Back to “Family” Roots

It’s been decades since I’d seen her.  I think the last time was at the wedding to my first wife.  This kind woman and her funny, now deceased, husband had been family friends on the order of family and going to her house was always a magic.  I knew through my mom that she was in rough shape and for several years I wanted to visit her.  It was important for me to do so before she died.  After seeing mom this past Saturday, with Mak in the shotgun seat, I drove to her place.  Good think I looked at the street view and satellite images first because when I found an old familiar road closed and with no map or GPS, I wasted a lot of time searching.  But the satellite images finally helped me locate her place.

The paintings that were so influential to me were still there.  All was as I remembered.IMG_3031Elegantly dressed as always and glad to receive me her blue eyes didn’t fully focus.  At 93 she’s almost blind.  She’s a Viking, Norwegian, as was her husband.  IMG_3034She wasn’t feeling well that day and asked if I come back sometime to give her enough advance notice that we could go out to dinner together.  Though the next couple weekends I’m committed to all sorts of stuff, I hope to soon.  Even though our visit was short, it was fulfilling to see her again.Sometimes it would be so cool to be able to turn back time while keeping one’s, ahem, “wisdom” and perspective.

The Days Still to Come May Be the Sweetest

geese at sunsetThe next day at sunset… I heard the trumpeting of geese.  I could hear their music distinctly but could not at first find them.  Presently, looking into the west where dark cloudswere banked before the setting sun, I discovered them.  There they were, a thin angular line, high, high above the clouds in the cold light.  I could distinguish nothing but a wavering thread, but even when they were almost lost in the fire of the sunset I could still hear their musical calling.

Though frost will come soon, and the geese are gone, there will be soft days yet to remind us that the year turns slowly upon its axix.  We are but at the edge of autumn, and like the last years of a man’s life, the days still to come may be the sweetest, perhaps because winter lies ahead.

from A Countryman’s Journal, Views of Life and Nature from a Maine Coastal Farm, by Roy Barrette

Midnight Marten

Our pre-bedtime walk started with a brief and distant coyote chorus.  After it faded off and we continued walking I noticed two yellow eyes glaring at me from fifteen feet or so in a tree.  As we approached it moved higher and thinking it was a small cat, I didn’t want to frighten it farther up than it could climb back down.  To my surprise it spun around and came down as fast and easily as it had gone up.  Clearly this was no cat.  I put 200 lumens on it.  Beautiful face, large round ears and when it scrambled down the trunk and bounded away it’s weasel body and mustelid gate were obvious.

I compared images and size of fishers and martens.  (There’s no such thing as fisher CAT.  Fishers are mustelids not felines.)  Fishers are 8-13 pounds, twice the size of what I saw.  But images of martens fit perfectly.pine martenThey look super cute and cuddly but in reality are as fierce as all weasels.  Get too close and they become less cute.  Here’s how a marten, who snuck onto the field, looks as he (or she) bites a Swiss soccer player.benito2As for “our” marten and Mak?  Mak didn’t even notice, he was too busy sniffing the ground.  Yeah, some hunter!

Drying a Cell Phone

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  We’ve all heard stories about packing wet phones in rice etc..  But long time readers know I’ve pioneered my own techniques in sprucing up digital cameras which sometimes requires a drying process.  So when the cell phone landed in the dog’s water dish (how’d that happen :0 ?) I thought back to that learning experience and applied it to the phone.  Unlike using rice, using heat is much quicker and is sure to dry all the nooks and crannies so essential to proper functioning.  Here’s the phone inside a toaster oven.IMG_3040 IMG_3041Careful not to burn yourself when removing!IMG_3042It still unsatisfied with the results, the application of direct heat is the “heavy gun” of wet electronics recovery.IMG_3051Voila!  Not a drop of moisture left and ready for more hot calls!IMG_3054

Happy Moment in Ridiculous Clothes

With moving boxes piled everywhere, and me dressed in full Nordic regalia (purposely for effect), I take a moment to brush Krikit who squints with pleasure.  On the floor near the cucumbers box rests a pile of his fur.DSCN0001Standing as tall as his mere 18 pounds will allow, Krikit sticks his tongue out for the camera.DSCN0005I miss you, Krikit!!  Rest in peace.

Late Summer Evening Chill

We’re both sweaty from Mak dragging me for an hour “hike.”IMG_2862Writing on the Alphasmart while Mak recovers.  Here’s tired, my knees are beat up.  I’m 51, I’d guess him at 7.  We’re about the same age: late summer.IMG_2818cropAs dinner cooks and the sun drops, a chill prompts me to put a jacket on my boy and give him my coat as a bed.IMG_2830After dinner, the sun gone, I’m wearing the coat and Mak is snuggled in the truck.IMG_2864

It’s no secret old people get chilled easily…

Rain Storm

By noon the birches were tossing wildly and great curtains of rain, drifting in from the sea, beat against the windows of the house and passed on across the hay field behind it…

Although it will be some weeks yet before we drink our afternoon tea in front of the fire by lamplight, the days begin to draw in, and with the storm it was dark by five.  The house felt warm and comfortable…IMG_0714crop

When we went to bed the wind was still howling and the rain driving by in sheets…rural_road__light__rain_

- from A Countryman’s Journal, Views of Life and Nature from a Maine Coastal Farm, by Roy Barrette


The Way to Lead


General “Mad Anthony” Wayne

Some generals speechify then retreat to a hilltop to drain a pot of coffee.  “Mad Anthony” personally led the troops.  “When in danger, he is in his element,” Eaton wrote, “and never shows to so good advantage as when leading a charge.”  As to his character, Eaton described him as “industrious, indefatigable, determined… not over accessible but studious to reward merit.”


Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers

William Eaton on General “Mad Anthony” Wayne, from The Pirate Coast, by Richard Zacks.

It’s Coming: Beauty of Winter

I’m not a huge fan of winter, especially cleaning up snow, but living in this climate it’s inevitable.  Looking at its most positive aspects sometimes softens its negatives… or at least we can try to tell ourselves that.Maine blizzard 2013 1One of the blessings of a New England winter is that it turns one inward.  There is nothing like three feet of snow in your dooryard, and six inches of rutted ice on the roads to make your fireside seem the most desirable place in the world…The world I live in is incredibly lovely and peaceful.  Even when the wind gusts the dry snow in great clouds around the corner of the barn, there is peace at the heart of it.  There is no endless conflict here.  One knows that when the storm has blown itself out, as it will in a day or so, the fields and woods will stretch as beautiful as ever, white and unsullied.

- both above quotes from A Countryman’s Journal, Views of Life and Nature from a Maine Coastal Farm, by Roy Barrette  (He was in his eighties when he wrote the above.)
blizzard 2011 002