Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Raining Cats & Dogs

We've had drenching rain squalls on and off today. It's been pounding and pummeling, frighteningly at times. The streams of water have washed all the pollen and dust off my grubby, angled windows. It's a definite bonus when you get your windows washed for you! It's also been 'useful' to see where water can leak into the house - as in seeping through vinyl window seams and needing a towel to mop it up ... I've also had the best excuse for not doing my laundry, since I hang it outdoors.

We've needed rain for quite some time, so this is a very welcome turn of events. It does mean though, that my usual 3 swims daily are on hold, and I have to find indoor things to keep me occupied. I can't go outside on a whim and start weeding the lawn or the lake in this deluge. Nor can I stroll through my yard admiring and smelling the plants I have nurtured - the perfume from the showy white heads of Tall Meadow-rue have been intoxicating these last few days, and the emergence of Pickerelweed blooms (photographed over the weekend) has brought some amazing color to the shoreline.

The lake level has risen today, and our hauled up-onto-shore kayaks, are now being tickled by lapping water. The Milfoil weeds we raked up onto our beach to dry before carting them away, are saturated, and the grasses I tend for the Muskrats look like they're growing in a marsh! Our dock decking is waterlogged, and if not tethered to the frame, sections of it would have floated away.

My mother would have remarked that, 'this is weather for ducks" ... so I was happy to see the Black Duck Mom with 5 ducklings taking full advantage of these soggy conditions.

Monday, June 29, 2020

My Talking Fridge

I have a new fridge/freezer for my kitchen, courtesy of a Reviewer Rewards Program. It talks! Honestly! And this isn't a scene from the movie 'The Brave Little Toaster', where appliances have voices and feelings. This is real life.

Our old fridge/freezer was an upright model, squeezed into a tight spot in our kitchen. We had always struggled with the narrowness of the freezer opening on the left hand side, since the door was unable to open fully in the confined space. We had to tilt and maneuver things out very carefully (many’s the time the item dropped onto the tiled floor and cracked one of my storage containers). Replenishing ice trays and returning them to the freezer in their liquid state was a precarious operation. There was not enough width to get a rectangular casserole dish through the opening.The cold water and ice dispenser had not worked for at least 5 years. But, really, these were small inconveniences that didn't necessitate replacing the appliance in our eyes, when it was doing its essential job of keeping our food fresh. It was otherwise perfectly functional and in good running order.

Our usual preference is to have the freezer in the lower section, since that is less frequently accessed (a key factor for tall husbands), and makes scientific sense. So, when that option popped up on the reviewer rewards program last month, we were very excited to claim it. The dimensions were perfect for our limited space restrictions in our kitchen. This is a super luxury item, with way more bells & whistles than we would ever have contemplated buying for ourselves. And it didn't cost us anything!

It has a large screen on one door. When I saw my husband setting it up and familiarizing himself with the interface, I mocked that it was not a necessity and was really silly. Such excess embarrasses me.

Until ... I discovered that I can access and display my recipes on the large screen as I bake! Luxury in excess! (I still hold that this is not a necessity and I can do without it). I can play music from my fridge. I can check the weather. I can have a running grocery list, tailored for different stores. I can look up specials and coupons, and use the camera to see what’s inside my refrigerator without opening the door (except, I don't use that feature since I already have pictures in my mind of what's in my fridge). I get quite incensed when it tells me that my yogurt and milk are out of date and need to be replaced. I know better! The expiration date on the milk is next month!

It's doing a great job as a fridge/freezer, and it's so much easier to use in that little nook. The ice dispenser works - most of the time (it has already had a few hiccups). I’m skeptical about having so many extras running on a refrigerator, and wonder what the long-term reliability of the product will be. If the computer dies, will it still work as a fridge?

That is the question ...

Sunday, June 28, 2020


Nine ducks at the shore,
Graceful necks silhouetted
As they swim en masse.

* * *

Nine ducks become eight,
Paddling about at day's end.
A slow attrition.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

A New Pespective

It was muggy and overcast in Maine this morning, and my attempts to weed my yard left me feeling incredibly irritated. I was plagued incessantly by mosquitoes, so I came back inside, crushed that I couldn't enjoy the outdoors in peace.

And then I realized that I had the perfect solution - my writing nook! It's on the upper level of my home, and has the most amazing slanted, floor-to-ceiling windows from which to gaze at the greenery and sky. In peace! 

So here I am, writing on my blog about a trivial morning, and sharing photos of my creative space. I'm elevated above the outdoor paradise that is mine, giving me a different perspective, not bothered by little irritations. The kind of perspective that we sometimes need when we step away from things ... and view them from afar. 

Hmm, there's a lesson on there somewhere ... 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

A Walk in my Yard

A Black-Eyed Susan, becoming ...

The simple beauty of a Daisy Fleabane

A Sundrop, with dewdrops and stamen shadows

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Habitat Destruction

I've been waking early on weekdays lately. No, change that to I've been woken early on weekdays recently. Our roads maintenance crew has been working on a large pipe-laying project, needing heavy earth-moving machinery. They begin before 7 each morning, about 350 feet from my bedroom. I sleep with a CPAP machine, so there's always a kind of airy, Darth Vader-ish noise in my sleep, but when they disturb my husband, it disturbs me from my reveries, too.

There's clanging, beeping and thudding. There are reverberating bangs and thumps felt through the ground. It's loud. The noises aren't always consistent, sometimes they're an unexpected shock like bashing on cymbals for dramatic effect, or setting off a cannon. It's unpleasant to wake up to, but we know that it's temporary. We know that we will be able to sleep in later on the weekend when the crew is off. We know that when the job is completed, we can wake peacefully each morning. 

I imagine what the clamor must be like for local wildlife. They don't have the knowledge that it's temporary, or that the workday day ends at 3:30 p.m. so there will be some quiet time each day to exist in peace and raise their young.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

My Milfoil Fight

Last night I soaked my feet in a tub of warm, soapy water whilst watching TV. I was trying to get all the silt and pond-stink out from under my toenails. UGH!

I've been digging in the deep mud with my feet for the past 5 days, lifting chunks of silt and Variable Leaf Milfoil to the surface. Pulling them out from the top, leafy bit just causes them to break off, and stimulates re-growth. No wonder this invasive weed is so successful. Boating and other mechanical disturbance helps it thrive!

I found this tiny 'fragment' on my beach, looking like it had been freshly washed up. I slowly pulled it out, to reveal an established plant, well rooted!


Look at how long the thin white roots can be, spreading down from the coil of viney-looking stem at the top of the next picture:

It's amazing how tall these plants can grow. I placed this dried piece next to my rake for comparison. It begins at the acorn cap in the bottom of the pic, all the way up to the plastic attachment. They can create an impenetrable jungle in deeper water.

I also shudder when I see them dried out afterwards - they remind me of shed snakeskin!

Monday, June 22, 2020

A Thing of Beauty ...

I monitor and weed my natives-only yard regularly for 'volunteers' that I don't want in my garden beds. Today I pulled these out (dubious origin), and didn't want to waste their beauty, so put them into a small vase at my window. Now I don't feel so bad about removing them.

A thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever
-John Keats

Sunday, June 21, 2020

'Sun-Stopping' Reflections

When my father moved in with my husband and I, he spent his days connecting with our large, extended family (using Skype), and doing jigsaw puzzles. He'd never had any interest in doing something so mundane in his earlier years, but for the 3 years that he was with us, he finally became what I would call properly retired. In a wheelchair, no longer able to drive, and no longer independent, he learned to make the most of it.

It surprised me to see how well he managed jigsaw puzzle pieces with his not-very-dexterous arthritic fingers. It also surprised me at how engaged and focused he was in completing his puzzles. He'd become totally absorbed in his quest to find the piece that would fit ... and couldn't end the search until he was satisfied that he'd done enough. I always smiled to hear him scold himself for going to bed late, or 'forgetting' to take his shower, because he was "busy." He simply couldn't tear himself away! He always said it with humor, as if it were a fond prod at himself. If I reminded him that he'd forgotten to take his pill before dinner, he'd say, with laughter in his voice, "... but I'm too busy, man!" He knew completing jigsaws wasn't important or life-changing, but it seemed as if he was finally allowing himself time to enjoy some indulgent leisure time in his life. And he had fun with it, laughing at himself about his commitment to something so trivial. He was definitely entitled to it.

Thinking about this resonates with how I feel about my COVID-19 isolation. I have learned to view this 'sabbatical' from real life as a chance to re-frame my outlook, to step back from a world directed by outside determinants, and remember to make time for the things I love. I'm in a situation and place in my life where I can afford to do that more easily than most. My Dad's end-of-life experience has highlighted that I too, can adapt, and make the best of each and every day, and of every situation.

Whether it be your life's metaphorical sun-stopping, or nature's actual solstice, how have you filled your time at this turning point? Is it full of woes and complaints? Or have you been able to spend some time busying yourself with the enjoyment of life? 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Quarantine 101

I'm surprised when I take stock, and think back on the 101 days I've been quarantined at home (bar a few essential food shopping outings), to realize just how much I'm enjoying my alone time! I'm beginning to think I'm the archetypal Introvert, who's been getting lost in everyday life up until now. This period of isolation has been refreshing and invigorating for me - I'm seeing it as my time to recharge, and it seems it will never be long enough! I'm almost afraid for when it will be over - maybe I'll need to remain a contented hermit?

Most, if not all, the activities I enjoy are solitary - reading, writing, photography, gardening, puzzles, crocheting, watching movies, learning. Heck, I've even learned to 'multi-task' on some of them! I crochet while I participate in webinars, online courses, and watching movies. I drink coffee while I read (😄), I weed the cove while I'm 'swimming,' I write (in my head) while I'm gardening or exercising, and I drink wine while I'm eating dinner ... Pretty cool that I can combine my loves.

I go to bed at night, looking forward to what I can do the next day. I look forward to waking up and doing all the things I love. It feels exciting and thrilling to me. I can't think of anything better!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Shopping Adventures

When you've been sheltering in place for 3 months, and only leave home for a once per month grocery shop, even that outing becomes an adventure. Some things that stood out on yesterday's trip:

I wore a bra for the first time in over a month! It made my breasts look level again, unnaturally sitting at the same height! 😀

Today was the first 'run' for my car in about 42 days. It had been parked in my carport during a particularly blustery pollen season, and my beautiful blue paint finish was tinged yellowy/green. As I walked into the store, the motorcyclist parked beside me remarked, "Wow! And I thought my bike was dirty!" It felt good to have some personal banter with another human. "Well, I hope seeing mine makes you feel better," I said, smiling through my mask.

Don't know how I managed to see through this windshield ... spraying with wiper fluid and using the wipers just makes a gritty, pasty mess!

On the way to the store, I discovered that some things on my usual driving route had changed - a whole new lot had been cleared and a large house was almost completed on the site. I was amazed at how many people were out and about (like me!).

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Living a "Busy" Life

I'm sheltering in place during the COVID-19 outbreak, and am finding that I'm quite suited to the hermit life I've been living since March of this year. My husband and I are retired, and though I don't usually have much on my schedule, there are usually some 'have-to' things on my calendar, like weekly grocery shopping, or an occasional doctor or dentist appointment, or a book discussion meet, as well as informal arrangements with friends and neighbors. My calendar was sparsely peppered with engagements, but peppered nonetheless.

But now, every day is a blank slate, and as always, I can't make up my mind what to do with it! I have so many things I would LIKE to do, that I'm having a hard time settling down into doing any ONE thing. I'm not complaining that I'm bored, I'm realizing that there's so much available for me to do that I can't focus! Not a bad problem to have, except that I find myself not wanting to miss out on one of the other pleasant things by spending too much time on the current pleasant thing! Does that even make sense? I'm torn in so many enjoyable directions.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Every Pizza's Different

One way I've been using my leftovers lately, is by chopping them up and using them as toppings on my home made pizzas. That way, no two are ever alike - it all depends on what we had for dinner last week, and then on what was left over afterwards - always a throw of the dice. 

I like to supplement my leftovers with chopped bacon and olives, for some reason (maybe it's because I like them!). How should I respond when my husband asks if 'that stuff from the casserole dish in the fridge is what's on the pizza'?

Every pizza, like every person, is custom-made, and different, and should be appreciated..


Jacks, and Skunk Cabbage,
Transplanted and doing well
Reminds me of friends.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Feeling tickled


I bashed through some undergrowth and brambles in my yard to get a close up of this beautiful Mapleleaf Viburnum blooming ...




... and have felt creepy, ticklish (as in TICK) ever since. I found 3 crawling on me, but they hadn't attached yet. While I was there, I noticed how pretty the Blackberry flowers are at the moment.

What Day is it?

It's a weird realization when the only way one day is different from the others, is by the word printed on the pill organizer you flap open daily. Each day is the same - a blank slate for me to draw on.

I've been voluntarily sheltering in place since March 12 - that's 96 days - a time when it seemed the best thing to do, given the spread of COVID-19. We canceled our nostalgia trip to Munich (our home 26 years ago), that was to have begun that day, and instead went grocery shopping (using precautions) to restock the fridge we'd been emptying in anticipation of our time away. 

I have visited the store for supplies a total of 4 times in those 96 days, each time taking serious precautions. The vigilance required for such an outing is exhausting.

I have not visited any other building - not a friend's home, a doctor's office, library, nor post office in that time. We have occasionally encountered our neighbor outside, and have quickly caught up with him, standing way more than 6 feet apart to converse briefly. I haven't had to fill my car up with gas yet, either.

The only other contact I've had with the outside world was the day we had a fridge delivered. I stayed upstairs during the delivery, and wiped all counters and surfaces clean after the crew had gone. It was decidedly unnerving to have other people breathing in our space!

I've had a few Zoom meetings on my calendar, but without patterns and cycles in my days and weeks as reference points, I've inadvertently missed attending some of them. I was thrown off one weekend when a neighbor's car arrived on a Thursday evening for a weekend at their camp instead of their usual Friday arrival. In my mind, Friday then became Saturday, and Saturday was Sunday ... I was quite discombobulated!

Well, it's time to start drawing on today's blank slate ...

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Dreamy Haircut

Last night's dream was about me going to get a haircut, having somehow forgotten there was a pandemic to be concerned about! I didn't wear a mask, and nor did the hairdresser. Afterwards (and still in the dream), I realized my mistake, and struggled to come to terms with my error in judgement, not to mention the anguished waiting to see if I had caught the Corona virus! (that was not revealed ...)

I think the oversight and concern that appeared in my dream might have been a blend of two issues that were on my mind yesterday. Number one: how to cope with my growing, and out-of-control hair that hasn't been cut since mid January. (Don't worry, I have a plan - YouTube, sharp scissors and a mirror).

Number two: I accidentally broke a part of our hose connection yesterday whilst using a wand attachment. I felt like such an idiot for not seeing the problem before it happened. I kept beating myself up, and was close to tears, for having been so clumsy. It was a small plastic connector that snapped inside the hose, nothing major. But I continued haranguing myself over the little incident, wishing I could undo my negligence. I just couldn't let it go.

So, maybe I dwelt a little too much on two very minor issues, which became embedded in my thoughts.

Native Beauties

Overjoyed to see Irises blooming at the water's edge -
Emeralds and Amethysts!

Thrilled to see so many blooms on my Trumpet Honeysuckle this year
Hope the Hummingbirds appreciate it too!

The beautiful buds on my Mountain Laurel,
A gift from a friend.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Blog Beginnings

I’ve had a presence on Facebook for 11 years. When my homeschooled daughter was 16, she took me by the hand and said, “Mom, I think it’s time you opened a Facebook account. I'll show you how.”

I've found it useful and satisfying, as it has helped me stay connected with the extended family and friends we'd left behind when we emigrated. I’ve aimed at keeping my Facebook posts informative about my life, as a forum for sharing my personal experiences. It was similar to sending notes and updates on my life, though Facebook enabled me to reach a much wider network than letter writing could. The convenience of finding a platform through which I could “participate” in far-away loved ones’ lives has been a lifeline while forging a new life in a foreign country.

Lately, though, with the increased violence and polarization in our society, I’ve become disillusioned that Facebook has not had the guts to make a stand, and shut down hate speech and misinformation. I realize that one person’s withdrawal is not going to effect change in Facebook's policies and stance, but I no longer want to live with the feeling that I am indirectly supporting this social engine because it's convenient. It bothers me to continue using it without compunction. My conscience is troubling me.

It's alienating in many ways, to lose contact with people when we all take Facebook for granted as the de facto communication tool. It will be a sacrifice, but it has also prompted a spurt in creative energy for me. Hence, my blog!

And yes, I know how to unfollow and unfriend people on Facebook. That is not the point. For me, this is about the bigger issue of not-supporting a company that refuses to take a stand against hate.

A Memory

Roses always remind me of my Mom. Though I'm not particularly fond of cultivated flowers, it's the association with her that makes them notable. This one was left behind by the previous homeowner, and now lives in a pot since it doesn't fit in with my Natives-Only garden theme.

I love the pollen dust on the petals!