New website...

Hello readers, I have been trying to figure out how to create a link between this blog site and my new website but unfortunately, have not been able to import one into the other. So, my new blog is found at
Hope to see you there!

Monday, January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011-- Random small observances...

Sunny days seem even more sunny when I am stuck at my desk doing boring tasks for work...
Cloudy days move by swiftly when I am writing on my book....
A cold beer tastes better after I have ridden my bike than after sitting on the couch all afternoon reading...
The artist who painted the Irish seascape that hangs near my desk did not observe the rules of horizon lines and all the ocean waves seem to slosh out of the lower right hand corner...
Nicholas Spark books are sentimental, tear-jerking quick reads but I like them anyway...
The Mayans of ancient Mexico are far more complex than I imagined...
Maintaining friendships is hard, but having no friends at all is harder...
My cats love tuna fish but do not like the tuna cat food I bought them...
Teaching someone a foreign language over the phone is tricky...
Tomorrow is the first of February--a clean slate for all the things I didn't get to in January...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 30, 2011--Losing myself...

Last night we went to Farmington, had a lovely dinner of steamed mussels at The Granary and then went to a concert in Nordica Auditorium. Ruth Hill was the performer. She played a medley of songs on her guitar, ones she had written and a few written by other guitarists. Alternating between fast-paced, almost country songs and slow ballads and blues, I found myself lost in the music. Swirled around in the rhythm, I'd fade out on the lyrics and let the music take me off to another time and space. The evening passed swiftly and I was surprised to find it was nine-thirty when the concert ended.
Today has been a similar day as I have spent much of the afternoon working on my new novel. Set in Mexico, I come up for air to look up some fact and am surprised to see the soft snow filtering down outside my window. I have been completely absorbed in the writing, unaware of my surroundings for hours. And it is glorious. Only when my feet get cold, do I remember to get up from my desk and go downstairs to put wood in the stoves, take a stretch, use the bathroom, drink another glass of seltzer water.
In the back of my head, I feel like there are other things I should be doing today, but really, there's not. Sundays are my one day to research and write for the entire day and so, I give my husband a quick kiss and then head back to work.

Friday, January 28, 2011

January 28, 2011-- Small indulgences...

I'm not sure why, but today turned out to be a day for small indulgences. It started when I walked up to the mail box and found a package in the box from Newport News. The long awaited Christmas gift from my husband that had been backordered all this time had finally arrived. I opened the wrapping to discover a satiny black corset with a lacy white inset inside the package-lucky me!
I had to go to town to buy groceries this afternoon, a task I had been avoiding all week, so after lunch, set off in the car. I made a needed stop at the bank and gas station and then, because it was right there, went into Mr. Paperback. I discovered a Laura Esquivel book, Malinche,  on the sale table and added it to the newspapers I had picked up for Jeff. Then, since I was right there, I checked out the magazines and found several travel mags had new editions out already, so those were scooped up, too.
Then it was off to Hannaford's for the groceries. In the produce section, I discovered cilantro was on sale and in the seafood area, Maine shrimp were on sale, so that solved the whole "what's for dinner question"-- I envisioned fresh Maine shrimp sauteed with broccoli florets and chopped fresh cilantro, served on a bed of penne rigate pasta and promptly put the necessary items in the grocery cart.
I made it home in record time and found Jeff had placed martini glasses in the snow to chill, so we sipped lemon drop martinis while looking at the paper and the magazines I brought home. Then, I started cooking supper and discovered I needed to make some room in the freezer, so took out last summer's raspberries. I whipped up a blueberry-raspberry crisp for dessert and since the oven was on, threw in a couple of pieces of garlic bread to toast to go with the shrimp dish. A chilled glass of Pinot Grigio rounded out the meal. All in all, a nice way to finish a long work week.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 27, 2011--Reading other blogs...

I've been sitting here reading other blogs, by other writers...seems like we are all struggling in some way or another. Some are lost in a fog of non-inspiration, forcing themselves to crank out work when really, they might just need to take a break for a day or two and go do something totally different, so that inspiration will creep back into their lives. Others are reflecting on what they are reading lately and  wondering whether their own work will ever measure up to these published authors.
Another friend is in Germany and writing about her adventures. Another blog has interviews of authors, another asks for nominations for Maine's next poet laureate...the list goes on.
The one common thread is the question of whether anyone ever really reads these blogs, as the comments are far and few between. My answer to that is--does it matter? For instance, this blog is more for myself, a way to get thoughts out, a way to loosen up before moving to my latest writing projects, kind of like stretching before jumping onto my exercise bike.
It's fun to know that people are reading this, but if they don't, hey, that's okay, too as this writing is mainly for me. And that takes the pressure off of trying to be brilliant, witty, wonderful, every time I sit down to type in this space. These are sfd's, really (shitty first drafts, for those not familiar with Anne Lamott's book, Bird by Bird) and I never show my first drafts to anyone.
So, for those who worry about finding inspiration during the coldest and gloomiest part of the year, or wonder if they will ever get published..I say, relax... the more you struggle and push, the more your desires will evade you--don't expect to write well all the time, don't expect people to commiserate with you as most people don't know and possibly don't care that writing is a lonely, tiring, sometimes scary path to tread... instead, read other blogs, dance the salsa, go for a walk on the beach...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 26, 2011-- A Margaret Atwood reality....

Today I came across something in my research for work that left me scratching my head in wonder and disbelief. There is a company based in San Diego called Organovo that has managed to connect a 3-D bio printer to a computer. What this means is that they are able to program a computer to replicate human blood vessels and organs. This is taken from the web page I was reading "The field of tissue engineering has come a long way since the 1980s, when MIT’s Robert Langer developed methods of encouraging certain types of organ cells to grow on polymer scaffolding. In recent years, a number of researchers have begun experimenting with technology that uses modified ink jet printers to lay down precise patterns of cells that grow together to form tissue. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, demonstrated how researchers at Wake Forest use similar technology to grow a human ear, bladder, and heart muscle. Gabor Forgacs showed in 2005 that it was possible to “print” a tube of living tissue, using droplets—or spheres—of viscous biological material from hamster ovary cells. When the cell spheres were printed in a ring and stacked on top of one another with the help of a supportive hydrogel, they fused together within 24 hours to form a tubular structure."(
The long term goals of this company are to create livers, kidneys, and "other vital organs" that are in short supply for organ transplants.
On the one hand, I applaud the human race, these men in particular, who have managed to come up with this technology.  Undoubtedly, for those with enough money, the benefits of getting a manufactured liver that matches your DNA will be beneficial. In the long run, this technology will probably save many lives as it will be relatively easy to grow the part you need instead of waiting for someone to die so you can have the necessary organ. On the other hand, the whole idea really creeps me out! It is just so Margaret Atwood like. All I can envision are long, windowless buildings like the many chicken barns one sees in the Maine countryside. Inside the temperature controlled environment will be various hooks connected to jugs of goop on one side and computers on the other. People in white hazmat suits will be silently monitoring these units, watching to make sure each organ grows properly. Harvesting of organs will take place within a certain length of time for optimum transplantability. What will happen to the organs that fail to grow just right? Will they be discarded into some kind of biohazardous waste dump or recycled somehow into cattle feed or cat food or the newest pot pie on the market? I'm not really sure I want to know but will keep my eyes open for more info on this as the technology develops.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25, 2011--Magazines...

Another magazine arrived in the mail today. That makes three new ones this week and it's only Tuesday! Okay, I confess, I love magazines. I love the texture of the glossy paper, I love the smell of fresh ink, although I have noticed that the National Geographics can give me a slight headache because they are soooo strong smelling when I first open the plastic wrapper. I love seeing all the ads for clothing and exotic vacations, and even the make-up ads, despite the fact that I don't wear make-up. I love reading the articles and stories in the magazines I get, knowing that someone, some where, was sitting at a computer typing out each word, hoping that they would land the piece in the magazine and actually did. It gives me hope for myself and some of the pieces I am working on.
There's been talk among writing groups that magazines are failing; readership and subscriptions are down, that magazines go under all the time. And yet, there are still plenty of them on the shelves when I go to the bookstore. So many in fact that it's hard to choose which ones to read, let alone subscribe to. And that doesn't take into account all the ezines which never appear in print and which I am beginning to find and subscribe to as well.
At last count, and I've probably missed one or two, I subscribe to sixteen in print journals--that's a lot by any one's standards, but the list is varied and I feel it reflects my wide range of interests. These sixteen are the ones that have stood the test of time, are the ones I read when they arrive, and often save because they contain useful info in them. I have had many other magazine subscriptions over the years which have arrived in their respective plastic sleeves only to be recycled still unopened. They are the ones I thought I might want to get but discovered after a month or two, that the topics covered no longer interested me, or the format and layout were too hyper for me to be able to curl up and read in any relaxing kind of way.
So, here's my list of magazines that I subscribe to:
More, TIME, Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, The Sun, Writer's Digest, Poet and Writer's, The Writer's Chronicle, National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Rolling Stone, Better Homes and Gardens (a gift from my husband), Country Garden (a gift from my mom), One Story,Women's Health, and Heron's Dance. If I had more money, I'd probably subscribe to a lot more...what magazines do you support?  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 23, 2011--National Pie Day...

Just a little bit ago, I heard on NPR that today is National Pie Day!
Of course I plan to make a pie this afternoon--I had planned to make some kind of treat today, as our neighbors invited us up for dinner tonight, so a pie is perfect. Plus, with four people eating it instead of two, I am less likely to eat more than I need.
My grandmother was a supreme pie maker and is the one who taught me how to make pies. One summer, when we were renting a cottage on the coast, near where my grandparents lived, my older brother, sister, and I spent each Saturday afternoon making pies. Every week, we'd ride our bikes over to Grammy's and she would help us create our own flavor of pie. She'd show us how to measure the flour and stir in a little salt, how to cut in the Crisco ( the shortening always had to be Crisco), then slowly mix in the ice cold water that she had in the freezer until a dough was formed. Rolling came next, with the dough rolled out as thin as possible without tearing. Once the pie dough was in the pan, we'd often line the shell with aluminum foil and fill the pan with dry beans, then bake the crust for ten minutes or so before adding the filling. Soon the house was filled with the smells of apple, cinnamon, chocolate, blueberries, lemon and meringue..each week a different set of sweet scents that made our mouths water while we waited. Grammy also showed us what to do with the leftover pie dough--roll it out again and spread softened butter on it, then top it with cinnamon sugar. These scraps were then rolled up like logs and sliced 1/4 inch thick and baked on cookie sheets, creating crunchy pie dough cinnamon rolls which we were allowed to eat while the pies baked.
Once the pies were cooling on various racks on the counters, we'd ride our bikes home again, only to return in an hour or two with our parents for a full dinner at Grammy's, with all our pies served as dessert. Once dinner was over, we'd return home with the leftovers of the pies, which we'd eat until they were gone. Then, the plates were returned to Grammy, ready for Saturday's baking lesson once again. It was a great way to spend a summer as a kid, growing up on the coast of Maine and those days are some of the best memories I have of my grandmother.
So, on to the question of what kind of pie to make for dinner tonight? We are out of apples, I have no bananas, only a few blueberries in the freezer, don't feel like a pudding type pie...I do have lemon juice, though and lemon meringue IS probably my all-time favorite pie...:)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January 22, 2011--Forgotten English words...

For Christmas, I bought my husband a calendar, one of those with the plastic tab that pops out on the back, so the calendar can sit on your desk, or in our case, on the kitchen table. I usually buy a calendar every year, although one year is not necessarily as good as another. So far, the best was the year we had a Far Sides calendar to go through on a daily basis; we had a lot of laughs that year. This year's calendar is on archaic English words, lovely tidbits that have been dropped along the way as the English language has transformed over the years.
Today's word is nizzle meaning to be slightly intoxicated...It also happens to be the Feast Day of St. Vincent of Saragosa, who was the fourth-century patrons of drunkards! Below the meaning of the word, there is a proverb that reads "If on St. Vincent's Day the sky is clear, More wine than water will crown the year."
Well, I did happen to notice that today was breathtakingly clear, so this proverb seems to be in tune with the day..time will tell whether more wine than water flows this year.
I like the word nizzle-- I wonder if someone is nizzled, whether they would be more inclined to nuzzle some one's ear...

Friday, January 21, 2011

January 21, 2011--Another snowy day...

It was yet another snowy day here in Wellington. Every time I looked up from my computer and saw the snow swirling around outside, I felt like I was trapped inside a snow globe, one of those plastic dome, water-filled toys that when you shake it, the snow flies all around inside, landing on the little people, trees or whatever figures are glued with super glue to the cheap plastic base.
I actually looked up snow globes on wikipedia, just for a lark and found that they used to be quite the thing, especially when they first came out in France back in the late 1800s. Then in 1927, the first U.S. patent for a snow globe was given to Joseph Garaja of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Snow globes became popular in the U.S. during the 1940s, mainly as an advertising gimmick. These globes were made of glass and are probably quite valuable as collector's items nowadays. Can you imagine Walmart handing out little snow globes these days to advertise their products? Ha!
I think I felt trapped in a globe today because it was the second snowstorm of the week, with more snow predicted on Tuesday again. A couple of years ago we fell into a weather pattern similar to this one. Every Wednesday and Saturday we had a storm; I remember because I missed a lot of Spanish classes that semester as classes were Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Plus, work was pretty boring today and I found I had too many seconds and minutes on my hands between tasks.
I kept wondering if there was some higher being out in the universe who was/is playing with us all...shaking up our lives for a little fun of their own..or maybe it's because my husband just finished Stephen King's book, Under the Dome and I finally have someone to talk to about it and ( spoiler alert)... the aliens in the book at the end. Maybe one of those children has us under a snow globe dome and is shaking the world to see the pretty snow fall... if that's the case, I sure wish they would stop for a bit!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 20, 2011-- A fisher comes to visit our compost pile...

A fisher has been coming to visit our compost pile since around Thanksgiving. We first noticed something unusual going on when one of the suet bird feeder cages disappeared from the tree it was nailed to and then a week later, the other one disappeared. Then, when we started to get snow on the ground, we were able to see tracks and eventually identified them as a fisher. Every week or so, this animal comes back and rummages through the compost, ferreting out the meat scraps and bones in the pile. We've seen lots of tracks down near the garden beds, too but hadn't caught sight of the animal until today.
I was brushing my hair, before breakfast and just happened to look out the bathroom window. The fisher was right there, heading to the compost pile which is about twenty feet from the back of the house. I dropped my hairbrush and rushed to grab my camera. The attached video is what we saw this morning. I have contacted the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and they suggest putting a tarp over the pile to keep the varmint out of the scraps. I have my doubts that this will work; I was hoping someone would come trap the thing and relocate it as I don't want our two cats to become a morning snack for this guy!

After lunch, we tracked the fisher in the snow, finding chicken bones, a lobster carcass from our Christmas Eve dinner, part of a rotten cabbage and several coffee filters full of grounds along its trail. We finally lost the tracks in a really brushy area where it was hard to tell footprints from snow blobs that had dropped from the trees. I will keep you posted on any more events with our wild neighbor.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

January 19, 2011--Comfort...

Today was a gloomy, overcast, gray day  in Maine. All the colors outside were washed out into a boring palette of grays, whites, browns, and dark greens.  Yesterday's snowstorm led to about 6 inches of fluff on the ground when we went to bed last night, but unfortunately at some point in the night, it rained, so all that fluff turned to heavy, sticky snow that took some effort to shovel.
After a morning of work on the computer, shoveling snow for half an hour and an afternoon of work, it seems I was in need of creature comforts. For I found myself removing my wet jeans and putting on my warm sweat pants, usually reserved for after my afternoon exercise routine. Then, my thoughts turned to what to make for supper and ziti with meat sauce instantly sprang to mind, followed by yet another comfort food, tapioca pudding.
These were small things in my life today, the comfortable clothes and good food, but it's amazing what an effect they have had on me, turning my mood of boredom and tiredness of winter into one of enthusiasm for the evening's writing and reading while snuggled under the down comforter on the bed.
It's important to find comfort in the little things; it helps keep us sane and on a steady path while we move through our daily routines. More exciting things may be on the horizon, but in the meantime, it's good to have the little stuff to lean on in times of need.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 18, 2011--Winnie-the-Pooh...

After reading the Writer's Almanac for today, I discovered it is A.A. Milne's birthday. Winnie-the Pooh was and is one of my most favorite children's books, right up there with Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins Comes Back, the whole Borrowers series and the whole Little House on the Prairie series.
I vaguely remember my mother reading me Winnie-the-Pooh when I was a little girl. I do remember reading the books to myself as an older child and had the great fun of reading the same old copies of those books that my mother read to me to my own children when they were young. Now they sit on a bookcase in the back room, waiting for the day when my grandchildren come to visit and I can read them outloud once again. I do miss Winnie and Piglet and Kanga and Roo and who can forget grumpy old Eeyore and the sad day when his balloon popped. But at least he had an empty honey pot to put it in, so all was not lost.
Heffalumps are still one of the great mysteries of the world; I wonder if they ever caught one in their traps...
For me, these books bring back fond memories of when life was slower and simpler. A time before the world went on alert 24/7, before computers, cell phones, ipads and ipods and all things technological that consume our time, energy, and lives... before shootings, assasinations, terrible earthquakes and tsunamis destroyed vast populations of the world... just once in a while, it'd be nice to turn the clocks back and have life return to those simpler days when people believed in heffalumps and talking teddy bears and little boys in their wellingtons.  

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17, 2011--Sometimes it's the unexpected things...

Sometimes it's the unexpected things that happen in a day that make all the difference and I don't mean in the negative sense. Take today for instance. I had to drive to Skowhegan with  my youngest son, Finn, and do a bunch of errands, before driving him back up to Jackman where he lives. The time shopping was fun, in its own way, getting Finn things he needed for his place, buying him groceries for the week and all. The drive north was fine; actually Finn drove so he could get some more practice and we chatted off and on the whole way up. But, then I was faced with an hour and a half drive back to my house, alone...By the time I was leaving Jackman, it was 3 pm and the half a sandwich I ate at lunch time was not fueling me any more. I drank a bunch of water, but still felt fatigued. So, I drove along, on a fairly empty road, looking at the pretty snow covered trees and the rising almost full moon on my left and the beginning to set sun on my right.
When I reached Wyman Lake, where the Kennebec River turns into the lake, I saw something big and black out on the snow covered ice. I couldn't tell for a minute or two what it was, but as I continued to drive towards it, I realized it was not a log or a snowmobile, but a large bald eagle. Just sitting there, hanging out in the snow, caught between the slanting rays of the sun on one side and those of the moon on the other. It was amazing and I stopped right in the middle of the road to watch it. It flew about ten feet and landed again, moving from one sunny spot to another and then it lifted off and headed west, towards the mountains on the other side of the lake.
And suddenly, I wasn't tired any more and made the rest of the trip home safely, arriving just at dark. If I hadn't had to make that drive, if we hadn't puttered in Walmart or stopped at Olympia Sport, I would have left Jackman earlier and might never have seen that eagle, all outlined in golden light.
It's those sudden, unexpected things that can make or break a day; this was a good day thanks to that eagle.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

January 15, 2011--Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday...

Today is Martin Luther King Jr.'s actual birthday, not Monday when people who work for school systems and other government agencies will have the day off as a holiday.
I was only three and a half when MLK was assasinated, so all my knowledge of him is through the public school systems that I attended as a child. But even though I wasn't old enough to really hear and pay attention to  his speeches, when I hear them now on places like YouTube, his voice makes me shiver... there's something about the timbre of it that just goes right to my soul, like certain pieces of music will make me cry. I wonder what kind of connection was made when I was an infant, when I know my parents had to have been watching the news and hearing MLK speak, that has stayed with me all these years.
The same holds true for certain smells, like the smell of my dad's pipe tobacco that he smoked back in the day, before he quit. I smelled a scent of something sweet and spicy the other day and suddenly I was four year's old and in my dad's study, lifting the lid of the tobacco jar that sat on his desk. This must have been around the same time as MLK's death.
I wonder what kinds of memories our children will have of people in history, what kinds of connections they will make later on in life to sounds, scents, and flavors. They won't connect with MLK like my parents or even some of my friends who are in their fifties and sixties do. They won't remember all the fine details of that day. But, they will have their own memorable days, like seeing the first black man in the history of the U.S. become president. I doubt that day would have arrived without the likes of MLK.

Friday, January 14, 2011

January 14, 2011-- Random thoughts while driving...

Today I had to drive up to Jackman to pick up my son who's come down to visit over the long weekend. I was alone in the car, unable to find anything to listen to on the radio, so I just kind of let my mind drift while I drove the 75 miles north. I love driving by myself; all that emptiness in the car doesn't need to be filled with conversation, or listening to music the other person puts on, or wondering if something is wrong because the person with you is so quiet. It's just you behind the wheel and driving, and the occasional logging or pulp truck to contend with. At least around here anyway. So,  I settled into my seat and these are some of the random thoughts I had...

Has anyone studied whether giving teddy bears to elderly patients in nursing homes, especially those with Alzheimer's, makes them feel better? After all, if small children benefit from a cuddly friend to hold, then wouldn't these people who have unfortunately regressed to a childlike state benefit as well? Or would it be considered demeaning to give an adult a teddy bear?

If our solar panels get charged a tiny bit even on cloudy days because of the ambient light coming through the clouds, do they also receive a slight charge when the moon is bright, especially at the full moon?

I came across a website the other day for a virtual piano keyboard. Once it is downloaded, you type on your computer and this presses the keys on the piano, producing a sound. So, I wonder what typing in a phrase like "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" would sound like or say, one of Shakespeare's sonnets and conversely, what kind of message one would receive if you played a Mozart piano concerto and wrote down the letters that each note corresponded to.. then I wondered whether the notes a,b,c,d,e,f and g would correspond to the same letters on the computer or if they would be different...and what the most frequently used note in music is, like the letter "e" is the most used letter...

If your chances of  getting struck by lightning twice are greater than your chances of winning the lottery, then where does that leave me as I have already been struck by lightning once--does that mean I have a better chance of winning the lottery now or a better chance of being struck by lightning  again...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January 14, 2011-- A trudge in the snowy woods...

When the clouds finally moved off and the sun came out, the world outside turned into a kaleidoscope of colors. The sun bounced off the new powder snow, creating prisms of light everywhere I turned. I took a much needed lunch break and then went for a trudge through the woods.
I slogged along in over eight inches of snow and at times, where the wind had made deep drifts, wished I had had the foresight to dig out my snowshoes but it was good exercise and I didn't really mind.
My path took me up a slight slope, past an old log cabin that stands on the edge of  a large field that has mostly grown in now with young fir and poplar trees. The sun came through strongly along this field and I stood for several moments with my face turned to the light, basking in the slight heat. Then, I turned north along the edge of the field and hiked up a steep grade lined on both sides with fir, maple and birch trees. I stopped at the top of the field and looked back over the valley. Wisps of pinkish gray clouds swirled across a brilliant blue sky and I managed to catch my breath while standing there.
My path wandered through an old clear cut, now grown up in young maple, fir, beech and oak. The beech trees still had their brown curled leaves on them that jiggled in the wind, as if the leaves were shivering in the cold. I saw two separate sets of rabbit tracks, one a long, slow lope and the other a quick hop, hop, hop as if it had heard something and been spooked. Then I crossed a partridge track, each footprint carefully attached to the one in front and the one in back of it, making a continuous line of prints.
In another spot, a snow blob had fallen from a branch and rolled, creating tiny little round prints like a fingerprint in the snow that got progressively larger and larger until it ended at the snowball.
Everything felt softer, smoother on that walk, even when I stumbled on old ruts in the trail that were buried by the snow, it felt okay and good to be outside.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January 12, 2011-- A blustery winter day...

It has been a blustery winter day here in Maine with school cancellations right and left. One disadvantage of working on-line at home is that there's no reason not to go to work on a snowy day...unless someone happens to hit the telephone lines and knocks out the Internet, which did not happen today. Which is good, really as I'd hate to wish an accident like that on anyone.
It's been so windy that just about every window in the house, on all four sides of the building, has snow plastered on it, to the point where we can't see out, and that includes some of the windows on the second floor! I feel like I'm inside an igloo tonight, trying to peer out through the snow into the blackness of the night.
Which makes me wonder what it must be like to live in an igloo--isn't it always cold to a certain extent? I know I would not like that--much prefer warmer climates to the cold, I think it must be the cat aspects of my nature as I like it warm and toasty, hate to get my feet wet and would really like to take naps more frequently than I ever do.
Well, that reminds me of the new scene I want to write for my fiction book, so will say g'night for now and hope everyone is snug at home on this wintry night.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1/11/11--Did anyone notice?

Did anyone notice that today's date can be written 1/11/11 and that twice today the time will be 1:11 on 1/11/11? Just an observation--guess you can tell it was slow at work today, or I was moving faster than they were sending me tasks!
We have already passed another day with a similar date-January 1, 2011 or 1/1/11.
And, lucky us, we get to have two more days this year with just ones in the date--can you guess what they are?

Okay, for those who didn't want to play the game, here they are: 11/1/11 and 11/11/11.
The web is full of people making predictions about what this all means...that 11 is a super power number, that 1 is associated with the sun and the combination means there will be strong solar stuff happening on these dates etc etc.
Frankly, I think it's just another cold day in January here in Maine, with snow predicted to fall by tomorrow. Maybe we'll get 11 inches or should it be 12 since tomorrow is the twelfth?!

Monday, January 10, 2011

January 10, 2011--Weird stuff...

Okay, so today in my job, I had to read a bunch more reports on the dead birds in Arkansas and Louisiana, then the dead ones in Sweden, only to discover there are now 8,000 more in Italy. These were doves, with strange blue marks on their bills, like they'd been deprived on oxygen. And there were unconfirmed reports of dead birds in Manitoba, too but I am still waiting for a reliable news source to run that story before I fully believe it.
Then I went on to see reports on the dead fish in Brazil, hundreds of tons of them washing up on shore, followed by two million dead fish in Chesapeake Bay, and the red snapper in New Zealand, all after the finding of 100,000 dead fish in Arkansas.
Now they say bats are being affected, too...and about 80 were found in Arizona, before any of the birds died.
Theories abound out there with lightning strikes, weather, fireworks, all being cited as possible causes. There's also the idea that something like HAARP is behind it all. HAARP or High Frequency Active Aurorol Research Program for those unaware, is a US government project, located up in Alaska and according to their website, this is what they do up there "
The HAARP program is committed to developing a world class ionospheric research facility consisting of:
  • The Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI), a high power transmitter facility operating in the High Frequency (HF) range. The IRI will be used to temporarily excite a limited area of the ionosphere for scientific study.
  • A sophisticated suite of scientific (or diagnostic) instruments that will be used to observe the physical processes that occur in the excited region. "
So, they excite the ionosphere and then read the results, in order to increase communication capabilities for us all. Now, couldn't something like this mess with the navigational systems in birds, causing them to fly into power lines or even towards the ground?
Another theory is that the magnetic poles are shifting, more so than normal, causing a disruption in the flight behaviors of the birds.
Frankly, either or both of these latter suggestions sound more plausible to me than lightning strikes or fireworks causing the death of some many species withing a week's time.
It's definitely weird and something people should keep investigating, but unfortunately, it seems the mainstream media people have moved on to other topics.
Weird stuff... (by the way, if the rule is i before e except after c, then how come we spell  the word "weird'?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January 9, 2011-- A poem by Mary Oliver that literally helped save my life...

Years ago, I read this poem at a time when I was in deep, deep despair and it made all the difference. May it help some of you along your paths in life, too.

The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

(Reprinted without permission from New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver--thanks Ms. Oliver)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

January 8, 2011--The start of something new...

The start of something new, whether it's a romance, a job, a building project, a hobby, or a writing project is always exciting. That's just the nature of how this game of life seems to work. And the flip side, the ending, is oftentimes a time of sadness, or a let down. Not always, but often. For a building, once it's done can be looked at with a sense of pride, or a job well-done can be looked at with accomplishment and the same holds true for a writing project. But things like romances, vacations, and other events that have an emotional hold on you can often bring on feelings of sadness once they end.
That's why I prefer beginnings to endings--I love that rush of excitement when all is undiscovered still. I wind up seeing the world around me, beyond whatever this new beginning is, with new eyes and the old, the habitual takes on a clearer perspective, even if only for a few days. 
I wasn't always this way; I'd often hang on to the past to prevent something ending because I was afraid there might be nothing else beyond what I already had. But, I have learned there's always something else out there, often better than what was, and that by letting go, it opens up endless possibilities for other things to fill that space. A sometimes hard lesson to learn, but one that I am glad I have learned. And, I have also learned that occasionally life can be cyclical and what once was that disappeared can sometimes come round again, as a new beginning...and the start of something new is always exciting.

Friday, January 7, 2011

January 7, 2011--On antique dishes....

I was washing the dishes earlier this evening, admiring the tiny flower/rose pattern on the dinnerware complete with the gold paint around the rim and thought about how these dishes used to belong to my paternal grandmother. They were her special dinnerware, used at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. I loved family gatherings at those holidays because I knew these dishes would be used. But, for Sunday dinners and other, non-holiday events, other dishes were used while these Rosa rugosa plates spent most of the time carefully wrapped in paper towels, inside a special zippered plate case.
When my grandmother died and then my grandfather nine months later, I inherited this set of dishes. My parents didn't need them and they knew I loved looking at them. So, they entered my household where I used them for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, carefully washing them before the holiday feast,  and  again after the meal. I hand-dried each plate before wrapping it in paper towels and packing it away in its special case. When my sons were little, we didn't even use the plates, for fear when one of the boys would break a dish.
This continued for many, many years until finally, something shifted inside me. About a year ago I thought, why am I eating my meals on these chipped ceramic plates and/or plastic plates while my nice dishes sit in the pantry gathering dust and only get used three times a year? Why not enjoy the dishes on a daily basis, after all, isn't that what they were made for, to be eaten off of? So, I got rid of the chipped and plastic plates and washed enough of my grandmother's china to serve my family plus two more, in case we have friends over for a meal. Now, I get to enjoy these beautiful plates several times a day. They add color to every meal and make each dish a special one. I don't know if my grandmother would approve of her good china being used this way, but I like it-- I can't take them with me when I die and life is short, so I figure to enjoy life little moments, even those that relate to dishes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

January 6, 2011--Epiphany...

Today is Epiphany or what I learned at an early age is the day the Magi appeared in Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus. When I was a kid, growing up in Mexico, the celebrations for this day were as elaborate or more so than for Christmas. Although my family did not celebrate Three King's Day with gifts and feasting, many of my Mexican friends received numerous gifts on this day, as well as had a huge feast and usually a piñata to break as well. I was always a bit envious of my friends, as they received so many more gifts in such a short span of time. Thinking back on it now, as an adult, with bills to pay, I wonder how those families could afford to buy so much, not once, but twice in just a couple of weeks!
Epiphany also means a sudden, intuitive perception into the essential meaning of something, usually coming
from something commonplace. I wish I could say I have had an "epiphany" today, but no such luck... I did have my faith in my own writing ability restored, though, through a strangely worded horoscope in the newspaper today which essentially said not to give up, to continue following my own path, regardless of what others think or say. This has been my philosophy for some years now and deep down, I know I am on the right path, so maybe that is an epiphany after all.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

January 5, 2011-- Dead Poets Society...

Today's inauguration ceremony in Augusta for LePage did not include a poetry reading and this brought to mind the great movie starring Robin Williams called Dead Poets Society.
I found this quote from the movie which seems relevant to today's events and is spoken by John Keating--

 "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?''

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January 4, 2011-- Sacred colors...

Yesterday, my latest book on the Mayans arrived from Amazon--The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel--it is a translation of a book written by a Mayan prophet, Chilam, around the end of the 15th century. For someone fascinated with Mayan culture as I am, this looks like it will be a somewhat difficult, but worthwhile read.
The first thing I have noticed in the book is the description of the four sacred colors. According to the Mayans, red represents east, white-north, black-west and yellow-south. After I read that, I remembered that the native American Indians also had four sacred colors and I began to wonder if there were any similarities. A little bit of research has brought up these facts: For the Navajo, white-east, black-north, yellow-west and blue-south. So none of those match up...For the Apache, white-north, yellow-east, green-south and black-west so two of these directions and colors are the same for the Apaches and Mayans of white-north and black-west...For the Cherokee, blue-north, white-south, red-east and black-west which means two of the four colors also match for the Cherokees and Mayans of red-east and black-west.
I think it's fascinating that these groups of people who lived thousands of miles apart still had something in common like their sacred colors. What it means if anything, I don't know but it intrigues me nonetheless.

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 3, 2011-- On raising boys...

My mother once gave me a wooden plaque that now hangs on the wall near my desk that reads "there is a special place in Heaven for the mother of three boys."
There are days when I wonder why in hell I got stuck with my three but then, there are times like tonight when it is good to know I have such good sons.
My oldest, Yule, the one in HI, just turned 21 yesterday and called to tell me he survived his bar hopping escapades of last night. Most young men would NOT tell their mom that they drank so much they puked, not once, but at least twice, as he moved with a crowd from one bar to the next. And, yes, I immediately asked who was driving and found out they were all in cabs. Now, drinking to the point of being sick is not necessarily the smartest thing to do, but there is a certain awareness when Yule knew in advance to hire a taxi for the night. It makes me smile, to know that some of my nagging and constant advice has actually sunk in about being reasonably responsible if you plan to drink. And, I'm happy to see that we also have a pretty good relationship for Yule to want to call his mom and talk for twenty minutes while feeling somewhat lethargic and hung over. Of course, he also wanted advice for his bad hangover, which I was happy to provide--a hot shower, cold milk and/ or water, and lots of salty foods like pretzels to help counterbalance his acid system.
It's a good feeling to have Yule call and chat about once a week as I know many people whose kids rarely keep in touch either by phone or email.
I have two other sons who will turn 21 in 2 and 4 years respectively; I imagine they will survive the parties as well as their older brother has done at his as they are equally as responsible and have learned to watch Yule's example and then follow on a slightly less reckless path.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

January 2, 2011-- The Girl Who Played With Fire

The Girl Who Played With Fire is the second in the Stieg Larssen movie series. Jeff and I watched it New Year's Eve and drank a bottle of champagne at the same time, which is a pretty good way to watch a movie.
The same characters are in this movie, Lisbeth Salander being the main one. She is targeted as the main suspect in three different murders and has to find her estranged and strange father to prove her innocence. There are some graphic scenes in this movie, just like the first one; an erotic scene between Lisbeth and her female lover, a gruesome replay of a little of the rape scene from the first movie, another gory scene involving an ax... but despite this, the movie is a definite must-see for those who like foreign, suspense-thriller films. I can't wait to get the third installment on Netflix and then turn around and read all the books.
It's too bad the author died a couple of years ago; apparently he had outlines for nine or ten novels with these same characters--now we will never know quite where he was headed, but based on the first two movies I've seen, they would have been good movies/books right to the end.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

January 1, 2011-- Rabbit, Rabbit..

Rabbit, rabbit to everyone--hope you all tried to remember to say this first thing this morning to bring some good luck into the new year. I remembered just before I got up, which is supposedly the best time to say it.
I think everyone can use a bit of luck these days, what with the economy the way it is still, so many still unemployed, the weather creating problems and all the other unpleasant news that seems to fill the headlines on a daily basis.
Just once, I wish the news headlines were full of good news, with one or two bad stories, instead of the daily crush of doom and gloom we seem to receive offset by that one tear-jerker story at the end that's supposed to make us feel good, but really winds up making me feel worse instead of better.
I know, it won't happen, because good news doesn't sell as well as the bad, and when it comes right down to it, the news, like much of the rest of the world, is governed by money.
Ugh! On that unpleasant thought, I will close for the night and say an extra rabbit, rabbit or two for all of us, in the hopes that life for everyone shifts for the better this year.