Storm Drama and Autumn Delights

I took some photos of the foliage in our woods a couple of days ago before the storm (“bomb cyclone“) hit last night knowing that many of the leaves would be blown off the trees. The winds packed a powerful punch with gusts up to 60 mph. I got out of bed at 3:00 a.m. and made the coffee knowing that a power outage would be likely if not imminent. Forget bread and milk–dealing with a storm without that hot morning cup is just…no. The winds were literally roaring outside just like the storm two years ago that knocked down a large tree in our yard. Around 3:45 the power predictably went out. The house was silent which made the noisy mayhem of wind and rain outside seem even louder. As long we didn’t hear any snaps, cracks and thuds of falling trees and…

“What was that? Was that you?” I asked Wayne who was in another room.

“No, I thought it came from the kitchen.”

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Peak Fall Foliage Drive

Yesterday morning we went apple picking for the fourth time this season and took a drive to admire the stunning colors now that they’re peaking. One of the countless things I love about living in Maine is that you don’t need to spend money other than on gas to “do things”. I can’t think of a better production than what is happening around us right now and it’s completely free to witness. I hope you’ll vicariously enjoy our drive and scenic stops along the way:

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Vintage Recipe: 1930s New England Apple Brown Betty

This simple, wholesome recipe for New England Brown Betty is made with a handful of ingredients and is adapted from my 1936 copy of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book. It’s a good way to make use of stale bread, too, which I happened to have handy. Speaking of handy things, I also made my first-ever batch of 100% hand whipped cream with my new rotary beater! It wasn’t difficult at all!

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Beware The Pickpockets Lurking In Your House!

During this past summer our tub with old fixtures and 1950s plumbing behind the wall was leaking hot water. I placed a cup underneath the faucet and based upon the number of cups filled per hour I found an online water usage calculator which revealed we would be paying about $80 annually for that drip! Wayne was unable to fix it himself because of the outdated valve and location of the washers behind the wall. We were able to find an excellent licensed plumber who specializes in older homes who did some major surgery/upgrades behind the wall and then put in brand new fixtures. That $450 repair still saves us $350 since we plan to be in our home for at least another ten years. Also, if a washer goes Wayne can now change it himself instead of having to call a plumber. That’s the good news.

Our gentleman plumber, along in his years, shared a story with us about his rotary phone that at the time seemed crazy: It was literally stealing money from him! It turns out your smart phone might be doing it, too and it happened to Wayne!

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A Chairlift into the Clouds, a Carousel Ride into the 19th Century & More!

What a weekend! This is a long post loaded with pics and videos.ย 

Early Saturday morning our first stop on the way to Sunday River for the fall foliage chairlift ride was breakfast at Shipyard Brewhaus in Newry. Wayne ordered the S.O.S. and I ordered the corned beef hash omelette which was delicious.ย 

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Opting Out From Planned Obsolescence

I purchased the vintage 1950s percolator above new in the box at a rummage sale three summers ago for $1 and I’ve made wonderful coffee in it every morning since. It’s a relic from an era when things were made to last. Now planned obsolescence is part of our consumer economy over which we have little control forcing us to spend and trash, spend and trash.

Most recently I had to buy a new computer (and may have to upgrade my Office for an annual subscription fee of $70 [you can’t just buy Office 365], subject to price increases, of course). When I bought my house ten years ago the wall oven died shortly thereafter because a computer component malfunctioned and they stopped manufacturing the replacement. The entire oven was therefore trash. My washing machine stopped functioning properly a few years ago, and that, too, was due to a computer part that was no longer available. The replacement cost for both combined was about $2,000, all due to planned obsolescence.

When it’s possible to not pay into “the cost of living in today’s world” I’m on it! Here are some recent examples:

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Frugal Lawn Care Saved $800 (and Our Yard!)

Up until two years ago I had hired “lawn care” companies to “treat” my yard with fertilizers, herbicides, aeration and reseeding. For about $400 a season the grass had many dead spots and would turn brown in the summer despite watering it. When I’d contact the companies to ask why I was told that the grass had gone dormant for the summer. I went through three different companies over eight years. Besides being expensive, harmful to the environment, beneficial insects and wildlife it was making our yard look worse! I told Wayne last spring we would cease paying and spraying and came up with a plan to save money and the living things:

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Yankee Thrift Foiled by Bill Gates

My desktop computer is an older model that I’m perfectly happy with but it’s running Windows 7 for which Microsoft, in January, will no longer support with security updates. Having antivirus software won’t be enough to protect my machine/hard drive. Because my perfectly good machine isn’t built for updating to a later version, I need a new computer which I ordered online today for $500 (the lower end of the spectrum).

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I Met The humble Farmer!

In the late 1980s I was an undergrad at the University of Maine in Orono and naively believed that because I grew up in Manhattan that I had seen and heard everything. So when I took a break from listening to my Joy Division, Agnostic Front and old school rap cassettes on my boom box in the dorm I turned on the radio–Maine Public Radio. Some farmer with a wicked heavy Maine accent had a show where he talked about Maine things with a very deadpan delivery. I wasn’t sure if he was a kook or a quirky genius. All I knew then is that his voice and program in which his commentary was interspersed with jazz was very relaxing. For me that was valuable because it has taken me many years to unwind and I’m not sure I every will completely. I also appreciated that he was the polar opposite of all I had heard growing up which made him kind of subversive.

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Vintage Recipe: Margaret Chase Smith’s Blueberry Cake

After months of denying rumors that she would seek the top of the Republican ticket or the vice presidential nomination, inspirational Mainer Senator Margaret Chase Smith announced her run for President in January, 1964.

“I have few illusions and no money, but I’m staying for the finish,” she noted, “When people keep telling you, you can’t do a thing, you kind of like to try.”

Although she wasn’t elected, Mrs. Smith was the first woman to have her name put in for nomination for the presidency by a major political party. She also created a winning Maine classic: Margaret Chase Smith’s Blueberry Cake. This delightful recipe is from an undated vintage very well-loved pamphlet in my collection, “Maine Blueberry Recipes…” Seventh Edition, Published by The Maine Department of Agriculture.

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