31 December 2008

Brrrrrrr!


Just stopping in between throwing more logs on the fire to say Happy New Year and farewell to 2008 one last time...

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

New Year's Traditions

New Year's Eve is one of those holidays which, for me, has changed drastically over the years. When I was young and unencumbered, it was all about finding the right party to ring in the new year.

My husband and I got married on New Year's Day - 17 years ago tomorrow. The night before our wedding, we spent New Year's Eve first having a rehearsal dinner, and then partying the night away with friends.

As the years went on and our children were young, we spent nearly every New Year's Eve in front of the television with Dick Clark. In fact, lucky us, we spent a few years in California where Dick Clark's New Year's Eve show ended at 9 p.m. After that, we could put the kids to bed and have a bit of adult time after that - you know, doing dishes, putting the dog out, and trying desperately to stay awake until midnight. It is our tradition to give each other Anniversary cards at midnight. Usually no gifts, as Christmas has just come and gone.

I have to admit, once we got to Maine, it felt more RIGHT to be celebrating the New Year with Dick Clark at the right time. Yes, didn't you know that East Coast time is the RIGHT time? Now you do. You're welcome.

Oh, and as an aside, I must say that I will always and forever associate New Year's Eve with Dick Clark. Even though he is only doing a cameo appearance now, and Ryan Seacrest has all but taken over, it is still the Dick Clark show, as far as I'm concerned. Dick Clark didn't age from the time that I was four-years-old until about two years ago, so for me, he is like the New Year's Eve god. In fact, I wonder if time would just stop on December 31 one year, if he didn't show up? A scary thought.

Moving on... a few years ago, we decided to do a Lord of the Rings marathon with the whole family. We started watching the first movie early in the day, and the plan was to finish the third movie about a half hour before midnight. Somehow it went longer than planned, what with breaks and all, but we did stop to cheer, kiss, and toast champagne at midnight, and then we watched the rest of the third movie the next day.

Another tradition we started at some point, was to do fondue for dinner on New Year's Eve. This one began before we got to Maine, but it has carried through each year. We usually just do beef fondue, but this year, we'll be doing shrimp as well. Fondue is one of those things that is such a novelty, if you only do it once a year. In fact, it usually takes all year for me to forget what a pain it is to drag the fondue pot out of the back of the cabinet over the refrigerator, set up the peanut oil, give up on Sterno for actually making it hot, and just put it on the stove in a huff. It also takes a whole year for me to forget about what a chore it is to clean the peanut oil out of the pot.

Gee, now I'm remembering. Do we really want to do this tonight?

This year, our son is away at school spending the night doing R.A. duty (though he'll be back home in a few days.) One of our daughters is going to a party at a neighbor's home. So hubby and I will spend the evening at home with our other daughter,... probably watching The Lord of the Rings. We have enough fondue trappings for the whole family, but it will only be the three of us, so we might even set it up on the coffee table and watch our movie while dipping the fondue meats. Then again, that sounds messy. Peanut oil on the rug? Hmmm.

The really cool thing, which also seems to be becoming a tradition, is that it's supposed to snow tonight. Ok, I know this is not a tradition I can control, but hey, I'll take it.

Happy Maine New Year, Friends!

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

30 December 2008

Where are you, Christmas?

Ok, I'd like to address an issue that's really been bugging me.

As I mentioned early in the fall, we put our daughters in public school for the first time after homeschooling them from the get-go. We knew it would be a different world in a variety of ways... they'd have less freedom to come and go as they pleased, they would be subject to someone else's schedule, there would be no sleeping in, and the list goes on and on.

But the thing that really gets me (and still does) is the way public schools now handle Christmas. First, the teachers are not supposed to wish the students "Merry Christmas." Second, the school break that stretches from December 23 to January 5 is no longer called "Christmas Break," but rather, "Winter Break" or "Holiday Break" or some such thing. Third, my daughter is in the school choir and they had a special concert right before Christmas. Yet, it was called a "Winter Concert" and not one Christmas song was sung. At all. Of course, there were a HUGE number of people in the audience wearing red and green, and many even had on Christmas sweaters. I ask you, was THAT allowed? And how long will it be? How long until family members are told not to come to the winter concert wearing anything that will suggest Christmas?

Sound far-fetched? I'm not so sure.

Look, I'm all for being tolerant of other religions, other ethnic groups, other races, or what-have-you. In fact, I applaud it. Those are the things our country was founded on. But I don't imagine the Founding Fathers had in mind to squash out every mention of a religious holiday, just so a very few won't be offended.

And yes, at least here in Maine, it is a very few. Sure, we have Jewish families who celebrated Hanukkah, and I love that. In fact, why didn't the kids sing any songs at the Winter Concert that celebrated Hanukkah? Or Kwanzaa? Or whatever else anyone is celebrating at this time of the year? The thing is, MOST Americans still celebrate Christmas. Don't believe me? Turn on the radio in December. Look at any magazine, catalog or store decor. Can we really pretend it isn't there?

This is all because there are a select few who think that since they claim no religion, the rest of us should clam up, shut up, and let them enjoy their nothingness. Don't get me wrong, they have every right to their nothingness (for lack of a better term - I'm sure I'll offend someone - sorry in advance)... but now we are all being subject to it. Do you see what has happened? It isn't enough that they have their nothingness. Rather than majority rule, which is another thing this country was founded upon, a very vocal few are imposing their nothingness on the rest of us, and every song at that Winter Concert was one of THEIR songs.

How is that fair? How does that show tolerance and diversity?

Look, when I go somewhere and someone wishes me a Happy Holiday because they are not allowed to say Merry Christmas, I don't fault them or feel annoyed - I THANK them and wish them the same in return - with a smile. I happen to be a Christian who celebrates Christmas, but if someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah, I'd thank them and wish them the same in return - happily. Same goes for Kwanzaa. Even if someone wished me a Happy Winter, because they are anti-holiday in general, I'd thank them for that and wish them the same in return.

In fact, now that I think of it, living here in Maine with all our snow, we would do well to wish each other a Happy Winter... quite often.

Not that that was what I was getting at, but it seems like a good place to close.

Happy Winter, Friends.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

27 December 2008

Reality Check

Every year, usually in the week between Christmas and New Year, I plan our next year's budget. Nothing like crunching numbers to drown any remnants of the Christmas spirit. That combined with 50 degree temps and rain that is washing away what is now very dirty, shrinking snow.

Anyway, the yearly budget plan is always a drag, but it has to be done, and by the second week in January I have high hopes of paying off our house, skimming down our lifetyle (such that it is) and putting a bunch of money in the bank for a rainy day.

Yes, EVERY year I do this.

But every year the money we put in the bank always manages to be used up for the multiple rainy days we seem to have (read that: car repairs, vet bills, expensive teen-agers). Every year, the more I skim down the lifestyle my husband and I would like to have, the lifestyle of our kids becomes more demanding - and costly - mostly in the form of sports and camps. Every year we watch our mortgage basically spin its wheels and we make so little progress toward payoff that I can only hope to get there before we die of old age.

Really.

Oh, and then there is the issue of heating the house... but why go there?

All that to say, Christmas was lovely but now it's time to pay the piper. In reality, we went into very little debt over Christmas. We saved money in our Christmas account all year and used it all only on Christmas. Yay us! Of course, we never quite budget exactly right; plus, my husband and one of my daughters, who will remain anonymous, always go over budget. But they are quite generous, so who am I to fault them?

Where am I going with this? I have no idea. Just trying to bring you down with my budgeting angst, that's all. Especially if you live somewhere warm and are still wearing shorts at this time of the year. Yes, I especially cast my angst on you!

Ok, not really. Just making conversation.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

26 December 2008

The Day After

Here's hoping everyone had a Merry Christmas with lots of goodies, happy times, and some semblance of peace after the madness of the shopping season.

I think it's both strange and tragic that the shopping starts right back up as soon as Christmas is over. I have to admit, I was at Wal-Mart at 8:00 this morning to pick up some groceries for a party my kids are having tonight, and my husband needed a cable for his new speakers. We didn't WANT to venture out, but we went early, found a store that had everything we needed, and we were out of there before 9:00.

Of course, as fate would have it, Wal-Mart did NOT have the right cable, so we had to go to Best Buy. And Home Depot was right down the road, so why not go there, too? Oh the madness! The crowds! The traffic! So I hear, anyway. I waited in the car at each of those stops with my John Grisham book. It was only 12 degrees outside, but we parked in the sunshine and I was cozy in my crowd-avoidance.

Now I'm typing awkwardly on a new laptop my husband gave me for Christmas. I've always typed on our traditional computer which is situated in the basement - the dry, yet unfinished basement. Now I can have my love affair with the internet while lounging by the Christmas tree, relaxing on the couch or even sitting in bed. Oh the freedom! I know most folks have experienced this already, but we're a little behind, I guess.

That's about all I have to report for Christmas at our house. Oh, and it's snowing again.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

24 December 2008

Let it Snow

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone.

I didn't even have a chance to post the photos from Monday afternoon, and I awakened to find that it's snowing again today.

Here is a photo from the dig-out on Monday...



I was intrigued by the wavy line my husband made down the driveway. I guess he wanted to make it interesting, as if removing 18 inches of snow from one's driveway isn't interesting enough on its own.

When I looked out this morning and saw more large flakes falling down, I thought about snapping a photo, but then I thought, "Hey, I could just use a photo from the Sunday afternoon storm that's already on my computer."

Yeah, I guess you could say I'm already feeling cynical about the snow. Don't get me wrong - I love it at this time of year. Unless we get a major tropical weather freak show over the next 14 hours, we are destined to have a white Christmas... and how cool is that?

I just know that last year, it snowed every Wednesday and Saturday. Remember? Go HERE to refresh your memory. This year, however, we seem to be getting snow just about every other day. And it's only been winter for three days. Three.

Ok, I'll stop now.

On another note, today is our middle daughter's 16th birthday. Yes, a Christmas Eve Baby. In fact, she was born in California at 11:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve. We always remind her that had she been born in Maine, she'd have been born on Christmas Day. Not that it really matters, but for some reason, we talk about that every year. It's one of those stories where the parents begin it, and then the kids end it in a sing-song voice, reminding us that we've kicked that dead horse one too many times. But we will talk about it next year and until the end of time. It's just how we are.

It's tradition! Like the snow! Ack!

Merry Snowy Christmas, friends.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

22 December 2008

1:00 a.m. Report

Nearly 18 inches, still coming down and blowing everywhere.




This is crazy. Yes, we're still up and still measuring the snowfall like idiots. You'd think we'd never had a big snow before.

I think we're excited because it's nearly Christmas. Also, I have a fixation with my kids getting to stay home from school - without being marked absent. In fact, all semester I've been trying to talk them into staying home for a day. But they keep telling me they have to go to school. I promise to take them out to lunch and to the movies, but still they go. In this short time, they've already been convinced they'll fall impossibly behind if they miss only one day.

Ha.

So tomorrow, assuming the schools are closed (and they'd better be!) the kids can stay home, we'll bake and play all day, and they won't be behind. Yay!

Can I say one more time that I think it is utterly ridiculous for kids to be in school THIS close to Christmas? What the heck?

Ok, off to bed.

G'night, friends!

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

21 December 2008

10:00 p.m. Report

We're up to nearly 15 inches and it's still coming down. Here's what we're seeing outside our front door...




But the power is still on.

And after a high of under 10 degrees today, the temperature seems to be rising, according to this:



This also shows that we have more snow on the way before it's all over.

But as I said, we still have power. Gotta love that.

Here's hoping you're staying inside, safe, and warm.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

First Day of Winter

And a fitting start, I might add...





As of nearly 5:00 p.m., we have four or five inches of snow on the ground, and it is still coming down hard. It's supposed to get heavier over-night, and I've all but convinced myself and the kids that they will get a snow-day tomorrow. Keeping my fingers crossed.

And so far, we still have power. Very glad about that.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

20 December 2008

Nor' Easter a-Coming

That's what they're saying HERE.

I've been meaning to take pictures of the snow from the past week (last night was incredibly beautiful) but with Christmas on the horizon, a son returning from college, and much to do to prepare for the next big snow, the photos will have to wait.

I think the checklist is in order...

* Gas in the snowblower - check.

* Firewood stacked in the basement - check.

* Pantry full in preparation for power-outage - check.

* Kerosene heater filled - check.

* Hopes that school will be cancelled Monday and Tuesday - CHECK!

Stay safe, friends.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

12 December 2008

"Dramatic Icing Likely"

Those were the words, yesterday, of my favorite radio weather guy. I thought it was a very poetic way of saying something that no one in Maine ever wants to hear. Ice storm coming. Yeah, that's what he was REALLY saying.

And it came. Thankfully, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. That's not saying there isn't a lot of fallout; I guess the comparison is still the ice storm of January, 1998. This was NOT like that. But as of this afternoon, there are still about 200,000 Mainers without power, whether homes or businesses. Lots of limbs down, lots of power lines down. A bit of a mess, to say the least.

But lots of beauty, too. This afternoon, after a blissfully relaxing day of not being in school (and having little to do because the power was out at our house) my daughter ventured outside and took my camera with her.

This is what she saw...












Stay warm and be safe, friends.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

10 December 2008

Weather Whiplash

Two days ago, we awakened to clear blue skies and temps hovering just above zero. The wind chill was well below zero.

Yesterday, it snowed all day and we ended up with about 2 inches. An early white Christmas?

No.

This morning we awakened to rain and temps of 50 degrees - at this early hour.

The snow is gone. GONE.

At least I didn't have to shovel the driveway.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

05 December 2008

I love living here.

I haven't had the opportunity to write much lately, and the longer I go, the more (or less) there is to tell.

But I have to share what happened today.

It's a busy day. I went to the gym with a friend at 7:30 a.m., and had my day scheduled down to 15 minute increments from there on out. (I might add that I have 15 minutes scheduled in to write on this blog, and I'm ahead of schedule. Yay!)

After the gym, I hurried to Wal-Mart to pick up groceries and various other things that I can't find at a regular grocery store. One stop shopping - gotta love it. I hurried and put all my stuff in the car and then raced off to drop stuff off at the local Salvation Army. After putting all the bags into the big drop-off bin, I went back to the car to get my purse before heading inside to get a receipt.

It was then that I noticed my purse was not in the car.

Had someone stolen it while I walked 6 feet to the drop-off bin and put the bags in? Not in Maine! Besides, there really wasn't anyone else around.

In a panic, I last remembered seeing my purse in the Wal-Mart shopping cart as I put the purchases into the car. Had I left it there? Had someone swiped it while I was loading the car? Not in Maine!

As I broke all local speed limit laws, racing the car back to Wal-Mart, I phoned them and waited (while I drove) as they tranferred me from phone to phone and finally, checked to see if anyone had found and turned in a purse.

A purse, I might add, that didn't have more than $5.00 cash in it, yet it had my debit card, two credit cards (that have just been paid off - yikes), check book, military i.d., and of course, driver's license... not to mention, all sorts of other personal information.

As the seconds ticked by, I tried to remember everything in my wallet so I could call and cancel everything as soon as possible.

Then the Wal-Mart lady came back on the phone just as I drove into the parking lot and said they'd found the purse. I rushed inside and there it was. AND it had everything in it, just as I'd left it.

There are so many places I've visited and lived where this would not have ended well. While there are nice people everywhere, it just seems that there are so many MORE here in Maine.

BIG sigh of relief. :)

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

24 November 2008

6:00 a.m., 9 degrees F

Isn't it too early to have weather THIS cold?

It feels more like January than November.

What do YOU think?

P.S. - and it still hasn't even snowed yet. Weird.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

20 November 2008

What I Love about Autumn in Maine

* Stacking firewood.

* Cold winds.

* Grey skies.

* Raking leaves.

* Hauling said leaves to the town dump.

* Coming home from the dump to find out the cold winds blew all the neighbors' leaves into our yard.

* Did I mention stacking wood?

We still have a LOT of wood that needs stacking. The plan/hope is to finish it this weekend, if the weather cooperates. Next week we have rain and snow forecasted, and since for some reason, I still believe the weather man, I'm insistent that we finish the wood RIGHT NOW.

Ok, back to work...

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

13 November 2008

At long last...

Our firewood delivery arrived yesterday.



Thankfully, we've had a rather mild fall, and our oil tank still has oil leftover from last year (we'd like to hold off having it filled again as oil prices continue to go down.)

My arms are nearly useless from all the raking and now the wood stacking, but let me tell you, this is a welcome site in our basement - especially as the night-time temps are now dropping well below freezing.



As an aside, you may remember we cut down a HUGE OAK TREE back in the Spring. In fact, we used our firewood money to cut down said tree, because we intended to cut it up and burn it this winter. But it was only AFTER the whole thing was done did someone bother to tell us that the wood needs at least a year to dry out properly.

We ignored that bit of information and planned to burn our tree anyway, but just last week, we checked it again, and yes, the logs from the tree are still far too green.

So, not only did we get to pay for firewood ANYWAY, we also waited until too late in the season to buy it, so we pay extra for seasoned wood. I might add that the seasoned wood which arrived yesterday isn't much drier than the wood from our tree.

But hey, at least we're warm.

And if that doesn't work, we can just keep moving the wood around all winter, like we've been doing for the past 24 hours. Nothing like that to keep you warm.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

12 November 2008

Leaves, Leaves, and More Leaves

Yesterday we began the arduous task of removing them from our lawn. The front lawn, anyway. Since everyone was home for Veteran's Day, we made use of the nice weather. Today I get to continue in the back yard. Alone.

Here is a little photo-journal of our day...

BEFORE...



DURING...



AFTER...



RAKING...



BAGGING...



LOADING THE TRUCK...



ARE WE DONE YET?



Yes, dear, we are finished - for now.

I find it to be slightly annoying that all the leaves don't really fall from the trees until very LATE in the fall. By that time, it is either too cold and windy to be dealing with dead leaves, or everything is covered in snow and it is a moot point.

After all the leaves we raked up yesterday, I'm amazed how how many are STILL ON THE TREES.

Case in point...



Ok, off to rake some more on this last forecasted sunny day for a while.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

09 November 2008

Autumn came. The leaves fell.

To say the least.



Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

04 November 2008

Election Day in Maine


Today my 21-year-old son voted in his first presidential election. I remember my first presidential election. I was living in the Washington, D.C. area and it was 1988. My dad took me to the polling place and we stood in line together. He joked with me before I walked into the polling booth, saying I needed to "vote the right way."

As I stood in that booth for the first time, I was struck by the power I had. I could vote any way I wanted. Or write someone in. Or leave some blank spaces. Or not vote at all. I could do anything and no one would ever know how I voted.

Today, I much preferred going to our little polling place in Maine rather than standing in those long lines in D.C. I know most of the local candidates personally and I enjoyed seeing them, shaking their hands, and talking to them about their kids, my kids, and where we're going on vacation.

One local candidate lives on the next street from me. Another goes to my church. Still another lives next door to a good friend of mine, and I can walk to her house on a trail through the woods. It is so much easier to vote for real people that I know, rather than just names on signs and faces on TV.

It is still too early to know how the big races will turn out... but either way, today we all came together as Americans and did our civic duty. Regardless of the outcome, my hope is that we will all come together, put away our differences, and support our leaders.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

03 November 2008

GO VOTE!

Ok, so I'm still of the secret ballot notion that we don't have to TALK about whom we are voting for.

So I'll just say - go vote tomorrow. And so says this little guy...



Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

02 November 2008

Do you say "Soda" or "Pop"?

I found this neat map today:



CLICK HERE to see the large version, and the site where it originated.

I find it interesting because I've lived in various parts of the country at different times in my life.

As a child in Colorado, most people said "pop." I grew up calling it "pop," but there were a few rebel "soda" sayers living among us.

My mom and dad tell stories of growing up in the 1940s South, calling it "soda water."

When I went to college for a year in Texas, everyone said "coke." It didn't matter if you wanted to go get a Dr. Pepper or a Sprite, you just said, "Let's go get a coke," or "Do you want a coke?" or best of all, "What kind of coke do you want?" I still slip back into this one sometimes with my kids, and of course, being teens, they quickly correct me, explaining that it is illogical to ask what kind of COKE they want. Sheesh!

My years on the East Coast, most of them in Maine, pushed me over the edge into "soda" territory. I've been saying it for so long now that "pop" sounds funny.

Of course there is also "sodapop" but when I hear that, I only think about Rob Lowe's character in the movie version of "The Outsiders." But I digress.

How about you? What do you call it?

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

01 November 2008

Things are always changing... and my attitude needs to.


When we had been in Maine a couple of years and my children were all out of diapers but not yet teens, I wished that time could stand still. Parenting had finally become fun, everyone got along, and the kids loved doing things with the whole family.

My how things have changed.

When our youngest daughter was about 10, she was delightfully cheerful - all the time. One day she asked me if I thought she would turn into a grumpy teenager like her older brother had done. I told her she probably would, as teens seem to lose part of their brains for several years, but I hoped she would not. She told me that she, too, hoped she wouldn't become like that; in fact she promised to try very hard not to be a typical teen. I assured her that I'd love her anyway, and that I'd wait patiently until her 20s, when the lost part of her brain came back again.

Well, suffice it to say - I'm waiting now.

Those years are all gone. We live in a house full of people who look like adults and who can surprisingly act like adults at a moments notice; but who also can act like toddlers, deranged psychotics, or angels of death - sometimes all at the same time, which is quite a feat, if you ask me.

I try not to take it personally. I did tell one of them recently (I won't say who) that even if she hates me, she is required to pretend that she likes me - it's the law. I don't think she bought it, but she shaped up momentarily.

With these teen years come changes in Halloween festivities. We've always loved Halloween. It's the one time of the year that all our neighbors are out, kids can run around pretty much unattended, and everyone is buzzing with excitement for the holidays. Of course, the candy-high and subsequent sugar-hangover is also part of the deal.

Each year, since before they could walk, we've taken our kids trick-or-treating. In the early years, we took turns with neighbors; they took their kids out while we handed out candy, and then vice versa. When our son got into high school, he opted to have a party at our house, so he was able to hand out candy while my hubby and I took the girls around the block. Last year, our son even came back from college for another party, and our girls wanted to trick-or-treat... so still things were the same.

This year was totally different. Our son stayed at school and the girls weren't interested in trick-or-treating. One daughter had a party invitation, but we made her stay home because she's going to another party tonight. You know, family time trumps all, whether or not the kids like it.

We set up our fire out front and we greeted the little goblins of the neighborhood, but somehow it wasn't the same. Only one of our daughters dressed up in a costume. We had only about half the trick-or-treaters we normally have. Most of our neighbors were off at parties or away for the weekend. By 8:00 it was all over and we went inside - still with candy left-over, which is rare.

And yes, today I have the head-pounding sugar hangover. But at least winter is almost here. Frigid cold, darkness and color deprivation. THAT is something to look forward to.

I think I'll go back to bed now.

Thank God Halloween only comes once a year.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

30 October 2008

Oh yeah, Halloween

Ok, so I totally forgot that tomorrow is Halloween. It completely sneaked up on me this year. I don't know how it happened. I've been out and seen all the paraphernalia in stores. My friend, Tina, mentioned something to me just yesterday about Halloween parties this weekend. My kids have talked about costumes and such. But I still didn't get it.

Today I was picking up groceries, saw a big bin with bags of Halloween candy, and I thought for a moment. And yes, it hit me. It's tomorrow. What the heck? Where has fall gone?

You see, to me, Halloween is sort of the culmination of fall. I don't care that the calendar says fall goes until late December. In my mind (and by the looks of the leaf-dropping trees near our home) fall ends when the leaves hit the ground. After that, it's winter until the forsythias bloom, which is usually sometime in April. That means, sports fans, that by my calendar, we have nearly 6 months of winter here in Maine.

Disagree if you like, but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

27 October 2008

Not your typical autumn-in-Maine activity...

Just before I left California last week, my dad told me he wanted to give something to me to bring back to Maine. He went outside with a bag and came back a short time later with a bunch of lemons. From the lemon tree. In his front yard.

He told me they don't know what to do with all the lemons, because they are so plentiful. Can you imagine having a problem like that? I packed the bag of lemons into my suitcase, hoping that I wouldn't find my clothes soaked in lemonade upon my return.

The lemons traveled just fine, and today my daughter and I made lemonade. I have never actually made lemonade from lemons, though I've used the analogy countless times, especially when complaining about the winter weather in Maine.

Today at our house, the mid-day temperature was 66 and it was sunny and bright. That, along with the lemonade, allows me to pretend for just a bit longer that winter really will never come. After all, it doesn't come to the southern California coast. And if they tell you it does, don't believe them. I've been there and I know.

And Connie, you can tell Bob that using a heated mattress in THAT weather is just... well, it's sick and wrong. :)

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

25 October 2008

Coast to Coast

I spent the past week in Southern California, basking in the sun, seeing old friends, and having a last hurrah before hunkering down for another Maine winter.

Ok, sure, winter isn't here yet, but it was 25 degrees at my house this morning and the flowers are all now dead. In fact, the window boxes and hanging plants look like something from a horror movie, with gooey black stems, hanging limp over the sides. Somehow my husband and kids didn't notice them while I was gone. Heck, I might as well leave them out for Halloween.

I had dinner with my friends, Connie and Bob, while in California. They live one block from the beach. ONE BLOCK. We walked outside, crossed a street, and we were there. It was in the upper 60s after dark, and they mentioned that it was a little chilly. I had to laugh. Then I told them stories about how we have to shovel paths to our firewood after each storm, and how we have to start a new fire in the wood stove each morning. Bob was aghast and wondered how people survive here. We talked about all this while looking out their opened doors at bougainvilleas and countless other flowers.

Ok, so the ugly truth is, I really didn't want to come home.

I flew first to Washington, D.C. to catch my flight to Portland. As I was looking for the gate, I first saw the people. Mainers. I knew that had to be my gate and I was right.

I won't try to explain how I knew. The fact that everyone was carrying a jacket and that most of the men had beards MIGHT have had something to do with it, but either way, I knew I was going home.

And I'm very glad to be back. Sure, I'd trade 25 degrees and dead leaves for 60s and palm trees, but this is still home and I love it here.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

16 October 2008

Eagles vs. Patriots... or NOT

So yesterday I was half-listening to the radio while making dinner. The DJ was saying something about a contest, and how the winner would win a trip to Florida to see the Eagles, live.

I thought, what? We are in New England, not Philadelphia. Why would anyone want to win a trip to go see the Eagles? Or… are the Patriots supposed to play the Eagles that weekend?

And then I listened more closely and heard “Hotel California” playing in the background. Yeah, they meant THE EAGLES, of musical fame.

Sheesh, I think I’ve been watching too much football.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

15 October 2008

Not Something You'd Want to do in Maine

Ouch.

Ok, so apparently the lobsters out West don't have claws? What kind of lobsters are those, anyway? Either way, putting them down one's pants doesn't sound like a good idea.

READ ABOUT IT HERE...

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

14 October 2008

Hunting Season in Maine

I just learned more than I ever wanted to know at the Maine Government Website about the dates of hunting season in Maine.

I am very much NOT a part of the hunting sub-culture of Maine. Not because I have anything against it, but because no one in my family hunts, and to me, when the leaves fall, it is not the season to creep through the cold, wet woods waiting for elusive game.

No, to me, hunting season means brisk walks on the outskirts of the woods (wearing a lot of bright orange, mind you) and staying indoors with the comfort foods baking and the tea kettle simmering.

As I was surfing the net tonight, aimlessly wondering and going no place in particular, I came across This Blog, reminding Mainers to wear orange whenever they spend time outdoors. Because, let's face it - no place is safe.

We live in a rather busy neighborhood, but it is not an uncommon sight to see teens or their dads walking down our road with a rifle (or some sort of long gun - whatever they're called) in hand.

When we first moved here from Southern California, these sights freaked me out to say the least. After coming from a place where guns were small, where they were primarily toted by gangs and weirdos, and they were used for shooting people, not animals, it was unsettling. Walking through a woodland path with my three young children and hearing gun shots in the distance was heart-attack worthy, orange clothing or not.

In fact, one time, our german shepherd, dressed in a bright orange doggy-vest, ran off into the woods chasing a deer. I envisioned a cold, stiff hunter who had been sitting in his tree-house since before dawn, just waiting to shoot something - anything. After a few panicked screams on my part, the dog came running back... and the neighbors were all alerted that someone from "away" had moved into the neighborhood.

But I digress. If you do venture out into the woods, or the countryside, or the neighborhoods, or heck, downtown Portland this fall, put on your bright orange. Better safe than sorry.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

13 October 2008

What Part of Fall are You?

Ok, this shows desperation. I sit down to write, and if there are no new photos in my camera, I have no idea what to say.

I found this on a friend's blog - and it's not too much of a time killer. I thought it was amazingly accurate, too.

If you take the quiz, let me know, and let me know how it turned out for you.




You Are Apple Cider



Smooth and comforting. But downright nasty when cold.



Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

12 October 2008

More Maine Foliage / Fall Work Day

This weekend was the reason people come to Maine in the fall. Along the coast and in southern Maine, fall foliage was still at its peak, and the weather seemed to be special ordered.

On Friday, our daughter had a cross country meet in Farmington and we were surprised to find quite a bit of foliage still very colorful in that area. The aforementioned weather was cooperative...



... but the views on the drive back home were what really stole the show...




On Saturday, we had our first fall work day - and finally got our chimney cleaned. It will be nice to start a fire in the woodstove now that the temps are in the 30s at night. But even while working, we couldn't help but notice the amazing colors...










If you weren't able to make it to Maine this fall for the foliage show, plan your calendar for next year. Columbus day weekend is usually a safe bet.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

06 October 2008

The Maine Coast

Yesterday afternoon, we took a sunny drive through a few of the coastal islands...









This last photo is of a gift shop at the very end of Bailey Island. It is aptly named "Land's End," as the land abruptly ends at the edge of the Atlantic. I highly recommend a trip there on a sunny day. Or a cloudy day. Or pretty much any day. The views are spectactular.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes