Sunday, May 31, 2009

Remember the bra project?

Well, here is the first submission!!!! It's called Twin Peaks and has little clay lemmings on the front, straps and inside. Sorry, the flash washed out the rich colors...

Hazel Mitchell, a book illustrator and a dear friend, created it! She sewed wire in the bra and along its edges to keep its shape and then applied four layers of Plaster of Paris. She sanded it, created the little lemmings and then painted it. She wrote an inspirational little note that is attached.

For those of you who don't know, 42 women are creating bra art projects for an auction to benefit breast cancer. They are being made of glass, steel, beads, quilted, floral, etc., etc. We have a retired fashion photographer who has volunteered to photograph them and we will soon have a website.

The auction is not until the first week in August - but we need plenty of time for publicity. I really am excited about this project and I have to admit, it was pretty emotional to see the first bra. This is real - dozens of wonderful creations are under way!! When I first started the project and put out a call for entries, I was hoping for about 20. I figured at $20 each, we could send in about $400.....Now, my goal is way higher. Some of the bras should be exhibited in galleries - they are that special. Every one of them represents the sincere efforts of someone that cares. We have 42 entries coming from Connecticut, Florida, Maine...I am amazed.

I can't wait to see everyone else's efforts to save the ta tas! I'll keep you posted with pictures as they continue to arrive!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

And speaking of toenails...

I like mine blue. I have been painting them sort of a shimmery, light blue for about two years now. I just like it. It makes me smile.
Red makes my toes look like they are bleeding and pink is just so wrong. I've tried green but that makes the little piggies look like they are growing some sort of fungus....

Let me defend toenail polish.
I don't wear makeup. My hair is so short it is hardly hair, really just a fuzz now. I don't paint my fingernails or even get a manicure. Sometimes I go MONTHS without shaving my legs and my lip gloss is used only to stave off chapping. I wait so long between eyebrow shaping that I often can't even find my tweezers.

But, I really like my toenails painted. It's the one girlie concession I make. I feel good with my piggie toes all shiny and new. Even if the little toe has now completely disappeared under its neighbor. Ahhhh, age.

So, I like the blue. Problem is, some people feel the need to comment on my color choice in a professional setting. You know: open toed sandals, board of selectmen, "OhMyGod, Your toenails are blue!"

Like did they think they weren't when I hopped in the shower and, sort of like mood rings, changed color after I dried off on the towel?

Today, however, it was all made right. A little old lady, a really OLD grammie, like about 85 or 86, put her little crepe-y hand on my arm in the grocery store and whispered "I just love your toenails dear.''

There you go, you stuffy little town clerk. Blue it is.

Friday, May 29, 2009

If you like real life, REAL life, this book is for you...

Little Bee was hard to read at times. The gruesome truth of Nigerian oil wars and the status of refugees; the impact on those around them; a woman's choices that destroy her family and nearly herself...and a hard-hitting ending.

Okay, I've warned you. But the language. Oh my word, the language. It is a beautifully written book and I highly recommend it for those of you who like REALISTIC reading and not fairy-tale happy endings.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I am so engrossed in this book!

"Little Bee" by Chris Cleave - unbelievable. I cannot put it down. It is an extraordinarily beautifully written ( I just love good words!) story of choices, everyday choices and extreme choices, and how they affect our lives. Gotta keep going - I'll tell you about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

By popular demand = PANTS WINE!

picture this....I forgot to give it to you yesterday...

This is a blueberry barren - millions of low (8-10 inch) bushes, topped with blossoms being furiously worked by a gazillion honeybees....Click on the picture and you can actually see some of the bees in the air. Some of the blossoms are white, while others are pink or creme - it depends on the variety of the bush.
Wait until August when I'll take the same picture but everything will be blue as the bushes will be laden with berries. Then I'll take another for you after the frost has hit and turned the fields scarlet. These are wild blueberry bushes (although they are managed by farmers who de-rock the fields so the bushes can spread, control weeds and bring in the commercial bee hives) and Maine - mostly in Washington and Hancock Counties - produces more than anywhere else in the world. There are so many that native bees cannot keep up and commercial hives are trucked in from Pennsylvania. Just before they came to Maine, the honeybees were down south in the citrus groves and apple orchards. When they leave here, they head to New York to pollinate pumpkins.

If you eat a 1/2 cup of blueberries a day, they can help stave off cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and high cholesterol. Those Native Americans really knew their stuff, didn't they? I prefer to take inoculations of blueberry wine, sweet and cold; or blueberry jam on hot biscuits; blueberry muffins, pancakes, crepes, pies......yummmmy any way you fix 'em. If you don't know the difference, wild blueberries are small berries, packed with flavor and goodness. Commercial, high bush berries are much bigger and plumper but lack the intense flavor.

Some fields are harvested with mechanical processors but most are harvested by hand. Workers, bent in half, use a big scoop with long metal tines. They pass the scoop through the bushes and the berries are pulled off. It is hard, hot work.

And since many of the fields are remote and not near any kind of development, theft is a major problem. People sneak in under the cover of darkness and steal TONS of berries, selling them on the sides of the road as their own. Me, I'd be afraid of those bears that roam the fields (you can't see it, but there is an electric fence around that stack of bee hives in the picture.) I learned this week that the bears aren't after the honey - they actually want the bee larvae. Stupid bears. BTW - we only have black bears in Maine. No grizzlies. Grizzlies skip the bee larvae and go right for the humans.

There. Now you know all about blueberries. And stupid bears.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What a weekend: Pants Wine, fires, candidates, horses and potato salad!

It was a great Memorial Day weekend - weather cooperated, a great cookout was held and I invented "PANTS WINE.'' Pants wine is what happens when you have a HUGE potato salad in your left hand and a HOT broccoli/cheese casserole in your right hand and you NEED to carry the very large bottle of wine. Stick it in the back of your pants! From this day forward, we will be having Pants Wine at all affairs....

The weekend began when I hit the blueberry barrens to do a story about commercial bee hives - there are millions of them arriving in Maine this month to pollinate the blueberry bushes. It was fabulous and beautiful : 8,000 acres of low bushes blooming with white, pink and cream flowers. There were so many bees working that the bushes actually hummed!

I had just sat down at my kitchen table in Machias to write the bee story when my daughter called that smoke was pouring out of the building across the street from her deli! Off to the fire - I have not had a chance to see the Machias firefighters at work and I am impressed...the contained the fire to minimal damage and remained incredibly focused, even when one of their own men collapsed. The next day, I attended a forum for seven selectmen's was a great opportunity to see what people felt the issues were.

The rest of the weekend was spent planting flowers, playing with the glorious Kiley (who is trying to say Queenie and it is coming out knee-knee-knee), eating, painting and spending time with my daughter and her husband. It was restful, relaxing and very much needed. Especially the Pants Wine.

P.S. I discovered an incredibly easy but delicious casserole:
1. cook up a couple of heads of broccoli (cauliflower and/or carrots would also work)
2. put them in a casserole dish
3. make a sauce by blending a softened package of cream cheese, about 1/2 cup of milk and a package of the ranch salad dressing mix (the powder stuff) - blend well. Add more milk as needed to make a smooth, thick sauce.
4. pour it over the broccoli and liberally sprinkle shredded cheddar on top
5. bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes

EVERYONE, including Kiley, raved about this at the cookout. If you try it, please let me know if you liked it.

Oh, I almost forgot - it is best served with Pants Wine.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Well after yesterday's mystery post, anything will be an improvement!

I could not post. Blogger just wouldn't let me.
The result was a bit like constipation - my words got all backed up and today I can't get rid of them fast enough!

Yesterday was never-ending: Two fires; a truck pulled down a telephone pole causing a chain reaction that dropped two more; there was no quorum at a town council meeting; but one of the councilors walked with me to a nearby ice cream stand and bought me sherbet. Nice. Lemon. Not the councilor, he's a giant sized state trooper and father of two sweet girls. The sherbet was lemon. The councilor is also nice, but he's definitely not lemon. I'd have to call him rocky road with nuts.

Today I spent a ton of time packing - I'm headed up to the house in Machias for the long weekend and am taking all non-essentials from The Mansion. This includes dishes, plants, artwork and painting gear, warm clothing, the big t.v., a bench, and I don't know what all else. I do know there is no room left in the car. Only one spot for the dog.
I've left myself two plates, two coffee cups, one glass, three forks, a knife and a spoon. A saucepan and a frying pan.
And two half empty bottles of wine. That should do me nicely for the next few weeks.

The Mansion is getting very empty and echo-y and there is a tremendous excitement building in me for my move. At the same time, there is a ribbon of sadness running through me and pulling me down and making me cry over stupid stuff, like this morning's news. Did you see the story about the lady that rescues all the dogs? Had me on the floor.
This is such an emotional roller coaster. How will I say goodbye to my friends, my son that lives nearby, the places and people I know so well.
Once I'm settled in the Sweet Pea Cabin, who will meet me for breakfast on Tuesday mornings?
How will I replace Holly at the library, who knows what I want to read even when I don't?
How will the new restaurant know when I walk through the door that I want a chicken Ceasar salad with no bread and a bottle of peach iced tea?
How will a new hairdresser know that I have two cowlicks and my hair grows sideways in the back?
No one will call me by name in the stores. No one will wave at me when I'm walking down the street. No one will call me up for an impromptu game of Saturday night dominoes.
I can see that I have to build a new circle, new friends, and I know that will take time, but the gratitude I have for these ones here in the Pittsfield area will not wane - I can see I'll be coming back VERY VERY often! It has taken decades to develop these friendships - that really doesn't even seem like the right word. I LOVE these people. This is not a house of sand - these relationships have a solid foundation and I hope they all know just how often I'll be taking advantage of all their offers to sleep in spare rooms.

Tonight, however, the firefighters have invited me to their annual dinner - this is getting so hard. Now I have to say goodbye to all my local heroes! Let's hope the 11 o'clock news tonight doesn't focus on children, puppies or grandmas. I'll be a real goner.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

I have no snakes...but I do have 42 bras!

SOOOO sorry to disappoint all you reptile fanciers but there were no reptiles this weekend. I ended up at a town meeting instead. I know! How disappointing is that!

Anyway, I am very excited because one of my favorite high school students is giving a presentation at school tonight. He is so gifted! He read "Their Eyes Were Looking At God" and then composed a piece of music to tell the story! It's Jin, of the apple pie at Thanksgiving success.

I am some excited this week about a face-to-face meeting with "Fearless Nester,'' a fellow blogger and artist here in Maine, who has created one of the bras for the art bra project. I'm going to meet her Thursday and pick up her bra! I saw a picture of it in mid-creation: shells, seaglass, etc., hanging from a beautiful piece of driftwood.

If you don't remember the bra project, we have 42 women decorating and creating bras for an auction to benefit breast cancer research. Some are glass, some are welded steel; there are beaded bras, quilted bras, even a cartoon strip bra! Some of the decorated bras belong to breast cancer survivors even. It will be amazing. Right out of the blue, a retired fashion photographer volunteered to photograph them and the hubby of one of the bra artists is creating a website. As soon as we confirm the address, I'll post it here and you can check out some of the wonders (and possibly make a silent bid?) for yourself!

Off to school now, to hear the beautiful music. Wearing my bra, of course. Where else would I hide my cell phone and keys?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Snakes and such...

I'm working all weekend and it starts today with a reptile event. Should be interesting, she says in a sort of shaky voice while backing away....
Then I go to an annual 10-mile yard sale and a town meeting. A very full day.

We had a party at The Mansion last night, probably the last one I'll have here before the big move.
Food was superb, as usual - everyone always brings their best. We had jambalaya, dips, enchiladas, salads, including one with fresh local greens and another with tortellini, and three different kinds of brownies. By the looks of the pile of empty wine bottles, it was a great success! Trudy narrated a slide show of her trip to Europe - it was fabulous. She's a great photographer and her shots were not only wonderful, but oh so interesting. Including shots of what she ate! The food was amazing and its a good thing she walked miles and miles each day!

I invited a new couple - they moved here from Pennsylvania. He is an artist and began talking about starting a local Art Club. Two of my other guests are also artists so something exciting is brewing. It was interesting to watch all my OLD friends with NEW people - they were so welcoming. They each took turns getting acquainted with the new folks, chatting them up and finding out common interests.

I am thinking of this as my goodbye party, although BFF Trudy says they will have an official goodbye party in two weeks, because it was not maudlin or sad. It was a fun, laughing, silly, celebration of having my friends together in my home. Surrounded by good wine, great food and the best friends I could ever have asked for and love so much - what could be better?

Well, it could be better if those snakes I have to interview today are all asleep and are not interested in me at all...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I was bitten by a tick

and really, this is scary. Apparently the little bastard climbed up my sleeve while I was raking leaves and dug in just behind my armpit. I never felt it there, even in the shower. But I did feel the result: a saucer sized, raised welt that really, really hurt. It was absolutely disgusting to think he was there and I didn't know.

My best friend, Dr. Kathy, prescribed me antibiotics and the swelling and pain in the bite area is WAAAAAY better but the drugs make me feel like I fell off the house. Achy. Grumpy. Nightmares. And I went asleep in my chair yesterday afternoon in the middle of the day.

So today I head out to a horse farm - I'm doing a story on the impact of the horse industry to Maine's economy. What do you want to bet there will be more ticks there?

I'm going over myself with a magnifying glass when I return.

By the way, does anyone know if I can drink alcohol while on antibiotics? I definitely think that would help.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

temporary beauty, long-lasting destruction

The tiny little snowflake seeds of this dandelion are so tricky. Tricky, tricky, tricky.
Get close, really close, and their beauty is staggering. Thin filaments with little rotors on top to propel the heavy seed on the bottom to its new home. And the dandelion flower that preceded it - wasn't that the first one you ever picked for your mother? And the first flower ever presented to you by your child?

Well, GET OVER IT! The lawn here is COVERED with dandelions and I feel so bad for the homeowners. They put mulch on a flower bed in the front of the yard two years ago and the ENTIRE thing is covered - it's a carpet, I tell ya. A feast for the bumblebees. You can't even find the tiny purple violas in there!

And it will be doubled or tripled for next year. Every one of those creamy yellow blooms contains about a million seeds.
Beware - there is deceit in those beauties...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sweet Pea Cabin - or home sweet home..

Here is my front door: an old pew, some pots still awaiting spring annuals, a rusty witch hanging from the eave and the "sweet peas" sign. Last year I put moss in a blender with beer and poured it in all the cracks around the paving stones. I think it is working - little mosses seem to be appearing this spring. You can see the pile of pine cones and needles in the background. I rake them up and save them in buckets to start the woodstove - they work amazingly well!
This is my living room. And no, that is not dog pee on the rug. I had to wash up some spilled soda. When I peeled up all the floor tiles I found an oak floor - why do people do that? - and so I'm having it refinished this summer. The drum is from the University of Maine marching band and there are four of those long windows - two on each side. The side walls are chocolate and the end walls, where the brick is, are copper. I want a larger carpet (this one has big loops and Miss Emma keeps catching her toenails in it - ouch!) Any color suggestions?
This is one corner of the living room - you can really see the chocolate and copper walls here - and some chairs I picked up at a flea market for my grandchildren. The cupboard is painted with goddesses and was inspired by the winter solstice. The drapes look white but they are really a dark tan see-through. And isn't the lampshade attractive all tipped over like that? Tsk.
Here's my shotgun kitchen. Would you believe this was all dark brown paneling? I painted it three shades of green, tiled the backsplash and will replace the sink and floor this summer. I'm also hoping to get a new window for by the kitchen table. I'm also on the hunt for a retro red and chrome 1950s kitchen set - I think it will fit perfectly and I can't wait to replace this mismatched set.
MY STUDIO!! This was my former kitchen table but it is much too big for this house so it has been pressed into duty in the studio. This room is on the front of the house, overlooking a wooded area, with light on three sides. Great for painting, tiling, any craft project. This room sold me on the house - my own studio!
And here is half of my bedroom. OH DEAR LORD look at those tiles! Couldn't you kill yourself? They are coming off this summer and I'm painting the floor white with wide light blue stripes. Eventually I want a wood floor but it is not in the budget this year. I made the whimsical goddess that hangs over my bed and the pillows are cut from old chenille bedspreads. The rugs are also chenille. The other side of the room is sort of a sitting room, reading space. I love all the ocean colors and I'm hoping to make some plain white valances for the windows.

So there you have my house in Machias - where I have been trying to move to for a year and a half. The good news? It looks like the move will only be about a month away!! YAY WHOOPEE AMAZING FINALLY STUPENDOUS FANTASTIC THANK GODDESS WHEW and did I say YAY?

Oh, and why Sweet Pea Cabin? My grandmother always called me sweet pea and I've taken to saying that to Kiley, who lives across the driveway. I found the sign in an antique shop in Cherryfield and it was perfect - a place for sweet peas to gather, love and thrive.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Creme brulee French toast with fresh berries: do I have your attention?

That was the fabulous Mother's Day breakfast my son-in-law made for my daughter and I. I got to travel to Machias and visit my little house! I was able to hang these bathing beauties I made in glass class in the kitchen window. See the grass? It is already turning green!
Today I had to go to a funeral so I'm cutting this short....HAPPY Mother's DAY to all of you mom's out there! Tommorrow I'll post some pictures of my house - Sweat Peas Cabin. You will love it!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rain is green and so solitary.

It is raining as I drive through the woods of Maine this morning, headed west, and the greenery is exploding.
Trees are popping their leaves before my eyes, a kaleidoscope of colors: yellow, red, every shade of green. I know how the deer, the cows feel: this green is so tempting I want to eat it, to rip the little budding leaves from the branches and swallow them.
The water has made the tall evergreens so dark that with their limbs tucked so close, they seem to be tightly hiding secrets in close to their trunks. I can't see, but rather sense, the little birds weaving and weaving a safe little home of twigs and string and other bits of refuse for their lovely blue eggs.
Flowers, freshly bloomed, bow their heads under the weight of the rain, genuflecting to Mother Nature in awe of the spectacle she has wrought.
Fog lingers along the edges of the fields, slowly retreating into the forests, and there, right there in the water-filled ditches, the wood ferns are unfurling their stiff stalks.

The car windows are wet and it mutes and wobbles the view. I stop at an intersection and the neighborhood and its little houses become a Monet.

The truck ahead of me tosses up the water from the roadway in little misty clouds while my wipers beat a steady rythmn: wap, wap, wap, wap.

I am thinking how lonely rain can be. It puts me in a solitary state of mind. Reflection is almost a requirement.
I must drive slower, slower still, so as not to miss a single color, a single tree or flower that is awakening for me. Everything is clean, fresh. Renewal. Rebirth. A chance to start again, perhaps to get it right or do it better this time.

And so I drive on, accompanied by the hard splat of rain on the windows and Vivaldi on the radio.
I am lost in the rain,
lost in my thoughts,
lost in spring.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

This is a great day. A great, great day.

This is so important that I'm offering up the formal press release.

I could not be more proud of Maine - the fifth state to legalize gay marriage. As a dear friend of mine said "We make California look like Texas.'' Amen.

AUGUSTAGovernor John E. Baldacci today signed into law LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom.

“I have followed closely the debate on this issue. I have listened to both sides, as they have presented their arguments during the public hearing and on the floor of the Maine Senate and the House of Representatives. I have read many of the notes and letters sent to my office, and I have weighed my decision carefully,” Governor Baldacci said. “I did not come to this decision lightly or in haste.”

“I appreciate the tone brought to this debate by both sides of the issue,” Governor Baldacci said. “This is an emotional issue that touches deeply many of our most important ideals and traditions. There are good, earnest and honest people on both sides of the question.”

“In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions,” Governor Baldacci said. “I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.”

“Article I in the Maine Constitution states that ‘no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of that person’s civil rights or be discriminated against.’”

“This new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs. It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of Church and State,” Governor Baldacci said.

“It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine’s civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government.”

“Even as I sign this important legislation into law, I recognize that this may not be the final word,” Governor Baldacci said. “Just as the Maine Constitution demands that all people are treated equally under the law, it also guarantees that the ultimate political power in the State belongs to the people.”

“While the good and just people of Maine may determine this issue, my responsibility is to uphold the Constitution and do, as best as possible, what is right. I believe that signing this legislation is the right thing to do,” Governor Baldacci said.

Yes, John, it is the right thing to do. And the right thing is not always easy. Thank you for hearing the thousands of people in this state that wanted the right thing to finally be done.

Monday, May 4, 2009

100 Free Pizzas!!

My daughter Faye owns The Fat Cat Deli in Machias. Tonight, from four to closing, she's giving away100 free pizzas to thank her customers for sticking with her this winter in a tough economy.
The sauce it will be flying!

Can you imagine if Toyota decided to say thanks with 100 cars?
Or Sears with 100 washing machines and dryers?
How about the local grocery store, it could give away 100 meals, from soup to nuts...
Or businesses could give away 100 fishing poles to children, or 100 pairs of sneakers to teens or sit down for 100 hours worth of card games at a local senior citizen center...
How about 100 cleanings at a local pet shelter?

What could you be challenged to do 100 times?
Or maybe it is what you could be challenged NOT to do...

How about walking to the store or the library 100 times rather than drive the car?
Or how about picking up debris or litter, 100 pieces worth?
You could read 100 stories at a nearby day care center.
You could make 100 thank you cards and send them to everyone who has touched your life.
How about 100 kisses for a special someone?

Let me know what you think about this 100 gratitude expressions idea....

Me? I'm going to make sure I say ''thank you" 100 times over the next two weeks to special people....the first one was Amanda, my daughter in law, who called this afternoon to tell me she and my son Danny were having a boy!

Here is my second: thank you faithful readers for giving me a place to ramble, think and brag...THANKS!

Friday, May 1, 2009

I was totally poopified last night and went to bed as soon as Movie Night was over.

We watched Bride Wars which was cute and made us laugh a couple of times, which was the point since we have been sobbing over the past three movies.
So everyone grabbed their eggs (not THOSE eggs, silly... I sell organic eggs at Movie Night for my ex-husband, the farmer). I went to bed with Miss Emma curled comfortably behind my knees.
About 3 a.m. I awoke to a NOISE, a tiny little noise that sounded very much like chewing.
"What is that?" I quietly asked Miss Emma.
Snore, snore, snore, she replied.
"Does it sound like a mouse in the kitchen?" I asked.
"I left a bowl of peanuts on the counter," I whispered.
A grunt, a sigh, another snore.
"I think there is a mouse eating my peanuts,'' I breathed in her ear.
More snoring.
So without my 12-pound watchdog to assist me, I took matters into my own hands.
I grabbed the tennis racket by my bed which I know you all have too, strategically placed there to whack the dreaded bats that I hate and fear and appear each spring to torture me.
I began creeping out of my bedroom with the racket ready to whack.
I creeped through the foyer.
I creeped down the hallway.
I peeked around the corner into the kitchen while simultaneously turning on the lights.
"I'm blinded,'' I shouted, which would have scared any sneaky mouse to death, but

No mouse.

What I heard was the sound of the rain dripping off the eaves. You know, it was almost a let down after all that careful creeping.
Seems as though the snoring Miss Emma figured it out looooooong before I did.
Next time I'll pay attention to those little snores.