Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Days: Mother's Day

We spent Mother's Day, as is our occasional custom, at Dodge Point in Newcastle. It's one of my favorite places to hike because the trail goes along the tidal portion of the Damariscotta River with three beaches to stop at along the way: the brickyard beach, the sand beach and the pebble beach. Sometimes we find horseshoe crabs along the way (this time we only found--and brought home--a horseshoe crab's spiny tail).

After a late lunch/early dinner in Damariscotta, we stopped in Damariscotta Mills and saw the alewives migrating up the fish ladder. It was quite a sight to see a river solid with fish, just sort of hovering in place in the strong current. The seagulls were almost as entertaining, if not more, especially when one caught and swallowed a fish whole, and you could see the fish flopping around inside its chest. Imagine how that feels?

Their shrieks and screeches sounded an awful lot like the cafeteria at the boys' school (to which I was lucky enough to visit twice this year as "lunch buddy."

E and Z gave me lemon-sugar scrub they made at school, which was exciting because it's something I've wanted to try for a long time, but it just seemed too messy (it is a little known fact that I have an aversion to messy things; you would never know this by looking at my house).

M wrote this "poem" for me:


Beautiful, Loving,
Cooker, Writer, Helpful
Creative, Ingenious, Artist, Author
Blogger, Understanding, Bold,
Pretty, Wise,
Wonderful, Unique
Patient, Thoughtful, Trustworthy
Unselfish, Humorous, Honest, Sympathetic,
Generous, Forgiving, Affectionate,
Gentle, Special,
Ace, Dependable,
Considerate, Amusing, Entertaining,
Loyal, Role model,

I started to get all weepy until I read "patient" and then I knew he must have just pulled a handful of descriptor words out of a bag, because patient I am not. My favorite is "Ace." Not sure what it means, but I think I'm going to adopt that as my new nickname; just call me Ace.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May Days: Chickens

The chickens are growing up fast.

Look how much difference two weeks makes!

Z with his eponymous chicken. 
They have moved into and out of their dinosaur stage, all except for Z, who appears to have had a (something?) Comet mother, while all his (her?) siblings are full-on Buff Orpingtons. We're still waiting to see which of them will lay eggs and which will have to be turned into chicken soup. Keeping our fingers crossed for all girls (especially Z!).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May Days: Birthdays

I guess last year's birthday rager was a bit much for the boys. This year M opted to not have a party at all, and E and Z just wanted two friends for a "jungle" party (OK, the jungle part was Z's idea, but he who speaks first and with more force wins in a family of five). Only one of the friends was available last weekend, so we took him and his mom to the Coastal Maine Botanic Gardens, which was the jungliest place I could think of.


It turned out to be an awesome place to spend a beautiful May day (we were there about six hours!)

Though I was a little disappointed to not host another rockin' huge party. I guess I'll have to throw one for myself.

P.S. Picture-taking bloggers out there: what size photo do you set your cameras for? I changed my settings for another project, and can't remember what to set them back to...whatever I have them set to now is way too takes forever to upload (hopefully will not take forever for you to view!). Thanks!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oh me, oh May

Back when I was wishing that April would hurry up and get over with, I forgot that May is the craziest month of the year. We have managed to survive three birthdays and the most spectacular Hermit Island camping weekend EVER (which just goes to show that repeating the same insane thing over and over again does indeed sometimes produce different results. Take that, Einstein).

We are still deeply immersed in baseball season, with much more to come, but miraculously tonight is game- and practice-free and I am at the library for the first time all month. I hope to be back with more about chickens and camping and boys who are seven and eleven (eleven!!) soon, but for now I have much catching up to do in the fiction-writing world. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Much Needed Attention

Friends who were supposed to come visit Sunday afternoon cancelled at the last minute and I found myself with unexpected time on my hands--the house was already extra-clean (thanks to the impending visit), the laundry done and the baseball obligations over for the weekend and, though I probably should have spent the time writing, I had sent in my fourth packet late Saturday night (after getting my workshops off the week before), I was fresh out of ideas for the next packet (still am) and not very excited about the next book on my reading list. I wandered around outside mindlessly for a bit--it was a beautiful day sandwiched between weeks of rain--until I noticed this:

My sorely overgrown and neglected herb garden. I had been thinking I wanted to redo this summer--dig it out and replant it, put in some sort of landscape design (I was thinking octagonal raised bed)--but I couldn't imagine when I'd ever get a chance to do it (as you may recall, I am a notoriously lazy garden and a disgrace to radical homemakers everywhere). So, looking it over Sunday, I thought, why not? I could just pull a few weeks here and there...

Two-and-a-half hours later, I had this:

Half of the garden completely dug out and turned over, the chives and sage replanted (I think I need some newer, younger sage plants) and the chocolate mint and lemon bam relocated to sunken flower pots where their aggressive growth might be contained a bit. The rock dividers are meant to keep things from spreading quite so much and to give a little visual definition to the whole thing. It's not the most beautiful or original design ever, but an improvement over weeds, don't you think? 

Hopefully this week's rain will encourage the soil that I spread into the grass to sink down a bit (or the grass to grow up) and redefine the outer edge of thins. C mowed the lawn and I plan on using the grass to mulch it all once it's composted a bit, and plant some annual herbs closer to the outside edge. And maybe some day dig out the other half.

As I worked, I thought about how this between time is kind of like that pause at the bottom of the breath in some types of yogic breathing. You have let out all your breath and wait with your lungs empty for just a beat or two. Just before the emptiness gets scary or uncomfortable, you inhale, letting in fresh new air. I'm looking forward to the inhale, after this pause, of fresh new ideas and new ways of doing things flood back into me. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New Kids' Art Supply Cabinet

One part of the house that has been a constant locale of disarray is this kids' art corner:

It's located right where the living room and dining area meet and it seems to have an extra dose of entropy. It's a spot I skipped over when I did my kitchen re-org last fall, but I have made at least two efforts in the past to reign in the terror here and here (the first post doesn't even include the before before picture, when this area was really, really bad).

I was looking on Craigslist last week for a hutch (similar to the big turquoise one I have in my kitchen) to put down in the basement to organize all of our arts and crafts supplies. I found one I liked in a nearby town, but I also found this one in Portland: 

I happened to be going to Portland the next day, so I responded to the ad on a whim and went to pick it up with the help of a friend I'd met for lunch (the woman I bought it from helped me wrestle it down three flights of stairs from her walk-up apartment).

I was afraid it might be too bulky for this spot, but it isn't too bad. It doesn't alleviate our already-existing problem of having a piece of furniture in front of every square inch of wall space (at least it's not soup cans or stacks of newspapers--yet).

The Mexican flair that the previous owner gave it fits perfectly with our kitchen look (and I've lived with orange walls long enough that I've long since gotten over any aversion to the combination of orange and red).

All the boys' art supplies are neatly stored away inside (stickers and stamps in uno, markers and crayons in dos, paints and paintbrushes in tres, pencils and colored pencils on the top shelf, sketch books and play dough on the bottom). C and M immediately began thinking of ways they could use the top surface, but I declared it a clutter-free zone. We'll see how long that lasts. 

I even almost convinced C to take the boys to pick up the other hutch for the basement on Sunday, but it had already been sold by then.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Quick Chick Update

All thirteen chicks survived their first week in our house.

They've moved out of their newborn stage, getting bigger and more active and sprouting flight feathers and tail tufts. They spend more time wandering around their (twice-expanded) indoor enclosure, peeping, bickering and hopping up onto their feeders and waterers.

This is a good thing, because whenever they were sleeping with their faces flopped right down in the mulch, I would get all mother-of-newborn on them and poke them to make sure they were still breathing. Fortunately, unlike newborn humans, I didn't have to deal too much with the consequences of waking them up.

C thought they were being deprived by living indoors all the time, without any contact with the outside world, so he took them outside, where the boys herded them and worked on their flying lessons and tried to feed them worms.

They were more interested in eating dirt, apparently filling up their gizzards for digestion. E, Z and M insist they can tell them apart and have named them things like Thunder, Tornado, Twister, Spark and Zephyr. They're very meteorological birds. In the meantime, C is looking for ways to get out of building a coop. "We could just convert the playhouse," he said. His mom offered up the suggestion of getting an old car and using that. Or her usual standby suggestion of free range in the basement. I'm busy looking up coop plans and coop kits. 
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