The Garden Is Dead, Long Live The Garden!

You might remember that I got my garden in recently.   If not, you can review my progress here:  Blood, Bug Guts, and Cow Manure

It was with great satisfaction that I put that last plant in.  Such anticipation!

But this morning the garden was a devastating sight.  The plants were black and wilted.  The garden is dead.  At least most of it is.  It just doesn’t seem fair that a few days ago it was 90F, but this morning we had frost.  A June 1st frost!  That is insane, even for Maine!

So now it’s time to find some replacement plants and try again.  I’m going to wait a few days, though.  We’re supposed to have frost again tonight.  My father would have been furious with Mother Nature if this happened to him.  I have to admit, I’m not too happy with her, either.

Sigh…

Ice and Mud…It Must Be Spring!

You know how I grouse about winter?  If you’ve spent any time at all reading this blog in the colder months, you know that I complain about it…a lot!  I know you’re all rolling your eyes but I don’t care because spring has arrived!  Mud season is in full swing!  It might pose some inconveniences, but mud season accompanies ice-out, and that is a much-anticipated event.

I was perusing my Facebook feed today, as I sometimes do.  Is it ‘feed’ or ‘wall?’ Hmmm, I never know what to call it.  So let’s just say I was perusing those posts on the parts of Facebook that are supposedly mine to peruse.  Anyhow, while I was scrolling through the pics of food porn and grandkids, I came upon this one that was taken by my good friend Debb Heald.  It seems to sum up this time of year nicely.  Snow in the woods and washed out roads…ice-out can’t be far behind!

I’ve often talked about our camp (tiny cottage) on our pond (lake.)  There are always parentheses that go with that description because Maine is weird and we tend to downplay stuff when we describe it.  You should see the ‘cottages’ on the coast that sell for 4 million dollars, but I digress.

The pic you see above is the road to Debb’s camp, which is across the pond from us. You may notice the tire tracks.  Mainers are an intrepid lot.  We don’t let a washed out road keep us from camp!  Especially when we are waiting for ‘ice-out.’

Ice-out is the much-anticipated process of, you guessed it, ice leaving the surface of the pond.  You can even hear it!  Take a look below and you will see the pond’s transformation from winter to spring.  Debb got some great shots starting with snow-covered ice right on through to open water.

This is what we look forward to all winter long.  This is the Super Bowl of pond life.  Touchdowns are great, but open water is sublime.

 

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The Skowhegan Indians

The Skowhegan school district, of which Cornville is a part, has made the headlines!  I never thought our little corner of the world would make the New York Times, but here we are…and I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed.

The local school board just decided to change the school nickname and mascot to something else.  We don’t know what that might be, but we will no longer be “The Skowhegan Indians.”

 

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This often heated debate has raged on since the ’90s.  Back then, there was mascot running around the sidelines dressed as a demented Indian chief encouraging the team to give opponents the “tomahawk chop.”  As time went on, it was understood that it was offensive and the Chief, along with similar imagery, was removed from the schools.  That was all well and good, but the Native Americans requested that the school use a different nickname altogether because it dishonored them, and their heritage.

 

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We have a lot of Native American tribes here, and a lot of local people are more than willing to honor their request.  However, there is a strong contingent who feel that retaining the ‘Skowhegan Indians’ nickname is their right.  They feel the name should not be changed just because Native Americans find it offensive.  “Our football team has always been known as the Skowhegan Indians!  That nickname is part of our town heritage.  Using the nickname and mascot honors the Indians!”  Wait, what!?

 

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I kept hearing people saying that many of our local towns have Indian names…do we have to change those, too?  Where does it end? There is a famous 62-foot wooden sculpture by Bernard Langlais in town that depicts an Abnaki Indian.  The folks who want to keep the nickname asked if we needed to torch the sculpture now.  Huh?  Honestly, there is no way I could make this stuff up!

 

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It’s the argument that keeping the nickname honors the Natives that has me bewildered the most.  I understand that the Skowhegan Indian teams have played a big part in this town’s history.  I do, really I do.  This a football town we’re talking about.  Football traditions run deep.  But is a sports team’s heritage more important than the centuries-old heritage of the Native American tribes?  How can it be logical that the Natives should be honored by doing the very thing they abhor.  The very thing they asked you to stop doing!  I know my voice went up an octave there, but I’m still shaking my head over that one.

The good news is that after years of balking, our local school board voted to make a change. We will no longer be the Skowhegan Indians.  I am ashamed that our school district was the very last in the state to do this.  But now that we have, Maine will be the first state in the country to end the use of indigenous mascots and nicknames.  For that, I am very proud.

 

 

 

Mailboxes and Maple Syrup

It was a fairly typical night here in Cornville, Maine and I was watching an episode of Shameless.  There was a particularly loud street party scene so I didn’t really connect the dots when I heard the big screech and thump.  Hmmm…it’s not often that I can practically feel a thump coming from the TV so I went to investigate.

I can’t say that I was particularly surprised to see a truck all fetched up in the snowbank.  I had contacted the DOT earlier in the day to let them know the road was a sheet of ice here.  Bill had seen a car do a 360 just a few hours before. When I looked out, I saw debris all over the driveway.  Oh look, there’s our mailbox…and all sorts of other stuff that I didn’t recognize.  That wasn’t the scary part.  What concerned me was that the truck was inches away from the big spruce tree and I wasn’t sure if it came close or bounced off.  I was very much hoping it came close because if it bounced off, the occupant(s) would not be in very good shape.

Luckily, it was a ‘came close’ situation and the driver exited the truck with nothing more than a slightly injured back.  Come to find out, the guy was coming from Vermont on his way up north of here.  Yes, I know Cornville is at the edge of the universe, but up north there are a few places teetering on the very brink.  He was heading to one of those places.

We had him come inside so he could sit and keep warm.  Dan is the nicest guy you could meet.  He makes maple syrup over in Vermont and we talked about trees and his sugar bush.  Yeah, that’s what you call acreage populated by maple trees.  For those of you thinking it was something else, shame on you!  Anyhow, he has a big operation and showed us photos of his sap house and some of the 17,000 taps he has.  Taps are the little spigots that are literally tapped into the maples to catch the sap. Then it’s boiled down to syrup.  It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of the syrup you put on your pancakes.  You didn’t know you were going to have a lecture on maple syrup production, did you?  Just know that the stuff they call pancake syrup in the market is nothing like the 100% real maple stuff.  As far as I’m concerned, Aunt Jemima can take a hike.

Just to show you how things work in backwoods Maine, this is the conversation I had with the dispatcher for the county’s sheriff department.  “Hello, I’d like to report a car off the road here on Route 150.  The road is really slick.”  The reply was classic:  “Is that the fella from Vermont?  Is he there with you?  We’ve already sent a deputy out to make sure he’s ok.”  News travels fast here, and people really care.

It wasn’t much later when the deputy sheriff showed up to assess the situation and get Dan’s info for his report.  I really appreciate the work they do in this area.  There are two deputies who cover our county.  One county might not sound like much but it is just shy of four times the size of Rhode Island.  Granted, Rhode Island is a small state, but still! These poor officers can drive hours north to answer a call, only to get another call back down this way.  A deputy’s life in this neck of the woods isn’t easy.

It was about 11PM when Dan’s girlfriend showed up to get him.  She had a long drive here but she came to wait with him, hoping to see the wrecker soon.  By midnight they called AAA and told them to send the wrecker in the morning to pick up the truck.  They drove the long way home, knowing they would have to be back in the morning.

Dan returned this morning, apologizing all over the place that he hadn’t made a sawhorse for us.  You see, in this climate mailboxes live a precarious life.  If they aren’t close enough to the road, the mailman won’t deliver.  If they are too close to the road they will get clipped by the snowplows.  Many Mainers just put their boxes on sawhorses hoping they won’t be decimated when they inevitably get ‘plowed.’  Our mailbox, however, was on a post the leaned back just enough to be mailman-accessible, yet somewhat plow-proof.  However, now our mailbox is a crumpled piece of metal and the wooden post has been transformed into a scattered mess of toothpicks.  As apologetic as he was, Dan might not have made a new sawhorse, but he came here with a brand new mailbox and even the adhesive numbers to put on it.  He also came with maple syrup and maple candy.  This story goes to show you how New Englanders repay one good deed with another.  And talk about a sweet ending!

 

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The Cornville Annual Report

Bill was reading a snippet of Cornville’s Annual Report to me a little while ago and I realized this was an opportunity to give you a glimpse into small-town life here in Maine.

The Annual Report is both anticipated and dreaded.  In addition to outlining income and expenditures, it lists everyone who hasn’t paid their property taxes.  Even more alarming is the list of those who have had a lien put on their properties.  As you can imagine, for many people it is mortifying to be listed there.  For others, it is delicious entertainment at a neighbor’s expense.  How fun it is to see that so and so is in arrears when they have such a good job.  Could they be having money problems because of sickness or an addiction?  I wonder if she’s drinking again?  Hopefully, it doesn’t mean they’ll lose their house.  I wonder who would want their house if they did lose it?  This is how rumors start.

The report starts out with messages from our elected officials both state and federal.  It’s always nice to know what they are doing down there in Augusta and Washington.  Why that needs to be in the Annual Report, I’m not sure.  I suppose it’s because the practice started before there was internet…or tv…or radio…or Pony Express!  After all, the town was incorporated in 1798.

You haven’t lived until you’ve read through a list of town expenditures for cemetery work, road maintenance, and the upkeep of the town transfer station.  Yeah, that’s the dump…the place where some people go to socialize every weekend.  I hear they are now open three days a week instead of two, so we’re coming up in the world. People go not only to throw away garbage, but also to talk to their neighbors.  Many of them end up taking home more than they throw away because that stuff might come in handy one day.  Ah well, enough about the dump…I mean transfer station.  Let’s get back to the Annual Report.

I read with great interest that the salaries for the town officials totaled $43,733.89.  Bill and I mused about who was paid what.  We have a town clerk who holds office hours two days a week.  We have a treasurer.  Surely that person gets paid.  True to the spirit of a small town, the Deputy Town Clerk is the Treasurer and the Deputy Treasurer is the Town Clerk.  The Fire chief, Plumbing Inspector, and Code Enforcement Officer are all the same guy.  The Deputy Animal Control Officer is the husband of the Animal Control Officer.  There are other officers, too.  I guess I won’t be too outraged that $43,733.89 paid the whole lot of them last year.  It’s the 89 cents that amuses me.  I don’t know why, it just does.

The Annual Report also acts as fodder for arguments at Town Meeting.  Once a year, the residents of the town are encouraged to gather at the Town Hall to discuss the budget for the following fiscal year.  The residents are allowed to stand up and have their say.  It can become a heated affair as the voices get louder and louder as the disagreements progress.  This can go on for hours.  I’ve never been to a Town Meeting.  I should probably go just for the spectacle of the thing.  Maybe next month when they hold the next one.

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Here is the Cornville Town Hall where we vote and Town Meetings are held, like the one shown below.

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Town meetings should be easier to bear in the ensuing years.  Cornville’s current Annual Report tells us, and I quote:  “As was voted at the town meeting last year, the town hall has been newly sided and a bathroom has been installed.”

 

 

 

 

B&W and Color Challenge Jasper Beach

Jasper Beach in Machiasport, Maine.  The entire beach is made of wave-polished stones.  Many of them are very beautiful.  It doesn’t show well in this picture because we were there on a very overcast day, but many of the pebbles have rich red streaks.  You’ll see green and gray and white, as well.  There isn’t a lot of difference between these two pics, but I thought you might like to see a truly rare piece of Maine.

The oddest thing about this beach is the noise it makes as the waves come and go.  Click click click, as the rocks knock against each other in the water’s movements.  A half a mile of clicking rocks polishing themselves against the other rocks…again and again.  There are very few pebble beaches around the world.  We are lucky to have this one.

 

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Dirt Under My Fingernails

Summer is finally here in central Maine.   Traditionally, Maine gardeners in my neck of the woods plant their gardens over Memorial Day weekend.  For many, it’s a tradition. It’s like putting on the storm windows after the Skowhegan Fair (mid-August.)   It’s like putting your snow tires on November 1st.  Or taking them off on May 1st because that’s the law.  Damn it, there might be another late spring storm!  I’ve seen it snow in May.  Yeah, it was may years ago and it only dusted the ground, but it happened!  Sorry, I got sidetracked there a little bit, but suffice it to say; I was late getting the plants in.

Yup, planting over Memorial Day weekend is a tradition for sure.   There would have been some serious tsking going on if my father had been a tsker.  He wasn’t, but all I could imagine was the look of disappointment on his face.  He would have planted his veggie seeds indoors in March so they would be ready for the proper weekend.  I hadn’t even bought pregrown plants!   I was really late.

Now in my defense, it was a very cold and rainy spring.  People who planted their gardens in mid-late May grumbled about their plants’ suffering.  I didn’t grumble because I didn’t have any plants to suffer.  I was smart!  I didn’t have to cover any of them up because there could be a late frost.  Nope, no late frost, it was me who was late!

As the season progressed and Memorial Day passed, it got warmer and I started to get the itch.  All gardeners get it.  I was itching to get my hands in the soil.  I must plant something!  Then I didn’t.  I was beyond late.

I don’t know exactly why I didn’t plant. In spite of the itch, I had a big case of apathy going on.  And you know what that meant?  I know, I don’t even have to say it.

Then I finally did it!  I went to the greenhouse and bought a few plants.  Yup, I was awesome.  I bought those plants with gusto.  There was no stopping me in the buying-plants department.  I was all over it.  I know the greenhouse people looked at me and wondered why I was there so late in the season picking over what was left.  I saw their stupid judgy faces. They know me there, and they know I’m better than this.  I didn’t care, I went on my plant-buying spree and no one was going to stop me!

That was a week ago.  The plants were wilting in the sunroom so I watered them.  They looked pitiful sitting there in their dinky little six-packs.  But I left them there.  The apathy continued.  Till something awesome happened.

We have a gal named Wendy who comes to clean, landscape, dog-sit, you name it.  Wendy came today.  Now Wendy isn’t like an ordinary employee who has always has set tasks.  When she comes, she never knows exactly what she’ll be doing, and neither do I.  It’s kind of a free-for-all.  She sees something that needs doing and she does it.  I might have a suggestion or two, but Wendy’s got it handled.

When I got up I realized that Wendy was weeding the garden beds.  It was like she’d read my apathetic mind.  I shouldn’t have been surprised because this mind-reading thing is something she’s good at, at least when it comes to me.  This ability should scare her because reading my mind can be like a rollercoaster on acid, but we’re both very lucky because she’s unflappable.  No acid-tripping carnival ride was going to flap her, no siree!

There she was, bent over some unsuspecting dandelions.  Those weeds didn’t have a chance.  She got every weed, every root, every tiny bit of offensive green.  I think she sifted the soil for errant seeds.  Those beds were pristine!  I almost cried.

The only things she left were the onions and cilantro that reseeded from last year.  Hey, look at my cilantro and onions!  They look awesome!  As I was making that fantastic proclamation, Wendy rolled her eyes.

Fine. FINE!  I went and got my sad little plants.  I planted them except for those I suddenly decided needed to be planted in the bed she was still weeding.  SHE was holding me up!   Damn Wendy!

Apparently, I missed the grass-clipping altercation.  Just as Wendy was finishing the beds Bill came by with the lawn mower and blew grass clippings onto the beds and my new plants.  I think there were words.  I think Wendy won.  I was assured it will never happen again.

I still have to get those last plants that Wendy prevented me from planting in the ground, but I still felt really proud of myself.  So what if it took Wendy’s eye roll to set me in motion?  I have dirt under my fingernails and my cilantro and onions look awesome!

One Lovely Blog Award

Huge thanks to Silas at The Diary of One Weird Teen for nominating me.  If you haven’t checked out his blog, please do so.  He’s got a great sense of humor and his posts just make me smile.  Whether he’s hating his old school uniform or trying to make it through a shopping trip with braces falling apart, he makes it funny.  He has also rescued six dogs in addition to his own beloved Noddy.  No wonder I love him!  So go check him out and tell him mainepaperpusher sent ya!

rules-one-lovely-blog-award

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog
  • Add the One Lovely Blog Award to your post
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Pass this on to as many people as you like (max 15)
  • Include this set of rules
  • Inform your nominees

 

Seven things about me:

Let me up front here.  I am lazy so rather than write these wonderful wordy descriptions of my facts, I’m going to send you off to posts so you can check out the ones that interest you.  Shameless, I know…

99% of anyone who has ever met me, either in real person, or online, knows how much I love animals.  To prove this fact, I will tell you that I currently have a cat on one shoulder and a Great Dane head on the opposite thigh.  Did I mention that it’s 85F in here?  I love animals!  If you want to know more about my pets, just scroll through the blog, a disproportionate amount of my writing is about them.  This is so well-known that I won’t even count this as a fact.

I’m a vegetarian and have been for over 40 years.  If you want background, here it is:  Zero Pounders

Even though my blog is entitled “Everyone Else Has the Best Titles,” and my given name is Linda, online I am known as mainepaperpusher (no caps, all one word.)  It’s weird, I know, but I think it goes back to my love of e.e.cummings.  He was a big believer in the “no caps” lifestyle.

I’m definitely a night owl.  Actually, if you truly want to know how much of one I am, check out this post:  I’m a Morning Porcupine  I’m up till almost dawn much of the time.  Don’t ask me why.  It just is.  But when I wake up…well, let’s just say it isn’t pretty!

I’m married to Bill, my long-suffering husband.  He’s put up with me for over 30 years I’m and still alive.  All I ask is that you don’t provide him with any weapons.  I even make him use those rounded edged scissors like the elementary kids use.  I figure if he finally realizes that he wants to kill me, a pair of those will only give me a big bruise.  You cant be too careful.  You can learn more about him here:  The Rice Racist and here  I’m Married to a Fruitbat

I love the heat and I’m leery of people who love the cold.  If you want to know how leery, this will tell you:  Murderous Thoughts in Springtime

I love my old Saab convertible named Penny.  If you want to hear a very weird but true car story, go here:  “Pennys” From Heaven

I live in Cornville, Maine and, yes you can laugh.  I still do after more than 30 years.  My dear friend Mohamad Al Karbi asked me to write about it on his blog and if you want to know more about this tiny town, check it out here:  The Town at the End of the Universe  While you are there, be sure to check out his other posts.  He has one of the best blogs out there!

Nominations:

EVERYONE!  Yup, every single last one of you silly people who read my crazy meanderings is invited to share some meanderings of your own!  Feel free to skip it if it’s not up your alley or you just have something better to do.  Actually, if you have something better to do, would you share it with me?  I need a good list of some-things-better to do!