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.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Zed The Birthday Boy

We got a very nice note yesterday from our boy Zed who is at the Guiding Eyes For The Blind campus in Yorktown Heights New York.

For those of you who may not know, Zed was the puppy that we raised before our present one, Bailey. Zed is in college learning to be a guide dog and apparently is very much enjoying his college experience and path toward a higher calling. 

He just had his 2nd birthday and to include us in the celebration he sent along the following:
Hi Everyone!

    My friends here at the Training School took my picture on my birthday! We are sending you a copy so you can see what fun it was! They even gave my roommate and me a special treat to celebrate! I am working very hard and having a lot of fun learning everything I need to know. Tell all my friends at home hello! Love, Zed

We miss you Zed and are thinking of you.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Monhegan Part III

Moving on ...
 After our "moment" on the cliffs we backtracked the village

Past the famous Wyeth "Red House"...

 and the weather worn "Monhegan House".
 To a well deserved break at the newly opened
"Monhegan Brewing Company" for a refreshing Trap Stacker Special Ale.

 Working our way back to the boat landing we had enough time to enjoy some of the delightful scenes on that beautiful autumn day..
 The soft afternoon sunlight and lengthening shadows playing on the buildings and landscape makes it quite obvious why Monhegan has inspired artists for so long.
 Soon our ride back to the mainland approached and our short visit to Monhegan was almost at an end.
Sitting at the stern on the Elizabeth Ann and watching Monhegan slowly disappear in her wake, we bid farewell to the "out to sea" island. And hoping it won't be too long before we can return to enjoy her charms once again.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Monhegan Island Part II

As I was saying...

It was a beautiful Columbus and my intrepid hiking companions and I were at last disembarking The Elizabeth Ann at the Monhegan town pier.

For those of you who have never been to the island, it is a throwback to a Maine of long ago, most of which has been lost on the mainland. Although only 12 miles away from modern Maine, Monhegan is an insulated time capsule of Maine.... 
Maine back in the day.

A place of dirt roads like the main thoroughfare leading us away from the town landing..

To quiet country lanes barely wide enough for one of the few vehicles on the island,  beat up lobstermen pickups that travel these paths at a breakneck speed of 5 MPH.


It's a place of hand painted signs...

and one of the loveliest lighthouse settings on the Maine coast (which is not really located on the coast at all) 
but rather on top of a rocky bluff in the middle of Monhegan.

And from which unfolds a majestic view of the Atlantic and the village, which is nestled beneath that rocky bluff,  offering it much needed protection from, what I can assume, are some pretty nasty winter storms blowing in off the sea.  We followed the path leading down to the village cemetery to browse the headstones and monuments, pausing to have lunch which consisted of my regular hiking standby..a PB&J. 
As we were sitting in the warm sun, sheltered by that rocky bluff, I couldn't help but think....what a fine spot to spend eternity, looking out over the village and on, toward the sea.


After eating however we were at a quandary about which trail to follow.  And having forgotten our our trail maps at home (that would be me) , we ended up back in the village near the town library..


almost opposite of the one room (?) schoolhouse.


Having gotten our bearings back, and with the assistance of a kind but somewhat bemused native islander, we headed back up that same rocky bluff, following one of the trails to the outer edge of the island,  the highest ocean cliffs on the Maine coastline.


That was the "the"  moment.. on that calm and fine fall day.. looking out over the the company of close friends...well, frankly I'm at a loss for words, now and then.
But as they say, "all good things must end" OR " time and tide (and The Elizabeth Ann) wait for no man".  it was time to move on for there was lots more to see on the "out to sea island" before we re-boarded. 
To be continued...................

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sad Day...Another Boating Season Gone

It's a sad day...
I've officially given up on the 2013 boating season..the signs are everywhere...

From floats stacked in parking lots at the Belfast Public Landing to my driveway..

where the winterization process has begun as I took advantage of a luke warm day yesterday and gave The Rebel Sport a thorough washing and waxing, which took most of the day.

All the boating gear was removed and the front of the trailer was jacked up to drain out as much bilge water as possible.
This weekend the process will be finished with a complete interior cleaning and vacuuming. And once she's nestled into her garage birth, the batteries will come out. And there she'll sit for 5 months or more. (I hope not that long!)

So that will be it..and if the Good Lord is willing, we'll be back out on the Maine waters come next April or May.

Until then..

Monday, October 21, 2013

New Fly Rod About To Be Released Onto The Market

Bound to happen...the fly rod of the future?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Making It To Monhegan Part 1

Monhegan Island, the "out to sea island"...aptly named...

It was a lovely Columbus Day. Converging on The Monhegan Boat Line wharf in Port Clyde, my traveling companions and I were excited to board The Elizabeth Ann for the approximately 1 hour, 12 mile trip.

This was the inviting scene that presented itself to us...a beautiful, calm morning in Port Clyde with not a person to be seen on the wharf. Of course that would soon change with an assortment of passengers ranging from dogs, to day hikers, to residents, to banged up lobster fisherman returning to the island after some mainland treatment.

After a last cup of coffee from the general store we impatiently waited for our ride to pick us up for the lovely ride out to the island.  But in the time that we had we were able to sit and enjoy our surroundings on a lovely Maine coast morning. Port Clyde is much different in the warm weather than in winter but still hasn't lost it's old time Maine feeling. We would experience much more of that when we at last got to our destination.


 Years ago on my only other trip to Monhegan our ride was The Laura B which has always looked to me to be a converted sardine carrier.  But The Elizabeth Ann was our ride this morning.

Leaving the inner harbor behind us we churned past Marshall Point Lighthouse. This 24 foot, "new" tower was built in 1858 and had a keeper until 1971 when it was automated.

 After about an hour's ride over slightly choppy seas and through a maze of lobster buoys, we were closing in on Manana ( or "Hermit" ) Island where goats still graze its weathered surface.


And off to our port side lay our destination.
 Soon we would be tied up to the town dock and ready to start our day of discovery on the
dusty lanes lanes and trails of Monhegan Island. We were ready!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pheasant Hunting..Days Long Past

  The year was 1959 or so..(maybe give or take a bit) and it was bird season. My father and I would often take advantage of those precious weeks of fall, those few days between the closing of fishing season  and the opening of deer season , to enjoy some bird hunting.
We didn't have setters, or pointers, or retrievers. Dad was a beagle man.  We beat the brush to flush out a partridge or woodcock or scoured an old field for pheasant and we did our own retrieving.
Often we would head out for Frye Mountain in search of the noble ring-necked.  The aristocrat of sporting birds.
(Frye Mtn. is now a WMA and now noted for it's grouse hunting.)

    Not only did we love to dine on pheasant  but my father would enjoy using the browns, and reds and florescent green feathers at his fly tying desk. He was always concocting a new, sure-fire fly to out-wit his favorite, finny quarry..the Atlantic Salmon.

    Dad's favorite shotgun for bird hunting was his Remington Model 11. He really loved that shotgun and would even occasionally use it for deer hunting.  Loaded it with deer slugs it was a mighty weapon with awesome stopping power.  Anyways being deemed way too young to tote around a formidable weapon like Dad's, I nevertheless did not leave our house unarmed.   

(Note my trusty BB gun in the porch boot box.)
 So now as the days of September are dying, with a chill in the morning air, and the leaves starting to show some color here on the mid-coast, my thoughts go back to those precious few weeks of those autumn's past. 

Tramping thru field and forest with my father, shotgun cradled in the crook of his arm, puffing on his pipe, sun shining warmly on our faces, thinking how absolutely perfect it all was. I sit here writing this, some 50 plus years removed, I'm not sure if that is what I was thinking at all. Can a 10-year-old boy put his life  in such a perspective? 

But looking back on those Days Long Past.......

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Hike Along The Brooks Esker

Not long ago, during one of those picture perfect weekends that we've, rather infrequently had here on the mid-coast, my faithful companion Ray and I hiked a portion of The Brooks Esker Trail. 

Driving in to the trail head you realize why it was named as it is. The access road actually runs along the top of a long gravel sand bar, the esker, that was formed during a past ice age.

The land that the trail is located on is private property with the accompanying signs of private ownership, meaning locked gates. But don't be deterred, the owner of the property allows public access and your rewards will be many.

The "trail" is actually a gravel road that follows along the shoreline of Ellis Pond.

It's a lovely, shaded walk with easy footing accompanied by the sounds of an occasional loon and the fragrance of evergreens.

 But be alert as this property is a working forest with evidence of that work deposited at various intervals along the trail.

There are plenty of opportunities for a thirsty and hot labrador retriever to get a drink or a quick swim.

It's roughly a 2 mile walk into Halfmoon Pond but Ray and I began to hear the sounds of wood harvesters up ahead. Deciding not to intrude on their operations we stopped at about the half way point, a small, somewhat worn torn, work bridge that spans a small brook.

On the way back to the parking area we took a small trail that shoots off from the woods road. With it's carpet of soft needles dropped by a large gnarly, weathered pine tree, the scene could be ripped from a Robert Frost poem. 

In an open area we came across a small berry patch with a few blackberries still on the vine in various stages of ripening.

A lovely hike and highly recommended..