For All the Saints and Cousins

We had another Halloweenie here on Blethen Street and although the weather was not ideal for little ghouls and goblins, I enjoyed a visit from six of them.  I handed out “Power Crunch” kids protein snack bars.  And Moxie.  It warmed my heart when one mother told me “we like coming to your house because we know you will have Moxie.”

All Hail Halloweenie!  If you’re lamenting the passage of my least favorite red letter day, here’s my favorite post about it.

Life has been intensely busy and surprisingly beautiful lately.  Martha Stewart (who is apparently a Halloweenie kind of person) might say “It’s all good.”  Yes, it’s all good, but I’m spread very thin.  And working diligently to hide how very thin I’m spread.  Blogging and writing has taken a back seat to things like…

An impromptu family birthday celebration for my Aunt Rita’s 88th.  This blog post features a picture of youthful Aunt Rita.  Like my father, Rita too was “Tops Among Teens” when she was in high school.

My cousin Joanne planned everything.  I merely made sure my house was clean and supplied two coolers full of ice.  I love a party and I was ecstatic to have 21 people in the house.  We took a lot of pictures and this picture of my Baumer cousins was a favorite.

The Cousins(Top to bottom, left to right are Rick Helfen, Julie-Ann Baumer, John Baumer, Beth Baumer Leblanc, Joan Nigro, Peter Rovnak, Kaye Bell, Joanne Baumer Huston, and Mary-Ann Morgan.)

All Saints Day was a repeat of this day in 2017.  Remember?  When that big pine tree blew down in my back yard?  It was mild and the wind blew ferociously all day.  No trees blew down here, thankfully.

And today is opening day of hunting season for Maine residents.  This year, I’m both a Maine resident and a licensed hunter.  I’ve got an “any deer” permit, a blaze orange vest, and a Weatherby rifle.  The hunting man and I will go this afternoon “just because.”  I’m not in a hurry; I’d actually like to get my deer on our family land at the end of November when things cool down.

“Do you have room in your freezer for a deer?” the hunting man asked me.

“Sure.”

I’ll just push aside the blueberries in my freezer.  I have them so I can make Marjorie Standish’s “Melt in Your Mouth Blueberry Cake” all winter.  I’ll be giving a talk about Standish at the Pejepscot Historical Society’s “History Happy Hour” on November 14 at The Brunswick Inn, 165 Park Row, Brunswick.  The event starts at 5:00 p.m.

In spite of the disorganized mess that is my life, I made it to church for All Saints Day.  I will need all of the saints on my side to get through the many things leading up to this most wonderful time of the year.

“The golden evening brightens in the west; soon, soon to faithful warriors cometh rest.  Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest…”

Posted in Abundance, Home, Weather and Seasons | Tagged , , , ,

Times Shall Be Good

On Saturday evening on September 21, Cyrus Lavers had a motorcycle cycle accident.  It happened up on the Ridge Road, not far from his home.  Almost immediately, word went out on the ‘netz and we began praying for his recovery.

I knew Cyrus from my own time living up on the Ridge.  He was Gina and Rick Mason’s nephew.  I remember the day I discovered a tree stand in the woods and climbed up into it.  I later learned this one belonged to Cyrus and his brother Mason.  I knew I had trespassed into the secret world of boys as I looked out over the beautiful expanse of the Botma’s field.

When I moved into town, I hired Joel Dunham to do some tree work.  Cyrus worked for Joel at that time and he brought his bright and lively spirit to Blethen Street along with a crane, many chainsaws, and the rest of the crew.

I kept up on his life tangentially from his sister, Cassidy, who was my hair stylist for a time.  I’d always ask “how’s Cyrus doing?”  It was hard not to like a young man like him.  He was kind and honest, a free spirit.  I might see him at Food City once in a blue moon.  I heard about the time a rabid fox bit him and how he killed the fox before it could hurt anyone else.

After his motorcycle accident, many people posted pictures and thoughts of him; we all hoped and prayed for a miracle.  Cyrus lived his life with such passion and energy.  Some might say he took risks.

Cyrus died on Friday, September 27, 2019.  His friends and family began the work of his funeral.  Much of this grief journey was chronicled humbly on Facebook.  Young men and women worked into the evening with chainsaws, headlamps, tears, and memories to carve his coffin from a large tree trunk.

Yesterday, his brothers, sisters, and friends dug his grave on the family’s property.

I hardly know what to think and what to say about all of this.  This family has lived through this tragedy with grace.  They’ve lived through it with their hearts wide open.

But mostly, I’ve thought about the brave and boyish way Cyrus Asa Lavers lived his life.  He refused to be bubble-wrapped and honestly, I found it refreshing.  I saw one of his young friends at the convenience store the other day and said “this world needs more young men like Cyrus.”

The 4th century theologian, St. Augustine of Hippo said “Bad times, hard times, that is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good.  We are the times: such as we are, such are the times.”

Cyrus Asa Lavers lived well.  I’m so grateful I knew him.  I’m comforted to know his friends who are young men like him.  If such men are the times, times shall be good.

Cyrus Asa Lavers.JPG

Rest in Peace, Cyrus Asa Lavers.

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Autumn Smoke and Thunder

Yesterday was the first day of autumn.  It was also part of the “Global Week for Future,” a youth event focused on ending climate change.  During the autumn of my college years, the hot topic was apartheid.  I remember a rally on UMaine Orono’s mall spearheaded by Peter Neilson.  There was a chant; it went something like this:

“Hey hey, ho ho, apartheid has got to go.”

Neilson commandeered an office in the Student Union to encourage then-college President Arthur Johnson to divest university monies from South African investments.

It’s a dim memory now.    It may have been then-college President Paul Silverman.  The memory of it came to me on Saturday, standing in line to buy a homemade donut at the Georgetown Town Market.

Here in my part of Maine, the first day of autumn was gloriously warm and balmy.  In the late afternoon, I did some work in the back yard.  The mosquitoes were out and I torched up some paper and kindling in my fire pit.  The blaze created a cloud of smoke and the heavy air caused it to linger over the walking path and slowly drift towards Blethen Street.  It reminded me of the time my old lawn mower died.

I laughed to myself.

Autumn is such a busy time.  I don’t know where to start, both yard-wise and blog-wise.  My friend Shelley would suggest I make a list.  Here goes…

  1. Does This Blaze Orange Make me Look Fat?
  2. The Governors of the Passing Lane
  3. Tips for Talking to the Steelers Fans in Your Life
  4. My Moral Dilemma with Antonio Brown
  5. The Autumn Thunder of Sam Spence
  6. Aunt Tomato and the Overgrown Garden of Delights
  7. How Long is a Legacy?
  8. Dirty Dancing at Le Club Calumet
  9. Hemingway Didn’t Write That
  10. Eventually Everyone Ends Up at Dot’s

That last one is Dot’s in Lincolnville.  It’s been my foodie inspiration for the last two months.  Shelley and I had a long and leisurely lunch there on Sunday.  The food is beautiful; the food is delicious.

Beautiful Food

Dot’s will inspire you to make beautiful food in your own kitchen.  If not, just bring your Yeti and you can bring Dot’s cuisine home with you.

Gorgeous food.  Go there.

Posted in #showmesomethingbeautiful, Abundance, Cooking and Food | Tagged , , , , , ,

He’s Gandhi

In my August 18, 2016 blog post, I wrote “I’ve cast a disdainful eye on television in the years I’ve been blogging.  I referred to it as ‘Tee Vee’ and taken a position that “it’s like a termite chewing through the gray matter of the nation’s collective brain.  Regardless of what I think about the current state of ‘Tee Vee,’ with its preening weather puppets and veneer-toothed news readers, once upon a time I watched it.”

Indeed, once upon a time I watched it.

If you’re a long-term reader of this blog, you know I’m a New England Patriots fan.  Not necessarily a lifelong fan, but at least since 2006 when I met Mike Vrabel at a work meeting.  The Patriots had only won three Lombardi trophies at that time.

Good or bad, my love of this team has enhanced my relationship with my father, as we’ve watched more than a few games together.  It’s also created stronger bonds with my hometown friends as I’ve been a frequent Sunday afternoon guest at their homes.

And even though I was somewhat secretive about it, I did attend the February 5, 2019 “rolling rally” in Boston.

Gronk

Talk about extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds…it was a once in a lifetime thing, being swept along with the marijuana-smoking mobs.

Being a television-seeking nomad on Sunday afternoons has been complicated.  I’ve never been opposed to listening to the game on the radio, since Southern Maine’s big rock and roll flame thrower, WBLM, broadcasts the Patriots Radio Network with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak.  But I didn’t have a lot of options.  It was either the radio or couch-surfing with high school classmates.

So I broke down and bought a Tee Vee.

The Tee Vee

It’s not like I don’t have a firehose of technology running through my house.  It was just a matter of flipping a switch.  And all that stuff I used to stream on my laptop?  I can just stream it through my “Smart” Tee Vee.

As they say in the common parlance, “it’s all good.”

So far, I haven’t watched much broadcast television.  I’ve watched a ton of “Food Wishes” episodes on YouTube and I made some incredible short ribs for Sunday’s opening game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, thanks to Chef John Mitzewich’s Tee Vee tutelage.  They were crazy, insane delicious.

Poor Pittsburgh.  Did they even show up?  My friend SK and I traded a few texts during the game.

JAB:  “Surprised how shaky Roethlisberger looks.”

SK:  “His days are over.  He hasn’t looked good in years.  Soft and doughy.  He needs to subscribe to the TB12 Method.”

Dough Boy sure does need some help.  He himself admitted to ESPN “I wasn’t good enough.”

While Pats fans across the region were grilling, swilling, and preparing to watch the game, a new cloud of drama surrounded the team.  The signing of former Steelers toxin, Antonio Brown.  Will he destroy the team from the inside out?  Or will he adopt the “Patriot Way” and do his job?

Some sycophants even suggested this move was just another Belichickian mind game foisted upon the football-mad crowds.

“He’s Gandhi,” said one sports-radio talker.

Don’t know.  Don’t care.

Next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. I’ll be planted Buddha-like in front of my own Tee Vee for the New England Patriots visit to Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.  We’ll see what Bill Gandhichick has planned for the Dolphins.

Bring on the haters!

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#showmesomethingbeautiful

My blog has boiled down to monthly posts.  How did that happen?

It’s been a long summer; that much is true.  And it’s been turbulent.  There was the “hearts wide open” vow, followed by #feelingbadinmaine.  My life since July 15 has been different and I’ve been selective in sharing the bumps and scratches of those 48 days.  It’s been a period of “self-discovery” as much as such a thing is possible at 55 years of age.

Just so you know, The Moxie Festival was a success and I am grateful for all the prayers said on my behalf.  Thank you.  Prayer works.  It really does.  It won’t bring our loved ones back from the dead, but I believe that God exists outside of time so anything is possible when we ask Him to assist us.

I also received tremendous physical and emotional support from more friends than I can list here.  One special loving friend kept me sane by forcing me to put Moxie aside from time to time.  He made hearty meals for me and encouraged me to sit by the fire and enjoy the peace of a late summer evening.

I still use the hashtag #feelingbadinmaine, but now I preface it with the words “I am not.”

Are you on Instagram?  If you are, please follow me.  I am “duchessofmoxie.”  My new Instagram focus is the hashtag #showmesomethingbeautiful.  I chose it after listening to a talented musician and songwriter named Trombone Shorty, born Troy Andrews in New Orleans.  He plays a variety of instruments, including the trombone and the trumpet; his music is fun and alive, as well as an homage to the New Orleans Jazz tradition.

Trombone Shorty performed at Thompson’s Point in Portland on Friday night and I was not #feelingbadinmaine and happily danced to the music for 2 hours.  He did not perform his song “Show Me Something Beautiful.”  You can listen to it here.

(Sorry, WordPress won’t let me insert videos unless I pay $8 per month…)

“When the push comes to shove, when the world is hiding love…when the world has grown dull, can you show me something beautiful.”

There has been a sea shift in my energy and my thoughts and in addition to living with my heart wide open, I want to find more “something beautiful” every day.  That is a paradigm shift, especially living in a time when hate and ugliness is everywhere and we are only paying superficial lip service to “something beautiful.”

This is my friend Andrea and her boyfriend, Jeff.  They invited me to the beach yesterday and I figured this was what I was meant to do on the last beautiful day of August.

True Love.jpg

They have this groovy beach wagon that holds all their gear.  It has tires that can navigate any grain of sand.

Andrea and Jeff are in love.  They’re getting married next year.  It was pleasant and relaxing to spend time with them and observe their kindness to each other.  They showed me something beautiful.

I will have an interesting announcement in my next blog post, whenever that happens.  No, I’m not going to stop blogging!  But you will be surprised by my latest “reveal.”

Until then, keep looking for something beautiful.

Posted in #showmesomethingbeautiful | Tagged , ,

Funny Business

The movie “All About Eve” has become many things since it first premiered on October 13, 1950.  You can read all about it in Wikipedia’s “thematic content” of the movie here.

I first watched this award-winning film in the late 1980’s while living in Portland, Maine.  Maybe I watched it on Turner Classic Movies or maybe I rented it at Videoport, Portland’s early and unmatched Tyrannosaurus Rex of movies.

I did not analyze the movie to any great extent.  I like the whippet-fast dialogue and the over to top drama that is Bette Davis.

And I particularly liked this scene, where Bette Davis’s character, Margo Channing, analyzes her career:

“Funny business, a woman’s career.  The things you drop on your way up the ladder– so you can move faster– you forget you’ll need them when you go back to being a woman.  That’s one career all females have in common whether we like it or not.  Being a woman.  Sooner or later, we’ve got to work at it, no matter what other careers we’ve had or wanted.  And in the last analysis nothing is any good unless you can look up just before dinner– or turn around in bed– and there he is.  Without that you’re not a woman.  You’re someone with a French provincial office– or a book full of clippings.  But you’re not a woman.  Slow curtain.  The end.”

Back in the late 1980’s, when I was in my 20’s and my life looked like a blank canvass in front of me, I was focused on accomplishment.  I did not think much about being a woman and what that meant.  I thought about getting things done, getting ahead, acquiring stuff.  My husband was not interested in those things although he never challenged or discouraged me from doing the things I wanted to do.  I’m sure he watched “All About Eve” with me a time or two.

I left him, in part, because of our incompatible life goals.

Since that time, I have filled my book with clippings.  Many women I’ve met while travelling this road have bigger and better clipping books than mine.  After all, it’s a funny business, a woman’s career.

Look, I’ve thought about this post for a long time, maybe months.  Maybe years.  I know Margo Channing’s lines are just theatre; it’s a movie and movies are only imitations of life.  But there is a reason they reverberated with me when I was 25 and why them come to me 30 years later as I turn 55.  In the last analysis, nothing is any good unless you can look up just before dinner and there he is.

I don’t know what this means for me as I move forward into the twilight of my life.  I would like to lean back and think about the tasks and projects I’ve undertaken in the last 30 years and drop some of them.  I’m tired of coordinating volunteers and arranging things.  I’d like to spend more time outside in the natural world.  I’d like to wake up without panic and water my flowers instead of sitting at my computer at dawn cranking out a report or an article I’ll be paid less than minimum wage to write.

So there you have it.  I’m standing at the gate and contemplating the path.

Open the Gate

If I had a young daughter, getting ready to launch out into life, I would give her Margo Channing’s advice.  Find a good man and do it while you’re young.  Slow down, lean back, and live your life with no regrets.  Keep your soft, womanly heart wide open.

Slow curtain.  The end.

Posted in Just Writing

Finding Wild Miller Farm

It’s another beautiful morning here in Camden, Maine.  I spent a chunk of time on Saturday doing research at the Maine State Library in Augusta.  My reward to myself for six hours at a microfilm reader in Augusta was another visit to this heavenly placed called Camden.

I approached Camden from a different route, coming over Route 3 towards Belfast.  It’s a damn fine road and you can really “put the horses down” as my father might say.  And I do like to “put the horses down” from time to time.  As I approached Palermo, I saw a sign that struck a familiar chord.

Wild Miller Farm.

You might remember my mentioning Wild Miller Farm in 2012.  It was the first time I joined a farm share, or “CSA.”

Joel and Annalisa Miller moved their farm from Lee, New Hampshire to Palermo, Maine at around the same time I moved home.  In my mind, Palermo was Palmyra and Palmyra is practically in Bangor.  Too far to visit on Maine’s Open Farm Day.

Shame on me for not knowing my Maine geography better.  I should have visited sooner.

It was heartwarming to see Annalisa and their beautiful 80 acre farm.  It was a treat to see their prosperity, which might be different than mine or yours but beautiful nonetheless.  Farming is hard work…such hard work.  It doesn’t look like hard work, though, when you’re speeding through on a pastoral day in Maine accompanied by bright blue skies and gentle breezes.

God bless them, for being young and strong and passionate about life’s most fundamental professions, growing food.

Even though I’m still feeling bad in Maine, this random visit lifted my spirits and made me smile.

Wild Miller Farm

Obviously, they are farming with their hearts wide open.

Onward we go.

Posted in Farmers | Tagged , ,