31 July 2008

Berry Pickin'

The blueberries are ready near our house in Maine.

We walked down the trail through the woods...



This is where the berries grow so prolifically...



The kids moaned and complained, but had a good time in spite of themselves...



We found so many berries...



And they were so perfect...



We also found blackberries...



And the best part - when this bowl is empty, there are SO many more where these came from.



Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

28 July 2008

The Friendly Skies

So last week, my girls wrapped up their two-week visit with my mom out west and began winging their way home to Maine on Wednesday morning. They flew from Albuquerque to Washington, D.C. and had to wait a couple of hours for their flight to Portland.

I might add here that this was the first time they’ve flown alone (without me, their dad, or their older brother). They’re 14 and 15, very capable, and of course, brilliant, but airports can be weird, airlines even weirder, and as we all know, something can go wrong. In fact, something USUALLY goes wrong.

That day, something went wrong.

As they boarded their plane bound for Portland, all those big thunderstorms hit. After much ado, which took several hours, my daughters and all their new companions were let back OFF the plane and the flight was cancelled. And of course, at that moment, the cell phone which we bought for our girls to use in JUST SUCH A SITUATION went dead. It went dead because one daughter who shall remain un-named had a field day texting all her friends during the long layover. And the charger? Packed and checked in the luggage.

Of course.

So my two 21st century kids had to use - *gasp!* - a pay phone. They thought it was neat because they had never used one before. Of course, back here at home in Maine, I was fit to be tied.

One of the girls called while the other stood in a mile-long line to wait and see if they could be re-routed someplace else. I told them to go up to the front and inform the ticket agent that they were minors traveling alone and needed help. To this, the oh-so-helpful UNITED ticket agent told them that if they were old enough to fly alone, then they were old enough to go to the back of the line with everyone else.

This is the part of the story where I crawled through the phone line and choked the ticket agent with the cord until her eyes bugged out.

Actually, my husband called United and gave some poor sales guy a piece of his mind. It didn’t do any good, and then our phone went dead due to a low battery (do you see a pattern here?) so we just hunkered down and waited. We couldn’t call the girls, we couldn’t text them, we couldn’t go get them. We couldn’t do ANYTHING, and as a very involved (read that: controlling) mom, this was very hard for me.

Finally around 11:30 that night, we got another call from them. They had been put on a flight that was leaving for Boston - - - at 8:00 the next morning. That was the best anyone could do because so many flights were cancelled. So, after giving the girls dire warnings about staying together, sleeping in shifts, and staying with the group of people, we said good-bye and I tried to sleep.

Ha. Not only was I imagining them in the airport all night, but I was also awakened several times by the very thunderstorms that were keeping my babies so far away from me.

The next morning, I was up early, and when the girls called me from another pay phone at 6:00 a.m., it was to tell me that the 8:00 Boston flight had been delayed to 10:00.

The funny thing here is that it takes me about two and a half hours to drive to Logan airport; but it would only take them about one and a half hours to fly there from Washington, D.C. What was I to do? Should I start driving toward Boston, only to find out halfway there that they were delayed several more hours – or worse, diverted elsewhere?

I had no choice and I started driving. Although thunderstorms were forecasted all day, I found only a light rain the whole way. I got to the airport, parked in the $3.00/minute parking garage, and walked into the baggage claim area at the same time my girls got there. What a reunion it was! They were tan and cute and they looked more rested than I felt. Of course, with a cancelled flight and only TWELVE LONG HOURS to straighten things out, their baggage had not come in on the flight with them.

After standing in a very long line to fill out a lost baggage claim, we went back out to the car only to find that the thunderstorms had arrived once again. Route 1A that I’d driven just an hour before was now flooded in several areas. It was unlike anything I’d seen. Needless to say, it was a much longer drive home. In fact, just as I drove across the border from New Hampshire to Maine, the rain and wind picked up and we slowed down even more. To add to the fun, my husband called to tell me that a tornado watch had been posted from Portland to Boothbay. Oh joy.

During the drive, my daughters recounted their night for me. Apparently, shortly after the evil ticket agent had been so rude to them, another airline employee walked through the line to find out where people were going, etc. When he found out that the girls were minors, he sort of took them under his wing and made sure they were on that first flight the next morning. After they spoke with me for the last time that night, they had gone to Dunkin’ Donuts (the only thing open) and had bagels. Then, back with the group bound for Boston, they stretched out on a long row of chairs to rest. A nice lady passenger went and found blankets for everyone, and then my two daughters proceeded to go to sleep for 5 hours – at the same time. Ah, what’s a mother to do? Actually, I’m sure they were quite safe.

All in all, it was quite an adventure. We made it home in one piece, though later that night I found out that a tornado had done a bunch of damage in New Hampshire – not far from where we’d been driving that day.

Oh, and the luggage? I was told that it made it to the Portland Jetport and that it would be delivered sometime that night after they got in. That didn’t happen. The next morning I called and was told the same thing. Finally, later that day, we drove back down to Portland and found the bags sitting on a shelf waiting to be delivered... someday...

I claimed them, took them home, and that was that. I offered to show the baggage guy the claim tags, but he didn’t even want to see them. I mean, this is Maine! We’re all trustworthy! Not evil like that Boston ticket agent. Grr. Ok, I know it was only ONE lady, but boy, if I ever meet her... well, it won’t be pretty.

The moral of the story: It's a lot easier to just NOT leave Maine.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

25 July 2008

He's Catching up to Me


Today my son turns 21. Last month I turned 41. He is now less than half my age, which is a milestone of sorts, in addition to the huge milestone of turning 21.

It's so odd for me to think about the fact that I was a year younger than he is right now when I became his mom. It's hard for me to imagine him being a parent at this young age... but then, he is so much more mature and level headed than I was at that age. Much smarter, too.

We had a crazy last couple of days trying to get our daughters back into town from New Mexico amidst all the thunderstorms that have been ravaging the East Coast (I'll save that for another post). In spite of all the travel nightmares and airline issues, the big birthday was suddenly upon us.

Late last night, it hit me. Sure, I have already bought the gifts and we have a special dinner planned tonight, as well as a party with some of his friends on Sunday... but sometimes a mom wants to enjoy the build-up to a birthday. I wanted to give him a little gift when he awakened this morning and make his breakfast. After years of teaching, training, and urging him to grow up, I now want time to slow down so I can savor these last times that he will be with us.


He leaves in three weeks to go back to college and honestly, I'm not ready.

So I'll savor today.

Happy Birthday, Andy. I love you!

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

23 July 2008

Wordless Wednesday

First tomatoes of the season.

Yeah, we got a late start.



Wordless Wednesday.

Have a good day, friends.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

19 July 2008

Summertime

I’ve been pondering about how our summers have changed over the years. When my children were toddlers, we just stayed in the backyard in the wading pool, and sometimes went to the beach. But a beach with toddlers is just NOT fun, in my book. Really the only fun place to go was the McDonald’s playground, but those can be pretty disgusting.

When they were all in grade school, we had adventures. We swam (they learned) in the local pond, we hiked, we biked, we picked berries, we found bugs, and we ate lots of ice cream. Basically, we played. The house was cluttered and the lawn always died, but who cared? Life was good.

As my kids hit the teen years, they discovered that summer is HOT and HUMID and BUGGY. Somehow, those things didn’t matter (or perhaps didn’t exist?) when they were younger. The teens only wanted to go to the beach – not the pond, but the ocean, where they could lie on the sand or walk far away from me. So I found myself sitting in the wind alone, too hot to lie still, but with the water too frigid to swim in.

Ok seriously, I do like the beach, but you see my point?

Today, as my oldest is now in his twenties and the girls are right smack in the middle of their teens, they naturally want to do things with their friends. They want to walk aimlessly around town with their friends (usually aiming at the local Dairy Queen, but who wants to claim a plan?) If it’s too hot or raining, then the friends can be found through texting, online chats, or by playing games on line.

Today, when I suggest picking blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries, they groan and roll their eyes. Today, when I suggest a bike ride on the trails through the woods, they tell me it’s too hot, or that their feet hurt. Today, when I suggest swimming at the local pond, they tell me it’s gross.

Of course, if a FRIEND suggests those things, they are ready, willing and able.

But I also have to admit that today, my interests have turned toward keeping the lawn alive (well, not really, but keeping the flowers alive, anyway) and doing summer projects. Where were all these projects when the children were small? Didn’t I care about planting flowers or which walls needed paint or which floors needed to be replaced? Actually, no. My projects back then were my kids.

Back then, when we were having all the fun, the summer days just ticked by at an even pace. Today they are screaming by with not enough time in the day, the week, or even the summer to finish everything.

Or maybe my list is just too long.

All that to say - for the past couple of weeks, my daughters have been out west, visiting my mom. She has been taking them to the pool, horseback riding, white water rafting, and countless other adventures (yeah, she’s a cool, youthful grandma). Their cousins are there, too, so everyone is having a grand time. Every day my mom phones to tell me how much fun my girls are and how cheerful and willing they are to do any and everything she suggests. They helped her move boxes and furniture for three hours – without a complaint, so she says. They even went to a museum – the last time I suggested a museum, they gave me 100 reasons why they did not need or want to go to a museum.

I asked her what she has done with my real children? Those people staying with her must be imposters.

And I am back here at home in Maine, trying to do about three month’s worth of projects in two week’s time. I’m about a month into it. They come home in four days. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be finished by then. But won’t it be wonderful – I’ll have THEM to help me.

Heh, heh, heh.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

18 July 2008

Around the Garden

We planted some Bee Balm this summer and we've found that the name fits quite well...



Of course, the bees seem to like Speedwell just as much as they like the Bee Balm. Just doing our part for the bee shortage this year.



This is our one (yes, ONLY ONE) clematis bloom. We had one other bud that died and fell off the vine. This one bloomed huge, as you see it here, and the very next day, it was broken off and shredded all over the ground. I think it was the work of a deliquent squirrel.



Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

17 July 2008

Snakes in Maine

When we came to Maine, we were told that there are no poisonous snakes here. At all. In fact, we were told that they are stopped at the border - along with termites.

Cool - I can live with that.

But that doesn't mean we don't have snakes.

Did you hear THIS STORY today?

Creepy. I have to admit, after reading it, I looked twice as I took laundry out of the machine this afternoon.

* * * * *

On a different note, I've been MIA for the past week or so because we spent the weekend in Rhode Island with relatives and put our daughters on a plane to spend some time in New Mexico with my mom.

My goal has been to finish all my summer projects in the short time that they are gone. Though this is an impossible task, I'm still trying. I'm stupid like that.

I do have great pictures (and a great story) from our time in Rhode Island, and lots of other things to say - but no time to say it - or type it, as the case would be.

Soon, very soon.

Stay cool, friends. This weekend is supposed to be quite the scorcher.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

08 July 2008

And if you believe that...

... I've got a bridge I can sell you.



Only in Maine, of course.

Ok, ok, I know, this is actually a small dock for sale, but each time I drive by it, I think it LOOKS like a bridge for sale and it makes me chuckle. So I wanted to share my warped sense of humor with YOU.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

05 July 2008

Not The Fireworks Show We Expected...

Yesterday evening, hubby and I were walking up our driveway, when a HUGE flying bug droned past us. We felt as though we'd been narrowly missed by a small plane. We watched as the giant beast landed on the front lawn, so we ran over to get a closer look.

It was ONE OF THESE (Click the link to see it - and yes, your skin will crawl).

It was a bit more than an inch long and awkward looking, but it immediately started crawling around very quickly, obviously in fear, or in search of something. It headed (on foot) toward a tall tree, and when it got to the base of the tree, we noticed something we hadn't seen previously. There was ANOTHER bug of the same species sitting about four inches up on the trunk of the tree, but this one was more than twice the size of the other one. It was gargantuan.

For a moment, we thought (ridiculously) that the smaller bug was the offspring of the large one. But as the smaller one ran up the tree and jumped on the big one, we figured out that any offspring were still only a glame in the smaller bug's eye - or eyes, as it were.

Here is a photo of the mama-bug...



Here is papa-bug in pursuit...



And this next photo shows he was successful in his pursuit (warning, this image may not be suitable for younger viewers) :)



We watched, spellbound, and snapped pictures right and left. Afterward, I felt a bit like a voyeur.

The female kept moving, but the male was hot in his pursuit. At one point, she lost her footing and fell off the tree - with him still in tow... and miraculously, we got a photo of her falling...



When we went inside, she was still crawling along the ground, with him still chasing her, sometimes attached, and sometimes not. She was either sick of the whole thing or really playing hard-to-get. Part of me wanted to tell her to lighten up and enjoy probably the only pleasure she'd ever have in being a bug; and part of me wanted to squish him like the bug that he was and tell him to give the girl a break.

Either way, I guess you could say we definitely saw some fireworks on the fourth here in Maine.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

04 July 2008

Happy Fourth!

Here's what we had for dessert a little while ago...



And yes, I know the flag is not supposed to be square, nor are there the correct number of stars and stripes. But if THOSE are the only things you noticed, then let's try to be just a BIT more patriotic, K? :)

I have to tell you that nearly everything you see on that cake is HOME made. I drove by the grocery store yesterday, but it was so crowded and I was so tired, that I just kept on driving.

This morning I regretted that decision, when I needed to make a white cake and had no white cake mix. Nor did I have any cool whip.

So I did what every great baker does (not that I fall into that category, I just happened to do what they do - this one time)... I found a pound cake recipe on line, and made that. Close enough, right? I also whipped my own whipped cream, which, let's face it, is MUCH better than cool whip, anyway. No contest. The strawberries were hand picked by us, and the blueberries... well, ok, the blueberries were store bought.

Blueberry season here in Maine is about a month away. And generally, our wild blueberries are a bit smaller than these, but they are SO much sweeter.

But I digress.

The rest of our day consisted of going to a parade this morning, and then taking a zillion pictures of a really freaky bug we found back here at the house. More on that tomorrow.

It was a stunning day here on the coast of Maine, which was lovely, but the forecast of rain and clouds that we had been forewarned about made the sunshine all the more lovely. Know what I mean?

Happy Independence Day, Friends.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

02 July 2008

Wordless Wednesday

One more shot of the boat on Merrymeeting Bay.



I just love it here. :)

Wordless Wednesday

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

01 July 2008

Strawberry Picking...

...and an update.

I just want everyone to know that the chipmunk went on to greener pastures. Before you choke on your coffee, let me assure you that we put him in the capable hands of one very cool lady here in Maine who rescues orphaned animals. IN FACT, she showed us two of the current babies she is helping... raccoon babies.

If you've ever seen the movie, Gremlins, then you'll know what these babies were like (the cute, cuddly gremlins... not the evil ones). They were a couple of months old, so cuddly, and cuter than any puppy or kitten I've ever seen. Plus, they purred - not like a cat, but more like - a gremlin. I totally want a raccoon now, but my husband says I can't have one.

* * * *

In case you hadn't heard, strawberry season is here. We went picking last week, but I forgot (GASP!) to take my camera. We had planned to go again over the weekend, but due to all the unforeseen sad events, we did not. Today, the sun finally came out - literally and figuratively - so off we went.

Our favorite place to pick is Rackley Farm in Bowdoinham. Not only are the berries huge, the drive there is lovely. The farm is located on the banks of Merrymeeting Bay, which is scenic any time of the year.

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

First, here is a bit of Merrymeeting Bay, while crossing the one-lane bridge...



Rackley Farm...



Older daughter picking berries...



Younger daughter very serious about the berries...



A close-up...



We picked all this in about 15 minutes...



I think this one could be used as an advertisement...



I couldn't resist another shot of the boat on the drive back...



Now, we've got some baking, freezing and eating to do!

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes