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Saturday in the Bigelows

November 4, 2012

Thankfully, Sandy took it easy on us up here in Maine. We were largely unaffected, save for some wind and rain.

Though I will say, “wind” and “rain” take on a whole new, scary meaning when your shelter is flimsy. Large gusts would actually make the trailer sway, as I lay there in bed, eyes shut tight, wishing I were anywhere else, wondering juuust how securely we were fastened to the ground.

With the inclement weather behind us, our final weekend in Maine looked pretty perfect, weather-wise. Yesterday, we packed up the car and drove west for a hike.

(Maine’s not ALL ocean and lobsters, ya know.)

Though, on a scale of “one” to “not-in-shape” – guess who was unprepared to climb mountains?

This girl.

We didn’t actually get to summit any peaks, due to our late start and an early sunset this time of year, but we were able to get in 8.6 miles anyway. We climbed up, up, up into an icy cloud, and turned around with just enough time for the cloud to break and afford us a peek at our surroundings.

Did I mention the cloud was icy? Look at those trees!

I badly wanted to stay, take better pictures and continue to climb, but we were losing daylight and frankly, my fingers were too cold to be useful.

Turns out its colder at 3300 feet than at sea level. Who knew?

I waited too long to put my gloves back on and crossed beyond the “pain” threshold into “I have fingers? Could’ve fooled me!” territory. Dumb. Tom had to help me zip my fleece and put my camera away.

This all came, of course, AFTER his snack. Max would like to know why nobody packed HIM a Clif bar.
(He was rewarded with cheezburger after the hike, don’t you worry.)

As you can see from our GPS map, we barely made a dent in the Bigelow Preserve. Our hike kept us on the Appalachian Trail, but there are plenty of side trails. A word to the wise: come prepared with your own trail map. It’s impossible to buy one anywhere nearby.

Never fear – there’s an app for everything.

Sugarloaf ski area in the distance. No snow – yet.

Of course, what’s the fun in a hard physical effort without a little reward at the end? (Maine microbrews, naturally.)

News

October 27, 2012

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this post for some time now.
I just haven’t done it.

Mainly* because I’m not exactly sure what to say. Or how to say it.

So I’ll just say it.

We’re moving back to New York.

Don’t get me wrong. We LOVE Maine. And a big part of me is really sad to be leaving this place. We’ve been having a lot of fun, and I feel like we’re just getting started here.

But there are too many things (and people!) to be missed in New York to leave it all behind, permanently, at this point in our lives. So – while we still have the chance – we’re going home!

An unfortunate reality is that we need to be able to work, wherever we wind up. (Cruel, cruel world.) I was given an opportunity to return to the job I left behind when we moved, provided we come sooner than later.

So instead of spending a full year here, we’ll be heading back mid-November.

We’ve really been very lucky, first to be able to explore the possibility of living here, and to have the opportunity to return home again. So there’s that.

And I am VERY excited to see my family and friends.

But I’m going to miss all the things we’ve been able to do here, and the things we haven’t gotten around to yet.

Of course, we’re not leaving Maine behind forever.
I don’t think I could.

I’m keeping my beautiful piece of land on a dirt road 15 miles from the coast. You can’t have it. It’s mine.
We still want to build a little cabin here.
Vacation here.
Retire here.

And of course, there are plenty of things I’d like to do back in WNY; things I always said I’d get around to “someday” but never did. I’m going to do those things.

I’d like to continue to blog. I know this space was supposed to chronicle our time in Maine, which (for now) is drawing to a close, but I’ve enjoyed having a space to share my photos and experiences.

Even with 600 miles between Erin and the lobster, erinlobster could still work, don’t you think?

Smooch thinks so.

(I realize this is disjointed. I’m still trying to process everything myself. I’ve been sort of living in denial, but it’s almost November. So. Out from under my rock I come.)

*It’s really a challenge to type this word now. Everything here is “mainely” something-or-other. Cute play on words, but not so good for my ability to write properly.

Some days, I’m not so crazy about doing laundry.

October 10, 2012

I’ve grown accustomed to doing my laundry every Thursday. And, you know, small town America and all, you get used to seeing the same crowd, the same folks, the same habits. There’s the girl who sits in the corner in her Birkenstocks, crunching an apple and reading a book about mushrooms. There’s the woman with the rolled-up jeans who brings her dog – a wiggly black lab who loves to greet everyone. And there’s the man who drops off his dry-cleaning at 11:30 every Thursday morning. Sprinkle in a few little old ladies and folks hiding behind their laptops (free wifi!) and you’ve got yourself a pretty typical Thursday.
However, due to some scheduling adjustments at work, I’m now doing my laundry on Wednesdays, and due to a serious lack of ambition, I didn’t arrive at the laundromat until about 3:00pm today. The place was mostly empty. I thought, “great! I’ll get a couple washers and dryers no problem, sit and surf the web – wahoo!”

(Yup. My subconscious makes exclamations like “wahoo!” all the time. It’s a scary place to be.)

I made it ALMOST through my wash cycle in complete solitude, save for the woman running the place, and the only indication of her presence was the almost imperceptible sound of “All Things Considered” coming from her computer behind the counter.

I flipped through the catalogs that came in today’s mail, and briefly considered what type of person would spend $300 on a toaster.

Then, with about two minutes left on the final spin, a little old couple walked in the door. They put their clothes in an empty washing machine, added detergent, fed it some quarters, pushed the button, and sat down.

And stared.

And stared.

And stared some more.

Like their towels moving in a circular path inside a box full of soapy water was the most exciting thing they had every witnessed.

Ignoring the diverse and extensive collection of magazines in the corner, they remained fixated on their washing machine.

(I later learned that the little old man was likely completely zoned out, as he made it very clear that he was bored to tears waiting inside a laundromat. I learned this after his fourth uttering of “Jesus Christ, can we go now?”)

The woman, however, had CLEARLY worn her judgy pants to the laundromat.

(Perhaps because everything else was in the wash.)

Oh, yes. To her, laundry was a spectator sport, and she had her score cards labeled “1” through “10” all ready to lift at a moment’s notice.

Upon the completion of my spin cycle, I rolled my little cart over to the washer,  retrieved my clothes, and wheeled them over to an open dryer. As I bent to grab a pair of my husband’s khakis, I heard a scornful voice from the chair by the door.

“You dropped a sock.”

This wasn’t a helpful “hey, just so you know…” statement. No, this was the voice of someone who was clearly horrified that I would allow a freshly washed sock to come in contact with a public floor.

The nerve, I KNOW.

I gave her a hurried “thanks” and retrieved my sock, tossed it into the dryer with the rest of my clothes, and settled in with my laptop for 24 minutes of tumbling on medium heat.

When the dryer beeped, I emptied it and took my clothes to one of the two folding tables. The attendant had paused her recording of NPR and was folding someone’s towels and pillowcases on the other.

The woman intently watched both of us. I began to feel a little self-conscious, having my every crease out there in the open for scrutiny.

I felt like a circus animal on parade.

She then turned to the attendant and exclaimed, “Now THAT’s some NEAT folding! You’re doing a great job!!”

The attendant awkwardly chuckled, made some statement about having lots of practice, and continued to fold.

At first, I felt a little deflated. “Hey,” I thought, “I can fold large rectangles into smaller rectangles just as nicely as anyone. Am I less of a person because I didn’t get complimented on MY folding?”

And then came the indignation.

“Who are you to pass judgment on my irregularly shaped items? Just because I’m folding a pair of running shorts and not a perfect pillowcase with four right angles, does that make me less of a laundress?? DOES IT? I’d like to see YOU fold a dolman-sleeve sweater, lady.”

She continued to watch me fold.

It felt as if, because I was born in the 80’s and missed out on the days of Ye Olde Style Of Laundering, with its washboards and galvanized tubs, that I couldn’t possibly grasp the concept of cleaning and storing my garments properly.

As my pile grew smaller, the entire situation grew to feel more and more ridiculous. Until finally, the woman got up and approached me.

“I’ve never seen anyone fold a shirt like you do.”

You see, I actually prefer to fold my t-shirts using a method I learned on YouTube.

(Perhaps her generalizations about my generation weren’t far off. You know, those generalizations my subconscious told me she was making. Those ones.)

So I shrugged, commented on how much faster it was than any method I’d ever tried, and folded another shirt, this time more slowly.

She then proceeded to GRAB ONE OF MY SHIRTS and try it for herself.
She nearly tied it in a knot.

We went through it step by step, and eventually she got it.

She chuckled, thanked me, said would go home and practice, and went to retrieve her own laundry.

O.o

So, maybe she was just a nosy old lady with nothing better to do than people-watch at the laundromat.

And maybe I taught her something today.

Maybe.

At any rate, I hope I at least earned an 8.5.
And even if I only earned a 4, I have clean underwear now.

So there’s that.

Lionel has nothing to do with this post, but I felt bad for giving you such a text-heavy post with no photos. Besides, the Internet needs more pictures of cats.

Things I’m Learning As I Go, Vol. III

October 5, 2012

1. Maine is beautiful in autumn. Absolutely beautiful. I don’t have to go far to enjoy the color, either – both of these photos were taken right here at our place. I stop and gawk all over the place, all the time. I don’t seem to be alone; I’ve never seen so many people pull over to take photos as I have here. It makes me smile.

Oh, hey. This is my driveway.

Tom reminds me that the trees change color as a response to stress in their environment. Funny, nobody thinks it’s beautiful when *I* turn red as a response to stress in MY environment. Harumph.

According to this website, we’re not even at peak color yet.

Awesome.

2. Without television to distract me, I find myself outdoors a lot more, and consequently, I’m noticing things I’ve never noticed in the past. For example, I didn’t realize that white pines lose some of their needles every year. How have I never noticed this before?!

I don’t really miss television. Or at least, I don’t miss PAYING for television.

3. Sometimes, the most unexpected photo (point down and hastily click) turns out looking, well, kinda neat. (Also, yes, I love my boots.)

4. Sometimes, attempts to recreate said photo…fail.

5. Sometimes, a certain someone will not cooperate for a photo at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nope, not one bit.

6. Black cats will often feel left out of photo-taking festivities. Be sure to help them feel included.

7. It’s actually quite simple to create a panoramic image in Photoshop Elements from pictures I’ve taken on various adventures. I’m somewhat addicted, and I try to remember to take a full sequence of shots on our hikes now so I can stitch them together when I get home. (You can click to enlarge these.)

It’s important to use the manual setting on my camera, so the exposure stays consistent across the entire panorama and portions of the sky don’t appear blown out (as above, right).

Better! (I’m still learning.)

7. Food foraged from the dirty, gritty sand at low tide, with your own two hands…is actually quite delicious. More on this later.

Those are NOT my hairy knuckles.

8. Next time I forage food from the dirty, gritty sand at low tide, with my own two hands…I will wear pants. I was not expecting the mosquitos. Ohhhh, the mosquitos. *swat*

9. Posts go up more slowly here, mostly because my internet is slow and my upload speeds are even slower. I knit while I wait for photos to upload. I’m a VERY slow knitter. I still get a row or two done while I’m waiting. It’s sad. Bear with me.

On days like today…

September 28, 2012

I can’t help but ask myself…

WHY do people even bother to MAKE cat beds?

Why is that industry so successful?

And why do we bother to buy them??

No pizzas were harmed in the making of this post. (Whew.)

Oh, hi there!

September 26, 2012

I wrote something for you in my absence. I’ll paste it below.

”                           j                         sh

a                            y

t                   ”

Make sense?

That’s about all my computer was displaying to me for about a week. I hope YOU can read it.

Turns out, my hard drive failed…which can usually be filed under “Not Good.”

The entire ordeal forced me to finally get an external hard drive to back up all my photos and documents (something I’ve been putting off doing for AGES).

I also, obviously, had a new hard drive installed in my MacBook.

All for approximately a tenth of what it would cost me to replace this machine with the shiny new MacBook Pro with Retina display I’ve had my eye on.

*sigh*

Moving forward.

First and foremost, a Marvin update has been requested. He’s doing great. We had a checkup last Monday and his stitches look fantastic; they’ll start to dissolve and fall out on their own any day now.

An even bigger deal is that he’s HAPPY. And I don’t mean just “oh good, I can finally pee again without a catheter” – I mean, he’s probably the happiest he’s been since showing up on our doorstep three or four years ago (which is saying something, given that he’s not allowed outside and this place is TINY).

Part of me wonders if he’s had little issues all along (but not severe enough to require a vet trip) and we just didn’t realize it. Hard telling, but he’s a much happier cat, and that’s all that matters.

He’s even more tolerant of our “special” boy, Newman. (Trust me on the “special” part.) 

So, what else is going on up here in Maine?

Well, work is fairly consuming for both of us, so we’re making an effort to take it easy and catch up on rest on our days off. That said, we’ve taken some fabulous hikes. This place is breathtaking.

We spent Saturday at the most impressive fair I’ve ever been to, the Common Ground Country Fair. The fair ran from Friday to Sunday, and we easily could have spent all three days browsing the stands, dropping in on talks and demonstrations, and soaking up information.

I’ve also been exploring the local farmer’s markets and shops, trying some new lunch spots (most with a view) and stalking the resident Red-tailed Hawk at the laundromat.

In my “unplugged” time, I even went a little crazy with a (small) purchase and am attempting to knit. I got sucked into a little yarn shop in Camden and walked out with a skein of yarn and a pair of circular needles. Here’s hoping my project winds up looking at least SOMETHING like what it’s supposed to. 

Fall is definitely here. The trees are changing, the nights are getting colder, and we’ve built a fire in the wood stove several times already.

Translation: Tom has built a fire in the wood stove several times already.

I’ve decided that I love having a wood stove. It’s a very “cozy” heat compared to forced air. Hard to describe, but I’m a fan. (Not that I have a clue how to USE it.)

In general, I’m just trying to soak up as much of this place as possible.

(Photo-heavy post to make up for my recent lack of words. Since a picture is worth a thousand, I figure I must be caught up, right?)

Technical Difficulties

September 17, 2012

It’s challenging, writing blog posts from your junky old phone.

It’s even more challenging to write from your laptop when it refuses to display letters and numbers.

It’s been a tough week in the world of technology over here.

Hoping to be back up and running soon.

Bear with me!

So, I swear I’m not trying to turn this into a cat blog…

September 7, 2012

…but I figured I ought to post the end to the Marvin saga.

Or at least, I sure hope it’s the end.

After all the waiting and hoping he wouldn’t need it, he finally ended up having his surgery on Wednesday.

Late Thursday morning, I received a call from the vet that he was using the box like a champ in his box and was ready to come home!

I arrived at the vet’s office and that cat was CLEARLY ready to get out of there. He’s very vocal by nature, but that’s usually all it is – just talk.

That didn’t keep the vet techs from being a little…tentative.

Two of the girls took his carrier out back and promptly returned, with no Marv.

“Do YOU want to go get him out of the cage? Maybe he missed you…”

As soon as we got out to the car, I unzipped the carrier (he’s gotten quite comfortable in the car, after all these trips back and forth) and he crawled into my lap where he purred the whole ride home.

So far everything looks good; he has to go back in 10 days or so to have his stitches removed, but otherwise he’s in the clear!

(Hi, my name is Erin and I find no shame in posting about my cat’s litter box habits on the Internet. Nice to meet you.)

Lobster Rolls, Two Ways

September 4, 2012

We made lobster rolls the day after we made steamed lobster, several weeks ago.

Remember that? I know, it’s been awhile…what with work and the countless vet trips and all, I’ve lost track of time. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Lobster rolls.

We didn’t eat until after 8:30pm that day.
Have you ever tried to take a decent picture lacking not only natural light, but artificial light, too?

We have these great little LED 9-bulb battery-powered lights that we bought from a store in Belfast.
Tom held two of them directly over my dinner.
We both wore headlamps.

And the pictures? They were awful.

I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to make them again before I could share them with you.  

(Darn, right?)

So on Friday night, I thought I had plenty of daylight left. …Then the sky filled with dark clouds, thunder started rumbling, and I decided to face the facts: y’all are getting some terrible photos whether you like it or not.

Who knows? Maybe lobster rolls just aren’t that photogenic anyway.

This time around, Tom steamed and picked the lobsters while I was at the vet (again) with the Marv. I came home and prepared the lobster salad as below.

Two batches, one classic (well, almost) and one spicy.

Both were tasty, though I think we both preferred the stand-by classic version. I really liked the lobster with the avocado though, so maybe the dressing just needs a little tweaking.

You mean I’ll have to eat more lobster in the name of research? Darn.

(spicy on the left, classic on the right)

I used the meat from approximately two lobsters to make each batch. That’s four lobsters total, for those of you keeping track at home.

The “classic” batch got enough mayonnaise to thinly coat the lobster, salt to taste, and three green onions, thinly sliced. That’s it.

To the spicy batch, I added mayonnaise, the juice from one lime, a few splashes of Tabasco sauce ( I used the green kind), approximately 1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce, a teaspoon or so of wasabi paste (I made mine from Penzeys wasabi powder), 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, and salt to taste.

Each batch gets tossed to coat, then chilled. (Notice I didn’t say refrigerated – chill however your circumstances allow. Say you don’t have a refrigerator, and your lobster winds up in a cooler filled with block ice and local beer? That’s perfect.)

Next up, the rolls. New-England style rolls are key; they’re split on top, so you can butter each side and toast them in a cast iron skillet.

Each roll gets lined with a large leaf or two of lettuce, for crunch.

Then the lobster salad gets divided among the rolls.

Then, the rolls get devoured.

(Sorry I didn’t document that step for you. Things moved along a little more quickly than anticipated. Whoops.)

As a side note, I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to boring, side-split, run-of-the-mill hot dog buns. We butter and toast the New-England style rolls for plain old hot dogs now, too.

God, when did I become a hot dog bun snob?

(Did you know there was such a thing as a hot dog bun snob?)

spicy rolls were adapted from this site, and tweaked to accommodate what I had on hand.

* * A Very Marvy Update, Part II: The vet decided to keep him yesterday morning, to pass a catheter and figure out why he wasn’t urinating on his own. He found a good deal of inflammation in the urethra, so he decided to keep the Marv overnight, catheter in place, and re-evaluate today. Again, fingers crossed.

A Very Marvy Update

September 2, 2012

This isn’t the post I wanted to write tonight.

I wanted to tell you about the fabulous lobster mac and cheese I made tonight.
And the grilled pizza we made last night.
And the lobster rolls we made the night before.

And the fantastic hikes we’ve been taking.

And the little projects we’ve completed around here.

I’ll get there.

But the thing is, each day that’s gone by since last Friday, no matter how much fun we’ve tried to cram in, has been punctuated by Marvin’s ongoing health issues. I’ve gotten lots of requests for updates, and the truth is, his progress is kind of at a standstill.

After going to the vet last Friday on an emergency basis, and spending a full six days there as an inpatient, we finally got to bring Marvin home late Thursday afternoon. He was able to pee on his own at the vet’s office, and so he was cleared to come home to us.

They sent us home with prescription food, formulated to help prevent future obstructions. Luckily, he LOVES it.

He’s always been a fickle cat. At home in Pike, after breakfast and dinner – like clockwork – Marvin would come up the stairs from the basement and leap onto the kitchen counter.

He wasn’t interested in any of the “people food” we might be preparing; no, he only wanted water.

His own individual little ramekin of water.

Fresh from the tap.

Cold, please.

Since arriving in Maine, he’s had constant access to fresh water, but maybe it just isn’t fresh ENOUGH for him. Sometimes it seems like we have to pour it in front of him, or he doesn’t believe us. So, upon bringing him home, I went out and got a special, chilled gallon of Poland Spring water. We now keep it in the cooler and pour it for him on demand.

Spoiled? Never. Not this guy.

I figured, okay, so special food and special water…we can do this. If this is his prescription for good health, I can handle it.

This was the time, with renewed vigor and a clean bill of health, to surge forward. To march diligently into this brave new frontier of specialty food and cold bottled water, a brave and monumental place where the cat pee flows as freely as the Poland Spring.

Except…he didn’t pee.

Evening came and went, and we figured, okay, maybe he doesn’t need to go.

Until he got in the box…and nothing happened. And he growled.

And repeated this cycle a few more times.

He acted fine otherwise – eating, drinking, purring, head-butting – but to be safe, we called the emergency line. The vet was confident we could watch him throughout the night and bring him in the next day if we didn’t see an improvement.

This brings us to Friday. We brought him back to the office to learn that he WASN’T obstructed, but still couldn’t pee on his own. It could be any number of things, from nerve damage in his bladder, to loss of muscle tone, to urethral swelling, to a detrusor muscle that won’t relax, or any combination of the above.

So, the poor Marv has prednisone.

And diazepam. (Have you ever seen a stoned cat?)

And today, he got a shot of dexamethasone in the butt.

(He wasn’t thrilled.)

In the meantime, until he can start to pee on his own, we get to go back to the vet daily – once, sometimes twice – so the vet can “manually express his bladder.”

Read: squeeze the pee out of him.

As you can imagine, he doesn’t like this too much.

Please, everyone, keep your fingers crossed that things start to turn around. There is a surgery they can perform, but there’s a 15% chance of serious complications that, in the vet’s words, “can lead to the demise of the cat. It’s never happened on one of HIS procedures, but those are the published odds – and 15% is kind of high, so we’re hopeful that this “watchful waiting” business pans out.

On a positive note, this cat, who used to growl at the pet carrier for a week if someone ELSE had to go to the vet…is getting quite good at car rides.