Record-breaking news here in Maine: Housing sales are up 23 percent from a year earlier and the median price went up 8 percent. The median cost for a home in my county went up to $325,000 from $307,000 a year ago. When I bought my house in 2009 it was after the housing bubble had crashed. I rented my entire life up until age forty. Are we in a housing bubble now? Time will tell, but the reality is that if you can’t afford to buy a house, it’s not a good time to buy. This post is for those of you who may believe that you’re throwing your money away by renting.
As a young girl in the 1970s I had no desire to be in Ice Capades nor was I into ice skating at the rink, however, when I sat down in the hair dresser’s chair around age nine I told her that I wanted a Dorothy Hamill haircut*. I felt so edgy with my new do, especially when wearing my “Buffalo” shoes and my newly pierced ears!
Anyway, when we had an early morning ice storm a little over two weeks ago I had an appointment for my routine mammogram. This was shortly after having numerous jabs over a period of a few weeks as well as my annual eye dilation to check the spot in the back of my eye that hopefully won’t ever turn into cancer. Wayne had driven me to my appointment and we made it there and back safely. I was so elated about the fact that my mammogram didn’t hurt at all. I turned to Wayne before I got out of the car and said smiling: “I’m done being poked and prodded! ” It was a great feeling. “I’ll go check the mail.” Likely beaming, I stepped out of the car in my non-edgy Timberland boots, and, feeling like I was walking on air, was briskly and harshly schooled.
While the world is abuzz about the Duchess of Sussex “stepping back” from her royal duties (seriously, though, I didn’t see that coming and apparently neither did the Queen!) I’ve stepped back in time and from the fancification of Duchess potatoes with this simple, frugal 1915 recipe found inside a Portland, Maine elementary school book. All that is required to make these tasty little puffs are three ingredients plus salt and pepper for seasoning.
I just love when I find a hidden gem and that’s exactly what happened for our Thanksgiving dinner. A few weeks ago we decided that we wanted to go out to eat since it’s just the two of us this year. All of the local places serving T-Day dinner were charging between $80 – $90 per person plus tip! Spending over $200 to eat in a trendy or upscale restaurant on Thanksgiving in greater Portland is just no! (Portland was named 2018 Restaurant City of the Year by Bon Appetite.) We’re not into trendy places. We wanted something out of the way in the country that was simple, homey, historic, casual and delicious without fine dining pricing. Then I opened up google maps and did a search for places in “the country”. That’s how I found The Buxton Common, “a community gathering space for families, friends, neighbors and guests serving house smoked, rustic country fare in a revitalized 18th century home.” They were offering a Thanksgiving dinner for $32 per person! Sold!
Wayne and I attended a Pow Wow at the Maine Wildlife Park this summer after which we spent some time exploring and looking at the animals. Unlike a zoo that operates for profit, the animals at the park cannot survive in the wild. It’s there that they are provided a safe forever home because they were injured, orphaned, or became human dependent while being raised illegally in captivity. The park is self-sustaining and owned and operated by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife within the Division of Information and Education. Each animal becomes an ambassador for its species to help educate (and charm!) the public. It has a staff of thirty and over two hundred volunteers which includes retirees, college interns and during the off-season, inmates involved in correctional trade instruction. The inmates gain experience and can give back to the community by doing necessary tasks like painting, shoveling and maintaining wood furniture.
I contacted park Superintendent Curt Johnson about the possibility of volunteering next season. Since I’m always interested in learning more about people who work with and love wildlife I asked him after he interviewed me if I could interview him for my blog. Not only did he agree to it but he also offered me a rare opportunity to visit the park and see the animals after it had closed for the season! I felt so lucky and of course I accepted his generous offer!
Presented without commentary:
We drove up to L.L.Bean early this morning because I wanted to see their silk long underwear in person before buying it. I last wore L.L.Bean’s silk underwear during the winters I spent up in Orono for college back in the 1980s. Wearing a silk top and leggings is a natural, comfy and effective layering strategy to stay warm outdoors in the winter. Long-time readers know my relationship status with Bean is complicated. I’m still willing to try every so often. Plus, I like to see the fish!
Sometimes I can’t contain my joy for living in such a beautiful place, but really, why would I want to? Is it because we’re trained to think that happiness springs from ignorance, so that only simple-minded people are content? Or is informed bliss (the name of my first blog in 2001) in a world filled with sadness and tragedy along with comfort, kindness and connection a real possibility?
YES! Yes it is!
We ran out of fresh picked apples last week so I bought some “local” (New England but not from Maine) “apples” from the grocery. Those mealy imposters were shameful! I was reminded that “local” is often used very liberally to extend to surrounding states hundreds of miles away and does not mean picked yesterday, last week or even in the past month. It’s the same with grocery tomatoes. After I tasted home grown I couldn’t go back to those hard waxy pale orange replicas. Wayne agrees, so it’s for those reasons that we went apple picking this morning in thirty degree weather. It’s the last weekend for picking apples at our favorite orchard, Libby & Son U-Picks, and it turned out to be filled with simple beauty.
Maine’s autumnal show ain’t over til it’s over! There is still much to appreciate right now including my new chipmunk friend, Cider. At first I thought he lived in my neighbor’s yard but I followed him home and see that he’s living on the other side of my house. About four days ago Buster and Ricky went south (a few feet) underground for the winter so they aren’t here to chase Cider away. Sunny is still awake but I know that she, too will soon be in torpor for winter and the passing of summer’s growth will be complete once it’s covered with a cold white blanket. Thankfully that’s not happening in the near future!
Here are some pics I just took to share all this remaining loveliness with you, including Cider’s audition to be a model.