Monday, October 15, 2012

Smoke Alarms are ringing

No doubt you have all had a nice weekend while I have endured a less than gratifying one here at chirpy, cheery Blue Skye.  Good manners preclude me from sharing with you the highlights of the last few days, for while my guests can and do review me with gay abandon all over the internet and beyond, I cannot respond.    Suffice to say that smoke alarms were involved along with a very cross woman wearing earphones and bunny slippers who berated your blogette at 7 this morning.  Now I don't know about you, but I prefer to have a cup of coffee before being berated.   In any case, you may want to revise your daydream of running a B&B in beautiful coastal Maine. 

Have you done your debate prep?  Are you ready to shout at the television on Tuesday?  All you Romney supporters can just oil your hair and slap on the aftershave and you're ready to go, whereas we have to urge  our reluctant candidate to show up and stay awake.  Like Burgess Meredith in Rocky,  we have to
slap his face and throw some water on him after a few minutes.  Come on Barack, you can do it.  Come on, bop him on the nose JUST ONCE.   Do it for the dog on the car roof.  Better yet, send  in Michelle.  Now THAT would be a debate worth watching for an electorate used to dancing with the stars and singing with the idols.  That the spectacle has little or nothing to do with defining who can lead the American people intelligently, with integrity and a vision worthy of this country, is overlooked.  But.  I'll be there nonetheless hoping that when Romney pulls out his ACLU card, Obama will do a Seinfeld "Really?"

Monday, October 1, 2012

What makes a duck laugh?

Everywhere you look here you see geese soaring back and forth across the marsh,  quacking ducks sound like they are laughing their heads off,  flocks of birds rattle the leaves and chipmunks tear back and forth across the lawns with their cheeks stuffed with whatever it is chipmunks stuff their cheeks with.  Soon we'll be splitting wood, putting away the flower pots and piling up the pumpkins. I adore autumn.  Yesterday we had two rainbows over the hayfield - I mean, come on!  How can you not love that??  All this poetic, autumn is so sad baloney is written by people who have never been to my house in autumn or who don't take my brand of anti-depressants - but that's another story.    As I write, two guests linger over the breakfast table and I linger over a final cup of coffee, trying not to see the looming mountain of ironing which covers my exercise bike.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Political Conventions

After a fortnight of political conventions I'll just say this:  the democratic mob looked like a jollier one to be part of.  The Republicans looked crabby.  I grew up in a house where my mother was famous for inviting our friends to stay for supper without really considering whether there was enough food.  When we'd raise our eyebrows knowing that we had 5 pork chops for 8 people she'd say, " If all your friends are interested in is the food, they can go home and eat. Dinner is about more than food."  I don't know about you, but I'd rather be at the party than home alone with the door locked eating my own pork chop. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

From today's paper

Favorite news story this morning:  police say a man at a movie theater in Nevada accidently shot himself in the buttocks during a showing of The Bourne Legacy.   One more reason to forego the cinema.  Currently we don't go because we can't hear the movie over the sound of chewing. 
Second favorite news story this morning:  state employees here in the Land of LePage can now keep guns in their locked cars in government carparks in Augusta.   I guess if they find themselves in a life threatening situation in say, the cafeteria, they can run to the carpark, unlock their car, get their weapon, run back to the cafeteria and defend themselves.  I feel so much better knowing this.  Don't you? 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A fire in August

I trust you all had a wonderful August.  I've been a tad busy.  I inadvertantly celebrated  the busiest weekend here by starting a fire in the middle of breakfast service for 14.  There was a time when this would have thrown me off my stride. There was a time when I made do with one chin.  Things change.  So I turn around to see a tea towel and a pot holder blazing merrily on the stove and I immediately have an out of body experience which enables me to watch  from a perch on the ceiling fan as this amazingly competent woman who turns out to be me, casually tosses all the flaming articles into the sink and continues cooking the sausages.

I've had a run of really interesting, nice people here with the occasional weirdo thrown in to jazz things up. (You know who you are.)  And they have been generously tolerant of the foibles of this innkeeper.  A wonderful example of my style of innkeeping was made apparent yesterday when I came into my kitchen to find a note from a guest telling me that he had answered the front door and dealt with an inquiry in my absence.  Now if I could just get them to make their own breakfasts and beds ...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

We are pleased to announce

I received this in the post today: 

"We are pleased to announce you may qualify for the Funeral Advantage Program that will pay your family in the event of your death an insurance cash benefit up to $20,000 TAX FREE. " If I answer today, I will also get a pamphlet called "My Final Wishes".   Why on earth would anyone be "pleased to announce" this?  Who wrote this?  Am I meant to be pleased to be told this?  I was sitting here opening envelopes as I do in a once a week depressing ritual:  Bill, bill, bill, bill, YOU ARE GOING TO DIE and we are PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE IT.  The next bill seemed positively cheerful.  How delightful.  I owe $118 dollars for 400 tv stations I don't want to watch, but at least they aren't pleased to announce my impending death.  They just want their 118 bucks .Then on the computer  I received notification of another review on Trip Advisor.  Great. I really need another critic writing in a lacto intolerant gluten free feather allergy snit about a squeaky door. I'm still paying the price in my rankings exacted by a woman who loathed me about 3 years ago the result of which was a  very nasty albeit hilarious review which I suppose will follow me to my gravestone. One depends on the common sense of the Trip Advisor readers.  Anyhow, I took a deep breath and found the review and Mon Dieu!    It was nice.  Somebody liked me.   Someone came here, had a good time and was nice enough to say so.  They liked the birds.  They liked my house.  They thought I was incredibly beautiful and youthful looking. (That part was just sort of implied.) Not the sort of person at all who would qualify for a funeral advantage program.

Friday, July 20, 2012

'Goat Man' Spotted in Mountains of Northern Utah -

'Goat Man' Spotted in Mountains of Northern Utah -

Are these ornamental?

There are three decanters grouped on the table:  onange juice, cranberry juice and apple juice. 
There are 7 guests, one of whom has recently had eye surgery.  "Are these ornamental?" the recent surgeree asks, gesturing vaguely to the juices.  I'm thinking, "how on earth did you travel here from Michigan by yourself?"but say, "No.  They are juices.  Orange, cranberry and apple."  "Oh," she says.  Later I notice that she is drinking orange juice out of a teacup while telling the other guests about her trip which involved a diversion to Atlanta , a night in a chair in Orlando and then a flight to somewhere like Connecticut.  I'm almost in tears thinking about this lady catching all the wrong planes and thinking that airport flower arrangements are salads when I notice that there are no glasses on the table. In the meantime, guests are chiming in about the storms up and down the east coast that disrupted everyone's travel plans yesterday. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sounds of a Summer Morning

At 6:19, the local NPR weatherman informs us what to expect in the coming day.  That is to say, he ought to.   Instead, he often tells us that the day ahead will be 'decent'.  After 10 years, we still are not sure what this means.  "Do I need to wear a hat?" my husband shouts at the radio.  He, the weatherman, (I'm beginning to sound like Hilary Mantel "he, Cromwell, ...".  Nevermind.  If you read it you get it if you didn't, you won't.) also doesn't like hot weather.  He is, it must be said, a bit podgy, and perhaps finds heat uncomfy.  However, to be told that in July the temperature will be back down in the 50's "where it belongs" is annoying.  This is all beside the point.  The point is that BEFORE Lou McNally annoyed us, a sound like a chainsaw going through a cement block with great difficulty, assaulted us.  I shot up in bed.  My husband shot out of the bathroom.  Jack lifted his head wondering if this was the arrival of the mother of all bad bikkies.  You may remember my neighbour who burnt his house down?  I remember it because I'm still picking pieces of his house out of my hair.  Well, he's now building a new house.  I am resigned to the sound of it - indeed we built the world's biggest garage workshop a few years back and my neighbours suffered in silence through much annoying hoopla.  But not at 6:19 in the morning.  At 6:19 in the morning, we should be listening to the birds and Lou McNally.  I telephoned my neighbours.  They did not answer.  I suspect they are on holiday, blissfully unaware that their builders are running amok.  I pulled on clothing and applied red lipstick. 
I jumped in my car (neighbours here are not 'next door' in the usual sense of the word) and drove down the road to my neighbours' driveway.  I roared up and parked behind a youth who, headphones  clasped on his head ,was unaware that he was to meet a cranky neighbour.  He smiled.   Guess what he was doing?  HE WAS SAWING A CONCRETE BLOCK IN HALF WITH A CHAINSAW".   Pouring water on it, by the way.  I pass that tip on in case you ever want to SAW A CONCRETE BLOCK IN HALF.  Anyhow, he seemed a nice enough kid who clearly had a lousey job.  But as luck would have it, the builder drove in at that moment in his spiffy truck .  Thinking only of my 9 guests tucked up in bed no doubt having classic dental terror dreams, I calmly shrieked that it was 6:19 in the morning.  It wasn't, of course, a fact he made obvious by glancing at his watch and raising his (furry) eyebrows.  It was by now about twenty to seven  Nonetheless, early to be SAWING A CONCRETE BLOCK.   A meeting of minds was not achieved.  I jumped back in my car only to realise that he had me parked in.  Undeterred, I proceeded to turn my car around by backing up and going forward about 30 times.  Fast.  Now, at 9:28, my guests sit at the table, replete with the first of our local blueberries, scrambled egg and ham, homemade muesli, bread and jam.  Happy as clams.  They are from New York.  They tell me how peaceful it is here.  They ask the weather forecast.  I tell them to wear a hard hat.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


The swallows have left Canterbury Cathedral.  This is the bird house Peter built a few years ago and which stands on a tall, slightly akimbo post, out by his vegetable patch.  For a couple of weeks we have weeded and watered while listening to the sweet gurglings of the babies.  In England we had a swallows nest just outside one of our bedroom windows and we would occasionally wake to hear the mother soothing her brood in the night. There is no sound so comforting to my ear.  We made it a condition of the sale of our house that the nest would remain untouched.  One year, here at Blue Skye,  we had a  baby who simply would not leave the church.  He got fatter and fatter until we feared that by the time he had the courage to go that he would no longer fit through the hole through which he viewed the terrifying world.  His parents cajoled and nagged but he would not budge.  I saw a parent at the end of her patience, having tempted him with all manner of treats, fly toward the hole with the biggest dragon fly I'd ever seen.  Moby Fly.  Fatso was beside himself with excitement and stretched his enormous mouth to receive the incoming feast.   She zoomed by brushing the enormous bug across the coward's head and flew off.  He looked bemused.  She did it again.  He was agitated.  She did it again.  He chased her.  We applauded him and discussed the comparative pull of greed to fear.  We dismissed hunger as an incentive which of course trumps all else, on the basis that smaller treats were disdained.  Meanwhile, eight guests at the table wonder where their breakfast is and why I keep running past the window waving a pancake.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


Now that Rafa has been knocked out, here's my hope for Wimbledon:  Murray will actually strain his back feigning the back pain that hits him whenever he misses a shot and Djokovic will knock himself out punching his chest when he makes a good shot.  The best would be if these events occurred simultaneously so that they'd both fall down and Roger Federer could come out and be given the trophy as they writhe on the ground.  Roger should be wearing the white blazer with the gold RF in which he memorably (to those of us who revel in gaffes of this sort) made his blingy entrance onto centre court a few years back. 

In the meantime, I shall join my husband watching the European Cup Final just to see Rafa in the stands supporting Spain. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

advice to people on the radio

Note to interviewees:  instead of talking about the 'incredible journey' you have been on, try the following words:  Career.  Life.  Experiences.  If you must bore us with your journey, at least vary the adjective.  How about interesting? Wonderful. Educative.  Exciting.  I don't know.  But do not tell me that starring in a tv show is the end of an incredible journey. You are not Sir Edmund Hillary.  Similarly, do not answer every question by first saying, "that's a very good question".  Politicians are prone to this time staller while they think of another question they'd rather answer.  Academics who think we are all too stupid to be talking to them in the first place are always congratulating their interviewers on the perspicacity of their questioning.  Yeah, right, Bub. Spare us the flattery.  Just answer the question.  I'll try to get my tiny brain around your answer.  And finally.  Hello NPR.  Must you make every science program sound like Sesame Street?  I don't really need Big Bird to explain genetics (even Big Bird couldn't make me understand but that's a different story).  Just say the words and I'll try to get it. 
Right.  I've got dishes to wash and beds to change.  Have I told you about how I became an innkeeper?  It's been an incredible journey.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Day the World Ended

I was in the kitchen yesterday morning, listening to the contented chatter of  my guests  in the dining room, "where are you from?", "where are you going?" "isn't this absolutely without doubt the best bed and breakfast you've ever been to and isn't Jan beautiful?  (OK, OK.  I made that part up) when suddenly there was an eerie silence.  I hesitated to go in, fearing something other than a blueberry in the pancakes or a repetition of the day a chipmunk decided to join the throng.  Gathering my best defensive smile, I entered the room to find that the wi fi signal had disappeared leaving everyone staring at little devices in their hands, mournful  faces suddenly alone in the world with no news, no email, no directions telling them how to get out of my driveway.  Quelle horreur! I apologised , vowed immediate action, and strode to my computer and ...emailed my cousin.  He does something for a living which involves a computer.  I have no idea what it is.  But it has nothing whatever to do with repairing the things.  He is, however, always and cheerfully at my disposal to answer any question I happen to have regarding these machines simply based on our mothers having been sisters.  Anyhow, he gave me the advice he always gives me which is to unplug the offending bit, wait thirty seconds and plug it back in.  I could do this without calling him, but I never do.  I like being told.  This time, just to add a wallop to the advice, as I had been particularly whiney and pathetic about 'all these people paying good money and I promise free wi-fi, blah blah blah" he included an incantation.  I am far too genteel to repeat it here but to give the gist it went#%^@  #%^@ ety#%^# !!!  It worked.  There was  much cheering and  hooraying in the dining room before silence fell again while each caught up on the missing  15 minutes of their life outside Blue Skye Farm and  went back to showing people pictures of their cat on their telephone.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Haircut

Thinking that I couldn't possibly make myself look any worse than the last hairdresser had managed to do, I had a go this morning myself.  Wrapped in a towel with a small Jack Russell nipping at my ankles, I confidently grabbed some hair and snipped away.  Way away.  I couldn't seem to make my two hands work in concert.  One hand held the hair while the other snipped wildly at the air.  Occasionally I would make contact and a clump would fall, greatly exciting the dog.  I decided to concentrate on the front where I could see before I moved to the great unknown at the back.  When I eventually tried the back of my head, I inflicted a rather nasty snip on my finger, two fingers actually, and had to stop.  The result is Rod Stewart circa 1983, which you might remember was not a good look even on Rod Stewart.  But I have to say, badly cut as it is, it is a great deal jazzier than the last professional mishap which made me look like a nun.  We always wondered why they wore those things on their heads until they took them off and the crummy haircuts underneath were revealed. When I went to the store this morning people smiled at me.  Smiled and pointed. 
Like Hillary Clinton.

Why does she do that?  Always with the raised eyebrows like "Hey Wow it's YOU!!  I'm SO HAPPY IT"S YOU!". Do you suppose she does that now when she gets off a plane in say, Russia? There's Putin waiting for her as she comes down the steps of the plane.  Hillary stops, raises her eyebrows, jolts her head back and points at him, "Wey hey!  it"s YOU!"   Somebody ought to tell her that her Alice in Wonderland days are over, speaking of hair.

Friday, June 1, 2012


In Rat Experiment, New Hope for Spine Injuries -

I'm no fan of rodents, but this little chap really got to me.  I know, I know, countless human spinal injury victims will benefit from this but still ....
We had a rat in a dustbin once when we lived on a country lane in England.  My husband clapped a lid on the can and announced that he would 'deal with it in the morning'.  "How?" I inquired, knowing that I was dealing with a man who saves spiders from going down the plughole.  "In the time honored fashion," he said.  "I shall hit him with a shovel."  The morning dawned and I watched as my husband turned the bin over on its side with one hand while hoisting a shovel in the other.  He pulled off the lid and nothing happened.  He waited, poised to strike.  Still, nothing happened.  Then a little bewhiskered ratty nose appeared.   My husband's raised arm came down and he stood there watching as the rat, determining that the coast was clear, scuttled off into the bushes.  "What are you doing?" I shouted from the bedroom window.  "He was sniffing the morning," my husband said, as if this explained it all.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bird Watching

Behind my computer screen is a window overlooking our marsh.  Bad for the eyes, but balm for the spirit. 
Dreary accounting was dramatically interrupted this morning by a bald eagle swooping down to harass, if not to catch, a tasty gosling.  Parental outrage with much goosey bellowing and hysterical flapping of wings saw him off.  This particular family is already 3 down from the starting number of 6.  Last year they had seven.  Seven little bundles of yellow are adorable.  Seven large geese, nine with the parents, waddling around the garden they now think of as their own, is a pain in the neck.  I clap and Jack jumps, but nothing stops them from doing whatever they want, wherever they want.  And so, the truth is, I found myself rooting for the eagle. 
This is a very birdy time of year.  The swallow house has been cleaned out, the oranges are out for the orioles, the bluebird house has already been checked out and rejected by a sniffy duo (for lack of granite work surfaces, no doubt) and emails fly between us and our neighbour across the way reporting new arrivals ("I'll see your oriole and raise you two red breasted grosbeaks" was sent to us the other day.  My friend on Cape Cod reports hummingbirds and so today I must prepare some nectar for our feeders to welcome those little heroes back from their collossal journey. 

In the meantime, featherless guests come and go at the inn,sometimes offering glimpses into their own migrations and the perils and joys encountered along the way.  We treasure the hummingbirds amongst them and put up with the occasional goose with as much good grace as we can muster.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jack Russell Games

Took Jack to the vet yesterday to get his rabies shot.  All went surprisingly well until the time came for his treat.  Jack doesn't like treats.  That is to say, he likes them, but they have to be delivered in a Jack Russell kind of way.  He says that just taking a proffered biscuit is for labradors.   With Jack, presentation is all.  And more important still, it has to be a game.  Slowly reach for the bag on top of the fridge.  You have his attention.  Slower still take out a biscuit.  His eyes will be glued on you.  Offer it to him and he walks away disappointed and bored.  BUT.  Look at the biscuit and say, 'this looks like a BAD bikkie".  Ears up.  "This is a very bad bikkie."  Jack flattens himself on the floor and growls.  "This bikkie is going to GET YOU!"  Jack crouches and hops backward.  It is then that my husband (for it is he who colluded with Jack to play this stupid game) must get on the floor and move forward with the biscuit in his hand all the while saying "bad bikkie".  Jack growls.  He feints side to side.  He turns his back and looks over his shoulder.  He jumps.  He lunges.  He TAKES THE BIKKIE! 
Clearly, I was not going to explain this to the vet.  I just said, "he won't take it".  "Oh yes he will," said the vet in a I-am-a-vet-madam-and-I-know-what-I'm-talking-about kind of way.   "They love these."  In common with many vets I have known through the years, he is not all that great with people, but he knows animals.  He offered the special meaty treat to Jack who just sat there on the table looking at him.  "He won't take it," I said quietly.  "They ALL love this," he said.  "Here you go, boy.  Come on, boy."  Jack looked at him. The vet looked ...peeved. He went to a drawer and took out a rawhide chew.  Jack adores rawhide chews.  The vet offered it to him. Jack took it and threw it on the floor.  I gathered up my pet, picked the chew off the floor, mumbled apologies to Dr Grumpy and left.  We stopped at the bank on the way home and the girls all gathered at the drivethough window to watch Jack take the biscuit they send out in the drawer.  That is to say they watch him not take the biscuit.  They used to think it was because the biscuits were too big, so they break them into little pieces.  Jack likes the drawer part and he likes the girls, he just doesn't like the biscuits.  They aren't bad enough.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What, me mad?

I looked up just now and saw three airplanes.  This is unusual.  Then a fourth.  Then a low noisy one with water ski things on it. What is going on?  Has Kim Jong Un, the GREAT SUCCESSOR, in his disappointment and mortification over yesterday's rocket flop, decided to invade Maine?  Should I put my dog on the roof of the car a la the GREAT CHALLENGER and head for the hills?  Wait.  I'm in the hills. 
I've got to get out more.  Between the news and the presidential campaign I'm losing my grip.  Add to this a 3 day bout with the cold from hell during which time I was fever struck, drugged to the gills and in the thrall of Mad Men.  I watched 24 episodes in 2 days.  I stopped only to prepare breakfast for guests.  Oh yes.  There were guests.  I was encased in rubber gloves and disinfectant and made up to look healthy. I tried to avoid their gaze as the glittery eyes of a mad woman in the kitchen wielding knives is off putting to some people.   But here I am, back to normal.  I said, here I am, back to normal. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

innkeeper spam

I'm offered $90 off a skydiving adventure on my Groupon email today.  The accompanying picture of an excitement addled woman throwing a double thumbs up as she hurtles to the ground made me so woozy I had to close my eyes and fumble around  blindly for the delete button.   But it made me wonder, are my guests left wanting in the adventure stakes?  Should I offer them something rather more exciting than a good night's sleep and a breakfast served by my charming self?  I suppose I could let them jump off the roof into the compost heap if they wanted to.  No skin off my nose.  They could wade in the pond and see if Moby Leech shows up.  I've seen him. Trust me,  he's exciting.   Or they could swim with the beavers.   My last guest had an exciting shower I'm thinking, because I forgot to turn the hot water back on after the plumber had been here.  Poor man didn't say anything but he was a funny shade of blue when he left.  Our water is from a  well 200 feet down in the icy depths of Maine. 

Also received this in today's batch of emails:
Hello am  Sam and I would like to order for individual chicken salad in your restaurant for 150 people on the 13th April and pick up time is 4pm and it's for my Son Birthday Party and and if you don't serve the above food email me your menu .
The food will be picked up by my courier agent and I am ready to pay the full payment with my credit card so get to me with the following information below......
Restaurant Address:
Total cost for the food:
Personal cell #:

Mostly I get spam having to do with reserving 6 double rooms for honeymoon couples wishing to stay 3 weeks.  This is the first time I've been asked about chicken salad.   I'd be fascinated to meet the innkeeper who believes that 6 couples are honeymooning together.  Or who agrees  to provide a courier with 150 chicken salads.   Or who thinks one lousey redwing blackbird means spring.  Did I mention that it's snowing?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My neighbor burnt his house down

The fire chief, whom I had not seen since the group of Yoga ladies closed the flue in the sittingroom , filled the house with smoke and then called the fire department before calling me, knocked on my door the other day.   " I've come to tell you that your neighbour  Bob Bishop is going to burn his house down on Saturday. "  I've been in Maine long enough to know that the whole story would be revealed to me in good time.  "Oh, really?" I replied.  "Yep," he said.  "Well it's good of you to tell me," I said.  "Yep.  He's going to burn the whole darn thing down."  I nodded.  "Yep.  He gave it to the fire department.  Donated it.  So's we could burn it".  I was beginning to get the picture.   "We got fireman coming from all over to practice on Saturday morning and then at 12 noon we're going to light 'er up and let 'er rip."  I nodded again knowing that Bob Bishop was from 'away' and that this would somehow be part of the unfolding story.  "Yep.  Seems he don't like his house and so he's going to burn it down.  Going to build himself another one that he does like." He paused so I could fully appreciate the wonder of this.  Where exactly I fit into this considering I can't even see my neighbour's house I didn't know.   "I was wondering if we could park some vehicles in your parking area.  And fill up the trucks from your pond." 
Ah.  At last.  "Why, of course," I replied.  And so it came to pass that yesterday, the first real day of spring, warm, sunny, still and beautiful was punctuated by the sound of 13 volunteer firemen's pickup trucks arriving in our driveway, loud speakers, back up beeps, horns, whistles and engines, as well as pumps slurping thousands of gallons of water out of our pond.  And, as billed, at 12 sharp, a huge billow of black smoke started growing in the south followed by bright red flames.  Shortly after this, a blizzard of large black ash flakes rained down upon us as bits of Bob Bishop's unloved house fell onto our heads.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

redwing blackbirds

I've been had.  Looked out my window this morning to see my redwing blackbird sitting there with a pile of snow on his head.  Meanwhile, the Gang of Eight, (my resident blue jays) are just about falling out of the tree, laughing and jumping and pointing to the bedraggled 'harbinger of spring'.  "I cannot BELIEVE you fell for it" they squawked.They hopped around on the deck chair I had placed  on the deck in warm sunshine two days ago.  They pretended to ski down its back, they ice skated on the seat and in a final burst of hilarity, pooped on the picnic table. 

I put on my yaktrax and trudged to the woodpile, noting the sky filled with ducks swirling back and forth.    I have never seen so many.    Easily 60 in a fast count.   Are they coming or going?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

redwing blackbirds

The redwing blackbirds are here!!  Let others ooh and aah over their snowdrops, let southerners tell me about their daffodils.  There is nothing to make our hearts soar more than the blackbirds' return to the marsh.  For a few days now the sky has been full of returning ducks but our landscape is still brown and beige with bits of ice clinging to northern slopes.  The ground here at Blue Skye is still hard as a rock and while our neighbours might have green bits sprouting up here and there, our first real sign of spring is the flash of red epaulets across the wetland and then the royal arrival, swooping in to the feeder just off the deck, scattering chickadees, sparrows, bluejays and other winter residents,  to take their rightful place as returning, reigning royalty.  Their whistle alone reassures us that we have survived another Maine winter and that softer times are just around the corner.  Peter arrived in the middle of breakfast service to tell me the news and to announce that he was going to 'fire up the tractor' and begin to collect debris around the  many branches brought down by ice, chopped sumac that we didn't have time to stack before the first snow.  I'll pack up my yaktrax and finally retire my heavy boots, held together for the last few months by duct tape.  The chess board which has been on the kitchen table all winter might be put away because one gorgeous blackbird has told us that spring is here and that our confinement is at last over.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

computer french

I found a scrap of paper in my desk on which I had jotted down a bit of French - something I'd come across in a novel and had meant to look up.  So, I thought to myself, I'll be modern, rather than go through countless french dictionaries in an attempt at a translation, I'll go on line and look it up.  I typed in 'french to english translations' and up popped numerous possibilities.  I chose one and typed, "En fin de compte - ca revient au meme - De s'enivrer solitairement ou de conduire les peuples."  The translation was immediate. 
"In the end - ca is the same- to get drunk paddy wagon or di lead the peoples". Oh really? I tried again.  I got "When all is said and done - ca di comes back to the meme - to become intoxicated solitairement or drive the people."  I have to say that to become 'intoxicated solitairement ' had more of an Iris Murdoch ring to it than 'get drunk paddywagon' but if it's all the meme to you, I'll look it up in a book, because en fin de compte, I am not modern.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year

I find leap year kind of creepy.  But that's another story.  I will simply tell you this:  we awoke to our 6am alarm this morning (February 29th) and lay there listening to the wrong radio program.  It was the BBC World Service with the wonderfully bad tempered and witty Dan Damon who usually is off the air by 6.  Then we noticed it was dark.  Very dark.  My husband reached for his flashlight, an enormous and heavy thing that would do nicely to bash an intruder after first blinding him with its laser like beam, and shone it at the radio.  The little electronic numbers (turned to low because their "glow" lights up our bedroom like Wembley stadium) said 6:04.  Now.  We didn't change the clock.  We know we didn't because WE DON'T KNOW HOW.  It has been set at 6am since we bought it ten years ago.  I confess to driving all summer on standard time because I can't set the clock in my car.  But I digress.  The fact it is, it was 5am.  The darkness told us that and Dan Damon was talking. But our clock said 6.  Peter says we are now in a parallel universe.  Suits me. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An idea for Governor LePage

Today's Groupon offer is for a 'revolutionary UV self-sanitizing toothbrush for just  $28.'   I 'm glad now that I didn't go for the 2 Justin Bieber singing toothbrushes offered last week.  The sanitary or otherwise condition of my toothbrush is something I confess to giving less than full attention to heretofore.  But now I can't look at the thing without imagining all manner of unspeakable threats to my wellbeing.  I'm going to write to the governor. He's very concerned that poor sick people are costing the state too much money (isn't it annoying how unwell poor people tend to be?) and is proposing cuts to Medicaid.   If he took toothbrushes away from poor people, maybe they wouldn't get so sick in the first place.  Meanwhile, I'm going to boil mine. Twenty eight bucks? You must be kidding.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fat Tuesday

I'm waiting for my guests to come to the table.  Tired of waiting and unable to find the new bag of brown sugar which I KNOW I bought last week, I've been killing a couple of birds with one stone with some satisfying payback thrown in, by bashing an old bag of brown sugar turned to rock with an iron meat cleaver.   Each bash of the cleaver is sweet revenge for the number of smoke alarm bleeps which emanated from their room through the night and will, I'm thinking, rouse them from their beds in short order.  I predict their arrival in the dining room any minute.  I'm confident that the sticky french toast will make things right. 
Blue Skye French Toast:  dip slabs of wholemeal bread into usual f.t. mixture.  As first side browns in melted butter (an iron skillet works best) spoon brown sugar and a bit of cinnamon on top.  Flip and repeat.  Top with finely chopped walnuts.  As this is Fat Tuesday, eat and enjoy.  We can diet through Lent together.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Jack Russell training tips

For those of you who live outside the US, it is a mystifying fact of American life that we are offered over 150 television stations with close to nothing of interest on any of them.  We have shows called, "Improve your Bust", "Say the Rosary with Sister Angelica", "Foot Health", and, my personal favourite, "Turkey Shoot".  We clicked on "Turkey Shoot" once when we first came here.  We'd just settled with a pizza and a glass of wine, turned on the telly and saw this big old turkey waddling through a forest, clucking and humming a happy turkey tune when suddenly BLAM he was SHOT. Blown up.  Exploded.   "Did you see that?" I shouted at my husband who was staring at the screen goggle eyed , mozzerella dripping onto his shoes.  SOMEBODY SHOT THAT TURKEY.What kind of a nature show is that?"

We therefore depend upon Netflix (order up dvds on your computer and they are delivered in the order you request to your postbox) for our winter viewing pleasures. I’ve just yaktraked up drive and across the road to reach our postbox  to post off 2 episodes of MI5, a British tv show to which we have lately become addicted . It concerns a team of 5 good looking  people who we are meant to believe work for the British Secret Service and who each week save the oblivious population from unspeakable perils using fabulous high tech equipment.  Bearing in mind that to us an ipod is high tech and the only perils we face involve ordering from the local Chinese Takeaway, we are enthralled.  Also, they keep knocking off lead characters which adds a certain exciting edge to the episodes.  "What?" I shriek.  "They've shot Adam?" And the screen went blank. “ SURELY they wouldn’t kill Adam.  Would they?  He’s the star!!!”   "Tell that to the turkey" said my husband.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Coping with a Maine Winter

The best way to cope with a Maine winter is to go to Florida.  If you can't do that then get a good hat.  My favorite one is a really nasty bright green with things embroidered on it in red and blue and a big green bobble on the top.  Its label says it is made from Turtle Fur.  That's why I bought it.  A little more wit and a little less truth would go a long way to making life better, in my view.  Then you need YakTrax on your shoes.  These are rubber strappy things with spikes for gripping the ice.  These are what I didn't have on yesterday when I hit a mean patch on the driveway and landed on my head.  I lay there for a while thinking about life in general and wondering if mine was over and then noticed some birds flying overhead.  Ok, I thought.  I can see.  I wonder if I can move.  Somehow it seemed too much trouble to check so I just laid there for a little while longer.  I shouted "Help" but it wasn't a very loud shout because there wasn't anyone around to hear me but it did prove that I could speak.  Ok.  I can hear and I can speak.  Things are looking up.  I turned my head back and forth.  Neck not broken.  Excellent. Nonetheless I am now faced with achieving an upright status from a prone position on an icy hill.  There is not much passing traffic on Friendship Road in the middle of winter but I found myself concerned that someone would drive by just as I flopped about trying to get up.  What would they think?  What if a guest drove in?  What if I were caught on satellite and beamed out on Google Earth for the entire planet to see?  I casually rolled to the side of the drive, off the ice and into the snow and under the cover of a shrub managed to get onto my hands and knees and thence to my feet. 
I saw a nature program on tv that said that not 10 miles outside of Miami there are snakes the size of school buses.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Cardinal's Wife

I don't know how it happened, but somehow I am signed up to receive emails from Groupon telling me of local "deals for the day".  No doubt there's a button I can push somewhere that will get me off this list, but it has its amusements.  Today's was the best ever:  a Justin Bieber singing toothbrush!!!  I am offered TWO for just $14! 

It's finally snowing.  A cardinal has been flying about all morning, the only flash of colour in my monochrome landscape.  His drab Mrs follows along, careful to avoid the spotlight like a presidential candidate's wife, eyes glazed over in fake adoration, her little beak set in a bored birdy smile, while her dashing husband struts his stuff.

Mrs Romney confided in an interview that when she and her husband were discussing his possible run for office she said to him, "Mitt. I have one question.  Can you save America?"   Well, now.  I was struck by this. This took wifely admiration into truly heady realms.  But more important, I wondered what it was America needed saving from.  And then I remembered the Justin Bieber singing toothbrush.  Go Mitt!