31 March 2009

Spring/Life Cleaning, Part 2 - Books

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It's 10 a.m. and I'm taking a break from making my lists of all the things I'm putting into bags; bags that will go to the local thrift store later today. The lists are for tax deductions, which I highly recommend doing. Every cent helps, especially these days.

I really don't mind seeing the clothing go. We tend to buy inexpensive clothing (thrift stores, Walmart, Target) so when a piece of clothing is worn out or has simply worn out its welcome, out it goes. Again, this doesn't apply to my husband and my son. They like to add to what they have and keep everything forever and ever.

But I digress.

The clothing and other old or useless stuff is going. The books, however, are a different story.

On our first date, my husband and I discovered that we both love to read, love to share our books, and love to KEEP our books. On that first date, which happened to be a blind date, we actually went into a bookstore and compared many of the books we've read. We enjoyed the similarities and suggested to each other what he or she needed to read next. It was a match made in heaven.

After less than two years of marriage, it was time to move (after all, he was in the Navy, it's what Navy people do, you know). Thankfully, the Navy not only pays to move its people, it packs everything for you. Oh, the luxury! But I remember the packers commenting about how many books we had. I shrugged it off. I grew up in a household of readers and we always had lots of books around. Books were something you had like you had a bed or a sofa or a kitchen table. They weren't extras, they were essentials.

After a couple of moves, we landed in San Diego and were lucky to have Navy housing that was full of cabinets and built-in shelves. Ah - the homes for all our books! Then we began homeschooling, and we accumulated a whole new category of books. I had the privilege of teaching each of my three children to read, which has been one of the highlights of my life. Actually, to be fair, when my middle daughter was five, she taught her four-year-old sister to read, but I take credit for it because I bought them the books, gave them the opportunity, and was supermom and all that.

I kid. About the supermom part, not the rest.

Before long, my husband's time in the Navy came to an end and we decided to settle in Maine. Thankfully, the Navy gave us one last move and paid to bring us, all our stuff, and all our BOOKS to Maine.

And now in my raging desire for minimalism and simplicity, I'm over my book fetish. Or so I thought.

I decided we were going to get rid of every book unless it was very old, had significant sentimental value, or was out of print and could not be found in a bookstore or library. Of course, the first books to go were all the paperbacks. Who needs those? My husband had many from college and high school. Yes, HIGH SCHOOL. And guess what? He didn't share my desire to get rid of the paperbacks. Get rid of his worn, falling-apart, beloved copy of The Old Man and The Sea? Blasphemy! Give away his old copy of Shogun, in which half the 800 pages are falling out? Never! There are also his military books, history books, leadership books,... and the list goes on.

The problem was that when I said we could keep books which had significant sentimental value, my husband wanted to keep them all. Not only did the books hold value to him, he liked to remember reading THAT SPECIFIC BOOK, regardless of its current condition.

I pushed and coaxed him into giving up some of the paperbacks, but not many. And forget the hardbacks - those are staying. Sure, he's read them all, but that's beside the point. He may want to read them again. Or he may just want to look at them and remember.

Yet I, being the emerging minimalist (and far superior human being because of it) was going to get rid of all MY books. The homeschool curriculums were the first to go. I sold a bunch of the books and materials on ebay and gave away even more. Of course, I thought I might like to keep the high school books my son used. Just in case my daughters need them. Oh, and there are a few young readers that hold sentimental value. And there is that shelf of children's books from my childhood that will stay with us forever. And I do hate to let go of all those nice art books - it's the next best thing to going to a museum! There are also my favorite Steinbeck books and a few of my literature anthologies from college. And then there are all the books on writing, the plays, the poetry. Those are USEFUL, so they should stay.

And there you have it - our bookshelves are still quite full.

I figured the next logical step would be to eliminate bookshelves, which would force us to get rid of the books. I took out one of the two bookcases in our bedroom and the one in the living room. The next thing I knew, books were stacked everywhere, because they no longer had a home. Still, this prompted me to really consider each one. I began putting them in boxes. It was not an easy thing to do.

But then, I remembered my local library has a book sale each summer (I'm one of their best customers, so I should know!) I contacted them and they said they would gladly take our books, perhaps to use in the library, or to sell in the sale. It made me realize that even if one of our books wasn't currently in the library, once we gave it to them, it would be. Imagine! It was the best of both worlds - we could have someone else "keep" our books for us, and we could go visit them anytime we wanted to (during normal business hours, of course).

I'm continuing to fill the boxes with books. So far I have about a dozen boxes full, waiting until May, when the library will begin to accept donations. But amazingly, most of our bookshelves are STILL FULL. I might add, too, that all those boxes have only a handful of my husband's books.

But I'm not bitter.

I will keep working on him and I WILL break him down.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

29 March 2009

Spring Cleaning, Life Cleaning, Simplifying

This year, I'm not just spring cleaning, I'm life cleaning. I have this incredible urge to simplify.

Several years ago when my children were small and my husband was leaving us for 6-months stretches in the Navy, I read the little book, Simplify Your Life. I love that book. It became a life goal for me to do many, if not most, of the things in that book.

So I became a minimalist. I decided that rather than seeing furniture, clutter, and stuff everywhere, I wanted to see empty surfaces. I wanted to see the place where the wall meets the floor. I wanted to see drawers that weren't stuffed so tightly they wouldn't shut. I wanted to see empty shelves; or at least a couple of empty ones.

But not only did I have three small children, I was married to a man who likes to keep everything. Every book, every receipt, every piece of clothing, and everything that has any kind of memory attached to it, no matter how small.

And in his defense, I was brought up in a house that was so big, we didn't need to get rid of anything ever. Like my husband, I was taught to put sentimental value on things. This is something I urge every parent NOT to do to their children. All it will do is make them crazy when they grow up to have children of their own and those children either break or lose all the important items; or worse, they are not interested in them in the least.

So although I became a minimalist, I was really only a minimalist on the INSIDE. I had a vision of how I wanted my life and my home to be, but I didn't know how to get there.

At about the same time that I developed this minimalistic desire, I also began homeschooling. With homeschooling, many of my other life goals were put on hold for about a dozen years. During those years, they stewed and marinated and became richer and better.

And then when I put my kids in school this past fall, suddenly, I HAD TO GET RID OF ALL THE CRAP.

The hard part is that so much of the CRAP belongs to my husband and my son (who, by the way, took on and mutated his father's need to keep, save, and collect everything.)

Since last fall, I have been plodding through the delicate, slow, and sometimes infuriating task of going through stuff. Stuff in our closets, under our beds, in our drawers, and most frighteningly, stuff in our basement. We didn't have a basement before we moved to Maine; in California, we kept all our "stuff" in a one-car garage. And it wasn't even full.

Fast forward to a house with a two-car garage, a full basement, and many more years worth of accumulated stuff, and here we are with a minimalist's nightmare. Yes, the minimalist would be me, and the nightmare is trying to get my husband and my son to part with their beloved (albeit useless) stuff. (They hate it when I call it crap.)

I might add here that my youngest daughter is a delightful minimalist who attaches no sentimental value to things - only to people, laughter, and ideas. She will get rid of everything, even the clothes on her back - as long as she has us, her friends, her cat, and her basketball. My middle daughter is caught somewhere in between. She is a neat-freak, but puts great sentimental value on everything.

As I write this out, I realize that one place in my life I might need to begin is by developing a minimalistic use of words.

Nah.

I have made great progress, but I still have a long way to go. To date, the biggest success for me is that I have gotten rid of most of my clothing. I only have about a week's worth of winter clothes and a week's worth of summer clothes. Really. I mostly wear jeans and dark, solid colored shirts. I have a few sweaters, vests, and scarves to mix and match, but that's it.

As I went through clothing, I found so many things I thought I might want one day. ONE DAY. The fact is, if I didn't wear it in one year's time, I probably wasn't going to wear it ever. So out it went.

Next I went through kitchen utensils the same way. So many neat items that I was never going to use. Then it was Christmas decorations. All holiday decorations. Do we really need to decorate for every single holiday? I also got rid of all our VHS movies and so many of the DVDs, as we are now subscribing to Netflix. I also got rid of most of our CDs, as most of our music is now on our computer. Gotta love that.

I should also add that my dear husband is making progress as well. He will never part with his comic book collection, and we still have the 1970s era, orange and brown Don Quixote painting that truly is an eye-sore, but that's ok. Baby steps, you know?

The one place he and I both struggle is in getting rid of books.

Tune in next time and I will talk to you about all my books. And photos. I feel nauseous just bringing it up.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

26 March 2009

Spring Fever

... or desperation. Call it what you like.



It's nearly 50 degrees. Where's my bikini?

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

24 March 2009

Today on Ellen

I hardly ever watch daytime TV. In fact, the only nighttime TV I watch is Heroes on Monday night, and once in a while I might catch Jeopardy. If we want to watch something, it's usually a movie. (Netflix anyone?)

Anyway, since I discovered Twitter, I have been following The Ellen Degeneres Show. On Twitter.

If you twitter, you can find her HERE. She's a crack up, but I never get to watch her show. Now, on Twitter, at least I get to hear about it, and I also get to catch her little one-line tweets, which are equally funny.

Anyway, I do have a very valid reason for bringing this up, and even more amazingly, it ties directly to our great state of Maine.

Today on Ellen, one of her guests was Kara DioGuardi, the newest judge on American Idol. It turns out that Kara met her fiance in Maine. Yep! Apparently she'd had a few relationships gone wrong, and she had to go all the way to Maine to find the right guy. In fact, she said on the show that, and I quote, "all the good ones are in Maine. They're all up there chopping down trees, or something."

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So yes, I did watch TV this afternoon, and the funny thing was, I caught Ellen because I heard M.C. Hammer was going be on. And the really cool thing is that I found out about all this on Twitter.

If you aren't on Twitter yet, at least check it out. It's so fun!

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

23 March 2009

Quotes

I've always been a closet collector of quotes. I'm one of those weirdos who actually bought the books full of quotes. I say that in past tense because with the internet today, who needs to buy the books?

I could bore you to tears with some of my lists, but suffice it to say that Mark Twain is my all-time favorite. I can read his quotes over and over and still laugh out loud. Not only was he clever and funny, but he always used the right word, and used it well.

One of my many favorites:

"The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not." ~ Mark Twain

Tonight in my common-cold-induced-insomnia, I've been surfing the net for a couple of hours while drinking hot tea. I found that a blogger I've been following apparently collects quotes, as well. This gal is very funny and always seems to use the right word. And she's looking for your favorite quotes, if you're so inclined to share them with her.

By the way, as I browse the internet, it seems that there is a sad shortage of quotes about Maine. Good ones, anyway. I found a few, but most are from current politicans and are about as interesting and flavorful as cardboard.

Anyone have any good ones?

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

21 March 2009

Couldn't stand the blossoms

They were just too pink. Plus they obscured the title.

So we're going with the blue sky. This was actually taken yesterday. Today I can't find a cloud in the sky. Trust me, I looked.

Not that I'm complaining...

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

20 March 2009

Half Empty or Half Full?

When I look at the snow still covering our yard, the pessimist in me sighs and tries desperately to remember what the garden looked like last summer. Was it really there? Did I dream it? Looking at ALL THAT SNOW at this time of year reminds of what it felt like to be in the 9th month of pregnancy; I thought it would never end and that I would always be pregnant.

Many years later, I'm thankful to say that all three of my children were born and I did not stay pregnant forever. Thank God.

But then, I also need to look at the glass as half full rather than half empty. There's still quite a bit of snow out there, but so much of it has already melted. The path we dug through the back yard so our dog could go out is now completely clear and the grass is showing through. The driveway is dry and has been for a couple of weeks now (knock on wood!). There is no snow on the roof, so no more leaks!

And today, I actually fell asleep sitting in the sun. Ok, truth is, I was in the car and I had to wait for my daughter outside the library for about 20 minutes. It was 38 degrees but I was lucky to find a parking spot where the afternoon sun shone right through the windshield and onto me. So I promptly passed out.

There's nothing like a nap in the sun to usher in the first day of Spring. That and my great new banner picture at the top of this blog. By the way, that photo was not taken in Maine in March. Not even. Try late May. Or June. Yeah.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

19 March 2009

These are SO good!

I mentioned that we went to a bakery over the weekend and I had a Peanut Butter Blossom cookie. It was so good that I came home and googled it. Google and I are very close. Google loves me.

So I found this recipe and tried it out today. I confess that I changed it a bit. I halved the recipe (which I usually do when I'm trying something new) and I made the dough balls bigger than the recipe suggests. Why waste time with a small cookie - that way you have to eat more of them. Bigger is better!

So I made them bigger, lowered the temperature to 350, and baked them for 14 minutes instead of 8-10.

And they are heavenly.



Just wanted to share.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

Last Day of Winter Musings

Today it is 38 degrees and drizzling. The forecast says a rain/snow mix, but I have yet to see a flake. Actually, it seems to be appropriate weather for the last day of winter.

I had a bit of driving around to do this morning and saw three "Vs" of Canadian geese flying north. When I walked out of my house, I heard them before I saw them. That unmistakable crying that indicates the change in season. I looked up and they were going straight over my house. Due north. Isn't that cool? Not only that they know the way north, but that they know what time of the year it is. Never ceases to amaze me.

There's also that scent in the air; you know, the one you can smell when your entire world isn't FROZEN SOLID. It smells fresh. I love that smell.

So in honor of the last day of winter, I think this would be an appropriate time to list all the things I'll miss about wintertime.

1.
2.
3.

Wait, I'm still thinking. I'll let you know when I come up with something.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

17 March 2009

Not just a WWII General

Today I went to visit my friend, Jane. She's older than my mom and she's teaching me to knit. I have as much (if not more) fun with her as I do with friends my own age. Plus, she has a new puppy, so she could be a total stranger and I still would have had fun with her.

So as she was showing me her knitting patterns, I realized that I LOVE the way she talks, and especially the way she pronounces the word, "pattern." She calls it a "patton," said the exact same way I pronounce the name of a certain WWII general. She said it over and over and it was just the cutest thing ever.

Native Mainers, please understand that I ADORE the way you talk and I could just sit and listen to it and marvel over it all day long. I grew up in a home where both my parents were native Texans, so my childhood accent influences were quite different from what I'm hearing now. I love those Texas accents too, as well as those from the Southeast, the upper Midwest, and of course, those from California. Like totally, dude.

I think I'm the only person in the world WITHOUT an accent, but then, most people I know think the same thing about themselves, don'tcha know.

Here is a wonderful WEBSITE with a plethora of "Maine-isms."

And by the way, we had pot-roast again for suppah. Not lobstah or chowdah. Tomorrow I'll work on my knittin' patton some moah. Got that, Maine? ;)

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

15 March 2009

Sunny Sunday Afternoon

You know how there is that moment in time each winter when you just don't think you can take anymore cold/grey/darkness/snow/sleet/whatever? You know how you think you're just going to die if you don't feel the sun's warmth on your face and when you go to the supermarket, you actually cry when you see flowers?

No?

Ok, maybe it's just me.

Last weekend, I was getting to that point, and then lo and behold, the ENTIRE weekend was sunny and the temperature hovered around 50 degrees. I felt like putting on shorts, slapping on some sunscreen and heading to the beach. After weeks on end below zero, 50 degrees really does feel THAT warm.

Well, the weekend ended, and with it the mild weather. This past week was lousy. There was snow, rain, and grey skies nearly each day. One day there was enough snow to cover the ground (a couple of inches, I think) and then POURING down rain on top of that all day. ALL DAY. When I tell you it was like soup, I kid you not. I went into a fabric store that day, and when I saw all the FAKE spring flowers, I smelled them to see if they had a flowery scent. That's desperation, folks.

Friday morning it was 9 degrees. But yesterday and today, we've had a repeat performance (if not a better one) of last weekend. Today there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the high temp I saw (in our car) was 54. 54!

My husband and I went out to lunch in downtown Brunswick, and we actually parked away from our intended restaurant. No vying for the best spot with the shortest walk. No, this time we parked so we could stroll leisurely through the sunshine.

Here are some photos from lunch which are pretty much irrelevant to my whole kicking-the-dead-horse-subject of the weather here in Maine. But here they are anyway.

Us at Joshua's Tavern in Brunswick, which I highly recommend...



Old Maine license plates on the wall - I miss those!



Lobster Stew and Greek Salad - and note the sunshine streaming through the window onto the table. Yeah, that part was great, too.



After lunch, we walked to Wild Oats Bakery for cookies. Then we went into Bull Moose to prolong the outing. Actually, my husband went into the store. I sat out on the curb to soak up the sun and eat cookies. Yes, the curb. There wasn't a bench in sight, so I made due. Can I just say that I truly thought I had died and gone to heaven? I don't know if it was the sunshine or the peanut butter blossom cookie. It was a GOOD cookie.

I really do have other interests in my life which have nothing to do with the weather and food. I just can't seem to think of them right now. When I do, you can be sure you'll be the first to know.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

14 March 2009

Twitter

Ok, I've had twitter for a month or two, but I couldn't seem to "get" it. I'm slow like that. Once I get something, I'm totally there and can go to great lengths with it. But getting on board initially, is not one of my strengths.

But I'm there now. I never knew that mundane activities on a Saturday afternoon could totally crack me up. I was texting with my friend Leanne, who lives in California, and we were laughing about twitter. She told me, "I'm following you on twitter now. I'm hoping it will motivate you to lead a more exciting life."

Oh, the pressure!

But I decided that rather than leading a more exciting life, which, let's face it, is not going to happen here in small town Maine, the key to twitter is to find the excitement in the mundane. You know, that dull, drab, boring, day-to-day drudgery called life.

I'm kidding.

Anyway, this is my way of letting the internet know that I'm now on twitter. There are updates on your left in the side-bar, or here is the link: http://twitter.com/HereInMaine.

Happy Saturday Night!

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

09 March 2009

It was just a tease.

Somewhere buried deep in my subconsious, I knew this.

When the temperature on my car thermometer hit 54 (54!!) on Saturday, I thought it might be spring.

When we rolled down our windows and drove with the breeze wafting through the car, I thought it might be spring.

When ALL the snow on our garage roof melted, thus eliminating the drips of water (which always then turned to ice) onto our driveway, I thought it might be spring.

When I smelled a skunk late Saturday evening, I thought it might be spring.

When I saw a fox AND a chipmunk on Sunday, I thought it might be spring.

When we set the clocks forward and Sunday was ANOTHER BRIGHT, WARM, SUNNY DAY, I thought it might be spring.

When we went out to a basketball team dinner at 5:30 p.m. and the sun was still shining brightly (and it was still warm) I KNEW it must be spring.

Those infamous words of my first friend in Maine all those years ago, when she told me it's not spring until the forsythias bloom... I forgot all about that.

Somehow the fact that our forsythia bush, which is actually quite large, is still covered by a snowbank, sort of escaped my notice.

Today, all the puddles from the big melt this weekend, have turned to solid ice. Snow is in the forecast. I even heard the weather man say (before I slapped my hands over my ears) that temps might be back down to the teens tomorrow night.

On one hand, this weekend reprieve was heavenly. On the other hand, it was a little cruel of the weather fairies to tease us like that. I dreamed last night that I looked in the mirror and had a tan on my face. THAT is how sun and warmth-deprived we all are.

Yes, it is that time of the year. The time when the whining starts, in tandem with the dragging days of getting used to the one-hour time change.

Oh, and waking up this morning to see how tanned I am NOT, just added insult to injury.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

07 March 2009

Out on the Ice

Today, oh miracle of miracles, it was 54 degrees in our little town here in Maine.

Each winter, I wonder about the fishermen who spend their days in the ice shacks out on the frozen river that runs past our town. At this time of the year, when the temperature begins to rise and the ice begins to melt, I'm always eager to drive across one of the bridges to see if the folks - the hearty folks - are still out there.

Today, not only were they there, they had come out of their shacks and were milling about all over the river, as though it were a large park. A park that goes away, come spring. There were lawn chairs, ATVs, and snowmobiles. It was a quite a party!




For a fleeting moment, I thought about how fun it would be to join them, but... this is a RIVER. A deep river. A lake or pond is one thing. If the ice were to break on a pond, one would go down, come back up, and be rescued quite quickly, especially with such a crowd around. A river, however, is MOVING. This scene, in fact, is only about 100 yards below the dam, where there is usually quite a flow. I don't even want to speculate about what would happen if one of these lovely people fell through that ice. I shudder to think of it.

But back to less-morbid thoughts - it was an incredibly beautiful day and it was fun to see the ice-fishermen enjoying themselves.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

Bowdoin College Basketball

Last night we went to watch the Bowdoin women's basketball team in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. Bowdoin won. Big time.

You can read about it HERE.

Those gals are fun to watch. Here is a photo of three fans in the crowd who had a great time...



And then afterward we decided that in honor of the balmy weather (it was above freezing) we'd go get ice cream.




That big snow bank in the background IS melting - you just can't tell from the photo. Ok, maybe not, but it will shrink a bit today, as temps are supposed to shoot up near the 50 degree mark. Or so they say...

Don't forget the move your clocks forward tonight. Don't you hate that? We could go to bed an hour earlier, but does anyone ever really do that? I didn't think so.

And what - you came here thinking you'd find pics from the game last night? We were in the nosebleed section (such as it is at Morrell gym) and my little old camera is on it's last leg. Besides, it was such a lopsided win, the crowd was much more fun to watch. :)

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

04 March 2009

Outside my Kitchen Window

Yesterday as I was doing dishes, something outside the window caught my eye. We have the bird feeders right outside the kitchen window so we see various birds and squirrels throughout the day, but whatever I saw disappeared into a hole in the snow at the base of the bird feeders.

I watched the hole, and as soon as I looked away, there it was again, and when I looked, it was gone. What the heck? Finally, I ditched the dishes and got the camera. I positioned myself over the sink so I could catch whatever it was as soon as it reappeared. I'm stealthy like that.

Here's what I saw:



And a closer view:



Apparently a there are seeds (or something!) under the snow, and the squirrel was making fast work of it. I wanted to go outside or open the window to get a better photo, but the snow wall outside our back door would have blocked my view, plus my going out there would have frightened away the squirrel.

I watched for a while. It bobbed up and down several times and then set off:



As it began to scamper across the yard, I knocked on the window, and it took off like a shot (yeah, I'm mean like that). It was pretty funny - the snow is still so soft that it couldn't really run through it. So rather, it swam over the snow to the nearest tree and left an interesting-looking track behind...



If you look closely, you can see the tail of the squirrel hanging between the two trees. Please ignore the old wagon and various and sundry other junk that is buried in snow out by our shed.

Yeah, I'm photographing squirrels now. And scaring them just to see them move. I just may have cabin fever. I really think sunshine and warmth would help. Or wine. Lots of it.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

03 March 2009

Yesterday's Storm

A couple of days ago a nice lady left a comment about the fact that I've made it clear that I'm tired of the snow. Ok, I admit it, I'm a whiner. But the irony is that I really LOVE the snow!

I love it from the perspective of a warm room (complete with fireplace, candles, hot cocoa and a good book) where I can sit and watch the flakes fall. I love it when someone ELSE cleans it up.

Yesterday, the snow wasn't bad. We got about 10 inches. It was light and fluffy, not thick and slushy like last week. We didn't lose power (a huge bonus) and the clean-up wasn't hard at all.

The problem now is where to PUT the snow. We have about 4-ft walls of snow along the sides of our driveway, and the snowblower just barely throws the snow over that wall. More often than not, the snow hits the wall and falls right back down onto the driveway. And yes, I have it set on it's highest throwing setting (my husband asked, so I figured some of you might ask, as well). The few warm days we've had (you know, above 30 degrees) haven't made much of a dent in all the snow.

Looking on the bright side, I guess we're building up our muscles with the shoveling and LIFTING, not to mention the roof-raking.

But really, I would rather be inside by the fire, watching out the window while someone ELSE does it.

Here are a few pics from yesterday:

Making snow angels - something you never outgrow...



My older daughter climbed up on the snow hill (that was once our garden) and protested all the snow removal. She made herself a bit of a snow-lawn-chair and got comfortable...



But a closer look reveals a smile in spite of her dire situation...



While they frolicked, I raked the roof, trying to avoid more leaks...





The fun part of every snow - catching snowflakes on one's tongue...



I should add here that the snow you see in our back yard is about 2-3 feet high. Where I'm standing, it's about knee deep on me, but that's only because the snow underneath the new snow is old and hard. Thankfully.

Stay warm, friends!

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

01 March 2009

Leaks and Icicles

I have a picture of the icicles, but I'll spare you a picture of the leak. Suffice it to say it's a big, brown spot on the ceiling of our bedroom. It kept growing bigger and bigger and BIGGER until my husband went up on the roof and chopped up all the ice.



He is my hero.

And did I mention, it's snowing again?

Sigh.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

The Fish Story

So last week I mentioned that our power was out for 36+ hours and that I completely forgot about my son's tropical fish.

There is a bit of history here that I have to share. My son loves to accumulate things. If you look up the phrase "pack rat" in the dictionary, you will find his picture. That said, last year he decided he wanted an aquarium with tropical fish. This means having a heater so the water will stay at a certain WARM temperature. In the 70s, I think.

When he came home from college last summer, he brought the aquarium with him. When he went back in the fall, he asked if we could look after the fish for a few weeks until he got settled, and then he'd come back for them.

He never came back. Not for the fish, anyway.

He came back for Christmas, and by then, we were tired of feeding the fish... mainly we were tired of feeling guilty about FORGETTING to feed the fish. He still didn't want to take them back and I threatened to flush them all, but I guess he wasn't worried because he left without them anyway. Thankfully, however, since the tank is heated, we can close off his room while he's gone. No sense wasting precious heat in a room that isn't being used.

Fast forward to the power outage last weekend. Amidst lighting candles, keeping the wood stove going, having internet withdrawals, and babysitting the neighbor's gerbil (don't ask), I forgot about the fish. Totally. Until Tuesday morning at 5 a.m., when the power had been out for 36 hours.

It was one of those panicky moments. I awakened and sat up in bed and actually said out loud, "Oh crap!" I ran to my son's room expecting to see the fish floating belly-up. Instead, they were still alive. The room was about 50 degrees, as was the water. They were moving slowly and didn't look right. I quickly scooped all eight of them into a bowl of their own water, and I moved the bowl to the basement so it could warm up near the wood stove.

At the end of the day, they had a bit more spunk, and miracle of miracles, they were still alive. All eight of them. Even the teeny, tiny tetras who shouldn't have lived through that trauma.

Later that day the power came back on. We let the tank warm up and put the fish back in on Wednesday. All eight are still alive, which makes me wonder if they even need that warm water at all.

Ok, they probably do, but I'm still annoyed that my son won't just COME AND GET HIS FISH!

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

Date Night

Last weekend, BEFORE the big storm, our kids went away for a sleepover and we had a date night at home.




Who says you can't have a February cook-out in Maine? Besides, wine goes a long way to making one forget the cold... or at least not care about it so much.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

The Last Storm


Last Sunday, we had a heavy, wet snowstorm that gave us about 8 inches of new snow. But the emphasis is on the wet and heavy. We lost power Sunday and didn't get it back until Tuesday. Thankfully, the garage was well below freezing the entire time, so we put all our frozen foods out there.

As I write this, it is snowing again and 8-14 inches is the forecast. School will probably be cancelled again tomorrow. Sources tell me (in the form of my 15yo daughter) that a certain friend of mine wants to petition the local school district to see if we can lop off a few days from April vacation, rather than letting all these snow days cut into our summer.

I disagree.

I think we should leave April vacation as is, and leave summer as is. If the school officials do anything, they should just make BETTER use of the time they've been given. A few less days really won't make much of a difference.

So Tina, there's my answer. That, and on the first warm day in June, we are hitting the beach, school or no school. Just don't tell anyone. :)

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes