Kindness Sent to the Land Of Chipmunks and Sudden Snows

April was a tough month for so many reasons, the weather being one of them. We broke a record of 79 years with not a single day above 60 degrees! It was mostly highs in the forties and low fifties, wet, dreary and we had a surprise snowstorm the second week of April (shown above). Then all week I had a headache that finally went away overnight. Receiving two different surprises in the mail from friends this past week really raised my spirits! You’ve gotta see how cute they are:

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Guest Post: A New Englander’s Tiny Balcony Garden in Italy

Many of us who are stuck inside small urban homes during quarantine (or any time!) may find ourselves wishing we had some nature within reach. My dear friend and Bostonite Stephanie moved to Italy many years ago and created a green oasis on her chic Florence balcony. I’m very grateful that she was so generous to share her story and beautiful photos with us here on Simple Living New England. Come see her flowers, fruit trees, bird friends and more for inspiration!

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Blustery Beauty at Higgins Beach

I got a parking spot at my favorite beach!!!! I smelled ocean air (40 degree air, but I’m no longer picky!) instead of whiffs of Clorox! As a way to prevent crowding my town of Scarborough closed the beach parking lots except for a small portion of one at Pine Point. They technically did not close the beaches nor did they prohibit VERY limited parking along the street so that those who live within walking distance can still go as well as those who could snag a spot. Today was my lucky day! It’s the first time in over three weeks that I actually went for a drive anywhere. (My wedding ring still fits, ha! I take it off at home.) I really needed to at least see and smell the sea from my car. I was so thrilled that I was able to actually park and take a quick, socially-distanced walk!

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Making (Hair) Do: The “Quarantine Coif”

Wayne, an essential worker, still leaves home Monday through Friday while I only venture off our property to walk around the neighborhood. Like everywhere else barber and salon visits are out. According to headlines, home hair coloring and grooming supplies are selling out. I’ve read many comments about how awful it is that one can’t cover up their gray hair. It’s not an issue for me because as I’ve shared before, I’m going gray because I like it! Last week I decided to share some of my eclectic taste in vinyl on Instagram and included a selfie (above) in which my salt and pepper colors are very evident. Hmm I also see my crows feet in that pic, too. No Botox for me, either, now or ever. Anyway, I privately received some remarks about my hair!

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Streaming Love: A Surprise in Our Woods

How are you all doing? Since last weekend I’ve been feeling very tired, some of it likely from my hyperparathyroidism, the rest it from pandemic-related stress and sadness. I simply don’t have the energy to update with my usual frequency. Now that my book has been put on hold I also need to figure out how to start generating a small income from my blog which has been ad-free since its inception.  I do have windows of energy so I’ve been getting outside to rake and do general spring cleaning in the yard. The fresh air, warming sunshine, exercise and Cider’s company is very healing. I’ve been keeping an eye out for Buster, too. Yesterday Wayne and I did some more exploring in our woods. He found a hidden gem I never knew was there!

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Life Wins: The Gifts of Spring

Right now if you look very closely you’ll see signs of spring. A cursory glance still shows bare trees, dead leaves and patches of snow. We spent some time walking in our woods, hanging out with Cider and relishing in home comforts. I have a new camera/phone so I practiced getting close-up shots that capture the lively details of renewal. There’s also a sweet video at the end of this post. On to the pics:

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Looking Forward to “The Way Life Should Be”

I am SO looking forward to a Kennebunkport summer of St. Ann’s, the Nonantum and the Colony as well as reading Wishy the Bookworm Chipmunk* at Maine Wildlife Park. Even if summer traditions gets a late start and they end up being two minutes instead of the usual five (honestly that’s how summer feels in Maine, it’s almost like one beautiful blur), I will take it with gratitude!

In addition to the closures I mentioned yesterday the Governor of Maine also shut coastal state beach parks yesterday afternoon. Knowing that everyone will then be heading to the remaining open beaches in my town, Ferry and Higgins, I will avoid them because they will likely be packed. I assume they will soon be closed, too.

I want to share the unsettling things that happened during my walk around my neighborhood yesterday, a walk I’ve taken hundreds of times that is usually pleasant and uneventful. It feels like an entirely different scene because it is.

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Making Do: Frugal Substitutions for Toilet Paper

Have you seen that crazy talk on the ‘net about using corn cobs in place of TP? Other than farmers, who has corn cobs laying around?! Leaves sounds more reasonable, albeit not dried ones. I can’t say I know that for a fact because Wayne is a party pooper. (I apologize in advance for the unfortunate and unintended puns in this post).

Here’s how it went. We were sitting in our three season sunroom yesterday afternoon which was glorious. The sunlight brought the sunroom temp up to seventy even though it was still in the 40s outside. The local indie oldies a.m. station was playing on the vintage radio. We sat on our rocking chairs and I asked his thoughts about leaves in lieu of TP if it came down to that. Then I had a great idea on how to find out!  I can’t believe he didn’t want to play along with my novel quarantine game.

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Moving Forward, Leaving My Book Behind, Good Things to Come

Thank you to all who took the time to comment on my last two posts. Your participation is important for me to be motivated to keep writing here.

I have some sad news about my book, The Thrifty Yankee’s Guide to Frugal Living. It’s only 1/3 finished (managing the pain after my fall on the ice and endocrine disorder issues/testing further delayed my writing) and I won’t resume until after coronavirus is history.  I know you’re thinking, wait, what do you mean? We need to learn how to live with less now more than ever! We need Yankee thrift!

Yes, that’s true and not to worry, I will continue to share my frugal living tips here in this new landscape. However what I’ve written so far in my book applies to a different world. Examples? Talking about eating out less where now we can’t at all; a whole section on how to yard sale like a pro where I share my hard-earned secrets when in reality for the foreseeable future (a year or more?) buying second-hand in crowded spaces won’t be happening. Those are just a couple of examples, but really the issue is that the overall approach would come across as tone-deaf now. This represents a loss of income I had planned on for this summer but this sort of thing is happening for so many of us. (By the way  L.L.Bean which is normally open 24/7, even during the big ice storm of ’98 had to install locks because they, too are closed.)

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Self Isolation? No. Hanging with my Prepper Friends!

Look at Sunny’s tail! It filled out even more during her overwinter in her burrow! My buddies Cider, Ricky and Sunny are out for another season of stockpiling seeds. Still hoping to see Buster any day now. The world including Maine was a drastically different place when I last posted but it’s business as usual in my backyard, thank God. Turning to nature has always been my balm. First off I hope you are safe, healthy, staying sanitized and that you have enough provisions to get you through a couple of weeks or longer should you need to self-quarantine or isolate. I’ve been an introverted work-from-home bookworm homebody for much of my adult life and often prefer the company of animals to people so social distancing isn’t must of an adjustment for me. I do, however, have some maladjustments due to coronavirus.

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