30 December 2012

the fidget bowl

this tiny bowl has been in the center of my dining table for months now and seems to be earning a permanent place there. for lack of a better term, it's being called the fidget bowl.

in early summer, i put the bowl out and filled it with an assortment of shells, smooth stones, and sea glass collected on beaches over the years. in the weeks before our ocean get-away, the little girl and i sifted through the contents, remembering vacations past and planning for the upcoming one.  when we came back, we added this year's bounty to the collection. then fall came and the summer trinkets were packed away. the bowl was quickly refilled with acorns, pinecones, seed pods, indian corn kernels, and tiny stiff apsen leaves. through autumn, folks sat at the table fidgeting, sorting and stirring with fingers while talking of apple recipes and halloween costumes and preparations for winter. and now in december, the bowl holds the sights and sounds and smells of christmas. we rolled the sweet gum pods as we planned christmas lists and rubbed the cinnamon stick as we composed holiday messages to friends. we jingled bells absentmindedly, waiting for the kitchen timer to signal cookies were finished baking.

as it gets closer to the time of putting christmas away, i wonder what to place in the bowl for the winter months. i think people might miss it if it were empty and i'm pretty sure i've come to rely on it if only a little. even now, i crush the pine needles with my thumbnail to release a hint of their woodsy fragrance as i search for the right word or the correct phrase. as i write, i just fidget.

29 December 2012


snow today is just breathtaking. this is the sort of snow that mesmerizes, hypnotizes, and keeps me from chores and work. tea in hand, i stand at the window, watching, hoping that everyone i know is safe inside, perhaps looking outside as well.

26 December 2012

post christmas

the day after christmas and i am sick. thankfully, it's only a cold, but it's a good one and i feel dreadful. this is putting a damper on christmas week. but i'm so grateful that, up until christmas eve, i was having a simply wonderful holiday season!

22 December 2012

gathering greens

a saturday walk in the woods to gather some last minute greens for inside the house. so still there, quiet, with only the sound of the stream coursing down the hill and my boots crunching in the leaves and the snow.

21 December 2012

solstice 2012

it's the longest night of the year. we welcome the return of light. darkness has been with us long enough.

20 December 2012

simple gilfts

one of the many joys of teaching - handmade gifts of love from small, important people. i don't know a single teacher who doesn't cherish these mementos. and this christmas season, they seem all the more beautiful and meaningful.

16 December 2012

comfort food

tomato soup and a grilled cheese cheese sandwich. 
it just seemed like a good idea on a cold, snowy, sad weekend. 

14 December 2012

the children.

the cnn breaking news feeds started midmorning and kept coming into my iphone and onto my feed reader. shooting in connecticut. elementary school. teachers shot. students killed. i knew knowing the details would only upset me, and i had students yet to teach. on the drive home, i got caught up with the horrific news. and when i walked into my bedroom and spotted this, the neatly folded scarf i had changed my mind about and decided not to wear today, i broke down. all those children.

08 December 2012

home-grown holidays

from the outside, i have watched this annual christmas event since the time the girl was finally old enough to not believe. but this year, i jumped in and volunteered to help. santa's village, a mainstay of the holidays in our community, where adults and organizations band together to make a christmas memory for children. wide-eyed they come to watch elves making toys, to marvel at the holiday express zipping around the tracks, to sample mrs. claus's cookies, and to visit with the old gentleman himself, who calls each child by name. this year i played a small part in the magic, for only a few hours - but just being there helped to bring on the christmas spirit for which i've so been hoping.

07 December 2012

snow at night

the first real snow of the season tonight, falling silent and peaceful. but with it comes the usual flurry of accidents and fender-benders. the girl and the little girl traveled the roads earlier and are now safe in their home. very thankful for that as i slip outside to try for some shots in the night.

24 November 2012


snow in the forecast makes me finally venture out to cut back the last of the perennials and rake the remaining oak and poplar leaves from the garden. each year i dread this job and i always put it off. and this fall, i have been so busy with home and work, i had resigned myself to the notion that this task would not get done this year.

it's good to be outside, though, and the sun shines warm through barren trees as i cut and rake. as the day goes on, my turtleneck and hoodie give way to barn coat and a scarf when the air grows colder and windier. as i work, the season's first frigid air comes sharp in my nostrils and, when clouds move in from the west, a few flakes appear in the air. my fingers are cold inside the leather work gloves, but i am getting the job done.

up in the woods, i can hear the turkeys before i can see them, scratching through the fallen leaves in search of grubs and insects. i count only seven of them now and am sure there were more last summer. my rake unearths several wooly bear caterpillars, their wide brown stripes suggesting a long winter ahead.

until dusk, i am outside in the cold. i take pictures, i sit in the adironack chair studying the trees and the sky, i sip steaming tomato soup from a big cup. i doze, lulled by the quiet of late november. and i finish the task of cutting back the dead stems, studying each empty seed pod and flower head, and marveling at the new growth on many of the plants, the promise of spring on this blustery late fall afternoon.

22 November 2012

21 November 2012

blaze orange

going to the compost pile during hunting season, we take no chances. do you want to wear my scarf or my hat, i ask her. both, she replies. and so she does.

10 November 2012

early saturday

up very early this morning, second cup of coffee in hand, quiet christmas playlist streaming to the kitchen speakers. such a peaceful, magical time of day, so full of promise and intention. i so wish i were a morning person.

06 November 2012

election day

election day is always such a source of community pride here, as i imagine it is in most places. good to see neighbors and friends at the polls, to visit with the ladies who bake for the scholarship fund, to stand around the wood stove and talk town politics. and to help shape the nation, from our small corner of it. 

tonight i am on pins and needles, like much of the rest of the country.

04 November 2012


for a control freak like me, change can be unsettling, unnerving, and sometimes, downright terrifying. this has been such a time of change, both real and potential, and i can feel in my bones that i am handling it badly. always, i have found comfort in the steady rhythm of the seasons and the promise of renewal after a period of darkness and rest. i try to harken back to this now, and it's difficult. i know i need to close my eyes and breathe. trust. let go. even to remember the lilies of the field. but knowing that doesn't make things any easier...at least not yet.

27 October 2012

what started as a normal saturday

today was the day for a long-awaited shopping trip with out-of-state relatives. we shopped all morning at the mall, buying shoes and scarves and kitchen gadgets, then drove to a nearby restaurant for lunch, to sit leisurely and visit and get caught up on each others lives. while we were there, many dark suits began appearing and, before we knew it, they were announcing the president of the united states was coming to the restaurant. the president. the president! and arrive he did. he came over to our table. he shook my hand. he smiled and asked my name. he looked me in the eye and told me we need more teachers doing what i do.

this must be what bieber-fever feels like to a teenager. today, i met the president of the united states.

21 October 2012


up and out early this morning to see if i could view these meteor showers. although i was a little late, i think, i managed to see five faint ones in the predawn sky. bundled cozily in an adirondack chair in the still morning air, drinking coffee, watching the heavens resplendent with stars - not a bad way to start the day.

17 October 2012

milkweed in fall

late afternoon walk around the yard shows the first of the milkweed pods has split. neatly lined up seeds are ready to fly with the next strong wind. the other pods will soon follow suit. i hope it happens when the little girl is here to see.

13 October 2012

raking the leaves

there's a little girl in there somewhere, one that moments earlier had raked all those leaves into a huge pile! a great saturday to be outside in the october chill!

07 October 2012

in the yard

took a twilight stroll around the perimeter of the yard, noticing differences now that the seasons are shifting. in the compost pile, the tiniest of mum plants is budding and has a single autumn-red blossom.
and who made off with the nuts that were attached to this cluster of acorn caps?

05 October 2012

the long way home

this afternoon, on my way to a neighboring town, i wandered the back roads because the day and the surroundings were so beautiful. for the return, i had planned to take the highway, because it's a quick trip. but i found myself again drawn to the splendor of the winding road. i can take the highway later, when the landscape is all barren and gray.

30 September 2012

old things

off on an antiquing adventure this weekend and, after marveling at all sorts of beautiful and interesting items, this is the one i came away with. not only does it slice eggs three different ways - horizontally, vertically, and diagonally, it plays beautiful music when the cutting wires are plunked. i know this. i used to do it back in the old days, when i was a child.

28 September 2012

damp & dreary

big plans, fun plans, for the weekend and i've been so anxious to be outside with the camera. but it looks like even more rain is in store. here's hoping skies will be overcast and showers just intermittent.

23 September 2012

equinox weekend

yesterday, in a rush, i came up over a rise and saw fall for the first time. there in the distance, one red maple in the midst of all the summer's green. it's coming! so today i went out with my camera, just for a little while, to see if i could find more. it felt pretty good to be out, just watching, just looking.

16 September 2012

end of the season

the last corn of the season tonight for dinner, with the final scrapings of the dill butter made in july. the ocd in me loves when silly things like this come out serendipitously even.

09 September 2012

nature's gold

found just this morning, laying in the middle of this rock. it looked like gold in the sunlight, like a pin to wear on a russet brown or burnt orange jacket. i saved it, pressed it into a book about seasonal changes. in a few weeks, when i turn the pages to read about autumn, i'll find it again.

04 September 2012

final show

after hanging on through the blockbuster and netflix years, the small video store in our town is now closing its doors. i worked a second job there once, nights and weekends, when the girl went off to college and the house was too quiet. i studied for graduate classes there, between checking out vhs tapes for customers and returning rented ones to the shelves. i worked with wonderful, funny women. i got to know my neighbors. it was a rich time in my life.

the "going out of business sign" drew me in. they were selling off their stock and it was cheap. i went to the drama section and found it: the movie i loved to play when i was working. i haven't seen it in years, but i bought it, just to have it, just for old times' sake.

30 August 2012


"labor day", the kid said when I asked how much longer the ice cream stand would be open. where, oh where has the summer gone?

19 August 2012

the last hurrah

nothing like waking up first thing in the morning
and remembering you're at the ocean!

13 August 2012

wildly curious

seeing this sign makes me want to go grab a book, an apple, my phone, and my water bottle and camp out here all day long, waiting for that baby animal to cross the road. 

10 August 2012

picking crab

picking crab is certainly not what i thought it would be. it's not choosing a crab - it's picking the meat out of the shell. i've picked lobster a lot and thought it couldn't be all that different. but i was wrong.

first of all, the implements are different. no nutcracker for this job - the tools of the trade are beach rocks and vices and hammers! these crab shells were so much harder than even the hardest shell lobster. the meat was in the same place - in the legs, the claws, and the bodies. but crabs are so much smaller than lobsters, and the amount of meat you have to work for is minuscule in comparison to the amount you get from a lobster. and it takes so long! the shells are the same hue as the meat so it's easy to get small hard remnants mixed in with the collected meat. crunch!

before we even began the task, i watched this video of a woman from downeast maine who was skilled at picking crab. she made it look so easy and painless! but it was very difficult and no fun. the small amount of meat, as tasty as it was, was not worth the aggravation.

i think if folks from small northern maine fishing villages ever go to hell, picking crab is what they must have to do for eternity. in my humble opinion.

09 August 2012


i've recently had a much-needed week away and a much-appreciated visit with good friends. these are a few of my favorite random shots.

a bald eagle greets me the minute i step from the car! i took about a gazillion shots, but really wanted to capture him as he lifted off from the rocks. i waited and i waited, but finally looked away to swat at an annoying mosquito. that's when he took off - and when i missed the shot!

all around my host's house, thistle grows. a fascinating flower with interesting thorny leaves. i'm always so happy when the blooms coincide with my visit. 

again this year, we visited with a 91 year old woman in town. she's vibrant and so interesting and i hope i grow up to be just like her. i watched her face closely as she talked across the table, eyes lighting up and wrinkles coming and going, and she was beautiful. i so wanted to take her picture, then desaturate it to black and white, showing all those wonderful creases and lines. but i settled for her pincushion, tucked into the corner of the sill by her open window.

24 July 2012


every morning, within a few minutes of waking, i think about this blog, and how i've neglected it this summer. truly, i've been really busy with work issues and personal matters, my mind has been scattered for weeks, and i just haven't found much inspiration. but, for a brief time at the start and end of the day, i've felt so badly about not posting. guilty even.

so this morning, as i'm stumbling around making coffee and mental to-do lists, i'm thinking maybe it's time to just quit blogging and move on to instagram or pinterest or some other social site. or abandon my web presence, such as it is, altogether. and i happen to glance out the window and i see this: in the still morning air of my backyard, six turkey babies, inches from my door, casually pecking their way through the rain-soaked grass, making soft clucking sounds to each other as they hunt for their meal. on the hill above, the mother, standing watch over her poults as they feed. i stop. i stay still. i lean into the doorjam and i watch for a long, long time. and as i stand there, coffee pot still in hand, it dawns on me: i've just been too damn busy this summer to even take the time to notice. and that is shameful and sad.


17 July 2012

milkweed up close

so that's how milkweed pods form from the flowers! 
and look who's already feeding on the plant!

11 July 2012

the circus

this past week, the circus came to our town. the little girl and i had had our tickets for weeks, and we had talked of little else. we drew circus pictures, read circus books, looked at circus websites and we counted down the days.

the morning of the circus, she and i were up and out early with a picnic breakfast to watch the big trucks roll in to our small town. in the clear morning air, we watched the lead trucks park and saw the first workers disembark, dressed in jeans and sweats, with ponytails and caps, ambling around slowly, yawning as they drank from big paper cups. presently more long red tractor trailers arrived, some with clowns painted on the side, some with windows suggesting animals on board. we watched while workers swung wide their trailer doors, popped the sides on campers, released small dogs into pens, and began the work of setting up the cages for the tigers. in a while, animals emerged from the backs of trucks, slow-moving and old, plodding down ramps to be tethered or caged. tigers. camels. a zebra. llamas. we so hoped for elephants, but we could not wait. in time, we needed to move on to other less exciting events of the day.
by late afternoon, we were back for the first show, elated to see the ball field transformed with cages, canopies, and wagons. in the middle sat the giant circle of a tent, reaching high above the midway and festooned with pennants. inside the big top, we sat high in the bleachers, laughing as pink cotton candy dissolved in our mouths while we waited for the show to begin. to our delight, the ringmaster appeared, calling out, "la-deez and gentlemen, and children of all ages...", just as we knew he would. for the next two hours, we marveled at acrobatic tricks and laughed at the slapstick antics of clowns. we hooted as a swashbuckling pirate balanced on two, then three, then four cylinders. we held our breath as the aerialist swung so high and so fast, she touched the top of the tent with her toes. we applauded elephant tricks and the sequined ladies who climbed up high and rode astride them. we were amazed by the tigers, standing and dancing on hind legs as they pawed the air and roared for the crowd.

all too soon, the show was over. a wobbly camel ride and the purchase of an overpriced inflatable elephant finished the evening. reluctantly we walked from the circus grounds, stealing glimpses back, knowing we would have been happy to attend still another performance, to visit again with the elephants, to experience the magic well into the night.

and as quickly as it came, the circus was gone. the next morning, the field was empty, with not even a discarded ticket stub to show that such an amazing event had taken place there the night before. the circus trucks and trailers were gone, taking the animals and the clowns and the sequined performers to some other rural spot to thrill some other little girl - and perhaps her grandmother, even more.