Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I had to do it… it was very, very hard. I just needed to see a few places again. I meant looking at pictures from 2003. Can it be? 7 years ago? I have not looked at these pictures since then. They were taken with a Mickey Mouse camera – one with FILM – and the film was made cloudy when the camera was x-rayed going thru airport security in Portland. THAT was an experience I won’t soon forget – but that is another story for another day. Or not.

Bear with me – I am still trying to figure out live writer… apparently the preview is not always what you get…

Anyway, trying to maintain my composure here… I just feel the need to share a few pictures, most include my sister, Luanne, who left us in January of 2004. This was her last trip anywhere, and she did so well… she out walked me, for crying out loud. The wheelchair I rented for her was used mostly by me! What can I say. Lets start in Bar Harbor…026_24A 028_25 024_22A 025_25

Acadia - 002_00013_10   009_6011_11 014_11 017_17015_12  018_18 020_17 021_18

Maybe… again… one day…

Friday, October 22, 2010



I just got a phone call about a half an hour ago... my dear friends, who go by Grenville and Beatrice on their blog, are sitting as I type this at the Peaks Cafe' - hopefully enjoying some nice hot coffee and a cinnamon bun... ah, yes, life can be good.

Unfortunately, they have about frozen their butts off - tis a bit chilly up there this time of year - BUT, it hasn't snowed on them yet... however the wind is high and probably made for a fun trip across the Bay.

It is a short trip, however, under normal conditions. 20 minutes, usually, if I remember correctly - unless there is ice. Yep, I have gone to school with ice swirling around the boat.

In the old days, as I may have mentioned before, (I'm an old lady, indulge me) if you went to high school, you had to go to the Mainland. As there were very few cars on the Island, one walked sometimes several miles on snow packed roads VERY early in the morning to catch the ferry. Once in Portland, it was a good hike up the hill into center city to Portland High School. We traveled cobblestone streets. I swear, we did for the first few blocks.

I don't know what time school gets out today, but it was out shortly after 1 pm back then, probably because of the long trip home for the islanders. It usually took about 20 min to get to the wharf, don't know how long we had to wait - when you are a kid you don't notice those things - the ferry ride was a minimum of 20 minutes, and then, for some, a walk home of about an hour. Walking on snow and ice is not quite as speedy as in better weather. So for many kids, they did not get home until about 3 PM. It is almost dark by then in mid winter. Maine is an hour ahead of the Eastern Shore, sunwise, not clock wise. But then, it is light earlier in the morning...
Living year round on Peaks is not for wimps. In my old age, I have figured out living year round in Maine is not for wimps. Oh, I am so spoiled. (Its gonna be 74 tomorrow here...)

Anyway, THANK YOU Grenville for the phone call. As soon as we hung up, I called my Aunt Kathryn and we oooooooooooo-ed and aaaaaaaaahhhhed for a while wishing we were back on the Island, just one more time... how wonderful our life was on the island, and all that great stuff. Couldn't remember one single bad moment. (Isn't memory wonderful?)

So, while talking to Grenville, I pulled up the Peaks webcam...
This image is from Larry's webcam, PI, 9:50 AM, Oct 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010


This is from August 5, 2006… in honor of my friends who hopefully will be visiting Peaks on Friday.

I wonder how often we experience “the perfect life” – if only briefly – and are totally unaware of the miracle while it is happening. Or, maybe it is just in looking back thru the half closed eyes of time that all seems so perfect. I am not sure. So often we remember scenes from our past, especially periods of time from our childhood as being far more wonderful than they really were – then. Our brains have the wonderful ability to forget so much of the bad stuff and just keep the better moments for us… well, for most of us, anyway. Or maybe those of us who remember horrible childhood experiences just didn’t have that much good to remember.
My memories of childhood are mixed, probably like most folks, some was good, some was bad, most just was. Know what I mean? Many kids who lived in serious poverty were totally unaware of it. They were loved, they were happy. Just as many kids who are born to great wealth just assume that is how life is and do not realize their advantages, if indeed wealth is an advantage and I am not sure it is. I think a bit of, well, maybe not serious poverty, not starvation type poverty, you know, but not having everything you want the moment you want it might be better than growing up in a house that looks like the annex from Toys-R-Us. I think having chores to do and learning responsibility is a good thing – it gives kids a sense of self-worth and an appreciation of life and other people.
I will not use this venue to discuss the miserable part of my early life, the shame of wearing second hand clothes from a cousin who was several years older than I and not at all the same size. To this day I despise green jackets or coats. It must have been Jean’s favorite color. But, I digress. Sigh. My favorite sport. They should have an Olympic event for being able to digress more than anyone else in a 5 minute period… see? I have done it again.
What I really wanted to put on here today are some pictures and a bit about one of the best summers of my life – the summer I spent living with my Aunt Kathryn and her family on Peaks Island in Maine a gazillion years ago. Maybe it was because it was my last summer as a child, my last time being carefree probably forever. I was 10. It was the mid 1950s.
I had been an only child for all of those 10 years. Spoiled, no doubt, by loving grandparents with whom I was blessed to live for the first 9 years. My father was in God-knows-what-country in the early stages of his Foreign Service career when my mother divorced him and moved on with her life which really didn’t include me much. She remarried in ‘52 and, unfortunately, I had to go and live with them. Grandma always said if you can’t say anything nice about somebody, don’t say anything at all. So I won’t even mention my stepfather’s name. All I will say is he was jobless again in ‘54 so we migrated to Maine and more or less moved in with my Aunt Kathryn, her husband, his uncle, and 4 cousins on an island just off the coast of Maine and stayed there until he found a job.
As much as I missed spending the summer with my grandparents back in Pennsylvania, I was excited to be with my cousins. It was almost like having brothers and sisters, I thought, as if I knew what that would really be like. And to this day, I feel closer to these cousins than I do to the people with whom I share a parent’s name on my birth certificate.
And then there was the ocean. For the first time in my life I got to experience the ocean. Waves. Starfish. Seaweed. Sand dollars. The magic kingdoms of tidal pools. Wild strawberries. Wild blackberries. Not wearing shoes for a month or two. The freedom of an island, an island where kids were safe to come and go… well, at least safe from human predators and traffic. There were few cars on the island.
We left the house in the morning and headed out, usually to the beach, a few hundred feet from our door. We never wore shoes, I doubt any of us owned bathing suits. We just jumped in the frigid water in our shorts and shirts and eventually dried off, more or less. We made it look like so much fun! Tourists would see us in and out of the water like sea lion pups and assume they could do the same thing. Ha! You could hear them scream on the other end of the island when their pampered little feet hit the cold water. So we had the water all to ourselves. “A bunch a wild Indians!” they said. Well, yeah, that works. Musta been the braids. Ya think?
Well, the reality is, we were not safe, at least from the danger of the rocks. My “boyfriend” of the summer, David Barren, age 12, was killed diving off the rocks… and hitting his head on one. What is amazing is that none of us ever got hurt as we had no adult supervision once we left the yard. Who could have found us?
We wandered here and there, out on the rocks on the point that was separated from the island at high tide. We dug thru the seaweed to find crabs and starfish. We dried starfish and sand dollars on the birdbath in the backyard stinking up the entire neighborhood. The only time there was water in the birdbath was when it rained.
My cousins and I personally kept our end of the island free from bottles we found where the teenagers had partied the night before. We got 3 - 5¢ per bottle depending on its size. 5¢ in those days bought you a fudgesicle which was more than twice the size of fudgesicles today and ten times as delicious. Once in a while we would stumble on a mother lode of bottles and have a serious snacking day! We were easily pleased.
We walked everywhere we went, almost never on a paved road. We took short cuts thru just about everybody’s yard, as did everyone else. No one seemed to think much about it. There was a playground down near the ferry landing. The path to the playground, the “downtown” area, went thru a field full of wild strawberries. We picked that field clean! They were delicious on our cereal each morning.
There was a big hall back behind the bowling alley (duckpins) where they showed movies on Saturday afternoons. One Saturday we discovered the huge bushes all around the building were filled with the biggest blackberries! Of course, I later discovered they were not all that big, but I hadn’t seen any that big before. So our breakfast got a change from strawberries to blackberries.
We also made money collecting and selling periwinkles, mussels and rock crabs to the tourists. That’s periwinkles the snail, not the plant. Don’tcha love the name Periwinkle? I was going to name Rascal that before we found out he was a Rascal. (I did it again, didn’t it? sigh.) We thought it was the dumbest thing and utterly gross to eat periwinkles or mussels. I still don’t like to eat crab. We will not mention lobster. I am ashamed to admit lobster still makes me drool.
We did lots of things we should not have done and would have surely felt the ping pong paddle if found out. A few years ago I told Aunt Kathryn about exploring the old WWII bunkers and caves on the other side of the island. Her eyes got big. She said, “You didn’t! Why you stinkers! You could have fallen in one of those pits and we never would have found you!” and she went on like that for a moment or two until she realized it was now 40 some years later and we all survived.
I cannot think about the island without thinking about the foghorns at night. How I loved the sound of that foghorn. That is one of my favorite sounds in the world. And we were close enough to the water that we could hear the waves breaking when there was a storm somewhere, though we were not on the seaside of the island. Another favorite sound!
By summer’s end we were brown as we could be with feet as tough as the rocks we ran and climbed over. We climbed over rocks covered with barnacles, edges sharp as razors, and never got a scratch. Our calluses had calluses. My uncle Leigh used to strike matches on the soles of our feet. Tourists just stared at us as if we were little mountain goats happily jumping from one rock to another like no human would ever be able to do. How we ran over those rocky beaches and did not do serious damage to ourselves, I will never know. Tourist kids used to try to keep up with us but it was no contest. They soon gave up and stumbled back to sit on the rocks with their parents whimpering about their now sore feet.
Check the water temps and conditions at http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=44031. As I write this, they have a warning up for boaters to cut their speed because of the many whales swimming thru today. Is that cool or what?????
I often dream of going back to the island… just to have one more night sleeping with the ocean breezes blowing thru the windows bringing the sound of the fog horn, the lapping of the waves on the rocks. Periodically I look at the house rentals on the island. My sister and I often talked about renting a house up there for a month and inviting our cousins to come and spend some time. As I post this, my Aunt Kathryn is on her way back to Maine with one of her children. I am so filled with envy I can hardly see straight. I know I must go back even though everyone tells me how crowded it is, how built up it is, I would not like it anymore, etc, etc, etc. Yeah, I know all that. But it is a pilgrimage type thing, an honoring a moment of time when I was carefree and a kid

Monday, October 18, 2010


Numerous friends have been on vacation lately, most of them going pretty much to the same place – Maine. Maine is definitely in my top 5 list of places to go on vacation, and state-side, is probably #1.

I find different people’s ideas of vacations interesting. There are those who go hiking, camping, head out to the more remote parts of the world sometimes hiking miles for that perfect moment, that perfect view that so few ever get to see. For some there is nothing more enjoyable than the smell of coffee brewing over a campfire, a morning dip in the river or a shower under a waterfall. DSCN1655 Then there are those who leave the getting there to someone else, have meals prepared by a chef and sleep in a bed they did not have to make, let alone roll up and tuck into a back pack. Somewhere between the cruise people and the back packers fall the majority of us.

In my old age, I do like the convenience of a bed at night, a flush toilet and a hot shower. I am ashamed to admit, the last few times I went to our Powwow, I did pitch my tent… but I slept in a motel a few miles down the road.

I have been blessed by being able to have some wonderful vacations. It would be hard to say which one was the best… but probably at the top of the list would be the spring we spent in Egypt. I was young and brave enough to try anything, go anywhere, including places no longer allowed, like climbing to the top of the pyramids. pyramids Riding camels around the pyramids was fun, great shots for the family photo album, but racing the stable boy on a white Arabian thru the desert was breath taking. hatshepsut God! Was I ever that young? Really?

Having lived in the Middle East, I had the good fortune to be able to go to places most people only visit in a text book or on a PBS special. Many of those places are not there anymore – or I guess I should say are in ruins or have been rebuilt like Beirut, Baghdad, or are off limits like Tehran. When people around here brag about something that was built a hundred, two hundred years ago, I nod and smile, but after being in Istanbul, where the University was founded before Columbus even set sail, I tend to not be real impressed. If you’ve wandered the ancient streets of Ephesus or Bergama or Troy, 200 years is just yesterday. Probably my favorite camping out experience was camping in a cave in Cappadocia. (google it!) BothIstanbul

For many years we went to Montserrat, in the British West Indies, spending weeks at Vue Pointe, now closed forever under a dusting of volcanic ash, and hanging out in Plymouth which is now buried under tons of volcanic ash. So, even though the island is still there, much of it is buried today, and that breaks my heart. I enjoyed the other islands, but there was just something special about Montserrat. VuPointePC2

Probably my most special vacation was my last trip to Maine… a few years ago when I took my sister and her husband back for one last trip. My sister, 12 years younger than I, had cancer, and it had spread. She wanted to see the place where she was born. All she really remembered was a green door. The last time my sister and I had been together in Maine, I think she was only 4 years old. It was a bitter sweet trip knowing that it would no doubt be the last time we would ever see each other. She was gone 3 months later.

Maine, for me, is the rocky coast, the water, the smells and sounds associated with the water. Though we lived in Portland most of the time, we also lived with an aunt and uncle and a bunch of cousins on Peaks Island in Casco Bay. Copy of PeaksArial It was on Peaks Island that I fell in love with the sea. PeaksBeach

I loved falling asleep listening to the waves lap up on the rocks (no sand on our beach,) listening to the lullaby of the fog horn at nightcushFog2 and the clang, clang, clang of the bell buoys.DSC_0711


I have a few of them hanging out in my yard, though today their clanging usually means a stiff breeze is blowing. In the morning, if the wind was just right, we would awaken to the toots of the boats pulling out from the docks on the other side of the point…a beautiful but unreliable alarm clock.peaksIsland2 There are so many places in Maine to fall in love with, but I am hooked on being as close to the water as I can. I wonder how many islands there are in Maine. We’ll only count at high tide. cushPoint I remember learning the Maine State Song in 6th grade. To this day, I remember every word and every word is true. The part I remember best is:

Oh, Pine Tree State
Your woods, fields and hills
Your lakes, streams and rockbound coast
Will ever fill our hearts with thrills
And tho' we seek far and wide
Our search will be in vain
To find a fairer spot on earth
Than Maine!
Maine! Maine!

Well, there you have it. that says it all.

Probably my second favorite spot in Maine would be what I learned to pronounce as Arcadia, but amazingly is spelled Acadia and is near the little town of BaHaba, but spelled Bar Harbor and Mt Desert Island, whoops, there you go, another island. I don’t think I would ever get tired of being there, well, um, that is, until the snow started to fall. Oh, I have become such a wimp living here in coastal Virginia. No hills, little snow, flowers in bloom most winters… wimp, an old wimp. But I used to not mind the Maine winters – I was a kid, I didn’t know any better. What can I say? See the Whale Watcher boat just sittin’ and waitin’ and I am not there! (Geddy’s webcam)BaHaba Oct A perfect morning is waking up with the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks, the smell of a fresh brewed pot of coffee mingling with the fresh salt air. I used to love to walk down to the head of the rocks and watch the morning fog burn off, the city was far away buried in a cloud of soft grey, the sounds of the lobstah boats chug, chugging by. It was so much fun to climb down to inspect the tidal pools, see who or what was there today. Sometimes I would pick wild berries in the field beside the house to put on my cereal. Life was good.

There are so many places to go in Maine. I do believe it is the most beautiful state on the Eastern half of the United States. I am not sure just which part of Maine I like the most. One of my fantasies has always been to rent the Pemaquid Light House for a week. You can visit it here - http://www.pemaquidpoint.org/wc.cfm. Oh, my, I can smell the salt air… pemaquid wave

You would think that with my love of the sea I would be a cruise person – but, I am not a cruise enthusiast, and I cannot imagine taking a cruise to Leaf Peep… but plenty of folks do. This big beauty was docked in Portland, Maine. I guess there are advantages to a moving hotel, but, like I said, I am not a cruise person. I HATE the dressing up part, the cocktail hour… I love ships and boats, but I hate the “cruise” scene. If I can’t wear my jeans to dinner, I ain’t goin’! I hate playing dress up! I like the boat small enough I can feel the spray of the waves on my face. portland 2 ships

Most ferry lines have island tour cruises, some have light house cruises, but I like just getting on the mail boat and going from one island to the next with the locals, not even getting off, just BEING there. Sometimes you can just bribe someone to take you out for the day!peaksLtHs1 portland head portlandHeadLt

Then there are whale watching tours and best of all, Puffin trips! But you have to do the puffin tours before late August because they leave about then. Talk about snow birds! peaksWhale

I have promised myself another trip back to Maine, my friends are forever bugging me about going back to Turkey (next to Maine I love Istanbul) but these days I feel lucky to get over to Virginia Beach! (I used to get a room on the ocean front and sleep with the door to the balcony open so I could hear the waves crashing in as I fell asleep.) sigh. Oh well, maybe one of these days. It seems it takes all my energy just to get up and going and getting the dishes done! But, until then, I can listen to my friends, look at their pictures (those kind enough to share them) or read their blogs and keep an eye out for pictures of the waves on the rocks…(surely you must have been to the water’s edge by now!) who knows, one day I might just take off…

Saturday, October 09, 2010


RED is one of my favorite colors, for sure, and if you keep track of my blog, you know I have shown this coleus several times before. It is now over 4 feet tall. This is just one plant. The Persian Shield behind it is a group of 3 plants. I have tried and tried to capture the color of the coleus, but it just never seems to come out as red as in real life. It glows red. It is almost as if it is illuminated from within the plant.DSC_0713 DSC_0714


And while I was trying to get the color on camera the other day, another red surprise appeared.DSC_0706 DSC_0707

OK, I know this is not red, but it is my new wind sock. The old one is bleached into pastel shades. DSC_0724

Sorry I have not been on here much. I have been so busy. The cooler weather is better for doing things, but my Lymes is giving me a fit, so it is slow going. These are a few of the house plants that had to come in as the temp dropped below 50 the other night. The crotons don’t do below 50! DSC_0705The rest of the plants will come in tomorrow except for the Christmas cactus - they will go in the green house for a while when it gets close to freezing, and will set their buds in there before I bring them in the house.

And, too, I have had several newsletters to get out this week… and on a computer that is ancient and not happy. I keep pushing it to its max.