30 April 2009

Be Still My Bleeding Heart

Look what has popped up in our garden.

I still can't get over the fact that all the perennials I planted last summer are coming back up. I mean, I know that's the idea, but after ALL THAT SNOW this winter, it just amazes me.

Spring is so cool.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

29 April 2009

Small Towns

While I love living in a small town, there is one aspect of small town life that really gets under my skin. The local small town newspapers are crossing a line when they print personal information about anyone involved in an altercation with the law - even if the person in question is not at fault.

Each day in our local paper, I see not only the names and towns of people who have been involved in traffic accidents, domestic disturbances, or other incidents involving law enforcement, but also listed are their street addresses and their ages.

Maybe this is some kind of a potential deterrent to would-be criminals? Drive drunk and we'll print your name in the paper. Hit your wife and all your neighbors will know about it. But is the newspaper crossing a privacy line?

Several years ago, my mother-in-law, who lives in a small town in Rhode Island, was in a traffic accident that was not her fault. But in that town, as in ours, names, ages, and addresses of everyone involved are printed in the paper. So my spunky mother-in-law, as she was giving her information to the policeman, asked him not to list her age because she didn't want her age in the newspaper. It wasn't even that she cared if anyone knew how old she was - she just didn't want it there in black and white through no fault of her own.

I can't say I blame her. I don't see this working as a deterrent, but I do see privacy issues that are troubling. As if the powers-that-be didn't already know enough about us. You know, from the internet. Blogs and all that. :)

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

25 April 2009

Dang, it's really happening...

I should have knocked on wood two days ago when I wrote all that stuff about the stellar forecast for the weekend and how the weather man had BETTER NOT BE WRONG.

Understand that ALL WEEK LONG, we were told - no, taunted - with promises of temps in the high 70s all weekend. ALL WEEKEND. It got us through the week. It got us through the rain. We thought, "spring is finally here and we're all finally going to get a much needed WARM, SUNNY WEEKEND!"

Sorry about all the yelling. I just can't help myself.

I awakened to clouds and a porch covered with rain water. After sitting here in denial for about a half hour, I looked at the forecast and it now says a high of 62 today. And windy. Tomorrow, they're saying rain. RAIN???

I don't know whether to blame the weather people or my friend Lisa, in Kansas. Yesterday, Lisa told me that each day we seem to be getting her weather from the day before. She predicted, yesterday, that today would be windy. I chose to ignore her. And now there's the wind.

I could choose to hate my friend, Lisa, or hate the weather guy - because this is so obviously the fault of ONE OF THEM. But I could never hate my good friend, so I'll hate the weather guy, whom I hardly know (and in reality, he doesn't know me at all).

Yet if Kansas gets snow today, Lisa will be walking on thin ice. No pun intended.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

23 April 2009

It's Spring Vacation at Our House

... "and mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again!"

Ok, not really. But the schools here are positively evil in their quest to ruin the vacations of the high school kids. To date, every single vacation (including Christmas, Thanksgiving, Winter Break) and every single long weekend has been slammed with loads of homework.

My 9th grader is required to build a musical instrument for science during this break. "No problem," you might say, "Just slap some wax paper over a comb!" Uh, no. This project is all about sound and notes and Mozart and what have you, so the instrument must have at least eight NOTES and it must be played in front of the class. But as ridiculous as it all is, especially since it's assigned over break, that's all I'm going to say about it, because I've already given it way too much attention as it is.

The big news at our house, in our town, heck, across the entire state of Maine, is the weather. We just got finished with three days of rain, and now we are all hanging desperately to the words of our local weather people, who have promised us sunshine AND warmth this weekend. Everyone is talking about it. EVERYONE. The temperature is supposed to be near 80 all weekend, with abundant sunshine.

There will be some very angry Mainers if the weather guys are wrong. Really - I mean, we are all holding onto this weekend's weather rather fanatically - but we ARE doing it and it will be ugly if it is cold and/or rainy. If it snows, someone might just have to die. Ok, not really. Well, maybe.

Well, I'm off to help build a xylophone, dig the lawn chairs out of the shed and marvel that the flowers I planted last year are actually coming back up.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

16 April 2009

Can't see the forest for the laundry

Funny, I'm so used to using the three clotheslines in our basement, that I often forget about the back yard. And considering that many of our seasons consist of snow, lots of bugs, or serious pollen, the back yard isn't usually the best option.

But when the dryer breaks down, it's funny how suddenly the clothesline in the back yard is so OBVIOUS. Especially on the warmest, sunniest, breeziest day of the year so far. No more snow, not much pollen yet, and still (knock on wood) very few bugs. How cool (and coincidental) is that?

Isn't sunshine the best?

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

15 April 2009

On a Different Note

And in the same spirit of telling my teenaged daughters' secrets to the internet, I have a story about the younger one...

She competes in track and field at the local high school (and yes, still does basketball on the weekends and now driver's ed, as well). She's a busy kid. But this story is about track and about how things are with some of the kids here in our small town in Maine.

I should start by saying, five years ago, when we were homeschooling our son, he competed in track at the same high school. The school is surrounded by acres and acres of woods with wonderful trails, where much of the running practice takes place. Often, the head coach will send out groups of students to run for 30-45 minutes on the trails.

When my son was competing at the school, he and a group of about eight guys would run into the woods and they always managed to find mischief, as teenaged boys will often do. My son loved to come home from track practice and tell me about all these adventures. I'm not sure if that was a blessing or a curse.

One time the group decided to check out an old forest ranger tower. It was about 50 feet high, just peeking above the trees at the top of a hill. Apparently, as one of the boys climbed up, he discovered a hornet's nest near the top. After carefully climbing back down, the boys decided they couldn't leave a perfectly good hornet's nest alone.

Somebody decided to climb all the way up with a stick and knock down the nest. Amazingly, he was successful. The nest fell to the ground below, and the brave/stupid climber climbed down. The boys gathered around to survey the damage. The nest seemed deserted, so they did what anyone else would NEVER do - they started kicking it around.

Without warning, hornets began emerging from the nest and the boys decided it was time to run (see, they weren't COMPLETELY stupid). First they had to scuttle under a barbed wire fence, and then they ran. They ran FAST. They passed a big group of girls in the woods as they ran, and just screamed unintelligibly for them to get out of there. The girls followed them in a panic, and said later that they thought the boys had run into an angry bear or moose.

Then there was the time they ran all the way to a local construction site and decided to test-drive a tractor. They all ran back into the woods when one of the construction workers came to investigate.

And of course there was the nearby sinkhole where they all liked to go swimming (after jumping off the 20-foot cliff). Oh God, the grey hairs that popped out of my head during those years as my son came home with story after story.

So yesterday, youngest daughter came home and declared that some of the boys on the track team had killed a turkey in the woods. She wasn't there and she's suspicious about possible embellishment, but apparently a group of boys came back from their run with panicked looks, nervous laughs and blood on their hands. Literally. They walked right up to the head coach and admitted that they'd tried to catch a turkey and inadvertently killed it. As an aside, have you seen the big claws on turkeys? They can be quite vicious and dangerous. Seems the blood was more from the boys than the turkey. Yeah, I would think so.

I was sad to think the boys killed a turkey, but when I stopped to think about it, it made me smile. Not the death of the poor bird, but the utter wholesomeness of it all. When I think of the things those boys COULD have been doing out in the woods - drugs, drinking, vandalism, bullying, hazing, or even just chasing girls or smoking. Instead, they were just being boys - in an old fashioned or bygone era sort of way. I like that.

I also have to say that this time around, I'm glad I have a girl. Sometimes it's just easier that way.


Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

13 April 2009

Easter Monday

The reality is that we don't celebrate Easter Monday at our house. We have nothing against it, it's just that for us, once Easter is over, it's over. Though I have to say, when my children were younger, they continued hiding and finding Easter Eggs around the house for a week or more.

But I'm writing on Easter Monday because Easter Sunday was such a crazy day at our house; and not in the way you might think, with too many chocolate bunnies, fights over Easter Eggs, or being late for church. No, our Easter was consumed with underage drinking.

To be clear, my 16-year-old daughter chose to write her big, sophomore research paper on the drinking age, and whether or not it is the right age, or whether it should be raised or lowered. While it might have been an interesting teaching tool to get our teens drunk, we opted, instead, to spend lots of family time talking about all the information she had researched, and we discussed the pros and cons of both sides of the equation. (And I was kidding about getting them drunk, just so ya know).

We didn't PLAN to spend our weekend doing this, but understand that the paper was due today. Although this project was assigned EIGHT WEEKS AGO, my daughter thought it might be more interesting and fun to put it off for at least the first month. Then at about the time she finally began working on it, she was slammed with the same flu I had. But worse. Last Wednesday, she was hit with the reality that her project was due in FIVE DAYS. Panic set in and our house became similar to a college dorm during finals week. Caffeine was flowing, paper flying everywhere, and late nights. Oh, the late nights!

Thing is, I'm not in college anymore. More importantly, I'm not college age anymore. There is not enough caffeine in a convenience store that would keep me awake all night to write a coherent paper.

Now that I think of it, maybe I should have taken to drinking over the weekend. That might have given my daughter a few more things to think about.

Anyway, our Easter looked like this:

Friday night - go over notes with daughter late into the night, encouraging, proof-reading, helping with organization.

Saturday - spend all day in the Bangor area at a basketball tournament with one daughter while the other daughter stayed home working on her project. She was sure she'd have it finished that night.

Saturday night - grill burgers, continue to help and encourage daughter on project. Discover not only that she is not finished, but that she also has a biology project due the same day. Sigh heavily. Stay up until 11, lamenting the fact that I have to get up in less than 6 hours to go to the mountaintop Easter sunrise service.

Sunday morning (4:45 a.m.) - dress warmly in the dark, awaken kids, wonder why we do this, and discover that research project daughter only went to sleep an hour ago. Go to service, almost have a heart attack walking up the mountain in the cold, shiver in the wind waiting for the service to begin, and then sing songs while watching the sun peek over the horizon, remembering clearly, why we do this.

(7:30 a.m.) - arrive home with donuts, fall into the sleep of the dead for two hours.

(10:00 a.m.) - wake up to start cooking the ham and make all the food I didn't make the day before. Hear research project daughter awaken in a panic that she wasted so much time sleeping. This was also probably the low point of our day. The reality that she'd missed the sunrise service hit her, and she had what can only be called, a MELTDOWN. After we found her head and put it back on her body, I started helping her again, only to find that she still had a LONG way to go.

(2:30 p.m.) - took a break from the research project to have Easter dinner.

(3:30 p.m.) - back to work.

(4:30 p.m.) - saw son off as he headed back to college.

(5:15 p.m.) - saw other daughter off as she headed to driver's ed. (On Easter? Yeah.)

(10:00 p.m.) - on the home stretch, encouraged bleary-eyed daughter to go on to sleep and set alarm for 4:00 a.m. to do the finishing touches.

(11:00 p.m.) - fell asleep.

Today - the big project (as well as the smaller one) was finished by 8:00 a.m. and zombie daughter went to school only 30 minutes late.

Now, about that drink...

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

09 April 2009

A Tragic Good-bye

Today I am consumed with THIS STORY.

And in the face of such sadness, I have renewed faith in people. And in the power and immediacy of the internet. Often it feels like a ball and chain. Today it is a catalyst of love and support.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

03 April 2009

Tourists, Beware.

The stomach flu has come to Maine. If you don't like fever, chills, and throwing up, then stay away - for a few weeks anyway.

Really, it shocks me how many people I know have this. And stupid me, just recently I was marveling at how I've not gotten sick at all this year. Then it hit me yesterday morning as I awakened. I got up to make breakfast (and sack lunches) for my kids, and I couldn't finish. The smell of food - any kind - was appalling.

So I got the kids out the door and then stayed on the couch for the rest of the day (in between trips to the bathroom to throw up, of course). Aren't you glad I shared that?

This morning I feel so much better. Although I still can't eat, the smell of food no longer sickens me, and my head no longer hurts. I do feel a bit like I've been beat up, but I've cancelled everything for the second day in a row, so I'll spend the day much as I did yesterday, rotting my brain watching daytime TV.

Yesterday I had the TV on all day, and I watched it off and on. There were some suprisingly interesting things, but there was also so much drivel. I have to say, the Martha Stewart show is painful to watch - a total yawner, fever or no fever.

Of course, the fever was an issue for me all day because it made me cry about weird things. I cried when I saw Mary Tyler Moore on The View, talking about her diabetes and alcoholism. I cried when they showed clips from her old show. But then I also cried when I saw a preview for the Hannah Montana Movie and a preview for the new Fast and the Furious. I won't try to analyze the weirdness of that - I'll just blame it on the fever.

Now my 16-year-old daughter has the same thing, on top of the fact that she's already exceeded the permissable absences at the public school for this quarter. She's an A student and they're threatening to fail her because she's been sick too many times... unless I jump through the required hoops and walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope, which of course I'll do. Once I'm better.

And one of these days I'll resume spring cleaning, but this is not that day.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes