Monday, December 29, 2014

We Launch Tomorrow!

Good-bye Maine, hello Florida!  Well, technically, it will be hello to a lot of states before Florida but we will be heading south to more sun and warmer temps and palm trees and manatees and The Icehouse Pub and The Celtic Ray and lots of long walks with the dog and afternoons at the beach and so much more.

It makes me sad to be so far away from my family and I hate the three day, 29 hour drive but I sure do love spending the winters in Florida!  And I'm so very thankful that I am able to do so and have a partner that enjoys being there with me.

Stay tuned for this year's Florida adventures.

Thanks for stopping by...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Very Merry Christmas

It was a great holiday!  The weather was warm enough (in the 40's) to walk the dog without ALL of our winter clothes.  I really LOVE warm weather in December!
Dinner was planned for 5:00, which allowed us to get ready in a relaxed manner.  Both of Bill's sons arrived early enough for them to have some time together to visit and catch up.
Kris, Scott & Bill
The three of them don't get together very often and I know it meant a lot to Bill to have both of them here, which made me happy as well.

Wendy and Dan arrived a little later, while Greg and Ella arrived around 5:30, just in time to have dinner with the rest of us.

Kris and Scott stayed for a little while after dinner, before heading home with some leftovers (thankfully).  

The rest of the evening was spent in a whirling dervish of opening gifts.  Ella even brought some gifts for Titan...a rawhide candy cane and a rope/ball tug toy, which he loved.
Loving my new toy!
Everyone was a good sport for the family photo, even Titan!
A new photo tradition is born
I enjoyed reading some books to Ella before bed, including one of my favorites..."Rosebud and Red Flannel".

Greg and Ella stayed until mid afternoon the next day, before heading to Wendy's.  We all went for a walk with Titan and played a bunch of games.  Ella and Titan became new best friends.
BFF' friend forever and best furry friend
Ella was even receptive to having her picture taken with Bill and me.
She's getting so big and mature.  She does admit that she isn't a very good loser when it comes to games.  Apparently, she takes after her grandmother.

Such a nice holiday, now it's time to pack and head south.

Thanks for stopping by...

Monday, December 8, 2014

An Early Christmas Gift

I would have preferred a new bathing suit or shorts or maybe flip flops but I got these instead...
Ice grippers for the bottom of my boots/shoes.  I hate snow but I hate snow covered with ice even more and we've got plenty of that right now!  Thank you Bill for your very thoughtful early Christmas gift.

Thanks for stopping by...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! WHAT???

After more than a year of being half deaf in my right ear, I broke down and did something that makes me feel really old!
Cute little bag, right?  Wonder what's in the cute little bag?

I'll give you a couple of's smaller than a breadbox, it costs a lot of money and most likely, no one will ever know I have it.
Cute isn't it?  My very own, personal hearing aid.  UGH!  It's a little larger than the smallest ones available because I wanted a volume control.  The funny wire on the left is a kind of anchor that helps keep it in my ear.

I've been wearing it for several days and it's okay.  It reduces my hearing loss by about half.  I think I hear better, sometimes it's hard to tell.  It definitely increases background noises, especially road noise.  Some days it's very comfortable and other days it makes my ear hurt and I can't wait to take it out.

It's guaranteed for two years and hopefully will last at least five.  I was surprised to learn that the battery only lasts a week, so that adds about $40 a year to my budget.  

Bill says I don't talk as loud now ;o)

Thanks for stopping by...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Remembering Anna

Today, October 24, 2014, I lost one of my closest friends...Anna Houde/Ledoux/Vander Schaaf.  Anna passed away three days before her 72nd birthday, after a long and debilitating battle with Alzheimer's Disease.  One thing I have one wins the battle with Alzheimer's.  

I met Anna during the summer of 1981, when we both worked for Peoples Heritage Bank, in what is now the Marden's Plaza.  She was one of those people you meet and think to yourself "I could be friends with her".  She was a little older than me but we were both  married with young families and we just seemed to "hit it off".  We shared cookouts and evening get togethers, as families do.  I remember spending time in her finished cellar, playing pool, eating, talking and watching the kids play the newest video game craze - Atari - with games like Pac Man and Tetris.  I learned early that I didn't need to let the kids win, they had no trouble beating me as I'm lousy at video games.  Although Anna's three children, Steve, Stacey and Shannon were older than Greg and Wendy, they were always so good with one another.  I believe Stacey is ultimately responsible for Wendy's decision to become an Occupational Therapist.

As with any relationship that lasts for more than three decades, ours ebbed and flowed.  Sometimes we would see each other monthly or even weekly, other times months, even years would transpire.  Regardless of the time that passed, when we saw one another, it seemed as though no time had passed at all.  We could sit for hours and talk about things women friends talk about...our families, children, hobbies, clothes, food and, of course, the men in our lives.  Anna had an amazing intuition and a knack of knowing just what to say.  I never left our time together without feeling better about everything going on in my life. 

When Anna went to massage school, one of her assignments was to give the same person a massage once a week for ten weeks (maybe it was six, I can't remember) and I was the lucky recipient.  Oh, how I loved her massages.  She had a couple of moves that were marvelous and I have never received them during any other massage.   One of my friends commented that "she didn't just massage with her hands; she massaged with her soul."   

Anna taught me about "the Universe" and how to express what you wanted/needed/expected.  She also said it was very important to visualize what you wanted and to be specific.  As an example she would tell me how she had always wanted to live on the water, meaning next to it but she found herself living on a sailboat, On.The.Water!  The Universe had certainly granted her desire.

After my separation and divorce in early 2000, Anna invited me to join her and Jim on their sailboat, Justice, which was docked in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  As much as I wanted to go, I explained that I just could not afford to fly down and back.  Like the true friend Anna was, she purchased my round trip ticket.  It was quite windy during my visit, which caused large swells in the water, so we didn't take the boat out but we sure had a great time.  They took me for a tour of the Riverwalk and introduced me to grouper fingers (kind of like fish sticks) at a quaint little riverfront cafe.  We talked and laughed and I took lots of marvelous showers in the outside shower!  The one event that was always laughed about in the following years was the evening we all got dressed up for a nice dinner off the boat.  The weather was hot and humid and I had the forward cabin which had, maybe, 3 square feet of room in which to dress.  To make matters more difficult, the available floor space was in the space of a triangle.  In order to fit in my little black dress, I first had to fit in my spanks-like underwear.  Getting that tight fitting underwear on my hot, sweaty body in that tiny little space was like being a contortionist in a Cirque de Soleil production.  Not only did it take me forever and a day, I had to enlist Anna's help! 

When I learned that she and Jim were returning to Maine after living for several years in Mexico, I received the news with mixed emotions.  I was happy to know that they were coming home, as it had been too long since we had seen one another but I was concerned that it might be for reasons concerning Anna's health.  As we were returning home from Bar Harbor in September, 2012 I received a call from Southern Maine Medical Center asking if I knew Anna Houde, her maiden name, which gave me the first indication of her health status.  She had been wandering, was picked up by the fire department and they were trying to find her family or where she lived.  I wasn't much help as I didn't know they had already returned and I had no idea where they were living, nor did I have her husband's contact information.  I was at least able to tell them his name.  I asked how they got my number and the nurse told me that Anna was carrying her date book, which had my name and number.  They asked her if I was a friend and if they could contact me, she said "yes".  I knew then that Anna was not as well as I had hoped she would be.

We were invited to celebrate her 70th birthday with family and friends at her daughter, Stacey's home only to learn that it was indeed due to Anna's health that they had returned.  Although I hoped that she was still early in the disease, I soon realized that was not the case and the disease was quite advanced.  As I think back to that day, I'm not sure she remembered me at all and I was so sad that the Anna I knew had already slipped into the abyss that is Alzheimer's.

December, 2012 was the last time I saw her.  Bill and I joined Anna and Jim for dinner at The Cafe in Portland.  We had a great evening, the food was excellent but Anna saw things that weren't there, like people out in the street.  One minute we were having a normal conversation, the next minute she was talking gibberish.  Having never been around anyone with advanced Alzheimer's, it broke my heart to see how it had stolen my friend and left me amazed at just how severely this disease affected everyone. 

Anna was...a daughter, wife, mother, friend.  She was a painter and a photographer.  She was an adventurer, sailing the Caribbean and visiting far away places like Germany, Italy and China with her soul mate, Jim Vander Schaaf.  She loved to dance and she was very fond of hats in all shapes and sizes.  She was extremely intuitive, intelligent, witty, funny, stylish and oh, so much more! I miss her greatly but I am thankful that her battle is over and she is at peace.

I remember this statement at my nephews graduation many years ago and it seems to fit this situation perfectly...

"Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened."

Yes, I have cried and there will be more tears during her memorial service on Monday and possibly beyond.  However, I have more than 30 years of memories to smile about. 

On the sailboat "Justice"
Captures her perfectly
Thanks for stopping by...


Monday, October 20, 2014

Then...Fractals/Now...Sunrise Over a Mountain Pond

Today I completed a wall quilt that I started in 1999!  Yes, really.  I went on my first quilt trip to Amish country with my best friend, Su in April, 1999.  That's when I bought the fabric for this little gem.  I bought the border fabric first, then purchased the Cherrywood Hand Dyed gradation fabrics to go along.  I've worked on it off and on for the past few years and finally decided to get some of my UFO's (unfinished objects) done, starting with this one.  I originally called it "Fractals" but since I don't think it really fits that definition, I reconsidered what I thought it made me think of.
I free motion stitched and unstitched (removed) the border, then I stitched and unstitched the body because I didn't like the free motion quilting I had done.  Finally I decided to just stitch in the ditch throughout the body, following the colorfully printed fabric but not the green.

I searched for several days trying to find more of the border fabric to use for the binding and VOILA! I found a big piece somewhere among my stash.  Most of my fabric is stored by color but what do you do with a multi-colored fabric?  Darned if I know!

Other than a label for the back, it is complete and hanging in my bathroom.  Not sure if I want to sell this in my Etsy shop, not even sure it's good enough to sell, so for know I will just enjoy something that took me 15 1/2 years to finish.
Thanks for stopping by...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Project Complete

Well, it's not rocket science; however, I have completed the project Wendy gave me earlier today...attach the strings to the tags.  
All Done!
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Sunday, September 28, 2014

This is Becoming a Habit

Technically, I don't think it's really Indian Summer because we have not had a hard frost.  However, the weather has been sunny and clear with above normal temperatures for the past couple of days.  After spending the morning volunteering with the shelter clinic staff at a rabies clinic, we loaded up the bikes and headed to our new favorite spot, Bug Light Park.  

It was nearly 80* with not a single cloud in the sky when we left Wainwright Park around 2:00.  I had vowed not to take any pictures since this was the third time in a month we made the same ride, but the trees are turning color and they were beautiful.
The trees were a lot prettier in person
Plus, every time we have taken this ride, I have spotted something that makes me go...hmmmmm
Two pair of sneakers hanging from the electrical wires.  Hmmmmm...

It only takes us about 30 minutes to get to the park.  It's such an easy ride with a spectacular payoff.
I love the pano feature on my phone.
There was a nice breeze today, which accounts for these two really cool kites.
We stayed for nearly an hour.  Wonder if we'll make another visit this year ;) or we'll have to wait for warm weather again next year ;(

Thanks for stopping by...

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Little Bike, A Little Hike

We started today with a bike ride.  We decided on a route that would allow Wendy and Dan to do some hiking without needing to get in the car and drive somewhere else.  We started at the Jordan Pond House and headed along the pond toward Eagle Lake.  The trail rises fairly steeply causing Bill and I to stop regularly.  I felt bad for Wendy and Dan because they were nice enough to stop with us so it takes them a lot longer to reach the destination.
Jordan Pond and the South Bubble
The morning had started out foggy but it cleared off nicely by the time we got started.  It was truly a spectacular day!  The color of the lake is unbelievable.

We stopped several times along the way to catch our breath and take pictures.
These water plants were green on the top and red on the bottom.

After peddling for approximately 50 minutes, we stopped at the end of Eagle Lake and had snacks.
One of the many beautiful bridges in Acadia
We continued in a clockwise direction around Eagle Lake.  Traveling in this direction is much easier than going counter clockwise; Bill & I learned that the hard way.  We still had to pedal a fairly long uphill section before reaching the trail head for Connor's Nubble and the Bubbles.  We hiked up the steep and rocky .1 mile trail to the top of the nubble where we took more photos, ate lunch and enjoyed the view.  I didn't remember the trail being quick so rocky!  It was made more difficult because Bill and I were carrying our bike bags and water bottles so we had no free hands.  The "kids" helped us by taking the bags and attaching them to their backpacks.  Poor planning on our part.
It's my bike bag, not my purse.
I totally forgot about the panoramic capability of my phone.
Eagle lake with Cadillac Mtn in the background
We returned to the carriage road and went our separate ways.  Wendy and Dan crossed the road and hiked to the Bubbles.  Bill and I rode back to the JPH where we sat in the sun for a little while before treating ourselves (again) to popovers and tea.

We stopped at the store on our way home and picked up crab cakes and potato salad for dinner.  Wendy and Dan invited us to join them so we ate together in Cottage No. 8, a nice ending to a really nice day.

Thanks for stopping by...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dorr Mountain

For the first time, we are in Bar Harbor the same time Wendy & Dan are here.  It didn't happen by chance, we purposely planned it so we could do some hiking together.  Soooo, today is the day.  

We agreed to climb the Kurt Diederich's Climb up Dorr Mtn.  This mountain is named after one of the men responsible for the preservation of much of this area.  We picked the trail up at the Sieur de Monts Nature Center on the East side of the park by taking the Wild Garden Path toward The Tarn.  According to Wikipedia..."A tarn ... is a mountain lake or pool, formed in a cirque excavated by a glacier".
The Tarn actually looks very "marshy" from this angle but when we looked down on it, the appearance was more "watery".

We crossed this awesome granite block bridge at the end of The Tarn
took a photos of "the boys" next to one of the many trail heads we came across
before we finally started climbing.
This climb has lots of granite steps covering half a mile and was originally built in 1913.  
Nice views of Bar Harbor and the three cruise ships there for the day.  Three cruise ships's good to be on the mountain and not in town!
More pictures of us...
Throw back Thursday (although its only Sunday) to the last time Bill and I hiked this trail...September, 2004.  We were so much younger then ;o)

Although the leaves are just beginning to turn color, there is some color around.

After two hours, we reached the summit.
Cadillac Mtn in the background
We sat out of the wind, had a snack and took more pictures before heading back down.  (I will edit this when I get the pictures from Wendy.)  
Another TBT from 2004.
We took the North Ridge Trail down, at the suggestion of the Ranger in the Visitor's Center, which was very rocky and kind of sucked.  It had rained earlier in the morning and many of the rocks were wet and slippery.  I know this for a fact because, although Wendy indicated that it was slippery, I took one step, my feet went quickly and completely out from under me and I landed flat on my hip/butt before sliding down the rest of the, thankfully, small rock.  Shortly after that, Bill slipped and was able to catch himself by grabbing some tree branches before coming to a stop.  Luckily, he didn't fall.  I think we were all relieved when we reached the bottom.

We followed the Hemlock Road for a short distance
to the intersection of the Jesup Trail, a beautiful boardwalk trail, back to the nature center.

Bill and I commented that this is possibly one of the only handicap/wheelchair accessible trails in the park.

We arrived back at the car at 2:15 and were surprised at how overcast and foggy it had become.  We drove to the Jordan Pond House where we enjoyed popovers and tea, served by a very unhappy/unpleasant waitress.

Wendy and Dan met us in Bar Harbor where we watched the end of the Broncos game (sorry Payton, you lose) and treated them to dinner to celebrate their THIRD anniversary; nothing special, pizza and burgers.

Thanks for stopping by...