Summer Report 1

Summer is just rolling right along in typical breakneck fashion. Here are a few images of what we have been up to. 
Photoshoots on the porch with these rockstars. Dang.

Oh! And THE PORCH.

This porch sometimes impedes my ability to motivate myself to do anything productive. Because you sit out there, screened from the bugs, enjoying shade and pleasant breezes and the songs of birds like this one that I recorded (hermit thrush).

Remember last summer? No relaxing porches for us!

Three hands were needed to tie this hand-made bowtie.


Oh and our anniversary! Sixteen years together! We celebrated with a beautiful dinner at Salt Water Farm in Rockport. We enjoyed lovely company as we overlooked Rockport Harbor—and I had a delicious piece of halibut, so beautifully cooked and presented (no photo, what on earth was I thinking?) in a broth of sorrel with shaved radish and chive florets. Our well-informed server reminded me of Kevin Kline in French Kiss (except with no mustache)—trailer is here.

Well, but it’s still Maine (this was late June), and here I am waiting outside in the blowing, chilly downpour for a concert to start. Silly me, I thought when I finished this Birthday Knitting project (yarn from Madrona, pattern is the Gaptastic Cowl), that I wouldn’t be able to wear it until the fall. Foolish!
(More on this fabulous summer moment later… It needs its own post.)


My Mother’s Day gift this year was a bouquet CSA from Goldenbrook Farm. I get a beautiful, organic bouquet each week for 24 weeks—especially perfect this year when we don’t have much growing around here. These bouquets last! So usually by second week, I am re-making a smaller bouquet, and enjoying our fresh one too. Our farmer and friend Susan is a talented arranger and I am loving the colors and this gift that keeps arriving each week!

{In other news: I am waitressing—trying something new at 40!—at this awesome new restaurant here in the midcoast.}

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winterish

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SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCAndy Goldsworthy: Stop playing in our forest. Or wait, actually don’t stop at all.
SONY DSCThis is a painting in progress of Venice by Sylvan, as part of his report on Italy. So far, so beautiful.
SONY DSC SONY DSCI love these dreads and this girl: Now your twinkles come with a halo.
SONY DSCSquash side dish for Thanksgiving: pureed butternut squash with a little bit of butter and cinnamon, with roasted pumpkin seeds. I also sautéed apples and onions with curry and cardamom and boiled cider.
SONY DSCAnd we got all this snow! Cold and crisp and sparkling! We are so grateful to be in our new house this holiday season.

Here’s a poem, an ode to my favorite month:

November

She is the most elegant of months,
sixty-something,

though she’d never say exactly,
with her dark eyes

that are a little sad.
She used to smoke
Gauloises in her youth,
when she was in Paris
and it was trés cool.
You can see tiny lines
around her mouth.

She’s not taken in
by fashion fads:
she knows quality when she sees it,
she knows how to shop the sales.
Her colors are woodsmoke grey,
the black of wet bark,
inky shadows under the moonlight,
the russet of oak leaves
against the white sky.

Her coats are her signature,
long, heavy,
made of fur or wool
with classic lines;
she swishes by
and there’s that hint of her perfume
that you can never quite place.

Of course she’s taken lovers,
but never a husband.
She doesn’t need October’s abundance
or December’s frivolity:
they’re really just too much.
She’s better off alone,
walking silently
along the edge of the lake.

first+first

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first fire in the wood stove
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first footprints in the first snowstorm
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Mike, our hero who installed the chimney
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chard realizes aspirations of spiral form
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first power outage: now in day 2
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dedicated Latin scholar does homework by flashlight
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meatballs by headlamp!
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Sylvan made buns in our wood stove’s bake oven
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out on an adventure
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heavy, wet, HEAVY snow

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCSo, the great news is that we have a wonderful set-up in our new house. We have water from our springs to do dishes! We have heat from the wood stove! We can bake in the little bake oven in the wood stove,  and we can cook on our gas range! We can flush our toilet with water in the tub! It’s like Laura Ingalls Wilder!

Right now, however, we are on a little adventure into wifi world, catching up on email and Internet stuff, taking hot showers, and enjoying the experience of flushing the toilet with just a single push of the handle.

time

SONY DSCI don’t usually have much to show you during the week because there is just not enough time. And it’s OK. It is so OK. So on the weekend is when I get to breathe a little bit. Remember to take pictures. Breathe a little bit more.
SONY DSCTake, for example, last Wednesday. I finished work, dropped Jonas off at rowing, then raced home to start prepping that night’s soup. Cut up the veggies, a bit manically, threw them in a pot. Did the breakfast dishes. At which point Jake got home with Sylvan, who immediately went to get ready for soccer. I handed off the responsibility of soup-cooking to Jake, who was coming later to the game because the bank inspector was coming. And he had to also cut up all the oranges for half time. And deliver them to us at the game and catch the last half.
SONY DSCSo. I got Sylvan and his teammate, with whom we carpool, to the game across town so they could warm up.

And then I took a breath.

And I realized I had a half hour before the game started… I could take a walk! And take more breaths! It was a Wednesday and ~shocker~ I was getting to do something to take care of myself.
SONY DSCIt was a beautiful autumn afternoon, just a little chilly in the shade, but very golden and beautiful in the sun. I was walking along a road I used to drive down quite a lot, a little hilly, not too many cars. There is a property along that road that I have admired from the car: meticulously cared for, a beautiful barn and pond, a couple of beautiful houses. And the most amazing stone walls I have ever seen. Anywhere.

SONY DSCIt was incredible seeing them closer up and slower, walking along them and seeing how the creator took care to make them level and contoured along the earth. And I even saw that in the forest, behind the houses,
there are MORE OF THEM, more of these perfectly created works of art. Who is this wall artist?! Because never once, not even once, have I seen a person on this property: not mowing, or walking or sitting or anything. Actually there was something a little bit desolate about it: so perfectly cared for…but who is out there enjoying it?
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{Above, the letters on my correspondence desk, waiting to be replied to!}

I saw an acorn on my walk, just at the edge of the road. I thought about all those walks we took, the boys and I. We’d collect things like acorns and pinecones and bright leaves. Timeless walks when their legs were short and we had no destination. Or sometimes the destination was feeding the ducks. Or going to the playground. When they could walk on their own legs it was slow going, but we weren’t in a rush to get anywhere.

SONY DSC{Last weekend I put up these hooks so I have a place to hang my towel and pj’s after my bath.}

So. We had all that time back then and sometimes the days were too long and too frustrating and maddening and boring. I was impatient, they were awful to each other or grumpy with me or I was awful to them and grumpy with myself. Because there was plenty of time, but never enough sleep.

SONY DSC{This weekend’s wash. Three loads dried in the sunshine!}

So now our time is more precious, because we have less time that is ours. And occasionally, there’s a moment. Like this week, we found an old puzzle, a favorite old puzzle THAT SOMEONE ALMOST THREW OUT, a puzzle that was put together so many times during sickness and health, so we all have our favorite parts. It’s the one with all the hidden bears! No one cried about who put in the last puzzle piece, either. Win!

And so, sorry for the unbeautiful, non-blogworthy, indoor lighting. But the moment below needed to be captured.
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just wow

SONY DSC SONY DSCThe fantastic work crew from Downeast Homes has been here siding the house for us and it looks amazing. The best day was coming home from work and it was… done! And now I have finally peeled off the LAST OF THE WINDOW STICKERS. And washed the grime off the front door. And yesterday the resident border collie, Mr. Crafty, seeded and hayed the yard with help from the boys and a good friend and owner of Midcoast Site Development! SONY DSCWelcome to the house! The entryway has been finished, with marmoleum on the floor, a natural cork product, also by Mr. Crafty.

SONY DSC The bedroom-level bathroom was Mr. Crafty’s design coup, thinking about a multi-functional space for multiple people all leaving the house at the same time. Right now, no one is using the tub/shower room but me…because there is only a tub there right now! So nobody’s wet towels or dirty clothes are part of my morning bathing experience. Just me, in the quiet darkness. SONY DSCAbove, you might not be able to see it, but I can turn on or off the spigots with my toes from the reclining position. This seems incredible. In our old house, the bathtub was ridiculous, one of those horrible plastic formed things that is about as much a bathtub as a February tomato is like an August one right out of your garden. Just the IDEA of a bathtub, not the real thing. This is the real thing.SONY DSCView from the bathtub out the back window.

{Oh, and you may notice I have given up on trying to make captions below my photos because WordPress makes it supremely annoying to do it how I want to do it.} SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCPictures of the bathroom vanity of our dreams, designed and constructed by Bench Dogs, locally owned by friends of ours. You may recognize those knobs. The beautiful stone counters came from Freshwater Stone (along with the other stone countertops), on their incredible sale day when all stone was discounted, and so all of our countertop stone was $5/sq.ft. And everything was finished by Bryan from Rockport Granite. So elegant and functional, this vanity—I am loving it, the functional simplicity and beauty of this part of the bathroom.

And you’ll notice I didn’t totally blogify these pictures, so you can see our real lives in the background. Like the occasional toothpaste, Goo Gone, or WD40 lurking there… SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCIt’s been September here for us: two teachers, two school-aged boys. Me at a new school and job. And it’s going great at my new job–I’m really liking the work, which is helping teachers integrate tech solutions in a meaningful way into their teaching, trouble-shooting, creative thinking, and working with people. Always always something new each day. Last week I spoke to 3/4 of the student body, gave a parent presentation, and a presentation to 22 teachers. That was a lot of me talking! This week only 1/4 of the student body, one small group student presentation, and another parent presentation. SONY DSC SONY DSCThese last ones are Sunday morning pictures. Pancakes, laundry, lovely light. And that back yard is now covered with grass seed and hay! SONY DSC SONY DSCSundays are Strategy days: meal-planning and shopping for the week, elaborate scheduling of who will take which children to their sports after school (Sylvan/Soccer, Jonas/Rowing), phone calls to various parents about ride-sharing, and also figuring out who will transport the cello to and from school for Sylvan on which days. And today, even with all of this, I got to hike with a friend on a gorgeous autumn day. So blessed.

vacate 1

SONY DSCLucky, aren’t we? We have super friends who like us enough to take us with them on vacation. Nope, not our usual Moosehead adventures, but a new adventure at the camp in the Adirondacks that belongs to the family of our friends. 

One morning I got up extra early and hopped in a kayak. The sunrise pictures are from that quiet moment alone, just me and the loons (one of which you can see in the lower right of the photo above), and then a deer at the water’s edge. I like kayaking alone because I don’t like to be in a hurry to get anywhere and I like having plenty of time to look around and listen, paddle a little, then float, etc.

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~adirondack chairs were in abundance~

Picture lots of cabins with a central main house for game-playing and a porch for eating and hanging out on the porch swings; another building with the kitchen (two ovens!) in it as well as pingpong and laundry and nearby a funny little fridge room; an outdoor shower on the bluff; lots of porches and piney woods; a boat house with boats (all sorts) and lifejackets for every stage of life; a sandbox, horseshoes, clay tennis court. Some cabins have bathrooms and some don’t.

SONY DSC SONY DSCOurs didn’t. But we didn’t mind as we were delighted by our luck in being assigned to the Water Cabin: just a couple of feet from the water, the loons, the splashy fish, and the amazing sunrise reflections on the ceiling. And this bridge was in our backyard, right past the girls’ forest fort and onto a tiny rocky outcropping with one chair. 
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Some of my very favorite girls were there, so I brought “hair molish” (nail polish) along for doing toes. And a tiny knitted chicken who could “lay” little eggs (white beans). The chicken needed a nest in the forest of course, and a chair, and a bench for her collection of pine cones, and a bed for naps. And another bed for different naps. And a broom made out of a white pine frond.

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~breakfast porch~
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~this guy in the hat oversees the pingpong room~

Everyone was entered into the pingpong tournament and I played the first pingpong since I was at camp a very long time ago. I remembered that sometimes I shriek when I miss. (This could also be a good strategy for putting off my opponents.) And I wasn’t as bad as Sylvan expected! In fact my game was a good match, against a very excellent 10 year-old, in which I only lost by two points. I was challenged during Bananagrams when it was suggested that interjections like “aw” and “ugh” were not acceptable words, and was ultimately victorious when a Scrabble dictionary was consulted.
SONY DSCThere was plenty of space for everyone to have their needs met, from raucous swimming on the dock to hours of waterskiing and tubing (thanks to the dads who drove the boat), to shady reading spots and board games, cooking for a crowd or fending for oneself in the kitchen. It was such a generous, easy and inclusive place to spend time; our hosts embraced us in the natural flow of the days. Truly, it was OK to do whatever you felt like.

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One morning was pancake breakfast over the fire pit, by two of our hosts. Extra delicious with the smoky fire! The wind was picking up as the weather was shifting, which made it a little exciting to pour (aim?) the pancake batter. 
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~yummy morning light on the path from our cabin~

On the last day we collected balsam so we could sew pillows with the girls. My lucky friend had some wonderful fabric samples with her and it was pretty hard to choose. Clothesline? Froggies with umbrellas? Tiny Japanese bunnies? Owls?! The weather was wild and windy, so an inside project was perfect.

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SONY DSCAnd they smell amazing. So grateful to vacate the premises and enjoy some time away with some wonderful folks.

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~MURICA!~

OK, enough with the adorable toenails and tiny fragrant pillows, let’s talk about the patriotism of the roof above. We ended up being forced (by a detour and the fact that we are maybe the only people left without a GPS or smart phone) to go through Lewiston-Auburn on our way out of Maine, a route that had nothing to recommend it, was stressful and mildly interminable. But this roof made it all worth it.

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~selfie on the grand isle ferry~

every day, progress

SONY DSCMr. Crafty made a beautiful stained glass geometric lamp for our new home. The term for this form is… wait, hold on while I ask him again…

…”a great dodecahedron compound.

Per his correction, below… “a dodecahedron, great-dodecahedron compound.” Because he is a math geek and artistic like that. It is so beautiful that I will probably flood this blog with many pictures of it and its amazing shadows.
SONY DSC The lamp will hang over our dining room table. Above, you can see our wood stove, a Rais, which was a score on Craigslist. It has a little bun oven up top, with soapstone inserts, and a cute place to store some wood below. The stove is slowly making its lumbering way towards its final resting place in our home. It’s pretty close now.
SONY DSCSONY DSC SONY DSCThe mudroom is “porpoise” gray, a California color in a Ben Moore Natura eggshell base, if you are a paint geek. The white in our main living space is Ben Moore Simply White.
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SONY DSCLook at this amazing bed and desk combo designed and created by my dad, Jake and Sylvan, for Sylvan’s room! So beautiful and functional, for the boy who always has lots of projects going. Lots of details and a lovely finished product.
SONY DSC SONY DSCThese two photos, above, are of our downstairs, Garden/Grandparent Level (GL) bathroom. Currently it’s our only full bath, with shower, sink, and toilet. And now this very nice hand towel holder.
SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCToday we had a fantastic sojourn away from our all-consuming house project. Like getting a day away from the very demanding but wonderful baby! It was the annual lakeside celebration of two birthday buddies whom you may remember from previous years. It was the usual mix of hammock snuggling, gorgeous and talented (NICE, too)  young people, delicious food and company, and this year: waterskiing! Sylvan, on his very first time out, got up on the skis! (Perfectly imaginable if you are familiar with Motion Boy, the Natural Athlete.) I got a great video of him on his first run, but I was enjoying the moment when he got up on the skis and not looking at my camera display, so for the first few seconds you get a really fantastic view of the wake of the boat.

In case you are wondering, there are actually two copies of The Time Traveler’s Wife in the picture in the hammock, and yes, someone is reading aloud from it. It is one of my favorite things, to see some of my most favorite books make the rounds between these beloved young people.