Saturday, December 31, 2022

Friday, December 30, 2022

Striped Pole

I was struck by the gorgeous beauty of the well lit pattern on a utility pole on our walk a few days ago. It reminds me of a tiger, in a way.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Frigid Expedition

Three long days without power or Internet because of winter storm Elliott drove us batty -- so batty in fact that we decided to venture outside into the woods on a frigid day to take advantage of the 'free' day of disc golf in our town! Our high temperature that day was 23°F (-5°C), so you know how loopy we were feeling, when that was preferable to staying indoors again with nothing to do.

The route to the Disc Golf location turned into a little adventure since the road was 'closed' at both ends, but we were so determined to have something to DO, that we decided the barricade on the furthest entrance was not really serious enough to stop cars using the road, and we proceeded without incident or altercation to our destination.

This whole idea of throwing discs through the woods was rendered more ridiculous by the fact that I still had stitches in my hand from carpal tunnel surgery and there was no way I was going to be able to hurl discs without hurting myself. As it turned out, there were only 2 discs to be had at the 'honor system box' so I accompanied my guys around the course, taking photos and keeping score for them.  

As you can see, the course was quite hazardous from the freezing of the overland flow from the heavy rainfall we'd just had. We did a lot of extra walking through having to make long detours around the ice sheets and streams.

I enjoyed my time outdoors, but found it very difficult to take photos with gloves on, so wasn't too pleased with the results.

This tree was very interesting - it reminded me of a flying mythical creature about to take off, or maybe a stylized skier?

We survived our expedition intact, and without frostbite! It was a very worthwhile little outing, and we were pleased we had blown some of the (mental) cobwebs away.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Dam Travails

The potent storm that left our community powerless for days also caused a big surge in runoff into our lake. For some reason, it seems the dam owners weren't prepared for this, and the water level rose to the highest it has ever been, rising up over bank edges, and expanding as it froze. Unfortunately, half of the newly (re-)repaired flashboards on the dam gave way under these forces, and we've lost 2 feet of water yet again. The dam owners anticipate it will possibly drop another 2 feet over the next few days. Fixing the flashboards has been an ongoing saga since early October, and it looks as if we're back to square 1 again.

The result was interesting to see, though - the sheet of ice that extended across the top surface of our cove, from bank to bank, had its underbelly of water pulled out from under it and it cracked and collapsed.

We've heard some strange noises at odd times which we think must have been the ice collapsing.

We have never had the water level reach this high up our yard before, and the flooded area has now become a thin sheet of ice.

It's really been fascinating seeing the icy landscape change so dramatically and unexpectedly this season.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Slate Grey Day

We had our first real countable snowfall on Dec 16. It was wet and dreary, but looking outside onto this scene was magical - sound and color was muted into a stunning image. I haven't manipulated this to a black and white/sepia image; it was truly like this. I just never get tired of this view!

What is interesting is that the water hasn't yet frozen fully, so the snow has no solid surface to stick to, making the water look a slatey grey.

A few days before the storm, we noticed that the high water level after the recent dam repairs and refilling, had been reduced. This is the usual procedure for winter - I guess to accommodate expansion during freezing?

As you can see in these photos, the frozen bits broke apart when the water receded, allowing us to see that the ice is almost an inch thick in places, but it's not consistently so, nor is it frozen throughout.


Monday, December 26, 2022


Oh what a memorable Xmas we had! We lost power and Internet before noon on Dec 23, and after about 55 hours without either, we have it all restored.

We were warm, dry, satiated, and well provided for ... but yet, I still found myself annoyed that my usual comfy lifestyle was disrupted. 

Since we traditionally have breads, cold cuts, cheeses and pickles for our family Xmas Eve meal, not having electricity didn't impact our plans.

Daytime is generally fine without electricity, until about 4:30pm, and then it's a long, waiting game of a night. No TV to pass the hours. No Internet vegging. Even with a generator, baking cookies and fun Holiday treats in my oven wasn't an option. I could page through my recipe books, but not always carry out what I desired. So frustrating. I did make nostalgic chili bites, a curried Chicken Calcutta dish with lemon rice and a pot roast on the stovetop since I can light my gas range.

I got tired of doing Sudokus - they seemed too easy and repetitive after a while. I got tired of doing my rows and rows of crocheting. I got tired of reading. It was uncomfortably cold outside, so I didn't venture forth much.

Our heat pump didn't 'talk' well with our generator, so hot water became depleted after a day.

Being powerless gets tiresome after a while. What bothered me the most was how dependent my life is on the Internet and electricity. And it was humbling. I felt ashamed for complaining - thinking about Ukrainians facing a winter without heat and other services was a sobering thought. I hope it's a lesson in appreciation that I won't forget.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Vintage Card

I'm not sure how old I was when I created this card for my parents but I think it was before my youngest sister was born (after she came along I'd sign cards to our parents on her behalf). I probably drew this around 1968. My Mom kept all her "treasures" in a deep kist (SCOTTISH: chest used for storing clothes and linen) in her bedroom. This was one of the items she'd kept. 

The naive and unobservant depiction of the sky! As if it were a separate strip above us and not part of the air that is not ground! 

Here is my first published spelling mistake! And a Santa Claus in sunny South Africa! 

Friday, December 23, 2022


Forget the pressures and commercialism of Xmas; enjoy and appreciate the simple things! Mitchella repens berry with sphagnum moss in snow.

Thursday, December 22, 2022


 Lines in the snow can be so defining

Such a variety of intersections ...

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Simply Stark

 The simplicity and starkness of this image makes it seem special.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Beach Anyone?

View from the shore of Beach 11 in our community. When I took this picture, we'd only had a tiny amount of snow that quickly melted as the beach sand warmed in the sun, but the ice coating on the water's surface kept it intact, despite the sun.


Sunday, December 18, 2022

December Glory

A winter's day

In a deep and dark December

I am alone

Gazing from my window ... 

(Kudos to Simon & Garfunkel)

(We've had snow since this was taken, though it was in December)

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Freeing up the Median

I'm 'writing' this update using a combination of left-handed mouse and keyboard clicking, and dictated sentences to my phone. Both of these are tedious and clumsy ways of recording my thoughts, since I am naturally right-handed, and my accent and pronunciation of words is not always recognized.

I'm 4 days post re-release surgery for carpal tunnel issues. I had no idea when I had this done 10 years ago that a repeat process was highly likely. I have been experiencing things inexplicably dropping out of my hands (once it was a 32 oz bottle of pure 'liquid gold' maple syrup, all down my forearm and across the kitchen floor), as well as pins and needles in my fingers, but I thought I'd already done the carpal tunnel thing, so I didn't consider this an option. An EMG test confirmed weakness in the muscles and motor neurons yet again, meaning my median nerve - the eye of the hand - needed freeing again.

I had a mishap the night before surgery that was both disconcerting and embarrassing - I swallowed the Invisalign half-tray I'd forgotten I was wearing as I chomped on some fresh broccoli stalks during dinner prep. I wasn't able to retrieve it immediately, and certainly won't be doing so later! My dentist had a good laugh with me about it, but was unsure whether it would be able to be passed, suggesting I might need to visit a walk-in. The fact that it's made of plastic means it wouldn't show up on an X-ray, so what were they going to do? Tell me to wait a few days and see, I bet ... I was a little worried about how it might impact the procedure the following day, and wondered if I could cheekily ask them to retrieve it for me while I was under 😁 - these thoughts kept me awake and troubled a long while.

On the day of my surgery, we were woken by a phone call asking if we could come in earlier than scheduled since they'd had 2 cancellations. We felt we should try and help out, so said we could be there half an hour earlier, especially now that we were awake, and I wasn't able to eat, anyway! But wouldn't you know it, by the time we checked in, they'd found out they were short-staffed and the schedule had gone awry again. After arriving half an hour early, I went into surgery a half hour later than originally scheduled. 

I came home to a lunch prepared and set out by Linus in expectation of our return - how lucky am I! The MOST difficult thing is being dependent on others. Having help getting dressed or cutting up one's food with one's non-dominant, less experienced hand for the first few days while your good hand feels like a useless club, is horrible! Initially, my bandaged hand didn't even want to help stabilize my toothbrush while I squeezed paste out uncontrollably with my wobbly left hand. Writing tiny, possible solutions in the corners of a Sudoku square with my out-of-control left hand while I deduce which numbers to eliminate became an unsalvageable 'dog's breakfast.' I can't crochet while I sit and vegetate, but I can at least cuddle with a warm cat.

All this is temporary, so until the stitches are out, I've been trying to stay put in a chair to read, or click my way through different streaming movies. That immobility seems to have affected my compromised knee! I suspect that sitting with bent knees for long periods like this, has let "moviegoers knee" set in. It appears the cortisone has worn off completely and I'm back to feeling insecure putting weight on that leg. It feels so unstable again! So, I should be walking and exercising as well, watching TV and reading while I pace back and forth!

Carpal tunnel release is a pretty easy surgery, with the most pain feeling like a throb from a deep cut - very survivable. The first day of totally numb, swollen and burning hot, immovable fingers is quite disarming, but it was gone by the following morning. And the general 'anesthesia' is actually just a heavy sedation that one recovers from very quickly. I remember commenting on the beautiful skylights above me as I was wheeled through the hospital, and then ... blank till I woke up, sleepy and hungry, in the recovery room. Of course, the snacks they offered me had soy in them, so they had to do a bit of a run-around to the cafeteria to find a substitute.

The most difficulty is experienced in not having 2 strong hands for a time. Recovery to full strength is longer than expected for such a minor, not very invasive procedure.

PS - I'm assuming the plastic Invisalign tray is no longer present in my body. I feel absolutely fine, and will get a new tray next week.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Crack of Doom

A mini crevasse, complete with ice crystals, appeared between 2 decking planks. The ice formation is so exquisite

Lining up perfectly as if identical, but yet not ...

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Festive Loaf

I keep stumbling upon delicious sounding recipes that I want to try. This one was irresistible - Cranberry Orange Loaf. Though the recipe called for fresh cranberries, I had to use my frozen (fresh) ones - the ice patterns on the outer surfaces looked pretty interesting.

The loaf turned out very well indeed, though it took about 10 minutes more to cook than directed - the result of using frozen cranberries? I decided to decorate it in the colors of the season, to make the loaf festive.

It's pretty yummy - very repeatable, indeed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022


What a spectacularly peaceful scene! It's a December pic with no snow, weak sunshine, watery reflections, and a pair of mallards still hanging around.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Incider Information ...

I've tried to find Martinelli's sparkling apple cider for our Xmas meal a few times this season. It has traditionally been the non-alcoholic special drink we've used as a champagne substitute over the years. I haven't been able to find it in the usual places, i.e. alongside the sparkling white and red grape juices in the grocery store.

Frustrated, I accosted an associate who was wheeling a cart with sealed, shrink-wrapped apple-ciderish-looking bottles towards the back room employee area. It looked just like this:
"Excuse me, sir. I'm looking for sparkling cider and couldn't find it amongst the sparkling grape juices on the display over there. Do you have any?"

He looked pretty sheepish as he shook his head, no. He saw my eyes examining his cargo.

"Well, actually, this here IS sparkling cider, but we're not allowed to sell this product in Maine as cider anymore. There's been a new law passed ..."

"But ..."

"Yes, I know, it's been sold as such for decades, but we're not permitted to continue doing it. Something about what the word cider means."

I checked it out when I got home - yes, it's true. 

In June 2021, a restriction was placed on products labeled as cider "if that product does not require refrigeration from pressing through purchase or has been heated. A person may not sell, advertise, offer or expose for sale any product labeled as "cider." 

OK, so now we all know - this is my PSA. I might need to shop in NH or MA if I want sparkling cider in future. But white grape juice will do for now.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Morning Light

Early morning light

Woodsmoke through the sunlit trees

Barely visible.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Drowning in the Dentist's Chair

Phew! Dentistry and I have a fractious relationship, and it doesn't bode well when your dentist remarks that your lips and his drilling aren't getting on well together ...

I needed some dental 'contouring' (a euphemism if ever there was one, or rather a marketing ploy) to refine my Invisalign results - a previously comfortable crown was now too high, and getting in the way of my bite. I spent an hour having my senses assaulted to get this done. I 'consented' to holding my jaw open at its widest, had my lips retracted with a silicone device (at least this time, they applied Aquaphor first - without it, it feels as if your lips are going to split like a compromised sausage skin!) and endured a pair of blue nitrile-gloved hands, that smelled vaguely like chemical cat pee, invading my space. Ugh! 
"You dohwwwnnt esphect me to anshwer your kweshions, dsjoo you?"

I could see smoke and spray flying around my face in the illumination from the lamp as he drilled, on and on. The slurping, suctioning saliva ejector-operator was sitting on too low of a chair to be able to see the tidal pool of liquid accumulating at the back of my throat, and I thought "I wonder if anyone has ever drowned in a dentist's chair?" And all the while, the bug-eyed dentist was looking down at the terror in my eyes. 

He eventually acknowledged my struggle to breathe and swallow, and instructed his assistant to stand up so she could see what she was doing (or not doing, in this case). At least, I think that was what he said - there was so much noise in my head from all the machinery, that his muffled command through his face mask wasn't clear over the whining drill, saliva ejector or air compressor. I was just concentrating on not drowning.

It was an iterative process, and had to be repeated many times - bite, grind, chew, slide, hold, clamp down, open. Drill, suck, drill, spray, drill. Over and over again. I thought I'd have little nubs of teeth like a denuded, chewed corn cob after so much drilling. I was amazed to discover I still had a full set of teeth at the end of it all! 

It's amazing how scary the whole process is, how rigidly one's body responds to foreign objects being inserted into one's mouth when in a compromising position. My body couldn't help but clench with involuntary anxiety as power tools and appliances probed and vibrated through me, no matter how many times I tried to re-center and consciously relax.  

My jaw was aching and clicking when we decided to call it quits. I needed a break. I wanted to wash the burning keratin smells from my nostrils and shower the images of a bug-eyed dentist peering into my oral cavity out of my mind. I needed to unwind from the stiff tension that had automatically set in like rigor mortis during the hour-long ordeal. 

A repeat process is scheduled in two weeks to refine the refinements - stay tuned!

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Fiery Chili

The ground is clear of snow, and the nights are crisp, so we ventured down the yard (dressed in anticipation), to enjoy our chili meal at the fireside to experience both the sunset and the moonlight that came later. 

33° F didn't feel all that bad around the fire, with chili and cornbread warming our insides. The fire was hotter than the chili ...

When I turned back to my chair, it was glowing with reflected light, like a throne. It looked quite beautiful for a lawn chair!

Friday, December 9, 2022


Never mind thingamajig being a funny word, what about

T h i g m o t a x i s

It's not an ordinary, everyday word, that's for sure, and doesn't feature often in everyday talk. It's a new one for me.

It describes 
- the tendency of an animal to 'hug' the perimeter of an otherwise open, exposed field, or
- the tendency of cats to lean in to the pressure of contact

Merriam Webster defines it as a movement "in which contact especially with a solid body is the directive factor"

ask a naturalist adds that this response usually benefits the organism by providing "greater safety, easier access to food supplies, [and helping] finding mates, etc."

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Clouded Beauty

What a magnificent sky we were greeted with after a wind storm - quite spectacular!

Cotton candy clouds

Textured wads of rippling sky

Reflected below.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Ruptured Expectations

I was intrigued by the depth to which Kathryn Schulz went to explore the concept of loss in her memoir "Lost and Found." It was intensely academic and personal all at the same time, at times seeming a little too intense to make it a pleasure to read - her writing talent and skill are superlative; it's just not a relaxing and easy read.

I was struck by how she presented loss in the context of scale. She described it as rupturing our expectations and revealing reality to us, shocking us into resizing ourselves to our surroundings. It is one of the ways in which we are reminded of how inconsequential and miniscule we are in the grand scheme of things. Losing something, she says, is humbling; it renders us powerless, no matter if it be through losing our glasses, losing a jet on the radar, or losing a loved one. We have no control over getting these back, or of orchestrating an undoing of the loss. My paraphrasing of her argument is nowhere near as eloquent as hers, and I hope I've conveyed it correctly. 

Fractured Illusion

She had an interesting take on how love stories are portrayed on paper and film that appealed to my understanding, too. They all end at the beginning, she reminds us, when the couple weds or commits! That is not the end of the story; it's the start of a journey that will have ripples of tears and joy - that is the real story, and unfortunately most depictions of love stories give us the wrong idea of what to expect, and how to weather the ups and downs.

I really enjoyed her in-depth analysis of things we regularly glance over, and of being exposed to her unique view of the world. A stunning, and smart writer!