Posts Tagged ‘Maine’

Wicked Cold

20160213_225428_resized.jpgIn the six years we’ve been in Maine, the coldest it’s ever gotten with wind chill factored in is -45F.  Right now it’s -12 outside, but the wind is blowing with several major gusts.  I recorded -55F.  Then I decided to press the “recall” button on our anemometer to see what I might have missed.  At 10:33 p.m. it was -67F with windchill!  That’s our newest record.  It will be fun to see what tomorrow brings, as the coldest part of a day is usually right before sunrise.

Our woodstove is serving us well, and currently is our only source of heat (we have radiant hydronic PEX heat under the concrete floor that can be used as a backup or boost, but it just hasn’t been necessary) .  Inside it’s a cozy 70F.  The fantastic closed-cell spray-foam insulation we used at the time of construction is proving that it was worth every penny.  Our house is airtight with no leaky drafts, and nice and cozy, easily retaining the heat from the woodstove and in the daytime, from passive solar.  I don’t expect to use more than  1 ½ – 2 cords of wood over the course of the entire winter (1 cord = 4′ x 4′ x 8′ of split and stacked wood). Considering the wood comes from our own land, it’s not a bad deal.

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Walking and Rocking

The last few days have been torture.  Not because it was too cold (not that -31 F with wind chill factored in is fun, but you can always dress for cold), but because the unceasing, extremely high winds meant that there were lots of flying debris outside, making it unsafe to walk through the woods.  My very strong, fortress-built home actually shook and rattled for three days nonstop; the wind howled and often woke me up at night.  Lots of trees down (nothing major on our property, thankfully). Fortunately we were unaffected by any power outages since our house is run on batteries and we do have a back-up generator if necessary.

While “housebound,” I used the time to cook, bake and clean.  I did a little strength training with dumbbells but really my body just did not get the necessary amount of exercise and boy, did I feel blah.  My old bones and muscles were stiff; I  needed to move.  Fortunately today the sun came out, the wind died down, and I was able to go for a 4-mile walk (it was a pleasant, sunny 20 degrees F).  Unusual for me, since I prefer listening to the sounds of nature,  I walked with headphones plugged into Adele.   And suddenly, I don’t know, the music just took over.  I started jogging, then skipping, which segued into dancing.  There I was, this grey-haired grandmother, bundled up in Polartec and looking like a penguin, and I’m jumping, twirling, turning, high-stepping, and rocking out on my country road, just me and Adele.  And here is what is great:  I felt totally free. No one was around.  The trees didn’t think I was weird.  Oh, my kids would have thought me ready for the asylum had they seen me.  But it felt great.

2015 Maine Moose Factoids

The tallies are in.  According to the Maine Department of Transportation, as of September 2015 (the end of the fiscal year as far as moose statistics go) there were 327 car-moose collisions.  Fifty-five of those accidents resulted in human injuries, including one fatality.  Here is a photo supplied by the Portland Press Herald of one such collision, in which the body of the moose sheared off the roof of the car upon collision.  Incredibly, the driver of the car walked away without a scratch; but the front-seat passenger suffered severe brain injury.  Despite a gruesome prognosis, she is making a slow but miraculous recovery.  The crash did not occur along a deserted rural Maine road; it happened on the I-95 Maine Turnpike. The moose was killed upon impact.

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The picture shows precisely why car-moose collisions are often fatal for humans.  Unlike deer, which hit the car’s grill, a moose is dramatically taller, bigger, and exponentially heavier.  The impact is usually at a vehicle’s windshield or roof level.  Basically the bulkiest part of the moose’s  1000 – 1500 lb body ends up in the driver’s lap, often crushing the riders to death.

Liars Club

From our local rural library’s January newsletter:

New Monthly Program:

The Liar’s Club

Friday January 15 at 12 pm

Do you like to tell or listen to stories?  Do you want to remember more stories from your own life?  Pack a lunch and come to the Liar’s Club!

(Why do I think most of the stories will be about hunting or fishing and the one that got away . . .)

Catching Up

It’s been many months since I’ve posted in this blog.  So much has happened.  In the summer, our grandchildren came for their annual Camp Savta visit, reveling in all that Maine’s White Mountains have to offer and forming memories that will be part of our legacy to them long after we’re gone from this earth.

Sadly, in September our dog Spencer died.  He was 12, and had cancer.  It’s always tough to know when to let a dog go.  On three occasions I made an appointment for euthanization after his having had a bad day, only to cancel because the next day he woke up cheery and improved.  Only days before he died he enjoyed a hike (albeit shorter in distance and less strenuous than his usual) and several visits to the lake for wading and ball-chasing.  Although he had slowed down somewhat and tired more easily, he definitely continued to live joyfully, with dignity, and without complaint.   Then one day, it was grossly apparent that there would be no more “good” days, and I called the vet, who graciously came to our home where he died in my arms.  I’m still not over it, and realize that I simply cannot be dog-less.  I’ve actively been looking for the right Standard Poodle to fill the empty place in my heart, but after a dog like Spencer, not just any dog will do, so I’m proceeding cautiously (I am looking for a rescue or rehome, not a fancy puppy).

I’ve also been spending a good deal of time in my home town, far from Maine.  Although I do enjoy spending time with my grandchildren there, it’s always very stressful for me to return.  So many negative things happen to me whenever I’m in my hometown, it’s surreal; it’s as if G-d Himself is telling me to get the heck out of Dodge (perhaps in a future blog I will write about some of my more harrowing experiences there).  But there are positive things, too:  Jewish holidays shared with family and friends; time spent celebrating a very special wedding under unusual and very emotional circumstances (I’m not ready to write about this in detail); working out at a gym for seniors where every day is filled with personal stories of optimism, positivity, strength, and recovery from major illness or age-related setbacks (so unlike the typical gym which instead concentrates on competition, envy, body image and jockhood); and most important, making the decision to sell our house.

I realized that even if our plans to live elsewhere wouldn’t work out, I do not wish to return to our home town.  Living in Maine has taught me that one has choices when one feels “stuck,” although change is not easy and requires a dose of courage.  I do not regret settling in our hometown for our children’s sake twenty-six years ago; their childhood was basically happy and they’ve gone on as married adults with children of their own to establish deep ties to their friends, workplaces, and community.  But for me it never felt like home socially, culturally nor spiritually.  Enough is enough.

I’ve spent many weeks cleaning, de-cluttering, donating, selling, or throwing out “stuff.”  One of the biggest surprises is my reaction to sorting through thousands of photos of family, and photos of dozens of past excursions and camping trips around the United States.  I thought it would be a fun trip down memory lane, but instead I’m finding it’s an emotional exploration of the past and I can only handle an hour a day or else I am overwhelmed and mentally overloaded. I’ve been divvying the relevant photos out to my kids from when they were babies, but throwing away scenic pictures of Mt. Rushmore, the Rockies, Yellowstone, and California et al. What I can’t bear to part with, I scan, and then toss the originals.

I’ve been painting and freshening interior rooms; I hired someone to install new carpet, and am only awaiting rain-less, warmer days to hire a painter to paint the exterior, so we can put our hometown house on the market.  Despite the rising crime rates, it seems that people are clamoring to buy houses in our neighborhood.  It’s also kind of nice, now that I’ve decluttered so dramatically, to realize that we literally have nothing of value left to steal.

It seems ironic and pointless to own jewelry that makes me a target for mugging and therefore cannot be enjoyed because it sits in a safety deposit box. Our few heirlooms were recently bestowed to my children (most of my jewelry was stolen long ago, so there is little to impart), a process my son felt must be “bittersweet” for us.  In fact, it was liberating, and it felt good to know that there would be no resultant bickering about who gets what after we’re gone from this world.  And this realization:  I no longer need the things that seemed so important to me in my younger days.  I actually had fun buying costume jewelry to wear with a dressy outfit at the wedding mentioned above, knowing that it cost only $10 and I didn’t have to be on high alert.  (Another realization:  unlike my life in my hometown, the only dressy outfit a rural Mainer owns will be worn on two occasions: to his/her wedding, and his/her funeral).

While this is hardly a full account of how I’ve spent the past several months, it does signal my return to more frequent blogging.  I hope that someday (until 120 in good health, as we Jews say), this blog will mean more to my descendants than a piece of jewelry and will be a reflection of my true legacy to them.

 

Maine Factoids with Zest

I love freebies as much as the next person, so I was happy to pick up a gratis copy of Zest Magazine, written for and by Maine foodies and hipsters, at our little local country market/convenience store.  (It’s available at Hannafords supermarket, Whole Foods, Barnes & Noble and local Maine book stores.)  While I didn’t care much for the style of writing, which tried a little too hard to sound au courant and cool but in fact was yet another example of dumbed-down conversational English that has no place in old-school journalism (okay, they’re not old school, but this reader most definitely is), the articles were truly diverse and interesting and Maine-centric, and the photography is gorgeous.

I learned:

  • the difference between dinner and supper
  • how to maximize one’s maple syrup tasting experience (it’s similar to wine glass-swirling)
  • that squirrels use their teeth to gouge out holes in young maple trees, and then drink the sap when it flows
  • that Maine’s daily per capita water consumption is the lowest in the nation (hooray for us)
  • that the wild blueberry crop uses the lion’s share of water needed by agriculture in Maine
  • the largest consumers of water in Maine aren’t people, they are paper mills
  • that most States in the US are losing farms, but Maine has the highest % of new farms in the past 5 years.
  • that the Maine friars who run an artisan brewery called Friars’ Brewhouse refer to themselves as “two schmucks on the side of a mountain in Bucksport with this home brew.”
  • how to make a New York pizza, which is apparently one thing you cannot get in Maine
  • that in the years between the American Revolution and the War of 1812, Maine was a major producer of sea salt
  • how to make gravalax with an easy recipe
  • what Governor LePage eats thanks to his in-house chef
  • how to read a Maine wine label (the $.15 deposit ticket tells you the name of the distributor, which gives hint to whether they are smaller and specialize in quality, adventurous wines)
  • How, when and what to plant in a Maine garden

Check it out and enjoy.

More Than Meets The Eye

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The narrow channel opened up into the huge third bay of Kezar Lake

Even though I’ve lived in Maine for several years now, I had never kayaked the bottom section of Kezar Lake, known as Lower Bay.  Unlike the Upper Bay, which is spectacular, the section of Lower Bay visible from the road doesn’t look like much.  But much to my surprise there is more than meets the eye. Starting from the put-out I passed the marina at The Narrows, went under a low, narrow bridge, and continued down an unexciting and rather narrow channel until its end…only to have it open up to the HUGE hidden section of Kezar Lake that I ignorantly didn’t even realize was there (it’s clearly visible on maps so I don’t know why I never bothered to notice this before).  Kezar Lake is 9 miles long but there’s a total of 33.9 miles of shoreline.  I ended up kayaking about 6 miles of it and had a blast. Talk about a good upper body workout!

(This was a great lesson for me metaphorically speaking:  we do not always see the entire picture; we often lack complete information about situations that impede our judgment.  Just sayin’…)

One of the neat things I noticed was a platform built for a loon’s nest. Loons are territorial ducks with haunting cries and beautiful black and white feathers. Their heads are black and they have beady red eyes.  They are famous for their haunting cries and diving skills; they can stay completely submerged under the water for minutes at a time.  Both parents raise 1 or 2 chicks, teaching them how to dive and fish.  They don’t walk well and live mostly on the water.  The problem is that they build their nests at water’s edge on the shoreline.  If heavy rains make the water levels rise too much, then that year’s nest is wiped out. So some conservation groups have been experimenting with different styles of man-made platforms at some of the lakes with great success, and this has helped stabilize or increase the local loon population.  I took this picture in telephoto mode; getting too close to a nest stresses the loons and could make them abandon the nest completely.

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A platform for nesting loons, topped by a spiffy roof