31 August 2011

First of the Last

This is the first day of our youngest child's senior year in high school.

The empty nest is right around the corner...

Copyright © 2011 - Paulla Estes

28 August 2011

Hurricane Irene

I hesitate to write the word "hurricane." At this hour of the morning, Irene is centered in New York City and is still a Category One hurricane, but just barely. By the time she reaches the shores of Maine, she will most likely be downgraded to a tropical storm.

Not that a tropical storm isn't a serious thing.

The media has done it's work and this storm is all anyone in Maine is talking about. Or maybe I'm watching TV a bit more than I usually do. Either way, I dislike hype about anything, so although we've taken the usual precautions in the face of such a storm, I've also sort of shrugged it off for how it will impact our area. Downed tree limbs and power outages will most likely be our only problems. And my only real concern about that is losing all the food in our refrigerator and freezer.

If that's my biggest problem, then I'm doing ok.

* * * * *

In other news, a couple of weeks ago, I hired the friend of a friend to clean out and organize our garage. She did such a good job that we were able to put both cars in the garage for this storm - a monumental thing, for sure.

If I had the money, I'd hire her to clean out and organize every room in our house, but instead, I've taken what I saw her do in the garage, and I've spent the last week organizing our home. Or rather, organizing the kitchen and THINKING about organizing the rest of the house. It's gonna take a while.

But in doing this, I'm learning a lot about myself. First, I'm not as dense and disorganized as I thought. BUT, I have serious distraction issues. After thinking it over, I realize I'm probably a little bit OCD, quite a bit ADD, and terribly MBB. Yeah, Obsessive Compulsive, Attention Deficit, and Messy Beyond Belief.

On Friday, I cleaned out and organized the refrigerator and freezer. At one point, I took some things from our small kitchen freezer to our large basement freezer. Once down there, I saw that the laundry needed to be put into the dryer. After doing that, I folded the clothes already in the dryer, and then I cleaned out the cat litter box. At that point, I noticed some things on one of the basement shelves I needed to deal with. An hour later, I went back upstairs to the kitchen and saw the refrigerator items still sitting all over the kitchen table. Such is the story of my erratic life.

A day stuck at home because of a tropical storm seems like a good time to continue getting organized.

Or maybe just to take a nap. Yeah, maybe that instead.

Copyright © 2011 - Paulla Estes

25 August 2011

Marathons and Earthquakes and Hurricanes, Oh My!

As if taking our daughter to college last week wasn't traumatic enough for one summer, we returned only to jump right back into the craziness we call life here in Maine. Small towns and peacefulness you say? In theory, perhaps. But for us, life hardly ever seems to slow down.

I'm up to my longest mileage in the marathon training. I wasn't able to do my fast 12-miler last week in Arizona because of the heat. It was either - stay on schedule or die of heatstroke. Hmmm, choices. So this week I had three days to get over jet lag and do my first 20-miler before my husband has YET ANOTHER dental surgery on Thursday (later this morning).

As I was gearing up for that, yesterday, we had an earthquake. I'm sure you've heard all about it. I mean, who hasn't? But it WAS noteworthy. I felt an earthquake here in Maine about 8 or 9 years ago. My husband and I were laying in bed on a Saturday morning when the bed started to shake - and not in the way you might hope. Freaked us both out - hadn't we left all that in California?

Yesterday when it happened, I was cleaning out kitchen cabinets and never felt a thing. My daughter, however, was sitting on her bed doing summer homework (summer homework - two words that should never go together) and she felt her bed shaking. She came downstairs to tell me at about the same time I heard the news about the earthquake on the TV.

It's been the talk of the town, that tiny tremor. Just goes to show we've got a LOT of excitement going on here in our town.

About the same time we heard about the earthquake, talk about Hurricane Irene splashed all over the news stations. They're saying this will be the first big hurricane to hit Maine in 70 years. Here's what they say it might do:

Of course the media LOVES to sensationalize everything, so we'll see... but it does seem like it's serious this time.

In the midst of all that, I went out and walked the 20 miles yesterday. Took me just over 6 hours, breaks included, and I came back with a nice, fat blister on my heel - the first casualty of all this training.

In all honesty, I came back ready to quit. The reason I started this in the first place was to see if I COULD do it. After reaching 20 miles, I now know that I could. So why prolong the agony? I mentioned this to my family and they were horrified. "You're an Estes! You can't quit!"

So I plod on. I have one more 20-miler in two weeks and then I taper off before the big day. THANK GOD.

Of course lack of sleep, jet lag, taking my daughter to college, and fighting a cold MIGHT have something to do with my lack of enthusiasm. Just sayin.

Copyright © 2011 - Paulla Estes

24 August 2011

Where do I begin?

We spent last week in Arizona, taking our middle child to her freshman year in college.

Is it just me, or do freshman dorms always look a bit like prison cells? I mean, we fix them up with cute comforters, posters, etc., but underneath it all, they're just cells, right?

We also got to spend time with our oldest who is in grad school at the same university.

Having my little girl so far away is hard for this mom, but knowing her dorm is a stone's throw from her brother's apartment is very comforting. And he's been looking out for her in brotherly ways, like helping to haul boxes and setting up her online X-box account. He also invites her over to hang with his friends. He's a keeper!

We saw and did so much while we were there. Not only did we see rugged mountains, wide-open spaces, spectacular sunrises, and cactus galore, we also saw the inside of many malls and Target stores. Oh God, the shopping we did. And I am not a natural shopper, so it was fun but exhausting.

The really weird thing was the humidity. Arizona? Humidity? Oh yeah, let me tell you. It's monsoon season there, which means they have thunderstorms every afternoon. And it was more humid than it is here in Maine. And much hotter. I got up every morning to exercise BEFORE sunrise, and it was 80 degrees and humid. So much for "it's a dry heat." Thankfully monsoon season is only during July and August. The rest of the year is pretty much perfect, if you like summer all year long.

We saw lots of desert-y goodness.

And had some laughs before we said good-bye to our little girl.

Good-byes are never easy, but that was an especially tough one. Yet, it warms my heart to know that she's just where she needs to be - my girl who does not do well with darkness and cold... Arizona is custom made for her! Maine... not so much.

The day we said good-bye... my three babies, oldest to youngest.

Now that our baby is a senior, we'll be doing this again next year - same bat time, same bat channel.


Copyright © 2011 - Paulla Estes

20 August 2011


On vacation this week, but I'm saving up all the things I want to tell you about why I love Maine better than every place else (except in January and February... Ok, and March and a little of April).


Copyright © 2011 - Paulla Estes

10 August 2011


I am shocked and stunned at how much there is to do before my daughter leaves on Sunday for her freshman year out west. There just isn't enough time.

And now the emotions are starting to hit me, a bit sooner than expected. I hate good-byes, and this good-bye is going to be particularly hard, as we won't see her again until Christmas.

*throat tightening*

God help me.


In other news, I am walking 18 miles this week. In one day.

Now, however, I am realizing why I am doing this. It is giving me a purpose - something to do - so I won't fixate on the fact that my little girl is going to be so far away.


Copyright © 2011 - Paulla Estes

03 August 2011


Well, I overdid it again.

On Sunday, my husband and daughter went fishing, so I agreed to bring our other daughter and meet them at the lake for lunch (since all day on a boat is just a bit too much for me). They were leaving at 4am, and since no one in our house can do anything quietly ever, I knew I'd be up too (not that I'm bitter or anything). So I planned to do my 16-mile walk that day. I could start early, perhaps right after they left.

Well, I was all ready to go at 4:30 but it was still dark. We live in a residential area, but it's right on the edge of the woods (everything in Maine is right on the edge of the woods) and the woods in Maine are THICK. People get lost in those woods every year. Not that I was going into the woods, but I don't like the idea of walking by them in the dark. I have a big imagination and Stephen King doesn't live too far away. Need I say more?

So I waited and left at 5:00. It was still pretty dark, but the sky was lighting up and at least I could see where I was going.

Let me tell you, the roads of small town Maine are pretty deserted at 5:00 on a Sunday morning. It was just me out there. Not one other person or car. As I got about a mile down the main road into town, I was passing quiet houses and glimpses of the woods beyond. It was incredibly peaceful. And then I heard a coyote not far behind the houses.

Coyotes are pretty harmless in my book, unless one is a cat or a rodent. If I came across a coyote, I figure he'd be more afraid of me than I would be of him. But it was still partially dark and I was all alone. If you're heard the mournful, high-pitched howl, you know it can be a little unnerving. And then I heard a second one join in. Moments later, a whole slew of coyote howls and yips were coming from not more than 100 yards away.

And then they started getting louder. Or closer. Or maybe it was my imagination. Or Stephen King. Who knows, but I started looking around for a branch to use as a weapon, and I scanned some of the houses to see if any had porches or open windows I might scramble through in the event that the crazed pack of coyotes decided I looked like breakfast.

Within about 5 minutes, I had passed out of range and could no longer hear them. Crisis averted.

I got to the main part of town about the time the sun came up. I stopped at Tim Horton's (the only place open) for another bottle of water, and I have to report here, that although Tim Horton's has a lot of tasty menu items, their bottled water tasted like dirty melted snow. Ugh.

It was only about 60 degrees and I was feeling good, so I walked fast. BIG mistake. Between that and the Tim Horton's nasty-water, at about mile 8, when I was farthest from home, I sort of crashed. I was no where near any place that I could sit down, rest, use the restroom, or get food. I was walking through a sort of industrial area... so the smells didn't help either. I slowed way down and thought about just curling up on the side of the road to die - the road that had now become busy with Sunday morning traffic.

I plodded on. I finally reached a grocery store where I got to rest and refuel. At that point, I was just under 4 miles from home and by my ridiculous schedule, I had exactly one hour to get there. After all, I wanted to get to the lake! Now, 4 miles an hour isn't usually a problem for me. But after 12 miles of hard walking, I had very little left. Still, I pressed on and made it in 55 minutes.

It's amazing how quickly the human body recovers. Or so it seems. After stretching and eating, the endorphin rush kicked in and I felt great. A quick shower and then my daughter and I were on the road to the lake. We picked up lunch, found the rest of the family, boarded the boat, and then... it hit me. The nausea, the sleepiness, the confusion. I laid across the side of the boat, moaning, wishing for death. My husband suggested I get in the water to cool down, but I was afraid I wouldn't be able to swim. I was THAT tired.

I made it through the day, but after the crazy walk and too much sun, Monday was a recovery day. As was yesterday. Today I am finally almost finished being sore, but I'm still waiting until tomorrow to start back to the training schedule.

All the books and experts tell me to go fast on the short walks and slow on the long ones, but for me, everything is a race against time. I even do that when I'm driving - "Hey, let's see if I can make it to Boston in under 2 hours!" Competitive nature? Yeah, not always a good trait to have.

And still... not ONE pound.

Copyright © 2011 - Paulla Estes