Thursday, March 13, 2014

Never more.....

Once upon a snow day dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a  warm day of summer yore —
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my kitchen door.
“ ’Tis the oil man,” I muttered, tapping at my kitchen door —
Only to deliver more !

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Little Cultcha'...BSO Style

maine-matters has been pretty quiet of late..
There really isn’t a good reason for such inactivity except the late, winter doldrums that have had me wrapped up like a caddisfly in its stony, larva case, bumping along in the currents of January and February.

In an effort to rescue me, my wife Pat, pried me out of my recliner and into the car for a trip up to Orono and The Collins Center For The Arts for a dose of culture.

Our first stop though was a part of Maine culture that has immense appeal to me..
Sunday lunch at Dysart’s Truck Stop. Always a very satisfying experience, at least to my palate but probably not a pre or post performance favorite for the symphonic crowd..oh well..

And after a heaping helping of a hot turkey sandwich (and I mean heaping) we were off to Orono for the BSO performance. On the way up 95 I was wondering… why did I choose turkey?.. with its tryptophan component , it could be a definite consideration sitting on a plush, comfy seat in a darkened auditorium..but too late..the dye was cast.

With the orchestra warming tuning up,  we were ready to take our seatssymphony2
and soon enjoing the performances of Copeland’s  Appalachian Spring (with apologies to a fine composer and that area, I’m really much more interested in a Maine Spring)..a Concerto for Horn and Orchestra performed by renowned French horn player Richard Todd..and for the finale, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, the Pastoral Symphony.

Luckily I had the support of Pat, who in her pre-guide dog training life, is a trained classical musician herself and is definitely in the know about such things. 
And good it was that she was there or I would have been blissfully applauding between Movements, a definite faux-pax among the symphony goers circle.

Such is my ignorance..  
As the performance concluded and with an approving nod from her, my untrained opinion that the orchestra sounded great was justified and soon we were out the door..
So perhaps with the longer days and another shove from Pat, I can extricate myself from the recliner. And soon I’ll be replacing the TV remote with a fly rod. 
Maybe my case of the winter doldrums has been broken. 
Can a Maine Spring be that far away? I think not..

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"Our" Islands..Sears...

Dear Islander, I envy you: I'm very fond of islands, too.."  Edna St. Vincent Millay
It wasn't that long ago....
Has it really been that long a leap from the warmth of summer to the cold of a January day, in the new year? Not a long leap at all but more of a quick jump from July to January, or so it seems.  Back on those high days of summer, plans were being made... routes drawn... ferry schedules perused... tide tables considered.  All of this considerable "work" , is really more a labor of love. And love it we do. Whether we travel to the islands on our boat or as passengers on one of the many ferries that ply the coastal waters. Either .. or .. is good in our book.
So I thought that since it may be a while before we get to feel the salt spray in our face, I'll spend sometime reviewing a few of the islands that we, as Millay says,  are "very fond of" as well.

It's always best to start closest to home and since we call Belfast home , that starting point will be our "go to" island when time is short... Sears Island.
Sears Island is only 5 miles by boat from the Belfast Public Landing and usually it's a very pleasant boat ride but when the ocean breezes pick up those measly miles can mean a wet, bumpy ride.
We usually head over to Searsport first to check out the ships docked at Mack Point and then follow the westerly shoreline of the island. Years ago, before the causeway was built, there was just a gravel bar that was exposed at low tide. And I've heard tell that some intrepid souls actually drove over the bar only to get stranded on the island after losing track of time and tide. At high tide small boats could actually shoot over the bar and make it to the backside of Sears. It was shallow and rocky in spots but it could be done.
Often times we will beach our boat on that western shore, hopefully on an incoming tide which eliminates the potential of being one of those stranded, lost souls as in days of yore.
Our pups love to run around a bit and do some exploring on the mix of mud, sand, seaweed and rocks.
Boyd on Sears Island (fly removed) 
And since that side of the island doesn't seem to get as many beachcombers as the eastern side,  we pretty much have it to ourselves.  One of the many great things about salt water boating is that you never know what a new tide has brought onto shore.  We will spend some time strolling around, looking for bits of sea glass or a shell of some sort,  enjoying the great view of Turtlehead to the south.
Turtlehead 08 
And on a warm summer evening its a great spot to watch the sun dipping below the Belfast horizon.
The waters surrounding the island is a favorite of the local fishermen to set their lobster pots, with a good cluster of them hugging the southern point of the island.
On the eastern shore you can find one of the better beaches around, which over looks Cape Jellison and Stockton Springs Harbor. This is a fine spot to hang out. And on those really hot summer's days, take a dip or rest in the afternoon shade.  
There are also the remains of an old wharf which is used as a nesting area for local seabirds including ospreys. 
So Sears is our first go to spot and we are very fortunate indeed to have it in our own backyard.

Next up Islesboro..

Monday, December 30, 2013

Through The Years With Ray

Well yesterday was a very big day around here. 
For those of you who don't know ( I can't imagine anyone who knows us won't know)  ...
 a regular theme of maine-matters is dog related. For dogs are a huge part of Pat's and my lives.  We've both grown up with dogs and have been blessed with many special ones and a few knuckleheads as well.
I can't speak for Pat but for me none have been more special then Ray who celebrated his 10th birthday yesterday. We call him our marshmellow boy because he is soft and sensitive and a worry wart and loving and kind and gentle and intelligent...and..and........
Anyways.. here are some pictures of Big Ray..Through The Years...
Above and to the right:His first days home


To the to college..Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Right: Flying didn't go so well for Ray..but it worked out well for us

When he's not doing this..

He's acting silly...

Or getting some sniffs from Penobscot Bay when we are out boating...

and keeping a watchful eye out on his kibble pouch.

So Happy Birthday Big Ray. 
You've enriched our lives beyond description.
Thank you for being you!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Powerless In Maine..Blessings..

We received the best Christmas present yesterday afternoon.. "our" power and the gift of a warming and lighted home..electricity returned to our neighborhood around 2:30 shortly after a rescue crew from New York showed up in our driveway.

We were without for 47 hours. But even through the relief I felt, a sense of guilt tempered my joy...for there are still over 6,000 Waldo County residents without electricity and statewide over 24,000, well down from the previous totals. However these falling statistics provide no comfort for those still sitting in a heat-less, dark home.

So my thoughts go out to them along with my my hopes that they won't have to endure another cold Maine night without "their" power.

Perhaps when, not if, the next ice storm hits us we will be better prepared. But I do know this for sure..I will be counting the blessings that I have in my life. Blessings that no storm can turn out.

Thanks so much to the power crews from all over the Northeast that gave up their family Christmas so that we could have ours. But most of all thanks to my family, both blood and extended, and friends  for providing us both physical and emotional shelter against the storm.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Powerless In Maine..Part Of The Deal


    Well here I sit using a laptop by candlelight, an odd combination of old and new.  Our power went out yesterday afternoon around 3PM . And we are just one of nearly 79,000 households and businesses in mid-Maine that are without electricity, with no realistic hope of getting re-energized before Christmas. 

Or so "they" say.  

    Our newly installed, propane fired, Mr. Heater is cranked. The worse part right now? coffee.. Life in Maine..I guess this is part of the deal..

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Stalking The Wild Christmas Tree

On a recent bright and sunny but frigid day we  (me , the wifey, and Big Ray), spent an invigorating hour or so on our almost annual wild Christmas tree hunt. This tradition has been passed down for years through the tangled generational limbs of my family tree and I'm sure that my father and ancestors before him never paid for a Christmas tree. No such concept existed in the old man's consciousness. But I confess that the giving of compensation to someone for a harvested tree is something not alien to me. 

 But not on this frosty morning, during this Christmas season. So with trusty bow saw in hand we hit the trail..
With Big Ray on high alert for new sniffs, critters and any hand movements on Pat's part toward the direction of his kibble pouch, we worked our way down the trail..looking for just the right one. No Charlie Brown tree this year. At least we hoped not.
 In the past we would normally do our tree hunt during bird season  when we could find our fir without the boughs being weighed down with snow. Of course this is a great technique as long as you remember where it was. Somehow they can look different in December then in October.  However we did not do that this year and our search was complicated a bit by the recent snow we had received.

Regardless of the cold temp, coldest of this new winter season,
(so far)
the beauty of the newly fallen snow on the evergreens was undeniable. It's so nice to see green in December.

Finally our choice was made and we were on our way back home with our 2013 Christmas Tree in tow.
Once again the family tradition has been renewed and hopefully there will be at least a few more Christmas seasons to continue to do so.