26 December 2009

Our Maine Christmas

We had a white Christmas here in Maine. It hasn't snowed for several days, but you know how it is - once we're in December, pretty much anything that falls, stays. We usually don't get back above freezing until April.

But then the forecast for today is a high of 38 with rain. Go figure. At least we were spared this nonsense on Christmas.

Christmas at our house was the way I like it - quiet, unassuming, and without a definitive schedule. I live my life by schedules, most of which are not made by me, so it was nice not to be forced to awaken, to be somewhere, or to have dinner cooked at a specific time. Now that our children are all big, my husband and I were the first ones up. We shared stockings, had some quiet moments near the Christmas tree, and then started making our traditional Christmas breakfast together. It was lovely.

It was a day of gift-giving, music, naps, movies, food, and pondering the true meaning of Christmas. I have many friends who talk about how stressful Christmas can be when getting together with extended family, especially when the conversations turn to religion or politics or anything else that sparks disagreement. I'm thankful we didn't have a day like that in the least. Even though we're all pretty much on the same page in those areas, we still have typical sibling issues that every family has. But yesterday, everyone got along and played nice. Thanks, kids! ;)

I do have to comment on the gifts my husband gave me. He wrapped up several huge packages of candy (the kind one might buy to pass out on Halloween) and presented me with all my favorite kinds. And he also bought me the Wii Fit. So what that tells me is that he wants to fatten me up and then slim me back down again. Or something. Can you say "Mixed Messages?" Haha.

One Christmas blessing is that our cat is still here. A couple of weeks ago, we took our 14-year-old cat to the vet (sister to the one which died last year) and discovered the sad news that she has cancer. We were told it wouldn't be long - whatever that meant. My prayer was that she would make it (happily) through the holidays, and I am pleased to say that she is still eating, purring, and though slowing down, is still generally a happy cat.

I hope all of you and yours had a Merry and Blessed Christmas this year. Now, to get through the REST of the winter...

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

24 December 2009


Seventeen years ago last night, we went out to dinner and had Mexican food. I was 9-months pregnant and a week away from my delivery date. My darling husband gave me a jalepeno and told me it was a green pepper. Twenty-four hours later, I went into labor.

It was Christmas Eve.

We got to the hospital at about 8:30 p.m. and the nurse told us we were going to have a Christmas baby. It sure looked that way. But our daughter was never one to do things that people expect her to do - not now and not back then. She arrived at 11:30 p.m.

Our baby girl was the best Christmas present I'd ever had. And each year since, she has been the gift that keeps on giving.

Over the years, many folks have asked if it's been difficult or disappointing to have a Christmas birthday to celebrate. I actually wondered about this, too, but I'm here to tell you, having a Christmas Eve baby has only enhancedd Christmas for me. Plus, she gets to celebrate a "half-day" in June (thanks to the wisdom of my mother-in-law).

And each year since my baby's birth, I've remembered another young mom who gave birth to the most special child over 2000 years ago. A great reminder of what Christmas is all about.

Merry Christmas Eve, and...

Happy 17th Birthday to my Christmas Eve Baby. :)

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

20 December 2009

Christmas Break

Friday was the last day of school for two weeks and we are now, officially, on Christmas Break. Shh, don't tell anyone. I'm breaking all sorts of rules and stomping all over everyone's civil rights by calling it that. The schools here (probably everywhere) are now so painfully P.C. that they won't even call it "Holiday Break." No, this is Winter Break 1. Yes, Winter Break 2 will be in February. Whatever. Gag.

The funny thing is (and I know I've harped on this before), 99% of the folks in this school district celebrate Christmas. No, they may not all be Christians, but we all know that Christmas is not just a Christian tradition anymore. Without going into the problems with THAT whole issue, let's face the facts that Christmas is an American holiday as much as Thanksgiving and the 4th of July. Changing it and not allowing people to wish someone a Merry Christmas is just absurd.

Just to prove a ridiculous point, come next summer I'll be tempted to wish folks a happy mid-summer break when they have off on the 4th of July. Maybe I'll even become offended if someone wishes me a Happy 4th of July. After all, it won't mean they're just being nice and friendly, it will mean they are trying to push a government program with which I just might have a problem.

Stupid? Ridiculous? Yeah. My point, exactly.

Merry Frickin' Christmas.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

09 December 2009

Pre-emptive storm preps and being wrong

Those two things in the title go together because I was wrong about the snowblower and the snow - - so much for superstition. This morning, before dawn, I am getting ready for the impending first-big-storm-of-the-season. We can see it on the radar heading our way, and school has already been cancelled today... though not a flake has yet to fall.

Wood stove cleaned out - check.

Fire in wood stove - check.

Firewood stacked in garage - check.

New snowblower filled with gas and ready to go - check.

Laundry started early in anticipation of power outage - check.

Grocery run yesterday, along with ALL the rest of Maine - check.

Kids sleeping in and enjoying a much deserved day off - CHECK!

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

05 December 2009

This and That

My Christmas present from my husband came early.

Yep, a new camera lens. This is so we can take those fast action shots at our daughter's basketball games... among other things, of course.

So last night we went to the first regular season game. Our daughter's first real varsity game - how exciting! We practiced with the new lens on the JV game - and it worked wonderfully. Then when the varsity game started, we were so excited, we forgot all about the camera.

Not. One. Photo.

But hey, we enjoyed the game. And no, they didn't win; it was an off night for the team. But they all worked hard and have a great season ahead.

Now if only we can remember to take pictures the next time...

* * * * *

In other news, the weather has been amazing here in Maine. Above 60 degrees on Thursday, and well into the 50s yesterday. We were stringing up Christmas lights on the house without wearing coats. It was reminiscent of our Christmases in Southern California, though out there, I strung Christmas lights on palm trees... wearing shorts. Ok, so it's not quite THAT warm. But still.

Of course tonight we have snow in the forecast, which is quite puzzling to me. You see, we bought a brand new snow blower this year, as our other one finally bought a ticket to the boneyard. But normally, making a large purchase of that kind will cause the universe to implode just a little and give us no reason to use it for the first year or so. In fact, many of our friends and neighbors thanked us, because our purchase meant a mild winter for them.

So obviously, the forecast simply must be wrong. Our new snowblower guarantees that it cannot snow this winter. At all.

You're welcome.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Over on Facebook and Twitter, I've been doing a 30-days of Thanksgiving, where each day I write something for which I am thankful. It is a wonderful exercise that everyone should really do every day of the year. Not only has it reminded me to stop each day and think about all the good things in my life, it has also shown me that with so many things to be thankful about, it's hard to list just one.

And perspective is another added bonus. I struggle at this time of year. Though I love the fall leaves, the changing weather, wearing sweaters, and getting ready for the holidays, I also am prone to the blues what with the dwindling daylight and impending long winter ahead. For some reason, too, I have a hate-hate relationship with the leaves that fall on our lawn. I have a very real paranoia about getting them OFF the lawn before the first snow. Whatever - I suppose if that's my biggest problem, I'm doing ok, right?

Either way, this month of daily thankfulness has helped me to keep perspective. Not that I haven't gotten oh-so-slightly grumpy at my family about the leaves (which are now OFF the lawn. Thank God.) and not that I haven't scowled once or twice about seeing total darkness at 4:45 p.m. But overall, the daily thankfulness has reminded me that those things, in the end, don't matter at all. If we have a roof over our heads (debt notwithstanding), food on the table (even if I thought I was too tired to cook), and most importantly a family to love (imperfect as we all may be), then we are as rich as kings.

Let the leaves blow. Let the snow come. Bah on the darkness. I am thankful for this lovely land where my family is together, safe, warm, and well fed. I am thankful we can walk freely in our town, visit any church we desire (or not), and praise or complain about our current government leaders. Freely. And on those "off" days, I am thankful for the freedom to whine a bit. But please don't let me wallow - smack me a bit (gently) and remind me about all the good - all the things for which we can be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

22 November 2009

More on Mice

Mice seem to be a big part of my life; recently anyway. Tis the season for them to start making their way into the basement, and the cat who used to kill them, now plays with them and brings them to us alive. Then they run free in other parts of the house. Places where we sleep, keep food, and other such things that are not mouse-friendly, to put it nicely.

But really, they're everywhere I go. Last week I went to a friend's house to help her clean out a storage closet that hadn't been touched in a while. We discovered large amounts of evidence that mice had been living in her closet. Large amounts. Like, we could fertilize her garden with the "evidence." Yeah, eww. But I love her and would help again - and would never mention her name here, ha ha. :)

I have another friend who found a baby mouse and decided to keep it as a pet. She also has twelve cats. And yes, the cats are aware of the mouse, who often manages to escape from its cage. And the cats are waiting. Trust me, they are waiting.

In the past month at our house, we have been successful with our cheap little mouse traps. I own a have-a-heart trap, but not ONCE has this actually caught a mouse. I figure it's way more humane for a mouse to have a quick mouse-trap-death than to be played with until it's dead by my cat. I mean really, sometimes the cat chews on them. Alive. EWW!

Three days ago, another mouse was spotted in our kitchen. We set up the trap in the usual spot, with a big, appetizing portion of peanut butter as bait. The next day, the peanut butter was gone - I mean, the trap was practically licked clean - but not sprung. My husband checked to make sure it was in working order. It was. So the next night, we put a chunk of cheese on the trap and sort of stuck it to the bait area. There was no way the mouse could get that cheese without springing the trap.

The next morning, the cheese was gone and the trap was not sprung. What was this, a magic mouse? We tested it again - the trap was working just fine. What the heck?

So LAST night, we went to bed not wanting to set up yet another buffet for this industrious little mouse. My husband wedged yet another chunk of cheese far down into the bait pad, so the mouse would HAVE to put weight on the trap... and it would HAVE to spring.

And it did. We found the sad scene when we awakened early this morning - and at about the same time, the cat chased another mouse across the living room. Geez, will it ever end?

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

14 November 2009

How Hot Maine Guys Look

On Wednesday, my husband had off for Veteran's Day, which he deserves because, after all, he is a veteran. I, on the other hand, had an incredibly busy day. For some reason, in addition to working, I had scheduled TWO doctor's appointments that day.

I was tired and cranky at the end of the day, but I came home to find that my adorable husband had cut down an oak tree that I hated. I've been complaining about this tree for years. The tree is ugly. It leans. It blocks the view from one of our upstairs windows. It dumps leaves and acorns across the back yard every fall. It shades our flower garden in the summer. The leaves offer no autumn color, and they are the last to fall - usually well after the first snow. The tree has no redeeming qualities, other than it's ability to make fire, so that is how it will be used.

Yay! More free firewood!

And as an added bonus...

Nothing sexier than a guy with a live chainsaw in his hands, don't you think?

Yeah, baby!

Maybe you'd have to live in Maine to understand. Or maybe you just have to hate raking leaves as much as I do.

And as an aside, for all you tree-huggers out there, we have thousands more where that one came from. If there's one thing Maine isn't lacking, it's trees.


Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

05 November 2009

First Snow

Really. It's been snowing off and on all day.

I was commenting to someone this morning that I love how at this time of the year, my memory of last year's snow seems to disappear completely. I get excited about the snow and I even (gasp!) welcome it. Of course, by mid-January, my memory will be back intact and... well, you know. It's sort of like childbirth - the forgetting part, anyway.

A lady I work with mentioned that she wishes there would only be enough snow to cover the grass, but not require any shoveling on our part. I LOVE this idea. In fact, not only would this fantastical, mythical snow cover only the grass and not the roads, it would serve double duty by covering up the leaves that still need to be raked. And miracle of miracles, come spring, the leaves would have magically disappeared. Woo!

Be it snow, rain, or leaves, there always seems to be something falling out of the sky at this time of the year.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

31 October 2009

The Great Pumpkin Search

So what I want to know is, when did Halloween arrive and how did it get here so quickly? Wasn't Labor Day like,... last week?

Ever since our son was old enough to wield a knife, we've been carving pumpkins for Halloween. We started with triangle eyes and teeth all those years ago, and then when we discovered the pattern books, we graduated to fancy cats and haunted houses that we never could have crafted on our own. A few years ago, we had something like a dozen carved pumpkins sitting out on our front lawn. It all looked very artistic, but we simply followed directions and connected the dots.

I have to admit, homeschooling lent itself to this project. The entire day before Halloween (be it a school day or not) was devoted to pumpkin cleaning and carving. This exercise helped my children on their standardized tests each year, I promise.

But since they've been in school, we no longer have TIME for the pumpkin carving, and this makes us all very sad. Last year we each carved one, but it was more a chore than anything else. So this year, even though Labor Day was just last week, we talked about how we could make the pumpkin carving happen, and it would be FUN again. We also talked about the lack of time in all our lives. (Damn homework.)

So the plan was for me to purchase pumpkins last week and to clean them out some afternoon after work. Then, on one of the evenings when there was (hopefully) less than three hours of homework, the kids (and their dad) could carve their pretty pumpkins.

Ah, the best laid plans...

I put pumpkins on my grocery list this week. I went grocery shopping on Thursday. Before I went, my middle daughter asked if I could take her to Wal-Mart later to look for Halloween accessories. So when I grocery shopped, I deliberately did not buy pumpkins. After all, my basket was full, and I would be on a Halloween mission later that evening. I could get pumpkins THEN.

But then...

I don't know what happened. The evening was full of cross-country meets and basketball and a dog that got into the trash and homework and, and... Suddenly it was Friday.

Friday morning was full of a Halloween party for the babies where I work, and I had a long-distance friend coming in for the day. We were to have lunch. But then my son ended up going to the hospital at noon for what we thought might be appendicitis. The day became a roller-coaster ride into oblivion.

Ok, my son does NOT have appendicitis - we still don't know what he has, but he's back at the dorm, doing ok. But there's more. At 3:30, I had to take one daughter to a youth group party 20 minutes away from home. I had to be back at the high school by 4:45 to chaperone an event I had committed to weeks ago. (Note to self - what the hell was I thinking?) At 7:30, when we finished at the high school event and dragged ourselves to a local restaurant to get dinner, I remembered that we still didn't have pumpkins.

At 9:00, when we finished dinner, we went to the local Hannaford, got a shopping cart, and went into the store to get our pumpkins. No pumpkins in the produce section - maybe they have them in a display up by the registers? No. Nothing. The nice lady told me (while hiding a smile) that they ran out of pumpkins two days ago.

By this time, we had to drive back out into the middle of nowhere to pick up our other daughter from the youth group thing. We stopped at another store on the way there. No pumpkins.

We went to bed last night with my husband telling us he'd get up early this morning (which has never happened on a Saturday in all the years we've been married) to go find us some pumpkins. That way, we can clean and carve pumpkins ALL DAY.

Guess what? It's 10:00 a.m. and he's still not up. I'm not waking him. I will drag out our ceramic jack-o-lanterns, put candles in them, and they will have to do. Maybe next year we'll get it right. Or maybe not. Maybe that time in our lives is over.

But what I DO know is that tonight we get an extra hour of sleep. After the day I had yesterday, I'm over the pumpkin dilemma. All I really want is that extra hour of sleep. Maybe I'll go get started on that right now...

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

27 October 2009

You know winter is coming when...

... when you hear a rumbling noise outside and you think it might be a snowplow. But then you realize it was your husband's stomach.

... when you have a constant feeling of panic about getting all the leaves up before the first snow.

... when you know you probably won't get all the leaves, because often they don't all fall before the first snow.

... when you wear a scarf each day - and not just to make a fashion statement.

... when the dog no longer takes his time going out for the last time each night.

... when you get the urge to bake. Today I made oat bran muffins, sourdough bread, and there is pumpkin bread in the oven right now.

... when you excuse any weight gain (from eating the above comfort foods) by saying things like, "Yes, but I need the extra insulation for winter!"

As I look out at our lawn, there are SO many leaves already on the grass, the driveway, the porch, the garden, and in the woods. But when I look up, there are so many MORE LEAVES still on the trees. Deciding whether or not I want them to hurry up and fall or to stay up there (and thus miraculously hold off winter, which really would never happen) just makes my brain hurt.

Want a piece of pumpkin bread? Mmmm!

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

21 October 2009

Slightly Past Peak

Today my boss/co-worker/new BFF and I hiked up and had lunch at the top of Bradbury Mountain in Pownal. (Yes, Bradbury Mountain again - I know, I know - can't I go anywhere new? No.)

As I drove into the parking lot at the trail-head, the thermometer in my car read 61 degrees. That might be a bit of a stretch, as my car is always optimistic about the weather, but it WAS lovely out there. We got to the top of the mountain and saw this:

And then when we sat down to eat, we were swarmed (literally) by lady bugs. Yes, lady bugs. It was an odd sensation to be swatting at the slow-moving, awkward-flying little gals, but swat we did. They were everywhere. I've spoken to other folks tonight who say it's like that all over the area - lady bugs galore. What does that mean? That it was a rainy summer? That we should expect a mild winter? A harsh winter? A flood? An earthquake? The end of time?

I mean, it was THAT weird.

Ok, so we enjoyed the pretty foliage you see in the photo above, which was pretty much past peak. In fact, from far away it looked colorful, but up close, we saw a lot of this:

Either way, if you're looking for some fall color, you'd better get out there ASAP. The leaves are falling and we have more rain and wind forecasted this weekend. Oh wait, I didn't say that. Sunshine forever! :)

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

06 October 2009

He's taking me WHERE?

I think I've posted here before about the fact that nearly a dozen years ago, when my husband was fresh out of the Navy and looking for a new career, my only request was that he move us to a place WEST of the Mississippi.

Uh, yeah.

Obviously that didn't happen. One might say that my husband has a confused sense of geography. Or one might say that he didn't give a flip where I wanted to be; he just needed a job. One also might say that it was divine intervention, as I was at a point in my life when I needed a bit of distance between myself and my extended family (all of whom happen to live west of the Mississippi).

[Aside to extended family: Love you guys - all is well now! :)]

Ha. Believe it if you dare.

Also remember that I've been sick for two weeks and I'm still on the mend, so if I sound snarky or snippy, kindly look the other way.

The POINT of this meandering story is that for all the years that we have lived in Maine, I have been thanking my dear husband for bringing us here.

Yes, really!

What? You may be asking if I thank him during the bitter cold winter months when we are surrounded by snow measured in feet and our days have 16 hours of darkness. The answer is YES.

I love it here. I LOVE it here. I'd be lying to you if I said it was perfect. I mean, there are those cold winter months with all the snow and lack of daylight. We also have PEOPLE here, which means, we have traffic (though most city folks wouldn't call it that), we have political disagreements, we have a bit of crime, and we have most of the problems that can be found elsewhere.

But there is so much good here, that it far outweighs the cold. The people are so danged nice. Not fake nice - just nice. The scenery is so beautiful. The air is so clean. The towns are so small. Sometimes it almost feels as if we're playing real life. Like, if we have municipal issues or town budget problems or tax hikes or some such thing, we can just elect one of our friends to fix it all up. And they will. That's not quite how it is, but that's how it FEELS... if that makes sense.

Last week we drove to Sabattus to our favorite apple orchard. The road was narrow and quaint, the pumpkins prolific, the trees just beginning to change. Young kids were riding their bikes along country roads. Without helmets. And it was NEAT. It seemed more real somehow.

Today I drove along Coastal Route One and the foliage was simply amazing. Every year we see this and every year I think I'm going to get used to it and maybe become complacent about the beauty. Never. I find myself oohing and aahing in the car alone, wishing someone were there to SHOW it to! And if that wasn't enough, a lone bald eagle was soaring overhead, peering at the river down below.


So I broke the cardinal rule and sent my husband a text message while I was driving. (Ok, really I was at a red light, so it was ok). I simply thanked him yet again for bringing me to Maine.

I'm not sure if he even gets how much I mean it. So I'll say it here for all the internet to see - - -

Thank you, my sweet husband, for bringing me to Maine!

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

02 October 2009

Hello, October.

Yes, I'm a day late. It didn't really hit me until today that we are in October. And besides that, I'm still sick. But I don't want to talk about that.

Let's think HAPPY thoughts. Maybe these will help...

People are saying that the leaves just aren't as vibrant this year. Some say because of all the rain earlier in the summer. Others say because of all the dry weather recently.

Either way, I think the leaves are pretty. Vibrant or not, the colors never cease to amaze me at this time of the year. :)

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

30 September 2009

Some whining for your viewing pleasure.

I am sick and when I am sick, I can't remember what it felt like NOT to be sick. I also can't imagine what it will be like to feel well again. For me, being sick is totally living in the moment. Sort of like being pregnant; but thankfully, not as long.

The worst (best?) part is that I don't even have something that can be treated by doctors or with medicine. I have a cold. A COLD. But it's a BAD cold, let me tell you. I've missed work - because no one wants me hacking up a lung while holding a baby. It's just not nice. I haven't smelled anything in days. I haven't had a good night's sleep in a week. I've bitten the heads off my husband and children so many times that Terry Pratchett would have a field day about their abilities to regenerate their own heads. Even my favorite tea is starting to taste like medicine.

* * * * *

On a different but sort of, not really, related note... I hate our dog. Our dog is about 14 or 15 years old. He was given to us by my brother, who found him abandoned at a rest area in Utah. During a blizzard. Maybe that little fact should have tipped us off, but we welcomed him into our home back in late 1996. And he's still with us. Don't ask me what kind of dog he is, because really, sometimes we're not even sure he's a dog. He's freakish. Here he is...

Don't be fooled. This may look like a dog. It may even look like a nice dog. But really, he is the angel of death.

In recent years, this dog has aged, noticably, though for years I called him Dick Clark, because I thought he would never get old. Now his eyesight is marginal and he's lost a few of his teeth. A few years ago, he began getting into the garbage. At that time, we still had our German Shepherd, so for the longest time, we weren't sure who was the culprit. We SHOULD have known because our Shepherd was perfect and never did anything wrong. REALLY! She was the best dog ever. Two years ago, when she died unexpectedly, I secretly wondered why it couldn't have been the OTHER dog. Why did it have to be the dog I LOVED and WANTED, rather than the one I only tolerated.

Ok, before you think I'm a complete ogre, I have loved this little dog. He has had his good points over the years. But now he is just bad. The garbage thing grew and evolved and now we are prisoners in our own home. And yard. This dog eats ANYTHING. Let me rephrase that. He eats ANYTHING. We locked up the garbage in the kitchen, but he can open cabinets and pick locks. We keep the bathroom doors shut. We keep bedroom doors shut. Problem is, in the winter, we heat with a wood stove, so we need the doors to remain open, or the only warm spaces in our home are the hallways.

So last winter, we put up baby gates so the dog would have access only to the kitchen and living room, which have been dog-proofed. But we also have a cat who demands access to the entire house. I won't go into the whole drama about the gates, but suffice it to say - we hate them. They are a nuisance. It's one thing to use a baby gate to protect the baby (or the house) for a set period of time, until said baby is old enough to go into the other parts of the house. But we have been dealing with these gates for years and this dog is still around. I think he might be immortal.

I even have proof.

I mentioned before that this dog eats anything. We're talking rocks, sticks, cat poop, toys, and chocolate (oh yes, he's stolen LOTS of it and didn't even get sick). He's sampled just about every plant and flower in our yard. I'm sure SOME of them have to be poisonous. Don't they? DON'T THEY?! We've had this little monster into the vet so many times over the years that he is known as "the repeat offender." I finally just gave them one of our credit cards for their enjoyment.

Why am I bringing this up now?

On Sunday, when I was really feeling sick and knowing I would never feel well again (just like I feel today), we went to church anyway, and came home to find that the dog had broken through ALL the gates and had shredded all the garbage in the house. Yes, all the doors were open, because THE GATES WERE UP. The next day, when I was home sick from work, I had to take my also-sick daughter into school late. I was gone maybe 20 minutes, but when I came home, the garbage had been attacked again.

Understand that we take our garbage out daily. This isn't some big stink. And we aren't putting raw meat or dog food or squirrels into our garbage. He likes tissues. And styrofoam. And gross bathroom stuff you don't even want me to mention.

Let me just say - that dog was ASLEEP when I left the house. For a while, I've thought this was part of growing old. You know, a senility issue. But this dog is smart. And conniving. He WAITS until we are gone or asleep. He NEVER does this when we are home or awake. Yes, he knows the difference. That is a smart and a very BAD dog.

Do you see why I hate this dog? And when I scold him, he looks at me as if he can't see me, faking blindness. Yes, I think he fakes, because he is evil like that. He has no problem finding the GARBAGE!

Ok, well that's pretty much the end of my rant. We'll keep this dog until his dying day or until we have to put him down (though don't think I don't think about doing it BEFORE he gets too old and ill to live).

* * * * *

On another, shockingly cheerful note, the trees are changing in Maine and as always, they are simply breath-taking. :)

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

20 September 2009

Getting Darker

I'm always amazed at how dark it gets at this time of the year - and how quickly. Two days ago, I went out for an early walk at 6:15 a.m. and it was light out. The sun wasn't up, but it was well on its way. Today, at 6:20, I'm looking out the window and it is DARK. I see a little hint of light in the east, but there's no way I'm going out walking when it's this dark.

When is that fall/back time change thing coming, anyway? That is always the BEST day - at least the first half of the day is. You know how you wake up early feeling rested, you see that the sun is up earlier and all is well.

And then suddenly it's dark at 4 p.m.


Oh wow, and on another random note, I just looked out the window again and noticed the thermometer is reading 35 degrees. It's only a matter of time... until I start obsessing about the weather. Again.

Ok, off to make more tea for my youngest daughter who has the distinct family honor of having the first cold of the season. But I'm not worried, I'm sure she'll share it with the rest of us. She's generous like that.

PS ~ I have no idea why the time stamp at the bottom of this post says 5:15 rather than 6:15. I checked with blogger, and apparently they think it's 5:15 on the East Coast. Whatever. I'm looking at all the clocks in my kitchen, and while they rarely agree on the exact time, they all tell me it is well past 6:00. And it's still dark.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

13 September 2009

Three-Hour Tour

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this not-so-tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship...

The mate was a mighty sailing man,
The skipper brave and sure.
Five (+) passengers set sail that day
For a three hour tour, a three hour tour...

CREAK!!!!! That was the sound of the record scratching.

Our shocked expressions in the photo above indicate that it was much more chilly on the boat ride than we'd anticipated. This also should clarify that it wasn't really a tropical tour in the least.

My son, who, when we'd told him we were going on a sunset/dinner cruise, somehow got the idea that it would be more like DiMillo's than this. Ha ha ha. Yeah. He was the one who was the least thrilled about the cold. And his sisters found this hilarious.

But let me tell you about the food. Ah, the food. We are in Maine, remember, so lobster is not a luxury, but a staple for many folks. We had lobster rolls, shrimp, crab appetizers, and all kinds of other goodies. We also had wine. After all, it WAS chilly, so the wine was sort of... medicinal. Yeah.

We left from Freeport and saw some lovely sights on the islands around Casco Bay. Cool houses, an eagles nest, and seals, though none of our photos of the seals came out right.

The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The minnow would be lost, the minnow would be lost...

Ok, not really. The weather was beautiful, as was the primary reason we came - the sunset. I took about 3000 photos of the sunset, but here are some of the best.

Aren't those colors in the water amazing? This last shot is looking back, out to sea, away from the sunset. Looks pretty bleak and cold to me. I tip my hat to all the lobstermen who are out there every day, working hard, hardly on a pleasure cruise. But I do envy the scenery they get to see. I can't imagine ever getting tired of that.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

07 September 2009

Sunrise over Bailey Island

Yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that no one in my family likes to do anything fun. Ever. It was a beautiful sunny day and they all wanted to stay inside and watch a DVD. Granted, they had spent the day before outside, as well as part of that morning, but for me, it's never enough. Especially with the impending winter just around the corner. As John Wayne would say, "we were burning daylight!"

So my husband said something that shocked me. He suggested we get up early the next morning and drive to the end of Bailey Island to watch the sunrise over the ocean.

That's true love, folks. This is a man who is not a morning person and who rarely gets a good night's sleep. He has to be up before dawn every day, and one of the things he likes to do most is to sleep in. So of course I jumped at the chance before he changed his mind.

Then at 4:30 this morning when my alarm went off, I wondered what the heck I was thinking when I agreed to this. It was COLD. And DARK. Had I slept through fall, only to find winter at my doorstep?

We dressed for the 40 degree chill and made the quiet drive to Bailey Island.

And this is what we saw...

Did I mention there was a full moon?

Lobstermen were already out working hard.

Here it comes...

We applauded when it peeked over the horizon.

What a way to start the day.

After that, we went out for breakfast and then everyone came home and went back to bed.

Happy Labor Day, everyone.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

Our Garden, such as it is...

My husband says we had an English Garden summer, meaning, with all the rain, it was a summer for flowers, not vegetables. In a way he's right. I mean, flowers all over the area have been stunning this year. But living in our dead zone, our flowers seemed to hate the water. Whatever. I've stopped trying to figure it out. I've decided that if only one or two things grow in our yard, THAT is what I will plant and nurture.

All summer, our vegetable garden looked like the cherry on top of the dead zone sundae. The tomato plants choked and struggled, the peppers keeled over and rotted clean away. We didn't even bother with cucumbers this year, though I've heard some of our neighbors had a bumper crop. Go figure!

For the past two weeks we have had nothing but sunshine, and lo and behold, a few tomatoes survived. Oddly, though they had so little sun all summer, the marigolds are thriving. And the giant sunflower we planted has grown to an astronomical height of about 5 feet. We took a picture while lying on the ground, just to make it feel special.

I'd love to show you the beautiful roses, clematis, hollyhocks and bee balm... but some never even came up. The ones that did were, shall we say, less than impressive.

But I'll say what I say every year at this time, regarding our gardens... there's always next year!

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

End of Summer Hike

So last Monday, the day before school began, I planned to take my girls on a small hike and picnic, sort of as a last hurrah. As fate would have it, my younger daughter had sports practice at school that day. Although I tried to talk her into skipping, she wouldn't do it, so the hike ended up as a twosome, with just me and my older daughter.

Since we didn't have all day and wanted something easy, we opted for one of our favorite spots - Bradbury Mountain. We took the one-mile trail to the summit, which is more of a leisurely walk than a hike, but that's what we were looking for. We took our lunch and sat on the big flat rock at the top, looking out over the trees to the ocean in the distance.

I highly recommend this.

For the walk down, we opted for the 1/5 mile route, which is steep and treacherous in winter, but quick and pretty in summer.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes