Thursday, October 27, 2011

On a Parental Visit

NOTE: I was too lazy to go back and spell check this. Ignore the grammatical errors that I am SURE are there.

I have 16 days left and boy am I EVER counting down.

It's cold now in the basement at work and the heater doesn't work.

I can't even take walks around Merryspring now because I have so much office work to do.

I guess that there have been some happy things in the past week:

I got this idea off Pinterest. Little bat cheese balls rolled in poppy seeds, blue corn chips for wings, and olives for eyes. I made these for FHE.

And then of course there is the Mom and Dad visit. They decided that they wanted to get a look at Maine in the Fall. I don't blame them. It's pretty amazing-though I have heard this has been an off year. If this is OFF I can't even imagine what a NOT OFF year is like!

First I picked them up from the Manchester Airport (it rained the whole drive there). Things sunnied out and we headed to the State Park I worked at last year-Pawtuckaway

Here are Mom and Dad next to a giant White Pine tree.

Dad in front of one of the Many glacial erratics (AKA big rocks) at Pawtuckaway.

Burnham Marsh in the fading light.

The colors on Pawtuckaway Lake. They were actually BETTER in New Hampshire!

We got home late but enjoyed some AWESOME and GIANT wraps at a restaurant called "Silly's". Of course it took us FOREVER to find it...but it was SO worth it. You know, you can get a peanut butter bacon shake there? Seriously, you HAVE to go and check out there menu HERE

The next day was Owls Head/Rockland day. First we drove to Birch Point state park in Owls Head.

Leaves and moss and sun

Dad looking through a large tube of white birch bark. He thought it was SO COOL how the insides rotted before the bark and you could pick up the log and all the insides would fall out leaving this hollow sleeve of bark.

Mom and Dad as we walked to Birch Point.
I actually think this was at the top of Mt. Battie. Maybe. Or maybe at Merryspring. Oh well. Dad holding up a large golden Striped Maple leaf in front of his face.

Mom and Dad in front is the courthouse I think...well...SOME cool building in Rockland.

Here's that cool building again.

A cool metal sculpture of Kestrels in downtown Rockland

Mom and Dad stand under The Strand theater for me.

Train Track no longer used in Rockland.

THEN we went to the Breakwater Lighthouse. This is kind of a "need to do" thing in the area.

Mom and Dad at the lighthouse. It was COLD and WINDY.

Mom is flattened by the wind against the lighthouse!

Okay...not really...

The Jetty.

And then there was dinner. Even though we were ALL super exhausted, we made stuffed baked pumpkins. Italian sausage, dried cherries, pumpkin, peppers, onion, apples, a butternut squash was amazing.

Yeah, so this PICTURE isn't amazing. But it was horrible light!!

Huh. I guess I decided not to include any Saturday pictures. I guess I figured you have seen PLENTY of picture of Mt. Battie and Camden.

We went breakfast at The Mariner's restaurant. I would pass that place all the time when I walked downtown and there is a hand painted sign that says "blueberry pancakes" with a hand-painted picture of blueberry pancakes drenched in syrup. It always makes me want BLUEBERRY PANCAKES!

Guess what I didn't get there? Right. Blueberry pancakes. I got a breakfast Monte Cristo (on French toast) and a BANANA pancake. I didn't KNOW they had things that sounded better than Blueberry pancakes! But dad got one and shared. It was ALL very good.

Then we went to the farmers market. I love that little market and my FAVORITE place is Polly's (who is apparently leaving next year! I'm glad I caught them). They sell jams and pickeled things. They always have free samples and the old man that usually runs that place is the cutest old man EVER. I LOVE him.

We wandered downtown, we drove to some pretty places in Rockport, we drove to the top of Mt. Battie, and then we made Lobster Mac and Cheese for dinner. It was spectacular. Oh yeah, I took Mom and Dad to Fresh off the Farm. I LOVE that place!

Sunday, we went to church, napped, and I took them around Merryspring. Nothing amazing.


We drove to Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park

A view of one of the streets of Downtown Bar Harbor. This place was SO touristy. A place I only need to visit once. It reminded me of Gatlinburg in Tennessee (which is like this FAKE old fashioned looking town just outside the Great Smokey Mountains National Park). Bar Harbor was like FAKE cute New England. But it was still an experience. And I enjoyed it!

We got lunch at this "gluten free" place called Morning Glory Bakery. They didn't have as much gluten free as we hoped. But I got a shrimp, tomato, Parmesan quiche and Italian artichoke soup. I also got a hazlenut "steamer" (which I guess is just steamed milk). Warm/hot milk always sounds gross. But add a flavor? YUM. It was so good.

Mom and Dad after lunch which we ate at the Bar Harbor Village Green.

Dad next to the ice cream lobster in front of this ice cream/fudge place that looked SO GOOD but they overcharged EVERYTHING. I was so upset because I was REALLY looking forward to fudge and ice cream!!

After some window shopping we finally headed into the park. I have to say, it wasn't super user friendly finding out how to get to a place to pay for entry. I guess that's what we get for going in the off season. But once we got going it was wonderful. We didn't have a lot of time so we drove a lot around this road that went on part of the perimeter of the park.

The road we took.

A view from the summit of Mt. Cadillac. I think that's the Gulf of Maine in the distance.

From the summit of Mt. Cadillac (that's Bar Harbor down there with TWO cruise ships)

This was taken CLOSE to the summit of Mt. Cadillac. Lovely.

Just another view along the drive.

We walked one of the rocky beaches. It was low tide and this large rocks were covered in glistening seaweed.

How amazing would it be to live in that house??

We got our fill of views (I could have seen more but we were losing our light. Darn you Maine for being in the furthest part of the Eastern time zone!!)

We went to a lighthouse nearby. I actually don't remember the name...I was kind of tired.

Here is a view of the setting sun in the clouds and the rocky beach at the lighthouse.

Dad reading a sign at the lighthouse.

Another full day. I let Mom drive home and slept part of the way back. If *I* was that worn out I can't even IMAGINE how tired Mom and Dad must have been!

The next day we arose early so that we could see a giant chocolate moose and eat yummy food before I took Mom and Dad to the airport.

This is at Len Libby's. An amazing candy shop. Lenny is the life size moose crafted entirely from CHOCOLATE!!! The mama bear in front of him is libby and she has two dark chocolate cube in the background there. AMAZING!! The water that Lenny is standing in is white chocolate!

The Red Arrow Diner in Manchester NH. I've been there twice and their food is awesome. It's this tiny little diner. Maybe even smaller than Broadway diner. And they are known for having had lots of famous people eat there. Like Adam Sandler, Sarah Silverman, Patrick Dempsey to name a few. Their special was Shepherd's pie, which I got. YUM, but so HUGE! Gosh I love that place.

Then it was time to say goodbye. I dropped mom and dad off and headed back home.

On the way back I stopped by Smiling Hill Farm (somewhere Jason had apparently gone). There wasn't much. There might be more to do on weekends or during the summer. But I stopped by the restaurant/ice cream shop at the top of the hill. I got Indian Pudding ice cream. It's basically gingerbread flavored ice cream and raisins. YUM! I also bought some mint Oreo fudge (since I didn't get any in Bar Harbor, humph!), blueberry milk, and some Havarti dill cheese. WOO! Gotta love dairy farms!

Here is a flock of geese on the lovely, picturesque farm.

And that was the fun time I had with Mom and Dad. CONDENSED believe it or not. I'm sure they will have their own account of things.

Meanwhile, I have NO job lined up for when I get home. No clue exactly what I am going to do. And TONS of things to do at work. And it's almost IMPOSSIBLE for me to focus on doing work on the computer ALL DAY.

And lets not forget how cold it is in that basement.

And my stupid uncomfortable chair.

Sorry. After wonderful and grand times it's been hard being sucked mercilessly back into reality.

Two and 1/2 weeks.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

On an Autumn Exploration

Today was day 1 of the Autumn Exploration Camp that I have been planning for at LEAST a month. The thing I have been looking forward to for AGES.

And it was finally here.

And let me tell you, it was GRAND!!

I arrived early to make sure EVERYTHING was PERFECT. I had even thought out how I would explain the changing of the leaves to the kids in terms they would understand. I was super excited!!

When they arrived they were timid at first, but my casual and delightful personality won their hearts almost immediately. First we answered the question, "Why DO leaves change their colors in the fall." They really seemed to GET it. All thanks to my powers of description and creating quick analogies (Like how evergreen trees are like dogs. The DO shed SOME of their needles, but not their WHOLE coat.). It went as PERFECTLY well as I could have hoped.

The rest of the day proceeded as planned. These two boys were PERFECT! And sometimes you can have JUST as much fun with only two kids as you can with 10. We went on a hike, collected all kinds of cool seeds, did a sensory scavenger hunt, a color hunt, played human camera and meet a tree, we saw chipmunks, squirrels, birds, and snakes. We did leave rubbings, bark rubbings and learned how to identify trees and plants.

It was windy but sunny and the weather was PERFECT!

When we came back, we did a blind exploration. I had placed several food items in plastic bags (carrots, apples, sunflower seeds, granola, chocolate chips, and peanut butter). This was for their snack. They were to try and guess by FEELING the things what was inside each bag. Some of them were tough! But they got several of them right. And even said EWWWW in PERFECT unison when they touched the peanut butter. We then had our snack of apple sandwiches, carrots, and sunflower seeds.

Finally we made REALLY cute owls with paper scraps, toilet paper tubes, and paint! They left with smiles on their faces and everything was just...PERFECT.

Oh, wait, I lied.

None of that actually happened.

HA! I fooled you! Like one of those HORRIBLE movies/TV episodes where the explanation was "and it was ALL a dream..."

Well, the FIRST thing happened. I arrived early to make sure everything was ready and perfect. I HAVE been planning this event for a while, and even though there were only going to be two kids, I we SUPER excited. The weather was great, I had LOADS of fun stuff planned, and I was convinced I would have created little tree identification GENIUSES by the end of the day!

Then 15 minutes before show time, the dad shows up and informs me that his sons mutinied against him and weren't going to come. He asked if I had anyone else coming. I admit it. I lied. I felt so ashamed that we only had two attendees and that I was depending on his two kids to make this day a success (he's a board member by the way). So I told him that there was a woman who said she might bring her two kids today (this woman EXISTS, she just said she might bring her two kids TOMORROW).

Yeah. I smiled it off. Assured him it was fine. Then cried a little when he left.

I've had no-show situations before. PLENTY of them. This year AND last year. But for some reason, this one stung just a little more. And the disappointment was intense.


I knew that I couldn't allow my day to be ruined. Not this time of year. Not so close to the end of everything. This would NOT be the memory of my last program weekend at Merryspring.

What did I do?

I made my OWN freaking owl. A blue one, with yellow swirls. It's cute and I loved making it. So there.

Then I took a nice brisk walk back home, listening to music that helped raise my spirits a little. The day was just so palpably FALL. I got home, ate a giant apple (not kidding. These honey crisp apples are the size of your hand-wrist to middle fingertip. HUGE), and hopped in my car.

My destination? Beech Hill Preserve. It's this organic blueberry farm and historic property. It has two trails, one which leads to the summit of a small hill. The hill may be small, but it has an AMAZING view of the bay and the lands surrounding.

Boy was it WINDY! And the whole time I was trying to snap good pictures-but in vain. A cheap camera plus lots of patchy clouds equals a lot of useless photos deleted at the end of the day. But it was a great walk, and it was wonderful to see all that beauty, even though I couldn't capture it in a convenient, portable memory.

After that, I drove through Rockport-the small town that USED to be part of Camden until it broke off. I'm not sure why. But it's a cute, SMALL town. Even smaller than Camden, I think. I stopped off at a park I have never seen. One that follows the river and old lime deposits from all the limestone quarrying that used to go on in this part of Maine. It had a loveliness all it's own. Then it was a drive along the road that boarders Megunticook lake and finally to Shirt Tail point for some pictures.

So instead of crawling in my bed and moping the whole day, I had my OWN autumn exploration. And it was great.

I'm still bitterly disappointed. But these things happen. And dwelling on them doesn't help. Plus, I KNOW it's not my fault that these kids didn't want to come and we got such little reception for the event. That's just Merryspring.

The day ended with a Merryspring's yearly volunteer recognition party. Lots of little finger foods, wine (and apple cider thank goodness), and a slideshow made by moi along with a little music I hand selected.

Not many people were listening but the playlist included a little Tijuana Brass, the Baby Elephant Walk, some Celtic, Bluegrass, and the main title from Chariots of Fire. Good times.

And while I had spent the whole day feeling under-appreciated, as I mingled with the volunteers they couldn't stop telling me what a great job I had done this year, how I had done SO MUCH, and how impressed they were.

Needless to say, my heart was lifted.

And one of the volunteers brought me a bag of gummy worms. And inside joke. I didn't even KNOW I had an inside joke with anyone in Maine!

So there you are. All about my morning that ended up in shambles, and how I picked them up and arranged them into a pretty successful Saturday.

Now I just have to wait and see if anyone shows up TOMORROW.

Some Photos.

The Diagram I prepared. And no one got to take advantage of.

The fun that was never had.

View from the top of Beech Hill

Leaf Covered Forest Floor

Clouds over the mountains

The historic stone building at the top of Beech Hill

Another view from the top of Beech Hill

Field of wildflowers gone to seed

There were ACRES of blueberry plants! All turned red for the Autumn season.

A teeny tiny snail hanging off an old Queen Anne's Lace stem

A view of the river from Cramer Park.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On The Beginning of my Last Month

I just got done savoring every bite and licking my fingers of a meal I have been anticipating for at LEAST a month.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash Rings

This was the best I have ever had.

I bought the acorn squash at the Common Ground Fair (something I still need to post about). For the past two and a half weeks it's sat on top of my cupboard. Just CALLING to me. But I never had the time! I've been doing delicious QUICK meals, like asparagus grilled cheese.

Anyway, tonight was the night. I made sure of it.

I don't have pictures. Sorry. It took a while to cook and by the time it was done it was FAR too dark to take any kind of picture to do it justice.

But picture THIS.

A perfectly sweet, melt in your mouth, acorn squash ring, baked to perfection. And in the center? Juicy Italian sausage with a blend of spinach cheddar bread crumbs (from a Maine made loaf I bought from the local market), fresh garlic, onion, organic pepper, garden sage, garden rosemary, (and of course an egg), a little salt, and a little lemon pepper. I'm not hungry after the one I just ate, but I am DROOLING over this right now.

I could have eaten every single ring. But I still have 3 left (after leaving one for Kathy). JOY!!!!

When I bought the squash, I thought it was a little small. The woman at the farm stand told me it was a smaller variety but that it was better than it's larger relative. Sweeter.

She wasn't kidding. I just about ate the rind because I was trying to hard to get every little bit of squash! SO GOOD!!

And for me this meal is a fall ESSENTIAL-right up there with apple pie, everything pumpkin, roasted and candied almonds, and cider.

It is most CERTAINLY fall here in Maine. The color finally arrived LITERALLY overnight this past weekend. I climbed up Mt. Battie on Saturday (there was a little color here and there) and by Sunday morning the reds, yellows, and oranges were smacking me in the face! And each day brings more.

I'm SO glad I am here for this beautiful time of year.

This season, this meal, this BEAUTY represents the beginning of the end. The start of my last month.

I've started packing.

Nothing intense or anything. I just don't want to put it off to my last week. I want my last week here in Maine to be relaxed. So my books are now packed in boxes. A small step, but a step nonetheless.

I have a new phone. WOO! My old phone, which was actually Elise's old phone (which I had to use after mom's old phone's screen died, which I was only using because Steven's old phone's speaker stopped working) was on it's last leg. And this is actually DAD'S new upgrade which I am using until I can renew my contract and get my OWN new phone.

Whatever. It's a new phone. And it makes me smile. I love getting calls and texts right now so CALL/TEXT ME!!

It's tea at every meal kind of weather. I love that.

Today my lunch was sage cheddar cheese (made in Maine), Maine native honey crisp apple slices, and avocado on a slice of that spinach cheddar bread.

GOSH I am going to miss living here if only for the FOOD!

Every once in a while on my walk to work, I pass this kind old man walking his BLACK BEAR.

Okay, it's not really a bear, but it might as well be! It's this huge Newfoundland. And this dog is the sweetest thing. He always comes to my side of the street to say hello-and his owner can't stop him because he's so HUGE! I don't think I would ever own a dog that giant, but I do love petting his big furry head.

When I walk to work, I cant stop smiling because of each new revelation of color.

I found this old book that I forgot I bought. It's called "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady". It's "A facsimile reproduction of a naturalist's diary". And it's my favorite thing in the whole world right now. It goes through each month, quoting old sayings, poetry, and thoughts of the season. And on each page is a color photo done in the mimic of a watercolor. Often it's of flowers but you get birds and wildlife as well. It like something out of my own SOUL. I will never let this book go.

Javier is holding it together. Barely. He either needs a $200 band-aid or an $800 new Kidney. I wish he could take one of those pills Dr. McCoy gives the old lady in Star Trek IV and she grows a new kidney.

I have a new dream. But I'm afraid to share it. Kind of like not telling people what you wished for. But it's there-and for once, I hope I never let this one go.

I've discovered that I love blogging. Here on THIS blog, I suppose. But even more on my review blog. I have so many started posts that are just waiting to be finished. Including one on my favorite horror movie.

You all should go check it out so that I feel validated. It's for YOU after all!

I'm planning a weekend of seed collecting, leaf rubbing, fort building, and apple crisp making. With 2-4 kids. It's the Autumn Exploration Camp that I organized and it's kind of my last hurrah. And only 2 people signed up for the first day, and 4 for the second. Yeah, that's not a lot. But I am determined to have an amazing time and no one can stop me!

As much as I love being here, I really miss the Renaissance Festival (I hate the word Renaissance by the way. I can NEVER spell it right).

Here are some Autumn Pictures.

I WISH I HAD A BETTER CAMERA!!! (I really am going to get a good one some day and either take classes or teach myself photography-that's PART of my dream-a part I am willing to share).

One of the many old houses that I pass every day. This one looked particularly nice in the fall morning sunlight.

First Frost.

What I call the Megunticook Falls which is really a part of the Megunticook river just before the old mill.

Washington street draped in color

A farm pasture that I passed on my way to the car repair place

The Camden Hills on a misty fall morning


More cows.

That's the Snow Bowl ski slope in the distance there. I wish I had the change to ski while I was here.

Fall is here, my time is limited, and life is progressing.

It's that time of year.

Time for change.

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