Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nickel Creek - A Lighthouse's Tale

Video Shot at the Nubble--for your viewing enjoymment.

Nubble Sustains Damage in Patriot's Day Storm

You might remember this image of The Nubble that I took at the height of the Patriots' Day storm.

Well, those waves and those winds did some extensive damage to the island and the town is going to ask for federal assistance to help cover the costs of the repairs. Shingles were ripped off of the roof of the Keeper's House and some of the glass in the lighthouse was broken

According to the Parks and Recreation Director, Mike Sullivan, repairs on the island (the light house really is on an island--with good aim you could throw a baseball from the mainland and break a window in the house, but it's an island nonetheless) cost almost three times as much as repairs on the mainland cost. Since 1989, the lighthouse has been leased to the Village of York and in 1998, the lighthouse became the property of the town.

Maine legend claims that the Nubble is the most photographed light house in all of New England. Given the numbers of times we've received a picture of the Nubble in the mail on a brochure or come across a photo in the most unlikely places (our daughter's boss's office in Philadelphia or my parent's friends' condo on Lake Erie) we believe the legend.

The complete history of the Cape Neddick Light Station is here. Good pictures, too.

Bush League

Is there no low too low for A-Rod? If he's not using his pretty purse to take a swipe at Bronson, he's willing to squeal like a baby to help the Yanks win. Evidently, when you're 14.5 games out of first, all's fair, even dubious methods:

Rodriguez said he was just trying to help the Yankees win.
"We're desperate," he told reporters. "We haven't won a game in a little bit now. We won the game."
Johnny Damon doesn't know if it's legal ("I wasn't sure that was allowed," outfielder Johnny Damon said.) but he's desperate enough to not really care ("If it is, maybe we'll keep on doing it."), and Joe Torre appears to need some therapy to help him process his emotions ("I don't know what to feel for it.").

Oh, how the mighty have fallen....oh, how heroes have been reduced to mortals. What's next, Johnny's Jesus-look making a return in pinstripes?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wednesday Lunch

Long Sands, 11:45 am

Rut Roh.

It's the time of the year for SMD* here in Maine so slow down and be on the lookout for moose in the road. Moose are most likely to approach the road during the night or early mornings and they're difficult to see.

According to the Portland Press Herald, there are about 700 moose/vehicle collisions each year. Last night, there were two moose/car collisions on the Maine Turnpike in Scarborough:

State Police say three men escaped serious injury when their two cars struck two moose near the Saco-Scarborough town line. The first car struck the first animal, which then came through the windshield of the car before landing in the roadway. The second car then struck the other moose and then ran over the first one. The three men who were in the cars were injured, but not seriously.

*Seasonal Moose Disorder

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Way Life Should Be

It's the state motto and this is just one reason why.....

Monday, May 28, 2007

Conundrum? Nah.

The Tribe invades Fenway Park tonight (and the Blue State Blogger will be there in person, lucky girl), and in case there is any doubt, I'll be pulling for the Red Sox.

Three years ago, on the first day of the Red Sox/Indians three game series, I dutifully wore my Indians cap to my tennis clinic. At breakfast, I kindly informed my husband that while I loved the Sox, my loyalties had to be with Cleveland. Afterall, I'd grown up going to Municipal Stadium with my dad, the all time greatest Indians fan going (he can still list the starting line ups of every Cleveland team during the 1950's and 1960's and he can still remember specific games and innings from those decades). As a kid in the backyard, I was Gaylord Perry, the greatest junk ball pitcher of all time. I dragged my best friend to a dive bar in Manhattan in a driving rain to watch the seventh game of the Florida/Cleveland World Series (that would be the series that nobody watched--as evidenced by the empty bar). I was an Indians girl.

That night, during the middle of the third inning, my husband quietly said, "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were rooting for the Sox." And I realized that he was right. I desperately wanted the Sox to win. I don't think I qualify as a fair weather fan because that was before they won the World Series. Rather, my unrealized to me, my loyaties shifted the year before when Boston lost that ALSC, that heartbreaking seven game series of 2003. I was a Mainah then and I felt that loss, deeply (not as deeply as my husband, who could literally not get out of bed the next morning).

My father hasn't quite forgiven me and I still pull for Cleveland when they play anyone else. But tonight, my heart is a Dirt Dog and I'm a proud member of Red Sox Nation. Here we go Red Sox.

Oh, and welcome back Trot. Good to see you in Fenway.

Memorial Day

Taps. Portsmouth, NH

Happiness Is... ice cream cone in Maine.

Ode To The Joy of a Scoop

When I moved to New England for the first time, the first fact that I learned about my adopted region was that New Englanders will eat ice cream at any time of the year. The region has the highest per capita consumption of ice cream of any region in the U.S. I learned this trivia on a January day, when the temperatures outside were well below freezing, but the company was providing a TGIF treat of ice cream sundaes, compliments of Hood Dairy--and the stampede to the ice cream was just about as dangerous as Rt. 128 during the morning commute.

Back then it was ice cream from Richardson's; now it's ice cream from Brown's. Picked by Ben (of Ben and Jerry's) as the fourth best place in the country to get a scoop, Ben says "this is the quintessential summer ice cream stand on the way to a lighthouse (locals know it as Nubble Lighthouse)." He goes on to say that the view is the draw (and we agree that the view is wonderful--the above was taken from the car on the way to), but we think that's because Ben didn't order the Wild Maine Blueberry in a sugar cone. It's loaded with real Maine blueberries and a kiddy scoop is almost more than we can eat. On a summer night, all eight windows are 10-12 customers deep, but the wait is always short and it's always worth it. I do all I can to make sure New England remains first in ice cream consumption.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Rhubarb Berry Pie

A la Elise. I followed the recipe exactly as she posted it, except all the berries and the rhubarb were fresh. Next time I make it, I'll cut back just a bit on the blackberries and the strawberries, as the pie turned out extra juicy, as you can see. Th

I did use the 3/4 cup of sugar, and I gave up on the lattice crust after three failed attempts. While this pie won't win any beauty contests, Retired Guy has announced it's the best rhubarb pie he's ever eaten (even better than the rhubarb strawberry with crumb topping that I usually make). Even with pie, it's what's inside that counts.

Quote Of the Week

"I tried my best to take the team as deep into the game as possible to fulfill my responsibility as the starter. I regret that I ended up being a burden on my teammates [Friday]. I'll do my best to prepare for my next start." -- "Dice-K" Matsuzaka

As of today, the Sox are still 10.5 games ahead of the Yankees. Dice-K picked up his 7th win last night (despite leaving early due to tummy troubles. He felt like he was going to yak, which brings back memories of 41 and the Japanese Prime Minister, but I digress), and ESPN is reporting that Yankee GM Brian Cashman is feeling the heat from the Boss.

For now, it's good to be part of Red Sox Nation.

Appeys on the Bar-B

Do you ever feel like you get into a cooking rut? I'm certain that I've served the exact same menu to some of our friends at least three times. While I most likely haven't, the mere suspicion means that new recipes need to be tried and this is my favorite of the new rotation. By the end of summer, I'm guessing all of our friends will have had it at least twice.

This one comes from my good friend the New Yawker. I adapted it just a bit to fit into our burgers and veggies from the grill theme for tomorrow night. I tend to like things hot, so I use considerably more pepper than the recipe calls for. Enjoy this one--- it's easy and really tasty.

Spanish Style Garlic Shrimp

1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

4-5 Tbs. olive oil

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. sweet paprika

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1 Tbs. dry sherry

Salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, toss together oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika, lemon juice, sherry, salt & pepper, and shrimp. Immediately toss on grill in a grilling basket .

Original recipe calls for shrimp to be broiled in a pre-heated tapas pan and served with fresh baguette for dipping (Spanish style).

Friday, May 25, 2007

Wicked Good

Hey y'all! Amy is hosting the first month of the Carnival of Ice Cream (I'm hosting June) and we need volunteers for July, August and September.
Amy's got all the details, good links and a graphic that will make your mouth water.

Please join us in celebrating and eating and blogging about New England's favorite food.

Good Morning, Glorious Friday

It promises to be a brilliant start to the holiday weekend here on the seacoast. Highs in the low 80's, abundant sunshine and a vacation day scheduled to enjoy it all.

So how will we spend our day? It started with a sunrise walk on the beach with Mac the Dog. Then, I filled each of the three bird feeders, changed the water in the bird baths (two of those), and changed the kitty litter. I've opened every window in the house to let in the smell of lilacs and Lilly in the Valley and (at least I think it's) the flowering apple trees.

I've got two tennis matches on the calendar and a tennis mixer tonight.
In between sets of tennis, I'll buy the geraniums for the deck, the potting soil and some cone flowers and black eyed susans for the garden. I'll shop for our barbecue tomorrow and hopefully find a few minutes to sit at the beach and watch the kids play tag with the icy cold waves (that water looks so inviting, but it sure doesn't feel inviting).

I LOVE vacation days. I do, I do.

I've also got a vague hope that I can pick rhubarb from a friend's garden, as I'm itching to make a pie for our gathering tomorrow night, but she's offered three times this week and I've been otherwise engaged, so the invite might have been rescinded.

Enjoy your day and don't forget to buckle up and be safe this weekend. Travelers north bound into Maine--please be advised that the state of New Hampshire has decided to re-pave the Hampton Toll booths......during one of the three busiest weekends of the year.

UPDATE: 2:15 pm Hampton toll paving is complete, but if you're headed into Maine on I-95, watch for those pretty baby blue cruisers used by the Maine State Highway Patrol. They are out en masse today, and it's a 55 mph zone over the bridge and into Maine for the first few miles.
Jo-prayers offered and answered! You should be free to move about....

Just One More Reason....

That Ohio is a good place to be from:

As if this isn't enough, now we have this to add to his February breakdown during a debate in the House of Representatives. Was anyone else appalled by his uncontrollable sobbing on the House floor yesterday (Think Progress has the video), or are my trials and tribulations with the Ohio Department of Taxation obscuring my empathy and general goodwill to my fellow Buckeyes?

I invite you folks in Cincinnati who read the blog on a daily to comment on this one. I welcome your thoughts about Mean Jean and John. I must be missing something.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Celebrity Spotting of the Week (or Probably the Year--Who are We Kidding?)

So if you ran into this guy in Frisbee's Market in Kittery Point, Maine, would you recognize him?
What if we gave you a hint and told you that he was the mystery buyer who paid almost $2.0 million for the Historic Bray House?
Anyway, he and his dad stopped into Frisbee's (they purchased a couple of post cards featuring the house that he just bought).
We just happened to be in Frisbee's to pick up some pickles and hamburger buns to go along with our delicious burgers and we got a little extra excitement added to our day.
Of course, after he left, I had to tell Retired Guy who it was. Then I had to play Maneater for him on the way home.......

Oh, and non sequitur of the day: I had a meeting down in Boston. When I went through the Hampton tolls on the way down, not so EZ pass did not register the car passing through. No red, yellow or green lights. No trouble on the Tobin, though. ....On the way home, not so EZ pass Hampton station, asked me to please call them.....

Brie and Burgundy Burgers

2 pounds ground sirloin
4 tablespoons red wine
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup Brie cheese

Handling the meat as little as possible, mix the sirloin with the red wine, salt and pepper. Gently form it into eight 1 inch thick patties.

Using your thumb, or the end of a wooden spoon, make a small pocket in the center of the burger.

Add a tablespoon of the Brie to each hamburger and then pinch the meat around the top to seal the burger. No cheese should be showing.

Grill over medium high heat for 4-6 minutes per side, or to the desired doneness. Serve hot.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Skybus Is Open for Business

The first flight landed at Pease this morning and the first out-bound flight returned to Port Columbus with 50 passengers on board.
Liveblog details here along with photos. I checked the website today for fares between Portsmouth and Columbus. The $10.00 options are very few, but there many $30.00 and $50.00 options available. Not too bad for an airline that departs 10 minutes from our front door.

Link Fest

1) Monica Goodling, testified before the House Judiciary Committee, and admitted that she violated Federal Law--but it's ok folks. She didn't mean to do anything bad:

But she admitted to have considered applicants for jobs as career prosecutors based on their political loyalties -- a violation of federal law.

''I may have gone too far, and I may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account on some occasions,'' Goodling said. ''And I regret those mistakes.''

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., hammered Goodling on her decisions to hire prosecutors who favored Republicans.

''Do you believe they were illegal or legal?'' Scott asked.

''I don't believe I intended to commit a crime,'' Goodling, a lawyer, answered.

''Did you break the law? Is it against the law to take those considerations into account?'' Scott said.

''I believe I crossed the line, but I didn't mean to,'' she responded

2) Jason Giambi is sorry that he did steroids. We'll have to wait to see if he's sorry about using speed.

3) An American Self-Portrait. Simply Amazing.

Sorry about the rant below. I feel much better--and it was far cheaper than paying a shrink.

My Dear State of Ohio Department of Taxation....

Warning: This is not a family friendly post--it's a personal rant. Proceed at your own risk.

.....I received your tax bill for $9114.00 (taxes owed, plus penalties and interest).
This is precisely what I think of you and your tax bill:You know I filed, I know I filed, you admit you lost my filing, and you admit that you received the additional taxes that I paid when I e-filed, which were in addition to my paycheck withholdings.

But because the State of Ohio Lost my return and because I already spent eight hours proving that I didn't live or work in the state of Ohio in the years 1996, 1997, 2003, 2004, 2005, and because you told me I did not need to document the year 2000 when I initially spoke with you, I wasn't in any hurry to start digging in my files (again) to provide you with my 2000 return--which you never once told me I was legally responsible to provide to you. Despite my asking that direct question to you three times. So you send me an estimated tax assessment for the year 2000, for a lot of money. I already paid you a lot of money for that year.

So now I've spent another five hours of my time, locating a tax return that I've already filed, writing a letter and sending it certified mail (at another cost of $14.00), and three hours on the phone with the Department of Taxation.

I view this as harassment. It's no different than the State of New Hampshire sending 23,000 EZ Pass letters--some of which had absolutely no merit. Nor does this. But I have no power.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lemon Dilled Grilled Haddock

What a day. 62 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. The grass is perfectly green, the lilacs are in bloom, as are the flowering trees. The garden is coming in nicely and the rhubarb is ready for picking (pie, anyone?).

A day like today calls for playing hookey from work (I didn't quite have the opportunity, although I did have opportunity to put the top down on Lucy and head up to Ogunquit to Barnicle Billy's for a business lunch) and a suppah on the grill.

There was fresh Florida sweet corn at the farm stand and fresh haddock at the fish market. Instant meal.

We soaked the corn in the husk (after pulling out the silk and cleaning the ears as best as possible) in cold water for six hours, and threw it on the grill with the Lemon Dilled Haddock--a recipe I edited/rewrote this evening.

Lemon Dilled Haddock
1 lb haddock, rinsed and patted dry
2 lemons
fresh dill
a dash of dry white wine (if you wish)

Pre heat grill to approximately 375 degrees.

Cut the haddock into serving sized portions and place each portion on a piece of foil large enough to fold over.

Slice one half of each lemon into thin slices. Squeeze the remaining half of each lemon onto the fish slice and discard.

Place two pats of butter on each portion of fish and layer the lemon slices (two to three lemon slices) on top of each piece of fish. Add a generous sprig of fresh grill. If you'd like, add a dash of white wine and seal the foil into a packet around the fish.

Place the fish on the grill. It should take the fish about 10-15 minutes to cook, depending on the thickness of the fillet. The corn should take about 10 minutes to cook--it will be ready when the outside layer of husk is completely charred. The corn will be sweet and smokey and wonderful.

I served the corn and fish with fresh steamed asparagus and a really lovely South African Sauvignon Blanc from the Neil Ellis winery. It's a dry white wine, with a hint of grapefruit and peaches and it held up nicely with the fish.

I have a couple of pictures to add to the post, but Blogger is being fussy and it's too nice a night to wait any longer. I'll add them tomorrow.
For now, it's Sox 4, Yuckees nada, donut, cookie, ditto zilcho.
NBA Lottery happens in 9 minutes. Fingers are crossed for the Celts getting pick number one and then drafting Oden.

Repaving the Sidewalks

The Patriots' Day Storm did extensive damage to the Long Sands area of the village (image waves breaking over the road--it was an awesome display of fierce power).
Since mid-April, the sidewalks along the beach have looked like this.
We approved the budget to repair them on Saturday, and today, repaving started, complete with a dump truck on the beach. The new sidewalks will be concrete. Better to withstand another storm of the century, maybe?

Boone Island Sunrise

5:15 am (as always, click to enlarge)

Monday, May 21, 2007


Regarding this.....My wonderful hubby ate my toasted bagel (if you're counting that means he had two bagels yesterday morning). That was after he went back to the Bagel Basket and got me a chewy, delicious, not-toasted bagel. I put lox on it. I put some capers on it. I added some chopped red onion, a slice of tomato, and a dash of pepper. I ate it. Slowly. While reading the Times and listening to the rain on the windows. It was the best breakfast experience I've had in MONTHS.

Today, I had oatmeal, half a banana and a low-cal yogurt for breakfast. It wasn't half bad.

We Decide, Line by Line

Saturday was our Budget Election. Each May, the village(s) hold an election to vote on the town budget. We have elected officials-- a Board of Selectmen (instead of a Mayor) and a School Committee. We have a Superintendent of Schools and someone who runs the Parks Department.

But none of these folks is in charge of their budgets. We the voters decide, line by line, how the school budget and town funds will be spent.

This year, it was seven 11 x 14 pages, front and back of questions to be decided. We voted on spending $11,800 to repair the recyling facility. We voted yes or no to spend $45,000 for a new harbor master's boat. We had to decide if we should spend $25,000 to repair the Cape Neddick Light Station roof; the entire town had a yea or nay on whether to spend $18,500 to repair a culvert on our street. We voted on Senior Services monies, the library budget, hiring two special education specialists and on the $15 million school budget.

By and large, all measures passed, although we decided not to hire a children's librarian or spend $6.5 million on a new town hall. We're still waiting to hear the decision on the surfing area at Long Sands. The new ordinance would allow town officials to expand the surfing zone on days when waves are high and few swimmers are in the water.

UPDATE: The surfing ordinance has passed. At least that's the rumor in town.


Can anyone spot the error on this morning's home page?
(answer later today).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday's View

Bagel and a Schmear

Have you ever tried to get a bagel, not toasted, outside of the New York Metropolitan area? It's close to impossible, even if you ask politely. You tell them you want a bagel, with cream cheese, not toasted. They toast it. It's like ordering a pizza, with no pepperoni. All they hear is "pepperoni" or "toasted".

The challenge is that 99% of all bagel joints outside of NY (and NY knows from bagels), think all bagels should be toasted, regardless of what's going on top of it. So even if you ask them not to toast it, it's like a reflex--they toast it.

New Yorkers know that if a bagel is to be buttered, it gets toasted. If a bagel is getting cream cheese, it's not to be toasted. It's to be sliced, slathered and handed to the customer. Its bagel goodness has already been cooked (boiled to be precise) to perfection and it needs no further heat applied to it. Besides the heat interferes with the lox, right?.

This morning, I'm breaking a 4.89 month diet for a bagel and a schmear, which I've been craving for almost a week. For a week, I resisted. Each morning, I put it out of my mind and had my half a cup of yummy oatmeal, yogurt and half a grapefruit for breakfast.

But this morning, despite dinner out at a fabulous new restaurant, the scales showed me 20lbs lighter than when I started this little venture. The bagel and schmear got the celebratory green light. Down to the Bagel Basket, where I ordered two plain bagels with cream cheese, easy on the cream cheese and please don't toast them. Then I started talking to a neighbor.

I was handed the bag with the bagels. Flew home. Set the NYTimes on the counter, opened it to the Week in Review. Poured myself a steaming cup of coffee. Got out the smoked salmon and the capers, the pepper and a sliced red onion.

Handed Retired Guy his bagel, which was suspiciously warm, and unwrapped mine. TOASTED.

It's now sitting on the counter getting the hairy eyeball from me. The NYTimes is yet to be read. The coffee waits for the first sip. I'm in a conundrum. If I'm going off an almost 6 month diet with a calorie splurge, it ain't gonna be for a gnarly Toasted Bagel. Anybody want it? It's yours.

But do I go back out in the rain and attempt to get another untoasted bagel, or do I decide that this is not meant to be and start making oatmeal?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

It's Pie Time

Ever wanted to know how to make a lattice pie crust? For years, I've muddled through it, never using the same method twice (my mom, an excellent cook, hates baking pies, so I've learned on my own) and my lattice crusts results have been as muddled as my methods.
Anyway, Elise has an excellent post on how to make a lattie top pie crust, complete with step-by step pictures. No more guess work, and no more crazy looking pie tops.
Mmmmm, just in time for summer berry pies.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Out In The Back Forty

We had a bit of sun peep through the clouds yesterday afternoon, so after watching the Sox beat Detroit in the first game of a double header (they won the nightcap as well and are now 9.5 up on the Yuckees), Mac and I went for a walk in the woods to see how spring is springing.
Fiddle heads are up; most trees are almost fully leafed; life is returning to the swamp.

UPDATE: Our first hummingbird of the season --spotted at 1:25 pm May 18th. It's about 39 degrees here. The poor little fellow must think he's lost.....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

NH EZ Pass--Not So Easy; Not So Smart

If I ran my business this way, I'd be "separated from the company" immediately for poor planning and decision-making.....(if you're here to figure out what you can do about your last chance letter, you now have until May 25th to respond).

Remember my mention of my little snafu with the NH EZ Pass system? It turns out that my little snafu was only one of 23,000 New Hampshire violations that EZ Pass decided to clear up with a "Last Chance Notice." 23,000 letters sent; no time allowed for response and no action by EZ Pass to move resources to handle the call volume/customer response that this mailing created. (Someone should lose their job over this; really.)

Those 23,000 letters were dated May 2, 2007 . We received our letter in the mail on the 11th of May (according to our housesitter), but I didn't open the letter until May 14th, when we returned from Ohio.

The letter was incredibly vague. I might 1) not ever have responded to the violations notice; 2) not paid the tolls; or 3) fought the violations and EZ Pass decided to reject my explanation. There was no clue as to which of the three it was. If they'd rejected my explanation, I might have just paid the fines and moved on, but I had no idea if that was the case.

The letter stated that I must respond within 15 days of the date on the letter. Not 15 days of receipt of the letter, mind you, and I had three options to do so: 1) by calling EZ Pass; 2) by faxing a written response to EZ Pass; or 3) by appearing in person at one of the three New Hampshire Customer Care Walk-In Centers.

I waited on hold for 55 minutes. No answer. I tried to fax a response to the number given for three hours. The line was busy for three hours. At 3:45 pm, I decided to drive to Seabrook to talk to the Customer Care Specialist in person. I left the fax on the fax machine, still auto-redialing.

As I passed through the Hampton Toll EZ Pass lane, the light went red and did not record my toll. This is precisely what happens approximately 50% of the time when I pass through the Hampton toll; the other 25% of the time, it flashes yellow and asks me to call EZ Pass. 25% of the time, it seems to work......

Anyway, I get to the center. There is a line of 12 people standing outside. There are 3 inside.
The gentleman ahead of me was fighting a violation from June 2006, that he'd already paid. The gentleman two ahead of me had $400.00 in fines because of an expired credit card on his Maine EZ Pass (which is the cause of $100.00 of my $200.00 worth of fines). After waiting 30 minutes, a man comes out of the building, smiles at us and says, "Good luck. I waited in line for an hour before I talked to someone. There are only two women in there and one of them just took lunch."

Took lunch? It's now 4:45. The center closes at 6 pm. At this rate, there's a good chance that I might not even talk to someone before they close. Hmmmm.

As we get closer to the door, we notice a sign posted. It says that if we want to fight the fines, we must respond in writing and while they are happy to forward our response to the main EZ Pass Center in New Jersey, they can't clear this up today. There is a pad of paper provided inside for us to write our response.

The Mainer (two ahead of me), mutters under his breath and I hear "lawyer, yank my chain, bullsh*t...". I decide to wait to talk to her anyway.

At about 5:10 a gentleman gets out of a car holding a cell phone to his ear. He asks how long we've waited in line and tells us he's been on hold with EZ Pass for 1 hour, 45 minutes. He snaps the phone shut and announces "I'll go to jail before I wait one minute more for these people. I've done nothing wrong here." He leaves.

Finally at 5:15 the woman comes back from lunch. The other woman leaves on a break. Sighs, panic, and disbelief ensue.

At 5:25 pm, I get to talk to the really nice lady (no sarcasm, she was wonderful) who took the first lunch break. I tell her that part of this is caused by the fact that the Hampton tolls rarely register my transponder--they didn't today on the way here, I tell her.
Last year, after six months of getting the yellow light and dutifully calling and being told, I'm OK, I stopped calling. I figured I was OK. She checks the license plate numbers, she checks the battery and says she has no idea why this would happen.....

She looks at my violations. She tells me she has no idea if they rejected my response, did not receive my response or if I didn't pay the tolls owed. I show her the cancelled check that they cashed for the toll payments. She sighs and says the best she can do is overnight my handwritten letter to them and log that I'm disagreeing with the information in the letter. They'll get back to me. She's sorry the letter is so vague and that she doesn't know where my violations stand.

I drive north on 95. As I pass through the Hampton tolls, I get a yellow light and I'm told to call Maine EZ Pass. I do. I get an answer from them on the second ring. She tells me I've got money in the account, the battery is fine. I'm all set, have a nice day......

According to this article, the deadline for response to the letter has been moved to May 25th. EZ Pass also has shifted resources to make sure calls are answered. I do know that if they reject my explanation for why I don't owe the fees and fines, I'm going to bill them back for time I've spent (due to their incompetence), at the hourly rate of $75.00 an hour. Grand total-- $329.89.

I move to retire Live Free or Die. The New State motto is: New Hampshire EZ?--not so much.

At The Feeder

Our first Red-Breasted Grosbeak of this year. Actually, my first sighting since the spring of 2005. Isn't he marvelous? He was also very patient, waiting quietly for the finches to finish before getting his breakfast.

On a reasonably related note, Margaret has kept detailed records of her first hummingbird sighting for the past few years. It's remarkable how consistent their arrival date is.

Deja Vu All Over Again

A year ago today, the Cape Neddick River Bridge looked like this. The Mother's Day Flood of 2006 caused extensive damage in New England and in our county. It started raining and it didn't stop. We played 100's of games of ping pong and checked the cellar for rising water. No water in the cellar, but our water saturated back yard shifted and sank and with it, our chimney shifted and sank away from the house. We were very blessed to have nothing worse happen. Businesses were flooded; our village made the front page of USAToday.

The forecast for the next few days isn't nearly as bad, but it surely does provide a reminder of our water soaked May 2006.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


No more Jericho. CBS has canceled my favorite show (Ok, favorite after Lost and The Office and Grey's Anatomy and Brothers and Sisters--but I liked it a lot. It's way better than a poke in the eye from a tick or a sharp stick).

First they fired Imus. Now they canceled Jericho. They are so in my dog house.

Spring 3; Non-Amused Mainer 0

This post is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. I've gotten my second black fly bite of the spring--very unusual for our area, as we live in very southern Maine and the nasty buggers (as Amy called them) just aren't a huge problem for us. All fine and well. I can live with a black fly bite or two, but I can't believe what happened this morning.

We woke around 5:45 , as usual. I feel that my right eye has a lot of what my grandmother used to call "sleepy dirt". While still lying on my back in bed , I dig the sleepy dirt out of the corner of my eye and notice it contains a black lump of something. It appears to be a huge clump of mascara--highly unlikely as I didn't put mascara on yesterday (the Maine office is very casual), and I'd washed my face before going to bed. This requires further investigation (and my glasses).

Upon closer inspection, it is identified as a dead deer tick. IN MY EYEBALL? Gross. Exceedingly, terribly, really, really gross. Disconcerting, icky, just wrong, wicked bad and skanky. Evidence below (you may click to enlarge the grossness, if you like):

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bleeding Heart


The Warbler and His Castle

I'm a little embarrassed to show you this--I had no idea that the birdhouse was this dirty, but we're all friends here, right?

Interesting Tidbit

....from the BartBlog....Joe Leiberman is holding a fund-raiser for Susan B. Collins.
Most interesting is this quote:

Not only has Lieberman endorsed Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine.) -- one of Democrats' biggest targets in the 2008 cycle.....
Little Ole' Maine making a "biggest target" for anything? Interesting.

I, personally, like both of our Senators. They both seem to genuinely put Maine interests ahead of party politics. They've both stood up to W. once or twice, but as a good friend likes to remind me, keeping "a Democratic majority in the Senate is crucial to the future of our nation." This should be an interesting election.

Cool Stuff

More 9,000 year old artifacts have been found near the expanding Lewiston-Auburn Airport.

Rolling with Dice-K

When asked about Daisuke Matsuzaka before last night's game, Detroit manager Jim Leyland said, ""I don't give a [expletive] about him," Leyland said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "I'm not getting into all that. I could give a [expletive] less. It's another pitcher."

Dice-K threw his first MLB complete game, allowing two runs on six hits. He got 17 outs on ground balls and struck out five batters. He did not give up a walk. I should repeat that. He didn't walk anybody, not even in the fourth inning, the inning of Dice-K doom. He threw 124 pitches, 89 of them for strikes.

After the game, Leyland said, "That Matsuki guy is the real deal. He's good."

Monday, May 14, 2007

Welcome Home

We've been home less than 12 hours.
1) Got my first black fly bite of the season.

2) Received another notice from the NH EZPass system about my $200.50 worth of toll violations, which really aren't violations. The Hampton Tolls went on the fritz a couple of months ago and wouldn't read Maine EZPass tags. Then, our account was supposed to autofill from our Visa, but it didn't. So in two days, we received 8 toll violations.
I've spent time on the phone with Maine EZ Pass Customer Care and the official EZPass folks down in New Jersey. I've written the explanation for the error as instructed, paid my tolls (NH was happy to cash the check), but now they want administrative fees. I've now been on hold with the NH EZPass Customer Care group for 25 minutes and I've been told a representative will help in just a moment at least 42 times....gah.
The State of New Hampshire wants me to know that if I don't pay them, they're going to revoke my NH license plate (heh-good luck with that). I don't like being on the wrong side of the law for any reason, and most especially when I've not done anything wrong, in addition to the fact that I'm totally neurotic about most things, so I find that this is very worrisome.

3) It's official. We've lost three rose bushes. I held out hope that they'd survived the winter, but with the Bleeding Heart almost four feet tall and in full bloom and all the other roses full of healthy green leaves, it's time to give up and replace them. But--IT'S SPRING! And it's GREEN!

4) The warblers have built another nest in the Birdhouse. They've left their tell tale stick poking out of the front door. I don't know why they do it, but it happens every year.

Mission Accomplished

Dad's officially retired. Mom is officially on leave for one year while she decides if she'll retire. Dad now has an honorary PhD to go with his earned D. Min (doctor of ministry degree), and the only two time winner of the Heisman Trophy stood, along with the faculty, the graduating class and the family in honor of my parents. The building that houses the Religion Department has been renamed in honor of my pops and the University announced that they are sponsoring a lecture series in practical theology* in his name.

Many, many people said many, many nice things about both parents while all of Dad's siblings and all of mom and dad's children and grandchildren listened. This will be the first time in 54 years that the Relgion Department does not include a member of my family (my maternal grandfather came to the university to teach in 1953, my dad in 1969).

Now, we look forward to returning to Maine; we want to watch the Sox score 6 runs in the bottom of the 9th rather than reading that they did it on my blackberry (we were in the heart of Indians country and Tribe Fever is rising quickly as the Indians keep winning); I want to weed the garden and plant annuals and watch the birds eating at the feeders.

The company sold on Friday, in the midst of the more important things we were doing. The official closing will be in the third quarter of this year. I'll wait to see what the sale brings, but I'm 90% sure that we'll not leave Maine for the sake of my job.
*My dad is an Evangelical minister, ordained in the Brethren Church. I think that the focus of his ministry and his Christian Witness is best understood through the a couple of excerpts from the Citation for his Honorary Doctorate:

"....You are known as a professor who cares deeply about his students and has spent countless hours working with those students both in and out of the classroom...

....The relentless dedication has been recognized campus wide and in 2004, the Office of Student Affairs named one of its awards after you ...The (insert Dad's name here) Honor and Integrity Award is given to an individual who encourages others to strive for sound character, offers compassion and empathy and is a role model to students, faculty and staff.....

....In recognition of your tremendous service and dedication, your gentle and gracious heart, your steadfast commitment to this institution and to the betterment of humankind, I have the honor of presenting you to be admitted..."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

More Ashland County Amish

Shot through the windshield on the way to meet the family for lunch (I wasn't driving).
Notice that the buggy has no lanterns on the sides, nor a warning triangle on the back. Amish in Ashland County do not use such modern devices, making them more prone to accidents (but notice the bag of tortilla chips?).

We've not had a buggy/car crash in our area for many years, but when I was in grade school, a drunk driver hit the Miller family buggy on a dark night. I don't remember all of the details, but as I recall there were 11 children. Eight survived, at least two were paralyzed and confined to wheel chairs. The horse had to be put down and the English community (that would be all the non-Amish) were deeply affected and saddened.
Shortly after that, the sheriff asked that they begin using lanterns and orange triangles, but as you can see, that didn't happen.

Later in the day, we passed another buggy. It was a three-bench buggy, pulled by two beautiful black horses. A shelf had been built across the back seat and on that shelf was about 15 boxes of cereal. I've never seen anything quite like that. My dad and I are guessing they were on the way home from the grocery store and the shelf was built to haul all the kids and the groceries, kind of like a car trunk.....I mean if you've got a three bench buggy, you must have a mess of kids, right?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Perfect Timing

Every year, Mother Nature and the University, somehow manage to have the tulips in full bloom for graduation. As the Senior Class receives their diploma, they'll process past this bed of yellows and reds.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Amish in the City

This afternoon, we were up at the university to have a family portrait shot when this young man came up the street. I jumped out of the picture I was sitting for, grabbed my camera and snapped this picture (thinking only of my blog post, of course). This is a daily sight around town as the Amish use our hospital. They shop at our grocery and hardware stores. They're in and out of town frequently.
The Amish in Ashland County are Schwartzentruber Amish, the segment of the Amish most resistant to change and technology and they keep to themselves more so than New Order Amish or the Beachy. Given that, taking a picture is generally a no-no.......

......but it appears that I got busted making his image.

For Marie

Now all she needs is a dream...... :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Downeast Summah Reading List

I've been missing Maine during my travels this spring, but the God (I don't think there's more than one) of publishing has looked down upon me favorably and arranged to publish a number of books about Maine:

Shoutin' Into the Fog by Thomas Hanna. I just finished this book (published by Islandport Press). Initially, the conversational writing style took a bit of getting used to, but after a chapter, I was captivated by the hardships and joys of life in the midcoast of Maine in the depression.

Evening by Susan Minot. Captivating and beautiful. I read this in 1998 while living in a captivating but not lovely New York City. It's time to revisit a wonderful book.

Summer People
by Brian Groh. The author grew up in Ohio and moved to Maine. I need know nothing more about the book to be convinced to buy it, but the reviews are good, just in case you need a bit more to go on.

Body Surfing by Anita Shreve. Set on the New Hampshire coast, in a location that Shreve has used previously (Fortunes' Rocks and Sea Glass), it's close enough to Maine and it's an Anita Shreve book, so it makes the list.

Slipknot by Linda Greelaw. Publishes on June 19th, just in time to pack it in the beach bag. This is Greenlaw's first attempt at fiction, but she integrates much of what she knows (Maine and the sea) into the book.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The View From My Window

The view from my hotel room happens to be the building where I work. For now. The sale should close shortly. Then I might not have a job. But that's ok. I'm a Maine woman and we get by. Tomorrow, I have a short walk to work. Life is good.

Wait--I don't See My Name

Just Kidding.
In case you're a Royal Watcher like I am, here's the Guest List for Tonight's State Dinner. I think the Wisdom Weasel is in there somewhere. He's promised to bring the beer (and honestly, as hard pressed as I am to give props to this White House, I've got to tip my cap to them for inviting David Gregory. He gives them no end of grief):

The guest list for Monday night's state dinner in honor of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, as released by the White House.

Cmdr. Heber Ackland, Royal Navy, equerry in waiting to the queen.

The Countess Of Airlie, DCVO, DCVO, lady in waiting.

Leonore Annenberg, former U.S. chief of protocol, Reagan administration, FAPE board member, and Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif. (guest).

Anne Armstrong, former U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, and James L. Armstrong (son).

Lee M. Bass, Lee M. Bass, Inc., and Ramona Bass.

Sid R. Bass, president, Sid R. Bass Inc., and Mercedes Bass.

Margaret Beckett, MP, secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, United Kingdom, and Leo Beckett.

Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, House minority leader, and Deborah Boehner.

Joshua Bolten, White House chief of staff, and Analouise C. Bolten (mother).

Calvin Borel, jockey, winner of the 2007 Kentucky Derby, and Lisa Funk (guest).

Katherine E. Boyd, Katherine E. Boyd Interior Design, and Eva Elkins, sister-in-law (guest).

Miss Barbara Bush and Jay Blount (guest).

Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, and Columba Bush.

Elizabeth L. Cheney and Philip J. Perry, partner, Latham & Watkins.

Vice President Dick Cheney and Lynne V. Cheney.

James Click, president, Jim Click Ford, Inc., and Carrie Click (daughter).

John Danilovich, CEO, Millennium Challenge Corp., and Irene Danilovich.

Rohan De Silva, pianist.

Marta Domingo, wife of Maestro Placido Domingo.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Donald L. Evans, CEO, Financial Services Forum, and Susan Evans.

William S. Farish, former U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, and Sarah Farish.

Fred Fielding, counsel to the president, and Maria Fielding.

Brad Freeman, general partner, Freeman Spogli & Co.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Becky Gates.

Christopher Geidt, OBE, deputy private secretary to the queen.

Martin Gilbert, historian, and Esther Gilbert, London.

David Gregory, NBC News correspondent, and Beth Wilkinson (wife).

National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley and Mrs. Robert Hadley (mother).

Elisabeth Hasselbeck, host of "The View," and Timothy Hasselbeck, professional football player.

Peter Hayes, principal private secretary to the secretary of state, United Kingdom.

Steven Holland, Reuters correspondent, and Lucie Holland.

Ray L. Hunt, chairman of the board, president and CEO, Hunt Consolidated, Inc., and Hunter L. Hunt, president, Hunt Power, L.P. (son).

Brig. Miles Hunt-Davis, KCVO CBE, private secretary to Prince Philip.

Robin Janvrin, KCVO, CB, private secretary to the queen.

Agriculture Secretary Michael O. Johanns and Stephanie Johanns.

Clay Johnson III, deputy director for management, Office of Management and Budget, and Anne S. Johnson, director, arts in embassies program, State Department.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and Patricia Kempthorne.

Richard D. Kinder, chairman and CEO, Kinder Morgan, Inc., and Nancy Kinder, president, Kinder Foundation.

Henry A. Kissinger, former secretary of state, and Nancy Kissinger.

Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., chairman and president, Kohler Co., and Natalie B. Kohler.

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Tricia Lott.

David Manning, KCMG, British ambassador to the United States, and Catherine M. Manning.

Peyton Manning, professional football player, and Ashley Manning.

John Marion, honorary chairman, Sotheby's North America, and Anne Marion.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.

Charles B. Moncrief and Kit Moncrief.

James W. Nantz III, CBS sportscaster, and Ann-Lorraine Nantz.

Joseph J. O'Donnell, CEO, Boston Culinary Group, and Katherine O'Donnell.

Gen. Peter Pace, USMC, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Lynne Pace.

Arnold Palmer, professional golfer, and Kathleen Palmer.

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson and Wendy Paulson.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Paul Pelosi.

A. Jerrold Perenchio, chairman and CEO, Chartwell Partners, and Margie Perenchio.

Itzhak Perlman, violinist, and Toby Lynn Perlman.

Boone Pickens, BP Capital, LLC, and Madeleine Pickens.

Colin L. Powell, former secretary of state, and Alma Powell.

Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art, and Nancy Powell.

Nancy Reagan, former first lady.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Gene A. Washington, director of football operations, National Football League (guest).

Chief Justice John Roberts and Jane Sullivan Roberts.

Robin Roberts, ABC.

Penny Russell-Smith, LVO, press secretary to the queen.

Michael Sacco, president, Seafarers International Union, and Sophie Sacco.

Gerry Shaheen, group president, Caterpillar, and Pam Shaheen.

George P. Shultz, former secretary of state, and Charlotte Shultz.

Harold C. Simmons, chairman, Valhi Inc., and Annette Simmons.

White House press secretary Tony Snow and Jill Ellen Snow.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and Robert Spellings.

Surgeon Capt. David Swain, CVO RN, medical officer to the queen.

Robert Tuttle, U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, and Maria Tuttle.

Mark Vincent, brother to Mrs. Cheney, and Linda Vincent.

Richard Wolffe, Newsweek, and Paula Cuello (wife).


If y'all need a touch of spring, check this out.
It'll cure anything that ails body or soul.

Island of the Misfit Toys

I took a tennis clinic yesterday morning. After celebrating the Cinco de Mayo with three shots of Patron, a couple of Margaritas and a cerveca mas fina (or maybe a few more than one), it was a little rough. The clinic was taught by Luke Jenson, French Open Doubles Champion--and it really was a wonderful clinic. I just wish I'd been more at the top of my game.
This morning, I woke up with a catch in my knee, a tennis elbow aching and a crick in my back.
I inventoried each of these ailments for the hubby. His response?
"we need to send you to the island of misfit toys." He's a peach!

I do promise to post those Cinco de Mayo recipes shortly. Between house clean up, tennis clinic and wedding shower (I'm the stepmonster of the groom) yesterday, blogging was low on the list of action items.

Off to Cincinnati for work and then heading north in Ohio for my Father's Retirement Gala. The University is naming the religion building after him (the Rinehart Center for Religious Studies, it shall now be called) and they've endowed a lectureship in Practical Theology in his name. Many wonderful events are being held to honor his service to the Uni, and my father is hating every minute of it. He'd prefer to slip off into the sunset, unnoticed.

This should be fun.

Friday, May 4, 2007

White Trash Margaritas and Cowboy Caviar

Que Pasa, Mis Amigas!

The first two recipes from the Cinco de Mayo party planning are now ready for prime time:

Cowboy Caviar

* 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained
* 1 (15.5 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained
* 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
* 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
* 1/2 medium onion, chopped
* 1/4 green bell pepper, finely chopped
* 1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
* 1 cup Italian salad dressing
* 3/4 cup chopped cilantro


1. Mix beans, peas, tomatoes, corn, onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno peppers in a large bowl. Season with garlic salt. Add dressing and cilantro; toss to coat. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until ready to serve

White Trash Margaritas

2 bottles Corona
2 containers frozen limeade concentrate
Use empty Corona bottle to fill twice with tequilla
Pour all this in a huge pitcher, then fill the rest of the way with Diet 7-Up.
Stir until the concentrate is all mixed in.... Gets frothy.....


It's Derby Weekend

I know this for a fact, as I counted 8 hat boxes being lugged through the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport.
Each was carried by a man dressed in a blue button down shirt, gold buttoned double breasted blazer, khaki pants and either boat shoes or driving mocs.
The man was accompanied by a very thin blonde (I did spot a brunette, once) woman, dressed in a sleeveless sundress and very fashionable shoes. Evidently, this is the hat box uniform. I'll keep it in mind should I ever get a hat that requires a hat box. My baseball caps generally travel in my suitcase and arrive none the worse for it.

As I passed the hat box couples, I could overhear snippets of conversation:
"We're meeting Bill and Nancy at the club for drinks at 6:30. I hear the Andersons will be there, so be nice."
"The syndicate thinks he's past prime and they'd like to sell him. I think he's got good earning potential."
"Honestly, two hats? Why did you have to bring two hats?"
"It's an awful field. He actually might give it a good run for it."

Not for nothing: The Queen looks very old. I know she's 82 or 100 or somewhere thereabouts, but I've always thought of her as timeless.

We're ready to begin Cinco de Mayo fiesta preparations. We should have about 75 or so this year, but it's always hard to know. All recipes will posted tomorrow or Sunday or sometime later this week.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Security Guards

These two made getting into the office quite difficult this morning. I had to put on my best Archie Griffin imitation (juke left, fake right, stutter step and then go--extremely athletic considering the stilettos I was wearing) to get past them.

The Maine office security staff is no where near as diligent in their work:

Summah Reading

Maine's own Linda Greenlaw heads the USAToday list of beach books for this year.
They asked the author five questions about writing and her life on Isle au Haut.
You can read the interview here and get the complete run-down on all their recommendations.

Updated with picture of Linda's lobster boat.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


In honor of Her Majesty's upcoming visit to Kentucky (big local news here in the Nasti), I watched The Queen on the 57 inch HD flat screen TV in my Hyatt Place Hotel Room. They've configured the set up so that attaching an ipod or computer is fantastically easy.

The Hyatt Place is swanky, hip and possibly Manhattan-esque uber-cool. It's also very affordable and still has a free breakfast.

Idyll Scene

Loveland, Ohio 4:45pm
In 24 hours I'll be back in Maine, just in time to cook for the Cinco de Mayo party.
So far, the menu includes four salsas in varying degrees of heat, White Trash Margaritas (I'll drink one in your honor, Marie), Premium Gold Margaritas, Mexican Pasta Salad, Chicken Fajitas and Queso Dip.
Mexican Beer, soft drinks and lemon water are also available.

Any additional menu suggestions, dear readers?

As for "the boats", I really don't gamble much, so last night after dinner I gave my $50.00 gift certificate (comped by the hotel) to my boss and said "put it on red." I went to bed. This morning, he handed me a nice, crisp $100.00 bill. Heh. Doubled my money and never set foot on the boat. Nice.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The View From My Window

The Belterra Casino. Belterra, IN
The hotel is in Indiana. The casino is in the riverboat on the Ohio River. There's no gambling in Indiana, ya'll.
Now, when someone in Cincinnati asks you if you'd "like to go to the boats" you'll know what they're talking about.

Early Morning In Southern Ohio