Friday, September 28, 2007

Downeast Knitiodts

The Wednesday morning meeting of the Downeast Knitiodts, (the moniker we have dubbed our little knitting group), met at one of our member's homes for a jolly good session of knitting lessons, chin wagging and some delicious apple brownies baked by our gracious hostess, Nancy.

Instructor, Barbara, certainly earned her money on this day as we all had questions about our projects and needed lots of guidance with some of the new patterns and projects we had in progress.
Judy needed her attention more than the rest of us as she was attempting to knit with 4 needles for the very first time. We all gave her much encouragement and reassured her that we had all been there, and the hardest part was that very first round, the rest of the sock being a piece of cake (right, wink, wink). We all chortled under our breath, knowing full well that the first pair of socks was a real pain to master, but once mastered, all the rest were easy (another myth spread by sadistic knitters).

My project for this session was to sew the first sleeve onto H's sweater. Barbara painstakingly showed me how to pin the sleeve on and, sewing on the right side, make a perfect seam. Now, I was always taught to seam things with right sides together and this was an all too foreign experience for me. I had to pay close attention to what I was doing. However, I did manage to get the hang of it despite my brain screaming "NO! This is not the way you're supposed to be doing it!"

The second sleeve is making progress after having been completely torn out because I made a huge mistake early on. I knew I would not be able to see H in his sweater if I knew the mistake was there, sooooo, out came the many hours of knitting and a new beginning was made.

My other current project is a new learning experience. While I have made socks in the past, watching Carmen make the beautiful patterned socks she knits gave me the desire to try my hand at yet something else new. BIG MISTAKE! I cannot tell you how I have slaved over this sock. The pattern is beautiful, but my word, the yarn is fingering yarn (very thin) and the needles are size 2. I can hardly see the darned stitches and my hands are so cramped around the tiny needles that I only knit for a few minutes at a time. The person who gets these for Christmas had better be darned grateful!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Spike's Busy Day

The day began, as usual with Spike, ever vigilant, keeping watch over the vermin on the deck. The squirrels and chipmunks at the feeders must be kept in check, lest they venture into Spike's territory in the house.

Giddy and H had gone for their daily stroll in Sorrento, taking in the beauty of the autumn day before the real work in the garden was to begin.
The bronze of the sea grass was reflecting in the small coves on this sunny day.

What a great location this little cape has! But enough of this lollygagging. There is serious work to be done in the fall garden at home.

The Siberian Iris had taken over a large part of the sunny spot in the yard, so Giddy and her trusty tools dug a huge hunk of them out in anticipation of planting something new in the spring. Giddy is still salivating over the blue veronica she spied at the Coastal Botanical Garden in Boothbay.
Spike, of course, was on duty, guarding the yard while Giddy gardened. Ever vigilant, he kept watch, pouncing on any grasshoppers that dared to venture into the "death zone", the 20 or so feet his leash would permit.
The frog in the bird bath looked on in bored silence.The steely eyed Spike has spied Gunter Gnome lurking in the perennial bed under the last of the blooming yellow daylillies!Gunter Gnome cowers under the daylily leaves in hopes of hiding from the vicious feline. Fortunately for Gunter, Spike is not to be distracted from his task at paw of holding the vermin at bay.

And so, another day ends in the life of a very busy kitty. An afternoon spent in pursuit of garden marauders has left poor Spike spent. Luckily, he has a nice, soft spot to sleep and dream of another adventure.

Sleep tight!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Road Trip to Castine

It's been one of those very busy weeks where we never seem to have enough time to do the things we must do, much less the things we would like to do. However, since the weather has suddenly become mildly warm and wonderful, we decided to blow town and head out for an early autumn road trip to see how much color Mother Nature has graced us with, so far.

We headed out early; our destination, Castine, a wonderful, historic colonial village situated on a peninsula on the coast of Maine. We traveled over scenic back roads, lush with hardwood trees which were just beginning to show a bit of color. The red of the maples stood out amongst the background of green oaks and the faintest coloring of birches tinged with yellow. The sky was blue, but somewhat hazy.

This beautiful little New England church caught my eye.

Castine was very lovely. The hiking tour of this historic town was fascinating. We've always been interested in history and Castine was quite prominent in American history. It was held, at various times from early 1600's until 1815 by the English, French and Dutch. It was the site of the oldest Fort on the new continent. All along the walking tour were signs telling of significant times and dates in Castine's history.

I took a photo of this particular sign because it happened on my birthday 170 years ago. Thomas Powers, my great grandfather, 12 generations removed fought in the War of Independence. Perhaps at this very site!

The walk took us mostly up hill, to a lovely little lighthouse on the point so we definitely got our exercise that day

Castine is also the home of the Maine Maritime Academy. This college is world renowned for training seamen who when graduated, will become members of our Nation's valiant Merchant Marines, Coast Guard, and Navy.

The Academy's huge training vessel is the State of Maine. It is on indefinite loan from the US Navy.

Another training vessel, "Bowdoin" has a very colorful history, as well. It takes the students on training tours of the arctic, among other places.

Lunch was at the famous Dennett's Wharf on the harbor. We sat outside in the sunshine and enjoyed the view of all the boats in the harbor. One thing we did notice was the lack of lobster boats and surmised that perhaps the sea bottom was not rocky enough to attract lobsters in this area. I'll have to check with my lobstering friends to see if we are correct.

H with Dennet's Wharf in the background
The Harbor Master was kind enough to get a snapshot of H and me with all the sailboats in the background.

All in all, a wonderful way to spend a beautiful autumn day. Life is soooooo good!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Bit of a Scare

Friday, we were out walking when H began developing some chest pains that he had been experiencing for the past couple of weeks. Being typically male, he pooh-poohed the notion that he really should go in for a checkup. I insisted, and took him immediately to the clinic where I work. When we yell "chest pain" at the clinic, everyone pretty much stops what they are doing and tend to the patient. H has never had so much unwanted attention in his life!

Being very thorough, the doctor immediately hooked him up to the monitor and stuck all those nasty little sticky things all over his chest and legs. Now, H has a very hairy chest and although they did do a bit of shaving, the things still caught lots of chest hair. They did one EKG at the clinic and after noticing that his blood pressure was quite elevated despite having given him meds intravenously, they decided to transport him via ambulance to the hospital 16 miles away. He was not amused.

We spent Friday night in the hospital and as you can well imagine, neither of us got any sleep. The nurses and hospital staff were so nice, but despite their best efforts, H was not to be consoled and I finally asked the nurse to give him something for his anxiety - he was literally climbing the walls. However, throughout the entire ordeal, he never lost his sense of humor, and flirted outrageously with the nurses despite being poked, prodded and pricked with needles all night long.

To make this very long story short, after 5 EKG's, 5 or more blood tests to determine that he had not had a heart attack, 2 MRI's and a stress test, he was pronounced fit as a fiddle. Seems that his blood pressure meds were not doing what they were supposed to do, so he was sent home with another prescription and a clean bill of health. We are eternally grateful and exhausted.So, I missed the Garden Bloggers Day, but today I am posting a few pics of the yard, along with a few others.

Life is truly good.
The Pink Dahlias are hanging in there despite some very cool nights.The Gloriosa Daisies have been blooming non stop since late July
The Mandevilla Vine has beautiful flowers, however, I was a bit disappointed in the amount of blooms on the vine. Hopefully, I'll be able to overwinter them and get more blooms next year if I fertilize them more often.

Last evening, Spike and I heard a noise out on the deck. I turned on the lights and Spike and the raccoon came face to face!
I think the raccoon outweighed him by about 25 pounds!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Quiet Sunday

Today was a quiet day. After our walk, we went in to town to do our grocery shopping and picked up the ingredients for our Marseilles Stew - fish, shrimp, mussels, tomatoes, fennel, leeks, onion, garlic, saffron, white wine and clam juice. This is a photo of last year's stew as today's isn't finished yet. I'll post another pic on a later blog.

This is a picture of the Joe Pye Weed I've been bragging on. I have no idea who that little old lady in the picture is, '-), but I know she's about 5 feet tall, so you can see how big the plant is.

Spike seems to be enjoying his new window box. I caught a pic of him right after a rousing fight with his catnip pillow. I would like to think he's showing his affection for the window seat, however, I think he's just snockered from the catnip!

I also played with my camera, specifically with the video portion. I uploaded it to YouTube, but as Zoey of Perennial Passion blog pointed out, it takes FOREVER to upload a one minute video, so I don't think I'll be doing one very often. Anyway, here is a one minute view of the flowers on my deck.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Change is in the Air

The camera arrived via FedEx at precisely 1:05 pm yesterday and I immediately launched into the instruction booklet and became instantaneously overwhelmed! It's a good thing it's an Olympus and I pretty well knew where all the buttons were and what they were for, so I could at least take pictures using the AUTO mode. Ah, but she's a real beauty; sleek and black just like our Spike.

The first thing we did after breakfast this morning was head out for our walk in Sorrento. I, with my trusty new Oly went with the intention of photographing the beginnings of color change in nature. The walk, as usual, was great, but due to all the haze in the air, the colors in the photos were not as bright as they normally are.

Some of the maples are beginning to show red

Creeping Jenny is also a lovely shade of burgundy

This hillside of goldenrod stood out in front of the brown garage

The ferns are slowly losing their green summer color and fading to a golden hue

The red maple halfway up the drive has also begun its transformation to brilliant autumn red

The birch outside our bedroom window has begun its transformation, as well. This tree is always the first one in the spring to show green and one of the first to turn yellow in the fall.

Our resident red squirrel looks like he's gotten plenty to eat over the summer. He and his friends are Spike's entertainment during the day. He loves to watch them scamper back and forth, arguing over the sunflower seeds.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Anxiously Awaiting FedEx!

For quite some time now, I have been hoarding my pennies with the idea of purchasing a new digital camera. I had been reading many online reviews of the various ones I had in mind, but as of a couple of days ago, had not made a definite decision. However, as things like this usually happen, I was forced to make a decision as my trusty Olympus was beginning to do strange things, like not open the lens so I could take a picture. This didn't happen every time, but often enough to irritate me when I could not get the picture I wanted. Considering the fact that over the past three years, I have taken in excess of 6000 photos, it's not surprising that the camera is gasping for it's final breaths.

Therefore, I did a lot of research online, once again, and made my final decision: it is to be the Olympus 550UZ (the UZ standing for Ultra Zoom). I like this particular model for it's 18x optical zoom and the fact that the buttons are mostly the same as my older model. Soooooo, having made the decision, H and I dutifully called around to all the stores to find out if they had this one in stock. Nope, nope, nope and nope! No one within a 100 miles had it in stock. Our only choice was to either have it delivered to the store in question for pickup in 7-10 business days or have it FedExed to the house via overnight for a mere $19.53 extra. Now, given the fact that the old Oly was truly on her last legs, we decided on the latter method and are now anxiously awaiting the new arrival.

The FedEx tracking is marvelous! We got an email with a tracking number and can access the information online. So far we have noted that it left the warehouse in Marion, Illinois last night and arrived in Memphis overnight. It left Memphis at 5:05 this morning and as I write, is winging it's way to me. I am ecstatic!

On another note, I spent the afternoon yesterday in the garage building a window seat box for Spike. I had been thinking about something carpet covered so he could sharpen his claws to his heart's content without me fussing when he attempted to do it on the back of the sofa (which was not very often). I checked out a few in PetCo, but they were way more than I wanted to spend and were not the right size to place in front of the window so he could look out comfortably. Here's a couple of photos of my project which, I might add, only cost $9.95 for the carpet runner which we purchased at Home Depot to replace the old one in the kitchen. The old one became the cover for Spike's "window seat". The wood I used was all old scraps of building material left over from the garage project. Daddy taught me well!

Spike's new corner in the office He took right to it!

Yesterday's walk in Sorrento was beautiful, and of course, I can't walk by the harbor without taking yet another photo of my favorite little sailboat. I hope I can get another one of her with the new camera and it's great zoom lens. This is as close as I can get with the old camera.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


We had been dreading this morning. The Spikester was scheduled for his big event at the veterinarian. You know, the shots, the nail clipping, the ARGHHHHH, neutering!

We were not to feed him this morning, so we spent several hours with him anxiously whining about nothing being put into his bowl. He was not a happy kitty, particularly since after all that time of being starved and ignored, he was then shoved unceremoniously into the "pet taxi" and driven to the "event".

Not having had a cat for quite sometime, and not really knowing what to look for I had surreptitiously taken a peek at his nether parts, and figured he was either quite young and had not yet developed, or he had at one time, already been neutered. Well, much to our and his joy, we got a call from the vet saying he had indeed been neutered and it would not be necessary to keep him all day. He had been given the required shots, a good going over, a pedicure and we could pick him up immediately.

He came home, no worse for the wear and after having a celebratory breakfast, was once again the loving kitty who had adopted us. It seems all has been forgiven and our Halloween kitty is once again, comfortably ensconced on his couch!

All's well that ends well.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Oh, Lazy Day!

Yesterday, we hiked in Acadia, shopped for the weekend groceries and did a few chores around the house. Today, we anticipated having a lazy day. Well, how one describes a "lazy day" is different for everyone!
Spike seems to have it down to a fine science!

I got up this morning and immediately made a list of things I really wanted to accomplish today. Some things simply had to be done like watering the plants and yard, but others were things that I personally, needed to have done to feel as though I had not wasted my day.

The list:

- Wash and hang 2 loads of laundry out to dry (it's a great day - sunshine and breezy)
- Bake Banana Blueberry Oatmeal Bread (dying bananas in the fruit bowl)
- Water lawn (.04 of an inch of rain last night did not cut it)
- Paint the pickle jars in the garage
- Water and fertilize the barrels at the top of the drive
- Finish the socks I had begun knitting earlier in the week
- Check airline prices for a visit to H's Mom (yikes! really expensive, will check again later)
- Cook brown rice for later in the week

I'm happy to report, that with the exception of painting the pickle jars, I have crossed everything off my list! So much for having a lazy day!
Yum! The banana blueberry oatmeal bread is delish! Between that and the brown rice, the house smells wonderful!

The laundry is dry, folded, and put away - well, almost.

The socks are finished and very comfy!
The Mandevilla vine is looking great! Too bad I'll have to cut it back and bring it in the house soon.

Why is it that all the flowers are at their very best for such a short time?The fountain plantings are so full right now. I will bring the rosemary in before any really hard freezes. They are pretty good up to about 28 degrees.

And, so much for my lazy day! Life is good.