27 February 2007

Joshua Chamberlain - Gettysburg

Yesterday our family decided to watch one of our favorite movies, "Gettysburg." It's a four-hour long movie that was originally a mini-series on television. We now have the whole thing on DVD and we watch it every couple of years or so. Our daughters are studying the Civil War in school, so we thought it appropriate to watch it once again.

My favorite part of the movie is the speech by Joshua Chamberlain to his fellow Mainers that have decided they will no longer fight in the war. Played by Jeff Daniels, Chamberlain, a professor from Bowdoin College turned Army Colonel, beseeches the soldiers to continue fighting. In fact, he convinces 120 out of 126 of the mutineers to join the 20th Maine and fight with them.

After being told by fellow officers that he could shoot the offending soldiers if they did not cooperate, Chamberlain dismisses the thought, knowing he would never simply shoot his fellow Mainers. Instead, he appeals to them as the thinking, feeling men that they are. He shows them respect, and in turn, they follow him.

I encourage you to watch this wonderful movie. To read or listen to the entire speech from the movie right here online, CLICK HERE.

And if you're ever in Brunswick, take a drive by Bowdoin College. There is a fairly new statue of Joshua Chamberlain just across the street from his home and from the First Parish Church, where he met his wife. His home is now a museum chock full of facts and memoribilia from his life. He was a Mainer we all should remember.

To learn more about Joshua Chamberlain, CLICK HERE.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

24 February 2007

Ice Skating in Maine

A month ago at this time, we pretty much figured there wouldn't be any outdoor ice-skating this winter. The ponds were still unfrozen and the local parks and outdoor rinks didn't even have slush, let alone ice.

But now, there is ice skating to be found all over Maine. Last night, in spite of temps in the teens and a wind chill below zero, we took our teenagers and some of their friends to a local park that is flooded and plowed each winter.

While my husband and I sat in the car sipping on Caramel Apple Cider from Starbucks, we watched while the kids frolicked on the ice under the evening lights. The brisk weather kept them moving and there were many laughs - inside the car, and out.

When they were nearly numb from the cold, we piled everyone back into the car and went back to our house for hot cocoa and popcorn. Ahhh ~ cold Friday nights in the wintertime can be so cozy and fun! After all, it IS the way life should be. :)

For a list of outdoor rinks in the southern half of Maine, CLICK HERE.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

18 February 2007

Remembering PFC Andrew Small - 6 months later...

It is difficult to believe six months have passed since we wrote our remembrances of PFC Andrew Small, the young man from Wiscasset, Maine, who was killed in Afghanistan in August of 2006.

Please CLICK HERE for a recent update on the sadness and surprising joys which have come from the tragic loss of such a fine, young man.

PFC Andrew Small will always be remembered.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

07 February 2007

Freezing Bubbles

Several years ago, when my children were small, a friend told us that if the temperature outside fell below – 15 (that’s 15 degrees BELOW zero) we should try blowing bubbles. That’s right, open the jar, take out the little plastic wand, and blow bubbles in – 15 degree weather. I wasn’t told what would happen, just that it would be “really neat.”

Well, I’m always one for a challenge, so I waited. Sure enough, we awakened one winter morning to temperatures right around – 15. We bundled up and took a jar of bubbles outside. Although it was nearly impossible to hold that wet, little wand while wearing mittens warm enough to keep our hands from freezing, we managed to do it.

It was a beautiful, crystal clear morning without a shred of wind, so it wasn’t so bad.

And an amazing thing happened. When we blew the bubbles, if they managed to last long enough (several seconds) without popping, the bubbles themselves actually froze. When they ultimately landed on the snow, they didn’t pop, they just sat there. If we waited a few more moments, they became hardened enough to break, sort of like very thin glass or an eggshell.

It was a neat science experiment for a homeschool family in Maine, though I’m sure our neighbors thought we were a bit weird.

Oddly enough, I recently found a website describing this same experiment. According to Education World, the experiment will work in warmer temps, like 10 degrees ABOVE zero. That's 25 degrees warmer than what we did! Ah well, live and learn. Either way, as long as there isn't any wind, in my opinion, 10 above is not THAT different from 15 below. Cold is cold, and Maine winters are definitely that. Bubbles are optional.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

05 February 2007

Winter Getaway at Moosehead Lake

We just returned from a long weekend in a cabin near Moosehead Lake. We'd been promising ourselves we'd teach our daughters to ski, but never seemed to get around to it. So, Friday morning, we packed up and headed to a cabin on the banks of the Moose River, near Rockwood, Maine.

Understand that we hadn't had a vacation in a while and we were worn a bit thin with work, winter household issues, and the basic rollercoaster ride of busy-ness with three teenagers at home. Basketball games (and practices), carpooling, having friends over, talking on the phone, making a mess, and all those other typical teen issues had taken over our lives and we just wanted to stop and get off the ride for a couple of days.

We had a GREAT weekend, though it didn’t go quite as planned. The cabin was better and prettier than the pictures on the internet had shown. It was so cozy and much warmer than our house.

We got up Saturday morning to go skiing at nearby Big Squaw Mountain Resort, but it was only 18 degrees outside (not a big deal) with 20-30 mph winds (a VERY big deal). Since our two younger daughters had never been skiing and we didn’t want them to hate it before it began, we bagged our plan and huddled up in front of the fire and the satellite TV - something we don't have at home. We promised ourselves we'd ski the next day.

While the wind howled outside our cabin, we alternately scrolled through and watched countless channels on the television. We were a family obsessed with technology; and we were out in the middle of nowhere. The irony was laughable.

On Sunday, the weather was colder and windier, so we stayed in again. There was a Monk marathon on USA, so we literally sat and watched 12 hours of Monk. I kid you not. There were breaks to eat, nap, go to the corner store for snacks, and I even took a frigid walk to the end of the road. Oddly enough, though this cabin had a gazillion channels, it didn’t get the regular networks – how weird is that? So we missed the Superbowl. We are avid football fans and it was the first time I'd missed a Superbowl - ever. But we were so cozy, we didn’t even care.

This morning I awakened early and had the privilege of glimpsing two deer outside the kitchen window. They were walking casually along the side of the cabin, and they seemed completely unconcerned with the brutal winds that blew their furry coats. It was still early, but if there had been more light, I'd have taken a photograph as they walked past the large, round thermometer on a tree outside the window. It registered a frigid - 4.

We soon were on our way, marveling as we drove around Moosehead Lake; the winds whipped across the ice and the islands, making a stark, arctic-looking landscape. The photo above shows the view from our car - we were too cold to get out!

We didn't get to ski, but we paid a pretty penny for three days of satellite TV in the North Woods of Maine.

Ah, the way life should be. :)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes