31 August 2009

Heard at our house tonight...

Me: "Why don't you go spend a few extra minutes of quality time with your daughters since they're going back to school tomorrow?"

Him: "Sure!"

* A few minutes later *

Daughter: "Dad, gosh, leave me alone! Stop bothering me!"

Him: - Maniacal laughter -.

Sigh. ALL these children...

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

30 August 2009

The Dead Zone

We were out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon drive today and Todd remarked about how green everything is. Just recently he was in California for a few days, and he reminded us what it's like to fly across the country, watching the terrain change so drastically.

Once you're ten miles out from the CA coast, you're pretty much in flat, dry, desert terrain, and it's like that until you hit Oklahoma. From then on, the view gets greener and greener until you get to Maine, where the intense green mixes with the deep blue of the ocean, by way of islands and inlets. Unless of course it's winter, but that's a whole 'nuther story.

Anyway, we were talking about how easily and quickly things grow here, compared to various other parts of the country. We marveled at the flower gardens, the green meadows, and of course the trees. The trees which are so thick, one can easily get lost in the Maine woods - even when quite close to civilization.

And then, as the conversation lulled, somebody said... "Except at OUR house."

Uh, yeah.

At our house, the flowers are wimpy, the vegetables gasp for life, and the lawn looks sickly. Of course the trees are fine. And the weeds. The weeds seem to LOVE our sandy soil. At this remark, Todd declared that we live in a dead zone; that all of Maine is a prolific growing mecca, while our little 1/2 acre patch of property is existing in another dimension.

At this, our daughter pointed out that maybe that's why our cell phones work everywhere in the entire COUNTRY (even on remote, above-timberline mountaintops in Colorado and in the middle of lakes in rural Maine) but not in our house.


The conversation pretty much ended right there.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

25 August 2009

Popham Beach Perfection

Low Tide

Ripples and Puddles

Brave Boogie-Boarder
(brave because of the water temp, not so much the waves)

Hurricane Bill, where are you?

Too cold for this surfer!

Debris that washed up

One of many colorful umbrellas

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

24 August 2009

Our Week at the Lake

Earlier this month, we had the privilege of spending a week in a cottage by a lake in the Belgrade region of Maine. Although we made our reservation (and paid our money) back in April, after an incredibly soggy summer, we half expected to be spending our week looking out the screened-in porch at the rain.

But lo and behold, the weather in Maine smiled upon our family that week and we had almost non-stop sunshine.

Todd's parent's were kind enough to lend us their boat for our vacation, and then they joined us part way through the week for swimming, fishing, playing board games, and general relaxation.

The cottage included just enough beds for everyone, a lovely screened-in porch, and a small dock which was the launch place for all the great floaties, kayaks, and of course, the boat.

We took the boat out each day for fishing, and the lake was small enough that one or two of us could kayak to whatever fishing spot seemed to be the favorite on a given day.

The fishing was - in a word - great. As my father-in-law so eloquently put it, "Some days you fish and other days you catch." This entire week was a catching week. They caught multiple large mouth bass that were well over 4 pounds.

And as you can see here, my daughters fished, too. Understand that I grew up fishing in Colorado. Trout fishing in the mountain streams. When I was very small, I used to name every fish I caught - even if it was going to be eaten. Somehow, I was ok with it. When I was 14, I caught a 5.5 pound, 21 inch rainbow trout which my dad saved and took to a taxidermist. I still have that fish.

But I've turned into a bit of a lightweight where fishing is concerned, especially since Todd doesn't fish for food; just for sport. He is very careful with the fish and always throws them back (or rather, gently puts them back) but to me, what he does is simply snagging their lips for sport, which I don't get.

Still, in spite of my squeamishness, I do get caught up in the thrill of the catch, and I was snapping photos right and left.

The lake water hovered around 76 degrees each day, which, combined with air temps of around 80, was PERFECT. I think in my next life I want to be a water bird. A loon maybe.

Here are Grandma and Grandpa Estes. And no, Grandpa isn't anti-social (well, not TOO much). He is the old man and the sea. He takes his fishing VERY seriously. If you don't believe me, just ask him - but I know you're too scared.

Grandma, on the other hand, could be seen catching fish, kayaking, and that's her above, floating on the lake on the airbed next to the dock.

The wildlife at the lake was abundant, especially the birds. We enjoyed watching a family of bald eagles whose young had left the nest but were still following mom and dad around, crying about everything. You know, like college students. :)

We also saw the ospreys (which inhabited the nest shown below) take on a great blue heron. The heron mistakenly (and unknowingly) flew too close to the nest and an in-flight battle reminiscent of the red barons ensued. I'm happy to report that no birds were hurt in the display, but I'm sure the heron will steer clear of that area for a while.

To me, the best part of the vacation was something my son brought along. He brought his satellite radio and we found that there is an all-1940s station. We set up the radio on the screened porch, and turned it up loud enough so we could hear it down on the dock.

Let me tell you, being at a lake like this in Maine is a step back in time as it is, what with the nearby small towns, the quiet, the simple lifestyles, not to mention the rustic cottages, most of which have neither phone nor internet, and many of which use only lake water. But adding that lovely music to the mix just completed the magic. As we swam, we heard Bing Crosby crooning. As we sunned on the dock, we could hear Louis Armstrong singing and saxophones playing. As we played board games at night in the soft lamplight, we listened to Doris Day.

Just imagine the following song (as an example - but not with the home-made and misspelled video) with those amazing views across the lake...

I highly recommend this as a summer vacation. There is no way you can NOT relax.

Cheers, friends!

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

21 August 2009

Yesterday at Bailey Island

We have just over a week until school starts up again. With temps in the high 80s and lower 90s all week, I've been almost panicky about getting to the beach ONE LAST TIME before... well, you know, before all hope is lost.

But there hasn't been time. With all our different work schedules, fall sports starting up, and too much to do all the way around, it just hasn't happened.

Then yesterday, we had an hour and 1/2 free. I wanted to race to the nearest beach and make the most of it, but my daughters did not. (Yes, there is something seriously wrong with them - did public school ruin them? Whatever - a subject for another post.) Then one of them suggested we go to Land's End.

Land's End is a gift shop at the end of the road on Bailey Island. Literally, the road ends just before the surf begins, and there is a gift shop off to the side. I don't know if the area was called Land's End before the shop arrived, or what. Doesn't matter.

We went.

I've posted here before about my need to see the horizon on a regular basis (though it's sad how seldom I actually do just that). I've also posted about the magical drive from Brunswick, through Great Island, Orr's Island, and Bailey Island, to Land's End. Every time I go, I tell myself that I should make time to drive down there more often - maybe a couple of times a month. But then I never do.

There is a tiny, rocky beach at Land's End. We walked on the beach, waded in the chilly water, watched children pick up crabs and shells, and sat in the sun, watching lobster boats come and go. It was an hour of heaven.

Remind me to go back next week.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

09 August 2009

I'm on a boat!

Ok, in reality, he doesn't even know that song. But our daughter does, and she was kind (?) enough to sing it to us while out on our borrowed boat today.

Good times now that summah is finally here. :)

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

02 August 2009

Four Weeks

Four weeks from tomorrow, my children will go back to school. Actually, one of them will be going back to college in two weeks. The other two go back the end of August, which, although problematic in so many ways, is something I think I'm ready for.

I'd like to say it's been a loooonnnngggg rainy summer, but that would be untrue. It has been a rainy summer, for sure, but it has only SEEMED long.

After all those years of homeschooling, the end of their first year in "real" school brought visions of spending days at the beach, going to Funtown, and having hours on end to walk to the local ice cream shop with friends, jump on the trampoline, run in the sprinklers, and go on long walks in the twilight hours. Instead, they've spent most of the summer indoors, watching movies, playing video games, and doing indoor things... you know, all those things they do during WINTER breaks - without the added option of going skiing.

As of today, August 2, we have gone to the beach ONE time.

We hswam at the local pond ONE time.

The kids have jumped on the trampoline maybe three times.

We've gone to get ice cream in the car, dodging raindrops as we ran into the ice cream parlor. And we wore sweaters.

The sprinkler has not been on AT ALL this summer. In fact, I don't think I ever even took it out of the shed.

Long walks in the evening have been wet; and on the rare dry evening, the mosquitoes have been so prolific due to all the rain that being outdoors after sunset is nearly unbearable.

We have not gone to Funtown, Aquaboggan, or Canobie Lake.

If you don't believe me (and if you didn't believe all my complaining about the weather all summer) then read THIS. I ask you, is that a record we really want to break?

I vote no.

Ok, ok, at the risk of sounding whiney, we DID spend some time in Colorado and New Mexico visiting relatives and enjoying CONSTANT sunshine. But really, the best part about living in Maine is the lovely summertime, and this year, we got ripped off because Maine forgot to have summer until JUST NOW.

So over the next four weeks, we're going to try to cram in all these fun activities - amidst the fact that I just got a new job. (I figured, with all this rain, why wait til school starts - why not now?)

And then I will send the kids back to school so that they can start having fun again and so that I can rest.

And I'll just bet that THAT is when the sun will really come out. You know it's true.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes