28 February 2008

You may notice ~

I changed the name of this blog.

Three years ago when I started it, I called it "The Way Life Should Be," because it was just going to be about the state of Maine... and we all know that Maine IS the way life should be.

Yet, this blog has become more about just MY life in Maine, and I am not under any illusions that MY life is the way life should be. At all.

Thus the name change. Nothing else is different - same URL, and all that.

:)

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

Leaving Maine…

And then coming back again – of course.

In many ways, Maine is like its own little pristine island with very little crime, nice people, light traffic, clean air and water, beautiful scenery, etc. Don’t get me wrong, New Hampshire is lovely as well, but there’s something about actually crossing the Maine border, leaving, and then coming back again that makes me smile.

Yesterday, we drove to Boston for an appointment, and we experienced all there is about Boston that makes it, well, Boston. I love the city and its people, but let me just say one thing about them – when they get behind the wheel of a car, many of them cease to be nice people any longer. And I’m not one of those Maine drivers who goes 50 miles per hour on the interstate or can’t handle heavy traffic. I lived in Southern California and drove THOSE highways, for goodness sake. Still, the Boston drivers scare me.

I won’t go on about the traffic, or the noise, or the plethora of billboards along the roadways… I’ll just say that I LOVE driving back across the big bridge that brings us back into Maine. Back home. I LOVE the big blue sign that says “Welcome to Maine - The Way Life Should Be.”

I also love (weird as this was) that yesterday, when we came across the bridge, it was snowing in Maine. There was not a flake to be seen all the way up through Massachusetts and New Hampshire, but as soon as we came off the bridge, there they were; and it got worse as we went north. By the time we got home, it was nearly a whiteout.

And one last thought, quite unrelated to the rest. A little side-benefit of homeschooling is that I’ve had a big influence on the music my kids listen to. They’ve all gone their own way, as far as likes and dislikes, but believe me, as they grew, they listened to MY music.

Anyway, one of my daughters loves the rock and roll that I grew up with, so yesterday, she plugged her ipod into our car radio and all the way from Maine to Boston, and back again, we listened to Journey, Van Halen, Foreigner, and of course – Boston.

Now I can’t get “Rock and Roll Band” out of my head, but it’s not such a bad thing to be humming along to, don’t you think?

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

27 February 2008

Snow Blower is Under the Weather

No pun intended.

Well, maybe a little.

Our snow blower finally went kaput today.

Actually, I’m not sure if it’s kaput. We need to have it looked at by someone who actually knows a thing or two about snow blowers.

All I know is, my hubby was out of the area, and I had to plow the driveway this morning before driving to Boston for an appointment that couldn’t be missed. I made one side-walk sized path down the middle of the driveway, and a couple of sweeps through the chunky ice-wall at the end of the driveway (left by our beloved town snowplow) and then the darned snow blower quit working.

One of our daughters helped me shovel out enough of the ice wall to get our car through. Thankfully, the 6 inches we got on the rest of the driveway were pretty much flattened by the rain, and the car went right through that part without a problem.

From afar, my darling hubby phoned and made arrangements for someone to come plow the remainder of the driveway while I was gone. Yep – he’s a keeper. My hubby – not the plow guy… well, then again, I DID tell my husband on the phone that I wished the plow guy could come live with us. But only if he brought his plow.

So this evening when I got home, the driveway had been cleared, but of course there's now a fresh coating of snow from whatever is falling out of the sky tonight.

I’m not going to think about it.

Nor will I think about the cold temperatures that are forecasted for tomorrow through the weekend. Single digits? Don’t they know our firewood situation?

On a different note, I noticed today that I’d written a reminder on my calendar for this Saturday. It's a reminder to buy (and plant) tomato seeds, so we can start our little seedlings for the summer tomato harvest. We plan to do this every year, but it’s hard to get jazzed about gardening when the garden is covered with 3+ feet of snow. In reality, we often don’t get around to planting the seeds until late April. Maybe this year we’ll actually do it on time.

But probably not.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

26 February 2008

Down it Falls...

More snow has arrived on the scene.



And snowy evenings such as this present a good opportunity to bake sourdough bread.

Here is a tried and true recipe that I actually got from my friend, Barb, over at My Sister's Kitchen. I make mine a bit smaller than Barb's, however. If you want a slightly smaller loaf than she describes, use her directions, to the letter, but use the following amounts of ingredients:

2/3 cups sourdough starter
1/3 teaspoon yeast
2 Tablespoons salt (this I didn't change)
1/3 teaspoon sugar
4 cups bread flour
2 cups lukewarm water
And I bake it for 20 min. covered and then 10-15 uncovered.
Other than that, do it her way. :)



As you'll deduce from reading her directions, this was actually started LAST NIGHT. It's an easy process which takes very little effort, but many hours are involved for rising, sitting, rising again, etc. You'll see. But it's well worth the time.

Bon Appetit!

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

Running out of Firewood

Something is happening this year that has only happened to us one other time in all the years we’ve lived in Maine. We’re about to run out of firewood.

Each spring we buy about 3 cords of firewood and have it delivered to our home. It sits all summer in a big pile on the side of our garage, waiting to be stacked neatly under the trees next to the house.

Chipmunks and very large spiders make their homes in that initial pile, because we take so long to get it stacked. My husband says it’s because we’re leaving it out in the summer sun so it can dry out and become properly seasoned. But the reality is that none of us likes to stack wood, especially among spiders, black flies, and summer humidity.

By the time school starts and the weather is right for stacking wood, we’re too busy with studies, soccer, and whatever else it is we do. Besides, by then, all the grass around the area has grown up around the pile, and nobody wants to hack through it to get to the wood. Just imagine the spiders!

Somehow we always get it stacked before the first snow, and then we start the process of UN-stacking it and bringing it first into the garage, and then into the house. We keep a large stack along one wall in the garage, and a smaller amount in a bin in the basement, next to the wood stove.

Last spring, we had wood leftover from the winter – more than half a cord – so we decided not to order as much. We were pretty smug about the fact that we used wood to heat our home, thus saving money; and then we had wood left over and didn’t have to buy as much, thus saving MORE money.

Now the joke’s on us. We probably have half a cord of wood left and it’s not even March yet. We have a rule in our home that we always keep about a half a cord aside for emergencies, in case there’s an ice storm or some other cause for a power outage on a grand scale. Now, in the last week of February, we’ve reached that last half a cord. Here’s a yucky photo of the wood we have left (covered by a tarp) – and if you look closely, you’ll see our little brown dog running by at just the right time.



Today I had my kids bring in a few more armloads for the snow tonight (I like to have it in the house in case we lose power overnight). And after we use that, we’re back to using the oil that costs a pretty penny and doesn’t heat the home nearly as well. Don’t these lovely teen-agers look happy? (Don’t be fooled – you’ll see the truth in a minute).



It isn’t like we’re going to freeze or not have heat, it’s just that now it’s going to cost more. In fact, it’s going to cost more now, in the form of oil, and again in the spring when we buy even more firewood than we really need for next winter. I suppose if we get really cold, I can break up those chairs I bought yesterday and use THEM for firewood. :)

Oh well, such is life amidst the seasons in Maine.

Oh, and here is the first picture, before I forced them to smile…



See the snow falling all around them? I ask you - how could that NOT be fun?

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

25 February 2008

More Unexpected Treasures

The dump was closed today, so no treasures from there, but along the same sentiment, I did find a couple of great deals.

First, let me back up and say that I love how Mainers are so frugal and industrious. With four such clearly-cut seasons which must be dealt with as they arrive (no putting things off), there is very little waste in Maine – as in time and resources.

Salvation Army stores, Good Will Industries stores, and various other thrift stores often dot the main streets of even the smallest towns. Plus, for nine months out of the year, there are usually enough garage sales around the area to keep us all busy – and to satisfy our frugality. And don't even get me started on flea markets and Big Al's.

Why buy brand new, expensive items when all these thrifty opportunities abound in Maine? And taken a step further, why buy at all when you can just rummage through the local dump?

Of course, it being February, I’m not aware of any garage sales going on now, and like I said, the dump was closed today. Instead, my stops were at a Salvation Army store and Big Lots. Ok, Big Lots doesn’t exactly qualify for the thrift store/dump/garage sale category, but most of you will agree, it’s not far off!

I’m redecorating on a shoestring budget and I found this framed painting at Big Lots and the chair at the Salvation Army store. Actually I got two identical chairs. The painting looked lame with clear, reflective glass in the frame, so I took that out and now it looks almost elegant. I mean, it truly would, if you didn’t know where I bought it, now wouldn’t it? The chair will ultimately be painted, but for now, it’s quite charming.



The chairs were less than $20 and the painting was $10. How’s that for Maine frugality?

On a completely unrelated note, but infinitely more newsworthy, it’s supposed to snow again tomorrow. Gee, there’s a surprise.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

24 February 2008

The Dump - Revisited

Well, we made it to the dump yesterday. Ok, the reality is that I helped bag everything up and get it ready, and then my sweet husband made the trip without me. When he returned home, I was hoping for an interesting anecdote, or better yet, some interesting object that was left at the dump, but he came home empty-handed on both counts.

A few years ago, I wrote THIS POST about our town dump.

At the time, we were intrigued about the foosball table we’d found (and still have, I might add). Over the years, we’ve found many more treasures at the dump. After all, you know what they say about one man’s trash…

A couple of years ago, our son came home from the dump with a large TV that worked beautifully. After a few months, the sound started going in and out, so he returned it to the dump and came home with yet another, larger one. This one had no sound at all, but when we hooked it up to our old stereo speakers, it worked perfectly. Plus, we suddenly had built-in “surround sound.”

(Ok, my son and my husband say that this set-up does NOT qualify as surround sound, but what do I know? When I sit in our living room, I am surrounded by sound, so the name works for me.)

But back to the story. Last summer, my husband bought a 1995 pick-up truck from a friend. One of the knobs on the stereo was missing, and he kept meaning to get a new one, but just never got around to it. Then just a week ago, he found a whole stereo that was specifically made for the make, model and year of his particular truck. And yes, it was found at the dump.

I’ve also gotten a kick out of some of the things people have taken that we’ve left at the dump. A couple of times I’ve had to make two or three trips in one day, during fall leaf season or spring clean-up. Once we took a set of old, rusted and (I thought) disgusting lawn chairs and threw them into the metal bin. When we came back later with more things, the whole set was gone. Kudos to someone for making use of them.

So how about you? What have you left at the dump that might have ended up in the hands of some lucky owner? Or better yet, what have you brought home that went from being trash to treasure in only a moment’s time? I’d love to hear your story.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

23 February 2008

Wintertime Procrastination

We have to make a trip to the dump today.

I find it very easy to procrastinate when thinking about a trip to the dump during the winter months. It is cold and it’s no fun to bag up all the trash and recyclables and load them into the snowy bed of our pick-up truck with frigid winds whipping across our faces. It’s also easy to leave all the garbage sealed up in the garbage cans in our garage in winter. It’s all frozen and we don’t even notice it’s there.

In the summer months, I’m spurred on to go to the dump at least once a week, sometimes more, depending on the temperatures and what exactly is in our trash. I do not want garbage odors wafting through our garage, greeting us whenever we go outside, or when we come home.

But summer is a long way off.

Today, there’s a 3-inch layer of fresh snow on the ground and I’m watching out the window as gusts of wind furiously blow all the snow off the trees. The sun is out but it’s so cold. SO cold.

I really should go rally the troops and start getting everything bagged up.

Or maybe I could sit here for just a little while longer. Would a few more days make a difference? I really can’t smell anything at all…

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

21 February 2008

Photo Shoot Along I-295

Today our family had to spend a good part of the day running errands around the greater Portland area. The temperature was in the low 20s but there was only a slight breeze. The sun was shining brighter than it has all winter (well, it seemed so, anyway) and there wasn't a cloud to be found in the sky. In fact, when we went into the Maine Mall food court for lunch, we didn't even take our coats.

These photos aren't thrilling, but they are indicative of the amazingly blue sky and blue water surrounding Portland (which, at this time of the year, is usually a dull grey). Also, some pretty neat frozen falls coming off the rocks along the side of the highway. I actually snapped these while we were driving up I-295 this afternoon (don't worry, my son was driving). :)















Ok, this last one is just some birds in a tree in our yard, but I thought it was a cool picture. Still counts because it WAS the same day.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

Lunar Eclipse

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(Disclaimer - I did not take this photograph - one of the few times I did not have my camera with me)


Yesterday around sunset, we were fortunate enough to be out and about when the full moon came up. Normally, we're home at that time of the evening, and our house is so surrounded by tall trees, that we can't even see the moon until it is high in the sky.

I had heard that there was to be a lunar eclipse last night, but as we drove along, marveling at the moon in the amazingly clear sky, I completely forgot.

We had a church activity last night, and when it was over, we all sat around chatting. It was after 9:00 p.m., and suddenly someone remembered the eclipse. We all ran outside in the frigid teen temperatures, and there it was. The moon was already more than halfway covered by the shadow of the earth.

We hopped in the car to drive home and peeked up at the moon every so often. Each time we looked, the brightness had grown smaller and smaller. By the time we got home, it was nearly gone.

When we went inside and realized the dog hadn't been fed, the fire had gone out, and there was work to be done before bed, the eclipse was forgotten and I missed my photo opportunity.

If any of you have photos to share, please let me know ~ I'd love to see them!

Have a good, sunny, frigid day. :)

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

20 February 2008

Wacky Weather

Yesterday morning I posted photos of the amazingly clear morning and beautiful sunrise we had.

By early afternoon, this is what it looked like outside our door:



Then, later in the evening, the sky was clear again and we saw this:



It keeps us on our toes, I guess. :)

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

19 February 2008

Sunrise

This was less than an hour before sunrise at our house this morning...



And this was about a half hour after...



What a difference a day makes.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

18 February 2008

Making Lemonade

They say that when life throws you lemons, that’s what you should do. Actually, at this time of the winter, I’d love it if somebody threw a bag of lemons my way. Oranges and grapefruits, too! But I digress…

Like most of you here in Maine, we awakened this President’s Day to a wet, mucky, dreary mess outside our window. The fog was so thick, we could hardly see the tops of the trees. The rain was coming down and splashing against the ice below our back step, making a sort of small, but deep, pond. The windows were all spattered with rain, so even if we did want to look out at the dreary sight, we couldn’t see anything anyway.

But then, when I drove out this morning, I found the lemonade - the silver lining amidst all the rain and fog. Our driveway, which had been covered by a thick, uneven sheet of ice just yesterday, was nearly clear. The warm temperatures and heavy rain that blew through overnight had washed most of it away. Well, actually most of it washed back down to the end of the driveway where the local snowplow usually leaves a similar mess – but I’m not complaining. Really!

On a different note, we went to a local middle-school basketball tournament today that is known as the Mid-Winter Classic. Hmmm. It’s February the 18th. If this is mid-winter, then we’ve got a LONG way to go.

Off to make lemonade…

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

16 February 2008

Ice Dams

This past Wednesday, during that storm that began as snow, moved into sleet, and ended as a major downpour of rain, we heard that awful sound that nobody wants to hear.

Drip, drip, drip.

There seemed to be a leak somewhere near our chimney, but most of the leaking was along the back of our house, due to an ice dam.

An ice dam is where the snow melts and then freezes again along the edge of a roof, causing a ridge of ice that prevents future melting snow from dripping off the roof. If you don’t stay on top of raking the roof, an ice dam can wreak havoc on a roof, not to mention the rest of the house.

Ice dams usually become apparent to us when we see big icicles hanging down from the roof. The worst ice dams are usually on the back of our house, which faces north and gets less sun. Here is what we’ve seen the past few days:



So today, being the sunny day it was, my hubby took that treacherous climb onto our snow-covered roof and hacked away at the ice dams. Here he is, hacking away... you can see how thick the ice is to his left:



And I couldn’t resist taking a video. This is early on, when he was just shoveling a space for himself to stand up there (he told me some of the drifts up there were three feet high). The worst part is the wind – you’ll see what I mean:





Tonight is another cold one in our neck of the woods. At least that means no more melting and dripping for a while. I GUESS that's a good thing, right? :P

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

15 February 2008

Conversation with my Son

I just got a phone call from my 20-year-old son who goes to college south of Portland. Although he insisted he needed his car while living in the dorm, he finds that he really doesn’t use it all that often.

But here is how our conversation went:

Him: “I hate it here.”

Me: “Where? In the dorms? At school in general? What do you mean?”

Him: “No, I just hate it here. In Maine.”

Me: “Oh…” (We’ve been through this before – he hates the cold.)

Him: “It’s cold and it won’t stop snowing. I had to dig out my car again and the snowplow left a two-foot wall along all the cars. Not only that, it was warm enough to melt a bit yesterday, so my tires sunk into the slush and then froze there. It took me 30 minutes to get my car dug out and now I’m going to be late for class.”

Me: “Oh, that’s a drag. Sorry to hear it.”

Him: “I don’t know why anyone would ever move here deliberately.”

Me: “Why are you driving to class?” (Just trying to be helpful.)

Him: “Because the dining hall is closing for winter break and after class I have to go buy food for the next few days before I come home!”

Me: “Why don’t you just come home after class today, stay here for the whole break, and we’ll give you food here?” (See, I’m a NICE mom.)

Him: “Because I want time alone. I have things to do.” (Read that, x-box tournaments.)

Me: “Oh, ok.”

Him: “I hate it here.”

Me: “Yeah, you said that.”

And on it went. I went easy on him and didn’t mention the fact that he CHOSE to stay in Maine for college because his girlfriend is here. I don’t suppose that would have been very helpful, would it?

I finally told him what I keep telling myself. Spring is just around the corner. Well, it isn’t really, but it sounds like a nice thing to say.

I don’t think he bought it.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

14 February 2008

Valentine's Day at our House

Buy at Art.comAs a little girl growing up on Disney movies such as Cinderella and Snow White, I used to look longingly at all the Valentine's Day treats at our local supermarket. It wasn’t that I wanted the candy (well, I did, but that’s another story)… I wanted the fairy tale. To me, receiving a heart-shaped box of candy from a boy was as good as going to Cinderella’s ball.

When I was 12-years-old, my dad brought home a red, heart-shaped candy box for my mom, and a yellow heart box for me. It was almost as good as getting one from Prince Charming. Almost.

When I was about 16, I had a boyfriend who gave me a Whitman’s box of candy for Valentine’s Day. Although Whitman’s has great candy, the yellow, rectangular shaped box was a total let-down. Needless to say, he was NOT my prince charming (though it really had nothing to do with the shape of the box).

By the time my husband and I got married, I'd pretty much gotten over the whole heart-shaped-box thing. My hubby loves holidays and gift giving, and from the get-go, he always brought me goodies on Valentine’s Day. They were usually off-beat gifts like a funky t-shirt or candles or some kind of unusual candy. He was Prince Charming for sure.

Several years into our marriage, I met a woman who was positively evil about Valentine’s Day. She told me that if she woke up on Valentine’s Day morning without breakfast in bed, not to mention candy, flowers, and diamonds, then her husband was in big trouble. I’m shocked (and you will be, too) to know that they are still married today. Whatever.

Over the years, I’ve been quite appalled at what consumer marketing has done to this sweet little holiday (not to mention the other holidays such as Easter, Halloween, and of course Christmas). I can honestly say that since Prince Charming and I have now spent many years together, I don’t need a special candy box or flowers, nor do I expect them. In fact, maybe it’s the practical Maine influence, but it seems to me the money could be better spent.

So yesterday, after the whole slush-shoveling fiasco, I spent the rest of the day indoors, working. That evening, I put on my comfortable clothes (read that: baggy sweat pants, giant fleece pullover, and too-big, bright green socks), washed off my make-up and replaced my contacts with my old, out-of-date glasses. Prince Charming was working late, so my daughters and I started watching “I Love Lucy” re-runs. Part way through this mini-vacation, I realized we had library books due. Plus, I had neglected to get the mail that day.

So I put on a pair of clogs over my green socks, donned my coat and got into the car. Halfway to the library, I suddenly realized that tomorrow was Valentine’s Day. Dang – how had I missed that? Although I scoff at the commercialism, I still like to get a little something for my kids and my hubby. The clock in my car read 8:30 and there was a Rite Aid nearby. I looked down at my lame outfit and hoped nobody I knew was in Rite Aid at that hour.

I bought my family what they like most at this time of the year – Cadbury Easter Eggs. Yeah, go figure. I put them in little red and white Valentine bags and was good to go.

Buy at Art.comAs I drove back into our ice-chunky driveway at home, I saw a big, long box leaning against the back door. A package had come sometime that day, but no one had seen it. I took it inside to find that Prince Charming himself had sent me a bouquet of spring flowers – lilies, tulips, the works. Not only that, once I brought them inside and they warmed up, the lilies all opened beautifully and completely brightened up our house.

Ah – a breath of spring in mid-February. Don't we all know it's just what we need at this time of the year in Maine?

Yep, that’s what I call a fairy tale ending. Not that I was exactly a Cinderella, but rather, one of her frumpy step-sisters. I'm just glad my Prince Charming doesn't see it that way. :)

Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

13 February 2008

The Things I Love about Shoveling Slush

Ok, I'm really, really trying to be positive here, so if I sound like a whiner, it's all in your imagination because I really LOVE to shovel slush. Love it, love it, love it.

A few things I love about it...

I love the way it tweaks your back as you bend over to lift the shovel.

I love how the concrete-like material conveniently sticks to the shovel when you try to throw the slush over the 10 foot wall of snow along your driveway.

I love how the only way to get it back off the shovel is to slam the shovel against the driveway, so it all just goes back where it was in the first place.

I love how the 9-year-old snowblower moans and threatens to die on the spot as it chunks up the slush and spits it right back down to it's original resting place.

I love how it can be only 26 degrees and pouring down rain.

I love how I can dress for snow with multiple layers, and come in to find that every single layer is drenched. We're talking MULTIPLE layers. ALL drenched. I'll spare you the details on that one.

I especially love how the town snowplow driver, who so diligently plows our road, aims for the end of our driveway when looking for a place to leave all the slush gathered up from the rest of the town.

I love how the electric company is going to send me a warning notice because the path to our meter has not been cleared. Understand that I left that portion until last, when the slush had at last turned to concrete and my back was screaming for mercy. By this time, the snowblower was leaking something weird and threatening to self-destruct on the spot.

Maybe this means we'll have free electricity until the snow melts?

Somehow I doubt that.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

ANOTHER Snow Day

Well, we got about 9 more inches of snow last night, and now it's turning to freezing rain.

I'm heading out now to start up the snowblower and remove some of the fluffy white stuff before it becomes icky slush or hard as a rock.

Funny how my memories of snow days as a kid never involved plowing, shoveling, or worrying about what exactly it was that was coming out of the sky. A snow day meant no school, no work, and all fun, plain and simple.

Some days I just want to be a kid again.

Not complaining, just sayin'...

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

09 February 2008

Two Birds with One Stone

In an effort to pinch pennies and save on the skyrocketing price of oil, we primarily use wood to heat our home. Not only is it cheaper, but it also heats the house more efficiently than our monitor heater.

The great thing is that the clothes lines in our basement are right next to the wood stove, so we don't have to use our dryer either.

In fact, the wood stove dries things more quickly than our old dryer. Cheaper and works better - a no-brainer, dontcha think?

And just for a little visualization, here are some pics of this little object lesson, and of our lovely basement...





Now that's all I'm going to let you see. The rest of the basement is totally scary.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

08 February 2008

More Snow

After that lovely little snowstorm yesterday, I mistakenly looked out the window this morning expecting to see sunshine. I faintly remember seeing sunshine yesterday, just as the snow ended. But it must have been a hallucination, because the snow didn't really end, did it?

When I looked out this morning, it was snowing - again - or still. One or the other. All I know is that the driveway was covered again. I did what I always do on such days: went straight to my computer to look at pictures of palm trees.

Not really.

Anyway, I got to work and then noticed, several hours later, that it was still snowing. Harder.

Tonight, well after dark, it was still snowing. Now, after 10 p.m., it's stopped, but the powers that be (read that, weather.com) tell me that we're supposed to get more snow tomorrow, and even more tomorrow night and Sunday.

Basically they're saying that it will just continue to snow until the end of time.

Or at least through the weekend. Same difference, right?

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

07 February 2008

Our Neighbors

We have some great neighbors in our corner of Maine. They are the perfect balance of always being there if we need each other, but pretty much leaving each other alone the rest of the time. For me, anyway, that's what constitutes the perfect neighbor, and I LOVE all of mine.

Today, our next door neighbor did something for us that, for him, wasn't a big deal (though it ought to have been), but for me, it was HUGE. Let me explain.

We all know about the snow we got last night. It wasn't a big storm, but it was big enough that we couldn't avoid using the shovels and plows. Even though we homeschool, I gave my kids a snow-day today and we huddled in our basement to watch movies and play on the computer. Finally around mid-afternoon, I figured it was time for me to rejoin the living and go plow out our driveway before hubby got home.

I trudged upstairs, put my boots on, and glanced out the front window. There was our neighbor plowing our driveway. He was already half finished and I hadn't even heard him out there. I ran out to thank him and tell him all the reasons why he shouldn't be doing that for us, while at the same time, trying to express how utterly, entirely thankful I was.

But there's more. This same neighbor, who is not yet 40, just finished a hefty treatment of chemo for Leukemia - just 5 weeks ago. His hair still hasn't even grown back in. Yeah - and he was plowing MY driveway.

You'd have to know this guy. He lives to be outside. He has enough energy for 3 or 4 people and being laid up in the hospital for all those weeks was hell on earth for him. It turns out he has to go back to the hospital tomorrow for another week-long run of the chemo, even though he's in remission. Preventative measures and all that.

So, he told me that this was probably the last day he'd get to spend out in the snow for a while. Even after he gets home next week, he won't feel much like plowing driveways or riding his snowmobile for a while. He asked me to please let him finish our driveway. He told me he was enjoying it and needed to do it. What could I say?

Later today, after he finished our driveway, I saw him speeding up and down our quiet street on his snowmobile, probably scaring all the old ladies and angering the young moms. But I cheered him on. Tomorrow he'll be quiet and rest and take his medicine like a good patient. Today he's doing good and having fun.

Boy, I love my neighbors. But now I'm wondering how evil the rest of them must think I am for letting the one neighbor who's recovering from cancer plow my driveway. Thankfully, they won't ever say. They're great like that. :)

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

06 February 2008

Snow? Oh THERE it is...

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Yesterday, if you remember, snow was in the forecast. Not just rain, but snow, with a bit of rain mixed in. You know, a wintry mix, with mostly snow. Let's just call it what it is - slush.

I also remember them saying that the temps might be up in the 40s over the next few days. Maybe they really said that or maybe it was wishful thinking on my part. I have no idea. All I know is that they changed it when I wasn't looking.

I watched the slush come down yesterday and it was definitely more rain than snow. I thought about breaking out a shovel, or even the snowblower, but the three inches we got were so wet and slushy, that I figured it would just melt and things would dry out over the next few days.

Of course, you know by now that I hadn't been watching the forecast. Late last night the weather guy on TV told me that we were going to get 4-8 inches of snow today. What???

This morning at first light, in a panic, I went outside and tried to deal with the slush. Let me tell you, a snowblower is utterly useless with slush, so I left it in the garage. I started at the end of our driveway where the town snowplow had piled all our neighbors' slush. Not really, but sometimes it seems that way. Thankfully the temperatures hadn't gotten below freezing overnight, so I was able to move the slush, but not without some effort.

It was like shoveling frozen jello. The concept of three steps forward, two steps back, came to mind. After about 30 minutes of that, I had the bottom of the driveway done. Rain was coming down steadily, so I shouldered my shovel and went back into the house to pout. I prayed that God would use the rain to wash away the slush.

We got on with our day, left the house, and came back late this afternoon. Apparently, God must think I need a bit of character-building, because the slush was still there. But where the heck was the snow? I'd secretly planned my day (and evening) around this big snowstorm we were supposed to have. Evening meetings and church services were being cancelled all over the area, but nothing was coming out of the sky. Even the rain had stopped.

My husband commented that the best way to stop as storm is to cancel everything.

But wait a minute. It just started snowing here at our house. Ok, THERE it is. Maybe it will cover up the slush and then I can pretend it was never there.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

02 February 2008

Ground Hog Day

Well, most of you have probably heard by now that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, and now, thanks to that very scientific method, we know we'll have six more weeks of winter.

Gee, from that thick layer of ice I'm seeing outside my window, I never would've guessed!

Here's hoping for a little more snow and a little more sunshine. I think we can all do without the ice and freezing rain.

Stay safe, friends.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes