Turkey Tracks: Quilting: Coastal Quilters 2016 Challenge

Turkey Tracks:  October 30, 2015

Coastal Quilters of Camden, Maine

2016 Chapter Challenge

This challenge is about exploring opposite colors on the color wheel.

We also had to include white, black, and grey.

The piece had to contain 16 pieces and be 16 by 16 inches.

Here’s mine–and trust me, it will pale in comparison with the creativity that some of the other Coastal Quilter members will devise.

I am, though, interested at the moment in how geometric shapes work together.


Purple and yellow are my opposite colors.  The primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and their opposites (green, orange, purple, really a blue violet) create the biggest visual “pop”–and to me, the purple/yellow combo is the most startling.  Red/green and blue/orange seem much more mellow to me.

One of the fallen petals is black.

In order to keep to 16 pieces, I used the background piece and the arrangements of the hexagons to make the center star.

Then I used pearl cotton to “quilt” the piece–and had to search to find the violet/purple color.


I left gaps in the stitching ini places to accent the dominate shape.


The buttons were in my stash of buttons and matched perfectly.  Lucky find there.

Hexagons can be linked via diamonds–and three diamonds can work together to create the hexagon shape–which you can see when one diamond is removed from the hexagon.  That manipulation of color–as you can see in the top right with the grey area–can make the “tumbling block” that is so interesting in a quilt.  You would make a light “top” triangle, a medium triangle, and a dark triangle–and keep the color placement fixed.

The hexagon can also be fractured into parts using the kite-shape.  Remember this quilt?  My 100th, which I called “Centurion.”


See the block up close.  The outer ring of neutrals is also made from the kite shape.


I am, at the moment, working with some large hexies in purple with yellow diamond joins–not sure how this study will develop, but it will be the last of my color studies.

Here, again, is red and green:


This is the Lucy Boston “honey comb” hexie being paper pieced.


And, here’s blue and orange–made with large Octagons linked with squares:




Turkey Tracks: Fall Bounty

Turkey Tracks:  October 12, 2015

Fall Bounty

The nights have cooled, and the trees are starting to turn.  Finally.

Hope’s Edge CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) farm has two more weeks to go.

I will miss going out there weekly so much.

The winter squashes are all coming in now–and they are so bright and pretty:


The long orange one in the back is a pie pumpkin.  I’m going to roast/carmelize it and use it in a salad recipe from Jennifer McGruther’s book The Nourished Kitchen.  (Search on this blog for more info.)  The recipe pairs the sweet pumpkin with bitter greens, nuts, and balsamic vinegar, among other ingredients–as well as I remember.

The funny looking veggie to its left is a rutabega.  I cook it like a potato.  Rutabegas are great cubed in soups and stews.  The flesh is buttery yellow and mashes well.

The oblong squash to the left is a spaghetti squash-one of my very favorites.  I cut them in half, seed them, and roast them (cut sides down on a greased piece of parchment paper).  Once done, run a fork through the flesh and it breaks into strands.  I heavily butter and add salt and pepper.  Scoop out the stands and put on your plate.  This one reheats well too.

The striped squashes are delicatas.  They are so sweet that you don’t need anything in them but a bit of butter.  I bought some one fall in Charleston, SC, and they were bitter and bad.  This squash may need more of a New England climate to develop its sweetness????

The tan squash is a butternut.  Mild and delicious.  You can eat the skin on both delicatas and butternuts.  I’m going to put it cubed into a stew with black beans, hamburger, and Indian seasonings–in the crock pot.

How did that banana get into this picture?  Mercy!

The orange squash in the middle is a “Sunshine” and has a heavier, sweeter flesh.  I’m going to cube it and roast it with garlic, rosemary, small potatoes, red onions, and chunked green tomatoes.  It’s a dish to which I look forward every fall.  I’ll make it while sister Susan is here next week.

That’s likely the last large tomato to come out of the garden.  I”ll get some Sun Gold cherry tomatoes though.

The garlic crop is great this year.  I’m loving all the fresh garlic in the kitchen.

I’m missing a Blue Hubbard squash, which is a great keeper.  I’ll pick one up though.

That’s the last bit of annual flowers I’ll cut from the garden behind the squashes.

I cut these Panculata Hydrangeas this morning for the dining room.  Hope they dry nicely.


It’s a BANNER year for apples in Maine this year.  Every tree is loaded down–even old trees that have had significant storm damage:

IMG_0745 (1)

Local folks are making apple sauce, apple butter, drying apple slices, and making lots of apple pies.

The girly dogs and I have been walking every day in this glorious fall weather.  Sunday afternoon I drove by a friends Harry and Marsha Smith’s house to see their gorgeous fall yard.


What a treat this view was!

Turkey Tracks: Camden Clothesline Laundromat

Turkey Tracks:  August 25, 2015

Camden Clothesline Laundromat

I’m not quite sure where this day has gotten to.

I did sleep later than usual.  I don’t sleep well in humid hot weather.  Neither do the dogs.  By the time I got up, the sheets felt like they had been dragged through the fog outside my windows.

It’s rained or been foggy and hot/humid for days and days now.  The grass has gone almost two weeks without being cut.  Mercy!  Will my little electric motor do the job when it finally dries out???  One can’t cut wet grass with an electric mower for sure.

About the time I had finished feeding the dogs, the top layer of the in-counter revolving shelves collapsed down on the tops of the things stored on the second level.  OK, I thought.  I’m going to have my tea and think this over.  Kraft Maid has a help line, and I located that.  But what if what I needed was just a simple tightening of whatever holds up the top shelf.  I called Stephen Pennoyer (who is beyond wonderful) who happened to be in Home Depot–which carries Kraft Maid.  He said he’d call back after talking to the cabinet folks, but within 30 minutes he was on my door step and five minutes after that had tightened the screw that holds the top shelf in place.  My goodness!!!  I am so, so lucky to have Stephen in my life.  He is a caring, kind, generous young man.

Next, I thought I’d go to the laundromat and do my weekly wash, including the damp sheets.

I’ve been without a washing machine since mid July.  First there was a part to be ordered, then it came, then it got installed, then it didn’t work the morning after.  That was about the time that John Park started to put a new roof on his house and so would not be able to come for another two weeks.  He comes this Thursday!!  And I’m betting the part is bad, so I thought I’d get ahead of the curve and not let the wash back up until the weekend.  (John Park is also wonderful, and I’m so happy he, too, is in my life.  I’ll never forget his helping me carry food down two flights of stairs and out to the garage when the kitchen frig went belly up one early evening.)

Camden Clothesline is totally automated, clean, nice, efficient, and it’s kind of funky fun to go there.  Likely I’ll continue to take heavy bed spreads there from now on as there is a BIG washer that can handle more than one spread at a time.  Running multiple loads is just so much faster, and the big dryers are amazing.  They’ll dry a lighter load in 18 minutes



This automatic door REALLY helps when you’re hauling heavy baskets of clothes up these stairs:



Washers:  they are the size of my front loader at home.  But it washes for 47 minutes on normal.  These machines wash for about 27 minutes.  I think I have better rinse cycles at home.  And the longer “tumbling” time cleans better.  But…


Dryers–all the machines can be operated with a credit card.  See the swipe pad?  Plunking in $3.00 worth of quarters can take a long time.


Dogs waiting in car, but so happy to be able to “go” as it was cloudy and a bit cooler:


Now my Frigadaire RANT!

My Frigadiare Affinity is THREE YEARS OLD.

The entire electronics package that runs everything is secured to the machine WITH ONE BOLT and located FIVE INCHES from the drum.

Front loaders rev up and jiggle A LOT.  ONE BOLT IS NOT GOING TO HOLD THAT PACKAGE FOR LONG.

Of course it flew off and hit the outside of the drum and smashed.

The warranty is ONLY FOR ONE YEAR.

Folks, this kind of thing is a TOTAL BETRAYAL OF THE CONSUMER.  It is a breach of good faith.  It is planned obsolescence.  It’s deeply, deeply wrong.

Profit goals that don’t take into consideration pride in product and workmanship is producing this problem.

So, if the replacement parts are not going to work, the whole thing is going to wind up in some landfill.

That’s wrong too.

And, unsustainable.


Meanwhile, the local store from which I bought this machine, Kelsey’s Appliance, has not returned ONE of my three calls for repair in the past month.  Yet, I’ve bought two major appliances from them and was contemplating a third.  Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.  Guess where I will NOT be shopping again.

End of rant.

And I’ll end by saying that I am so grateful that we have TWO lovely clean laundromats in Camden.  The other is the Queen Bee.

Turkey Tracks: Summer Flowers

Turkey Tracks:  August 22, 2015

Summer Flowers

For those of you who have read this blog for more than a year, you know already that I belong to a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) farm and that part of that farm is the most gorgeous planting of LONG rows of flowers that members are free to cut when they come to pick up their food.  The variety of available flowers is a feast for the eyes and nose.

Here’s my bouquet from yesterday:


Here are two bouquets from my own garden:


The Annabelle hydrangeas are fabulous this year.


I thought I was planting BIG zinnas.  I wanted big ones because they remind me of my Grandfather Pop Bryan (Reynolds, Georgia), my mother’s father, who was a country doctor–starting out back in horse and buggy days.  As a child, I remember his coming in from the farm (he was retired then) with baskets of garden produce and flowers.  The flowers were glads and big zinnas.  Grandmother put them all over the house.  Sometimes, Pop took flowers to people in town whom he thought would like such a gift.

And, here’s a bouquet from Bonnie Sinatro, one of my high school classmates from Bellevue High School, Bellevue, Nebraska–outside of Offutt Air Force Base–class of 1963.  She sent me this picture yesterday.


My generation seems to share a love of gardening.  I think we were more attached to nature than today’s folk, most of whom live in cities.



My Essays: “My News Break”

My Essays:  March 12, 2015

My News Break

February 2015

I’ve been on a “news break” for about eighteen months now.

I don’t watch ANY news programs on MSNBC, CNN, or Fox (which I could never watch for longer than 5 minutes anyway). 

I don’t listen to the news-type NPR podcasts I used to enjoy while quilting, like Diane Rehm and Tom Ashbrook.  I love Garrison Keiler, Stuart McLean and Terry Gross, but I  have not made time to catch their programs.  Instead, I’ve been downloading audio books from the Maine State Library System through my local library.  I am loving disappearing into the bliss of sewing and hearing a professional read a book to me.

Why the news break?

Sometime last year, I began to think seriously about how upsetting all these news programs are.  How addictive.  How toxic it is to listen–day in and day out–to the outrages, or perceived outrages, perpetrated by people in power.  Mostly, I’ve felt there is very little I personally can do to rectify the excesses of late capitalism, where industries have captured our democracy and are busily enslaving us all to an endless need for more and more money. 

It’s been such a peaceful year, a year full of laughter with friends and family, great sleep, soothing sewing, relaxing reading, and restorative time spent in nature.

I’m pretty clear that I won’t, that I cannot, go back to the toxicity of the news circuit.

I’m going to be seventy this March 2015.  I tell myself that I’ve earned the right to a peaceful decade or so.  I tell myself that I don’t feel guilty for turning over the responsibility for this nation to the younger generations.  I’ve done my part, right?

I’ll continue to read, to think, and to put that information up on my blog. I am a life-long student deep inside myself.  I can remember clearly that at age nine or ten my parents gave me a beautiful new bike and my own library card–which meant I could go to the library whenever I wanted.  I remember snuggling into a round, soft, living room armchair after school and reading, reading, reading.  My mother used to say that at breakfast I’d read the back of the cereal boxes. 

Turning over the responsibility for change gives me a certain emotional distance from the information I share.  I like to believe that I read and think for those who do not have the time to do so.  My blog posts are meant to be guides which lead people to explore for themselves serious health issues.

But, I have another side.  I was born to warrior parents.  My military dad was a stone cold, decorated, World War II hero, and my feisty southern mother insisted we be truthful and honorable.  It turns out my name, Louisa, springs from a celtic word meaning warrior woman.  My mother thought she was giving me a family name that goes way back, but now that I think about it, one family story is about an early Louisa who lived on the 1830s Georgia frontier and who stood down an Indian man who appeared in her front yard.

Recently, though, my need for quiet peace has run headlong into my warrior woman blood.  The news that Americans are losing the right to control their own bodies has come filtering through my news barrier.   

The founding principle of classical liberalism is the right to own one’s own body.  We’ve had war drafts in the past, in the name of national safety, but for the most part now, unless one breaks the law, we, not kings or liege lords or the military, have the right to control our own bodies.

Or, at least we used to…

Now, in this moment of American late capitalism, our government, our laws and courts, our politicians, and our media are controlled by industry.  Under the guise of public safety and the “rights” of children, we have lost or are losing our rights to our bodies and our rights as parents to protect our children’s bodies. 

Supported by the courts, doctors can take and have taken children away from their parents to perform chemotherapy, in the name of “saving” these children from cancer, though statistics around the use of chemicals to treat cancer are beyond abysmal.  Many of these children are suffering and dying even more horrific deaths than they would have if left alone.   

Some states, like New York, have mandated vaccines for ALL children, regardless of whether or not they have had serious reactions to earlier vaccines.  Recently, a New York court upheld this practice based on a 1905 law.  (Who, then, are the children this “herd immunity” is supposed to protect if not a child with a serious vaccine reaction?) 

California schools can vaccinate children with Gardasil without parents’ consent or knowledge.  California is letting the 12-year olds decide.  (Ironically, the HPV virus might not be connected to cervical cancer at all, and Gardasil, which was fast-tracked and untested for safety, is killing young women.)

Religious and philosophical exemptions for vaccines are being rolled back state by state.  My own state of Maine is considering watering down the right for vaccine exemptions by making parents first visit a doctor to be “educated.”

This week, an incoming email revealed that Democratic Senators Feinstein and Boxer of California are proposing a new national law that will MANDATE an adult vaccination program—which is kind of a sideways admission that vaccines don’t create permanent, full immunity.  (Here’s how the vaccine industry will expand its market share.)    

In one of our local papers, The Free Press, a doctor is writing columns urging people to vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.  Vaccinations, he writes, will cure all the chronic illnesses our children are now having.

As horrified as I am by this vaccine cultural war, I am intrigued also in terms of my field:  Cultural Studies—the study of systems of cultural power, such as can develop in any system where industry, the government, the media, the police/army, and the courts are intertwined and marching forward toward each particular system’s own ends.  When this situation happens, there are no brakes in place as they’ve all been dismantled.  The result is that in America today, there is no longer a “democracy.”  People are no longer protected from the excesses of industries seeking more money.  Our bodies can be and are being coopted to that agenda. 

Our current vaccine policy is a poster child for what can and does happen.  Industry is given the right to perform the safety studies for a new product.  The new product has problems, so industry creates false science about the product’s safety and efficacy.  Our government regulatory agencies—run now by political appointees from industry—accepts industry’s “science”—even over the objections of government scientists who point to flaws in the industry-created science.  Along the way, industry gets politicians to pass laws that prevent industry from being sued when its harmful product harms someone. 

Next, industry mounts massive advertising campaigns in which industry lies about its products, such as the lie that the science about vaccines is a done deal.  Or the lie that vaccines eradicated certain diseases.  Or the lie that vaccines are safe for “almost” everyone.  Or the fear-mongering lie that childhood diseases that give life-long immunity are “killers.”  Or the lie that the unvaccinated are spreading disease when it’s the vaccinated and/or those from abroad who come in with different strains of a disease.  Or the lie that vaccines give life-long immunity—a lie industry is now revising so that it can give adults booster vaccines.  So that last lie is now saying that if everyone is vaccinated, “herd immunity” can be achieved.

This situation is what I have been calling a kool-aid circuit on my blog—after Jim Jones, who convinced his followers to follow him to Africa and to drink the poisoned kool-aid he offered them.  No one objected, and death followed swiftly.

Here’s how a kool-aid circuit works:  first, the media, doctors, public health officials, politicians, and the public believe these industry lies without doing even the most simple research.  They believe because everyone trusts that the industry-colonized government is protecting us.  The public trusts their doctors, their public health officials, and the media as they all repeat the industry-created lies.  Everyone believes until they come face to face with horrific harm in their own family or among their friends.  Scratch the surface of most anti-vaxers, and you’ll find someone with a hurt loved one.

Anyone who challenges these lies is demonized, fired, and no longer funded.  Published studies, good studies, are deemed to be the work of “quacks.”  Hysteria about public safety is created and fomented.  The unethical idea evolves that it’s all right to kill or permanently maim someone else’s child with a mandated vaccine as long as your child is protected.  Anyone whose child is harmed cannot sue the vaccine industry and gets no help with a child who now requires massive, permanent aid.  Accurate statistics of harm are not collected. 

How do I manage the conflict inside myself when my need for peace and the reality of my warrior blood collide—as they have with this vaccine juggernaut issue?  The local doctor’s columns, a newly proposed law here in Maine that dilutes our vaccine exemptions, and Senators Feinstein and Boxer’s proposed adult vaccine mandate has pushed me over the edge.  I spent several sleepless nights writing letters in my head after the local doctor’s “kool-aid” published response to a local woman who wrote to question what he was saying—a response that just repeated more industry propaganda and mostly ignored her valid questions. 

I have gifts.  I have been so lucky to have acquired the education and the research and writing skills that few other people have.  Through research I know solid information that can prevent harm to others.  Do I have the right to impose my peace agenda on who I am, what I know, and what I can do?  I know what my parents would say:  what is occurring is neither truthful nor honorable, and it’s harming people. 

My body demanded writing.  I wrote a letter to the local paper refuting the doctor’s industry propaganda, a letter that urged readers to research for themselves and that gave them some easy, but reputable places to start.  I wrote a short letter that I sent to Senators Feinstein and Boxer, asking them to look deeper into the vaccine issue and to recognize the role of industry.  Again, I included easy research sites.  I sent the letter to my two Maine senators.  I wrote to NPR to tell them why I’m not going to give them any more money until they stop repeating the kool-aid and start to report the whole of the vaccine issue.  I will write to the Maine state representative—a retired doctor—who is proposing a law that will dilute Maine’s religious and philosophical exemption for vaccines.  I will continue to post good vaccine information on my blog.

My internal roiling has stopped for the moment.  I’ve done my part toward trying to guide people to look deeper, to understand what is happening, and to resist an inherently and legally dangerous practice.  Peace is gradually returning.  I know I have to trust that enough people will educate themselves to effect a change.      

But…I ordered two well-regarded books on vaccines this morning.  One looks at vaccine history and the other at the role of the vaccine industry.

So, yes, I’ll do what I can to stand down that indian in my front yard.

PS:  THE FREE PRESS refused to publish my letter, and therein lies the problem with a kool-aid circuit.  No contrary information is allowed, no matter how genuine.

Turkey Tracks: Wild Turkeys in Spring Video

Turkey Tracks:  March 9, 2015

Wild Turkeys in Spring Video


I know I’ve put up many videos about the wild turkeys and the chickens.

But, it’s spring, and the turkeys have formed a large flock again–and will start mating.  I am encouraged by how many have survived February 2015.  I can’t imagine what they managed to eat–beyond my bits of sunflower seeds.

The chickens are wild with delight to be allowed out of the coop/cage.  This time of year is ALWAYS a risk for them.  You saw the shots of one getting stuck in the snow pack posted yesterday.  Her feet, by the way, seem to be hurt, but not lethally hurt.  And fox is having babies now and will need to feed those babies.  Life is always already risky, isn’t it…



Turkey Tracks: Chicken Stuck in Snow

Turkey Tracks:  March 8, 2015

Chicken Stuck in Snow

Today dawned to be beautiful.  Warm and sunny.  Warm for Maine that is.

It was warm enough for the chickens to agree to come out of their cage/coop.

We are all feeling the rising sap and energy of SPRING, even though the snow pack out here is still about four feet thick.

I dug out the flap to the chicken coop, propped open the coop roof, and out they came to eat the mealy worm and sunflower seed treats.

Back inside, while eating my breakfast and making plans for a run up to Belfast, I saw that the rooster and a few of the hens were up on the upper porch.

When I got back from Belfast, I checked on the flock.

Here’s what I saw up on the hill:


I called, and she craned her head, but did not move.

Here’s a closer view:


Something had spooked her, and she had flown up into the snow pack and gotten herself stuck.

There was nothing to do but go get her.

She is fully exposed and a “sitting duck” chicken waiting for a predator.

Out came the snow shoes:


I had to fit them to the larger boots I got just before John died.  I figured it out.  Thank heavens I have a good pair.  They were a birthday gift from John in 2004 when we knew we were moving to Maine.


The chickens, as always, milled about, trying to help.


(The turkeys have spread the old chicken bedding out over the banks and paths.)

I got to her, after working my way around the large white pine.  I was able to take advantage of the paths the turkeys and the dogs have made in the snow.  And, yes, sister Susan, I took my cell phone.

I poked her with the long end of the ski pole, and she didn’t move.  Yep.   Her feet were stuck.  I climbed the hill to her and picked her up.  She was limp and scared and probably somewhat dehydrated.

She could not walk when I put her on the turkey/dog path–and by this time the rest of the flock had followed me.

Were her feet just numb, or were they frozen or badly frost bitten.  Hens do have a way of going limp when they are scared.

I have no idea how long she had been stuck.

I carried her under my arm back the way I came and put her through the flap to the coop.  She ducked inside, so she could walk.

But, as I stopped at the edge of the porch to take off the snow shoes (they have wicked grippers on the bottom), I saw that she had followed me and that her feet were turning a dark red…

…so I don’t know how badly she might be hurt.

Time will tell.

She was eating.


Turkey Tracks: Mailboxes and Snowplows

Turkey Tracks:  March 6, 2015

Mailboxes and Snowplows

I stopped on the way into the driveway to check for mail and thought you might get a kick out of seeing the “problem” of snow plows and mailboxes in Maine in deep snow.

Here you can see how thoroughly shorn my mailbox is from its post.



Most folks do exactly what I did:  stick the mailbox into the snow bank as best as one can until the snow season is over and the snow bank is gone.

Here’s a picture that shows you how vulnerable the mailbox is to the plows when they are dealing with a lot of snow on the side of the road:


You can see how far out into what is left of the road the mailbox would be.  I put up several reflective markers, but with all the snow we’ve had, the plow drivers are tired and often are coming down a very steep, curving hill with a load of snow in front.

Stephen Pennoyer tells me “come spring” we’re going to replace this box with one that will swing to the side with the plow’s movement.

Turkey Tracks and My Essays: Why I Love Winter In Maine

Turkey Tracks and My Essays:  February 5, 2015

Why I Love Winter in Maine


It snowed all night again and is still snowing now.

The paths dug through the snow from four storms in ten days are now running like mazes through what is, in places, shoulder high snow banks.  The untouched snow is well over knee deep up here on Howe Hill, and in places where it has drifted, much deeper.

I just came in from a trip to the garage and down the driveway to the mailbox.  This new snow comes to the tops of my black boots–or about 10 inches or so.  The end of the driveway was knee-deep with plowed snow.  I waded through it gingerly, feeling for a solid bottom as I went.  (Falling over into snow is no fun:  it is very difficult to get back up as there is no way to get traction to get up again.  You can’t just push down on the snow bank to push yourself up as your arms go in too.)  My mailbox door was open, and it was, again, filled with mail and snow–which is why I knew I needed to get down there.  I cleaned it out and banged it shut again.  The mailbox is almost covered by the plow’s snowbanks–only the top sticks out now.  I put a reflective marker in front of it to alert the plow guys, and retraced my steps up the hill.  Last winter that mailbox got hit and was in pieces in the road.

My writers’ meeting cancelled for this afternoon.  It’s a moot point for me as there is no way I’m going anywhere with four feet of snow at the end of the driveway.  And, truth to tell, I’m enjoying this quiet, sweet day of falling snow and cancelled events.  After lunch (I made lamb liver pate, which I’ll have with toast, cherry tomatoes, and dilled lacto-fermented pickles), I’ll sew and listen to the P. D James mystery I’ve almost finished.

In the garage, I filled two buckets:  one with chicken feed (they eat so much in the cold, and temps will drop again to single digits and below tonight) and one with bounty from my freezers.  The food I put up all summer is being eaten now–orange pumpkin roasted and  frozen, red tomatoes frozen whole, greens of all kinds (beans, kale, parsley, zucchini)–all laced with grass fed beef and lamb and truly free-range chickens.  The garage refrigerator freezer is packed with fruit from my garden (strawberries and raspberries) and from Hope’s Edge CSA (which finds organic blueberries for members).  And every day now, I am getting three to five fresh, soy-free eggs.  I have all sorts of lacto-fermented foods that glow red, orange, and green in my kitchen refrigerator and provide crunch and a sense of freshness.  And I get fresh Milk House raw milk and yogurt from friend Rose each Wednesday.  I am so blessed, and it’s so great to enjoy the fruits of one’s summer labor.

So, when people from away ask me why I stay in Maine in the winter, or why I  keep chickens that have to be cared for–whatever the weather–first thing in the morning, sometimes at midday, and at night when they roost and need to be locked into their safe little coop, I’m never quite sure where to start with explanations.

You know, sometimes it’s hard to deal with all the snow, the cold, and the chickens.  In the blizzard, it was hard to keep the back door and the path over the deck to the steps clear.  It has to be kept clear so I could get out that door to go to the chickens.  And, the chickens are especially hard to get to in the deep snow I have to negotiate before my terrific guys who shovel me out come.  The chicken coop has been “snowed in” several times now in the past ten days, and it has to be cleared.

But, I never feel more alive than when I successfully solve a winter problem–like getting the mail and protecting the mailbox (hopefully) and getting to the chickens.

These trips “wake me up” in so many beautiful ways.

They get my blood flowing strong and true.

They put me squarely into nature–which can bite (snow in my boots, bitter cold, blowing wind), but which can also provide such incredible beauty.

Look at what I saw coming in from locking up the chickens at dusk the other day.  The soft blue of dusk and the rising moon were so beautiful.



It’s hard to describe or even take a good picture of the sunsets–where, often, the real show is not in the west, but in the backlighting of the east:


Today, everything outside is coated with snow–so the trees and shrubs look like they have been coated with spun sugar:


The snow is so deep that the turkeys have to fly everywhere–which takes so much energy for them.

They came late morning looking for a handout of sunflower seeds.  One–at the top of this picture–got stuck in the snow, and I watched him struggle until he was able to get under the pine tree.


A bunch of the turkeys are sheltering under that big pine now as I write.  They must be so hungry today.

The little turkey hens fly up to the upper porch and look for billed-out sunflower seeds on the porch.  They fly to nearby trees when I come out.

I’ve never seen so much snow at once.  Not even in my years in Bellevue, Nebraska (outside Omaha).  I guess that in itself is kind of exciting.

It’s unclear to me what the weather will be like on Saturday.  The weather folks seem to be waiting to see what two large storms headed our way are going to do when they collide and merge.  It could mean more snow.  A lot of more snow.  But there is no use worrying until things are clearer.

Meanwhile, I had a lovely day yesterday:  Linda was here in the morning and visited as well as cleaned, lunch and a Zoot’s coffee with friend Giovanna, and a lovely meeting of the monthly knitting club at Eleanor’s.

I am happy to stay mostly inside today.

I have to go feed the chickens now…

Turkey Tracks: Last Night’s Snow

Turkey Tracks:  January 31, 2015

Last Night’s Snow

It snowed all day off and on yesterday–except when it rained–which produced an icy slush on the walkway and drive.

I cancelled meetings rather than take what started feeling like unnecessary trips down my driveway.  Down is one thing with that driveway.  Up is entirely another matter.

I realized I was stressed, so decided to call it a day.

The snow started sticking last night as the temps fell.

Here’s what it all looks like now–bearing in mind that the 25 to 30 inches of the last storm went down with the warmer temps.

From the front porch, after the shovelers came.  It’s hard to tell from this picture, but the depth after shoveling is three feet or more.



Another view of the front porch out to the woods:


And a shot of the path to the driveway and garage:


I woke in the night thinking that I was smelling a chemical order.  Had the propane vents been covered by a drift?  So at 3 a.m., I donned boots, coat, mittens, got the big flashlight, and checked.  No, the vent was fine.

Almost every night, our nightly news tells a story of a family magically saved by the intervention of someone who has rescued them from the out vents of the house being blocked…

The rest of the night was spent in deep sleep…

I got out my big boots to get to the chickens this morning as I knew getting into the chicken coop was going to be a problem with all the new snoe:


These big boots are heavenly to wear!

It has stopped snowing now, but another big storm is coming in on Monday.

I started a beef bone broth yesterday–can you smell the French Onion Soup that will be made soon?


Look at the color of that broth.  You can’t get that out of a box or can…