Friday, February 29, 2008
After playing lawyer for most of the day, I'm off this afternoon for my second mentoring stint as an Appalachian Mountain Club information volunteer. This time it is at the AMC Highland Center at Crawford Notch in New Hampshire's White Mountains. If Tom and Atticus are able to do some hiking in the Notch this weekend, Tom has said that he will stop in. I must remember to pack a treat for Atticus!
Crawford Notch is named for the Crawford family who settled the area on the western side of the Presidential Range in 1790 and built an Inn roughly at the location of the present day Highland Center. The strong Crawford sons cut the famous Crawford Path--one of the oldest hiking trails in the country--to leads guests up into the high peaks.
These pictures here are looking into the Notch from Mt. Avalon last summer--if I manage to get the time for a quick snowshoe up Mt. Avalon or Mt. Willard this weekend, I expect that the pictures will look considerably different.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
He said, "At Thanksgiving didn't we both say this was going to be a good winter?" I said, "Well, I think we were just being optimistic." He said, "Yeah, I think we say it every year, but this year we were right!"
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
This Saturday he will be flying back to his home in Chile after two weeks in Central Asia but will be taking a detour through Maine to visit his parents and sister! We are very excited--things are never dull when Brother is about.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I remember when my family got a Polaroid Swinger camera in the late 1960's.
I thought that it was an indication that maybe we were going to be cool and hip--that my father might grow out his hair and my mother might start wearing hoop earrings, turquoise eye shadow and miniskirts--that maybe I would be like Marcia Brady.
It didn't happen, our hipness didn't extend much beyond the camera. Now Polaroid is closing down its instant camera line, I guess that's progress--but I will always remember how very cool I felt with that Swinger hanging from my wrist.
Dried Cherry Chili
2 cups lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
4 ounces dried tart cherries, chopped (3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic
1 pound ground turkey
1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried mustard
½ teaspoon dried oregano
4 cups chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (16 ounce) can black beans
¼ cup chopped cilantro (I left this out because I couldn't find any)
Heat 1 cup of broth. Place cherries in small bowl. Add hot broth and set aside. Heat olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté about 5 minutes, until onion is soft. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Do not brown garlic. Add turkey; cook until it is no longer pink.
Add bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, mustard and oregano. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and remaining broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes.
Stir in beans, cilantro and cherry mixture. Continue cooking until thoroughly heated.
Monday, February 25, 2008
We are expecting another 9-14 inches tomorrow night as even the promise of a snow day loses its luster and fear builds of going to school into the summer.
Chores are getting difficult. In order to feed the bunny, I have to walk over a four foot snow pack and then kick my way down to the hutch door. Despite, his virtual burial, he seems fat and happy with plenty of nice warm hay.
But despite the difficulties of this much snow, the days are getting longer, the sun is at a higher angle in the sky and easter candy is in the store.
Further positive signs of Spring: according to the Stokes Birding Blog, robins are preparing for their northern migration and in Florida, baseball players are preparing for the season.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
We are in up Maine's tippy top--what is referred to as The County. Aroostoock County encompasses 6,672 square miles--larger than the states of Rhode Island, Connecticut and Delaware.
Aroostock County is known for its potato harvest. Up here school starts in early August so that the kids can take a few weeks off for the harvest in the Fall. It is also known for housing the facility for the U.S. Biathlon team. The County has a strong Nordic heritage which is why we are here. C is racing in a nordic race this afternoon in Caribou.
As we drove north on Route 1 and passed through the town of Mars Hill we got a good view of the wind farm on top of the ski mountain. The 28 wind turbines furnsh enough electricity to power 45,000 average Maine homes when it is operating at capacity. It doesn't do any harm to the landscape--it's already a ski resort which isn't exactly natural. I looked at the mountain and the turbines and imagined pieces of glaciers coming back out of the ocean and re-attaching to the ice shelves from which they had fallen--I imagined polar bears and penguins.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
the most mellow.
You tend to be in a meditative state most of the time. You don't try to think away your troubles.
Your thoughts are realistic, fresh, and honest. You truly see things as how they are. You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about your friends, your surroundings, and your life.
What color is your mind?
Several years ago, while going through some leadership training my daughter told me about the personality colors and told me that I was very blue. She wasn't. I don't remember what color she was, but I am sure it was daring and glamorous. Perhaps she will comment and tell us about it. Still, though, I was surprised when this quiz tagged me as a blue--not sure what the answers should have been to make me more daring and glamorous.
It kind of reminds me of when my daughters took a quiz on what House they would be sorted into at Hogwarts. Both of them turned out to be Slytherins much to their dismay and despite their wish to be Gryffindor. I was a Hufflepuff. Hufflepuffs are probably Blue.
Friday, February 22, 2008
This is Little Bear. She is old and fairly cranky but we put up with a lot from Little Bear. She is the much-loved pet of youngest son. He picked her out from a litter of kittens, most of whom were much cuter. Little Bear turned out to be the Ugly Duckling who turned into a Swan.
Youngest daughter selected a pretty little kitten which she named Cappy. We have always taken care of neutering or spaying our animals, but Cappy got in "a family way" when she was still a kitten herself. Cappy had 6 little kittens before we even realized what was happening and was so young herself, that nursing those kittens depleted her strength. The first evening that Cappy ventured out onto the porch after having the kittens, Little Bear promptly presented Cappy with a freshly caught mouse--laid it right at Cappy's feet. That's just the kind of cat that Little Bear is, thoughtful.
A few years later, during a sad and tumultuous move, I was transferring Little Bear from my car to our new house. She escaped into the July night. I searched, I called until my voice was gone, I laid in the grass behind the house and cried until I thought I would drown.
For months after that night, I spent every afternoon and weekend driving the back roads calling for her. We put pictures up in our little town and would get tantalizing calls from people who had just seen her farther and farther north. After each call, we would put signs up in the community from which the call came. Eventually, the calls stopped, Fall was slipping into Winter and night came on too early for afternoon searches, but still occasionally, I ventured on weekend drives north to drive down fire roads and call for Little Bear.
One day, I came in from work and there was a note from oldest son that said "Search the house for a long lost friend" and there was Little Bear, dusty and dirty, curled up asleep on youngest son's bed. We never knew where she had been.
For a while after that, she had terrible manners. She would jump up on the counter and tear into bags to get to food , but eventually she returned to her former elegance. I guess we'll never know where she was for those months, but we all feel like we would give a kidney to Little Bear if she needed it.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
What was it about Molly Pitcher that appealed to me, I wonder. I treasured other literary heroines--Nancy Drew, Sheherazade and Dulcinea--all creative, imaginative, intelligent young women whose bravery saved their friends and families. But Molly Pitcher had a special place in my heart and any time that I needed a name, whether for a pet or an imaginary friend--her name was Molly. In 1989, I was lucky enough to need a name for a daughter. She's off at college now--creative, imaginative, and intelligent--and today I am missing her.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Sometimes, I would just like to be in the woods doing nothing, sitting on the cool ground and day dreaming. We had a nice size beech tree just on the rise as you got into the woods behind the house and that was one of my usual sitting spots. I could see the house but imagined that the house couldn't see me.
Beech leaves have a simple shape. They are oval and have equally spaced pairs of veins off the stalk. While I was very good at sitting in the woods for long periods of time, my hands have always had to be busy and one of the ways that I would occupy my hands was to mindlessly strip the beech leaf from between the veins. I created piles of beech leaf skeletons.
Young beech trees hang on to their leaves even after all the other leaves in the forest have fallen. The beech leaves turn to brown but they stay on the tree and provide the rustle in the woods when the winter wind blows. Beneath the leaf that clings to the beech branch is a long cigar shaped bud. The leaf, brown and supple, protects the tender bud from the winter.
As winter winds down, the leaf goes from brown to transluscent tan. The picture on the right was taken of a beech grove during the first week of January, the one on the left was taken the third weekend of February. The leaves are barely hanging on--soon the buds will be on their own to make it through the storms of later winter and early spring.
Monday, February 18, 2008
In addition to the musicians, there was a multitude of people out to climb Mt. Washington on this Saturday before Washington's birthday. I met one man from Washington, DC who had attempted the mountain every year on this weekend for the last 14 years.
My job was to talk to the hikers as they came in to register before climbing, to help them look at the weather forecast and to talk to them about their plans. There is a huge model of the Presidential Range in the middle of the visitor center information room. All of the trails are marked on the model and it is easy to use the model to demonstrate the direction of the winds, the areas of high exposure and the pitch of the trail in the steepest areas.
There was a lull in the middle of the day while all of the hikers were on the mountains so I was able to go out for a few hours on my snow shoes. The woods were beautiful and I enjoyed the time but there was nary a bird. The closest that I came to a bird were trees full of woodpecker holes.
By the time I got back to the visitor center, the hikers were starting to arrive back from their days. Without a doubt, the part of the weekend that I enjoyed the most was listening to the hikers talk about their experience. Whether or not they had reached the summit, their red cheeks were held up by wide smiles and crowned with twinkling eyes of accomplishment. As they removed their gators and hats, they told stories about the wind and the views and the blowing snow. The high on Saturday was -1 and there were wind gusts up to 70 mph.
Sunday morning as I walked from the staff housing to breakfast, I saw two ravens soaring off the side of Wildcat Mountain. Finally a bird!!! Later in the morning, I noticed an empty bird feeder near the visitor center window. I searched around until I found the bucket of bird food and climbed through the snow drift to put some sunflower seeds in the feeder--soon the feeder was full of chickadees and a red squirrel.
The weekend was a nice change of pace and something that I'm sure to enjoy. In two weeks, I'll do it again on the western side of Mt. Washington at the Highland Center in Crawford Notch.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Last summer, on a couple of our White Mountain hikes we treated ourselves to a night in an AMC hut in the White Mountains. The huts are located about a day's hike apart along the Appalachian Trail through the White Mountains. Most of them are full-service which means that strong young people trek real food into remote locations on their backs and then cook delicious meals for hungry hikers.
While at Zealand Hut in June, we met a man who introduced himself as an Information Volunteer. His role was to spend the weekend at the hut, help out the croo (the young people who keep things running), answer questions and visit with the guests. That sounded right up my alley, so I applied and was accepted and this weekend is my first "mentoring" weekend. I'll be working at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center with an experienced information volunteer. I honestly don't think I was this excited when I passed the Maine Bar and started to practice law.
Part of that excitement is that this is kind of my first "empty nest" activity. It is something that I am doing just because I want to. I keep re-checking myself to make sure that it is OK for me to do this-- 24 years of mothering--it's a hard habit to break.
AND another thing that I am going to do for the very first time is participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Along with my sleeping bag, hiking guides and camera, I'm taking two bird guides, a pair of binoculars and a notebook.
Much to look forward to.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
After moving snow around in the driveway, C and I trudged through the snow to the post office where a yellow card in the box directed me to the postmistress who produced a package. The return address, made me smile because I knew exactly what was inside.
It was a valentine gift of Spring--pecans, pepper jelly and daffodils from one of my all-time favorite people, my cousin Charlene.
Up until the summer of 1987, I had known her as my father's first cousin. I knew that she lived on a farm in Tennessee and her father and my grandfather were twin brothers. I knew that her father had ALS and was bed-ridden for most of her childhood and into mine. I knew that my grandfather loved her father dearly and that my father loved her like a sister.
When life moved me from Texas to her small town in Tennessee in the summer of 1987, she found a house for us to rent and became, without a doubt, the best friend that I have ever had. After 21 years, she is still my BFFR.
Every Valentine's Day, since 1993 when I moved from middle Tennessee , she has sent me a package of spring time.
It is hard to express how it feels to touch these flowers which were growing in the dirt a few days ago and picked by someone so wonderfully special to me.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
This afternoon driving from Wilton, I took the scenic way home through Weld and around Webb Lake.
This picture is looking from the shoulder of Mt. Blue across Webb Lake toward Tumbledown Mountain. Tumbledown Mountain is one of my favorites. I've hiked it in all different seasons, on all different trails and every hike carries its own memories.
There have been family hikes, cross country team hikes, a winter hike with Nora, a mother's day hike, and a wedding hike with C. There have been hikes when we have gorged on blueberries along the trail and others when we have snoozed on boulders by the pond on the summit. Every time up Tumbledown, I re-remember that it's a tough hike, a big mountain and a treasure to have so close to home.
One summer day, my oldest son and youngest daughter wanted me to hike with them up the Chimney Trail. The chimney trail is officially closed--the signs are gone and the blazes faded from the trees--but the trail still appears on some old maps. My kids are as nimble as mountain goats and, as the name and the closure of the trail implies, the chimney trail requires that level of dexterity.
The Chimney Trail diverges from the well-traveled Loop Trail at about 2 miles and goes up at a precipitous angle through a vast boulder field. After finally navigating my way through the boulder field, dripping blood from several cuts in my legs, I thought the tough part was behind us. Looking up from the boulder field, there was a sheer rock face leading to the top of the mountain, while that gave me some pause, the trail went into the woods--it was steep but not out of the ordinary for a rugged mountain. E, who was then 20, and M, who was then 16, had gone ahead of me, scampering up rock faces and boulders as I progressed along the trail.
The trail came out of the woods with boulders on every side and, suddenly we saw two young men up ahead shouting down to us, "where does the trail go?" Hmmm, this was reason for concern--the trail ends? I have to go back down through those boulders?
E, always the hero, went ahead and talked to the men as I followed. He explained to them that the trail didn't end, it just went up through the boulders. That was the chimney--it was about two feet wide and maybe 30 feet high. In order to get through it hands and feet had to be used to shimmy up through this narrow passage. It twisted 3 times, making the maneuvers even more difficult. E went last, after pushing the two strangers and his mom up through. M, who must be part chipmunk, scaled the outside of the chimney. Once we all emerged on the summit of the mountain, we rested and laughed at ourselves and thanked E and got to know one another. The two hikers were from New York City and had come to Maine on a camping trip and using an old map had decided to hike up the Chimney Trail to the top of Tumbledown Mountain. I imagine they are still telling the story of that adventure, I know I am.
Monday, February 11, 2008
I actually remember eating fried squirrel as a young girl in Mississippi after my father had, shall we say--harvested some bushy-tailed protein. My children often look at me askance when I say something such as, "I kept my squirrel tail collection in a cigar box on the bookshelf in my room, I wonder where it is today?"
There are lots of things from my childhood that I don't recognize as unique until they pop out of my mouth and people stare, nod knowingly, and say, "That explains alot."
Saturday, February 9, 2008
I never took them seriously--but my daughters did. Scary, Ginger, Baby, Posh, and Sporty. When the Spice Girls were all the rage among my then elementary and middle school daughters and their friends, I didn't get it and tried pretty hard to ignore it.
The Spice Girls disappeared about the time my girls hit high school and except for the occasional siting of Posh with Becks, the Spice Girls seemed to vanish from the radar screen. My girls grew into adventurous, well-adjusted, engaging young women just like their friends, although, when the oldest one went to college I noticed that she took our battered VHS copy of Spice World.
Last fall, oldest daughter agonized over the purchase of a new computer. She had the money saved from her summer job, but just hated to part with it. She balanced her need for a new computer vs. her savings account through endless phone calls. When she finally decided to make the purchase, she called me three times before, during and after the transaction.
The morning after her new computer purchase, she woke up and checked her e-mail to find that she was eligible to purchase up to six tickets for the Spice Girl Reunion concert--did she hesitate, did she agonize over the purchase, did she do a risk/benefit analysis of the tickets vs. her savings account--Heck no! She clicked on purchase six tickets and entered her credit card number--spending almost as much as she had for the computer. She called me after a bowl of cereal and by then had already sold the five extra tickets.
So this weekend, the six of them-seniors in college--are in New York for the concert. They rented a car and drove up from D.C., are sharing one room in a hotel in Times Square and are going to have a weekend that they will never forget.
I think that I may have underestimated the Spice Girls all those years ago.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Two years ago on a stormy March afternoon, I was driving home from court in South Paris. On that day there was a pick up truck ahead and a car behind me and I remember being grateful for the company on the lonely road. As our little traveling caravan rounded a bend, I saw two little girls standing beside the road dressed in red. It struck me momentarily as incongruous with the snowy landscape until I saw the car upside down over the bank and realized the red that the girls were dressed in was blood.
All three of us pulled over and instinctively went into purposeful roles. The woman driving behind me had a cell phone and agreed to travel ahead until she could get reception for a 911 call. The man in the truck ahead of me immediately headed over the bank for the overturned car, realizing that if two little girls were by the road there must be an adult in the car. I approached the little girls and put them in my car, wrapped them in a quilt and tried to keep them warm, conscious and calm until help arrived.
It was a long time before help arrived. About two hours later my responsibility ended and I continued on my way, shaken from the experience and angry at the marginality of life in the mountains that elevated this accident to tragedy.
At the top of the next mountain, my phone rang with a call from oldest daughter S. Through heart-broken tears, I shared the story with her as she sat on a plane preparing to take off for a spring break trip to Italy. In the short time that we had to talk before her plane took off and my reception ended, she "got it". She understood the social problems that had made an accident on a snowy road a portrait of poverty, hopelessness, and struggle.
Last night she e-mailed me the story that she had written about it--started on the airplane two years ago and just finished. She is a wonderful writer, with a cultural anthropologist's ability to explain. Thank you, sweet child.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
This morning despite the continuation of slippery roads and messy precipitation that has been around all week, I was due in South Paris at 8:30 for Day 2 of the Trial from Hell.
School was delayed two hours, so C shoveled my car out of its parking nook, swept the snow from the windshield, filled up my travel mug and kissed me good-bye. The drive over the mountain was slow but uneventful, however, upon arrival at the courthouse I was greeted by a notice on the door that said "Court opens at 10 a.m. because of the storm." Grrrrrrr......
So what's a girl to do? Well, I had the camera, four wheel drive and a full tank of gas, so I headed up into the hills. It was hard to see much because of the snow, but I was captivated by ice on rock.
As we make the change to eating grass-fed and local meat, we have expanded our food choices to include lamb. I have always resisted eating lamb--as a life-long chronic insomniac I am somewhat protective of all the sheep that I have counted. But Michael Pollan was very convincing in The Omnivore's Dilemna.
Lamb Stuffed Peppers
1 lb. ground lamb
2 cloves garlic
2 cups brown rice
1 can organic chopped tomatoes
season with oregano, salt and maple pepper
Brown the onion and the garlic with the lamb, add the seasoning and the rice and tomatoes. Simmer while the peppers are softening up in boiling water. Remove the peppers from the water, fill with the meat mixture and bake. For a little extra something, I sliced the peppers in half and topped them with a slice of provolone cheese before baking.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
After spending all day in trial yesterday, today is a wool sock, keep-the-fire-going day to catch up on office work and prepare for Day 2 of the trial tomorrow. With any luck, I'll meet C for a slice of pizza at lunch time.
The teenager has skis, a snowboard, and a hockey stick standing in a snowbank right by the driveway so that he can dash in, select his activity and head out again with a minimum of wasted time.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
A snowy morning in Dixfield. The call that the teenager and the teacher in our house listen for just came in, so they will be home and safe today.
I'm keeping an eye on the judiciary website but expect to be driving over the mountain for an all-day trial.
My cousin, Dennis Price, wrote this poem about snow and sent it to me to use in one of my posts since he writes from the southernmost tip of Texas and couldn't imagine that he would have an opportunity to use it. Thanks, Texican, it's a good one!
The snow fell
stacking silent flakes
one thin matrix on another
covering winter’s brown and dormant scene.
Fresh cold air,
changing pickets and tree branches.
windborne criss-cross swirl.
Soft to touch,
bright to see
against a backdrop, gray.
Monday, February 4, 2008
We are a southern family, the story of how we ended up in western Maine is a long complicated one but suffice to say that about ten years ago we migrated north.
My mother is a Mississippi farm girl (Texican calls her Auntie Maine). My dad, although from an old Kentucky family, grew up in the city of New Orleans and these two tea tottling Baptists know how to throw a great party. There was wonderful food, interesting conversation, people from all walks of life, mardi gras beads and a Mardi Gras King. It was the perfect antidote for a cold Groundhog Day's night in western Maine.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Wax is an important component of classic style nordic skiing and very hard to determine on a day like today. The type of wax used is dependent on the snow temperature, the water content of the snow, the crystalline content of the snow and the age of the snow. The purpose is to reduce the friction so that the glide of the ski is smooth and fast.
After the poor conditions last night, the groomers will have been busy this morning setting the tracks for the race, but with the sun shining brightly and the temperatures expected to rise above freezing--perhaps even up to 40 degrees--the waxing is complicated. C has been waxing skis for about 40 years either as a racer or a coach, so he'll get it right, but it is a delicate science.