January 2009 Archives

Winter Visitors

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The first real coating of snow that lasted a few days fell in Chesterville over this Thanksgiving weekend. The old farmhouse, even with its K1 heaters, fireplaces and cast-iron stoves, can feel a little drafty in the middle of a windy storm. With a new delivery of kerosene and a full tank of propane for the stove, we're as ready as we can be for another Maine winter.

Thanksgiving Memories...

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Thanksgiving is upon us. Another year has gone by and the holiday season is here. Catalogs and fliers stuff the mailbox and immediately fill the recycling bin. This year Christmas sales seem to have begun before Halloween. The recent cold and wind and stormy weather around here just reminds you real winter is coming.

Apples from the Library Window

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Now close the windows and hush all the fields:
     If the trees must, let them silently toss;
No bird is singing now, and if there is,
     Be it my loss.

It will be long ere the marshes resume,
     It will be long ere the earliest bird:
So close the windows and not hear the wind,
     But see all wind-stirred.

                       Robert Frost, 1913.

The Dreaded Knotweed

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When my wife and I first moved to the farmhouse in Chesterville, winter was just setting in and the snow was beginning to fly. We didn't have a lot of time to look around the house to see what might grow here, while we were unpacking endless boxes.

Milking the Cats

Growing up on a farm and then moving to an old farm house in Maine keeps you thinking in farmers' terms. "Milking the cats" is one of them. Now, before you get a bizarre image in your heads of tiny milk pails and scratching cats, let me explain.

Green Acres Redux

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I have a confession to make: sometimes I think I'm living through a bad remake of Green Acres. Why? Mainly because of my wife.

Hunting Season

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The sharp crack of the back-to-back rifle shots just after sunrise near the house nearly made me drop my first cup of coffee. I knew deer season had begun that morning, but it was unsettling to hear gun fire so close.

Harvest of Autumn Leaves

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Gathering Leaves

Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.

I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.

But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.

I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?

Next to nothing for weight;
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.

Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop
And who's to say where
The harvest shall stop?

Robert Frost
August, 1923

The Pantry

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Autumn is here and the leaves are at their peak of fiery reds and muted yellows. The garden is in the clean-up stage, with beds to be turned and weeds still to be routed out. Nights have been turning colder, with the promise of frosts and snow to come. But we're ready for it as I have been storing away my harvest in a well-stocked pantry.

It's a Wonderful Life?

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We all remember the scene from the movie where the crash of '29 occurs and there's a run on the bank, and there's Jimmy Stewart using his own money to keep the bank afloat. And remember how he describes how one depositors' money isn't in the bank, but in his neighbors' homes? So, how did we end up right back in this mess when the message was so clear? Remember the other movie line we seemed to revel in recently? "Greed is good." Only for the greedy. Greed, yes. But a lot more.

Some things just strike me as odd...

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Some things just strike me as odd...
Well, it's hunting season in Maine. That's not what's funny here, at least not for the game animals anyway. What got my attention the other day was a sign hanging outside a country store: "Budweiser Outdoors Hunters Welcome." In the middle of the sign is a sketch of the elusive buck with the nice antler rack.

Is GPS a Good Thing on the Back Roads of Maine?

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OK, we've all heard the story: a driver installs a new GPS in his car and while following directions in detail, drives into a river when the road dead ends at the river bank. Ah, technology.

Why We Need Universal Health Care...

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I've learned a lot from my cats over the years. Play hard, sleep often. Nothing is so important it can't wait until after a nap. When you are really comfortable, purr loud. When someone ignores you, purr louder.

The Hawkeyes and BJs of Instant Messaging

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(Warning! Tech Content ahead!)

Most of us today are familiar with Instant Messaging (IM) services at work. If you use it, you love it or hate it -- often at the same time. Working at home from Chesterville, I live on IM, as it is a great way to stay in touch with co-workers around the world in real-time -- no waiting for emails to be answered. But it has its annoyances...

Full Moon Over Maine

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We skirted a frost last week and the tomatoes are still growing strong, although the pumpkins in my garden are taking for ever to ripen. From that garden, I've frozen packets of snow peas, green beans, and butternut squash. I've picked quarts of blueberries to freeze and I've canned peach slices, peach and cherry jam, rhubarb and tomato sauce, not to mention numerous batches of 'sun-dried' tomatoes (OK, there was a food dehydrator involved for those...) Fall must be on its way.

Working from Home...

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It's been almost a year since my wife and I (and five cats) moved to the farmhouse. As far as work goes, we both went from commuting to work, to a new life telecommuting from the house, which we never seem to leave. Ever. I now know why people work in an office outside the home.

The Longest Winter

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We moved from Boston in mid-December, last year. It was misting on and off while the movers hauled box after box, after bureau after steamer trunk from our small apartment. It was roomy and spacious when we first moved in 11 years before, but we slowly outgrew it. Too much stuff kept coming in and nothing ever went out.

Waiting for the Wood to Dry...

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When I was a kid, growing up on a farm in the Adirondacks, my father always had a huge pile of wood, piled around the side of the house. It was a dairy farm that had been in existence since the early 1800's, perhaps even earlier. As any good farm had in those days, there was a good portion of it reserved as the wood lot. Self-sufficiency has always been important to any farm, and maintaining your heating source is essential. My dad did pretty well maintaining that wood lot, as his father and grandfather did before him. Not that the house stayed any too warm in the winter, no matter how much wood you burned.

Teching It In Maine

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I have to say I am amazed at my ability to work full-time from western Maine over the Internet with my workplace in Massachusetts, testing software and leading a team of testers in Ireland, India, and Canada. It makes you wonder why there is a need anymore for any centralized office. Especially with gas prices the way they are now (and no real change in sight for lower prices any time soon.)

Canoeing in Maine

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We bought a canoe once spring arrived this year and the anticipation of all those endless trips around Egypt Pond forced us into it.  My wife, Donna, saw it for sale in the yard of a neighbor and we had to buy it.  With all the lakes, rivers, ponds and streams in Maine how could we not have a canoe? (My idea of a true boat is anything without a motor on the back end. I like to hear the world as I glide along, rather than ripping through it at a rock concert noise level...but just my opinion..)

Season of the Bats...

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OK, I admit it.  I hate bats. They're cute, they eat bugs, they are absolutely an integral part of our environment. And yet, when they are in flight, in my house, circling my head... I hate 'em. I'd never hurt one, but I want them out of my house. And yet, they have taken up residence.  And so far this season, a number of them have entered the house -- with interesting results for us all.

You May be a New Mainer if...

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-- You call it the recycling center, but everyone else calls it the dump.

Cats Are Great Mousers, Right?

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We live in an old farmhouse in Maine. We have mice. We have five cats. What mouse problem, right? Wrong. When we moved to this farmhouse, surrounded by a large lawn and open meadow, I figured we might be visited by a few mice, especially in the old pantry off the kitchen. What self-respecting field mouse wouldn't go for a nice morsel in the pantry when it's below zero outside?  But I knew my cats would take care of that problem.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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