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Monday, October 31, 2011

Little Things


Roadblock?
Take a detour?
We were
A little late;
Now we're
Lots late.
On the island
Detours
Are little things
That mean 
A lot.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Storm a Coming!

We had to run up to Gull Haven this afternoon because a snowstorm is headed this way. We had to drain the water tank just in case it froze tonight. There's no heat in the house, so just in case . . .
The sky was already getting overcast by the time we got there. And now, on our way home, it is starting a slushy rain. We're supposed to get 6 inches of snow tonight.
It was cold getting the house settled in for winter, so we stopped by Moody's Diner and had some good, hot and hearty beef barley soup with hot from the oven biscuits with real butter. Oh, yeah, and wonderful warm gingerbread topped with real whipped cream to go with that hot coffee!
Now, I ask you, is there anything better than battening down the hatches?

Friday, October 28, 2011

The House with the Wrinkled Wall

Posted also on Poetry Friday RoundUp hosted by Random Noodling,
and on Gull Haven, where I put updates on this house.

The house with the wrinkled wall
Stands firmly
And squat
By the sea

The house with the wrinkled wall
Waits quietly
And longs
For me

The house with the wrinkled wall
Wants warmth
And life
To tend

The house with the wrinkled wall
Sleeps still
And gray
Till then

The house with the wrinkled wall
Knows the time
Is soon
To come

The house with the wrinkled wall
Starts a low
But joyful
Hum

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday! Yea!
I will probably have to make myself a cake if I want one. My husband won't make one.
My daughter doesn’t live here any more.  And my son, well, he is not a mom’s birthday cake maker kind of guy. He may remember that it’s my birthday though.
Whenever I think of making a birthday cake, I remember the time I made Mom a surprise birthday cake. I must have been 12 or 13.
It was summer, so I was babysitting my three youngersiblings.  Mom was working at the store with Dad as she usually did, so I had all day. I wanted to get it made and surprise her with a birthday cake when she got home.
Well, I got out the red cookbook and then pulled out all the ingredients for a cake; there were no mixes back then. I mixed the ingredients by hand.  We did have a mixer, but I didn’t use her beautiful chrome Sunbeam mixer.  I loved that thing.   I knew just how to let the bowl spin and use a spoon to push the batter back down into the bowl without getting the spoon caught in the beaters. Mom had shown me that long ago. You could really ruin your mixer, so I didn’t use it, just in case.
I greased the pan pretty well.  No Teflon or Pam back then.  We always used Crisco on a napkin…no paper towels yet either!
When it looked good and smooth, and my arm was tired, I poured the batter into the cake pan and put it in the oven.  Soon the yummy chocolate cake aroma filled the air.  It was so exciting.  I’d cooked before, but not without Mom home.  She would be so surprised to see this cake, baked by me!  When it was done, I set it aside to cool while I made the frosting.  There were no cans of pre-made frosting in the world yet.  I used my mom’s recipe of confectionary sugar, butter, vanilla, hot water and cocoa powder.   Chocolate frosting for chocolate cake – is there anything better?
I started the frosting.  Pour in sugar, add the butter, vanilla and cocoa.  The hot water melts the butter as you mix it.  The water must not have been quite hot enough though; it almost melted the butter. Little flecks of it, well, lumps of it showed up as little yellow dots, about the size of mini chocolate chips, throughout the chocolate frosting.  I tried adding more hot water, but not muuch changed except that the frosting was getting soupier.  I didn’t have any more confectionary sugar, so I could not get it thicker. So now I had a buttery-lumpy liquid frosting.  Okay.  There was nothing to be done about that now. I’d pour it over the cake. It would look a bit funny, but it would still taste good.
I used a knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the pan so I could turn it upside down on the cooling rack and then rightside up on the plate.
I placed the rack on the top of the cake pan and turned the cake over to release it from the pan. I lifted the pan away from the cake.  It didn’t come out.  I tapped the bottom of the pan, and I jiggled it. Suddenly and quietly it came out…in pieces. Some of it still clung to the cake pan.  I had a mound of cake that could not be pieced together even with frosting that would stick.
I could hear the car tires crunching on the driveway, as I scooped chunks of cake and placed them on saucers.  The car stopped by the door as I poured buttery lumpy frosting over the chunks.  The porch door opened as I shoved candles into each little cake volcano. “Happy birthday!”  we shouted, as I got ready to light the candles. “I made it myself!”  I laughed.  And we all sat down to eat Mom’s surprise birthday cake.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Triple Dog Dare

Why I Write
Writing is not a choice. Writing is a challenge put forth by my inner me. It’s the reason I write. It has always been there as far back as I can remember. Addiction and obsession are too negative sounding but could be factors. Liberation and communication…now those are the results of the addiction/obsession, but they sound much better! Let’s keep this positive!
Writing is a sport: a game of putting the right words together at the right time in the right place.  A challenge put forth by my inner me. “I triple dog dare you,” says my brain.  And then, I have no choice, I have to write it down.
It’s time to pick teams. Let the games begin.

As the coach, I invite the words to come and try out.  I decide which words I want for the team, which words get to play and which ones don’t.

Some words get sent back.  They just aren't playing nicely; they lack sportsmanship and cooperation. Some words just don't make the cut; they’re just not good enough -  no muscle, no stretch, no imagination, no accuracy, no stamina.  They’ll take too much work to fit in with the rest of the team.

Some words are relegated to the bench in case I need them later.  They have potential, but they just aren’t needed yet.  I’ll look for places to use them well and strategically.  They may not play this game, but I keep an eye out in the next game for a place I can use them.

Sometimes, somehow, too many words go out on the field.  I have to send some back because there are too many for the game, too many on the field! Penalty!!!

But when the right words are put together, they flow.   A brain “wave” goes through the reader.  From word to word, the image grows as it is passed around, until, at the end - SCORE!  And a little brain cheer goes up…

Anyone for up for a game?  I double dog dare you.  No, I triple dog dare you!

********************************************************************************* 
Such a simple question, with so many possible answers! Thursday, October 20, is the third annual National Day on Writing and the Stenhouse Blog will join the celebration by asking you to answer the question: Why do you write?
Here's my comment: 

Why I Write
Writing is not a choice. Writing is a challenge put forth by my inner me. It’s the reason I write. It has always been there as far back as I can remember. Addiction and obsession are too negative sounding but could be factors. Liberation and communication…now those are the results of the addiction/obsession, but they sound much better! Let’s keep this positive!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shushing

 
For Poetry Friday linked at Jama's Alphabet Soup:

Shush!
The wind outside
Is shushing
Listen to the autumn
Rolling in
Skip to greet the
Incoming waves
Splash
Ankle deep in
Leaves
Scoop and toss
Giggle
At leaf spray
Sprinkling down
On faces and necks
Dive into
The cool
Tidal pool
Of autumn.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do You Ever...



Do you ever . . .
  • have a question that you don't dare ask because it may sound stupid?
  • wish that it were true that there are no stupid questions?
  • wonder what your dog is thinking . . . and how he's thinking it without words?
  • look up and imagine walking on the ceiling instead of the floor?
  • try to imagine the sun is shining when it's raining?
  • wonder what a butterfly thinks when he finds out he's not a caterpillar anymore?
  • wonder if a butterfly and a caterpillar speak the same language?
  • go the wrong way because it's the way you remember going . . . and it was wrong then, too?
  • wonder what the ocean would look like without any water in it?
  • feel like flying with wings and landing on a high tree branch?
  • imagine how life would be if you were a seal?
  • want to be a character in a book . . . or their best friend? 
  • wonder what it would be like to live outside all the time, like a deer?
  • imagine you can walk on clouds?
  • want ice cream for breakfast?
  • picture what it would be like to live in an ant hill?
  • wonder what it would be like to think in another language?
  • contemplate how to stay sane if you were the last person on earth?
  • wonder how you would know if you were insane if there was no one to tell you?
  • ponder what someone is doing on the other side of the world at this moment?
  • try to picture green grass and sandals while you are in boots shoveling snow?
  • wish you could pick your dream for the night?
  • wonder what you'd be like if you had been born with a different brain . . . and how would you know?
  • wonder what you would be like if you had been born into a different family?
  • wonder how a particular family would have been changed if you had been born into it?
  • think how life would be different if you'd bought the house across the street?
  • wonder what's the thing you are doing right now that will change tomorrow?

I do.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Prayer



Little man,
Just two months old,
My prayer for you
If truth be told:
That you would come
Into the fold,
Receive the Love
That's pure as gold;
And then a wife 
To have and hold,
A love on earth
That God would mold.


He just turned two months old.  It is never too early to plan for the future of your grandchild!  
This week his great grandmother is going to see him for the first time (not counting his FaceTime debut)!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Everything and the Kitchen Sink


We are looking for fixtures for the new house, and decided to go to Lowe's to see some in person.  It is nice ordering on the Internet and getting things shipped, but sometimes you need to touch things to get a good idea of size, quality, etc.
We looked at lighting first, then went to the washers and dryers, then over to toilets and bathroom sinks.  After that it was on to faucets for both bathrooms and kitchen.  On the way there, we passed the displays of kitchen cabinets, set up with countertops, sinks, faucets, wallpaper and flooring.  A mom and her two sons were just leaving the area.
The younger son, probably 5 or 6 years old (I didn't see his teeth, so I was not positive) pointed to a display and said, "That's a beautiful kitchen!  I didn't know they sold kitchens here.  How do they get them out?"
I could see the mom smile slightly, trying not to laugh, as she very seriously told him, "I think they take them apart."  They passed by me not knowing that I'd heard the exchange. 
I love the idea that a kitchen could get delivered to you all set up and ready to use.  The only thing better would be if you could order it that way online and it teleported into place.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Love, Deer


Hello! Yes, you!  I do not appreciate being startled.  I was just leisurely crossing the road, and here you come barreling down the road in your growly, bug-eyed, little vroomything.  Have you ever thought that you could bump into me with that?  I didn't think so.  I had to hurry to the side of the hard-path. 
This isn't the first time you've done this.  You should know by now how much I hate when you stare at me.  So just stop it!  I hate it!  I wasn't ready to go off into the woods yet.  I wanted to browse along the edge.  But no.  You had to creep up and stare.  So now I'm down here.  And... you are still staring at me!  What is with you guys?  Go away!
Okay.  I'll go away. 
Come on, Bambi.  I almost forgot you were here with me.  Did you know you blend in very well with these saplings and the dark shadows?  They didn't see you either...well, until now. They were actually watching me, but now that you've moved, they are watching you, too.  You need to keep that tail still, and don't turn your ears so much.  Now the only thing we can do is ignore them.  Don't go getting nervous. You know how that makes your tail-white show.  Keep it tucked.
What do you say we go over here and catch a little snack of the last of the sweet greens?  Don't look at them.  They'll go away pretty soon.  They always do.
They're still there, aren't they?
You are just a bunch of staryheads!
See, there they go now!  I guess I told them.  Next time I'll let you yell at them.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Poem - Pretty Soon I'll Know

Across the road
A week ago we closed on our retirement cottage, but with the weather kind of yucky, and my husband working all week, Saturday was the first day we could go up there and really look at it now that it belonged to us.  The weather was absolutely gorgeously warmish and sunny!
We went up today to meet the contractor and figure out the renovations we want to do.  When we were done, we just sat for a bit on the front steps and listened and watched.  People we've never met before drove by and waved to us.  We returned the gesture.  Two women walked by and called out "Did you buy this place?"  The SOLD sign was still up.
We smiled and called back "Yes."
"Oh, I'm so glad!  This is such a sweet place.  You have a great view!  Oh, I'm sorry!  We've interrupted your view time!"
Nonsense, we will have more view times.  It was great to meet friendly people there: people who were glad we were in the neighborhood.
There are lobster boats in the cove. There's a wharf across the road that says it sells lobsters.  I wonder if they would sell two or three lobsters or if we'd need to get a truckload?  I guess we'll have to find out.  I could buy a truck.

I sat on my steps
Today
With the sounds
And the spray

The sun glistened
So
As I watched him
Slowly row

Out to his boat
Moored
Beneath the gulls
As they soared

The gulls called “Mine,
Mine!”
“Clean your traps, on
Bait we’ll dine.”

The throaty chug,
Chug
Of his engine
Didn’t lug

Soon I’ll know the
Sound
Of each craft when
It comes round

And then I will
Learn
Who owns the name
On each stern

These vessels of the
Sea
That bring lobster
Rolls to me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

Is there anything better for breakfast than oatmeal on a sunny, but cold, autumn morning?  Yes.  Oatmeal in my favorite bowl with my favorite mug filled with coffee.
  
Since I've retired, I've taken to making more foods from scratch.  This oatmeal is not your Quaker Quickies.  It is either Silver Palate, or my new favorite Bob's Red Mill Organic, Extra Thick, Whole Grain Rolled Oats.  Now that's a mouthful...literally!  Silver Palate takes 8 minutes to cook, and Bob's takes 12 whole minutes to make!  Now that's cooking!  Anything that takes longer to make than it does to eat is what I deem cooking.  If the clean up after the meal takes longer than it did to eat it, it's cooking, too.
I sprinkle cinnamon on it, then raw sugar, almond slivers or slices, then some Maine wild blueberries (fresh raspberries or strawberries will also do fine), a drizzle of real maple syrup and last a little bit of milk.  Fill the mug with coffee, and voila!  Breakfast is served.  Oh, I forgot.  Sometimes the bowls are a little cold straight from the cupboard, so I warm them first by rinsing them in nice, hot water before they get filled with oatmeal.  The oatmeal stays warmer longer that way.

There is nothing finer, and I never used to like oatmeal.  The trick is to not overcook it, and don't cook the oats in milk.  And it's very photogenic.  Even if you don't like oatmeal, it makes you wish you did.

Oh, good grief.  My cat is opening the cupboards again.  I have to see if he has an empty bowl.  He's not having my oatmeal.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Specialist

I felt like I should write something, but I’m not sure of what, about Apple.  I worked for 2 years as a Specialist at an Apple store.  I was in the core training group before the first (and only) Apple store in Maine opened.  It opened with a bunch of enthusiastic, energetic, creative and intelligent people of all ages and all walks of life.  We went through a month long training together where we learned the Apple products and a lot about each other.  We were a close knit group by the month’s end.
I never thought I'd enjoy retail sales, but this was a different brand of sales, a different level of retail.  There was a calm, unpressured sales attitude at Apple, an expectation that you would work with a customer until they got what they needed, even if it was only their questions all answered and no sale. 
For me it involved hours after school to closing and all day Saturdays, leaving me little free time. People asked how I could do it, how I could keep up the pace of teaching and work at the store.  All I can say is that it was a different kind of work.  After teaching students all day, I could come in to the store and work with adults, and talk about technology and find solutions to people’s needs. The pace was quick, the work environment was clean and bright, the people were glad to see you.  I was re-energized just walking through the doors.
There was excitement as new products were introduced.  There were challenges to see if you could learn the new products before you got to actually sell one!  It was satisfying to be able to explain differences in models of devices and software and help determine what system was going to be the unit they needed.
Sometimes that store was so crowded you could not make it in a straight line from front to back.  You couldn’t even make out the bright turquoise, royal blue, red or orange shirts signifying that you were an Apple employee.  Teens crowded the devices on Saturdays, dancing to the music, making video clips and posting on FaceBook.  Some people, more my age, came in looking overwhelmed and skeptical at times, but left feeling a bit more in the loop after talking with someone and getting their questions answered.
I have thought about going back to work there, now that I'm retired.  But with gas prices the way they are, and the fact that I'd want to buy every new piece of technology, it would require all of my paycheck!
Would I like to sell another iPhone, iPad, iPod, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac or MacMini?  Would I like to show someone the way to do a screen capture, to record and edit movies, to use GarageBand and make a podcast?  Yes.  I love that stuff.
I also liked teaching first grade.  I liked putting some of those Apple products to use in the classroom, yes, even in first grade.  My class wrote a wonderful story as a class and illustrated it.  Then we used iPhoto and made a beautiful full color book that we were able to gift to the school's library for students to check out.  We've written music in GarageBand and used it in our video podcasts.  
I loved talking to teachers when they came in the Apple store, and I could talk to them about the neat stuff they could do. I loved using my teaching skills there to work at the Apple Camp in the summer, teaching kids how to make movies in iMovie.
I am saddened that Steve Jobs has passed away.  As I heard someone say in a post somewhere, the average IQ of the world has just dropped with his passing.  He was a smart guy.  He was innovative.  He was courageous.  He certainly made a difference in my life over the past 15 years.  My first Mac at school changed a chore into an exciting journey into technology in education that I have enjoyed immensely.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Birds Beware


I see trees and sky over there!
Yesterday a bird hit one of our front windows.  He flew off landing in a low branch as I watched.  Many times they are not so lucky.
This bird I believe hit it again later in the day and survived yet another time, flying to the porch roof for a breather this time.  I hope he's related to a cat... so he'll have seven to go.

Last fall one hit our back sliding glass door and landed on the ground below it.  (We have a new house - only 12 years old - so the deck isn't on the back yet - hey, we have plenty of time to get that deck.)  He must have seen the windows in the front and thought he could fly through back to front.  He sat there for a couple of hours just looking around.  I called Chewonki, which is a place around here that does Nature Education classes and also takes in injured wild animals, to see what I should do.  They were closing for the night, so said to just watch him, maybe put him in a box lined with towels and put a cover on it with holes.  By the time it was getting to be evening, when I looked out he had flown away.  I was relieved.  A bird in a box on my front porch for the night would mean I wasn't sleeping.  What if a fox, weasel or coyote came by?

Looks like we could fly right through there!
Some mornings our Golden Retriever, Pippi, won't step on parts of the lawn.  She'll sniff a spot and then go around or hop over it like it's tainted.  I'm sure we have plenty of wildlife that passes through at night.  If I feel guilty about a bird hitting my windows, I can't imagine the guilt if I set him safely on my porch and had him, in actuality, set up to be a boxed lunch.

The twelve large windows in the prow reflect the tall trees and sky on the birds' side.  I'm sure birds think it would be great fun to fly between the wooden posts and out again.  They just can't see the danger there.

I had never given a thought to the dangers of the windows when we built the house.  I love my view from the prow. From my side I can see the trees and sky for real.  They only reflect the inside back to me at night.
In a snowstorm it feels like I'm in a reversed snowglobe...like someone is shaking the outside and I'm inside all safe and warm watching the snow fall all around me.

I'm so sorry, birds, for my part in this.  I should have put in smaller windows. I'll remember that if I put any more windows in a house.

I wish I didn't feel so bad about fooling them.  I don't know what to do about it though.
Maybe some little danger signs posted outside in bird language...little silhouettes of a cat on a yellow diamond shaped sign?  I couldn't draw glass.  They wouldn't see it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Up, Down vs. Down, Up

Up, down, 
Mom grips, 
Runs,
Then lets go. 
Up, down, 
Weaving wheel 
Snake prints 
In gravel and grass. 
Up, down, 
Two pedals, 
Little bike, 
On the ground. 
Up, down,
Boy’s spirit, 
Knee Scuffed. 
Up, down, 
Little bike 
Put away 
For another day. 
Up, down, 
“I will 
do that 
when 
I know
how.” 
Up, down, 
Door slams. 
Up, down, 
Mom sighs. 
There’s no 
Explaining
That you 
Need to
Do it 
To learn
How.
There’s no 
Explaining 
Down, up.

That was a hard day.  How do you convince him that he can't just not do something until he knows how to do it?  Of course, now he's grown, having learned how to ride his bike shortly after that incident, and now rides a motorcycle!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Do You SmileBox?

Click to play this Smilebox newsletter
This newsletter design generated with Smilebox

Do you use SmileBox?
Did you know it's free for teachers?
Did you know you can make a slideshow, an invitation, a scrapbook, a calendar, newsletters, recipe books/cards, etc.?
Did you know you can add music?
Did you know you can post your creations online at Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, WordPress and TypePad; email them; print them or burn them to CD/DVD?
Did you know it's a great way to post/publish student work?
Did I mention it was free for teachers?
Below, I've posted a sample newsletter design and a scrapbook design I made with student work last March. For St. Patrick's Day we drew and colored pictures using only crayons that had the word "green" on them somewhere. (It's not the one I originally published, as there are a couple of typos in it!) There are loads of options for backgrounds and embellishments. Enjoy playing!
This is not an advertisement...really! I just enjoy this program and thought you might too! There are just lots of possibilities for educators and students! I would love to make a class recipe book, a newsletter for parents and student published books to post on the school website. And for personal use, I made a very nice collection of photos with text in a musical slideshow/scrapbook that I emailed to my niece after her son's first birthday.

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook

To get the teacher's subscription click on SmileBox.com
No. Really. This is NOT a paid advertisement. I am not getting royalties or chocolates. I just think someone out there would really like to try using this fun site and do some really fun, creative stuff with kids...or without them! Let me know what you do, if you have a go at it.