Life In Progress

I will not confuse my career with my life.


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A Good Breeze

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Summer is on my mind. Probably because we don’t have a/c in our old New England farmhouse. Oh, we’ve gotten good at when to close and open windows and shades over the years to deflect the sun and the oven-hot rooftop breezes. Even with strategically placed fans sleeping for the handful of really warm nights in Maine can present a challenge.

Plenty of porch time is my solution. By early afternoon, the sun has finished baking the front decking and a good breeze begins to traverse the length of it. A cool fruit smoothie, a new Davis Leatherworks tooled notebook (a gorgeous, US-made version of the Midori Traveler’s Notebook), toys to play with and plenty of pets with Mr. Wonderful made for a perfect holiday at home yesterday.

Mister, mister, mister!

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We Aim to Please

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Mr. Wonderful is an indoor-outdoor cat. Likely a Maine Coon mix, he adopted us over eight years ago by living under our porch and terrorizing our other cat at the time. He wouldn’t let us touch him for nearly six months and even after that we weren’t permitted to inspect him to see whether he was a tom or a female. So, because he reminded us of another cat we knew, Miss Kitty, we sort of assigned him to the female category. His first trip to the vet was quite enlightening, I should mention, when we finally found out “Portia” (so-named because of her/his time under the porch) was a male! The name stuck and occasionally my husband reverts to calling Mister a “her” (I suspect just to goad me and of course my reaction never disappoints!)

Now we mostly call him Mr. Wonderful and he’s made himself a very dearly-loved member of our family. We love him so much, we grow wheat grass for him and his indoors-girl cohort, Chitra. Even though he has the run of the place outside during the day and a whole field of grass behind the house, he knows we aim to please. Mister-mister gets his wheat grass fed to him one succulent blade at a time.


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With a Little Help

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Mr. Wonderful and I got a little time together outside on Friday. The sun was out, there was no wind—a perfect afternoon for my first garden cleanup session this spring. He led me to this gorgeous group of crocus near the foundation and also pointed out another clump of them that I didn’t realize were blooming. I always find the best stuff in the gardens with a little help from Mr. Wonderful, my master gardener.

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Decidedly Better

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It’s that time of year when I feel quite ready for the seasons to change. We’ve had our big snowstorm —we officially got 29 inches here in South Windham, Maine—Fat Tuesday’s hangover has taken the cure and I uncovered a hulking dust bunny while searching for a pair of shoes in my closet. I resisted the (faintest) urge to Spring Clean. If I were to continue along this line of thinking I would likely need therapy and antidepressants, so I’ll stop my whinging right now.

Lately, Mr. Wonderful, our indoor/outdoor boy-cat, has been craving greens. As usual, I had anticipated this and bought a couple of small flats of grass in December. The cats duly appreciated the gesture but were never very happy with the short, thin blades. They would nose around in the grass but never really get to chomping. Problem is, that grass is a lawn grass variety and these felines are accustomed to premium greens—specifically, wheat grass. A few days ago, I noticed Mr. W standing by the sorry looking flat on the kitchen windowsill, kneading his paws with exaggerated motions and staring a hole through me. I got the feeling he was trying to suggest that his heart desired decidedly better greens. Fortunately, I am an experienced cat whisperer: immediately, I set a cup of wheat berries to soak in a big jar and planted them in pots just when the roots started to emerge. A couple of days later, the seedlings are approaching two inches tall and are nearly ready to be ravaged.

These greens will be a far cry from the luxurious pot of grass I transplanted from the garden for Mr. W and Chitra a while back. During the growing season, that’s the way to satisfy Chitra, who, unlike Mr. W, doesn’t get to forage for her emetics outside.


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The Big Tease

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Our cat, Chitra, has been virtually glued to the fireplace this weekend. It’s been in the 30s and 40s and the mist of sublimating snow has insulated us from the sun for several days straight. The rest of the house becomes stone cold when the fireplace heats up the first floor where the thermometer is, making it uncomfortable for Chitra to lounge about anywhere but right in front of the insert’s glass doors. I’m sipping steaming tea and piling on the fleece.

Temperatures were almost obscenely warm for early January in this part of the country. This past week there was an afternoon when I stood on the back deck, basking in the 50° sunshine, flirting with the dangerous idea that spring was right around the corner. It sure smelled like it. But it’s way too early for getting my hopes up! Spring comes late here and if I let myself thumb through Johnny’s Seed Catalog this soon, I’ll be a sobbing mess by the abysmal mud season in March.

I had such high hopes for a good old-fashioned winter when we got our Christmas-time snowfall here in southern Maine. The storm dumped a good 8″ to 10″ of  pretty snow that was awesome for skiing and snowmobiling. That said, I would have preferred the heavier, wet cement variety that is necessary for creating satisfying snow creatures like my lovely Snow Goddess, and for making snow piles that we can race wooden balls down, whilst laughing our arses off on Sunday afternoons.

This year we haven’t yet experienced the great snowfall that I was happy to post about a couple of years ago. I’m trying very hard to keep my chin up; I do yoga, log eons of rest, ingest gallons of hot herbal tea and faithfully swallow the vitamin D3 supplements that my doctor suggested to keep the blues at bay. Even though there is plenty of time for more snow this winter, the big tease of this January thaw has me on the brink.


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Behind the Eight Ball

Spring is forging ahead, whether I’ve had time to clear the walkways and cut down  last year’s plants. I’ve managed to work in the front garden a couple of times, mostly so I’m not frightfully embarrassed for people to see just how far behind the eight ball I really am.

This morning was so gorgeous that I wandered out to admire those front gardens and was surprised at how good they looked. Last year’s tedious weeding and deadheading in the ajuga patches has paid off this spring. The mild winter didn’t hurt, either. The honey bees and bumbles are frequenting the ajuga in almost frightening numbers this year. Too bad there isn’t some edible/medicinal fruit from that plant, because these plants are seeing serious pollination action. Mr. Wonderful joined me for my promenade. I have had some very productive gardening hours accompanied by this beautiful cat, who almost never does anything wrong.

It makes me feel a little guilty, but I’m secretly pleased that it’s supposed to rain buckets tomorrow in southern Maine. That way, I can make my yoga class plan and do some work around the house, inside, of course. By “work”, I am referring to the fact that I have a brand new homespun book press and have made one book so far and am conjuring my next book binding project. Maybe a garden journal?


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Mud Season Musings

Mud season is finally here. It’s really warm today and I am finally allowing myself to look forward to spring. Usually, the Maine winter tricks me and returns with a vengeance in March (some years, even April or May!) making me regroup and switch my hopeful nice-weather attitude for fleece sweaters, armfuls of firewood and static-charged hair.

My car was filthy and even though it looks much better now, I need to run it through a car wash with the undercarriage treatment. A clean car is only temporary for me, because my vehicle encounters the most grime right here in our own driveway. (Believe me, I use the term driveway quite loosely here…)

Mr. Wonderful, our Maine Coon, smells spring in the air, too, and was quite pleased to help me rake away the mounds of icy mud that the snow plow deposited so we could reach the sitting stumps in the front garden. Too early to sit out on the stumps while sipping beers, but I have big plans to enjoy the sunset on the back right after I finish this entry.

Cheers!