Archive for July, 2011

Jockette Wannabe

Horseshoe Pond, Lovell ME. Our house sits in the mountains furthest in the distance, but due to heavy foliage we can only see a sliver of the lake in winter from our property.

As a frumpy lady in my 50s, I’d hardly qualify as jock material.  But today, I came close.

In the morning we went to Horseshoe Pond in Lovell, ME, which is located about 4 miles as the crow flies from our house.  Although we didn’t catch any fish, it was just gorgeous paddling weather.  The breeze kept the bugs away; the sun shone brightly but never got hotter than 78 degrees; the sky was blue and the mountains green.  We stayed on the water for 4 hours!

A dragonfly visits my kayak. (They don't bite or sting, but they do eat bugs that do!)

Multitasking: my husband fishes with one hand and operates his ham radio with the other

We returned home but after the past two days when temps soared into the 90s, and finally the heat wave broke, I just couldn’t let the day go.  So I drove to Keywadin Lake in Stoneham ME, about 5 miles from my house, for an afternoon swim in the surprisingly warm, magnificently clean fresh water.  I brought along my dog but try as I might, I cannot interest him in swimming.  He’s fine about going into the water, but as soon as he gets deep enough where his feet can’t touch the bottom, he panics and heads for shore.  He does know how to swim, but he just doesn’t like it.  I’ve even tried putting a doggy life vest on him to boost his confidence, but it didn’t help.

Loon on Horseshoe Pond. They dive quite deep for fish, and stay completely immersed under water for up to 90 seconds.

I returned home around 6:30 p.m., but once again, I just couldn’t let the day go.  Through sheer will I stretched the daylight and my energy reserves a little longer.  I hopped on my bike and rode to the Inn up the road, all around Evergreen Valley, past babbling brooks and trout streams, open vistas and mountain views.  It just doesn’t get better than this!  HaShem made our world so beautiful.  I am ever grateful to be able to experience it so intensely.

Feeling very blessed and appreciative that my spouse and I enjoy spending so much time together!

How the “locals” stay cool

(no, this is not my house)

There Are Worms in My Fridge!

Police in this neck of the woods may be non-existent, but woe to the smart aleck who tries to fish without a license.  Game wardens (rangers that carry big guns and arrest poachers) patrol lakes, ponds, rivers and hidden fishing holes seeking the less-than-law-abiding, who get slapped with a hefty fine.

For Maine residents, a fishing license is a very small expense, and probably 99% of the population in rural Maine carries a fishing license in their wallets.    For those of us who aren’t full-time Maine state residents, a year-long, non-resident fishing license is so pricey that you’d have to catch an entire pondful of trout before it paid for itself.  Non-resident  hunting and fishing licenses are a major source of income for the State of Maine.

I splurged and bought my husband a fishing license.  This was to supplement the gift of a fishing rod he had received as a token of appreciation from his former place of employment for his many years of service (he was let go shortly thereafter; perhaps it was a sign).  The problem was that he didn’t know how to fish.


To catch fish, you need bait.  I wasn’t particularly interested in digging for worms, so I went to our local convenience store in search of live fish bait.  Until now, the only items of interest to me at the convenience store were milk, eggs, and newspapers.  Had you told me a year ago that I would be having a serious discussion with a convenience store owner about the merits of  trout worms (small) vs. dillies (medium) vs. night crawlers (large), I would have thought you were crazy.  The bait was packaged in those small round plastic containers that you get when you buy chopped liver and coleslaw from your local deli.  The containers are kept in the store’s refrigerated section, between the soda cans and the milk.  The very name “night crawlers” sounded too much like the subject of a horror movie, so I bought the dillies, whose very name implied liveliness.  The dillies were fresh, all right – when I opened the lid and peered bravely inside, they were squirming robustly.  I quickly replaced the lid and made my way home.

“Eeyew!” my husband cried, “I’m not touching those!”  I asked him how he expected to catch a fish without putting the worm on the hook.  “I never thought of that,” he admitted, “but there’s just no way.”

So we made a deal.  I became the hook-baiter (at least that sounds better than “the hooker”); he would clean all the fish we caught.  (Spoiler alert: my husband got the waaay better deal.)

We went to the lake closest to our house, put our kayaks in the water, and balancing the paddle and the fishing rod, my husband handed me the rod.  I put the squirming worm daintily on the end of the hook, being extra gentle with its impalement.

Fortunately, the worms were odorless.  Surprisingly, they weren’t the least bit slimy, either – they felt like rubber.  They didn’t ooze.  I could handle this!

my rite of passage: baiting the hook

But apparently my technique lacked finesse.  It wasn’t long before my husband felt a tug on his line.  Excitedly, he reeled in his fish only to find a hook devoid of both a fish and a worm  The trout were wily, and one had nibbled the worm right off the hook.

Trying to catch a fish in Virginia Lake, Maine. One of the most unspoiled lakes in the area, almost always devoid of people.

Despite multiple attempts at threading the hook through the worm, the fish won every time.  On the final worm of the day, it was so well wrapped around the hook that the fish would have needed hands  to pry it off.  But by then the fish weren’t biting.  We came home empty-handed.

I hear worms are a useful addition to the compost pile .  The next container of dillies I buy will surely die of old age.

Cooling off in Kewaydin Lake, ME: the nice thing about lakes in Maine is that there are so many of them, and most have no people around!

L’Chaim: 39 Pounds of Love

Ami, thank you for restoring hope and love, faith and joy.

This is probably the most profound documentary I’ve ever seen. It plays for 1 hr 10 min.


My own cynicism and disillusionment is scaring me.  I am reading article after article in Jewish media, correctly praising the unity shown by Jews of all stripes who volunteered countless hours to search and pray for Leiby Kletzsky Hy”d.  I think back to the other times Jews have shown such unity, and I can only come up with tragedy upon tragedy as catalysts.

I am cynical because despite our promises to ourselves that this time it will be different, within hours, days or weeks, we fall back into the same pattern of sinas chinam and machlokes (baseless hatred and arguments).  “This is nothing new,”  my husband says.  “We’ve been doing this for 2,000 years.”  His comment fills me with despair.

While it’s comforting to know that HaShem has more faith in the Jewish People than I do, that He is willing to put up with this behavior for 2,000+ years, I wonder why we just don’t get it.  Why can’t we unite under happy and everyday circumstances?  Why does it take tragedy for us to come together, to stop judging self-righteously?  If this “potch” doesn’t serve its purpose, how much more severe will our dose of reality have to be before a long-lasting change will take place?

When my daughter lived in a place far from a mainstream Orthodox Jewish community early in her marriage, she made an interesting comment.  I had asked if she was lonely, because there was no one with whom she really had anything in common, due to age or background.

“It’s a funny thing, but I find myself being friends with people of all ages, even though they really aren’t my ‘type.’  I guess beggars can’t be choosers!  When you’re living far from your usual comfort zone, you tend to reach out to people more, and they to you.  I don’t know if these people will be life-long friends, but it’s given me the opportunity to get to know people I ordinarily would not have met.  People have been really nice!”

A confession:  I know in my heart that running off to rural Maine, to a place mostly devoid of my fellow landsmen, is a cowardly act.  It’s easy to be a positive, pleasant person when you don’t have to interact with others.  There cannot be shul politics without a shul!  There is no shidduch crisis, no tuition woes, no racial tension nor overt anti-Semitism.  No one cares if I’m an FFB or BT (frum from birth/ba’al teshuva).  Frankly, it’s liberating.  It’s tranquil.  I also realize it’s not real life; that Jewish continuity depends on community.

It seems clear that major tragic events in Jewish history, despite the resulting, temporary unity, will not bring Redemption.  I’m willing to bet that if we treat each other properly and with respect on a daily basis in mundane, everyday circumstances, Mashiach will come.  Only when we come together as a People in good times as well as bad will we merit celebrating the ultimate Redemption.

Why is this so terribly difficult?