Saturday, March 28, 2009

A friday evening with Miss Molly

Molly met me at the Foggy Bottom Metro on Friday afternoon and after hugs we walked down to Georgetown and found a nice little Italian Restaurant for dinner. I love listening to her order with her perfect Italian pronunciations acquired during her junior year of high school when she experienced Milan while Archie and I missed her. The Italian language sounds like spoken art to me.

As we talked over our pasta, it quickly became apparent that I wasn't in Dixfield any more--well actually that should have been apparent when I glanced at the menu and didn't notice anything that had been deep fried. People in colorful and flowing cultural dress and speaking lyrical languages passsed by our table and on the street outside the window. While I absorbed the city and the calories in our delicious meal, Molly told me all about her adventures and her classes and her plans. I cherished every word.

After we ate, we walked back up to Foggy Bottom pausing to browse in a paper products store. We both love paper products--stationery, cards, boxes, journal books. We didn't buy anything but it was fun to look and dream. There were invitations that were so pretty that I wanted to have a party just for an excuse to use them. After the stationery store, we went to her dorm room so that she could get a jacket. Her roomate had to leave school due to the economic blight that is affecting so many and Molly ended up with a single room for the semester.

Once she had her jacket, we walked down to the National Mall pausing at the Nurse's Memorial before climbing the steps to Lincoln. We sat on the steps in the setting sun and she pointed out where she had stood during the Inauguration Concert (roughly where Jenny was in Forrest Gump). She told me that she and her friends had arrived at 8 a.m. for th 2 p.m. concert but had seen Cheryl Crowe, Garth Brooks, U-2 and others perform before the soon-to-be President. She said it was cold waiting for such a long time but that it was worth it to be part of such an event. As we walked from the Lincoln Memorial toward my favorite--the FDR Memorial on the Tidal Basin, we passed the Korean War Memorial (my other favorite). The Korean War memorial is truly haunting.

We crossed Jefferson Avenue and headed around the Tidal Basin toward the Roosevelt Memorial. If I lived in DC, I would go to this memorial every day. It is full of symbolism suffused with nature.
We decided that was enough for one evening stroll and started to head back to campus detouring slightly to walk through the World War II Memorial pausing to look back at the Lincoln Memorial and then turning to look at the Washington Monument. She pointed out to me where she had stood during the Inauguration--too tiny to even see the jumbotrons--she nevertheless experienced something that she will never forget.
After enjoying so much on the National Mall, I left her at her dorm and headed to the metro and to my hotel and to bed. We have plans to meet this morning with her friend Julie and my rental car and head south of town to the other kind of Mall.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A get away weekend

Today I'm heading to Washington, DC to spend the weekend with Molly. Last year during my spring-time visit, she climbed cherry trees as we headed to the Lincoln Memorial.

I haven't seen her since she flew back down to school in early January. She chose an impromptu trip to Florida with friends over coming back to Maine in March for Spring Break--who can understand young people?

As soon as the semester is over, she's jumping on a plane to Europe to see her sister. So, I'm not even sure if Western Maine is on her agenda for the summer.

Molly is my quiet child--when all four of the kids were little--and they were all little at once--less than six years from oldest to youngest. I would often slam on the brakes of the minivan and say with anxiety "Is Molly in here?" The other three would reply yes, except for one time when she wasn't and we quickly had to turn around.
I can't wait to see her this afternoon. Knowing Molly the weekend will provide lots of fun photo opportunities for me to share with you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lots of thoughts

It has been so long since I logged into Blogger that it had almost forgotten me. Thanks to all of you who wrote concerned with my absence. It has been hard to kick the flu this year and most of my limited energy has gone toward work and family.

We still have much snow on the ground here but these lengthening days are full of sunshine. The maple sap is running and the sugar houses are boiling away. The common redpolls are still visiting my feeder but I've been encouraging them to start heading north. I saw a dove picking dead grass yesterday, so she may be nesting in our barn again. There is a broken window pane on the third floor and a box nailed high up on the wall and in other years I have heard the soft cooing of little doves in there.

Brother and family visited from Chile last week and we snowshoed down to the beaver dam, no sign of activity on the snow around the dam but we could see some denuded sticks floating in the water and took that as a hopeful sign that our little friends saw the winter through.

A few weekends ago, we were to have friends spend the weekend. We had been anticipating the visit for months and planning it for weeks. All four of us were truly looking forward to it until the Coughs hit. The worst part of having the flu is the final stage which involves lots and lots and lots of coughing and so Charlie and I decided that in the interest of not infecting our friends and conserving our strength we should re-schedule for the following weekend. Unfortunately, it was not to be. On the Saturday of our originally-scheduled weekend, when we should have been snowshoeing through the woods and enjoying each other's company, our friends suffered an accident that has left scars on their hearts, minds, memories and body. We have spoken several times on the phone since then and I think about them every day.

Tonight, it is off to bee class--we're learning about honey harvesting--I've waited 8 sessions to learn this most important piece! The bees will be here in a few weeks.

Thanks for listening, sorry to be so long--I'll be back to posting regularly soon.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

NCAA Noric Ski Championship

We have been firmly under the weather with a nasty cold all week, but this morning Charlie rallied enough to ask me to go watch the Men's Freestyle race in the NCAA Skiing Championships being held just down the road at Black Mountain of Maine.

The best nordic skiers from colleges stretching from the University of Alaska at Anchorage to Bates College in Lewiston Maine flew up and over the hilly course for 20 kilometers. It was a perfect winter day. The sky was clear and that pure blue that we get in the winter when a high pressure system is sitting right on top of us--the temperature on the mountain was just at freezing--comfortable for spectators. We were able to position ourselves at a few different points in order to see the skiers several times as they looped over the course.

Black Mountain of Maine was developed thanks to the efforts of former Olympian Chummy Broomhall who, along with other members of the 1952 U.S. Nordic team, was present and cheering on the racers.

Another olympian and favorite daughter of Maine was skiing around and watching the racers. Joan Benoit Samuelson is probably my favorite famous Mainer. Sadly, several years ago a woman that I was watching a high school race with was quite rude to the great marathoner. That was the end of me ever standing near that particular woman again and it caused me to, very uncharacteristically, speak sharply in reprimand. I've always been embarrassed when I've seen Joan wondering if she remembered and associated me with that moment. Truthfully, she probably didn't even notice, but it still rankles with me.

As we were leaving, Charlie ran into his coach from when he was on the Bates Nordic Team in the early 1970's. Charlie has such great memories of those days, I love to hear his stories about the ski races and I love the fact that nordic skiers can still enjoy their sport 40 years later.

A good day.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cat Walk

During this rather strange year in his life, my youngest son has acquired a little tiger tom cat. Last week we took the kitty to the vet to have the tom taken out of him but he has retained the swagger and the attitude.

A month or so ago, Archie and the cat were staying at a house about 6 miles away. The furnace had stopped working at the house and no one else was there. During the night, with a snowstorm raging, the house got really cold and Archie decided to come home. He tucked the kitty into his backpack and walked back here, came in through the door that I always leave unlocked for him or anyone else that needs it, cooked everything he could find in the cupboards while Charlie and I slept soundly unaware, and went to bed.

The next morning, I woke up, came downstairs and turned on the coffee pot picking up a piece of pasta as I walked across the kitchen floor. Hmmmm, I usually clean up better than that before bed and we hadn't had pasta for supper and is that the waffle iron out--and syrup sticky on the counter? Well, it didn't take Hercule Poirot to figure out that someone had come in and made a feast of pasta and waffles as a snowstorm had swirled outside and it didn't take too many of my deductive powers to figure out who it might have been. I went up the back staircase to Archie's room, opened the door and there he was asleep in his bed with this funny little cat. They have been here ever since.

One of the many characteristics of this little cat that endear him to Archie is that he takes walks just like a puppy dog would. Every day, they take a walk around town or through the woods with the kitty following or walking beside Archie. Today, they let me come with them on a walk to the hardware store.

No telling what people think when they see a teenage boy walking around with a little tiger cat beside him, but I guess we have gotten way past caring what people think. I hope it makes them smile.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Marital harmony

If there is one area of expertise endowed on my family of origin, it is as connoisseurs of breakfast cereal. I was raised to believe that a bowl of cereal before bed was an element on the first level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, as essential as air, food and shelter.

Somewhere along the line I stopped partaking of my bedtime bowl of carbohydrates but my idea of a perfect nighttime meal is still Honey Nut Cheerios with a banana and soy milk and any time I'm on my own for supper, that's my choice.

As much as I love the sweet crunchiness of Honey Nut Cheerios, I really, really hate the commercial where a wife stands around eating them and lowering her cholesterol while her husband works himself half to death doing household chores. I can't claim to be an expert on marriage but I'm pretty sure that while her cholesterol is going down, his blood pressure is going up and that can't be a good thing.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


A few days ago, I asked Archie and Brent to put a new feeder up on a pulley between the porch and the big maple tree by the driveway. The other bird feeders are over by my office and I can't see them from the house and I wanted to be able to drink my morning coffee, look out the window and see birds. So after seeing a similar arrangement at Charlie's brother's house, the boys and I went to the hardware store and procured the necessary supplies.

That first night, I dreamed about hordes of colorful birds flocking to my yard--I woke up and laughed about my silly dream--and this morning it came true!

This morning as we drank our coffee and checked e-mail, we were treated to 50 or more common redpolls and goldfinches. It was magical and I will never forget this day.


I think I look ready to penetrate the deepest darkest jungles.

Last night the material to put together two hives arrived. Over the next month or so, we'll get the pieces put together (if I can remember how--they did not come with directions) and then we'll be ready when the bees arrive via overnight delivery from Georgia. Oh, those poor bees are in for a nasty surprise. Whatever they were used to in Georgia in Maine, they will find that April is a winter month.

Until the dandelions bloom, the bees will get a sugar water solution--we learned several different ways of providing it--more on this as I begin experimenting. The point is to have the solution available for them to access with their tongues without the risk of drowning.

This all seems so complicated but I keep telling myself to take a deep breath, the bees know what to do even if I don't. Maybe, that's the way with a lot of things.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Great Caribou Bog Wicked Winter Ski Race

Today Charlie competed in the 24th Great Caribou Bog Wicked Winter Ski Tour and Race. The race goes from Bangor to Old Town over a 17 kilometer trail that winds through forests and bogs.

It was a mass start with all racers starting in one big bundle. By the 3 kilometer mark, he said the field had spread itself out. When the camera and I caught him at the 8 kilometer mark, he was coming through the woods alone.

The few kilometers that I skied were very enjoyable and made me anxious to ski the race next year with him--well to start with him anyway.