29 March 2008

By the way...

The daffodils and tulips are popping up all over Rhode Island.

Maine can't be too far behind.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

Weekend Away

Yesterday I drove to Rhode Island to visit family for the weekend.

When I heard the night before that 5-10 inches of snow was forecasted along the Maine coast, I suggested to hubby that perhaps we should trade cars for a couple of days. It seemed that I should take the gas-guzzling, hard to drive, stick shift, 4-wheel drive pick-up truck rather than the more economical, more comfortable, easier to drive, automatic transmission, mini-van.

The problem was, we had this conversation late at night and we never really decided who would drive which car. Then we overslept yesterday morning. When we awakened late (in a panic - you know how it is) and saw heavy snow falling, hubby took off for work in the mini-van.

I wasn't thrilled to drive the big truck, what with gas prices and a 200+ mile drive; and besides, the snow wasn't even sticking to the roads - just the trees.

As I was packing my things and getting ready to leave, I realized I'd left a key necessity in the van - my sunglasses. a gal can't drive to the South without shades (even if the "South" is only southern New England).

I phoned to let hubby know I was going to swing by his place of work and swap vehicles with him (why get just the sunglasses when I can get the whole mini-van?) I then roused the troops and we tromped out through the snow to the truck. It was then that I realized I didn't have keys.

After going back in, checking all the usual and UNusual places, I phoned hubby YET AGAIN to see if he had seen my keys. Seems he had. Seems they were right there with him - in his pocket.

Of course! The one place I hadn't looked.

After he made a trip home to swap keys, swap cars, and give us all a quick kiss, I finally did get on the road and the snow really wasn't a problem at all. In fact, by the time I reached Boston, I saw nary a flake; there wasn't even snow on the ground. At all. It looked so... foreign.

Now I'm sitting in a quiet, 100-year-old house on the Rhode Island coast. I'm surrounded by antiques, old books, and cats (not to mention cable TV, which we don't have at home).

Although Maine is a peaceful place to live, it's nice to get away from home every so often. But not too far. Southern New England is about as far away from Maine that I care to venture. That way, we can get back to 'the way life should be' in a matter of hours.

Ok - back to my mini-vacation. But before I go, let me just say... I always forget how narrow the streets are here. I'm SO glad I didn't bring the truck.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

28 March 2008

This Morning at Our House

You thought it was spring, didn't you?

You thought a couple of days with temps in the upper 40s and low 50s meant that the good times were finally upon us.

You were wrong.

THIS is springtime in Maine.





What were you thinking?

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

27 March 2008

Swimming with the Fish

If you haven't seen this, it's pretty cool. A new aquarium exhibit at L.L. Bean in Freeport.

Just crawl under the dome, and there you are.



Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

26 March 2008

As of 4:30 p.m...

It is 51 degrees at our house.

I just turned off the heat for the first time in ... a long time.

Life is good. :)

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

Wordless Wednesday

Same girl, same cat, same chair.



Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

25 March 2008

A Day at Pemaquid Lighthouse

Well, I missed a day of doing the NaBloPoMo list thing. We were out until late last night and then when we got home, the internet had gone out (not an uncommon thing here).

I didn't want to wait up for it to come back on. I think missing one day means I'm disqualified... from what, I'm not sure. Oh well, the way I look at it, I'm off the hook.

Having said that, we had a great day yesterday. It was my dad's last day in Maine, so we wanted to make it special. With the sun shining brightly, we set out for Pemaquid Lighthouse. Although it is my favorite lighthouse in Maine, somehow, we had never taken my dad there.



The wind was surprisingly light for the seashore, and the temperature was right around freezing. We dressed warmly and had the entire place to ourselves. And no, nothing was open, but we had some phenomenal kodak moments...







We were very careful as we climbed around on the rocks - thanks to the dire warning... (besides, after the Bradbury Mountain fiasco on Easter morning, we weren't taking any chances!)







Some of the shots we took had so special significance, other than the fact that the sky was just SO blue.





If you've never been to the Maine coast, Pemaquid is certainly a good place to start. And going in the winter (ok, spring, but it still feels like winter) is the definitely the time to go. We got the best parking spot in the lot and when we took photos, we didn't have to wait for anyone to get out of the way. :)

Upon driving back up through Damariscotta, we passed this sight. It brought to mind the children's saying, "Here is the church, here is the steeple..."



We then drove to Sarah's in Wiscasset, for lunch (one of my favorite places). After feasting on a slew of Lobster Rolls and Greek Salads, we browsed some of the shops in Wiscasset.



As we drove home last night, the sun was just setting. We don't always have memorable sunsets here in Maine, but when we do, I just want to stop and soak in the moment. Last night was one of those times.



This morning, we put my dad on a westbound plane and we are all quite sad. It's hard to have family so far away. So until he comes again, I have some great pics of my dad having a blast on the Maine coast.



Have a good week, friends.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

23 March 2008

Easter at Our House in Maine

Nearly every year, we plan to go to a Easter sunrise service; and nearly every year, our plans our foiled by the weather, by someone being ill, or just by sheer laziness.

Not this year.

Several of our family members awakened before 5:00 this morning to dress warmly (17 degrees) and make the drive to Bradbury Mountain State Park. Upon arriving, we parked our car and began the 1/4-mile walk to the top of the small mountain.

In past years (and on countless summer and fall days) we’ve made this hike up Bradbury Mountain. There are several trails from which to choose. Our favorite is about a mile long, and it winds around the mountain before leading hikers to the top. On dark Easter mornings, however, most of the crowd takes the much faster 1/4-mile trail. This shorter trail is steeper, often like stair steps, especially near the top.

When we started through the small field that led us toward the trail, we commented on the snow pack. We were thankful that we were walking on top of the snow, rather than sinking into it. Somehow, it didn’t occur to any of us that the steep trail UP the mountain would have snow on it as well. As I mentioned before, we are fair-weather sunrise service attendees, so we’d never done this in the snow.



My dad, who is well into his sixties and from southern California, had on some type of tough tennis shoes. They were fine for walking and maybe even for a light hike. But not for a hike on ice. Yes, we soon found that the problem with the trail was not the snow pack, but rather, the ice.

I might add here that my dad runs 3 miles a day, but that’s in sunny, 60-degree, California weather. Year round. This morning in Maine, I thought Bradbury Mountain might be the end of him. He fell twice before we were even halfway up. I told him we’d go back down and attend the service at the bottom of the mountain (yes, they have two – one at the top and one at the bottom). But he insisted that we keep going.

So we did. He fell again, but kept moving to the outside of the trail into the deep snow, which was a bit easier. Here he is hiking the deep snow. And no, that isn't a wolf - it's someone's dog and it WAS on a leash.



We finally made it to the top, all in one piece. And we were so thankful we did. It was one of the most beautiful and peaceful sights any of us had witnessed. The face of Bradbury Mountain is a big, flat rock. For the Easter sunrise service, hearty souls who made the hike sit or stand on the rock while a local pastor leads them in song and in a short message celebrating the Resurrection of Christ.

As the service began, the sky in the east was glowing pink. In the west, the full moon was just beginning to sink behind the trees.





As the pastor spoke, the sun peeked over the horizon, much to the delight of all who were there.



After the service, we took a few family pics and then began the treacherous trek back down the mountain.



We were afraid that our jokes about getting down the mountain a lot more quickly might be a bit too close to the truth, so we ventured off the trail into the deep snow and made our way slowly.



At one point, my dad found a patch of dry ground. As he happily walked through the dead leaves, he commented about how well he was doing. As the words were coming out of his mouth, he hit a tiny, invisible patch of ice and went down again. But he kept smiling and wouldn’t let it get him down – figuratively, anyway. (He even let me take his picture!)



We made it back to the car in one piece...



... and then drove the short distance to the adorable little church in Pownal for coffee and donuts.



When we finally headed home to get ready for our regular church service, we felt we had put in a full day – a wonderful day. And it was only 7:30 a.m.

The rest of the day went like this:

1. Put dinner on to cook.
2. Drove to church for Easter service.
3. Drove back home for Easter dinner.
4. Ate way too much.
5. Took a long nap.
6. Watched family members play Axis and Allies – which fried my brain.
7. Watched a movie I’d already seen twice this week – (I’m a sucker for comedies).
8. Contemplated taking Dad back to L.L. Bean and then thought better of it.

Now Easter is coming to a close in my little corner of Maine. Soon my son will be going back to school, hubby will be going back to work, and Dad will be going back to California. But tonight I’m going to enjoy my family for just a little longer… and the celebration of the real meaning of Easter doesn’t ever have to end.



Happy Easter, from our family to yours.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

22 March 2008

Preparations for Easter

Today I did a lot of baking and preparing for Easter dinner tomorrow.

I also boiled about 20 eggs so my daughters and I could dye them for Easter. We do this every year. EVERY year.

I boiled the eggs early so they could cool a bit and dry. Just after noon, I called the girls to the kitchen to begin the egg-coloring. When my youngest walked in and saw all the boiled eggs, she commented that we really ought to use those eggs to make egg salad.

I informed her that these were the eggs we were going to dye for Easter. Didn’t she want to do our traditional indoor egg hunt through the living room tomorrow? She shrugged and commented that she’d really like some egg salad.

So I polled the rest of the house and it was unanimous. Nobody wanted to dye eggs. Everyone wanted egg salad.

I was a little sad that yet another childhood tradition has now left our household (Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy departed a few years ago). Now we aren’t even dying eggs.

When I lamented about this to my husband, he just chuckled and said, “Well, there goes another pagan tradition out the window.”

Of course, we still have our secret stash of chocolate Easter candy and jelly beans with which we’ll fill everyone’s Easter baskets in the morning. But there will be no egg hunt.

I'm tempted to use this opportunity to seque into a rant about how I've NEVER done an Easter egg hunt outdoors, but I'll spare you. Tomorrow, perhaps.

Either way, and most importantly, nobody can change the real reason we celebrate Easter, which is often forgotten amongst all the commercialism. Let’s not ever forget that.

For your viewing pleasure, here is a pathetic little photo-journal of our day:

1. Boiling the eggs:



2. The hopeful egg-dye set up:



3. Our Easter Eggs (in salad form):



4. Oh, and the pie I made for tomorrow with THIS RECIPE:




Happy Easter Everyone, and God Bless.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

21 March 2008

At Home in L.L. Bean

I mentioned that my dad is here visiting this week from sunny San Diego. Everywhere we go, people keep asking him what he is doing here at this time of the year. He loves to tell them that he came here because he prefers our weather. It always generates a laugh.

Yeah, he’s such a kidder.

Yesterday I took him to L.L. Bean to buy some boots. The boots he wanted were out of stock, but we found lots of great candy, scented pillows, pancake mix, and maple syrup made in Vermont. We also found a plethora of light weight, short-sleeved spring clothing that looks like it was made for people living in Florida. I actually looked at this same clothing while watching the snow fall outside the store window. Such irony.

Seriously, I love L.L. Bean and it is not alone in this phenomenon. All the stores in Maine are now carrying spring and summer clothing. We can’t find appropriate sweaters and thermal under-things to wear with our Easter outfits.

Ok, the truth is, we aren’t even doing Easter outfits. That pretty much ended years ago – not the Easter celebrations, just the ridiculous springtime clothing people try to wear here in Maine while it’s still snowing outside. Nearly as ridiculous as dressing like a genie for Halloween and then having to wear a heavy coat over the costume.

But I digress. Back to L.L. Bean.

One time my husband and I figured out that if we could get away with it, we could actually live in L.L. Bean and never have to leave.

Here’s how:

1. They have beds (with wonderfully fluffy down comforters).

2. They have sleeping bags and tents (to hide in, in case they catch us sleeping on their beds).

3. They have luxuriously soft leather sofas on which to curl up and read some of their many books on Maine.

4. They have all the clothing we could ever want (for each and every season!)

5. They have bathrooms. No showers that I know of, but there is that fish pond…

6. They have food: a coffee cart, lots of packaged food, and of course, all those fish we took out of the pond so that we could bathe… (did someone say “fish fry?”)

7. They conveniently have bicycles, kayaks, skis, and camouflage gear for when we get caught and have to make a quick getaway. So thoughtful of them.

Of course now our secret is out and we could never get away with it.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

20 March 2008

First Day of Spring in Maine

Things to do to celebrate the first day of Spring in Maine...

1. Chip ice off your driveway and/or front walk.

2. Marvel that the local ice cream stand has opened once again, but is covered with snow and has no customers. Still too cold.

3. Go to the local florist or supermarket to look at daffodils and tulips that won't be seen popping up out of the ground in Maine until May.

4. Think about cleaning out your garage, but then realize that you might as well wait until after mud season is over - say, in June.

5. Plant garden seeds that you vowed you'd plant earlier this month.

6. Ditch any silly, warm-weather notions and just go skiing. Or curl up by the fire and wonder why the first day of spring arrives so early each year.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

19 March 2008

Maine is Safe

I heard some good news this morning. According to CQ Press, Maine is the second safest state in the Union. Somehow we were beat out by New Hampshire. How is that possible with them being closer to all the UN-safe states than we are? Oh well, second best is still GREAT in my book. For your viewing pleasure, here is the list (yea – someone else made my list for me today).

1 New Hampshire
2 Maine
3 North Dakota
4 Vermont
5 South Dakota
6 Wyoming
7 Montana
8 Iowa
9 Idaho
10 Wisconsin
11 Connecticut
12 Rhode Island
13 Utah
14 West Virginia
15 Virginia
16 Nebraska
17 Minnesota
18 Kentucky
19 New York
20 New Jersey
21 Oregon
22 Massachusetts
23 Hawaii
24 Pennsylvania
25 Indiana
26 Colorado
27 Kansas
28 Mississippi
29 Ohio
30 Illinois
31 Washington
32 Georgia
33 Missouri
34 Oklahoma
35 North Carolina
36 Alabama
37 Texas
38 California
39 Delaware
40 Arkansas
41 Michigan
42 Florida
43 Alaska
44 Maryland
45 Tennessee
46 Arizona
47 South Carolina
48 New Mexico
49 Louisiana
50 Nevada

What I found surprising were the states at the end of the list. The three least safe states are New Mexico, Louisiana, and Nevada at the very bottom.

I’ve been to New Mexico to visit my mom more times than I can count. I know they have gang problems there, but there are just so few people (for such a large state, land-wise). It surprised me.

Nevada wasn’t too big of a surprise, what with Las Vegas being known as “Sin City.” Yet, again, there is such a large part of Nevada that is simply unpopulated. You know, deserts, mountains, etc.

And Louisiana? I’ve always found that southerners are just too darned sweet to be mean… unless the heat and humidity (not to mention alligators) are just more than they can take. Maybe it’s part of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. So sad.

This list is only for states, but I’d like to know how Washington, D.C. would have ranked among them. When we lived there seventeen years ago, it seemed to be the murder capital of the world with well over 400 murders each year. At least back then, it was not a safe place.

But what about Alaska falling at #43? What are you not safe from up there - grizzly bears? Getting lost in the woods? Hypothermia?

Anyway, if you’re here in Maine with me, you might agree that THIS is why we have to put up with the long, cold winters. It’s the trade-off for living in safety. I mean, we could all move to California or Florida and enjoy the warmth and sunshine, but then we would no longer be safe. This list proves it!

And speaking of California, my dad arrived last night from San Diego. We had a good discussion about this safety thing, and he reminded us about just how bad the traffic out there really is. So bad.

I don’t know about you, but I'm staying here in “Way Life Should Be” Land.

Even if it is snowing. Again.

After all, it IS Wednesday.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

18 March 2008

Sunshine

Our corner of Maine is getting sunshine today.

1. Sun
2. Shine
3. Today

As of this writing, it is 39 degrees and the sun is streaming through our windows. A regular heat wave!

Why am I inside, you ask? Why are we not out soaking up the sun as Sheryl Crow suggests we do? Because we have a house guest arriving this evening and YESTERDAY I was out soaking up the sun that we had then. So today I have to clean the house, put fresh sheets on the bed, etc.

But I am enjoying it through the windows, let me assure you.

It almost feels - dare I say it - spring like?

Oh there you go, I jinxed it. Sorry.

Try to have a good day anyway.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

16 March 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

What are you doing to celebrate this day?

Picking shamrocks? (Not if you live in Maine)

Chasing rainbows? (I doubt it, if you live in Maine)

Looking for a pot of gold? (Aren't we all?)

Drinking green beer? (If so, drink responsibly)


I'll be making Irish Soda Bread - it's so easy and SO good.

And we'll all be wearing green, of course.



On a different note, here's what we did this weekend – in list form, dontcha know.

1.) I put on my-my-my-my-my dancin’ shoes and my hubby and I disco danced at a Motor Booty Affair performance. (Check out their site – you have to see it to believe it). A total blast from the past.

2.) We spent most of our daylight hours at a basketball tournament.

3.) We put the new belt (that finally arrived) on our snow blower – hurray! (Actually, my hubby did most of the work, but I held the machine still while he aligned and torqued everything into place). Either way, we’re ready for more snow.

4.) Ready for more snow - did I just say that?

5.) We went to The Maine Mall on Sunday (between tournament games) while it was snowing outside. The entire population of Maine was there with us, other than the few of you who are reading this and claim not to have been there. Though I might not believe you, because I think I saw you there.

6.) That’s pretty much it.

Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day. May the Luck o'the Irish by with you, and God bless.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

Maine vs. California

Last week when I was whining and moaning about my month of lists, a reader named Larry suggested I make a list about all the reasons Maine is better than California. That’s a fun idea for a list, but then two days ago I noticed that Larry beat me to it with a post of his own.

Just now, as I sat back down to address this, it seems his blog is nowhere to be found. Larry? If you're still out there, can you let me know where you went?

ANYWAY, I'll move on with my thoughts about it...

Upon reading his blog, it sounds to me like Larry misses Maine… and having lived in California myself, I can’t say I blame him. Though I have a sneaking suspicion that if Larry were to spend a week here right now with these grey skies and this weather, he might appreciate sunny CA just a little bit more.

The reality is, I don't think these two places can be compared fairly because they are just so darned different. Almost like two foreign countries.

So what I want to do, just to make it fun, is to take Larry’s list and make my own little commentary. Larry, I hope you’re game! Part of Larry’s list is below with my comments in italics. (And to all my dear friends who live in CA, I miss you!)

**(and a quick disclaimer - for me, this is primarily about Southern California. You know, San Diego and L.A.)**



1.) Even though CA is having spring like 70 degree weather right now, and ME is under tons of ice and snow; ME actually has real seasons (even if they do have funny names).

Ok, here’s my take on this… four seasons seem WONDERFUL when you’re not in them. When we lived in San Diego, it used to freak me out to string Christmas lights on our palm tree (yes, I really did that) but I loved to be able to go to the beach ALL year long. And the only jacket I owned was a light windbreaker. Coat closet? What’s that? Mud room? Ha!

2.) Unlike CA (smog), you can actually "breathe fresh air" in ME.

Yep, Larry takes the cake on this one – no contest… though I spent 10 days at Lake Tahoe and it was just about as clean and clear as Maine.

3.) In ME, rush hour does not mean an hour of "stop and go 5 mph" traffic.

This is true; unless one is trying to enter or leave Maine in the summer time on a weekend. Try getting through the big I-95 tollbooth in southern Maine on a summer weekend day and you’ll get a taste of California traffic.

4.) The official language of ME is actually English.

I do remember coming to Maine and going to a McDonald’s drive-thru where I was utterly shocked that the people working there spoke plain, American English. In California, one would think McDonald’s is an ethnic restaurant. I kid you not.

5.) The ME beaches are soooooo much better than CA's.

I have to take issue with this one for two reasons. First, accessibility. In CA, for the most part, you just drive up to the beach (which is right IN town) and park along the road (which is right next to the beach) and parking is usually free. Second, two words – palm trees. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Maine beaches. But I do miss the palm trees. Just not at Christmas.

6.) Mainers do not seem to rush around like chickens with their heads cut off.

No, that would be our tourists. ;)


--------------------------------------------------


I think that ought to do it. If I hear back from Larry and/or discover what happened to his blog, I'll post a link here and you can see if you agree with the rest of his list. I do also have to point out that California wins for having the most sunny days and the most agreeable climate. Oh, and how could I forget - no black flies out there.

The weird thing is, having said all that, I'd really rather be here. Maybe it has to do with the fact that our humble home in Maine would have a fraction of the land out there, but cost about 10 times what we paid for it.

Or maybe it's the quiet lifestyle here. Or the amazingly colorful autumns.

Actually, in the end, I think the biggest thing for me here is the people. Let's face it, although there are a ton of nice folks in California, the people of Maine have captured my heart.

And lastly, this is home. End of story.

Have a good week, friends.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

15 March 2008

Saturday in Maine = Snow

I just have one thing to say:

I told you so.

Saturdays and Wednesdays. I wonder if they predicted THAT in the Farmer's Almanac?

This morning we drove south for a basketball tournament and this is a little photojournal of our trip ~ ~ ~



Our street had already been plowed when we left early this morning, but it was still snowing hard. It's too bad the heavy snow doesn't show in this photo.




We made our all-important stop at Starbucks before getting on the highway. One doesn't want to drive in wet snow without a good caffeine fix, don'tcha know?




The highway wasn't bad, but it was messy enough that the speed limits were knocked down to 45 MPH. That's ok with me - better safe than sorry.




We passed a terrible accident on the Northbound lanes of the turnpike. This is the dead-stop traffic that ensued. One large truck was turned over and an 18-wheeler was on its side. You can read about it HERE.




This is just a pretty photo taken off the side of Route One (yes, we came home a different way, since the turnpike was still closed).




A lovely shot of the trees.




We all chuckled at the signs for the beach, ice cream shops, bait shops, surf shops, etc., all covered in snow. I can't remember the last time we drove around the beach area in the winter time.




This one looks a little bleak at first glace, but there's such beauty here. Rugged beauty. I think I may use this one as the background on my computer.




Oh, and the reason we went in the first place - to watch our youngest do what she loves best (she's the one with the ball).


A quick list to cover my commitment... what I love about riding (not driving) in the car:
1. I can take the above photos.
2. I can fall asleep (yep, on the way down AND on the way back - hubby was wired up on caffeine so he drove).
3. I can sight-see. No matter how tired we all may get of the winter, it is so, so beautiful.

Have a good weekend, friends.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

14 March 2008

Jet Lag without the Memories

Daylight Savings Time is killing my schedule this week.

I will never understand why we do the clock moving thing every six months. Sure, I’ve heard all the logical explanations, but that won’t change the fact that I think it is a giant waste of time.

All it does is throw off our schedule for a week or two, freak out my cats because they aren’t getting fed when they think they should (an hour earlier), and make it harder to get up in the morning because it’s earlier AND darker again. Sheesh, the mornings just started getting lighter here in Maine and WHAM, now its dark again.

My husband tells me that rather than complaining about it, I ought to write to Congress about it. Who, them?

Nevermind. I’d rather complain.

Ok, yes, it IS lighter in the evenings, and maybe I do like that a wee bit, but it feels weird to be eating supper with the sun still shining through the windows. Could the day be over already? Surely not. It feels like 4:00 p.m. when its 6:00 p.m. Did we accidentally move the clocks forward two hours?

And one more thing – if we’re eating supper during daylight hours, shouldn't we be having cookouts already? Our grill is still buried under three feet of snow, but the clock is telling me I should be out there flipping burgers.

Ok – in list form – problems with Daylight Savings Time…

1. Darker mornings.
2. Lighter evenings.
3. Jet lag without the fun of going anywhere.
4. Evil cats who scream at me for “forgetting” to feed them on time.
5. Inability to grill.

One last comment: I don’t care if we use standard time, or daylight time. It makes no difference to me. I just wish the powers-that-be would pick one and stick with it. Although I admit I do like setting the clocks back in the fall. An extra hour of sleep is nice.

Maybe if we could only set the clocks BACK each time, then it would be ok. Also, lose the extra leap year day. That way, in a few years, our calendar and clocks would be completely botched and our lives would be SO much more interesting, wouldn’t they?

Buy at Art.com

Ok, I’m stopping now.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes