25 December 2007

Merry Christmas...

...from the beautiful coast of Maine.

Blessings to you all...

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

17 December 2007

Digging - no, Chipping Out

The storm yesterday was quite enjoyable for us ~ we had nowhere to go, we just stayed in and watched the snow fall. Ahhh - a great day to address Christmas cards.

And then just as we were about to go to bed for the night, the rain started to fall. Eww - not a good sign.

We saw a few of our neighbors pulling out their snow blowers and starting early last night, but we figured we'd have all day Monday, so why mess up our totally lazy day?

Hmmm. Well, this morning we woke up to a sparkling wonderland, meaning, everything had a layer of ice. The trees were beautiful, the bushes amazing, but the snow - all the snow that we had to remove - was covered in a one-inch-thick layer of ice. Our snow blower is pretty good, but this pushed it beyond its limit.

The whole snow removal process of about a 50 ft. driveway took well over three hours. The 8 inches of snow wasn't problem, it was chipping away at the ice to GET to the snow.

I think I need to hire someone with a plow.

Supposedly more snow is coming this week. Snow is fine - but please, hold the ice!

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

15 December 2007

Our Doggie...


Yesterday, after playing in the snow. :)

Looks like we're in for a big storm starting sometime tonight or tomorrow morning. Just now as we were driving back from a basketball game, my husband asked if I wanted to stop by the store to pick up anything.

ARE YOU CRAZY?

Stopping at a grocery store in the middle of a Saturday, this close to Christmas, AND right before a big storm?

I'd have to have rocks in my head.

LOL.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

14 December 2007

Snow and More Snow and More Snow and...

Two weeks ago I flew out to New Mexico for a mini-family reunion. When I left, the temperature was in the upper 40s and our back yard was still covered with leaves.

When I returned, four days later, there was a foot of snow on the ground with more still falling (remember that first storm on December 3?)

Since then, I've been trying to convince my brain that it actually IS December and that Christmas IS actually coming, regardless of the fact that I'm still in denial. I think the exceptionally warm (and wonderful) autumn totally threw me off.

Anyway, we got more snow on and off all this week. About four inches last night - enough to use the snowblower.

A huge nor'easter is forecasted for this Sunday, promising a foot or more of new snow.

Has anyone bothered to tell the sky that IT ISN'T EVEN WINTER YET?!

And P.S., I can't help it - I keep thinking about all those nasty leaves that are lying in our backyard UNDER all that snow.

Yuck.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

27 November 2007

You Know You're in Maine IF...

It's scary how most of these are SO true!

You Know You're in Maine:

If you own more than four pair of gloves.

If every other vehicle is a 4X4.

If camping is allowed it's only in steel sided campers.

If, when the sun goes down, you start looking for your coat.

If in March your vehicle is 43% mud.

If you leave your keys in your car and the next morning your car is still there.

If you're on the shoulder of the highway with your hood up and somebody stops to help you.

If you can pay for six big macs with a personal check.

If drive by shootings only occur on the evening news.

If your central heating system is fueled by large logs.

If you see numerous chauffeur-driven dogs.

If you can see the stars at night.

If people drive 100 miles to shop in a real mall.

If a deer throws itself under your wheels.

If you got a set of new snow tires for Valentines day.

If more than 1/2 the meat in your freezer is moose.

If the term "chill factor" is part of your daily vocabulary.

If the bumper jack in your pickup will lift a house.

If you only paid $5 to cut down your own douglas fir christmas tree.

If you enjoy a hot chocolate more than you do a margarita.

If a girls basketball game fill's the school gym.

If you put the car heater on your list of best friends.

If you pawned a snow blower instead of a set of golf clubs.

If dressing up means wearing a tie with your flannel shirt.

If you think you're in a traffic jam when you're in the second car at the light.

If you don't use your blinker because everyone already knows where you're going.

If your long john's don't come off until mid-May.

Courtesy of Maine Jokes.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

25 November 2007

New Look

Ok, maybe it's because I'm sick, because of the change in seasons, or just because I have time on my hands today, waiting for the Patriots game to begin (in like, 3 hours).

Anyway, after more than a year with the old look, and after having repainted most of our house this year (inside AND out), I figured we needed some home improvement here on the Maine blog.

Let me know what you think ~ :)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

Blue Skies...

Buy at Art.comIt's funny how the color of the sky impacts my outlook in such a big way. I've been sick for 10 days now and the last few nights have been sleepless - literally. I'm realizing first hand why sleep-deprivation is used as a form of torture. Trust me, if I knew any government secrets, I'd tell them to any and everyone just for an HOUR of sleep. Even a half hour. Call me weak, but I've been coughing non-stop for four nights and I've not had more than 5 minutes of sleep in a row. I kid you not.

Today I went to the doctor for the SECOND time this weekend, and they gave me antibiotics (which they probably should have given me the first time). But as awful as I felt, the sun was shining and the sky was the most amazing color of blue. I felt better just seeing that. Really, I did. Forget the antibiotics, just give me a prescription for a late fall, blue-sky day in Maine, three times a day for 10 days. I truly think that would cure me.

After the doctor's appointment, I came home and fell asleep on the couch, only to wake up 5 minutes later, coughing. But hey, it WAS 5 minutes. That's something. :)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

22 November 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!



I hope everyone has a happy and blessed day. Although it is raining and dreary, and I'm suffering from the worst cold/sinus infection I've had in years, I have so much for which I am thankful.

I recently read about a test done where one group of people was urged to keep a gratitude journal for one month and another group kept a journal about their complaints and gripes. At the end of the month, those who had recorded what they were thankful for were much happier and content than the group which had focused on what they were unhappy about.

Food for thought...

Here's hoping that regardless of your situation in life, you will find something for which you can give thanks today.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

10 November 2007

It's Coming, People...

I don't care what kind of pretend warm autumn we've had.

THIS is coming...



And there's nothing we can do about it.

:P

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

09 November 2007

If you like animals...

Yesterday, my daughter and I spent well over an hour scrolling through these two sites, laughing until our sides hurt and tears ran down our faces.

Not only are the photos adorable, the commentary is absolutely hilarious!

Enjoy...


But I warn you, you WILL laugh. :)

Oh, and yes, I can't seem to find time to clean our basement or blog regularly, but I do have time to sit in front of the computer and laugh hysterically as the time screams by...

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

08 November 2007

Autumn Scenes in Maine

Ok, so I'm behind again. The truth is, I don't see being caught up until after Christmas. Still, even though most of these photos were taken a couple of weeks ago, they're too pretty not to share.

The little chickadee is one of many that live in our backyard, and the other trees are from around the area...













And then the leaves began to fall.

They fell and they fell and they fell.

We raked and we raked. We carted the leaves away to the dump. Then we had a rain/wind storm and more leaves fell. We raked again. The rains and winds keep coming and the leaves keep falling and we keep raking... and still there are leaves on the tree.

How is this possible?

Here is our reality photo that simply must come after the beauty of the fall leaves... my daughter in the back of the truck bound for the dump.



Yes, there's always a price to pay.

Oh yes, and our Halloween pumpkins. Yep, I'm behind...



Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

30 October 2007

Perfect Fall Work Day

I still can't believe the mild fall weather for this time of the year in Maine. The night before last, we didn't have our first frost, but it was the first one that finally did in our garden and flowers. By yesterday afternoon, all the impatiens, tomato and pepper plants were droopy.

Today the temperature climbed into the 50s so we "made hay while the sun shines" and began the long process of raking the leaves out of our front lawn. With several giant oak trees in the yard, it is a never-ending job, but with the right music playing and a bright sun, it was just a good afternoon of exercise. Now we have a few huge piles that will be loaded into hubby's pick-up tomorrow and carted off to the local dump.

After that, we brought firewood into the house. We've been lighting fires in the woodstove for about a week now. With oil prices climbing again, I'm so thankful we were able to stock up on extra firewood this year. It always feels good to get the basement stocked with a load of wood for the next cold night.

Now ~ on to pumpkin carving for tomorrow night! :)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

29 October 2007

New England Sports

Ok, I have to jump on the bandwagon and comment about the fact that our two awesome New England teams totally kicked butt yesterday. I'm not going to try to say something that hasn't already been said, because I've read it all and in truth, I'd probably accidentally just repeat someone else's words.

Buy at Art.comBut it WAS fun, wasn't it? I have always been a football fan, ever since my dad sat me down at age 10 to watch the Superbowl with him. And here's the big confession - my team has always been the Denver Broncos - still is. Since I've been in Maine and grown to love the Patriots over the years, my new motto is that I'm rooting for the Patriots, as long as they aren't playing Denver. :) Not that Denver's doing so well this year, but that's another story and I'm NOT a fair-weather fan. But back to the Patriots - is Tom Brady awesome, or what? Wow, they simply can't be beat. And I can not wait to see what they do to those arrogant Indianapolis Colts next week (yeah, I get way too emotional about football).

Buy at Art.comI also have to admit that never in my life did I sit through (read that: endure) a professional baseball game until the 2004 World Series when the Red Sox broke the curse. I mean, c'mon, EVERYBODY was watching and I couldn't be left out. The biggest surprise for me was that I LOVED it. I got very little sleep that week, but boy, did I have a new appreciation for the game of baseball. I felt somehow more American - more patriotic, you know?

As the years have passed, football is still my spectator sport of choice, but I do follow the Red Sox, even if I don't catch their games often. Yet, when the playoffs (is that what they're called in baseball?) rolled around and lo and behold, there were the Red Sox vying for the pennant once again... well, I got sucked in, to say the least.

What a ride they've had over the past couple of weeks. New England will be celebrating for quite some time; and now I look forward to finally getting some sleep once again. :)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

22 October 2007

Woo Hoo!

Ok, I'm still swamped and totally neglecting my blog, but after watching the Red Sox win the pennant last night, I had to pop up and wave my Red Sox flag.



What a game! :)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

03 September 2007

Paint Job

Ok, I know everyone is sick of looking at pictures of my house, but hey, I don't get out much, LOL. Our house was like 8 years overdue for a paint job, and my wonderful son did the honors for us this summer. He finished just a few short days ago, and then headed off to college.

Here are the before (taken in the spring) and after photos... as you see, we changed the color of the shutters, and the doors haven't been painted yet (they'll remain red) but who knows when we'll get to that, now that school is starting tomorrow.





I suppose I should mention the kitchen which is now painted, but not everything is back in order yet. Pics will follow soon. However, I bought the wrong type of tape (too much adhesive) and when I took it off the newly painted white trim, some of the paint came with it. Argh.

Oh, and here is a little guy we found in the woodpile while stacking wood for winter. Our daughters finished today - hooray!



Happy new school year everyone.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

29 August 2007

Paint Hell

Have you ever painted something only to find out that you chose the WRONG color? I don't mean choosing red over blue, or some such thing, but the WRONG shade.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm painting the inside of our house (while our son paints the outside). For weeks, I agonized over sample after sample of yellow paint for our kitchen. We're on a tight budget, so I opted for the cheapest form of Wal-Mart paint, even after a friend cautioned me against it. But it wasn't only the paint that didn't go on well (after three coats, it STILL looked splotchy) it was the lousy color. I was going for a creamy, buttery yellow, but instead I got a sort of dingy, yellowish light green. Not a bad color, I suppose, but DEFINITELY not the look I was going for. It clashed with everything. Ugh.

So off I went that night to buy MORE paint, BETTER paint, not to mention, a different shade of yellow. I spent the entire day yesterday re-painting around the kitchen cabinets, behind the refrigerator, etc. Today, I can't wait to put my kitchen back together!

But wow, the weather sure has been cooperative. I mean, in truth, I'd rather have been out in the sunshine, but as I was working, I enjoyed the summer breeze wafting in and out of the windows (taking the paint fumes out as it went!)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

26 August 2007

An Argument for Air Conditioning in Maine

When we first came to Maine many years ago, we had lived in a variety of places all around the country - California, Rhode Island, Colorado, Virginia and Florida, just to name a few. We didn't have air conditioning in our homes in every one of these places, but in most of them, we did (I'll let you figure out in which places it was an absolute necessity).

Although we knew Maine had hard winters, we all had spent enough time on the East Coast to know about how hot and humid the summers can be, even near the coast. I was a bit taken aback to find that only a handful of homes in Maine had central A/C, and not many others made use of window units. I might ought to add here that I've always done well in cold weather but I quickly wilt in temperatures above 85. My husband, as fate would have it, is quite the opposite.

We moved into our home in late September, so the first few months were all about heating the house, rather than cooling it. But that next summer was a doozy. We had temperatures in the upper 90s for much of July and August, and humidity levels were off the charts. Please understand, though, that pretty much anything above 50% humidity (or a 60 degree dewpoint) is off the charts in MY book.

For several years, as I grew to know and love the state of Maine, I treasured the color of fall, I adored the coziness of winter, and I welcomed the fresh color of spring. Yet I dreaded summer. While tourists from near and far flocked to Maine each summer, I was holed up in our basement, trying to stay cool, or swimming at the nearest pond or beach. I also became an expert on how to visit local air conditioned establishments while spending the least amount of money. It was freakish, I tell you. I became obsessed with NOT being hot. Understand too that while I'd love to spend all my time in water or in the basement, those options are not a reality in my life. There ARE other things that need to be done!

Why we didn't invest in an air conditioning unit is a mystery to me. I'm not even sure we talked about it. Maybe it just seemed so extravagant. After all, we did have a basement which was cool, and summers were so short...

Alas, two years ago, during a particularly hot stretch, I dragged my husband to the nearest Home Depot and we invested in two small window units: one for our living room/kitchen area, and one for our bedroom. With the strategic use of fans, these two small units will cool our entire home.

I can't tell you what a huge turning point this was in my life. I enjoyed that summer as I've enjoyed no other since coming to Maine. In truth, we only used the air conditioners maybe 2 or 3 times that first summer, but it made those few hot days much more bearable. I was afraid our electric bill would skyrocket, but it didn't. It cost us maybe $10 - $15/month more to cool our home on the very hot days. To me, it's been well worth it.

This summer, as we near the end of August, I've counted: we have used our air conditioners for a total of 7 days this summer. A couple of the days really weren't even that hot, but they were humid enough that we just wanted to dry things out a bit.

Now I love summer, I can't wait for summer, and I never want it to end. Over the past few weeks as I've been painting the inside of the house, I've had the windows open and have enjoyed the cool, pleasant weather. Yet yesterday and today have been a bit uncomfortable, especially for climbing around on ladders, painting. Our little A/C units have kept me more productive and my husband would say they've kept me sane. :)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

23 August 2007

Buried in Projects

My good friend, Kristen, who moved to Texas earlier this summer, phoned and asked why this blog has been so neglected. I've been scarce because I've been madly finishing up on summer projects before school starts the first week in September. Once the homeschooling year begins, I can kiss those projects good-bye. We've been painting, cleaning, painting, purging, painting, working in the yard, oh, and did I mention, PAINTING?

About six years ago I embarked on a mission to paint all the trim and doors in our house. The house was built with white walls and dark brown trim. When we moved in, it was several years old, but still had only white walls and dark brown trim. I like wall color, and dark brown trim only looks good with a small list of pale colors. So, room by room, year by year, I've been painting the trim white.

I began with a bathroom, just to make sure I could do it and it wouldn't look idiotic. I'm not one for sanding and such, so I found a heavy duty primer that I simply slap on (two coats) over the trim, shiny finish and all. After two coats of primer, two coats of white paint finish the job. I then painted the bathroom walls a bright periwinkle blue, and after that, I was hooked.

Over the years I've done both bathrooms, a couple of bedrooms, the living room, and now I'm tackling the kitchen and hallway. Can I tell you, I am SO sick of painting. But now that the kitchen trim is done, I have to paint the walls... and of course, once the walls are done, the cabinets just won't look right and will probably need paint as well. Yet, that will have to wait for next summer.

Of course, glutton-for-punishment that I am, I've decided to take on yet one more painting project just as school starts. My son is moving into the dorm in two weeks and my mom is coming to visit in six weeks. That gives me a whopping four weeks to clean out and disassemble his room (a daunting task, I assure you) and then paint the trim and the walls. Before Mom arrives. And start a new school year with two teens.

If I survive the next six weeks, I'll be sure to post pictures of the finished product.

That is, if the paint fumes don't get me first.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

07 August 2007

A Ray of Hope Regarding Winter

Buy at Art.comYesterday was a chilly, rainy day here in Maine. We had scattered thunderstorms and showers that left puddles standing in the yard and on the roadways. Thankfully, my middle daughter and I had a rare day alone at home and we agreed that it was the perfect day to just hunker down and watch the weather from inside the house.

Also, noting that the mid-day outdoor temperature was well below 70 degrees fahrenheit, we agreed that it was the perfect day to do a little baking. We made a pot of chili for dinner and baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies from scratch (ok, it was the recipe on the back of the bag of chocolate chips, but in my book, that certainly counts!)

As the dreary day passed slowly and lazily, I was surprised to find myself enjoying it immensely. In fact, I even said outloud (before I could bite my tongue) that I thought I'd be ready and even excited about winter when it arrives. It was one of those, "Wait a minute, who said that?" moments. But there you go.

Maybe that's why we need the four seasons so much. We need the sunshine of summer so we can plant and vacation and enjoy being warm. We need the color and coolness of autumn so we can ease slowly into winter, do all the things we didn't finish over the summer, and marvel at the beauty of creation. We need the somewhat hibernatory feel of wintertime with its lack of color and cold so we can do indoor work, enjoy recreation in the snow, cozy up with our loved ones, and of course, to kill off the black flies and mosquitoes (ok, that doesn't really happen, but I can hope...). Lastly, we need spring for the color, the new life, and the promise of yet another warm summer.

Having lived in many areas of the country, I've found that Maine has just about the perfect four seasons. Each season is just long enough to prepare us for the next one; and by the time it arrives, we are ready.

Tomorrow, more rain is forecasted and I'm sure we'll do some more baking. It will be a bit of a fall preview.

But what the heck - I'm going to the beach again later this week. I mean, no need to rush things! :)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

01 August 2007

Morning Views around our Garden

I'm trying to take long, deep breaths and have a relaxed mindset - - in spite of the fact that August is here. That means one more month until Labor Day Weekend, which translates to mean, one more month of tourist season, one more month of going to the beach, one more month of the flowers looking really great, and one more month until school starts.

It also means only two more months until Halloween and the first freeze.

WAIT! No - I didn't mean to go there.

Here is the morning view around our garden - TODAY - on the first of August, while summer is still very much here...


The hydrangea is in full bloom...


The roma tomatoes are on the brink of turning red...


The green pepper is just about ready...


And a few days ago, we discovered this little guy hanging around the back of the house near the water hose (that my son often leaves dripping - argh). Anyway, he's cute - the frog, I mean. Yeah, my son is, too. :)


Have a great day, friends!

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

31 July 2007

Sarah's Cafe in Wiscasset

Disclaimer: I rarely, if ever, do restaurant reviews, but this one is from the heart...

I've been a bit scarce lately, what with all the summer activities in Maine. It seems that during the school year, when life is on such a strict schedule and we are constantly coming and going, I long for the long, lazy days of summer.

But then, when summer arrives, it seems to take off at a rip roaring pace and it doesn't slow until, perhaps, the week before Labor Day.

Here we are on the brink of August and I feel like I'm just catching my breath. It's been fun, but as always, it's going by WAY too quickly.

But back to the title of this post...

Two weeks ago, my Mother-in-Law came for a visit from Rhode Island. I need her to come visit me more often, because as we drove lazily along Coastal Route One, we stopped at all the adorable little places that I usually pass in a hurry, promising myself that one day, I will stop. But I never do.

One of those places is Sarah's Cafe in the pretty little town of Wiscasset. I can't even count the times I've come across the Sheepscot River Bridge and seen the sunny decks, the wide picture windows, and the smiling customers, enjoying their fare. I even have several friends who have told me to go there, promising wonderful food... but Wiscasset is always on my way somewhere else, and I never remember Sarah's until I pass it by.

Thanks to my Mother-in-Law, I now understand all the hype about Sarah's.

It was a hot day and we sat inside; we nearly had the place to ourselves, as it was a weekday and well after lunchtime. We ordered Lobster Rolls, fulling expecting a nice heap of lobster meat on a soft hot dog roll - that's the way we love them. Yet, at Sarah's, the roll was a huge, homemade roll, fully twice the size of a regular roll. The filling was all lobster, and totally decadent. We oooed and aahed between bites, reveling in the taste.

But it doesn't end there. While we had no room left for dessert, when we spotted Coconut Cream Pie on the menu, we ordered it on a whim. I have to say that coconut cream pie IS my favorite kind of pie, but I have never had pie like I had that day. If the lobster roll won't take me back to Sarah's very soon, the coconut cream pie certainly will.

The next time you find yourself anywhere near Wiscasset, I urge you to stop in to Sarah's Cafe. It will be well worth the trip!

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

14 July 2007

Speechless

I just read this article a little while ago and I've been trying to think of something witty to add to it, but I can think of nothing.

I guess this is one of those things that just stands on its own. Who ARE these people? And, does Stephen King have anything to do with it?

Hand me down - Hand

Only in Maine.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

03 July 2007

As You Travel for the 4th...

Remember, especially if you must travel at night, to be on the lookout for moose.

The moose in Maine love to live in the dense woods; yet this time of the year, there are an overabundance of flies, mosquitoes, and otherwise evil little creatures which make life quite miserable for many of the woodland inhabitants. Nighttime is the biting-est time of all.

When the biting bugs become too much to bear, moose often dash out into open roadways for a fresh breeze and welcome relief. They then will often stand perfectly still, seemingly unconcerned or even unaware of the oncoming headlights.

Each year, Maine sees several automobile fatalities involving moose, and they're usually at night.

Please be careful, and have a wonderful 4th of July holiday!

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

02 July 2007

Inspired

Ok,I've mentioned here BEFORE that I've found a wonderful blog at GARDENPATH. While I've always enjoyed taking photos of the beauty around me here in Maine, Sandy at GARDENPATH has inspired me.

Her photos never cease to amaze me. I find myself Ooo-ing and Ahh-ing outloud, here, all alone, in front of my computer. Her blog causes me to appreciate the beauty of Maine all the more.

Today I was inspired to wander the woods behind our home, and I came upon what I THINK are Asiatic Lilies. (If not, and any of you know better, please set me straight!) I might be able to spot beauty, but I don't always know the correct name for it.

Either way, they are pretty...



Not only that, I have no idea how they got there. The area used to be covered with dead leaves and logs, and when we cleaned it all out, this is what popped up.

Who knew? :)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

01 July 2007

The Problem with Summer

I love summer in Maine. I love it more than I should, if that's possible. When we lived in southern California for four years, we had summer year-round, and I found that I am quite useless and unproductive in such climates. Actually, let me clarify. Our yard and garden always looked good in California, but the house was always a mess, the dishes piled up, the cooking was a joke, and my desk was perpetually disorganized.

The problem was, I spent all my time outside. I found excuses everywhere - the garden needed weeding, the car needed to be washed, and our children needed to be outside - supervised, of course. When we came back to the East Coast, I was a much more productive writer, housekeeper, and mom. On those grey days that are much more common than they are out west, I found time to clean the house, put things away, and of course, teach my kids.

But here we are and it's summer again. I don't know if it's because I'm getting older, because I miss the West Coast, because I possibly have Seasonal Affective Disorder (or would like to think so) or because this past winter was exceptionally grey, but I can't seem to get enough of being outside. I'm craving the sunshine and color of summer. I've got a better tan than I've had in years and my yard is shaping up quite nicely.

On the other hand, the house (especially the basement) is, well... I really don't want to talk about that. Besides, the sun just came up and I think I need to go out and water the tomato garden...

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

27 June 2007

Another Beach Day

Yesterday we, like everyone else in Maine, heard the ominous weather forecast of temperatures in the 90s, high humidity, and lousy air quality. We figured we'd beat the heat (or at least try to enjoy it) by spending a day at Popham Beach.

When we got there around noon, it seemed that everyone else in Maine had the same idea we had, and we waited in a long line to enter the parking lot.

But weren't we surprised when we got out of the car, expecting the same warm temperatures we'd felt back at home, and it was quite chilly. The temperature had to be in the 60s, at best, and the wind was fierce. I seriously considered turning around and going home immediately; but the kids talked me into walking on out to the beach (with all our stuff for the day) and giving it a bit of time.

I watched while my kids and their friends frolicked on the cold beach with all the other kids, while the adults sat huddled ridiculously on our blankets, wishing we'd all brought sweatshirts.

It was a bleak site, looking out toward the island as the tide slowly went out. The clouds seemed to be there to stay...


Yet, after about a half hour of shivering and promising myself we'd leave as soon as I caught site of the kids again, the sun suddenly popped out of the clouds and the entire beach crowd gave a collective sigh of relief. Ahhhhhhh...


The sky quickly cleared of all clouds and soon our earlier feelings of being cold were a distant memory. The sunshine and heat had arrived!


As did the cute little waves... but don't be deceived. The water was a frigid 58 degrees, at best.


We stayed most of the day and came back sunburnt and smiling. The next two photos pretty much sum up how we felt about our day - and Maine, in general. :)




Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

Signs of Summer


Queen Anne's Lace



Fresh Strawberries



High Temps - (too high, in my opinion!)


Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

24 June 2007

Turtles

Ok, we did toads, now we're on to turtles. Like I said once before, it was a long winter and I'm finding myself unusually fascinated with summery things.

These were taken on a fishing trip today on one of the Belgrade Lakes. I hope you got out to enjoy the day - it was spectacular. A bit windy on the lake, but dry, sunny, and warm. Ah,... summer. :)

There were several huge, prehistoric-looking snapping turtles...





And a couple of their less-intimidating cousins...



Beautiful!

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

23 June 2007

Dad's Toad

During the warm months, we like to go out on our back porch each evening and look at the stars or some such thing - just a reason to be outside. Nearly every evening for the past few years, my husband has spotted a small toad just outside the back door. We like that it was there, doing its best to keep the area free of creepy crawlies.

A few times the toad has been out during the day and we've had near misses with the lawn mower and/or edger.

Ok, we DO realize that there is probably more than one toad, but we've never seen more than one at once, and we like the idea that we have A toad - not SOME toads. Over time, since my hubby is the one who finds it, the toad has been dubbed, "Dad's Toad." In fact, there have been times when he's actually gone out looking for the toad, and was quite distressed when it didn't show for days at a time.

Last summer, completely forgetting about my husband's toad, I put some weed killer around the rocks on our back walk - right where we usually find Mr. Toad in the evenings. Once we all remembered, it was too late and we simply hoped for the best. About a month later, we were all relieved when the toad showed up once again, apparently un-poisoned.

So far this season, there has been no sign of the toad - until yesterday. I was cleaning up the area around our cellar door, and when I pulled up a tarp, there he was, amongst the dried leaves. In fact, at first, I couldn't see him, I could just hear him, so great was his camouflaged skin.

We were all glad to see that Dad's toad survived another winter. Isn't he cute? :) It's tough to tell from this photo, but he's about the size of a tennis ball.



Now we can all breathe a sigh of relief and get on with our summer.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

19 June 2007

Another Maine Blog

Although I sort of live in my own little Maine world, I've recently been on the lookout for other Maine blogs.

I found one today that simply takes my breath away. The photographs are beautiful and I have to share it.

Visit gardenpath and your eyes will be delighted by one woman's photographic journey through her garden in Maine.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

18 June 2007

Got Beach?

After a rainy start to the month of June, we decided to "make hay while the sun shines," and spend a day at the beach.

Each year I can't help comparing the beaches in Maine to the beaches in Southern California, where we lived for a while. There, the parking is right next to the beach (though sparce) and there is a boardwalk with shops, restaurants, and other attractions. Also, the beaches out there don't charge an admission fee. Add to that the fact that the weather is usually sunny (most of the year, of course) - which means the crowds are larger.

Here in Maine, many of the beaches from the midcoast north, aren't right in town; often they require a bit of a drive, usually down a very long and winding peninsula road. Many of the beaches in Maine are in some sort of a state park, all of which charge entrance fees. Other than in extreme Southern Maine, there usually aren't any shops or restaurants; perhaps a snack bar and restrooms if you're lucky. The weather isn't always cooperative, and the beaches are really only appealing during the months of June, July and August.

Yet the beaches in Maine are clean, clear, and rarely crowded. They are dotted with rocks and pine trees, and there are islands just off the coast, often with rustic lighthouses snuggled among the rocks.

The one similarity between the beaches here in Maine and those in Southern Cal is the water temperature. Rarely does the temp get above 60 here in Maine, and unless it is an El Nino year, the same in true in Southern Cal.

But today, as we sat on the windy beach in 80 degree weather, with less people than one would expect on one of the first real beach days of the season, I found that I was more than willing to pay the $60 fee for the seasonal pass to the state parks. While we may not have beaches that are quite as accessible nor can we visit them nearly as often throughout the year as our friends in California, we do love our beaches here in Maine, and what little time there we get, we certainly appreciate.

Here are a few shots from our lazy, sunny day...





P.S. ~

In response to some of the emails about our friends leaving (previous post), HERE is the rest of the story.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

12 June 2007

Preparing to say Good-bye


I have a good friend here in town who is moving to Texas next week. Yes, Texas. She is a treasured friend and her kids are friends of my kids (all teens). Why Texas, you ask? Her husband recently retired from the military and the best job he could find was in Texas. So after a lengthy and lucky stint with the military here for the past 10 years, this family is pulling up their well-established Maine roots and will go south for good.

Tonight the family came over for dinner. After dodging rainstorms all day, we had a nice cookout and talked well into the evening. In the course of our conversation, my friend, K., told me about a going-away present another local friend had given her.

Apparently the other friend made a memory jar filled with various things that have to do with Maine. There were bits of dirt from the military base where K's husband was stationed, sand from the beach near their home, grass from the elementary school playground where her children played, and pine cones from the middle school they now attend. There was much more, but you get the idea. Each of the items was layered and was explained in a lengthy letter which also gave deeper meanings such as making new roots like the pine cones would, etc. It was a very touching, moving, and unique gift.

I'm finding it hard to say good-bye and hard to imagine Maine without my precious friend. Life will go on, but for now, it's not feeling too much like the way life should be. :(

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

11 June 2007

What I love...

...about Springtime in Maine...













I guess, like everyone else in Maine, I'm still a bit color-deprived after that very grey winter we just had. I find myself enjoying gardening this year more than ever before and I can't seem to get enough of the bright colors. How about you?

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes