Monday, September 28, 2009


M stayed home from school sick Friday--he had gotten sick at school on Thursday and was in that sort of post-illness stage where you feel better, but not quite ready to face the world, so E, Z and I took the day off from work/preschool and stayed home with him. By mid-morning M was well enough to be bouncing off the walls, and by afternoon, he had hatched a plan to hike our trail down to the river--by himself.

I was actually delighted by this suggestion--M rarely ventures out of sight of the house, and I was happy to see him ready to take on the challenge of a hike to the river. Z decided he wanted to go with him, and M seemed glad of the company on his first venture. By the time I had Z dressed up in pants, mud boots and jacket, E decided he wanted to go too. As they went out the door, E asked if I would go with them, but, as is often the case on days I devote to house cleaning, I was still in my pajamas, and I knew M wanted to be in charge on this adventure. I had also just read a book by a woman whose children, growing up in Jackson Hole in the 1930s and '40s, had formed the "Gang of the Mountains" with other neighborhood children and had freely roamed the hillsides and mountains that formed their backyard. I wanted some of that freedom and adventure for my own offspring.

M has been on the trail a million times since he was a little baby, so he should know the way pretty well. However, it is mostly a fall-winter-early spring trail, since we abandon it once the bugs get too bad. Through neglect the vegetation--raspberry bushes, ferns, waist-high asters--obscures much of the trail in several areas.

I checked the clock after they went out--ten past three--and decided that if they weren't back by four, I'd go out in search of them. I busied myself with cleaning the kitchen, until about 3:30. I opened the door to see if I could here anything. UPS had dropped a box, and I was imagining one bloody, child crawling out of the woods just as the driver came up to the door, begging him to go out and rescue the other two who were just now being swept downstream.

I went back to cleaning, telling myself I would get dressed at 3:45. Then I wondered what I would do if M came back to say one of his brothers was lost or had fallen in the river. Would I sprint out through the woods in my jammies and slippers or take the time to put on jeans and sneakers?

I got dressed. I imagined I heard something outside and opened the door again. Nothing. I finished loading the dishwasher. I heard something again and checked outside. Just the wind in the trees. I wiped down the counters. Then I heard it--three boys chattering. I watched them troop up the last little rise to our house.

They came inside and declared their success--Z said he had fallen down twice; M amended that to 100 times and also said that E almost started crying but didn't. He also said the river was so low you could almost walk across it (M: Please don't ever walk across the river) and they had collected a small ball of clay from the exposed river bottom. I think we have the beginnings of the "Gang of the River."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

M--- is a Punk Rocker

(Note: the title only really works if you know that M's name has two syllables. Now you can blame me for The Ramones running through your mind all day).

Several months ago we were sitting at the breakfast table and M was singing some children's song (I don't remember which) in a sort of loud, fast, abrupt manner and I asked him if he was singing the punk rock version of the song. So of course he asked me what is punk rock, and I stumbled, not really able to come up with a definition (something about anarchy and anti-establishment something?) and the only representative band that came to me at the time was the Sex Pistols, and I really didn't want to get into that conversation, so I suggested that we have his Aunt J. send him a CD. So when we sent her a Christmas thank-you note (a bit late), M wrote on it, "I would like you to make me a punk rock CD."

My sister, the original mixed-tape queen, of course, was more than happy to comply, in spades. She sent Volume One, The Late 70's for his birthday. M declared it his favorite CD and particularly latched onto "The Passenger" by Iggy Pop, going around the house humming, "Duh nuh nuh, duh nuh nuh, duh nuh nuh." Then, when we were in Colorado, she gave him Volume Two, The Early 80's. We've only made it about three songs into the CD because M instantly fell in love with "Private Idaho" by the B-52s (and was not nearly as enthusiastic about Adam Ant's "Stand and Deliver" as I was, much to E and Z's amusement). Now I'm not entirely sure if the B-52s really qualify as punk rock...they're definitely not hard core in any case. But M listens to that song over and over and over and over and over.

Now C and I have a new way to describe M's spacey behavior--somehow this kid who chooses his own spelling words, words like "escarpment," "metamorphosis" and "isthmus," who is one grade ahead in math and at the top of that class, is completely incapable of following basic two-part directions like, "put on your pajamas and brush your teeth"--when he's wandering around, chewing on his toothbrush, forgetting what he's supposed to be doing five seconds after he's told, we say, "M, you're in your own private Idaho again." Not sure if it sinks in, but it amuses us.

The best part of M's interest in punk rock is that it drives C completely crazy. Now two things you have to understand: one, C collects old records, and two, he seems especially drawn to music that is like fingernails on the chalkboard to me: Frank Zappa, Neil Diamond, Herb Alpert, Burt Bacharach. This weekend he was playing some Metallicaey/Aerosmithy shrieky, noisy, excruciatingly irritating yuckiness. I think the real reason the punk CDs bug C, who can listen to almost any other kind of music, is that he and my sister make it a policy to by contrary to one another.

So, in the spirit of marital harmony, crank up The Clash and rock the casbah (whatever that is)!

P.S. New post up today at Capital Walks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Welcoming Fall

Despite my reservations about the changing seasons, we said goodbye to summer and hello to fall this week/weekend. First, on Sunday, we had a little end-of-summer celebration. Three-fifths of us visited friends on the coast (C was working and M playing soccer), and went out for a blustery boat ride (no photos--dead battery). Later at home, we had root beer floats after dinner and lit some of the sparklers that people do insist on continuing to give to my children. C also set off a few of the bottle rockets that his brother brought home from a trip down south. Fortunately no forest fires, sever burns or loss of limbs ensued.

As part of my Solar Home Tour cleaning and re-organizing, I cleared away the dusty remnants of our summer nature table (I have no idea what became of that snake skin...I'll probably find it in the couch cushions 10 years from now!) and we refreshed it with this little own and squirrel I felted over the weekend (the owl was done some time ago, but I needed to add talons--one of my major pet peeves with children's literature/art, along with tigers and zebras appearing in the same image, is owls with three toes forward and one back; owls--and woodpeckers--actually have two talons pointing forward, two back. Make note of it). There is something slightly off in their proportions, but they work. I am totally loving needle felting.

Acorns--wood, felt and real, rocks, and fall pictures round out the display.

Last night, the actual first day of fall, I made the German apple cake from Rustic Fruit Desserts--very simple and satisfying, but doesn't use up enough apples (the boys all went apple picking with their grandfather on Saturday...we have a ton of them!).
We also got out the fall books and put away the summer books. A couple of years ago, after realizing we hardly read any of our huge collection of books, I sorted out many of them based on the seasons, to ensure that those, at least, get read once a year. We have a whole bunch of character-based Halloween books (Corduroy, Berenstain Bears, Arthur, Franklin, etc.), but not a lot of fall-ish books with really good stories with beautiful pictures. Here are the few I like a lot:

Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall; Hist Whist by E.E. Cummings illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray (this has amazingly cool/spooky illustrations that I love!) ; Flower Fairies of the Autumn by Cicely Mary Barker; Child of Faerie, Child of Earth by Jane Yolen. I'm sure my children have different preferences (I refused to read the Halloween books last night--too soon!)
Yesterday on our hike the boys filled their pockets (and mine) with acorns and collected a few already-changed leaves. Yes, it is definitely fall!
P.S. New post up today at Capital Walks!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bus Time

My favorite part of the day, this time of year, is when E, Z and I walk down the driveway to meet M's bus in the afternoon. Now that he is in third grade, he is probably old enough that the bus driver will let him off the bus without a warm body there waiting, but I'm hesitant to look into it, because I know that without that impetus there are some days that we, or in particular, I, would not get outside at all, like this week when the weather was clear and dry and beautiful, but I sequestered myself indoors cleaning in anticipation of the upcoming Solar Home Tour (yes my grandmother would have a heart attack to know that I started dusting and mopping and vacuuming three weeks before an event, rather than doing all of that, I don't know, every day...but such as it is, it is the one time of year that the walls of our railingless stairwell bear no tell-tale handprints). Last year I began sending M to the bus by himself in the mornings, which deprived us outings that often carried us on walks into the woods and other explores for the whole morning, but saved me a great deal of stress in trying to get four bodies appropriately attired and out the door by 7:25.

Our afternoon walks, if we leave early enough (I have finally learned, after three years, to leave early) are quietly relaxing. E and Z run ahead to hide from M in the tall vegetation along the road. I walk more sedately behind, noting the fading colors in the goldenrod and asters, the slowly changing leaves. In good years (this is not a good year) we browse on ripe blackberries and raspberries as we go.

This time of day has not always been so pleasant. When M started kindergarten, E and Z were 15 months old. The bus came smack dab in the middle of their naptime. I would have to wake them up, nurse them, change them, dress them in clothing appropriate to the season, and load them in whatever conveyance the season dictated (stroller in fall and spring; sled in winter), often to the sounds of loud protest. By then it was usually so late, that I would run down the driveway, pushing or pulling my load.

Our driveway is about 1200 feet long. From our house it goes up a hill, around a corner to the right, up a slight rise, then down and around a corner to the left, from there it is a straightaway to the road, but a long gradual rise blocks the view of the road until you are almost there. Running, which is not part of my genetic makeup, while pushing a stroller or pulling a sled made for a painful, but no doubt amusing spectacle.

On one memorable day, when I put the twins down for a nap, I thought I'd lie down myself, just for a moment. I woke with a start and looked at the clock: 2:40, the exact moment the bus pulls up to our mailbox. With nary a thought to the pair of toddlers asleep on their mattress, I leapt out of bed, ran down the stairs and out the door, pulling my shoes on as I went. I raced down the driveway, waving my hands above my head as I neared the final rise in the driveway. Sure enough, there was the bus, waiting, the bus driver on the radio to the school, no doubt trying to figure out what to do with this abandoned child.

Our bus driver, Ms. Heart, did not live up to her name, but was surly and grouchy. She would lecture out daycare provider about my not informing her in time of changes to M's bus schedule. On days when my schedule changed, I always sent M a note or called the school. Whether the office gave him a bus note or whether he remembered to give it to Ms. Heart was out of my control. And if we were running late one morning and he got on the bus at home, or if I had to work on an off day and he got on at daycare, I really had no way of contacting the bus. In any case, she had to drive by our house either way.

Then there was the day that I towed the twins out to the road in the sled, the temperature near zero degrees Fahrenheit, with a strong brittle wind blowing. We waited, and waited, and waited, till finally I was sure we had missed the bus, and E and Z got up and started walking back toward the house, towing the sled behind them. I decided to abandon my kindergartener in favor of not giving my other two children frost bite, and walked back with them. Not sure what to do, I loaded them in the car and drove to daycare, where I found out that the bus was running half an hour late. The school had called and let me know—a good five minutes after we had already left the house and begun our our trek.

The next year things got a little easier. The twins gave up naps and now they could walk the whole distance, though sometimes they didn't want to. One early spring day, when too much snow had melted to allow for sled travel, but the driveway was too muddy for the stroller, we started walking toward the road. Z didn't want to walk and came along crying. I had to get to the road before the bus and hurried ahead of the twins. E caught up with me, but by the time M got off the bus, still no Z. I couldn't hear him crying anymore, so I figured he'd turned around and went back to the house. As we climbed the hill and came around the corner, though, we found him lying sound asleep in a mud puddle.

I can laugh (sort of) at those bad old days now, but really I am relieved that the minutes from 2:25 to 2:45 are a pleasant and relaxing time out in nature. I'm also glad M has a friendly, mellow bus driver now, and that the route has changed so the bus turns around down the road from our house, giving us two chances to catch it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Hat

I finished knitting my new hat last weekend at camp. It's the Noro Spiral One Skein Hat from Heavenly Socks Yarns in Belfast. I had started it in the Portland Airport on our way to Colorado, after spending a good 15 minutes trying to remember how to cast on (I both considered asking a woman who was knitting nearby and calling my mom). Then I finally moved the yarn from my right hand to my left and voila! my fingers knew what to do (gotta love muscle memory!)

(E was my photographer)

I finished the ribbing on the flight, but needed my mom to show me how to yarn over (I did not take with either of my trusty but very big and heavy knitting books). By the time we got home, I had knitted up to the purple, but I had gotten lost a few times and my spirals weren't exactly spiraling, so I tore it all out! All the way back to the ribbing, then tied little loops of red yarn from a giant skein of old Red Heart that I picked up somewhere along the way, and used them as stitch markers at every yarn over. What a difference! I've always been too lazy to use stitch markers, but they are truly brilliant. Once I got going, the hat fairly flew along, and is really easy once you know what yarn over means, and if you use stitch markers. The stitch three togethers near the end was a bit of murder on my thumbs and elbow (once I remembered to switch to five needles that got a little better too.)

For some reason, the hat reminds me of ice cream--rainbow sherbet all swirled up, MMM!

The Maine Morning Mitts I knitted last fall (starting them at camp on Labor day weekend, with cast-on assistance from Granny Clo), also from a single skein of Noro, which makes them look almost like they don't match. I have a quite unreasonable affinity for fingerless gloves/mittens, so I love these a lot, although I often wear them with my rain coat, which has Velcro at the cuffs, so they're getting a little fuzzy.

I just calculated that I learned how to knit 13 years ago, but in that time I have only made 1.25 scarves, six hats, three pairs of mittens and a gnome. Granted, I made three of the hats and one pair of mittens in the last year, so at least my productivity is increasing, but think of all that wasted time in between! Some of that was consumed by baby-making, but I think of those months spent prone on the couch, waiting for the twins' birth--I could have been knitting between naps.

I've decided to always have a project going, ready for long car rides or movie/TV watching. I picked up needles on our way home from camp (where else--Heavenly Socks), for yarn I bought in Colorado (which I thought, after I bought it, was the wrong yarn, so I bought some more different yarn, which I thought was right, but it turned out the first yarn was the right yarn after all, so I'm glad I didn't return it).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Day!

E and Z started the much-awaited preschool yesterday. After much hemming and hawing and self-doubt (no! not me!) they both had a great day and I'm soooo relieved that they will be in an environment much more conducive to exploration, learning and creativity (for more on my preschool concerns, see here and here). When we dropped them off, they went right in and found some "work" to play with right away, and when I picked them up, they were busy examining rocks from the "rock museum." Good stuff all around.

I managed another "Buy Nothing Back to School" again this year--for the most part. All M needed was pencils (sharpened some we had hanging around and stuck cap erasers on the ends), crayons (bought a brand new box at Goodwill for 99 cents) and colored pencils (sharpened last year's pencils, supplementing with a black one from our art table). I did have to buy him shoes because the Simple EcoSneaks I bought in the spring fell apart within a month or two (I was VERY disappointed--the Simples we bought the previous year were MUCH sturdier). I bought him Keens and hop that they will last all year.

All E and Z needed were lunch bags, so I revisited my tutorial from last year and spent most of Tuesday putting them together (and have revised the tutorial for future reference). Although I came up with the bag from within my own brain, I would have had a super hard time recreating it without those instructions, so I'm psyched that I did it.

Here are the three bags all lined up, ready to go to school. I ordered them each a LunchBot as well, but they're backordered until October, so we're still using plastic containers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Weekend at Camp

We spent Labor Day weekend at Granny Clo's camp on Toddy Pond...beautiful blue sky, lots of fishing (E and Z each caught their first fish and, apparently, became quite proficient at casting...I don't know about these things and plant to keep it that way), whittling, eating good food and (for me) reading and knitting...all while being fed and taken care of by the most wondrous of ex-step-mother-in-laws. I could have spent the whole weekend lying down and basking, but I did rouse myself long enough to canoe to Ten Pound Island to eat and lounge a bit more. Certainly this must be what Labor Day was invented for...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Windsor Fair

I'm not a huge fair fan, but C was out of town Friday, so I took the boys to the Windsor Fair, and had a good time despite myself. I prefer the right (north) end of the fair, where the animals and historic exhibits are (although I could do without all the bizarre commercial tents), and would stay on that end altogether if it were up to me (avoiding carnies and junk food at the other end), but of course we went over and went on rides (three each--no bracelets; that's what kind of mean mom I am), ate some hot dogs and French fries (I had the homemade falafel sandwich on homemade, wood-fired pita bread--yum!). E, Z and M were entranced by the pottery demonstration, and M could have spent the whole day in the blacksmith shop. We also spent a good half hour digging potatoes in the ag education tent. And I got my maple cotton candy fix for the year.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Well Read? Well...

I have a shelf below my night stand, full of books unread. The top of my nightstand, more books, read, unread and half-read. I have a box of books in my room that I have either read and forgotten I read them, or I haven't read yet. Several shelves in my livingroom bookshelf, unread (lovely gifts from my lovely friend who recently moved away). Books on the floor, waiting to be read or re-shelved. I just requested three books from ILL and ordered three from Better World Books. I have books. I read books. I want to read more books.

But have I read the books I should have read (according to the BBC, which reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books below)? I found this meme on ZookBookNook and thought I'd give it a go to test my well-readness. If you want to give it a try, just:

1) Look at the list and make those you have read bold.
2) Star (*) the ones you LOVE.
3) Italicize those you plan on reading.

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen *
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (I read the first two)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee*
6 The Bible (I read some of it in Catholic school--obviously--and some in Western Civ.)
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte*
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell (I read it in 7th grade and did not get it at all--may possibly have read only the first and last sentence of every paragraph)
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (I plan on reading something Dickens soon)
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott *
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller (I was in Washington DC the week we read this in AP English)
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (King Lear, Julius Caesar, Othello)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot*
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky (just couldn't do it)
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (again...painful)
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen*
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen*
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne*
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown (worst. book. ever.)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery*
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy (my sister just gave me a copy of this)
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood*
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel*
2 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen *
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck (just can't make myself like Steinbeck)
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov (read half, was disturbed, will try again)
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas*
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding*
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett*
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens (I start it every December, but don't get very far)
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker*
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro* (finally just read it! I know...shameful)
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery*
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Hmmm...only 28 that I've read all the way through (though much more respectable than 6)...and quite a few that I have no interest or intention of reading (and a number I've never heard of or should look into...add them to the list). How many have you read?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Good God

Only four days into the school year and already "go brush your teeth, wash your face and comb your hair" translates as "go play Lego's and pick on your brothers." It's gonna be a loooong year.

In other news, I just joined Facebook after avoiding it for as long as possible. I caught up with a friend I haven't seen in years and years while I was in Colo and decided to join to stay in touch w/ her and others like her whom I email once a year. Now I have all of these people I haven't seen, heard from or thought about in 15-20 years flying at me as possible friends. Even people whose blogs I read, but don't know at all. How does Facebook know what blogs I read? It's kind of freaking me out. Yes I realize I share all manner of personal information about my various breakdowns and crises (see below for the latest), but somehow having people thrown at me and information extracted from me seems much more...I don't know...icky. I feel violated. Here I feel more in control (an illusion, no doubt). Besides, I only have like four faithful readers, while in just two days of being on Facebook, I have over 20 "friends." It's weird.

Crisis of the week (day? I'm losing this just what being in your mid-30's is about or am I a basket case?). Yesterday I picked up a map of Kennebec Trails at a local coffee shop (for the price of $7.95). I have been toiling for years (at the pace of a land snail, yes, but toiling just the same) on my Capital Walks blog (and really I was working on it well before I started the blog) with the unstated goal of creating a book of hikes in Kennebec County (or possibly just the southern part of the county), and now here is this lovely, well-put-together map, beautifully illustrated with close to a dozen of my hikes out there and suddenly I feel obsolete. Slow. Lazy. A total loser.

And yes, I understand that I book can be much more than a map, that there are many more areas out there that the map did not cover (and a few areas on the map that I hadn't yet considered), and that there should be room for more than one resource on this topic...but still...just so frustrating that I can't seem to get out of my own way to see a project through (yes I do have lots of excuses ranging from bugs to weather to twin babies...but those excuses aren't going to get my book written before someone else beats me to it).

Grrrr....Anyway I have to figure out a way to get out there and get this done before competing interests and priorities, frustration, self-doubt and old-fashioned laziness take over. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Summer Earth Scouts

Monday morning Z said, out of the blue, "Let's go EarthScouting."

Still feeling not-so-great from my respiratory infection (hanta virus? black lung? TB?) I would have much rather curled up on the couch, but how could I say no to the question I've been waiting for since spring?
Without much of an agenda, we went out to see what we could see. We inventoried flowers: lots of yellows (black-eyed Susans, hawkweed, dandelion, evening primrose, goldenrod), some purple (clover, sage, chive), a bit of white (Queen Anne's lace, oregano), one blue (a renegade morning glory that comes back year after year despite all my neglect), some orange calendula and red staghorn sumac (truthfully, I don't really know how to tell when they change from flower to fruit, but they are at the perfect tartness for sucking on/making "lemonade" right now).
We also saw some butterflies, grasshoppers, spider webs and two sets of moose tracks.
When we were camping in Colorado, E and Z liked crawling in the bushes around our campsite and pretending it was their jungle (also coming out with discarded beer and whiskey bottles) surprised me because they never venture into the woods or brush around our house alone, but Monday, Z strode off into the overgrown field along the road (looking like Laura in the opening titles to Little House on the Prairie)...getting more adventurous!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I'm back! We had a fantastic time in Colorado. I was reluctant to get on that airplane home. Then, after two days of jet-lagged stupor, a day at the beach (damn that north Atlantic is COLD), followed by a very late movie/dinner night with friends, a day of rain and a trip to the weekend clinic for a nebulizer treatment because I couldn't breathe, I really, really, really wished I'd just settled in the hot springs and refused to budge. Now school (for M) is back in session, E and Z are back at the daycare of doom for one last week and I am back at...dum, dum, dum, work (and C is back at his crazy never-ending work-aholic schedule) and, apparently, in between the hurricanes, Maine's summer came and went while we were gone.

Some highlights of our trip:

Push-ups in the airport (who says vacations are lazy?)

Brotherly (and doggy) love

Dinosaur bones

and tracks (both real

and illusory)

Making a splash!

Turtle love (really...we saw these turtles mating)

Feeding lorries (that's Australian for parrot, mate)

Backyard piggies (these are residents of my brother's backyard)

Living history (where we also visited a house very much like Little House on the Prairie, which we also finally finished reading while we were there).

Hiking in a snow squall.

Close encounters with wildlife (though the radio collars kinda ruin the effect).

Junior Ranger honors all around.


Seeing a bear swim across the Colorado River (that black spot is a bear, I swear!)

Your average grueling hike to a spectacular spot.

Tiny houses.

Also lots of time spent with family and friends, a terrifying drive ten miles up a winding road on the edge of a cliff (turning around before reaching the campground at mile 16.6 and driving down those now even more terrifying miles). Camping without a lighter or Coleman fuel (doughnuts for breakfast never tasted so good--and M has never complimented my cooking more. Thanks JM!) And, of course, the piece de resistance, an evening and a day soaking in luxury at Glenwood Springs. I was seriously ready to take up residence in a cave on the side of the mountain and get a job as a towel girl at the pool.

Oh yes, and I almost forgot to mention, C & I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary (ten!) and I turned 36. A very full vacation indeed!
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