Monday, June 27, 2011

On A Weekend Visit

(Lettuce that we didn't sell at the plant sale-for me for FREE!)

As many of you may know, dearest Elise thought it would be nice to stop off in Camden on her way from Rhode Island and on her way TO New York. Wasn't that nice of her?

I'm not only glad she came because I got to see her and watch both Tron movies, I am glad because having her there gave me more of an excuse to explore places I have not yet been (i.e. THE TOWN I LIVE IN...). I like to explore and discover things, so you would think that I could have ventured out INTO Camden by now and seen what there was to see. You would think that I would have gone up Mt. Battie like everyone else and their grandmother.

Well, here is a little truth about me. I don't really like exploring alone. It took me YEARS to finally start going to see movies by myself. I STILL prefer seeing them with a friend. But for the most part, I won't go out to eat unless I have someone to share it with. And for the most part I keep telling myself "yeah, sure I'll see Camden. I'll walk around it. Why wouldn't I? It's RIGHT THERE." But because it's RIGHT THERE, I end up putting it off and before you know it I have missed out on EVERYTHING.

So, having Elise here gave me the chance to REALLY explore downtown Camden and see all the cool shops and restaurants they have. It encouraged me to drive up to Mt. Battie. I finally went places I had been meaning to go since I got here!

But first, we had a visit with friends.

Do you remember Sue (those of you who visited New Hampshire)? She's the one in the middle. She spent Friday night and Saturday morning with Eliza (On the left. remember her from two posts ago?) at Peacemeal Farm and went to the Camden Farmers Market with her.

So Elise and I braved the pouring rain (and thunder and lightening!) and walked down the road to see them! This is after they closed everything down and the rain had stopped. From the left-Elise, Sue, Eliza, Sarah, and Mike (Sarah and Mike are from Peacemeal also). Sarah brought Starwberry Shortcake!

Elise, Sue, Eliza and I got lunch at the Bagel Cafe and then parted ways. Things actually cleared up after that.

Elise and I explored Downtown Camden. Here she is a the entrance to the amphitheater behind the Camden Public Library. Just look at those wonderful weeping elms on either side!

Here is the amphitheater. There were alpine strawberries growing all along the steps!

We then walked through the short trails of the Camden Village Green and saw the Harbor.

Here are the falls of the Megunticook river feeding directly into the ocean. I need to remember to eat at the Deli up there with a harbor view.

Here are two ships in the harbor. The one on the right is the Mary Day. I can't remember what the one on the left was called.

This is looking up the harbor into Camden.

As we explored more, I discovered that even though it seems everyone raves about "soft-serve" places, there aren't really any soft-serve places here. They all serve REAL ice-cream. That encouraged me. Though I don't know about "The Camden Cone". Elise is right, that "topping" on the cone looks an awful lot like blood.
I do like the Ice Cream Cone trash can.

We DID get ice cream, but from a different place. And the lived up to my standards of "good" ice cream. They also seem to take on the same theory as New Hampshire that a "small" is equal to two large scoops. A bit of advice from me-if you have been limiting the amount of dairy in your diet (have some cheese here and there and using almond milk like I have) you should NOT have two large scoops of ice cream in one sitting. It was SO good, but it did NOT agree with me.

A view of Mt. Battie from the harbor.
So after the exploration of Downtown, we drove to the breakwater light house. Remember the last time I went there? It was cold, windy, and the waves got us soaked. And it seemed to take FOREVER to get there. And once we did, everything was boarded up. Well, not THIS time.

Look at how much better this shot is from a nearby dock! Much better than my earlier photos. And we got there in good time. AND it wasn't too cold and windy.

We got to go INSIDE. Here is a view from one of the windows. As we were there, I remembered that at one time I thought it would be cool to be a lighthouse keeper. I still think it could be a peaceful and lovely profession.

We even got to go UP into the lighthouse! Elise poses for the camera. This kind of made me want to sing "I'll be your candle on the water...". Don't judge. I LOVED that movie as a kid.

Looking down.

Here's a view just as we were coming off the Jetty on the way back.

The next two are from the restaurant we went to. "Old World Potato Company". They have potatoes, among other things, if you can believe it.

This is me taking a picture of Elise taking a picture of her drink.

And this is Elise hiding behind the drink menu. I tell you what, these two photos make up look like we are drinking alcohol. If you look closely you can see that those are Stewart's brand diet root beers. I PROMISE.

That was our Saturday.

Sunday's weather was not TOO bad. It was a little cloudy. So after church and my program at Merryspring, we decided to drive up Mt. Battie and see what we could see.

Here is what greeted us.

FOG. This is the tower at the top of the mountain.

And here is what I could see from the far end of the top of that tower. A grey curtain of nothing. You are supposed to be able to see Camden and the harbor from here as well as a good portion of the Atlantic. Nope.

Here is a distant shot.

Elise walking through the fog.

Reindeer and British Soldier lichen on the mountain.

Don't know what this is, but it's pretty!

That was the end of our Sunday. We went home and made a dinner of chicken fingers (with Bob Evans honey mustard that I have been hoarding. You know they discontinued it? Scandalous!), whole wheat cheddar biscuits, Waldorf salad, rosemary and Parmesan potatoes, and I had a green salad (from the salad I showed you at the top!). It was G-E-W-D GEWD!

Elise did laundry this morning and then we went to The Market Basket (a dangerous place. They have home baked pastries, breads, sandwiches, soups, etc that all look to DIE for. I need to never go back there), and then ate our food HERE.

This is Glen Cove. The cove I used to drive by every day on my way to work from Owls Head. The "rest stop" area (picnic tables, parking, and grills for tourists) is finally open and offers a peaceful view of the cove and a wonderful smell of roses blended with the tang of the ocean.

The roses have started to burst into bloom and I am LOVING it. This is what I remember from my summer by the sea in Rhode Island. The smell of the sea, the blooming roses, and sound of waves, the sparkling water. THIS I could live with.

One last view of Glen Cove.

It was a good weekend. Rainy, cloudy, and (on my end) physically painful (ask if you REALLY want to know). But I got to spend time with someone who got all my nerdy and silly references. Someone who I could laugh with and be the old ME with. The me I have in some ways forgotten how to be.

Eliza laughed at us, at one point, saying that seeing Elise and I together was like a two heads on the same body. We fed off each other in the nerdiest ways and poor Eliza and Sue were completely lost. That's what I love about our family.

And now it is Monday. It's sunny, over 80, and I am going to work in the garden for the rest of the day. THIS, I can do. It's the wet, foggy, 60 degree days at THE END OF JUNE I am having a hard time with.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On Ducks and Plant Lables

I have decided that for the sake of everybody I need to be a more frequent poster.

As someone who likes to take photos (no matter how non-professional they may look), I get EXHAUSTED after posting an entry of several weeks of built up photos. I'm sure you are all exhausted after reading and viewing said photo dump posts.

So, in an attempt to avoid posts like the last one I am going to try and post picture soon after I have taken them. Even if that means posting several times a week (is that more or LESS annoying than massive photo posts?)

Anyway, lets move on. I do have some pictures I want to share with you. It all started with my usual walk to work. Luckily, the weather has really improved lately. It's in that perfect stage where the early morning is cool as are the nights so I don't feel hot when I sleep and the air coming in through the open window is perfect. The days are warm sometimes. Maybe getting into the 80's, and there is a TOUCH of humidity but nothing to scream in rage about (as I might have in MO). The roses are finally starting to bloom and they fill the air with a variety of heavenly fragrances.

I hope that this weather lingers as long as the winter and the chilly mists did.

So, back to the point. I was walking across the river when I spotted a family of ducks.

Here they are! A mamma and her little younglings (yeah, yeah, I DID just make that reference. So there. What are YOU going to do about it?)

I sure hope this video uploads because this was easily the best part of my day.

I watched as this mother duck guided her trailing team of tiny tots (take THAT alliteration!) up the Megunticook river. This is a tricky bit of the rivers because there is a waterfall effect created, I imagine, by the mill to help along production and such.

Here is the second part of their venture. This is after they passed under the bridge. I hope THIS video works too.

She would try a way, realize it was a little too challenging, and try a new way. But they eventually made it out of my sight. I wish I could have seen how they got up the actual falls! But (assuming the video works) you cannot deny that this is pretty cute and fun to watch.

Speaking of cute, remember that chipmunk from my last post?

Well I helped myself to another serving of cuteness. Either this is the same chipmunk, or ALL the chipmunks around here freeze for a photo-op when they see someone with a camera. He didn't move so I got a PRETTY good shot. Not AMAZING (someday I will have a really nice camera and be able to take really nice photos).

And now some more of what I have been up to with the children's garden.


I'll admit that I had a lot of fun painting them. Even though I could have just written the names of the plants in permanent marker.

Here is a random caterpillar.

And here is the delicious dinner I made for myself the other night. Mini grilled cheese sandwiches made with rye cocktail bread. They had sharp white cheddar, granny smith apple, avocado, and turkey bacon. The soup is tomato parmesan (from a can but still really good).

As you can see, I also had yummy steamed veggies. And I am going to have the same thing tonight!

Anyway, there you have it. There isn't much to report since last time. But at least that's a few less photos to add to the ext post.

Friday, June 17, 2011

On Hiking, Gardening, And a Friend Revisited

NOTE: I didn't spell check this. After writing these posts I am too exhausted to spell check. So deal with the typos.

It's time for another post of pictures. But there are going to be some words at the end. I figure that's the best place to put words. At the end of everything else. It's where they feel the most comfortable. That way they don't feel like they are imposing on your eyes and you can get right to the more pleasing images. One is worth 1000 of those lowly little words, after all. And the words know that.

So enough words. Here are the pictures. (There WILL words among the picture of course. Unless you want to GUESS what I am trying to say with them.)

This is Eliza. Eliza is from Rochester, New York. She went to school in Canada. We served with the SCA and AmeriCorps together last year in New Hampshire. She moved to Maine to complete a farm apprenticeship in Dixmont. Last weekend she decided she needed to get away from the farm. So she came here and we hiked up "Maiden Cliff" in Camden Hills State Park. This is her after I told her she should pose on the large glacial erratic we passed. I love that girl.

We are going to take a tour of this hike backwards. This is a lovely field view we passed AFTER we had reached the top of the cliff.

Grass can be beautiful in it's own somewhat less colorful way.

Now we're getting to the GOOD views. There are a lot of them.

The water in all of these views is Megunticook lake which feeds into Megunticook river. That river runs right through Camden and empties into the ocean.
The view was pretty stunning.

There were a couple little islands which looked like they had solitary houses on them. This island looks tiny now but as we passed the lake walking back to the car we could see it wasn't THAT small. I think it would be cool to live on a tiny island on a lake.

There she is again. Don't you just love that smile?

The cliff is called "Maiden Cliff" because a young girl fell to her death while she was reaching to grasp her hat which was swept away by the wind. This large metal cross kind of ruins he view in my opinion but it's a monument. I think it could have been smaller. I know I am a horrible person for talking bad about a monument dedicated to a young girl who died decades ago.

I don't have pictures of it, but after our hike we went to my place to make dinner. It was wonderful. Then we went to our camp site in Camden Hills State Park and talked each other to sleep. I haven't done that in ages.

Moving on to the gardening part of things. If you recall, in my last post I shared an image with you of the built raised beds with "Children's Garden" painted on them. Since then, things have begun to sprout and grow.

Including this round zucchini seed. I planted 3 of these and 3 regular zucchini plants. This was the only one to produce anything. It is now doing VERY well in it's spot in the raised bed.

After BUILDING the beds I spent a good amount of time moving loads of decomposing leaves and compost into them from the piles on the other end of the garden.

After a little more prep, it was time to prepare for the first official Children's Garden program. I pulled the two carts of plants over and made sure I had plenty of tools, extra compost, and even more woodchips. I was prepared to do ALL KINDS of things if we had a good turn out.

We didn't have a good turn out. Two kids who were not interested in planting for the most part. I DID have two volunteers to help. So we DID get the three raised beds planted. Parsley in the small box, and then one bed a pizza garden and the other a medicine/herb garden.

This is the medicine/herb garden. We planted lavender, sage, catmint, chocolate mint, lemon balm, strawberries, dill, chamomile, lambs ear, and a random plant called a "toothpick plant". It looks a lot like queen anne's lace once it flowers.

Here is the pizza garden. We have 5 kinds of tomatoes (peach, husk cherry, jelly bean, roma, and tigerella), red and yellow peppers, lemon gem marigolds, rosemary, oregano, basil, eggplant, zucchini, more sage, red onion, yellow onion, and chives.

TODAY I painted this sign for the medicine/herb garden. It could use a few more images, but I was DONE with painting signs by the time I got to this one.

Here is the sign for the pizza garden.

Now here is all the work I did on the butterfly shaped pollinator garden.

First, the outline. I kept re-altering it.

Then I spent a whole Saturday pulling up ALL the grass. It took FOREVER and yielded THESE...(you are going to hate me in a second)

Mmmmm....grubs! These are the grubs of some kind of beetle species. The live under the grass and tend to kill it. Most of them I threw into the rock wall. But saved some and put them in THIS pile on a stump for THIS guy...

This is my little Gray Catbird friend. A funny little species I first encountered in Rhode Island. Their call sounds like a cat, hence the name. This guy is FEARLESS. As I was pulling up all the grass and exposing the bugs and grubs he was there, not more than three feet away from me at any given time. FEASTING. It was a joy to have his company. He was SO full by the end of it.

These stones were previously located at the entrance of the garden under the trellis. I put them here instead. I figure it makes the butterfly shape more recognizable.

Then we placed plants where we wanted them planted. They stayed there for a week until the SECOND week of the Children's Garden program where we finished planting.

Here is it planted with ALOT (hehe...intentional misspelling) of Salvia, a lot of Phlox, some poppies, verbena, one hollyhock plant, several asters, and ONE solitary columbine.
Here's the lovely lady now-in her second bloom. I'm glad I got an encore. I love Columbine.

And here is the sign for the pollinator garden. It took me the longest. Just like flowers are easier to take pictures than wildlife, they are also easier for me to paint than wildlife. The hummingbird was particularly tricky for me.

Oh, yeah. The boots and the barrel. We haven't planted the potatoes yet but we are working on sprouting them. We planted parsley into two of the boots, baby radishes in on, and round baby carrots in another. This picture is right after planting.

Here they are a little over a week later. The parsley has been eaten by the woodchucks, the radishes are coming in nicely, and the carrots...?

I cant tell if these are carrot sprouts or grass that was lying dormant in the compost. We will have to wait a little longer and see.

The other day I decided to start planting things in the boarders. So I did a little weeding and planted two rows of "witches broom" corn. Not for eating but they make a nice, fun, crafty broom (according to Gail).

Oooh, look! The first little snacks! The Strawberries, of course. I wonder how long before some critter comes and eats them. I wonder if I will get to harvest these at ALL.

Ooooh, look! I THINK those are basil seedlings and not weeds...

I am going to try to grow pumpkins. It's an experiment. I hope I get SOMETHING out of it...

I also alternated sunflower seedlings and sunflower seeds. We'll see how many of the seedlings get eaten. If they ALL do, I have to depend on the seeds to do their job.

I let the kids paint "CLUB" on the side of the lettuce and parsley bed. We also started some lettuce seeds and painted a couple plant labels. The second program was MORE successful than the first but still only have three kids. It was loads of fun, despite the low attendance.

Here it is from a distance. The woodchucks have gotten to the coneflowers, parsley, chamomile, and lemon balm. Some kind of insect is eating away at the Salvia and the Verbena. The Lady in Red Salvia and Poppies aren't looking encouraging. I can see that at least 60% of the plants have been affected by either a bug or the woodchucks. But I am still hopeful that things will continue to grow and produce wonderful things.

I am going to allow some words on the the Children's garden. Out of all the things I have been going, this is my favorite. This was my blank canvas. Here, I find happiness and excitement and anticipation. I am outside when I work in it. I LOVE pulling up the little weed sprouts and watering. I LOVE digging in the ground. I LOVE planning cool plants and activities to do with kids in the garden. Though attendance has been small so far, at least I GET to work with kids. Here, I find peace and a sense of accomplishment. More words will follow up on this at the end of the post.

It's time for an update of the flowers in the woods and in the gardens.

It's time to revisit an old friend.

Remember Pink Lady Slipper? I do. I first saw her beauty in the woods of New Hampshire and I was instantly in love. I searched high and low for her rosy hue and slippered shape. She became my favorite woodland flower of New Hampshire.

And here she is in Maine. I have only seen two so far. Perhaps they are more rare in Maine than they are in New Hampshire. According to flower books, Maine should have the yellow lady's slipper as well. It is now a dream of mine to find one.

I know this is not a flower, but I LOVED the color of the moss growing on this stump. And I didn't know where else in the sequence this picture fit.

I'm not 100% sure, but I hope, I hope, I HOPE these are blackberries.

BUNCHBERRY! I love this plant. Apparently people in England love this plant also and keep trying to grow it there. But it never seems to work.

Not a flower, but one of my favorite trees: Stri-ped Maple. (Okay, it's just STRIPED maple. I just like "stri-ped").

All the field flowers popping up. Lovely.

I don't know what this is, but I am determined to find out.

It comes in white and purple flavors.

These are beautiful yellow Iris' growing in the middle of the vernal pool. SO pretty!

Something related to peas??

These are the domesticated/bred blueberry plants we have growing at Merryspring. I see us having blueberries in a couple weeks! I wish I could find WILD blueberries on the property...

Not sure what this flowering shrub is, but it's pretty.

More Iris'


Something yellow-orange

We have SEVERAL Iris varieties and I love them ALL! They are coming in very nicely.

"Poppies will make them sleep..."

ANOTHER Iris. I like the name Iris.

Um...I wish I knew what this was.

A pink Dahlia

A white Dahlia

I have NEVER seen this before, but it's "Weeping Elm". A pretty cool ornamental tree.

A couple species of rose have bloomed but I think it will be another week or two before roses REALLY take off.


I think this is the rose species our rose guy Glenn wants to breed and name after Merryspring.

A lovely scarlet peony.

Another Dahlia

And for some random other pictures.

I may or may not have already posted an image of this view of the "mountains" but I had to post another one. Right now, this is my favorite view.

After all the rain we've been getting recently, Maine has become overrun by orange slugs!

Speaking of orange and slimy, this is some kind of mold or fungus growing on top of our decomposing leaf pile. Look how vibrant that color is! Maybe this is the cure for cancer and everyone is too scared to try it!

I know some of you will hate me for posting the above picture, but it was too cool NOT to. This is a spider in the center of a daisy eating a bee. The circle of life at work!

Speaking of the circle of life, I found this little guy trying to grow in the compost pile. Sorry, tiny oak. You won't get very far in there....

I startled this chipmunk into stillness. I was able to take several careful steps close to it to get this pretty good shot. Someday, I would LOVE to get a nice camera and spend weekends just sitting in the woods somewhere, or in a field, or by the ocean, just to wait for some wild animal to come by so I can capture them on film.

And last but CERTAINLY not least, I give you my dinner last night. I saw this little cocktail loaf of pumpernickel and (because I love all things tiny) had to get it. So these are three little open faced sandwiches. We have tuna with parmasean cheese, a tiny chopped caprese salad, and pepperoni and salami with pecan pesto. And I had a little pickle as well. YUM!

Time for some "another words". Here they will flow in all their unhindered glory. But there is no pressure to read them. I know there have already been THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of unspoken picture words and many typed picture words. But I would linger a little longer and share more words with you.

Words on our building and grounds manager-let's call her Gertrude. Her name isn't Gertrude. But that's what we are going to call her.

Gertrude doesn't particularly like her job. Or rather, she doesn't like her job in the context of the people she has to work with. She seems okay with me, but that's because I have a feeling she would never rant about me TO me.

She does love to rant, though. Every once in a while she has good advice and good insight. The other day we were talking about this AmeriCorps position. I was telling here that while there were some parts that I liked, more than anything it was being affirmed to me that a job like this is not something I would want to do for the rest of my life. I want to work with kids and people. I don't want to be in the background planning EVERYTHING and doing NOTHING. I want to be THERE among the people, teaching them. Making a more direct impact rather than an indirect one. I don't want to work at a job where half of my time is spent at a desk. While I at first thought it was a charming idea to work at a place so small and intimate, I don't think I like working with such a small REAL staff and have to depend on non-existent volunteers and members who don't lift much of a finger to help.

That was a GOOD talk with Gertrude.

Most of the time it's her ranting about how things never go the way she wants and everyone else that works there is incompetent. She keeps talking about how sh wants to quit by the end of the year. And yesterday, in an attempt to make me feel better about the lack of attendance in the children's garden she struck up a new rant topic.

She went on about how she always thought it was a mistake to try to have a children's garden program with all the competition around. Aldemere farms has the corner in children's gardening and there is this new place 6 miles from her house that is going to start a REALLY intensive gardening program for youth next year. She thinks that Ray and Cindy's idea of putting work into a children's garden program is a waste of time-a waste of MY time and skills.

None of this made me feel better. In fact it made me feel worse. The one thing that I am doing that I LOVE is a waste of time? I'm putting all this work into it only to have it become obsolete? I think I have mentioned this before, but I HATE thinking of what I am doing as a competition. Like we are a business or something and we are in the business of luring little kids into our facility. It's not about the number of kids that Merryspring gets. We are a tiny, little known non-profit. I KNOW we aren't going to get scores of kids. This is a new thing that we are trying. And I don't like thinking that it's not a success if we don't have 20 kids show up. Like with the Ecology Camp, I feel that if I teach and touch 1-2 kids in a day I have made progress and the program was a success. So having someone tell me they think that what I am doing is a waste of time is discouraging. Not to mention that I KNOW one of the reasons she doesn't like all the time I am spending on it is because I am constantly going to her for help (because I am not trained in gardening) and interrupting whatever work SHE has to do. This is something she hates. And while she has never said that to me outright, it's there, in between her words.

It's hard working with Gertrude. She is a pretty big downer. I hardly ever hear something positive out of her mouth. While she is helpful, she is often helpful grudgingly.

I love the time I get to spend in the garden. I love planting seeds and anticipating/wondering if anything will come up. I love seeing the first sprouts. I love digging in the earth and I love my little catbird friend. I love the 1-2 hours a week I get to spend with kids. I love creating and I love impacting.

And that's all that matters, right?

I'm pretty sure I had other things to mention but I've forgotten all about them. I didn't mean for the words to get carried away on such a negative note. But that's how I feel when I think of Gertrude and her negativity. It's contagious. It doesn't matter. If they don't want to continue the garden next year that is THEIR problem. I am going to put everything I've got into it, like I do with all my other projects, and the result will be something satisfactory to ME.

Who cares about the competition.

Okay, I'm out.

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