Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A day in my life

This afternoon with the camera as my seat companion, I headed off to visit a family on my case load--I do love my job.

True, I have to go into the scary homes of abused and neglected children and often I have to pray that the family pit bull doesn't catch the scent of fear on me.

True, I have to go into homes where the air is so acrid that it takes several showers for my olfactory senses to recover.

True, it sometimes scares me to go into court since Maine can't afford much in the way of court security.

True, I'll never be rich and powerful

True, I go to bed every night knowing that I've made a little difference in someone's world.

True, I get to wear comfortable clothes and hang out with kids.

True, I get to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

And, every now and then, there is a happy ending.

Just a reminder.......

Jayne is a morning person, her posts often pop up with my first cup of coffee and today she was lamenting the heat and humidity--so maybe it is time for a photo memory of what the other side of the year looks like. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What's in a day

The other night while Charlie was off in Orono finishing up his summer class I was watching Law and Order Criminal Intent. It was an episode that I hadn't seen before with an evil genius antiquities dealer who turned out to be a forger and a murderer. I'm not very good at spotting actors but I thought that maybe the evil genius was being played by Steven Colbert of The Colbert Report.

With the internet at our fingertips, there is no reason to wonder about anything for more than a few moments any more. I googled Steven Colbert and Law and Order and discovered that I was correct but it led me to other discoveries as well.

Apparently Steven Colbert's father and two older brothers died in an Eastern Airlines airplane crash on September 11, 1974 when Steven was ten years old. The comic talks about this early tragedy in a 60 Minutes Interview

In addition to being sad for those that lost so much that day, I was struck by the date--September 11. I remembered from our trip to Chile that the coup that brought Pinochet to power and in which Salvadore Allende died was on September 11, 1973.

How could so many sad things happen on one date? Next I googled September 11 and found that indeed a lot of well-known events occurred on that date
  • 1609, Henry Hudson came across Manhattan Island and the natives living there
  • 1792, the Hope Diamond was stolen
  • 1857, the Mountain Meadow Massacre in Utah where my relative William Aden was killed.
  • 1941, ground broken for the construction of the Pentagon--ironically damaged during the attacks of September 11, 2001.
  • 1978, President Carter, President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin entered the Camp David Peace Accords
  • 1987, Dan Rather walked off the set of the CBS Evening news leaving six minutes of dead air
My birthday is just a few days after September 11, so I googled that date to see if anything interesting had happened or if September 11 held all the historical significance for the month and I found a few interesting things
  • 1835, Charles Dawin reached the Galapagos Islands
  • 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered the mold growing in his laboratory which would lead him to discovering penicillin.
  • 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing occurred, killing four children
  • 1981, The U.S. Senate judiciary committee approved Sandra Day O'Connor to become the first female Supreme Court Justice
  • 1997, Google was founded!!!
I also discovered that I share a birth date with Agatha Christie (1890), Roy Acuff (1903), Dan Marino (1961), and Lindsay Lohan's mother, Dina (1961).

Try googling your birthday without the year and see what wikepedia shows you!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Somehow, this is comforting

I only scored a 24 percent on the geek scale
24% Geek

Created by OnePlusYou

The longest day of the month for me

Once a month, the District Court where I primarily practice has a day devoted to juveniles. I am the designated juvenile lawyer and today is the July day.

I try to tell myself that the crimes and the numbers are much worse in other locations, but it is still always a very long day and one that doesn't do much to reinforce my natural optimism.

So, off I go after this last cup of coffee and I'll leave behind my computer and the Weather Channel and the news of Hurricane Dolly.

Batten down the hatches, cousin Texican and take care.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Baxter, this year

One of the best things about getting away is not knowing exactly what you will come away with in the end.

Early last week, Molly asked me if we could have one more person at our campsite in Baxter State Park as her friend, Rory, from New Jersey would like to come to Maine and join us. Well, that sounded super fun--with Archie just back from Pennsylvania and with Molly and Rory joining us, this was starting to sound like something that a mom would cherish.

We loaded up the car with climbing gear, sleeping bags and two tents. Charlie was going to drive up separately and join us the next day so the young folks and I headed north on Thursday morning under sunny clear skies. When we got to our campsite, we discovered that we were missing the poles to the bigger tent. The kids assured me that it was no big deal and that they would be fine. There were some leanto's in the campground and the first night, Archie and Rory put their sleeping bags in an empty one while Molly shared the tent with me.

The next morning, Charlie arrived about the time the kids were waking up and after breakfast, he and I drove to the trailhead for North Brother Mountain. The kids planned to head up the Abol slide from the campground and do some climbing on the boulders.

About a mile into our hike, we started getting wet and then wetter but we kept going. I decided to turn back just below the summit deciding that I wasn't really able to safely climb on the wet rocks (oops, left my hiking shoes at the campsite--wet sneakers just don't cut it). Charlie kept going and did make the summit of North Brother.

Back at the campsite, the kids had summited Katahdin in the rain and clouds and got back right about the time that we did--it didn't take long to have a roaring fire as the sky seemed to be finished with its precipitation. We all were starving and ate for about two solid hours--I think we started with bagels and worked our way through s'mores to Dinty Moore Beef Stew with maybe a few snickers bars at some point. After our feeding frenzy, Rory read a book to Molly and Archie by the fire and Charlie slipped into his car to listen to a baseball game on the radio. I floated between the two spots, enjoying the presence of so many people that I love.

This was Friday night and despite the bad weather, all of the campsites and leanto's in the campground were full--I asked the kids what they wanted to do about sleeping accommodations. Molly and Rory decided to put their sleeping bags by the fire and keep the fire going all night and Archie decided to make friends with 3 women in a leanto and stay with them.

I asked him the next day, "Archie, how exactly do you ask three perfect strangers if you can spend the night with them?" He shrugged his shoulders and said, "well, I said 'I know this sounds kind of creepy but we forgot our tent poles and it might rain tonight, can I stay with you?'" He said that the women had a group meeting and decided that he could stay if he would build them a fire. Seems simple enough.

So, Charlie and I went to sleep in the tent listening to the fire crackle and pop and the murmur of voices until finally all was quiet and then in the deep dark night, I awoke to hear Molly shout, "Rory, Rory, Rory" and then I heard the torrential rain start to fall--I listened helplessly in the tent as they scrambled into the car for shelter. The deluge seemed to last for hours. As the sky lightened with dawn, the rain was down to a drizzle and I got out of the tent to survey the damage. It wasn't too bad, all things considered. Charlie got up and made coffee and we walked with our coffee down to the ranger station to check the forecast.

The forecast predicted more of the same but in spite of that, hikers were coming in to sign up for hiking up Katahdin. We sat on the porch with the ranger and sipped our coffee and chatted with the hikers. One was an Irishman from Donegal and he and some friends were heading up the Abol Trail. He inquired about our coffee and we invited them back to our site for a cup.

We decided that he brought us Irish luck because soon after he departed our campsite with a cup of coffee, the sun began to shine. Charlie decided to head back home and the kids and I decided to have one more adventure before heading back ourselves.

We drove to the north side of Katahdin and hiked the three miles to Katahdin Lake. Along the way we saw a mother moose and her baby walking along. We saw millions of mushrooms and Common Wood Sorrel. We waded into the lake and sunned ourselves on the sand. Reluctantly, we left the lake and started hiking the three miles back to the car. Archie walked faster than the rest of us and as he waited, perched in a tree in a glade near the end of the trail, he saw a deer walk into the glade followed by a fawn and undetected, he watched the fawn nurse.

So, I planned this trip expecting to check two more 4000 footers off my list--that didn't happen, but what did happen was that I am full of happiness and contentment at some priceless days and nights and memories to hold me for a lifetime.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Four days on a mountain in Maine

We're heading out in the morning, see you Sunday evening.

Heading North

Tomorrow, we are heading north to Katahdin.

In 1930, former Governor Percival P. Baxter purchased 6,000 acres of Maine wilderness that included Katahdin. The next year, he donated the land to the people of Maine for a park and continued adding land parcel by parcel over the next 32 years until with his last purchase in 1962, the park contained over 200,000 acres.

When Governor Baxter died, he left a Trust of nearly $7 million so that the Park would not have to compete for tax money. The trust was established for the people of Maine and a condition of the trust was that the park "Shall be kept and remain in the Natural Wild State." Baxter's wish was that the park be managed as a sanctuary for birds and beasts and "Katahdin in all its glory forever shall remain the mountain of the People of Maine."

There are few roads in the park and access is strictly manged on a daily basis.

When I first started hiking in the easily accessible and trail friendly White Mountains, I would often notice other hikers and comfort myself whenever I saw one that was fatter and more out of shape than myself. That never happens to me in Baxter. Every one you see on the trail is fit and ready for the challenge--it's kind of disconcerting, actually.

We will camp three nights at the Abol Campground. Molly, Archie and Rory are going to be joining us but I imagine that they will be scampering up the slide every morning and bustin' rock climber moves all around the summit while Charlie and I climb up to the Hamlin Peak on Katahdin and then on another day to North Brother and South Brother.

Today will be busy trying to get everything planned and packed for three nights in the wilderness.

The top picture was taken from Katahdin Lake looking at the mountain, the bottom picture was taken from near the Pamola summit looking back at the lake.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Finding birds in Wilton

Today I met up with Kathie of Sycamore Canyon. What fun to meet her! She is absolutely a bird genius.

It is so pleasurable to spend time with someone who is willing to share their interest and knowledge. Hopefully, Kathie will post some of the pictures that she took today when she gets back to her home computer.

We had lunch at the Boiler Room in Wilton and joked about how our friends and family worried about us meeting a friend from our blogs.

Kathie remembered from living in this area a few years ago that there were some trails on the far side of Wilson Lake, so we jumped in her rental car and headed around the lake. We found the trails on land owned and managed by the Foothills Land Conservancy

The first bird that we saw was an Eastern Kingbird. It was proudly sitting on a fence rail, then it snagged a bug and flew up to a telephone wire to gobble it up. That first bird was followed by so many more. There were cedar waxwings, common yellow-throated warblers, downy woodpeckers (oh they are so cute), and others including one really special one that I will let Kathie describe when she gets back home and starts posting again.

Last week I made a vanity vs. comfort decision and after 30 years in contact lenses, decided that I was switching to glasses. I discovered today that the binoculars work much better with contacts, so I may switch back. So many decisions, so little time.

The land where we found the birds was a beautiful wild area at the headwaters of Wilson Lake.

The trail was mown through grassy meadows it was a perfect habitat for birds, wildflowers and mosquitoes

It was a great day or as we say in western Maine, it was "wicked". Kathie is a lovely, classy lady with a brain full of bird knowledge and hopefully not an immune system coping with some mosquito born illness (I couldn't help but google to see the potential--malaria, west nile virus......)

Thanks for the great day, Kathie!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Run on the River

Kayaking on the 'scrog (local parlance for the Androscoggin River) was great fun yesterday. Molly and I met up with the group in Gilead, just a few miles east of the New Hampshire line. After shuttling our vehicles to Bethel where we planned to take out, we got onto the water about 11 a.m.

The day was sponsored by a group called Integrated Forest Management

Two of their foresters joined our group and provided a nice box lunch for all the participants--we really lucked out on that since Molly and I had packed peanut butter and jelly on stale white bread thanks to my being too stressed out from brief writing to go to the grocery store.

But, after finishing my brief on Friday evening, I was ready for a day of lazy river kayaking and it was a perfect day. After our tasty box lunches on an island, we got back into our kayaks and soon found a young moose at the river's edge. He wasn't that excited about all the colorful kayaks and canoes and by the time I got my camera from its water proof bag, he was beating a hasty retreat.

The highlight of my day, though, was spending it with Molly, probably the child most like me yet the one I know the least. I was amused to see her taking a picture of the shallow root system of a tree that had toppled over near the river bank. I don't think she reads my blog, so she doesn't know why that brought a smile to my face.

An exciting event tomorrow--my first internet date! Kathie from Sycamore Canyon is visiting her family in Maine and we are going to meet for lunch and some bird watching. I have enjoyed getting to know so many people through their pictures and stories--it will be a real treat to meet Kathie.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A day on the Androscoggin

Today, Molly and I joined 38 other folks for a 10 mile leg of the Source to the Sea Trek on the Androscoggin River.

Monday, July 7, 2008


I grew up thinking that every family belonged to the American Hemerocrallis Society and firmly insured my place in the nerd section of the elementary school pecking order by assuming that everyone knew that hybridization involved transferring pollen from the stamen to the pistil and this was best done in the early morning before the bees got involved.

In 1968, I was the only one in my elementary school to have a daylilly named for her, Beth Standard.

I learned about genetics by following my grandfather around the flower beds holding his supply of little white tags and gravely giving one to him when he had made his selection so that he could wrap a tag around the flower whose pistil had been pollinated, carefully labeled with the two "parents" identifying numbers. I honestly have memories of doing this before I was old enough to go to school.

A month or so after the pollination, we would once again make our early morning trips around the flower beds but this time I was holding an envelope cut in half. Into the envelope we would carefully pour the seeds from the pod and again label the envelope with the numbers of the flower parents.

My mother was the heir to my grandfather's hybridization talent and she still hybridizes and comes up with beautiful daylilies.

These are from her lovely yard here in Maine. They are just beginning to bloom, so there will be more pictures in the weeks to come--maybe even some of little white tags on spent blooms and seed pods carefully labeled.

Spreading Memories on Toast

It was a gold star weekend in New Hampshire that included hiking, music, friends, relaxation, fireworks, campfires and good food.

We always have a good time at Camp Calumet. There have been many summers since 1995 that Charlie has worked there. Two years ago he was newly back from New Zealand and working there when I sent him an e-mail that said "the definition of insanity is doing the same the over again and expecting a different result." Then I told my secretary that I was going to the grocery store, got in my car, drove past the grocery store and on to Calumet (I remember nothing about that two hour drive). I parked my car and started walking around, ready to bolt at any moment until I ran into some friends of his who escorted me to where he was........ a few weeks later we were married.

On the way home yesterday, I stopped and picked strawberries in the fields below White Horse Ledge and Cathedral Ledge where Archie learned to climb.

Then while Charlie watched the Red Sox and the Yankees into the wee hours of the morning, I made strawberry jam. Now, we can spread memories of this weekend on english muffins all winter.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

North and South Hancock

We had a great hike up North and South Hancock yesterday. It was a challenging ten-mile hike in that most of the elevation change occurred in the half mile just below the summit, by my calculations it was a slope of 1/2--rise over run--1 vertical foot for every 2 horizontal feet.

The day was beautiful and clear and we arranged to meet up with Charlie's oldest son at the trailhead.

Charlie raised his sons in Conway, New Hampshire amidst and among the White Mountains with their 48 four thousand footer peaks but Caleb waited until he moved to southern Massachusetts to get interested in hiking. His first two peaks were North and South
Kinsman in the clouds last Labor Day weekend. Since then he has climbed many more with his dad and/or with me. Caleb is a great hiking companion--never at a loss for words and extremely funny when we meet people on the trail. The miles always disappear under our feet quickly when Caleb is along.

So we started our hike and made it to summit of North Hancock and as I said earlier, that last 1/2 mile was a doozy.

Once the big elevation was over, it was a ridge walk to the other summit on the mountain--South Hancock. There is some complicated mathematical formula about descending a certain amount and ascending a certain amount in order for peaks connected by a ridge to officially count--and this one qualified. Hiking through the boreal forest on the ridge we came upon a mother grouse and lots of babies. I thought it was a ruffed grouse, but based on its location and the red coloring above its eye (which I could see in Caleb's pictures), I think it was a spruce grouse--I am certainly open for other thoughts.
There were at least seven babies and they were scattered about--the mother starting clucking when she saw us and soon had them all gathered together. Looking at the brood of babies, gave Caleb the line of the day when he said, "What the heck is a bird doing having sex way up here?"

The view from South Hancock was a different angle off the mountain from the North Hancock view but every bit as spectacular.

There is just something about the permanence and solidity of the mountains.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mama and Baby Grouse

Today we hiked North and South Hancock Mountains in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. On the ridge between the peaks we can across a mama spruce grouse. She turned her back when she saw us and started clucking to gather her babies. There were at least seven scattered about the area and by the time she disappeared from view over a little rise they were all back with her.

Another beautiful hike and two more 4000 footers off my list.

Friday, July 4, 2008

O, Beautiful for Spacious Skies

O, beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountains majesty
Above the fruited plain

America America God
Shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From Sea to Shining Sea

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Time to tighten the belt

I stole the picture from Texican--no telling where he procured it but it certainly came to mind when I was at Walmart this noon time.

I just ran in for a few things--cat food, laundry detergent and envelopes. Well, then, on impulse, I added a carton of seltzer water, some clip-on sunglasses and contour blush.

Standing in line, I pulled a $20 bill out of my wallet and thought hmmmm, it will probably come to just over $20 and it will be nice to have some smaller bills before I drive to New Hampshire, so I pulled out another $20---NOT ENOUGH!!!

Six items at Walmart came to $46.87. How can this be?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Is anybody there?

This house was built in 1888, and tonight with Charlie in Orono for a class and the kids all scattered about the country, it seems kind of creepy.

I have lived here for a long time and there have been other nights when I was alone so why tonight does it seem full of ghosts and shadows?

There have been violent thunderstorms all evening and sirens screaming their way to some unknown event north of town--so maybe that's it.

{Added on Thursday morning after reading the morning paper: Lightning struck at the baseball field just up the road}

Saturday under the Big Top

On Saturday, July 5, at 7 p.m. at Camp Calumet on Lake Ossipee in New Hampshire, Charlie will be playing a concert under the Big Top Tent.

All are welcome.

The song that people most request from him is called Seeds and it was written by Pat Alger and Ralph Murphy. You can hear Charlie's version by clicking this.

The message of the song is mighty powerful. Here are the words from the chorus:

We're all just seeds,
In God's hands
We start the same
But where we land
Is sometimes fertile soil
Sometimes, sand
We're all just seeds
In God's hands

The camp is located at 1090 Ossipee Lake Road, Freedom, New Hampshire.

Make sure to say hello if you come by.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mary Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

I have never quite understood that nursery rhyme--why would anyone who has a garden be contrary?

5 weeks after planting, the squash and tomatoes have blossoms, the brocoli looks luscious and the cucumbers are putting out lots of runners.

Does anyone have fresh garden tomatoes yet?

On advice from Ruth I pruned the raspberries back to 18 inches in the spring and they are thriving.