touches on a painting for my daughter-in-law A (I have serious reservations about whether she will like it or not!)
Today I'll work mostly from home, using the phone to reach my sources but it looks like a busy day is coming - there have already been two fire calls this morning.
I have a planning board meeting to cover after the party at R's tonight so I'll have to cut my time short there...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

We had a winter solstice bonfire - it was -5 degrees!

So the heat that it threw was very much welcomed; afterwards, we all went inside for holiday food and drink. Some of the girls snuck out to the garage to smoke cigars....there is NO WAY you can hide that smell. I was brilliant and stayed inside and ate shrimp, meatballs, dip, fudge and washed it all down with a good Shiraz. Ah....I love the holidays. Especially the food. New Year's diet, here I come.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Annual Goddess Solstice Celebration

Trudy, through clenched teeth: "I can't believe she wore the same sweater.''
Karen, through clenched teeth: "I can't believe she wore the same sweater.''
I believe that Trudy was pinching Karen's back here, and Karen was just getting ready to put Trudy in a headlock.

Janet: "Hmmmm, which of these delicious snacks should I try first."
Donna: "I can't even look at them. I'm keeping my hands secured so I won't be tempted."
Renata: "I recently read that the more Christmas food you consume, the better your vegetable garden will grow next summer.''

Last night we held our annual Solstice Celebration, the other Goddesses and I. We are a close group - about a dozen of us - and this event every December to welcome back the light is one of the most intimate and meaningful of the year. Of course we start with knoshing and wine! But after visiting, sharing stories and snacking galore, we settle down in a circle, dim the lights and pass a candle. Each person takes the candle and shares their year: the joys, the sorrows, the disappointments, the revelations. Subjects that only other women would understand and accept. We have discussed such intimate subjects as breast cancer, dashed dreams, our children's struggles....most often are the joys: a birth, a milestone reached, a goal attained. Each person speaks from the heart, in a soft voice, while others listen. There is no judging, no commenting, just a sharing of the moments that have marked this past year. Some of the women in our circle have recently been invited, while others have known each other for 30 years or more. We are a family, of sorts, a gathering of goddesses who can rely on each other for strength, humor, energy, and sometimes just a wonderful, all encompassing hug. Our Solstice Celebration is a quiet, reflective time; a time to assess and look forward to a new year, the light returning and a hopeful future. Blessed be.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A big snowstorm today...look at the little stone

bears on the back porch, all hooded in snow with their Christmas ribbons on...
and the woodpile next door is all drifted with snow. Lucky me - I got to work from home and snuggle with a good book while good smells came from the kitchen. Mmmmmmmmm.
The electrical black hole seems to have closed for the moment - all the cell phones, the computer and even the scanner acted appropriately for the past 24 hours - or maybe the Ghost at The Mansion has gone home to her mother's for the holidays.

Last night BFFs Trudy and Donna and I took Jin (of the Thanksgiving Day Apple Pie fame) out to dinner to celebrate his early acceptance at NYU. He is over the moon - it was his first choice and he worked so hard. We did Mexican, a fabulous place nearby called Cervasas but I had to report on a town council meeting last night so there was no cervasas for me...tonight I write about selectmen and budgets...aren't you thrilled for me?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is this the Twilight Zone or a Zombie Electrical Force Field?

Something beyond weird is happening here at The Mansion. VERY WEIRD! I think I've fallen into an electrical black hole. The only other explanation is ghosts and we are NOT going to go there...

Anyway, the current (tee hee) problem began last night when my police scanner went cuckoo. Of the 40 available scanner channels, it completely cleared 20 of them. Just dropped them, eliminated them, zeroed them out. WTF? I asked the scanner. It's a few years old and it runs 24/7 so I thought, oops, time for a new scanner, plus it never answered me about what its problem was.
Then my cell phones started acting up. Conversations were being cut off mid-sentence. Reception was horrible. My bff Trudy said I sounded like I was in a wind tunnel or on fire. I started wandering around The Mansion to find the best reception - which curiously is by sitting comfortably on the couch, with my feet on the coffee table and a cold drink in my right hand, while holding my phone in my left with my head cushioned by a lovely pillow.
But then I went to bed.
I set my alarm - on my cell phone - and went to sleep.
About an hour later, my cell phone woke me and it was completely POSSESSED!
It was raising and lowering the volume lickety split ALL BY ITSELF!
It was connecting to the Internet ALL BY ITSELF!
It was beeping, and pinging and making all kinds of bell sounds ALL BY ITSELF!
None of the buttons would respond. I was POWERLESS or OVERpowered - I'm not sure which. I took the battery out three times before it would begin working correctly.
What is going on?
I'm afraid to use the hair dryer, or turn on the bathroom fan, and don't even get me started on the dangers that may be lurking in the automatic ice maker. I think I even have a lot more static cling going on than usual. Is everything in The Mansion that is powered by electricity suddenly going to go all Stephen King-ish on me?

By the way, I've met Stephen King. He used to come to the basketball games at my kids' high school. He's a really nice man and everyone just left him alone to eat popcorn, cheer and enjoy the game.

Back to the voltage situation, any ideas out there for what is going on? Suggestions for a cleansing or exorcism? Oh, I once bought a house where a man had been murdered in the kitchen and my ex had the minister come and bless the house before we moved in. I used to drive him crazy - the ex, not the minister - by saying, very loudly, "Excuse me Bill" and stepping high over where the body had landed....drove him nuts, I tell ya.

Maybe I need to hold a prayer circle in here...

OMG - I thought the electric villians just got my laptop but I realized I hadn't pushed the power source in all the way and the battery was dying......creeeeeeeepy.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This is why you DON'T leave grandchildren with grandmothers and go on a shopping trip to Portland:

first it was the bananas...
then it was blueberries...
You think she's a mess? You should see me!
I just (10:30 a.m.) got my first meal in two days. I ate Smartfood popcorn for supper last night, cookies for lunch yesterday afternoon and cold carrots for breakfast...I forgot how demanding this all is. How did we do it with two or three or six????? I'm exhausted and will go to bed as soon as they pick her up this afternoon. What a great time we had though. Can you imagine sleeping with your granddaughter tucked alongside; she is sleeping softly, breathing quietly, in the crook of your arm, snuggled up against you with her little hand patting your arm? HEAVEN must certainly be like this - at least my version.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The annual Cookie Party at my friend K's house

was this afternoon in St. Albans. K started the tradition when her two girls - now both graduated from college - were just toddlers. Every year K makes bowls of dough and rolls them out, the kids cut out the shapes and after they are baked, there is a big table with every kind of icing, doodad, candy sprinkle and trim you could imagine.This is the first year there was a second generation at the party, and K had a sweet little apron for Kiley, who had a wonderful time picking through the cookie cutters. K's granddaughter was also there - they are just one month apart - and we got laughing just thinking about the chaos those two girls will cause in the next couple of years.
Now Kiley is sleeping in the next room - her mom is in Portland with a bunch of girls doing shopping and playing, and dad is decorating the entire yard, roof, house, windows, and driveway (or so he says) for Christmas. She was so much fun today: she says HI to everyone, has a new sound, sort of an African click she does with her tongue, and is walking around every coffee table she can find. She is so sweet and happy, grinning with just those two bottom teeth. What an absolute joy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holy moley look at that sky!

A rainy, semi-warm (32 degrees) day suddenly got much cooler, prompting fog to spill through the park outside my back window. And then, the sky was shot with pink, sort of asking forgiveness for the horrible weather we just had.

Today we had an ice storm

Some berries growing on a big log in the backyard were encased in ice. The park behind them looked like a winter wonderland. It was magical and oh so pretty...

I've moved into a mansion...well...

Here's the view of the back yard, an amazing park, from the rear deck.
part of the VERY large kitchen - I think I need rollerblades...
this is the front living room, since it was the only one with a fireplace, that's where I stacked the presents!
This Victorian has plenty of personality, such as leaded glass built ins.
The homeowner is a fabric artist and some of the curtains are hand done, such as this beauty.

As many of you know, I am a homeless homeowner with a sad, sad tale.
I bought a house in Machias early this year - 180 miles from here and two and a half hours away. It was a great deal and I love my house very VERY much and it has a full art studio and borders the town woods and is right next door to my daughter and her family. How perfect is that? I moved all my belongings up there in February, anticipating a March retirement by the news reporter currently covering the area. And then - she changed her mind and said she was waiting until September. And so I waited until September. And then she said she would retire in December. Well - you get the idea. I'm still waiting and everything I own is in Machias and I am here, in my office, in Pittsfield, waiting for her to make up her mind. ugh.
Meanwhile, I've been virtually living in my office since I have a little dog that is unwelcome by a BIG cat at my friend's home that graciously offered me a bedroom. I cannot leave my Emma by herself so I have been spending nearly every waking hour IN THE OFFICE when I am not lolling around at my Machias home.
My views from the office? The side of a building on one side, an office building across the street, and an ATM on the other side. Not to mention that an ice cream parlor opened at the rear of the building this summer and played JIMMY BUFFET music 24 hours a day, and when the town drops off the recycling container in the parking lot behind me, the entire building shakes and the BOOOOM it makes stops my heart.
Well, I bumped into my friend M the other day and she has moved away and started her own business - Fiberphelia, in a Victorian house where she and her family now live. She put her house - right here in Pittsfield - on the market. No one has even looked at it since JULY and so she was looking for a house sitter. VIOLA - two birds with one stone!
I moved in yesterday and I am so rattling around here. There are three bedrooms, a master suite, a sitting room, THREE bathrooms, a formal living room, dining area, kitchen, eating area, and a large family room with a deck overlooking one of the most beautiful parks in the state. There is a finished daylight basement complete with a cedar closet the size of Mt. Rushmore.
Since I only had to move my clothes, bedding and the food in the refrig, it took me like all of thirty seconds.
It's a big echoey (is that a word?) in here since M took most of her belongings with her (how dare she?!)
One of the rooms - the family room - is furnished and my friends are bringing me a kitchen table with four chairs tonight. I have wireless service and a projector DVD on the ceiling that shows movies on the WALL!!!
And what if it sells, you ask? The realtor said she has a dozen more that I could choose from.
Last night was a bit freaky here at The Mansion. All those noises that a strange house has and you can't identify yet kept Emma and I awake a good part of the night.
About midnight, I thought Emma had trapped a mouse under a radiator and armed with a dish towel (I couldn't find anything else!) I went to...well, I don't know what I was going to do with just a stupid dish towel. Emboldened by my presence, Emma scratched under the radiator and dragged out : A PEPPERMINT..... It didn't look so scary, all stuck with fuzz like that, and so, after determining that the mint was COMPLETELY dead, we both settled down for some snoozing.
Anyway, we are having an ice storm today and here I am, all cozy in my new digs. Wish you were here...Oh, and if anyone knows of someone looking for a large Victorian home in central Maine with astounding views, let me know.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm going to be quiet for a few days.

Eric -My beautiful Eric with the black eyes and black hair and quick smile;
Eric who loved wrestling and was Number 42 on the football team;
Eric with the really big feet who always sleeps with the covers wrapped around his head, mummy style;
Eric who loves jokes and trying out new high falutin' vocabulary words;
Eric who could eat seven pounds of shepherd's pie all by himself but really favors Portuguese food and Klondike bars;
Eric who loved the girl next door so much that when she didn't love him back, he enlisted in the Army;
Eric who has already served two TWO tours of duty with the U.S. Army in Iraq and by the grace of all the goddesses came home physically intact;

My Eric left yesterday for a year in Afghanistan. Crap. Shit. Goddammit all to Hell. If I captured alll my tears and put them in a tub, I could drown George W. Bush. And I would smile doing it.

Today I put the little light up in the window for the third time - not to be extinguished until he comes home - and I need to be quiet with myself for a little while.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I have a problem and I need your help, I have this painting that I began a while ago,

It is my two best friends and myself drinking martinis and playing cards (story to follow). But the problem is this: should they have hair?
Now, you might think the problem is that they have no EYES, but I already know they need eyes - leaving them blind AND bald would just be wrong.
There are a bunch more details for me to add but this painting has been hanging around now for a while and I'm getting awfully attached to those bald heads. I want you ALL to comment - honestly. Is bald beautiful or should I cover those domes toot sweet? EVERYONE NEEDS TO COMMENT so I'll know.

Okay, the story....
We went partying one summer night to a lakehouse nearby. There were about five couples and me (I'm always the odd duck single friend that they drag along with them to show how accepting and tolerant they are.) Anyway, we were all playing cards, GOLF is the name of the game, and my BFF Trudy, on the right in the painting, decided to make chocolate martinis.
She had these VERY tall glasses and she rimmed them in cocoa, swirled some melted chocolate around the inside of the glass, filled them with fabulous martinis and then dropped a chocolate in the bottom.
Well, everyone had said politely "No, thank you" when she offered but she put the glasses in the middle of the table and - enticed by the CHOCOLATE not the LIQUOR I'm sure - we all began sharing them. (I know, but we figured all that alcohol would kill the germs.) OMG, these were the best drinks we had ever tasted! And the portion in each glass was deceptively large...

About four or five refills later, Trudy stood on her chair and declared that she was henceforth and forevermore IMMUNE to martinis, and K, my other BFF on the left in the painting, called her hubby an asshole for passing her bad cards. K's sister had to be helped to the car by her husband.

We never repeated this chocolate martini fiasco again.

SOOOO - please comment on the baldness dilemma. I've been pulling my hair out over this.....sorry for that.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Well, I cannot believe this but nothing happened at the airport,

- unless you count the plane full of soldiers that were heading home for Christmas and had stopped over in Bangor, and the Maine Troop Greeters who handed them cell phones and patted them on the back and shook their hands and said "thank you,'' and then, when their plane was ready to go again, the greeters stood along the rampway clapping their hands and wishing "merry christmas'' to all those men and women;
- and of course unless you count the man who sat on the floor under the bank of telephones, crying, telling whomever was on the other end of the line that his wife had kicked him out of his own house and he couldn't go back for his belongings unless the police accompanied him and he was now in "deep shit, I tell you, really deep shit. I'm telling you. I'm really in trouble.''
- and of course unless you count the man who was REJECTED by TSA as he tried to board a Delta Flight and RAN back to his car in the parking lot with his duffel bag in his hand and dropped off the prohibited stuff - likely shampoo, anti-fungus foot cream and other flammables and incendiaries - and then RAN back into the airport, and RAN through the screening just as final call was under way.
- and of course unless you count the miraculous sight of my daughter and granddaughter coming through the gate, tears in Faye's eyes and a HUGE smile on Kiley's face as she proceeded to tell everyone - including the luggage - "HI" which is the only word she currently knows.

So we came home.
And today I had to give the lay sermon at church. I was so scared...a reporter is an observer, not a participant and even if they were all loving faces out there, and Kiley was still loudly calling out "HI" to all the people in the stained glass windows from the back pew, I was Nervous Nelly up there. I used a giant orange paper clip to distract me while I spoke and kept twisting it in my hands until it flew about three feet to my left from the pulpit, oddly taking direct aim at the organist's eyes but thankfully falling one foot short. whew.

But I am a trooper - yes I am - and I kept right on talking and sermonizing, knowing that EVERYONE saw the orange paper clip try to decapitate the organist.
Afterwards everyone came up and said "it was wonderful" and "thank you" which was quite appropriate because the theme was gratitude.
So now my girls have been reunited with Daddy/Hubby Matt who DROVE from Detroit, MI, and looks like leftover salad, all wilted and green, and they are on their way back home to Machias. My house still smells like pooey diapers, there are fingerprints over all the windows and the dog is hiding under the afghan on the couch, mourning the loss of her favorite friend. Move over Emma, I'm coming under there too!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I'm headed to Bangor International Airport

to pick up my girls who are flying in from Detroit this afternoon. Stay tuned - I'll bet ya dollars to donuts there's gonna be a funny post in there somewhere.....

Friday, December 5, 2008

my verdana went beserk today

and so I apologize for the font craziness in the last post.....I hope it's not holiday elves that have invaded my lap top!

Speaking of cheese.....

I have a winner - the most bizarre press release I have received in 25 years! Apparently, there is a woman, a KRAFTwoman, who has dedicated her life to carving cheese.

Yes, she cuts the cheese.

And apparently she's been cutting the cheese publicly for 27 years.

Friends, while children starve across the country, men pick in dumpsters and women are forced to stand in line at food pantries, this woman takes a 500-pound mammoth wheel of Wisconsin cheddar cheese and carves it up to advertise a big box store. Here in Maine, she is carving moose, chickadees and pine cones into the cheese.

Customers are even encouraged to EAT pieces of the cheese as they fly from her tools...?

Here is an actual excerpt from the press release:

“The Cheese Lady” has been sculpting cheese since 1981. Although yellow Cheddar is the most common, she uses a variety of cheeses large and small including Provolone, Asiago, White Cheddar, Gouda, Gruyere and more. She has carved cheeses as small as two ounces – the F-18 fighter jets she sculpted to land on a six-foot-long 640-pound USS Ronald Regan aircraft carrier – and as large as a 12,500-pound cheddar mammoth inscribed with a fierce dragon. Other notable creations include a 120-pound Mickey Mouse and several personalities (Jay Leno, Matt Lauer, Katie Couric, Mario Andretti and Wisconsin's own Bret Favre.)

I don't know about you, but now my holiday season is complete. I cannot imagine anything more inspiring that Katie Couric portrayed in Gouda...The only thing that would make my Christmas better would be meeting Duffy Lyon, the Butter Cow Lady, who carved the Last Supper out of butter for the Iowa State Fair or the guy who made the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria from parmesan cheese, pizza dough and lasagna noodles.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Since you asked, here's the dog cookie recipe:

Cheesey Dog Bones

4 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
4 T. butter, softened and cut into four pieces
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. half and half

Combine all except half-and-half in a food processor until it reaches coarse crumb stage. Add half-and-half and pulse again until it forms a ball.
Roll out on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet or parchment for 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Don't make toooo many ahead as they will spoil. I keep mine in a jar in the refrig - EMMA loves them

My two girls: Kiley and Faye,

will be here this weekend! HOORAY! They are flying in from Michigan on Saturday and will wait here with me until Matt arrives by car. He's driving - alone - the whole way but will stop at David's in Connecticut overnight. Can't wait to play with the girlies, maybe do some holiday shopping, baking. The plan is to make dog cookies for all my grand-dogs...I have a great cheesy recipe. Want it? Let me know.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Today is the art and jewelry show!

What a busy afternoon I'm expecting. My BFF Trudy - an extraordinary bead artist - and I and another friend, Renata, also an artist, will hold our annual holiday open house. I'll bring about 6 or 7 paintings and we'll set up displays all over Trudy's house and dozens of friends, coworkers and others will come and go. Trudy makes mulled cider, we drink lots of fact, this is truly our first party of the season. The bonus is that we actually sell quite a bit and make our Christmas cash!
Sorry the flash muted the colors on this one, called Mother's Day, but take my word for it - it is really bright! I cannot live a life or paint a painting without bright, happy color. Especially with the dreary winter bearing down on us. Wish me luck and lots of sales!

Monday, December 1, 2008

After the snow, then the fog....

and here I am in work mode - yes, that is an ambulance up there that I am chasing, and that is my faithful companion, Al the Gator, on my dash keeping me safe. When the snow turns to fog there are always crashes - no one seriously hurt in this one, thank goddess. On my way back from the accident, however, I couldn't resist a trip through the park to catch the fog and its beauty. Gotta balance things out, you know...

I wonder if anyone stopped and looked around them today while they rushed here and there...

It snowed overnight.

It began yesterday, late afternoon, as a soft swirling snow...barely dusting the ground at first but then quickly covering up the dirty streets, the dead grass and the corners where leaves and debris had gathered.

By this morning, it was deep enough to plow - just about two inches, but now it is raining and turning everything into a dangerous slush.

But still there is a wonder and peacefulness about the first snow. I look from my office window, across the street at the bank and the huge fir is dusted as if with confectioner's sugar. When I used to live on the farm and drove into Pittsfield to take the kids to school and go to work, there was a lovely stretch of road where the evergreens stood tall along both sides, their boughs outstretched as if in protection of us. And in the winter, when they were covered in snow, the brilliant white dazzling against the dark, deep green, I told my children they had their party dresses on.

Today, even though the roads are messy and I had to shovel the sidewalk and my little dog is shocked by the cold and wet on her tiny feet, my world has its party dress on.
My car had on a bonnet of white and a shawl across its hood. The little walkway through the park next door is covered in footprints, people coming and going from their busy day, while the red berries on the firebushes that line the park blaze in contrast to the white of the snow.

The sounds are muffled and a bit of unusual quiet seems to surround me.
The plows came through early, early this morning and heaped a small mountain of wet snow and slush at the end of the parking lot. Not sturdy enough for climbing and sliding down but it beckons....

I absolutely despise winter: it fences me in and doesn't allow me the freedom to move as easily as I'd like. It causes accidents, raises the oil bill, makes you buy and wear heavy clothing and ugly boots. And as I age, I'm much more afraid of falling now.

But there is magic in the first real snow. A simple wonder that we have as children when we spot those first few flakes of the season and believe that all is possible. That wishes can come true, that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are right around the corner, and that dreams can still be fulfilled.
My wish for myself this holiday season is that I never lose that wonder, that joy at Mother Nature's miracles and abilities. That I still want to catch that first snowflake on my tongue, slide down that little mountain of snow and whack my brother with a well-placed snowball. That I can find pure joy in rolling a snowman, trying to stay on course when ice skating and hearing the crunch of the snow under snowshoes. That the beauty of the chickadees at my feeder, the smell of woodsmoke on the evening air and the incredible Jack Frost patterns on the windows never lose their ability to surprise and delight me.

I can almost hear Santa's sleigh bells faintly ringing in my ear....Ah.....the enchanting magic of it all.