Friday, December 28, 2007

Photo Essay: Trip To Maine/Christmas in The County

Time spent in "The County"...

Is the calls of sweet little chickadees in the cranberry bush...
The antics of woodpeckers working on the suet...

The appearance of 'invisible deer' in the side yard...
And in the dooryard...

Fiddleheads on the dinner table ...
A feast of epic proportions...

And time spent with loved ones....

Hope your holidays were as happy as mine!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve in Crystal Maine

I can't believe how fast the time is going! We're almost at the end of our stay and it seems like we only just got here. We went Christmas shopping an hour up-country in Presque Isle on Saturday. Got to meet my Mum's school chum, Lovely G., her husband, Handsome D. and Delightful Daughter, M. They have built a fantastic home on the side of a hill that overlooks the fields, farms and forests for miles and miles and miles. It's an absolutely magnificent view. I think Lovely G. and I are twins separated at birth when it comes to crafting, although she outclasses me by miles. She has a beautiful quilt room and several of her pieces were available for me to drool over as well as the most gorgeous stained glass cabinet doors and window hangings I have ever seen. I think we could have chatted for two days straight without taking a breath!

We went to Marden's in Presque Isle among other places. If you don't live here and don't know about Marden's, you're lucky. It kills me to go back to the Midwest and pay regular price for things when I know I can get them at Marden's for half that. My latest treasure from there are fur-lined Croc shoes in hot pink! $6.99 Deah!

We saw two bald eagles in a white pine on the way up north and I have been having a great time watching all of the birds in the back yard here at Mum's. This morning, we had a new guy, a snow bunting. He was cute as could be but it's unusual for them to be alone and not in a huge flock so I was worried, but he seems to be gone now, so I hope he found his buds. I went out to fill the feeders for the first time yesterday and had a Tippi Hedren moment when the chickadees swarmed me, but I survived, despite the lack of a conveniently placed phone booth to hide in. Rumor has it that there are pine grosbeaks around but I haven't seen them yet. I think they fall into the same category as the herd of deer that are supposed to be in Mum's back yard all the time: invisible. They leave tracks and poop all over, new stuff every time we look out, but I haven't seen them once. They are obviously the rare and elusive invisible County deer. I'll keep my eye open for them this evening when I'm watching for Santa! Merry Christmas Eve everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wee-ah Hee-ah, Dee-ah!

We made it to Northern Maine with surprisingly few glitches given the state of the airlines these days. The biggest problem that we had on the whole trip was the fact that we couldn't tilt the driver's seat back on the rental car, thus forcing the 6'6" Mr. Bee to sit upright, cramming his head into the ceiling of the car, giving him a wicked case of static cling head. He also couldn't lean back far enough to see the entire speedometer. He only knew how fast he was going if his speed was between zero and 30, or 80-100 mph. The rest of the dial was obscured by the dash overhang. So I co-piloted from the passenger seat.

It snowed the first two days we were here. Not a lot. I guess they got more down in 'tropical Maine' (south of Bangor), but up here it was two full days of snow-globe snow that dithered about in the air before settling into a 2-3 inch powdery layer. Today is brilliantly sunny and the snow on the ground and trees is sparkling like diamonds. I spent some pleasant time this morning sitting in a kitchen chair looking out the sliding glass door at the Christmas card like scene; the snow, the pines, blue jays, woodpeckers, cardinals and red squirrels. Mum asked me what I was doing and I told her, "Watching Animal Planet." There are bird feeders in the back yard and they're always busy!

Saw two moose yesterday on the way back from Christmas shopping. I think it was a mother and yearling. They are godawful big anytime you see them, but they look even bigger against the new snow. Just gawjus, Deah!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Holidays

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas before Mr Bee and I jet off to Maine tomorrow. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to blog while I'm there. There's lots of other stuff to do.

Last week we had a decorating competition with some of the of the other departments at our company. The judging was this morning. The kids put off making any kind of a move until noontime on Friday, thus lulling the competition into a false sense of security. Then they made their admin (moi) scramble at the last minute gather all of the supplies they'd need for their masterpiece:

  • Wrapping paper, ribbons and bows to wrap the entire department, walls and all: $153.47

  • 15 Ph.D's x 4 hours each: $ A decabazzillion dollars

  • Seeing their faces when they opened their first prize package which contained two bottles of cheap wine and a 6 pack of snowman peeps (the ultimate wine glass garnish): Priceless.

We had a holiday lunch today in another building on campus. All 15 of them put their elf hats on and we all crossed the street together to go to lunch. I believe I've made the baby ducks on crack analogy before. Too much fun!

Here is a photo of the quickie tied woobie that I made my BubberKev for Christmas. He never reads this anyway. He used-ta-was a Marine. It was fun to make and super warm.

Off to finish packing the bags! Have a safe and happy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like....

Antarctica!!! Snow Snow Snow! We got another boatload of the stuff yesterday and we're running out of places to put it. We got stuck in the dooryard coming home yesterday because out whole neighborhood was unplowed and 7 inches of snow had fallen. What made it worse is that a wee bit of sleet fell first so there was nothing to get traction on under all that snow. But we persevered and managed to get it all cleaned up in record time and tucked into a huge crock-pot full of roast beast, potatoes, carrots, and pearl onions for our trouble. Man I love my crock-pot. There's nothing like coming in from the cold and finding dinner all done for you! Mr. Bee limits his portions because next-day-roast-beast- hash is his favoritest!

After supper we wrapped all of the presents. Some have to be sent off by UPS, some have to be hand-delivered and some will sit until after the first of the year when we go North for Christmas II in Marshfield. Mr. Bee and I cranked up the Barenaked Ladies Christmas CD and argued pleasantly about whether there is a need to wrap shirt boxes that already have a colorful holiday top or not. There were minimal mishaps with the sharp paper-cutting scissors and tape. All in all no bloodshed so it was a success.

I've been knitting but it's been a lot of stuff I can't post about until after the holidays. I am making a pair of purple and lilac mittens to go with my new winter coat though.Can't remember the name of the pattern but it's from Knitty. Hopefully they will be done in time to wear to Maine. We leave on Tuesday so it'll be usual with my projects.

A friend has asked me to make two pairs of socks for her and her daughter after the Holidays. The yarn she picked out is from Hobby Lobby. Cameo Yarn Bee Super Bulky. It nice and soft and fuzzy acrylic. It'll make nice house socks , but I've never knit socks from that thick a yarn. I don't even know where to begin to find out what size needles and how many stitches I need to start. It's 3.5 oz and 142 yards. The yarn sleeve says to use size 13 needles, but I suspect that that is for a lacy scarf. HELP! Any ideas on how many to cast on and on what size. I normally cast on 64 on size twos and use regular wool sock yarn. If there's anyone out there with advice I'd surely appreciate it! I do hates me some Wicked Maths.

Aside from attacking the snow shovel in much the same manner he does the vacuum, Bentley has been behaving himself. His new buddy, Dale Harriet gave him an honest-to-goodness piggy ear to try and help him distinguish the taste of real pork from polyester piggy slippers.He snarked down the ear in record time and proclaimed it the food of the doggie Gods, but isn't a discriminating connoisseur and still covets the slippers. He tries to get in the closet every time the door opens and eyes Hank and Lefty with a glint in his eye and drool on his jowls. I think it's doggie extortion; a gimme the real thing and the slippers live sorta thing. Time will tell.

Off to knit more mittens...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Living The Dream

Have you had the dream? You know, the one where you somehow forgot to dress and show up at your high school one morning clad only in your flannel grannie nightie and piggie slippers? Then you spend the rest of the night trying to act like that was what you intended to wear; that you were making a fashion statement rather than exhibiting the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Now I know that the young whipper-snappers coming up today think nothing of sporting their jammies to school or the mall or whatever. I’ve seen ‘em around. But in my day, if you showed up anywhere sportin’ your Underoos, well then Lucy, you had some ‘splaining to do!

So after spending the day ill, I rallied, showered and changed my actual sleep gear (ratty old t-shirt) for a stylin’ pair of red,flannel jammie pants, elegantly covered in cavorting penguins and my pink, plush, piggie slippers, Hank and Lefty and headed for the Sow’s Ear for late night knit night. It was to be a sleepover, but after the day I’d put in, I was only going to be able to put in a few hours. Nonetheless, I wanted to ‘fit in’ by wearing my boudoir ensemble. To support the cause you know? So I get there and there is one other person, besides Deb the barista, there. Molly is sitting in the corner, spit-splicing yarn together for an amazing Kaffe vest she is working on. And she’s wearing regular street clothes. Not only do I now look like an idiot, I am outclassed in the knitting department as well. Heavy sigh…such is my life.

But I decide to make the best of it. Even if I am the only piggie, penguin wearing chick in the room, I will make it work somehow. Chin up, I got my hot chocolate and sat down to start in on a pair of the most hideous socks known to man. Seriously. Even more disturbing than the green striped socks I made a while back. There are colors in there that are heretofore unknown to man and should never be put side by each. But I digress. Soon folks begin to trickle in. No one else is in jammies. Crap. But I don't let on that I'm feeling like a big penguin, piggie sportin' dork. Then, my salvation…Heather, the manager shows up in her jammie pants and puppy slippers! Hank and Lefty were ecstatic and I was much relieved. As the evening wore on a few other brave souls showed up in jammie pants and the pressure was off. I sat back and enjoyed the knitting, snacks and company; Dale Harriet and lovely daughter, Chocolate Sheep Beth and new friend Kitty Mommy and her darling so, the I-man. What a great night!

Mr. and Bentley Bee came to pick me up at 10:30. I was wiped out and the party had just begun. I heard that a couple of hearty souls even made it all night with Heather. Hopefully there will be another all nighter next winter. If there is, Hank, Lefty and I are in for the whole enchilada!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Swine Surgery

I guess it was inevitable. I really thought we had the situation under control at first. After the initial attack the first day I brought them home, we had a fairly lengthy 'Come-to-Jesus' talk that included phrases like 'NOOOO!', 'Bad Dog!' and 'Thou Shalt Not Eat Piggy Slippers, Ben'! But the lure of all that pink, porcine, plushness was just too great. While the world was still, snow falling gently, and Mr. Bee and I tucked snuggly in our bunk, Mr. Bentley tippy-toed into the closet and snagged Lefty. I like to imagine it started as an innocent snuggle and kiss. Then one thing led to another and before he knew it, he was in way over his head; chomping, chewing and tearing the stuffing out Lefty's snout with reckless abandon. Lefty bore it stoically. He surrendered his innards with nary a word to alert the sleeping world of the horrendous mauling that was taking place. He's one tough piggy slipper that Lefty.

I awoke the next morning, cracked open my bleary eyes and swung my feet over the side of the bed and directly into wet, white fluff. Huh? What ta..? Did it snow inside? It took only seconds to realize the horror of what had happened; fluff all over the floor, Ben's sorrowful gaze and one piggy slipper with a seriously deflated nose. He had the audacity to do the desnouting right beside my side of the bed while I slept peacefully! Oh the carnage! One look from me and Ben took off for his kennel. When he does 'a bad thing' (echo, echo, echo) he checks with us first to see if what he suspects he did wrong was indeed...well...wrong. Upon confirmation, he high-tails it directly to his kennel and goes inside. Then he comes out every few minutes to check and see if it's STILL wrong and if we're STILL sore about it. A well placed stare or hand on the hip sends him scurrying back to the kennel again. It's hard to punish a dog that punishes himself first

So last evening found me doing swine surgery to reattach Lefty's poor, pulverized, proboscis. Thankfully, they are cheapish slippers with flimsy seams. Ben had managed to get the nose off right on the seam line so I could easily add stuffing and reattach with a few well placed stitches. Visually you can't tell it was ever ripped off. But I know. And Lefty knows. The memory haunts him and he speaks with more of a nasal twang than he did before. And Ben knows....he knows the sweet taste of piggy slippers and he's biding his time 'til the next dark and stormy night!

Cooper and The Garden Guest

I discovered earlier this summer that finches aren't the only thing that like my thistle seeds. Even though there is a plethora of seeds...