Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Today as I traveled about the county, the camera rode shotgun.

The foliage is coming along just fine and those happy maple trees that provide firewood and maple syrup are presently providing pleasant sighs.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Six Foot Town by Big and Rich

My brakes are on fire
From trying to slow down
I'm always burning my tires
And my horn is to loud
I catch people looking funny at me
When I step to the window and I toss a TV
Sometimes I get crazy and it makes a big scene
But when I hit 21 I wanna stand up and scream
I'm filthy rich with laughter,
I'm too big for the room
You know from two stories up
A Zenith makes a big boom

It's hard to get around in a six foot town
When your ten feet tall everything is so small
I'm always bumping my head
I'm way to long for the bed
It's hard to get around
In a six foot town.

Some people live inside a tiny little box
Their preoccupied about mismatching their socks
I never been one to worry about much
I just wanna laugh and love
I just wanna live it up

It's hard to get around in a six foot town
When your ten feet tall everything is so small
I'm always bumping my head
I'm way to long for the bed
It's hard to get around
In a six foot town.

Sometimes I stumble just because of my size
But hey y'all that's alright
That's the way God made me
I am what I am
And I can't do nothing bout that

It's hard to get around in a six foot town
When your ten feet tall everything is so small
I'm always bumping my head
I'm way to long for the bed
It's hard to get around

It's hard to get around in a six foot town
When your ten feet tall everything is so small
I'm always bumping my head
I'm way to long for the bed
It's hard to get around
In a six foot town

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Alto Wore Tweed

A few weeks ago, Jayne wrote about a series of liturgical mysteries. Laughing through her post titled "Blowing Water Out My Nose", I knew that these books sounded like the kind of get-away from reality that I might enjoy.

So, I clicked on the Amazon one click button (definitely the most financially dangerous function on my computer) and by the time I got back from my travels, The Alto Wore Tweed was waiting for me.

Today, I curled up in defiance of the hurricane and read through the book in one very enjoyable afternoon. The story is one part small-town charm, one-part church politics, one part hard-boiled detective story, one part love story, one part sacred musical history, one part mystery and all parts hilarious.

How could you not enjoy a book whose main character is a detective/church organist with a $2 million bank account and a 1962 pickup truck, a log cabin on 200 acres in the mountains and an owl that comes and goes into the house for the bounty of dead mice kept in the refrigerator vegetable crisper. The sprinkling of latex female sex dolls that gracefully descend from the sky is just an added bonus.



I remember a day when Ethan was about four, before Archie was even born. I was making lunch for Ethan and Sara and nursing and caring for baby Molly.

In my memory, I am standing near the kitchen counter with Molly in my arms and Ethan turned his big blue eyes to me and said, "Mommy, what are you going to do when we all grow up and go away?"

I remember being speechless at the question but he filled the silence and answered it himself, "I think you should take a nap."

So, nap I did yesterday after getting home from a 1500 mile, 4 day journey to see my four children off to their independent lives.

I'm sad that it's all over but excited for them, excited to have a front-row seat on what their generation will accomplish and excited to see what the future holds for me now that there are fewer personal responsibilities.

For the last nine years, I have tailored my law practice around the needs of my family and my personal need to be available for them. I am so grateful that being self-employed allowed me that opportunity but I'm kind of looking forward to putting more energy into my work. People won't know what to do when they call my office after 3 p.m. and get me instead of my voice mail.

Charlie and I can travel or go out to dinner on a whim instead of thinking and planning it all to death. We will spend less on groceries. The house will be clean when I come home. There will be less laundry. I won't know who wins this season of America's Next Top Model or what Brittney Spears and Lindsey Lohan are up to--but I can probably live without all of that.

Just like Sara said in a thoughtful entry on her blog "This is the natural progression of my life, the logical answer to my current condition."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Notes from the road

Greetings from the set of Sara's wickedly awesome good bye friends and family road trip.

We left Maine Tuesday morning and drove to State College, Pennsylvania where Ethan and Ann live and where Archie now hangs his hat. What a great night for a mom to have almost all of her children breathing under the same roof.

After breakfast this morning, we hopped back on the road and made it to DC in time for lunch with Molly after her Biological Anthropology class. She's off at her Russian class now, but will join us at the hotel tonight for the last girls' night until December, 2010.

Tomorrow we drive up to Pennsylvania where Sara will meet her Peace Corps group and from where I will have a long drive home--hopefully with my ears and memory full of our conversation and laughter and with only occasional tears on my cheeks.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Under Construction

Today I headed off for a walk in my parents' woods. They live on a hill and their property slopes down, down, down to a river at the back boundary. Dad has cut nice trails through the woods so that they can easily enjoy their woods from their Kawasaki Mule utility vehicle.

As I walked along the trail called River Road that parallels the river, I noticed a new trail intersecting River Road--to the right (uphill) and to the left (down to the river). It wasn't a wide drivable trail like most of my father's trails and I knew that he had been laid up with a back injury since my last walk down there two weeks ago---so who had breached the No Trespassing signs and cut a trail down the hill to the river?

I decided to investigate and followed the path toward the river first. The trail was very well packed down--I briefly wondered if some local teenagers had decided to come down to the river to party and then remembered that there were about a gazillion acres of woods around so why would they choose these? Then I thought maybe moose--but it would have taken a moose stampede to have packed down the trail so firmly. Actually, I was just having fun with my imagination, I was pretty sure that I knew who was building new trails for us but from the bank of the river I could not see any construction.

But there was evidence. Wood chips. Well, now, I was smiling and excited because these wood chips were fresh, I could still feel the sap on them.

I followed the trail back across River Road and up hill, I had to crouch down to get through the trees, the trailbuilders were much shorter than I--and then I entered a clear cut. I counted 13 freshly cut stumps.

Beavers are nocturnal animals, starting their work at sunset and finishing up at dawn--I suspect that these trees were cut last night, everything looked very fresh.

I have been fond of beavers since one freed Lady from her muzzle at the climax of Lady and the Tramp. But since that dramatic scene, I have learned more about them. Beavers begin their industrious activity in the fall. They work together as a family to build their lodge. They float the logs and sticks downstream, add mud and excavate their lodge from the bottom.

In Winter World:The Ingenuity of Animal Survival, Bernd Heinrich writes about entering one of the abandoned beaver lodges on his property one summer day. He said: "I carried a flashlight, to have a look around. The den I examined contained two platforms. One was slightly above the other, and in both the floors were liberally strewn with small debarked twigs, the remnants of take-home meals. The chambers were roomy enough for me to be able to turn around, but it must have been a tight squeeze for a mated pair of beavers, together weighing about one hundred pounds. Add their two to five yearling offspring, and an equal number of young from the current year, and it must have been a tight, cozy fit."

After leaving the beaver trail, I continued down River Road to my intended destination, Poet's Point. Looking upstream, I could see the beginnings of the lodge.

This is going to be a favorite project for me over the next few weeks, so expect more on our little beaver family. I may even hide in the woods one night to watch them work.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

As political as I'm gonna get

I must be old if my children's friends are running for office.

Trevis Knapp who is a senior at the University of Maine at Farmington is running for State Reprsentative as an independent. He dropped off a sign today and even put it in the ground.

Of course, Trevis reminds me of a story.

One year Molly and Sara decided to have the "Rockingest New Year's Party that Dixfield had ever seen." They planned all sorts of activities--I think the theme was pirates but there were lots of other themes thrown in. They had an apple bobbing contest, a unicorn pinata, a free-style rap contest, a dance contest and a ball drop from the upstairs bathroom window at midnight. At the time they were all older teenagers ranging from junior in high school to sophomore in college.

I was confined to my room for the duration of the party (at my own request) but did come out to witness the ball drop.

After the ball drop, I went back into my room and picked up my book to read wondering when the party would break up and how long it would take me to clean up the mess the next day.

In mid-wonder, I heard Trevis say, "OK, let's clean up now." The next things I heard were dishes getting washed and the vacuum cleaner running.

Trevis won me over at that moment with his leadership skills and value-based judgment. He can put a sign in my yard any time, I don't really care where he stands on budget deficits and Roe v. Wade--he cleaned up my house at midnight after a party.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What's for dinner?

So, a few days ago, Sara and I realized with a start that I had never gotten around to teaching her how to cook or mend or iron or really just about anything except how to tell a funny story and laugh at the craziness of the world. Those skills have gotten her through the last 22 years pretty well, but she's going to have to feed herself once she gets to her posting in Macedonia.

So, we decided that two decades of procrastination in learning the womanly arts was enough and this week she has been cooking and baking. We are trying to find easy meals that she likes and can make from ingredients rather than a box and we'll put them together in a recipe book before she leaves.

Last night she made chicken and dumplings. Chicken and dumplings are a true favorite for everyone in our family and she discovered that it was surprisingly easy. She boiled some chicken pieces with onion, garlic, salt and pepper and then when it was tender she mixed up the dumplings.

2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. soft butter cut into the flour mixture
1 cup milk
The dumplings were dropped into the boiling chicken stock and rose back up to the surface moist and fluffy.

Tonight, she made a pizza from scratch--not a box or a vacuum sealed pouch to be found.

Pizza Crust
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
Knead the dough and let rise for an hour in a well-oiled covered bowl, punch the dough down, roll out and top to your taste. She used a very small amount of tomato sauce and lots of mozzarella cheese. She cooked it for 15 minutes at 425 and we all enjoyed it.

Tomorrow night, it will be homemade macaroni and cheese.

While keeping an eye on her pizza crust creation, I was busy canning tomatoes from the garden. These will be nice to open for a soup or a stew over the winter.

Tomorrow, along with the macaroni and cheese we will tackle hemming pants and sewing on buttons. Wish us luck!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lonesome Lake

It was a misty rainy hike up to Lonesome Lake hut on Friday afternoon. Sara and I hiked the 1.6 miles in just under an hour and discovered that only five other people had made their way up.

There was a man who had hiked to the hut with his two little children and over dinner we learned that he was a photojournalist and had spent time in Macedonia ten years ago covering the Albanian refugee situation. Then we discovered that one of the croo had a friend visiting and that the friend was headed to Mozambique for the Peace Corps. What a small world.

Saturday the weather cleared out and we were able to enjoy a spectacular view of Franconia Ridge. The photojournalist and his children headed down the mountain and the hut filled up with day hikers and a large group that was staying for the night. Sara headed back to the car to drive home and Charlie switched places with her and hiked up to spend Saturday night with me at the hut.

The hut was totally full with 48 on Saturday night. There was one large group of friends and two smaller family groups all talking and laughing at once. Because Lonesome Lake hut is so close to I-93 (only an hour hike--1.6 miles and 1000 feet in elevation) it is a great "starter" hike. Folks who haven't hiked much before or families with young children can access the hut and get a taste of the back country. The AMC croo takes care of providing a hearty supper and breakfast and the bunks are comfortable and equipped with three woolen blankets and a pillow.

The huts through the white mountains are also convenient to the Appalachian Trail and they provide a place for through hikers to stay and in exchange for some chores they can get a meal and a place to sleep on the floor.

Overnight heavy rain started and the 48 people at breakfast were all a little quieter wondering how miserable it would be getting back down the mountain. One thing you learn and acquire as you hike for a while is the correct clothing for weather in the mountains. The secret is synthetic fabrics that dry quickly--it took me a few years but I now have a wardrobe from undergarment to outerwear that will minimize the amount of moisture next to my skin and maximize the preservation of my body heat.

The weather in the White Mountains can be mercurial and coupling that with the accessibility of trails leading to the high peaks, every year there are accidents, injuries and fatalities due to the weather and judgment errors. Tom posted an entry about a terrible death and near-death on Franconia Ridge that occured this past Winter. There is an newspaper article about the survivor here.

Many of the rookie hikers at the hut on Sunday had blue jeans, sneakers and sweatshirts for their walk down the mountain in the rain. The temperatures were warm enough that nothing but discomfort would result from their cotton clothing but it wouldn't have taken much of a drop in temperature for the situation to be more concerning.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fishin' Jimmy

Today, Sara and I are heading up to Lonesome Lake Hut for another weekend working as an AMC information volunteer. Sara is going to spend Friday night with me and Charlie will come up and spend Saturday night.

Lonesome Lake hut is the westernmost of the AMC huts in the chain that allows hut to hut hikes through the White Mountains. It is the lowest in elevation and sits in the shadow of Cannon Mountain and has a spectacular view of Franconia Ridge.

There is a trail from the hut named the Fishin' Jimmy trail. The trail was named for a popular story written in 1889 by Annie Trumbull Slosson who was an even more intriguing character than the fictional Fishin' Jimmy. Fishin' Jimmy is a sweet moralistic story about a grizzled old fisherman who finds Christ by stumbling into a church service. He finds the message of Jesus being a fisher of men an appealing one and he becomes a dedicated Christian who loses his life in a rescue on Franconia Ridge. The story is an e-book and is available here.

According to Julie Boardman's fascinating book, When Women and Mountains Meet, Annie Trumbull Slosson was not only the author of eight books during the Local Color Movement but an entomologist of great note who discovered over 3,000 different insects on the bare summit cone of Mt. Washington. Some of the species were given the suffix slossonae after Annie Trumbull Slosson and some were given the suffix washingtonensis in honor of the mountain.

Julie Boardman says that "One of the most fascinating insects on the summit is the White Mountain butterfly (C. semidea), which Slosson referred to as Mount Washington's oldest inhabitant. The butterfly, whose brown and gray mottled wings allow it to blend into the austere surroundings, dates from the glacial period and is only found on the Presidential Range and the very highest summits of mountains in Colorado."

Annie Tumbull Slosson was the sister-in-law and companion of William Prime, an author, art historian and philanthropist of great note. Lonesome Lake was bought in 1876 by William Prime and another man and used as a fishing camp until 1930 when the AMC established the original cabin as Lonesome Lake hut. The present hut is now located on the opposite side of the lake from William Prime's original fishing camp although the spot of the original camp is still obvious.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Walkin' Tacos

Last night on the nightly news show about Maine called 207--after our area code--yes, everyone in Maine has the same area code--we were treated to a cooking sensation that is probably sweeping the nation right now. No doubt this unbelievable dish is contributing to the obesity epidemic, the trade imbalance and Type II diabetes, but we all laughed so hard watching that I had to share.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Flags on the 48

Our communities mark and remember September 11, 2001 in so many different ways. On September 15, 2001, just a few days after our hearts and sense of security were shattered, our family hiked up Mt. Aziscohos, a small mountain in Maine, and we were touched to see a group of young people up there with a flag singing America the Beautiful and God, Bless America.

One of the on-going tributes here in northern New England is a project called Flags on the 48. It began with a small group of hikers who felt that they should put a flag up on Mt. Liberty on Franconia Ridge that first Saturday after the tragedy. By the next year, the idea had caught on and groups of volunteers raised a flag on each of the 48 mountains above 4000 feet in New Hampshire's White Mountains.

A look at the list of groups who have signed up for the peaks this year show several scout troops, school groups and groups of individuals--probably each with their own story on why.

The designated Saturday for 2008 is this coming Saturday, September 13, 2008. There are a few peaks that are accessible to non-hikers--Mt. Washington can be accessed by the auto road or the cog railroad and Wildcat and Cannon have trams to take you to the top. From each of those peaks you should be able to see the flags on several other peaks. I'll be working at Lonesome Lake hut over the weekend and hope to be able to hike up Cannon Mountain during the time that the flags are raised.

What are some of the ways that your community remembers?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rock Flipping in Dixfield, Maine

I learned upon waking this morning, that today is the Second Annual International Rock Flipping Day.

After reading about the day, I wished, for the first time in my life, that I was an elementary school teacher. Perhaps next year I will adequately prepare and plan and find a few little kids to take out rock flipping with me.

But, for this, my maiden year of participation, I was satisfied with flipping over some rocks from the flower bed. It was hard to flip the rock and get the camera up and focused before the little critters had scurried from the light but I was able to get a picture of their transportation tunnels. Little subterranean highways.

We had quite a bit of rain last night as Tropical Storm Hanna made her way out to the northern Atlantic and I don't know enough about what lives under rocks to know if all the rain had an effect on today's observations.

I do know that it was fun to flip the rocks and that next year I will have a guidebook to insects and an accomplice ready to snap the photo.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bushels of Blogs

I acquire blogs to visit even faster than I acquire cats. There are over 100 blogs on my Google Reader and I enjoy them all--so how can I possibly choose five to profile in the meme that Sharon of Home is Big Sky Country sent my way?

Her assignment was as follows:

1. Only 5 people allowed.
2. 4 have to be dedicated followers of your blog
3. one has to be someone new or recently new to your blog and live in another part of the world.
4. you must link back to whoever gave you the award.

My interests are eclectic and my daily reads run the gamut from political news in Western Kentucky to daily updates on climbers in the Himalayas and the Alps--realizing that those extremes might be of limited interest to others, I will try and choose five that are representative of the majority of the people that I suspect read this blog.

Marianne of Busha Full of Grace is a teacher and a knitter and a mother and a lover of all that is sweet and simple and natural. Right now, with her youngest child just off to college, she is traveling half way across the country to begin a new life in a new city with everything that is materially important to her packed into her car. I've enjoyed following her world running a nursery school in California and know that I will enjoy watching her try on new experiences in Chicago.

Seabrooke of The Marvelous in Nature is a natural teacher--I say natural and that is true in every sense of the word--she teaches her readers about nature and she does it in a understandable and enjoyable fashion. Her pictures are extraordinary and her posts always leave me looking at the world around me with a new understanding.

There is never a question of what to make for supper or what to read if you are a follower of Nan from Letters from a Hill Farm. We share the world of northern mountains--she lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and her world is very similar to mine--although her flowers and meals are much more appealing.

One of the many bloggers who I wish would get a publishing contract is The Elementary of Crumbs from the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering. Her little snippets always leave me wanting more and I can imagine that each one is written with a twinkle in her eye and a barely muffled giggle. Her love of Spouse, Mater and the Irish homeland are just a few of the subjects that suffuse her stories.

The newest blogger on my reader is daughter Sara of Panopticon. This girl can spin a tale and like The Elementary there is hilarity spilling from her fingertips. She started her blog last week to get it up and running before heading to Macedonia later in the month. There are only a few posts so far but they are all golden. Snowflakes will get you hooked.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Country Lawyer

This is the commute to my office.

I walk out my front door, down the walk, down the driveway and into my cute little dollhouse of an office. If it's raining or snowing, I dart out of the garage door saving a few steps in the precipitation. The little white building at the end of the driveway was a falling apart carriage house when I bought this house but then, the men in my life put it to rights and made me the coziest little law office ever.

But today was not an office day--I had an emancipation hearing at 8:30 a.m. so I jumped into the lawmobile--my Ford Escape (license plate MTNCLBR). Let's see
  • coffee
  • hairclip
  • files
  • drycleaning slip
  • sunglasses
Fully prepared, it was off to court in Farmington to assist a young man in becoming an adult a few months prior to the calendar doing it for him. Please note that the courthouse shares space with the Maine Department of Conservation.

From there it was one place after another--probably more than 100 miles on the lawmobile by the time I parked back in the driveway.

There was a meeting to help decide whether or not a father who was doing everything that he needed to in order to reunify with his son should have more visits (yes); there was a visit to two little babies who had been diagnosed as failure to thrive but had gained a pound each after five days in foster care; there was a visit to a mother who had fallen back into substance abuse; there was a visit with four children who would probably be adopted by their grandparents; there was a visit with another little boy who stole my heart and whose story broke it.

And somewhere along the way there was donkey in the shadow of Mt. Abrham. It almost sounds biblical.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bigelow Range

"To those who would see the Maine wilderness, tramp day by day through a succession of ever delightful forest, past lake and stream, and over mountains, we would say: Follow the Appalachian Trail across Maine. It cannot be followed on horse or a wheel. Remote for detachment, narrow for chosen company, winding for leisure, lonely for contemplation, it beckons not merely north and south but upward to the body, mind and soul of man." - Myron Avery, In the Maine Woods, 1934.

Myron Avery was a native of Lubec, Maine and a graduate of Bowdoin College and Harvard Law School and a great visionary in the building of the Appalachian Trail The peak in the top picture is part of the Bigelow Range and named Avery Peak to honor him. This is the last 4000 footer that northbound hikers cross before Katahdin some 170 miles to the north.

Charlie and I woke early on Labor Day morning and drove north of Sugarloaf Mountain to the trailhead for the Bigelow Range. It was a perfect day for a hike in Maine with temperatures in the 70's and a breeze (make that wind) on the summits.

It was a long day of hiking and rock naps in the sun and absolutely unforgettable.