Saturday, February 28, 2009

Just two words today: NINE POUNDS

okay, I lied. Not about the poundage, but about the verbage.

Here is another vacation picture. This is an anhinga ( i have no idea of the spelling!) drying its wings. I love the feathers around its neck!

Back to the big news: That crunch, crunch, crunch you have been hearing echoing across the country all week is me eating celery. I have consumed so much meat that I've begun to grow hair on my chest and have daydreams of lifting weights and scratching my....oh, I don't have any.

After 7 days of torture, I have lost 9 pounds. Of course I think 5 of those were on Wednesday when I ate a 1/2 pound of outdated liverwurst. Believe you me, I paid dearly. It tasted fine - a lovely lunch but by 6 p.m. it had reached the nether region - yes, you have all been there - and after no less than two dozen trips to the toydee, I was left shaking under the covers in my bed.
Not the type of weight loss plan I'd recommend to anyone! But all in all, it has been okay. My spirits are still high and I even went to a domino party last night and didn't cheat (neither at the game or with the food). I brought celery sticks and dip and I just ate the sticks. There was also a nice plate of cold shrimp there so I could have that. And water. Water. Water. Water. I have swallowed the entire Great Lakes this week. I do indeed slosh when I walk.
The bad news in all this is that I can't even tell where the nine pounds was.
I honestly don't see or feel one bit different. Pitiful, isn't it? But scales don't lie and I used the same scale for the before and after weigh ins. Thanks for the continued encouragement..I'm finding little tricks to reward myself: Today I'm wearing a new teal and brown tunic top that I bought in Florida - sort of a tribute to Bollywood pattern. I'm headed to my favorite local eatery for a terrific chicken Ceasar salad for lunch and Donna and I might make the movies tonight. If I lose more than three pounds NEXT week, I've promised myself a pedicure and a teaspoon of almonds!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I promised you alligators and I give you Marie Barone...

These sunbathing beauties were clustered at the Brevard County zoo....As scary as they are, I was sad they were confined, although I must admit they look pretty well fed!

This one was sunning on an island at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. He is VERY free and I'm glad there was a bit of water between us while I took the picture.

Another sunbather...It was a windy day and nearly every gator we saw was sunning and sleeping.

Today I watched my granddaughter eat her lunch through the magic of SKYPE and the web cams. I got to see her clap when I clapped, she tried to put blueberries in her ear and got stuck pulling her bib off. My daughter said that Kiley suddenly was trying to eat the wall in her playroom yesterday and Faye discovered the little one had found a Cheerio stuck on the wall and was trying to suck it off. My daughter said she was tempted to stick a whole bunch of Cheerios on the wall to keep Kiley entertained! But in the next moment she is confiding how nervous she is about leaving Kiley for two days later this week - Faye and some girlfriends are driving to Boston to go to the aquarium, see a Celtics game and do some shopping. She is also hoping to connect with her cousin from Connecticut (the amazing diving coach) who will be at a competition, and another cousin who is an amazing singer and is performing in clubs around Boston.

I completely understand how torn she is. It's a scary thing: on the one hand you want to be there for every moment with your baby but on the other hand you know that is neither sensible nor the right thing to do. Kiley will be just fine with her daddy, who shares childrearing admirably, and Faye will likely get something she hasn't had in a long time: a solid night's sleep! I offered platitudes but as in all things with my kids, I try not to give open advice (unless directly asked or if I believe someone is in danger) to allow them space to make their own decisions. It's one thing to be there for them, a resource, someone to ask about life's experiences, but I hever want to be Marie Barone, interfering in every aspect and suffocating them. Sometimes, though, when I'm not particularly alert or paying attention, I have caught unsolicited advice just popping out of my mouth, as if it had a life of its own, and I am always sorry afterwards, even if I believe what I said.

I have raised my children; lived my life. It is not up to me to live theirs. Besides, I am so fortunate: they seem to be doing a great job at it! IF they weren't....oh my goddess, I think I could be a great Marie Barone - blabbing on endlessly about the dust on the blinds, the overflowing garbage can, the type of toilet paper they select, how to feed-dress-discipline-raise their children, on and on and on.

Do you mothers and mother-in-laws out there struggle with this same push/pull? Just where are the lines between supporting, advising and interfering? When does wanting to know the details and everyday issues in their lives become nosiness? How honest should we be when it comes to adult children? Do we speak up, and regret it later, or not speak up, and regret it later? Please share your thoughts....

Monday, February 23, 2009

It came; it blew; and it conquered.

Look at my poor street - the snow is as deep as the realtor's sign and where the hell did the road go?
I opened my back door and this is what I found: a foot and a half against the door, six feet at the bottom of the steps and, yes, that is my car back there! I'll probably be driving again about April.
I thought my wreath looked particularly pitiful but then I thought : Why in the world is my wreath still up on February 23?

Anyway, I've managed to shovel off the top two steps of the porch and now I am waiting for the snowblowing man to clear the driveway.

I'm going nowhere today. It's kind of a strange relief when it is out of your control! My daughter called and then sent me pictures of some downed limbs at the Machias house. Nothing major and nothing hit but one HUGE pine limb just missed Matt's car! They got a lot of snow but they also got ice which weighs everything down.

I'm dreaming of Florida and that HOT Wednesday afternoon (was it just five days ago?) spent lazing by the pool...I'd give my inheritance (HA and another HA, there is no inheritance!) for one of those Star Trek transporters. I'd shovel the walkway and then push the transport button, sit at the pool and then come back here just in time for bed.

NAAAAA, who am I kidding? I won't come back at all.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What is wrong with these pictures???

Ladies and gents: On the left is the Penobscot River on Saturday afternoon. 21 degrees and frozen solid. not even the Coast Guard ice cutter is anywhere to be seen.
On the right, the Conch Key where I had lunch Tuesday afternoon. 70 degrees. palm trees swaying. sounds of waves lapping beach.
I do have the right to be depressed, don't I?
And ladies and gentlemen, if you needed further evidence to convince you, a Nor'Easter is headed straight at me = bearing down on Maine and expected to dump up to 18 inches of snow on my head.

This is how I know it is really going to be bad: When The Weather Channel does its forecasts, the dear weather people stand RIGHT IN FRONT OF MAINE! It's like this lovely state doesn't even exist. Oh, yeah, they show the fronts and the highs and the lows headed in our direction. But we never get to seem them actually get here because some big haired meteorologist has her beehive in the way. BUT WAIT! At least one Weather Channel forecaster has already flown here and is camped out in our state capital Augusta to be able to show the rest of the world how horrible it will be - including those people who will be sitting in MY PLACE on that beautiful beach side deck, drinking MY Rumrunner, and eating MY seasoned fries and crab cake.
How dare they.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Egrets, alligators and phenomenal support!

Check out this alligator track! and just wait until you see the gator!
Here are the egrets as well - two for one today! There is a dry season underway right now in Florida so the water was very shallow. These pix were was taken at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, which was created when the U.S. government bought up all the land around Cape Canaveral. It is open to the public and teeming with alligators, millions of migratory birds, wild hogs, armadillos and who knows what else.
We rode around the refuge with both side doors of Sue and Bill's van wide open, sun pouring in, just like a tour. Bill's knowledge of the names and habits of the birds was fantastic.

As for the diet plan, I cannot thank those of you who called and wrote and commented for your support. It was a bit scary to put my real feelings out there but I believe I needed to do that as part of this journey. I'm doing fine so far, slept well last night and am getting ready to go to an ice sculpture exhibition and then a play. I had a cheese omelet for breakfast and two hamburgers for lunch. I saved my salad and veggie for tonight because we'll eat at a restaurant and that will make it easier. Water, tea and broth have been my beverages and I am absolutely full and content. Thanks again for sending me off with applause!

Friday, February 20, 2009

And then there were the animals...and some frank talk about loss of control.

This is the little armadillo - don't you just love his ears????
Anyway, I have a gazillion photos of wildlife but this stupid blog won't let me post more than one at a time today. So I'm going to give you one animal a day for the rest of the month.
We saw several armadillos in the wild but this little guy was rescued and had a new home at the Brevard County Zoo, a fabulous place just five minutes from Sue and Bill's - the ultimate hosts - home in Melbourne.

The trip to the zoo was on Wednesday, when we were lazy and slept late. After a quick breakfast of Sue's banana bread, we drove to the zoo and walked for hours. It's a great place: wooden boardwalks through jungle-like settings. We also went to Jones Beach and sat by the pool for hours. We ate at a spectacular French restaurant called Mim's for lunch and an Italian spot called Carrabas for dinner.

It was the best and the fastest four days on earth! We laughed and cried and talked and walked and beached and ate and ate and ate.
That is why today I began the Atkins induction phase.


I am totally out of control and I need only support right now. I have used Atkins in the past and not only have I never felt better, I dropped weight like a a seal sheds water.

I have no excuses - I am a glutton.
I do not have a sweet tooth (I'm not even that fond of chocolate!) but I love my food. All food. And if a little bit if good, a lot must be better. I eat inappropriate amounts at inappropriate times, such as full meals at 10 p.m. when my work is done. Or missing lunch because I am so busy writing and then suddenly realizing I AM STARVED about 3 p.m. and gorging on whatever is quick and easy. I loves me my carbohydrates: rice, potatoes, mac 'n cheese. But I also love veggies and meat so Atkins is not really a punishment.
It is more like a restriction.
I don't have to make any decisions because the choices are limited. That works well with me, I can't control things when I have too many choices.

I often make the wrong ones.

One of the many things I reflected on while on vacation was this lack of control and how, if I want to be around for Kiley's future, I need to take charge.
The sounds of the horses hooves flying past your head right now are the sounds of me taking control.
I want to be able to bowl with my friends without worrying that I'll wet my pants.
I want to be able to hike without losing my breath.
I want to be able to put on a swimsuit this summer and not hide.
I want to actually be IN the photographs of all of us having good times.
I want to go snowshoeing.
I want to be able to get back up off my knees when I play on the floor or wash the floor or just lose an earring under the table.
I want to be able to chase Kiley around and pick her up and take long walks, without strain or struggle.
I want to sit in a booth in a restaurant and not have my belly rub the table.
I want to have to shorten the seat belt, not pull it all the way out.
I do not want to have to shop in the plus size section.
I do not want to be embarrassed about my size.
I do not want my children to be ashamed of such a fatty mother and I want to go to New Jersey and meet my son's "new" family and make him proud, and I want to go to events at Kiley's school and have her glow when she introduces her Queenie.
I do not want to be skinny or even thin. I like curves. I think a woman should be soft.
But I do want to be healthy.

I am not doing this to impress any man, or with the thoughts of a future relationship in mind. This has to be my quest. My goal. My success. It CANNOT ride on the back of anyone else's dream. Just mine.

I've been quite frank here about my thoughts and goals because it is long past time that I quit fooling myself. I am fat. I have lots of fat around my middle. My butt is the size of Canada. My thighs rub together when I walk. I have a big ol double chin. And I don't feel good. I don't sleep well and everything is harder to do. I have belly fat - which Dr. Oz and Oprah keep telling me is the worst kind of fat to have. It apparently presses against all the other internal organs and stresses them out. They haven't been complaining yet, but....

So please. No lectures. No sweet comments like "We love you just the way you are.'' I think you will love me just as much if there was a bit less of me to love. Lend me your support. Tell me I can do this and remind me, again and again, why I'm doing it. Tell me how YOU did it. Or why you want to do it. Share with me your stories as I have shared mine. The only thing that I have confidence about is that I WILL succeed.

It is time. I am ready.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm back, and here is what we consumed in Florida:

The desserts: I had the Banana Brulee (the one her fingers are on!!) Excellent...

Crabcakes and seasoned fries at a place called Conch Key on the Indian River, an estuary teeming with dolphins, pelicans, and other extraordinary wildlife.

Unusual menus and fabulous Rum Runners: with rums, creme de banana, more rum, fruit and rum.

Had a superb lunch at Chocolate Cafe. I wonder where it got its name?

I know this does not accurately depict Florida - but it truly does depict my vacation. One fabulous meal after another, whether it was braised pork with roasted fennel, or cold shrimp on the house deck with wine, everything was perfect. Yesterday was 78 degrees and we were sitting by the pool, but we flew into Maine in a raging snowstorm today! Tomorrow I'll be more descriptive - suffice it to say it was a fabulous four days and I'm exhausted. I promise alligators, birds, giraffes and ocean tomorrow! I'm already missing the sounds of birds, the warm breeze on my skin, and my good friends Sue and Bill...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'm outa here!

I woke up this morning to wonderful news! My dear sweet nephew David, son of my sister Robin, was named New England Conference Diving Coach of the Year. You should see this kid (man) around water! He is so talented. And he is such a loving, kind person that he truly deserves this award!!!

As for me, the suitcase is in the car, the dog is on her way to the sitter's, the legs have been shaved. I've double checked my wallet for I.D. and have my flight confirmation and extra cash. I turned all the thermostats down to 55 and put my plants in the kitchen sink with extra water. The trash has been removed and there's nothing left in the frig. (the DAMN frig)
I have my flip flops on and I'm outa here! Talk to you next from Florida where there still exists warmth, sun, birds and beach...............yeah...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The night of bowling with friends report:

My fingers are so swollen today that I couldn't grasp my coffee mug, my shoulder and back feel like a truck hit me. Somehow I managed to actually make a few strikes through pure luck. The best part was sitting in a restaurant with my friends afterward, talking and talking.

Here are some of my friends and a much less demanding sport: We are the Central Maine Precision Marching Lawn Chair Drill Team. We are amazing and you can find us on You Tube! We practiced all winter two years ago, spinning our chairs, clacking them together, throwing chairs through the air, even sitting down in the middle of the routine. I am the leader (this happened because I was late getting to a gathering where the idea was hatched. It was a default honor) and I have a great whistle! I LOVE blowing that whistle and making everyone pay attention to me. I also have to be bitchy because when this group gets together they tend to stray from the task at hand. We decided on silly Hawaiian shirts and at Rockland we had to take the lobster bibs off because they got in the way of the spinning chairs.
Then we marched in the Fourth of July Athens Street Parade and won first place.
Then we marched in the Pittsfield Egg Festival Parade, where the video was taken, and won first place!
Then we marched in the Rockland Lobster Festival, where this picture was taken (you can't see me here cuz I took the picture), and won first place!
We are Undefeated!!!
It is the most fun - people love us and cheer and cheer! And at the Egg Festival Parade when we passed by my BFF Trudy's house, friends ran out into the street and brought us mimosas! At the Athens' parade, which is considerably more laid back, we were handed jello shots.
This summer we are trying for first place in the Yarmouth Clam Festival and practice will begin in a few weeks.
If you live anywhere near us and want to join, come on down! We are always looking for new members. The routines are super simple and we have a ball.

Of course, it is also a great opportunity to embarrass your children and cause others to wonder about your sanity.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Today I begin my vacation. Can you hear my sigh from there?

I leave for Florida Sunday morning but I have today and tomorrow to just go easy and relax....I haven't quite gotten to the point that I can turn off my police/fire scanner, but I have turned off my work phone. I spent more time than usual with the crossword puzzle, I'm still in my jammies, and I'm relishing another cup of coffee.

There is a fabulous program at my church called The Welcome Table, which my fabulous BFF Trudy organized. The church kitchen and dining area is open every Friday from 10:30 to 2:30 for socialization and warmth. A free lunch is also served and civic groups and businesses all over town send a volunteer team each Friday to prepare and serve the food. A local church canceled at the last minute so I'm helping out there today. I great way to spend my first day, I think.

Then a bunch of us are going bowling. Doesn't that sound nerdy and so 1950s? I CAN'T WAIT! I grew up across the street from a bowling alley and we used to sneak there all the time.

I say sneak because to my parents, the bowling alley was on par with rock and roll and cigarettes - somehow the combination of those three would turn us into crazed juvenile killers who would ride around in coupes and convertibles, throwing molatav cocktails into local shops and businesses and pillaging the rest of the town.
We would abandon circle pins and box pleated skirts and white blouses with peter pan collars. No more penny loafers. Gone would be the demure "flip" hairdo, replaced by a messy beehive and heavy-handed mascara.
They expected us to cuff our ciggies in our t-shirt sleeves, roll our jeans and, o dear god, begin drag racing out at the abandoned airport runway.
They knew we would drop out of high school and eventually become that dirty, bummy person that hangs around downtown buying booze for underage kids in exchange for a pint to keep "on the hip."
We would get tattoos and have unprotected sex and end up in homes for unwed mothers.

Still, every Friday, my brother and I, and the kids across the street, Rusty and Janice, used to pretend we were tired and we would go to bed early. We then would jump out our second story windows and high tail it to the bowling alley. The boys would play pool and Janice and I would watch all the other boys. Our parents were such heavy sleepers that, hours later, we were able to just walk back in through the front door.
Of course we eventually were caught when our parents were enjoying a summer night by sitting on our and their front steps and each set of parents watched as the other set of parents' kids bailed out the window. Curtains for us.

I have to admit, though, that even now, more than 40 years later, the sound of bowling pins crashing makes my head swivel and begin searching for the hottest guy in the alley - the one with the rolled jeans and the tight white t-shirt. OMG, it's probably the janitor.

P.S. While I'm away, would all of you lurkers sign in as blog followers please? Just click on the box on the top right that says "follow this blog." It is really simple and if I get enough followers I can begin making some money from this blog through Google Ad. If you visit frequently, please sign in. It makes me feel loved and wanted. And I need the money.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I have been betrayed by my refrigerator.

Wouldn't you think that after leaving the poor Frigidaire empty for nigh on three weeks, and then finally, FINALLY filling it up with good eats...wouldn't you think that big metal box would be grateful? OH NOOOOOOOOOO. Today it stopped running. Dead. Killed. Not breathing even a gasp.
I noticed when I reached into the freezer for a handful of ice and ended up with a wet hand.
I had to schlep all my beautiful goodies - my spinach, my broccoli, the eggs and butter, two bottles of wine, soda, milk - I had to put it all in the snowbank on my back deck. Yup, that's me - white trash using the deck as a refrigerator. Before you know it I'll be cooking me some ribs on a metal 55-gallon drum filled with scrap wood.

But wait, remember a month or two ago when I told you there was some kind of electrical black hole here at The Mansion? When the scanners and the cell phones all went berzerk? IT STRUCK AGAIN!
My friend S told me to check the outlet and so I tugged and pulled and moved the refrig so I could plug it in somewhere else and IT CAME ON.

I also came unglued because there was a dead mouse underneath it. Please, let me remind you that I am housesitting. I cannot be held responsible for the mouse - alive or dead! I guess this solves my odor problem. For two weeks I've been scrubbing the trash can, shoving a bazillion lemons in the garbage disposal, blaming the dog, when all the time Mickey was slowly heading to heaven under the frig. He was accompanied on his journey by about seven Legos, two little plastic people, a magnet and enough dust bunnies to have a marathon with the tortoise. I repeat: I AM HOUSESITTING and therefore not responsible for the any of the goodies hiding under there.

So, now I have a refrigerator in front of the kitchen sink. And a dead mouse in the trash, wrapped in three paper towels inside a hank of newspaper inside three zip lock bags. I think I'm sufficiently protected until I can drive to the dump tomorrow morning. Right after I call an electrician.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

So, I was interviewing a cow today...

This lovely little lady insisted that all her comments were off the record. And look at the glare she is giving my photographer...

The life of an agriculture reporter...I tell ya. I have all the fun. Seriously. I do.

And take a look at the sweet old man behind her....87 years old and still farming. We grow em strong in Maine. When I asked the farmer how tough dairying really was, he reeled off a litany of accidents: caught in the PTO of a tractor, nearly drowned in the manure pit, had both knees replaced, rotor cuffs are so shot that he can no longer lift his arms above his head and his child bride - Erma, 84 - has to put on his hat and sweatshirt for him. Oh, and one time when they were baling hay, Erma accidentally cut off all the ends of his fingers on his right hand.

They met as teenagers at a 4-H conference and then eloped, only to have to return to the farm early the next day to get all the chores done. They've been married 66 years this June and they once went 13 years without missing a single morning or night milking.

And some people have the nerve to complain about the price of a gallon of milk. This poor old fart is only getting paid $8 for every 100 pounds of milk those beautiful, doe-eyed cows produce. And here we are, bailing out bank executives. Something seems a little wrong with that, doesn't it?

Attention all visitors:

I have two more days until my vacation begins.

I just wanted to brag.

Monday, February 9, 2009

There's some monkey business goin' on!

Here is what I discovered this morning, before I even had my first cup of coffee: There she was, my sweet little Emma, sleeping away, blissfully dreaming of hot dogs and liver treats and running in fields of clover in the sunshine, tucked into her bed with her special pink quilt. But where was her faithful pal Monkey? The one toy that she doesn't chew on and carefully carries with her from room to room? What the heck is actually going on here? I do believe that Monkey is taking liberties here with Miss Emma. Monkeyshines, I say, and I'm putting my foot down.

But wait, it just occurred to me that Emma is five, which is actually 35 in dog years. Well past the age of consent. And who am I, after all, to stand in the way of true inter-species love? All I can say, then, is that nobody better expect me, the queen, to be babysitting any doggie-monkey pups.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday's mixed bag of 10 random wanderings...

Randomness #1:
Several of you asked about my paintings so I'm showing off today: an on-line gallery of some recent completions.
The scenic is quite large 3x3', while the others are 24 x 36" or in the case of the red dress, just 12 x 12 inches. I paint the whole canvas, including the edges, the stems of those daisies wrap right around the bottom. I also often paint right over another painting and most of the time I write things on the canvas before I paint. Secret thoughts, things I want to celebrate or bad things I want to discard or "paint over."
I've talked about my style before - how I paint large, whimsical characters with little detail so that my brother and sister, both legally blind, can see them. It's very hard, sometimes, especially with commissions, to see past all the detail and try to capture the sense of place, the way it feels. Mostly, however, it is a very selfish thing. It's all about how the painting makes ME feel. If you happen to like it, that's even better, for both my soul and my wallet!

Randomness #2:
The full moon party was last night and it was very warm out (I think our January thaw got lost and wound up in February) - about 33 degrees - so everyone really enjoyed skiing in the park. All the food and drink was great too. Everyone brought great stuff, as usual: Maine shrimp, homemade dill bread, dips, treats.. My shredded chicken with orzo stew was good, if just a bit too thick, and the ziti and sausage came out fine. There was a lot of laughter and conversation - we are so easy and loving with each other!

Randomness #3:
Is it unreasonable to be peeved at people who confirm they are coming to your party and then never show up, without a word as to why?

Randomness #4:
I keep thinking about that old black and white movie with Don Knotts called The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. Man, I love that movie. Remember the pipe organ that played all by itself?

Randomness #4:
Today I gave my LOVE sermon at church - I managed to hang onto the paper clip this time and not decapitate the organist. But it wasn't any easier this time than the first time. I was terrified. I liked my sermon but I thought it was a little too serious. I've got to inject some humor in there next time!

Randomness #6:
I need you people to remind me to shave my legs before I leave for Florida. And pack my cell phone charger.

Randomness #7:
Who has a GREAT recipe for date bars that taste just like my Grandmother Amelia Henrietta's?

Randomness #8:
In my nod to my anal retentve disorder, I packed my suitcase for Florida this morning. WOOO - I pulled out that brilliant tourquoise bathing suit and coverup; my favorite jean capris; my flip flops; SHORT sleeve shirts. I packed my sunscreen and two new, hopefully riveting books.
Yes. I know. I'm not leaving for SEVEN days....but you just cannot leave these things to the last minute. You know what I'm saying? Who knows what kind of fun might come along and distract me this week? And then I would be packing four minutes before the plane begins taxiing down the runway and end up with 6 woolen socks, thermal underwear, and the capris from last summer that no longer fit me.

Randomness #9:
Can there be any greater combination that Coke on ice, hot buttered popcorn and a good book?

Randomness #10:
My son-in-law Matt is coming to stay overnight tonight on his way to Portland. Thank goddess: I have an incredible over abundance of ziti and sausage and there is nothing like a 6-foot, 8-inch man to help you with leftovers!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

From the ridiculous to the sublime: this series of three pictures shows how I began and ended my morning....all this before noon!

This is Tom Gilbert. He is my hero today. I began my day at 12:15 a.m. when a local lumberyard's sawdust silo caught on fire. It was -4 degrees, as evidenced by Tom's icicle moustache. Still want to go to work with me Gladys? It was so cold that the fire hoses were steaming and I was shaking like Don Knotts on his first date.
The firefighters all think they need to take care of me now that I'm getting older (and I let them, they are all so cute) and they ordered me to get inside the cab of one of the fire trucks to get warm for a bit. Guess what I learned at the butt crack of dawn? The button that makes the fire truck's siren go WOOO WOOO WOOO is on the FLOOR! Yup. I stepped right on it and scared a dozen firefighters half to death. When sirens go off DURING a fire, it means Get.The.Hell.Out.Damn.Quick.Haul.Ass: The roof is caving in.
I'm not going to live that one down for QUITE a while. Those firefighters have looooong memories. It's also surprising how quickly they can lose their footing on wet ice when a siren goes off behind them...
I got back to bed at 4 a.m. and shivered myself to sleep.

The horse is Ginger, a mini, and the dog is Chance, an Australian shepherd. By mid-morning I was at a horse drawn sleigh rally one town over from here. Jingling bells, dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh. Over the fields they went, laughing all the way. It was fun but a bit chaotic. My sleep deprived head didn't like the loudspeaker, which kept announcing things like "Mary Jones, ready to go. Obstacle course. Mary Jones, are you ready? Mary Jones, are you driving? Mary, raise your hand if you are ready. Has anyone seen Mary Jones?''
This was all done at the volume of a ZZ Top concert, backed up by The Who, with undertones of Chain Saw Massacre.

Finally, heading home, I stopped at my son's house in the woods of tiny Detroit, Maine, and left him a little surprise on his kitchen table. His dad's tractor in the snow near his home made me sad and wistful and I couldn't resist taking its picture. I remember my daughter Faye trying to learn to drive the tractor during haying season, and crying the whole time (she is now 28 and STILL does not have her drivers' license.)
On the other hand, the Maine Store on the corner of the village square called me once to tell me that my 11-year-old son Daniel was down at the intersection POPPING WHEELIES with this tractor. I do not know how that child survived himself.

Well, there was the first half of the day and the afternoon is to be spent writing the stories to go with the pictures.

"Tonight, tonight, won't be just any night," according to Tony and Maria, who, as you know, lived on the West Side. It's the second Winter Full Moon Party! WAHOOOOOO! It's supposed to be a bit cloudy but it is already 28 degrees - a heat wave - and it should be sweet out there tonight. Last night I prepared a fabulous shredded chicken and orzo soup, and a HUGE pan of ziti, sauce and sausage. I've got the wine glasses lined up on the sideboard and I'm hoping tonight will be as big a success as last month!

Cross your fingers that I don't fall asleep in the onion dip...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

These are my two favorite things today:

First is my painting table (I paint flat, no easel) which is waiting for me....I am working on a special secret commission and I'm having a wonderful time creating it. I promise to show you when it is done.
The second is: I FINALLY WENT SHOPPING! I have pretzels and noodles and onions and broccoli and spinach and chicken and carrots and mayonnaise and butter and oh my, I am so happy.
Today is shaping up to be sooooo good. I got to sleep late - the sun on my face woke me, that has happened since last summer! I got all my laundry done. I'm on my way now for a much-needed haircut. AND AND AND It's MOVIE NIGHT!! We're watching a film based in Paris, an homage to Trudy's upcoming European trip, and its a comedy that took all kinds of film honors. Can't wait.
Sometimes I piddle away my day off, really accomplishing nothing, while, most often, and to my friends' dismay, I work all day, making calls, setting up interviews and taking pictures. In the spirit of full disclosure, already this morning I did take a call from a state legislator about wine legislation, set up an interview with an antique farm tractor collector and let my home office know that a snowmobiler went through the ice at Eaton Mountain. Don't worry, it turns out he was able to get himself out. But, in my defense, all of these things came to me. I didn't instigate them.

I have to admit I love my work - it is exciting, rewarding, challenging, and, of course, it allows me to buy the groceries I'm enjoying. But today, with its brilliant sun and slow mood, today is for painting. I love painting. I love disappearing inside the colors for hours on end. Choosing just the right shade - sometimes I love a color so much I want to EAT it. (Thank goddess I went shopping huh?) I hear them: the brushes are calling, the canvas is humming, the colors are ready to envelop me.
ta ta see ya later.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's getting really bad now...

First, I wanted to show you a detail (a small section of one bottom corner) of a painting I just finished. I have no reason to show this off except the colors make me happy on a cold, overcast day when snow is predicted. It makes me smile. Don't you want to walk down those stepping stones, sit under the flowers and visit with whoever lives in those little crooked houses? I do.

I digressed. Back to my desperate problem of how I somehow continually keep forgetting to go to the grocery store. I think it has been well over a week now and the last time I went I only bought soda.
I had to eat old, hard cookies for supper last night and I'm down to the last of the bag of dog food. For Emma, silly, not me. I REALLY have to go to the store.
I can't even make coffee (no milk) or tea (no bags) and I used dish detergent for shampoo this morning. That right there gives you an idea of how desperate this really is.
I was forced to buy my breakfast at the local gas station this morning. Really.

Anyway, let me tell you where I went at the butt crack of the dawn today with my gas station coffee when even the nasty cawing crows were still asleep: I went logging with horses.

This is going to be a great story and so much fun to write...handsome rugged men, staggeringly large gorgeous horses - two pairs: black beauties Bill and Ben, golden Belgians Kate and Nell - with creaking harnesses and bells ringing from their collars, long sleds full of firewood - beech, maple, ash - snow still clinging to the bark. It was 22 degrees - a sort of heat wave up here - so beautiful and peaceful in the woods - until the chain saws started. But the men ended their cutting quickly and then quietly loaded the wood on the sleds. They grabbed each log with a pulp hook (It looks just like Captain Hook's hook with a handle on one end to grip it with) and it makes a hollow THUNK THUNK sound when it bites into the wood. And then they heave the four foot logs on the sleds. It's hard work and the men - the GORGEOUS men, I might have mentioned already - took off their coats...oooooo....whoops, you lost me for a minute.
I got to ride on the sled, which is about 12 feet long: standing up going into the woods and sitting on the logs coming out. Those amazing animals pulled 1500 pounds of wood back to the farm. And me. That alone caused them to sweat and blow out their breath in huge giant clouds of steam.

Now I am frozen. I have peeled off two hats, a 34 foot scarf, a turtleneck, a wool sweater, flannel lined paints and wool boots, and I'm still dressed. I think I left my feet in the woods because I sure can't feel them. And I'm really, really hungry.

oh dear lord - I just took stock: I am now forced to make something with eggs, a soft avocado, a head of lettuce, hot mustard, a jar of red grapefruit sections, a frozen pie crust and a half bottle of merlot... I think I can make it work. And then, I REALLY need to go to the store.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I'd like to thank the Academy...

Sometimes a sweet little deed, like sending me this award today, can really make someone's day. Thanks a bunch, Libby. The feeling is mutual.

Isn't this the most pitiful thing you ever saw?

Not the present - the refrigerator.

It looks like an orphaned child. Even the abundance of diet Coke isn't mine - it belongs to Movie Night goers. And the eggs? What is up with the eggs? I have not a slice of deli meat, not a bowl of fruit, no gooey dessert or even leftover lasagna but I have three dozen eggs. And a Ziploc bag of salad. how thrilling...
Please notice the full doors. I loves me my condiments. I have hot sauces, cold sauces, barbecue sauces, the All American Ketchup, hot mustard, beer mustard, Maine maple syrup and horseradish. There's a small bottle of Midori and another of Bailey's.

But also notice my milk is nearly gone, as is the orange juice, and the mayonnaise disappeared two days ago.

I have been busy. Busy playing and painting. I have a bridal shower to attend this afternoon and for the past several days (in between working, yes, boss, I was actually working) I have been putting the finishing touches on a painting I am giving the happy couple. The one in the picture is very similar to the one I painted for them but I forgot to take a picture of the gift before I wrapped it.

I also went to my BFF Trudy's Friday night for dominoes. Now if you haven't played Mexican Train before, here is my advice: get a handful of good friends, throw in a bowl of licorice, a bag of cheetos and at least two bottles of wine and play. It's the kind of game that you can still have a party around, not like cards where you actually have to pay attention.

The moon must have been in a very strange phase Friday night because we never laughed so well. Sue had to turn sideways in her chair to hold on, she was laughing so hard. Everything was funny, we were so silly and even spontaneously began jointly singing show tunes at the top of our voices, like some sort of Broadway chorus gone mad.

John started suddenly speaking in a French accent and wearing one winter glove. Trudy was clutching her heart and talking about some dead dog named Shep. And Royce kept disappearing to fill the wood stove and shouting from the other room "It is my turn? Is it my turn?'' Then, we he got back to the game, it really was his turn and he moaned "Why is it always my turn?"

I want it perfectly clear that I am NOT blaming the merlot but I suddenly developed a temporary paralysis of my fingers and dropped at least four pounds of snacks by my seat under the table. No, my seat wasn't under the table, just the cheetos. There was an actual debris pile under there.

And then yesterday, I still was finishing the painting but was also writing a sermon. Alright, get up off the floor and sit back down in your chair. Every other week a lay person delivers the sermon in our church (we are very poor and can only afford our minister part time.) A few months ago, I wrote one on gratitude and even though I was terrified, everyone liked it and I temporarily lost my mind and volunteered to do another. My topic is love.

Doesn't that sound easy? HA. And another HA. I mean, we've all been in love. We've all lost at love. Done things we're not so proud of in the name of love. Learned to smoke cigarettes and converted religion because of love (oh, wait. that was just me.)

My first love was David Baker in fifth grade. He had brilliant red hair and the most freckles I ever saw on a face. There were so many freckles that they had started to overlap and he was almost one HUGE freckle. He followed me home from school one day and I invited him for supper. My mother, who did not drive then and only had a limited amount of food in the fridge (See? It is genetic, this failure to stock up on groceries thing.) But my mother made it very special, this first time I brought home a boy. She served us in the DINING ROOM - where we only ate on Sundays and holidays - with a TABLECOTH and a CHAFING DISH. The menu? Scrambled eggs. (What is with the eggs again?) But the way she did it up and gave it importance, we could have been having filet mignon and caviar. David Baker gave me a little ring but it turned my finger green and I was so insulted that I gave it back to him in a huff, stomping my saddle shoes in true disgust.

My second love was Jerry Calsetta who took ballroom dancing classes with me but didn't give me a ring. Instead he gave me his band pin, a cheesy brass thing shaped like a G-clef, and again I broke it off. What the heck was my 11-year-old self holding out for? Emeralds?

And then there was Joe. Dear sweet, BMOC Joe, who I met at a dance in 1963, fell head over heels, dated him all through high school, married him 13. 2 seconds after I graduated, bore him three children and then, on one particularly hot ugly summer day, divorced him. I still love that man for who he is, the father to our children he is, the son to his mother he was, but there is no way we could stay together.

And then there was Dan the farmer. Yup, you've got it. Fell head over heels, married him, bore him three children and then took the kids and left him. We are still friends. (Are you sensing a pattern here?)

I'm still the winner in all this broken love, though. I get to eat popcorn in bed with the light on while reading, dressed in a ratty sweatshirt and polka dot boxer shorts and no one whines at me to turn out the light. And I get to spend a whole day painting or writing or, apparently, from the sad state of my refrigerator, eating scrambled eggs. It's the life, I tell ya.