Life In Progress

I will not confuse my career with my life.


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The Cure

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The photo within this photo was taken by Gregory Rec, Portland Press Herald, Portland, Maine.

The sun is back! We have lingered on the western-facing deck the past two afternoons to soak up some rays — really just an excuse to take the cure: Hang around doing nothing, drink a few beers and act like it wasn’t still winter in Maine. This morning the light in the stairwell was so beautiful I had to try to capture it in a photo.

The photo below was taken Friday afternoon. The Cabin Fever Snow Pile Races snow pile is still massive but pithy and not strong enough to withstand races anymore. This afternoon will likely present another fine opportunity to take off my fleece sweater, roll up my jeans and bask in the warm March sun and perhaps enjoy a brew … or two.

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A Thousand Thanks

Snow Auger has a saucy attitude about his  commanding post on the back deck. We'll see what the coming rain does to his cheeky angle!

Snow Auger has a saucy attitude about his commanding post on the back deck. We’ll see what the coming rain does to his cheeky angle!

Although the New England dig out is ongoing, the 2013 Blizzard is history. Onward and upward, right? Not so fast… it started snowing lightly here in South Windham, Maine a couple of hours ago, but this is supposed to turn to rain, rendering our stately 35″ of fluffy powder into a cement-like sludge.

Yesterday, after shoveling, I rewarded myself with some snow play. I got out our new, squeaky-clean garden trug and used it to mix water into light, puffy snow so that I could slap this Snow Auger onto the deck pedestal. I still long for a nicely behaved storm with proper snowman snow — heavier stuff than we’ve gotten these past couple of storms. Yes, the risk of power outage rises with heavy snow; hence my humble request for a nicely behaved storm… too much to ask? My need to sculpt snow creatures is not yet filled!

When I heard the weather report this morning, I envisioned a big drift of snow just outside the second floor bathroom window. Old house rooftops with snow drifts are begging for ice dams and structural compromises so I got the roof rake out at 8 a.m. and scraped what I could from a shed roof we’d neglected to shovel yesterday.

Afterward, I allowed myself to sit outside for a few minutes and gaze at my Snow Auger while sipping a mug of steaming tea. A thousand thanks and multitudes of gratitude for the people who keep us safe during winter storms: law enforcement, fire fighters, all those who plow our roads, respond to our emergencies and the brave medical personnel who drive in dangerous conditions to work in our hospitals. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Out Like a Lion

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The rain and wind have made it to Maine. The haughty Snow Wizard is melted down to a stump of its former glory. When we got a couple of inches of snow Monday night, I shoveled the deck snow onto the formerly fabulous and icy Cabin Fever Snow Pile, thinking that the snow in the tracks would protect the ice in the chutes. Against all odds, I had dreams of races this weekend. Now it looks like sulking will be my major activity.

As I took a few photos a little while ago, I heard a vivid rendition of the Wicked Witch of the West’s line run through my head: “I’m melting, melting. Oh, what a world, what a world.”

It feels so much like late March here. Late March is when Maine finally gets the legendary “in like a lion” aspect of the month. But, January — out like a lion?


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Snow, Sublime

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Snow Wizard took a hit this week, sublimating with the sub-zero temperatures, gusty winds and bright sun. This afternoon we repaired the snow pile enough to be able to hold Cabin Fever Snow Pile Races tomorrow but I’ll have to make several trips out with the spray bottle to ice it up after sundown. Am in disbelief and dismayed at our trend of less and less snowfall each year here in the northeast. We didn’t get a flake from the last storm and there’s ice/rain in the forecast for next week. Hope the weatherman’s wrong!


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Snow Fun

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I hand washed the car today, right in the driveway. Hatless, gloveless and wearing an unzipped light jacket over my jeans and fleece sweater. In January. In Maine. The temps were in the 60s, the birds were singing and the sun was out — I couldn’t bear to return to the dry, stale indoor air, so I sat on the back deck with the cat in the waning sun. Fidgety, I got to making snowballs with the sublimating snow pile and a lightbulb went on in my head. The snow was perfect for making snow creatures! The sun was behind the trees when I got done, so I only had time to snap a few shots with my iPhone. Not as crisp as could be, but the crescent moon actually showed up in one.

This evening, Soft-Serv Snow Wizard made me smile every time I peeked out the sliding doors at him. It’s supposed to start getting cooler again so maybe he will stick around long enough to enjoy some company. And I will get to have more snow fun.

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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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Soft Serve with a side of Totem

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A good day today: Four new snow creatures came into existence and the sublimating Snow Buffoon received rehab. I had to slap the cat’s ears on in a sideways snowstorm, then I rushed in for a camera and snapped a few in the swirling snow. A few minutes later it was sunny again and I was able to go back for some “proper” portraits, repair the Buffoon at the goat barn and form the lovely Valkyrie as his happy companion.

The good news is, it’s going to be cold for the next couple of days, so they’ll all stick around a bit.


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Crunchy snow

It’s frustrating. This winter, I discovered a past time that amuses me greatly: making snow sculpture. Just a budding snow sculptor, I have made only three entities: the Snow Goddess and her consort and the Snow Buffoon. But each of these have felt like real beings. Well, real in the sense that they exude personality like crazy. Parts of my personality? Probably, yes.

The frustrating part is that our snow this year has been mostly of the powdery persuasion. I’m sure it’s been great for skiers and it’s been mostly a breeze to shovel. But it’s not been conducive to packing and shaping. I couldn’t even make a simple snowball this afternoon. My third snow person, the Snow Buffoon, stands solitary sentry in front of the goat barn. I know he wants company. Tomorrow, rain will drip down his rather extravagant nose and he will melt.

Thankfully, there’s always Photoshop for when raw materials are reluctant to cooperate. Making a mandala always brings a surprising depth to the subject; almost always some kind of spooky face emerges. In this case, the face was spooky enough to begin with and the resulting mandala makes me just a little queasy to peer at closely.

Winter’s got a way to go here in Maine. In past years, we’ve gotten significant snowfall during the month of March. I don’t want to make any enemies, however I hereby voice my humble petition to the forces of nature for some nice, heavy, sculpture-friendly precipitation.


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The Snow Buffoon

Unlike my high expectations, the big Friday storm dumped nearly a foot of non-snowman-quality snow. Driving in it was a wet mess. Shoveling it practically dislocated my left arm from its socket. So, naturally, I was psyched for a little outdoor snow sculpting today: threw on my jeans, fleeces, gaiters and snow shoes and clomped excitedly down the yard to my formerly imposing snow friends (reduced to spindles by now) to investigate the packing characteristics of the fresh white stuff.

Dammit. The snow just wouldn’t hold together enough to repair the Snow Goddess‘ honeycomb neck. Her head snapped off as I tamped in additional snow to reinforce it. After heaving her icy spike of a  head into the yard, I accepted the Hefeweisen that my husband Will brought for me (which improved my mood immensely.)  I reconnoitered.

We clomped north across the yard to the Goat Barn. Sadly, no goats inhabit the Goat Barn these days, but that’s a story for another day. Will brought his snow rake along and scraped down the heavy snow he could reach on the barn’s porch roof. Hmmm: This snow seemed a little more cohesive. Not the best snowman snow, but it’ll do in a pinch. I started shaping, nothing in particular. Then I noticed the direction. A decidedly dorky head and shoulders emerged from the roof snow. Exhibiting a slightly medieval aura, this newest figure cast a decidedly stubborn profile.

The Snow Buffoon must be my inner village idiot. God help me if he’s an expression of a past life! Spit was utilized to keep his nostril snow in form, so I guess he is partly me now. I’m trying to ignore the plaintive voice in my head: I believe he’s afraid to guard the goat barn alone in the dark; he’s so close to the Mountain Division Trail with all its roaring snow machines. Can’t blame him, the snowmobile exhaust alone is probably coating him with dirt.

Tomorrow afternoon, I will conjure a friendly companion for him. Maybe something with eyes to keep watch in the dark tomorrow night. They will likely only last until Monday, when the forecast calls for 1 to 2 inches of …rain.

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