Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Does anyone think this is a good idea??

I'm all for creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit and, Lord only knows, in this economy any one gutsy enough to start a business should be applauded--but a topless coffee shop in Maine?

There are so many problems with this idea.

The most obvious is the temperature--there are very few days in Maine when even men are willing to go topless. It's cold here--even in the summer we wear fleece and sweaters. What must they keep their thermostat on in order for these ladies to be at their best?

There are a myriad of other reasons for why this is a shockingly bad idea but I don't want to be accused of negativity. So here's to you Grand View Topless Coffee Shop. Oh my goodness, even the name makes me laugh.

Monday, February 23, 2009

After the Storm

Today, everything was canceled. Maine dug out from more snow than we have seen in one storm in the ten years that I have lived here.

Archie and Brent spent the afternoon shoveling out the fire hydrants in nearby Canton. It's a nice little job and easy money after a 6 inch snow storm--today though they earned every penny. I drove them from hydrant to hydrant parking alongside, blinkers flashing, nose in a book hoping that the logging trucks rumbling past had room to get by.
After the fire hydrants, we headed over to my parents' house to help them shovel out their generator. As we traveled through a town called Hartford which must have a miniscule snow removal budget anyway, we came upon their lone plow hopelessly stuck in the snow. Just past the stranded plow, the road went to one poorly plowed lane and then to a mound of snow--no one was getting through on that road. Fortunately, after expertly executing a 16-point turn, we were able to navigate our way back through Hartford and to other roads leading to my mom and dad and steaming bowls of red beans and rice!


On Saturday the weather forecasters started warning of a big storm on Sunday. They were predicting that it would start at 1 p.m. and when it didn't, we threw up our hands and assumed that the alarmist weather prognosticators were wrong again.

About the time that Kate Winslet was looking beautiful on the red carpet, the first flakes were starting to fall.

At 1 a.m., I woke with a start realizing that everything was much too dark and much too silent. I got up and came downstairs and found Archie and Brent stoking up the fire and trying to find a non-electric alarm to wake Brent up at 4:15 to get to his job at the log yard behind our house. I gave him a flashlight and an alarm and then settled in on the couch to feed the fire and see the night through. For those of you familiar with the cast of characters in my life Brent is a friend of Archie's and the latest young person to share our home for a spell.

By the time that the power came back, I could see the snow piled up on my kitchen window bird feeder and realized this was a monster storm--20 inches for us. As I write, I see Brent walking up the driveway, I guess it was too much snow for the log yard to operate.

Did someone mention daffodils, returning red-winged blackbirds and salamanders? It hardly seems possible.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Banff Film Festival World Tour

Last night Charlie and I went to Portland to see some of the films from the 2008 Banff Film Festival. The Banff Film Festival is held every October at the Banff Cultural Center and screens films on mountain culture from all over the world. Someday when I have disposable income and time to spare, I would love to attend--but until then--a February evening in the South Portland High School auditorium is the next best thing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Revisiting a favorite post with an Exciting Update

I first wrote this in January, 2008. It is one of my favorite posts and the one that is most often found on google because of the burgeoning fame of Tom and Atticus. They will be hiking this week with a film crew from Animal Planet who will feature Atticus in their show Dogs 101.

In September, 2006, Charlie and I spent a weekend hiking over the Wildcats and across the southern Carter range. As we climbed Carter Dome on the morning of our second day, we met a man who was hiking with his dog.

It isn't so unusual to see people hiking with dogs, but it is fairly unusual to see someone hiking up the rugged high peaks of New Hampshire's White Mountains with a schnauzer. We unconsciously alternated rest breaks with the man and his dog, stopping to exchange pleasantries each time one of us passed the other.

At a ledge over-looking Carter Notch and the hut, the man took a picture of us. Way down at the bottom of the picture, you can see the green roof of the hut. It obviously had been a steep climb for all of us--but for that little schnauzer?

Carter Dome, at a height of 4832 feet is the 9th highest of the White Mountains. When we made the summit, we had it to ourselves with no sign of the man and dog who had passed us again a little before. Despite its height, the summit of Carter Dome does not provide much of a view. Charlie, who had hiked the trail before, assured me that less than a mile to the north, Mt. Hight would provide a beautiful view across Pinkham Notch and the eastern side of the Presidential Range.

We kept at it--heading north on the Carter-Moriah trail to Mt. Hight. When we got there, it was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. There was an undercast in the Notch and the Northern Presidentials poked up through it like islands in an ocean of clouds. The leaves were just starting to turn and the contrast of the clouds below the majestic peaks and then the blue sky was just incredible.

It's impossible to share such rare beauty with a stranger without feeling that you have slipped into friendship, so we shared the summit with the man and his dog and talked a bit about who we were and what we did and why we were climbing a mountain on a Sunday in September when the Red Sox were playing the Yankees.

The man's name was Tom and his dog was named Atticus. They lived in Massachusetts where he operated a controversial political newspaper. Tom and Atticus climbed 4000 footers every weekend year-round and were planning on hiking all 48 4000 footers two times the coming winter as a fund-raiser for the Jimmy Fund.

He told us about an internet hangout for hikers called Views from the Top and said he would sponsor us as members. C and I became avid readers of the posts on Views from the Top and our favorite poster of trip reports was, of course, Tom and Atticus. His writing was amazing. If the standard advice to writers is to write about your passion, he was clearly passionate about the mountains.

When I was a little girl growing up, my neighbor was an artist named Arnelda Richter. On a summer morning, she would find me knocking at the sliding glass door of her studio. She would let me in to watch her paint--I loved her artistry--especially her paintings of the ocean because she painted the ocean the way I saw it. As a child, I couldn't understand why others couldn't capture the ocean quite right--of course now I know that we all experience things differently. But just like my artist neighbor painted the ocean the way it was to me, Tom writes about the mountains the way I know them.

The man and dog are at it again, this winter attempting to climb all 48 4000 footers two times to raise money for MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center. Tom sold his newspaper last fall and moved up to New Hampshire to write and to hike with his companion, Atticus. I have never read his political writings, but his mountain writings are extraordinary. If you have ever wondered what it is like to climb mountains or to love a dog or to heal from heartbreak, Tom can tell you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Down with a bug

On Sunday, the reason for Saturday's poor hiking performance became clear as I started sneezing and coughing and blowing my nose and feeling generally rotten and over the last few nights, as I have tossed and turned feverishly, memories of childhood sick days came back to me.

Back in the day, once my mother had declared me too sick to go to school, she would put my favorite sheets on my bed (I was particularly fond of some with stripes that looked just like fruit stripe gum). Dad would move the TV into my bedroom and I was to "rest".

While everyone else was at school, by a miracle delivered through a little rabbit ear antenna on our not-very-up-to-date black and white TV, I could enter the world of GAME SHOWS. I absolutely loved them all. Wasn't Kitty Carlisle just about the most glamorous woman that ever lived?

What's My Line, To Tell the Truth, Concentration, Password--they were all so much fun to watch and I just knew that the contestants and the celebrities were living lives that I couldn't ever imagine in my little fruit-striped cocoon littered with kleenexes and Nancy Drew books.

Well, we all grow up--there aren't many game shows that appeal to me these days but I've known a couple of people who were contestants on the old game shows. When I lived in San Antonio, years ago a woman from my church was on Price is Right--she was tall and blonde and enthusiastic--perfect contestant material. A friend of mine who practices law with me was on Password during its last season. He has told me the whole story from sending in his application to hugging Betty White--it wasn't quite as good as hugging Betty White myself but I suppose vicarious game show contestanting is about all I'll get.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Vinyl Cafe

Recently I discovered a radio show called the Vinyl Cafe. It plays on our local NPR station on Sunday afternoons and this morning while searching the web and wanting to re-listen to yesterday's story, Wally, I found that the broadcasts are available as a free podcast on Itunes.

If you haven't already found this gem from Canada, check it out!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Bemis Track

Yesterday I decided to hike out to Angel Falls which is located in a remote area about a mile off an old railroad bed called the Bemis Track. The Bemis track is barely passable as a road in the summer and in the winter only serves snowmobilers traveling the wild country between Lake Mooselookmeguntic and the Tumbledown region. It's a good place to be alone.

I parked my car just off Route 17 and changed into my hiking boots, adjusting my backpack with the snowshoes strapped to the outside. I knew that I would need the snowshoes for the mile hike from the Bemis track to the falls, but thought the track would be packed down enough by snowmobilers that I might be able to cover the four miles to the trailhead faster in my bare boots.

Everything was so quiet--no birds, no wind, no sound of rushing water from the brook that paralleled the trail. The rushing water was buried deep beneath many feet of ice and as I looked off the trail at the book, I could only imagine its course by the buried mounds of boulders.

So, off I went, leaving the car at 11 a.m. It's hard to judge distance along the track and with the late start, I decided that if I was not to the trailhead by 1 p.m., I would turn around. Charlie was at a ski race and would not be home to notice that I was missing until close to dark--late to mount a rescue effort--and the bargain I have struck with the ones who love me is that they won't complain about me hiking alone if I exercise extreme caution.

It was hard walking, slightly uphill at a railroad grade and the snow was not as hard packed as I had imagined it would be. My feet sank in about 2 inches with each step and by 12 when I stopped to find the trailmix in my pack and to drink some water, I was really getting tired. I munched the trail mix and kept walking wondering if maybe I should put on my snowshoes. Just before 1 p.m., I saw a big boulder up the road a ways and decided to walk to the boulder and then decide what to do. I made it to the boulder and decided to put my snowshoes on and turn around.

As I was putting on my snowshoes, I heard the roar of snowmobiles that soon materialized coming from the direction of Mooselookmeguntic. The leader pulled up beside me and looked for all the world like he had just driven off the pages of an L. L. Bean catalogue with his green wool Maine guide jacket and handsome chiseled features. The people on the many sleds behind him had the look of eager weekend visitors who had paid him for a snowmobile adventure. He asked me if I was safe and I said yes. I asked him how far to the trailhead since he had just come from that direction and he said about 1/2 mile but suggested that I turn around as it was getting late and cold. I agreed. He patted the back of his sled and told me to hop on. I was tempted--tired and facing 2 hours back to my car--but I shook my head, assured him that I was fine and sent them on their way.

Before heading back I took out my camera and took one picture before the battery died. Kind of a weird day--no goals realized but I am a firm believer that in life it is the process not the product that matters. I had a wonderful day breathing fresh air, exercising my body, remembering all the other hikes to Angel Falls and casting my cares off into the snowy world.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pretty Birds and what to do with a Sunny Saturday

Three goldfinch joined the chickadees at my feeders yesterday. They are so pretty--it's amazing how much color the birds add to the bleak winter landscape. They are kind of like flying flowers.

I am in a quandry about what to do with this day. The thermometer is predicted to hit the freezing mark, something we haven't seen in months and something that I am pretty excited about. So, what to do with it.

I have narrowed my day to two choices.

Either a hike to beautiful frozen Angel Falls or a hike out to check on the beavers. On one hand, the hike to Angel Falls is long but the trail will be broken out by snowmobilers for most of the way and the frozen falls are always stunning to see, on the other hand I haven't checked on the beavers since before Christmas. That trail won't be broken out at all and while much shorter than the one to Angel Falls will probably require a lot of work.

Hmmmm, I'm thinking Angel Falls--the beavers can wait one more week and next weekend my parents, who live on the beaver's property (and pay the taxes for the beavers) will be back from their trip to Texas and can supply me with tea and cookies after the arduous trail breaking.
Decision made.

OK, Angels Falls it is. Check back later for pictures and a trip report.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Last night in bee class, a man brought in kits and taught us how to put together our hives. We brought our hammers (see my pretty flowery one) and snapped pieces together and hammered them tight and nailed them securely and then put a piece of wax in them. These little frames are what the bees use as a foundation for their work and where they build their combs and leave their honey.

A bee hive is several boxes (called Supers) filled with these frames. The bottom two or three supers contain the bees' honey and on top of those, we will put "honey boxes" for the excess--our honey!

I have to order my supplies by this weekend and have decided to go with medium supers because loaded with comb and honey they will weigh 60 pounds as opposed to the deeper, more traditional supers that will weigh 100 pounds. I think 60 pounds is all I want to be tossing around into a wheelbarrow, so we'll go with the smaller ones. Using the medium supers, I will have three rather than two for the bees' use and hopefully a whole lot for my use--honey--yummmmmy. (Note to self: re-read Winnie the Pooh and Too Much Honey)

We also learned that in Maine we should paint the hives a non-traditional dark color Most hives are painted white and that is to assist the bees in keeping their hive cool. But the hive temperature stays around 95 degrees and in Maine we don't have very many days where the temperature is over 90 so by painting the hive a darker color we can assist the bees in their heating.

I am ordering Italian bees. They are recommended as docile and hardy and the experienced beekeepers in our class all recommend them.

The bees will be in on April 11 and we have eight classes between now and then for me to learn everything I can.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The rest of the story

I didn't mean to be terribly mysterious in my post yesterday about my poor handwarmer placement decision but Donna pretty much said it all in her comment.

KGMom has left a new comment on your post "Carter Notch, January 30, 2009":

We have used the hand warmers in the past at football games.
Um, I don't think I would put it in my bra! They do get. . .warm. And the skin on one's hands is a bit thicker and tougher than the thin delicate skin. . .
Enough said

Just a big red mark--no permanent damage.