Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Princess Turns 30

When one turns 30, you deserve a really fun, blowout party. Last Saturday we hosted such a party for Sara, one of my surrogate daughters, Garrett's girlfriend.

The party started at 4:00 and it started to rain at 3:45. We had set up my E-Z-up white tent with tables underneath. This was not the torrential downpour that we had the night before (thanks!) but a steady smattering of rain. The tent did a great job until more guests showed up and it got a bit crowded so Houston and Dennis (dad) got out our camping covering and set it up in the rain to cover more of us. Worked perfectly! It really didn't matter though as we had plenty of wine and beer and good music. It quit raining about an hour before sunset so about 25 frisbee golfers took off for our 9-hole course overlooking the mountains and through sheep fields (watch for poo!). The skies cleared a bit and to the east was a beautiful rainbow and to the west was a crimson sunset. The light was quite amazing and a heavy mist rose from the fields below.

The birthday princess and dad, Dennis.

What does one do at a birthday party? Blow bubbles, of course! I had made a bubble mixture out of dish soap, glycerin and water and this magic wand worked quite well.

But bubbles do pop and princesses can get quite upset!

But then there was hoola hooping to lift the spirits from the burst bubbles.

Sara's mom, Ginger, is a pro. I made all the hula hoops after a friend, Piver, made a few out of irrigation tubing and showed me how. Even Dennis helped make the hoops.

Ginger could even do yoga poses while hooping. Gifted and talented!

Garrett didn't know what to do with his hands.

...then he figured it out! Like Zorro if Zorro hula hooped!

Casey looked on with approval. Happy 30th Sara and so glad we got to share it with you.

Monday, August 24, 2009

At Peace

Peter and Marty's house is in western Maine, very close to the New Hampshire border. It's a typical Maine farmhouse, with the barn connected to the house. I think this is just a splendid design and wish we had houses/barns like this in Maryland. The name for these homes are 'Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn'. The big house is the main living area, the little house or middle house as it's sometimes known contained the kitchen, the back house was the carriage house and the barn is the livestock area. Before 1700, these were banned as the fear of a fire in the barn would spread to the house. But the ban was lifted and many were built in Vermont, Maine, Massachusettes and New Hampshire.
There's a song written about this style of house and it has a jaunty cadence.
Through the big house, middle house, back house,
Goes the kitten with a mitten and a ball of yarn;
All a'scitter and a'scamper, gonna upset Grandpa
By playing under his chair.
From the halls with the walls and the floors well
To the room in the eaves where the kids were born;
It's the place we grew 'til we finally knew
We'd have to leave it all behind.
There's more but you get the gist of it.
The color of Peter and Marty's house is a very lovely greyish lavender. It seems to change colors during the day, depending on the light. In the morning it's a true lavender, by mid-day it's changed to a periwinkle and by late afternoon it looks grey. Marty mixed the paint herself with many leftover cans of paint that were left at the dump. She has now taken it upon herself to be the official paint mixer upper of the paint at the dump. It seemed no one was taking the paint that was left aside, so Marty got these old drywall buckets opened the lids of partially used paint and dumped them in until she got a color she liked. She swabbed the lid with the new trendy color, named it a gay, happy name like 'Serendipity Now', or 'Sweet Clover in the Mist' and it left the premises before she could say "Floral Abundance!" I think a good name would be "Can't You See Your House Painted in This?!" She does have a way with color!

She also found this table and chair set at the dump. It's from an old cafe in the area. She's painted the chairs in whimsical designs.

She had some young nieces and nephews visiting so she made hula hoops and decorated them. I had just made some recently too out of the same irrigation tubing. The kids also had a chicken painting contest. I was wondering why her chickens were so colorful!

...and friendly! Rhode Island Reds are known to be affable, but this one was really curious and would run right up to me, look up and want attention. I was happy to oblige.

There are many gardens around the farm, tucked in here and there, wherever the sun might hit. We had fresh corn, peppers, kale, tomotoes, basil for dinner.

We camped behind the barn as it was just way to buggy up the hillside at the other sites. They have a tree house, a cabin type structure that acts as a summer getaway, and most recently a yurt up on the hill with fantastic views. But all these buildings were sorta open to the night and Houston is a magnet for mosquitoes so we opted for our totally enclosed, bug-proof tent. We brought our large 5-man tent so we could actually stand up if we chose to and you can see how dwarfed our tent is compareds to their barn.

This platform was just completed a month ago for the yurt. This yurt used to travel to the Common Ground festival in Maine where Peace Fleece opened up shop inside. They no longer go to Common Ground so decided to build this approximately 30' x 30' deck to place the yurt on. The views from here were spectacular, looking over the White Mountains.

Their barn is brimming with 'stuff'. Old stuff, new stuff, broken stuff, smelly stuff, nice stuff and really cool stuff.

I spent hours just snooping (it was ok) and found some cool rusty stuff, my favorite. I thought this was a great name for a bucket, 'Old Pal'.

But the best stuff is the Peace Fleece yarn and roving. Fiber, fiber everywhere! Up above....

....down below

...all around. Boxes and boxes...

...bins and bins...

and all sorted, neat and tidy.

Peace Fleece is really an amazing company. It is housed in their barn, with a large extension in the back for their offices. It was started in 1985, with a trip to Russia. Peter says,
"I used to describe Peace Fleece as an international yarn company doing business with historic enemies like Palestinians and Israelis and Russians and Americans. Today that description still holds true but recently I have grown to see it more as a place where very normal people come together on a regular basis to help each other get through the day." Today they send fiber to stores in nearly every state. 10 years ago Houston and I traveled to Russia with Peter to help out at some of the sheep farms. I got to see first hand what an incredible job Peter does and how much he brings to the lives of these shepherds in a far off land.

We did get in a 4-hour bike ride, over hill and dale, up rocky trails, down slippery slopes and past some beautfiul farm land. We saw this sign on a road-turned-trail, "4x4 trail only!! no matter what your GPS says!" and phew! was it ever. I even had to walk my bike a bit. We ran into a couple guys on their ATV's, taking a break by a pond and got to talking. They knew Peter of course, neighbor's I guess. We talked for about 15 minutes and I think I understood about 1/4th of what he said, his Maine accent was so thick.

We rode on the hottest day in Maine this year, in the 90's and even humid. Near the end of the ride (with only 6 miles to go), we saw a grocery store and made our way in. Ahhhh! air conditioning! We cooled down and I spotted the menu pitching their lobster roll. How often can you ride for half a day and get a lobster roll? Not in Maryland! So of course I had to have one. It came in a plastic hinged container and we went outside to eat it near the parking lot. As I set it down on the ground, the box flipped over and the lobster roll landed gooey side down in the dirt, grass, and gravel. Ugh! But I picked up the lobster pieces, shook what debris would come off, poured some water on them and gobbled it down. It was just a wee bit crunchy, but good nonetheless. Houston had gotten a whoopee pie so I think we had our food groups covered....protein, fiber and marshmallow fluff.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

While up in Maine, we stayed with our friends, Peter and Marty, the owners of Peace Fleece. We were lucky enough to catch them making hay with their 'crew.'

Duke is the old guy, the white one. I can't remember the others' names. They're at rest here, taking a break in the shade before moving on to cut more rows. I've always had a thing for these gentle giants, the work horses. My favorite is a dapple grey Percheron.

The flies and mosquitoes are bad as you can imagine so the tails are always in motion.

The grass cutter is powered by biodiesel fuel, but the main power is the 4-horse power 'engine' up front.

I just loved the scene of the mountains in the background, the bright blue sky with puffy clouds, and these four gorgeous animals pulling the cutter. The fresh cut grass smelled of spring and summer and dew and farm.

Marty made some rows by hand if there wasn't enough grass so the baler could pick it up.

Walking the horses back through the Maine woods.

We had ridden our bikes over to the field so Houston walked Marty's bike back. I felt like we were in a parade. We didn't have far to go, just 1/4 mile.

Getting all the gear off on this hot day has to feel good.

Marty getting ready to ride over to the field. Someone had thrown this bike away at the dump so she retrieved it and it has served her well. She rides it to various fields to check on the animals.

After a few hours of cutting, the horses get some hay that they had cut last year. They really do have to work for their food!

This little red hen gets in on some of the hay action too.

And as the day draws to a close, this hard working horse puts his head down for a little nap. Ahhh.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mainly Maine

We arrived in Maine earlier this week to marvelous weather. Maine has had a chilly and very rainy spring and summer, but there was no evidence of foul weather while we were there.

The cabin we stayed in for 4 days was right on the Damariscotta River. It's great for sea kayaking, with islands to paddle to. This is the view right out our cabin door. The guys went out on sea kayaks to a nearby rock outcropping and harvested mussels for their dinner. Fi and I don't like mussels so there was plenty for them.

The back yard, a stand of trees on a rock cliff with the river right below.

The modest little cabin....

and with twinkle lights on at night.

Fresh flowers greeted us as we entered.

We immediately hopped on our bikes and rode to Christmas cove and saw working and pleasure boats side by side.

My favorite boats are the lobster boats. I love their shape, all hardy and sturdy, ready for the waves.

I thought this was a great name for a boat. This one's for you, Penny.

The second day we got on our bikes again and biked on over to Pemaquid light house. It was a blistery hot day, but as soon as we got to the ocean, we felt the breeze, hung out on the rocks and cooled down a bit.

The next day was shopping and eating. I LOVE lobster and was able to eat a couple lobster rolls and a lobster dinner, over the course of a few days.

The famouse Red's Eats in Wiscassett.

Gotta love the name, Smitten. I'm designing a mitten called 'Smitten Mitten', inspired by this shop.

Here's Fi coming out of a local barn shop, loaded down with candles, a platter and other goodies.

Firehouse Gallery is a way cool gallery leaning towards contemporary art. I loved everything in there.

I don't even sew, but I can't resist colorful fabrics. Maybe I'll attempt a simple bag.

I was really attracted to all this red fireman's paraphernalia. It would go great in my Cumberland house. But things were way too expensive.

The owner of this shop threw out some wildflower seeds in the spring and got this totally cute little garden. Mine would be just weeds. It helps to have a cool, wet climate.