Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bailey's Doing Great In College

For those of you who occasionally read maine-matters you would be aware that my wife and I (95%  wife / 5% me) are puppy raisers for Guiding Eyes For The Blind out of Yorktown Heights New York.  "We've" (meaning Pat) raised many potential guide dogs in the past and the latest one to leave home for college is Bailey..

(Of course this is when we first got him..I couldn't resist..)

Our update we got from the training center is that Bailey is doing wonderfully and a pleasure to work with.

So our boy is doing great and making his parents very proud.
Keep up the good work son!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Well, Here We Go Again...Introducing Andre..

 Introducing Andre. Number 16?
This little boy could find no home..sad..sad..sad..
 But luckily, and in the nick of time, Pat escaped with him..
Soon he was home with us, and with his big brother Ray showing him the ropes, Andre is already learning the drill. He's a very good student...
Welcome Home Andre!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Number 15 (or is it 16) Off To College


 It seemed only a few months ago when this little guy joined our family.  He was the 15th (or maybe loose track after a dozen or so) Guiding Eyes For The Blind pups that have landed on our doorstep for their puppy boot camp.

Of course in addition to the everyday honing of his socialization skills and the many training sessions which were provided by my wife Pat, a talented and experienced puppy educator,  Bailey accompanined us almost everywhere. 

He went on our hikes, to our family functions, to our visits to Reny's and L.L. Bean. He went with us on most of our dining out occasions, finding an appropriate spot curled up under our table.  

And of course he went with us on the many boat rides that we made on Penobscot Bay and the various lakes near and not so near our home in Belfast.
And on those very first boat rides, it didn't take long for him to figure out that if he stuck close to Ray there was good potential for a kibble to be coming his way.

It wasn't long before he made himself at home and became an integral part of our lives. And in short time maturing into a fine and very handsome boy...
And now he's off doing his career far things are going good for Bailey and we are anxiously awaiting his first Report Card..

And yes..It was very hard to let him go. As it was for the past 14 or 15. Not all of them graduated but that didn't diminish the joy and love that they added to our lives.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mid Summer Belfast Bay Cruise

With a very light SW-rly breeze, an incoming tide and flat water, conditions were just about as good as they can get for a small boat on Penobscot Bay, a very small portion of which is considered Belfast Bay.  One advantage of small boating is that is can be done quicker than you can say "red on right returning" . A simple hookup to the trailer..a short hop to the boat ramp and soon you find yourself under Rt. 1 looking to Little River Dam...
Moving down shore we were soon abreast of the summer community of Bayside..
with the many upturned, small  boats looking much like sunning harbor seals...
As I said before, flat water, and that means a quick, full throttled hop to Islesboro and Grindle Point Lighthouse and base of operations for the Islesboro Ferry..
Working our way toward Broad Cove, there's no mistaking what this harbor is about (other than transporting flat-landers to their summer places on the island).. And for those of you flat-landery, touristy folks who don't know what this is..
Here are a couple of clues...
and this..
We were soon back into Belfast for some observations of the busy goings on in our now bustling inner harbor.
I wonder if this is where the above is heading (the lobster not the lobsterman) for its  date with the cooker?
The inner harbor is packed with mostly pleasure craft of all sizes, types and shapes..
But fortunately Belfast still retains a portion of it's old, working harbor nature..we haven't given up the ghost totally to the Thurston Howell III types..yet..
And that's it..
Back to the ramp and quickly loading the boat back onto the trailer..
a great cruise was had by all... small boating at it's finest..

Monday, July 28, 2014

Roach River at Kokadjo.."Pop. Not Many"

Earlier this month and on the way to Spencer Pond, for a few days off the grid , we found ourselves in the "village" of Kokadjo.
Lying east of Moosehead Lake  and 18 miles north of Greenville, this tiny outpost's claim to fame is The Roach River. And along with Grand Lake Stream, the East Outlet, the West Branch, the Upper Dam pool and a few others, The Roach is one of Maine's premier fly fishing waters.
It begins at the outlet dam
at First Roach Pond
 which I hear is in itself a great spot to drag a Grey Ghost right after ice out. Check out the trophy fish hanging on the wall of The Kokadjo Trading Post, if you have doubts.
The  nearly 7 mile long river makes it way thru the Maine woods
eventually dumping into Moosehead Lake. (Another great story about fantastic Maine fishing spots..)
The Roach is fly fishing and catch and release only with a convenient starting point being the Dam and Dump Pools..
We found just two fly fishermen only at these popular spots testifying that the fishing pressure during the first week of July is a tad different than May or September.
Much of the fishing can be done by wading, accessing the different pools via bushwhacked trails along it's length. And while you're there,  be on the lookout for one of Maine's most sought after attractions..moose.
But be careful when driving as this sign warns..
This was a short 2 day family outing to the wilds of Maine. And on top of that we spent one of those days  hunkering down during  tropical storm Arthur's visit.  Consequently there was very little fishing done but that will change come September, on my next visit to Kokajdo.
.....population not many.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie...Camp Style

We were back at pie was our desert while spending the weekend..the Arthur Spencer Pond Cabins, northeast of Lily Bay, Moosehead Lake..
Last summer we tried our hand and blueberry pie..on the shore in front of our cottage in Gouldsboro.  This year it was strawberry - rhubarb. The sweet and tangy combination that cries out ...summertime..
The first thing that is necessary is of course the cooking coals..Begin with separate piles , one which will be used underneath and on top of the cast iron dutch oven. The other pile is to be used as replacements for the ones that burn down as cooking progresses..
Once your ingredients are prepared, according to your favorite recipe, the pie is placed into the dutch oven on top of a strip of folded up aluminum foil which will be used as a hot pie extractor. Of course if you have more discipline than we do.. (more on that in a bit).. and let the pie cool inside the oven you'll be able to skip the foil extractor step altogether.
Next placement of coals..I'm sure there must be a formula correlating the number of coals to get the oven up to cooking temp. 6 underneath? 12 on the lid? More..less?  We don't know..we just wing it..
And of course we yield to temptation..lifting the lid ( a huge no-no) to check on the progress to get a whiff of the fusing, melting, sweet mass of bubbling goodness contained within...
And when it is deemed done..with golden crust and lava like behavior spilling out of the cracks in the crust (pie not earth), we'll set it aside to "simmer" a little longer..but not a lot longer..
Shortly..back into camp and then on the rest further?
I guess that's appropriate but...
(Here's where the lack of discipline comes in....)
We just can't do it...and so instead of a perfectly triangular shaped pie wedge with the fruit just barely oozing out of the open wound..our still hot mass of goodness sits like a blob on our plate..
but man..oh good it is...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Retrieve? I think not..

Retrieve? I think not..

Deciding to get out and about before the hiking trail got busy and before the heat started to build, Big Ray and I took an early morning walk yesterday on The Little River Upper Reservoir Trail.
Labradors are of course known for their affinity to retrieving and consequently,  swimming. 

But try as I might Big Ray decided on a simple belly chill down. As you can see at the end he was rewarded for his independent thinking…

And now that his little brother Bailey is back from his working vacation, and who does stay true to his retrieving instincts, perhaps the friendly competition that develops between them will result in some actual swimming for big marshmallow puppy..

Saturday, May 3, 2014

It's A Start...

Once again my annual spring kickoff coincides with the appearance of the lowly but lovely and delicious..fiddlehead

An ever watchful Ray and I


 were off on our quest this week to "our" favorite spot to check on the status of the delicate and delectable early spring Maine morsel.

The conditions this cold and wet spring have been ideal with lots of runoff that has flooded over the beds and deposited a new layer of stream silt and sand in which fiddleheads seem to thrive .


And to our delight we were rewarded with a small area of the protruding, onion skinned covered "greens". I'm not really sure if they are "greens" (like dandelion and beet)  but they sure are green against the browns and greys of an immature spring.

Any fiddleheader , who's worth their salt pork, knows that they are the best when still tightly curled up and still in their fiddlehead form.

In short order we had accomplished what we came for...

Our first mess of fiddleheads..

And soon they were cleaned and ready for the pot and our supper table.



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..