Monday, December 29, 2008

Castle Waiting

I had today off, so decided I should check my mail drop in York. I seem to only get there about once a month. If that.

And because I was going that far south, I asked Kemmer if I could stop at her place, a bit further south. She had been unable to join us on christmas, so we still had presents to exchange.

I took Pandora with me for the adventure. We drove the surface streets most of the way and I stopped several times just so she could get out and walk not nearly long enough to suit her.

One place we stopped at was Winnekenni Park in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Kemmer and I kept meaning to go hiking there on one of their many trails, but never quite got around to it. This time I just walked up the road to see the castle at the top of the hill and walked back down again. Pandora wanted to sniff everything. An hour at each sniffing point.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Stampin' At the Savoy

Here are the vintage tv stamps I mentioned a while back. They are not as nice as I was hoping for, but I still would like to try doing envelopes for some of them. I hope they get a nice first day cancel design.

I absolutely want to do Groucho and the Lone Ranger. I might get inspired enough to also do Lassie and the two puppet stamps. Maybe some others.

Which are your favorites?

Click on the image to get a bigger view of it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Family Values

We flew Carrie's brother Ross out from Arizona christmas eve so he could spend the holiday with us. It was nice that the snow didn't get all washed away by the rain and warmer temperatures. We took him out through our meadow in an attempt to do some sledding, but it didn't work out quite as easily as we'd hoped and devolved into a snow fight.

Pandora enjoyed it.

Afterwards we went for a stroll around the area. There are lots of deer tracks all over the place here. Even in our backyard. It's nice to know they're around, even if we didn't actually see any.

We also took Ross down to the Freeport port. Those are piles of lobster traps behind him and Carrie.

Then it was lunch time, so we headed to Mikado's. After lunch we went in search of a movie theater Carrie had looked up that was showing The Spirit. We're still feeling our way around the area, so it took a bit to actually figure out how to get there. We arrived in the middle of the previews, but didn't miss any of the film itself. I had a difficult time getting past it not being The Spirit as I knew the character. When I finally did, I started enjoying the movie. I want to see it again so I can watch it from the beginning in the right mindset.

Click on any picture to supersize it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Yule!

We drew this kard one of my first years in Arizona. Now we're where we can both agree it's cold.

I didn't manage to get the snowblower going yesterday. And it was snowing when I went to work. The first thing they had me do there was shovel snow. It cleared out afterward, so I didn't have to keep at it all day. In the evening we started getting some rain and so this morning we have a lot less snow outside. It didn't all melt, so we do have a white christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lord Snowed In

I was at my job at Staples when the next round of snow started. The TV had been telling everybody to get where they needed to go and then stay there because it was going to be a big storm. Well, it was in the middle of the storm when my shift ended and I had to head for home. I drove between 25 and 40 mph most of the way, but otherwise it wasn't as bad as I was expecting.

The next morning I spent about an hour and a half with the snowblower clearing out most of the driveway before I decided I had to go to work. I knew I would be late, because I'd thought an hour would be more than enough to do the snow removal. Oops.

While I was wrestling with the snowblower, Carrie had our not quite a snowshovel and was getting the snow from off the porch and around the vehicles cleared away.

Hours have been cut at work because Staples isn't doing anywhere near the business they were expecting, so I was out two hours early and came home with the intention of finishing up the snowblowing. I couldn't get the bloody thing to run. I could get it started, but it wouldn't continue. So I had to shovel. The front of the driveway had been plowed under by the street plows. I had barely managed to get my car through it. So I shoveled until it got dark.

This morning I start at Pet Pantry at ten, so I am going to be outside before then with a hairdryer trying to thaw out the gaslines on the snowblower. The repair guy says that we need to use extra amounts of drygas when it gets this cold to keep things from freezing up. I hope that's all that's wrong.

But it might be wasted effort because, although it's snowing right now, it's going to turn into rain and that may melt all our snow away.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Answer, My Friend: Snowblowin' In the Wind

It finally snowed enough to use the snowblower. It took a while before Carrie and I figured out all the controls enough to get it started. We were shown how to use it, but how long ago was that? After running it for a bit I figured out some more of the controls and was getting a good idea of how to use and control it. I got the snow behind Carrie's truck cleared out along with a spot for her to turn around in the driveway, and a wide enough path to the road before it ran out of gas. I never did get around to filling up a gas can for it. Well, Carrie had to go off to work, so she couldn't go get gas for me to clear out my car. I had my car snowed in so I couldn't go get gas to clear out my car. I got to shovel my car out.

At least since I'm going in to Pet Pantry a couple of hours after they open today (they want me to stay late so they can keep the store open later) somebody else will have had to have done the shoveling there.

Except that it's started snowing again.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow News is Good News

Wednesday we got snow. Wednesday I was at Pet Pantry shoveling their walks. We still have snow on the ground and there is more on the way today. It looks like we should have a white christmas after all.

Also on Wednesday, Carrie's truck slid into a guardrail. Minor damage to the truck and no damage to Carrie. She'll be getting snow tires soon.

This picture is the view from our window of our neighbor to the north's barn. You can see the remains of a couple of our sunflowers in the foreground.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Spot the Kitty


... I wish. This is actually a photo of my Yule gift from Nancy, the adoption of a snow leopard through World Wildlife Fund. I'll be looking into the possibility of getting it to come visit.

Thanks, Nancy!

Pushing the Envelopes

Considering the weather we've had recently, I think the one smudge on the Steamboat Willie envelope quite acceptable. The scan came out really light, just like the nutcracker one I did previously, but I played with the settings a bit to make it come out closer to the original.

Unfortunately, I also got the nutcracker envelopes back. Again. The first return was because, although the Freeport Post Office felt I'd put enough postage on the bigger envelope I'd enclosed the eight nutcracker envelopes I wanted special cancels on, the Richmond, Virginia Post Office felt I needed to put more on, so sent it back. I put the additional postage on and sent it again. This time they accepted it and cancelled all the envelopes inside with the special postmark as I wanted them to. But then, instead of sending them on to the people I addressed the envelopes to, the post office stuck them all in another envelope and mailed it back to me! So today I am going to the Freeport Post Office to try and get them to take these envelopes back into the mail stream. Preferably into the no more canceling required branch so as to not obliterate the special postmark with more cancels.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What's New Pussycat?

"In recognition of the Holiday Season, Nancy Freeman has sponsored an animal in your name at Friends for Life Animal Sanctuary. Instead of buying you a present, this gift in your name will remember the animals that will spend their christmas in a shelter. Thanks to sponsorships such as this one, our shelter animals will know the warmth and comfort of a safe and caring environment through the holidays."

Thank you Nancy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Power Arrangers

As always, click on the photo to enlarge it.

Freezing rain was falling all yesterday and today. At some point last night I woke up to think there was something wrong. I couldn't figure out what it was though. I looked over at the clock and couldn't see it. The power was out. All the small electrical humming from the dozens of electric and electronic devices one owns that makes a constant background noise was gone!

Okay, so no power, no alarm clock. And no lights. No radio, tv, or computer. No microwave, but the stove? It's electric too. Electric hot water heater, so no hot shower. No cold shower either, since the pump that gets our water out of the well is electric. So no flushing the toilet more than a couple of times. Thank goodness we have oil heat. Except that the apparatus to make it work is electric. No heat.

When we finally decided to get up, we used our flashlights to get out the candles and matches after rummaging around for a long time trying to find them. Carrie went off to work a little early because the roads were a bit slippery. I went shopping.

Home Depot had their emergency generator going so I could see what I was looking for and pay with my debit card. I got some batteries for the radio, a propane heater, and a propane tank. I went off to the rental center nearby since they had propane. They didn't have an emergency generator though, so had no way of providing the propane. I got directions to a home supply store in Brunswick called Downeast. They not only had propane, but were up and running with full power.

I called the landlord a couple of times during the day. Cheery news was he also had a power outage. And he said last time, people went 3 days without power. I called Pet Pantry, since I saw the main drag in Freeport was lit and I knew they knew what was happening in town. Everybody on duty today had their home power out also. The boss had called the power company and been told it would be a couple of days before power was restored.

But an hour later, just before 5, I heard the heat start up and saw the power buttons on the tv and dvd player glowing! Power is restored! And I'm blogging this in hopes I get the tale posted before we're down aga

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Puppets of the Carribbean

Carrie and I were up at a store in Brunswick we liked (but had gone in too close to closing last time to fully explore) and found they had even more puppets than last time.

When I first was playing with him, he had the usual gruff stereotypical pirate voice: "Avast ye scurvy dogs!" But then Carrie put a pair of glasses on him and suddenly he had a refined English accent: "Piracy is my avocation. No, sorry. What I meant was, Piracy be my avocation. We must get the correct pirate grammatical structure in there, musn't we."

I'm thinking his name might be Thaddeus.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"You're a Mainiac"

proclaimed Kemmer after I told her Monday that I'd gotten both my Maine driver's license and my Maine license plates. Of course, people who actually live in Maine prefer the term Mainer. Something I learned after I'd used the term Mainiac a couple of times.

As I was registering my car at the DMV, the clerk picked up the next plate from the pile and said "121 QC. That'll be easy to remember." I remarked that the second customer after me would have an even easier one to remember and she paused for a moment before exclaiming "Oh, 123! You want that one?"

I put the plates on today because today I brought my car in for the State Inspection. I needed a bulb in a tail light and the hardly tinted by Arizona standards windshield was pretty dark by Maine standards and needed a special test to make certain it wasn't too dark. I now have a certificate to that effect and can show it every year when I get my car inspected and they won't have to do the special test again.

Between these two days, we had another interesting frost on our vehicles. This time the pattern on the roof of my car was more interesting than the one on the windshield.

As always, you can click on a picture to get a bigger version.

Monday, December 1, 2008

No Business Like Snow Business

Last night as I left work in South Portland, it was lightly raining. As I drove northward home, it started coming down harder and colder. By the time I reached Freeport, it was snow! Our first snowfall in Maine!

Of course by the time it was light enough to go outside and take pictures, the snow had mixed with rain and started to melt off.

Still, our first snow in Maine!

Carrie wants me to go look at snowblowers today.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Frost Heavy, Nubble Light

This Saturday I went to view the Lighting of the Nubble Lighthouse. Rather than the usual nightly, all-night occurrence, this was a holiday event with children's choirs singing seasonal ditties and free hot cocoa and cookies. Of practical interest were the shuttle buses that brought people up from the more available parking of Ellis Park to the very limited space of Cape Neddick. There were a number of folks, adults and kids, climbing around the rocks with surprisingly few flashlights in evidence. Guess who got to play lighthouse for some of them? Those close enough to the shore could see the local scuba diving chapter bring up a lit Xmas tree from the harbor bottom. At 6:00 when it was fully dark we had a count down and the lighthouse buildings came on with lights trimming every eaves and roofline. As spectacles went: it was very modest, but the charm was in the ambiance so I found it a nice enough way to kick off the holidays. Obviously many of the locals agree: I overheard a conversation about lightings of years passed.
Now some of you might be wondering why the accompanying photo shows a daytime picture of what could only be a warmer time. The reason is: I was solo on this venture. Lacking Keith meant lacking Keith's camera with its photograph it today, download it tonight capability.
I bought a disposable camera and took such pictures as I could, but now I have to wait until it's used up or sacrifice some shots. The experience has convinced me that yes, there are photo ops when Keith isn't around. Walking Pandora has also provided a few such occasions. So I've decided to get a decent camera of my own. Nothing as elaborate as Keith's, but one where I can see a preview of the shot I took, has a zoom, and can be easily operated with a dog trying to yank my arm off.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nutcracker? Sweet!

The scan looks a little pale, but this is one of the envelopes I painted to send off in an effort to catch up with all the mail I've gotten as part of the Asian Philatelic Cover Exchange. I've let it pile up a bit since I started my move back at the start of summer, so I owe probably about a dozen covers. I sent off what ones I could find but I'm sure I have a few more lurking in the mess of our half unpacked boxes.

I used a couple of the new Nutcracker stamps and a tropical fruit stamp to more than cover the cost of sending letters overseas. And I sent them to get a special nutcracker postmark. I also noted on the enclosures that I had a new address, so I'm hoping that gets me some forgiveness for my lateness.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Coal Daze

But since Carrie has gotten out the down comforter, the nights have almost been
too warm.

Still, the past several mornings I've woken up convinced I had a cold. As the day progresses, I feel better, but each morning I've felt a little worse than the morning before. I suspect I'll be fully sick for Thanksgiving and only just well enough to go in to work at Staples for Black Friday. (Staying home on Black Friday is a guarantee of getting fired.)

Maybe having Kemmer come up to spend Thanksgiving with us (and maybe even doing some Puppet Improv) will chase the blues (and cold) away and I'll be in fine form for Friday. We plan to continue with our holiday tradition of eating out at an ethnic restaurant. This time an Indian place up in Brunswick.

Today I'm working at Pet Pantry, so I should pick up something special for the kids to have for their Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nipping At Your Nose

Carrie suggested I take close up pictures of the frost on our windshields in the morning since I can no longer take close up pictures of cactus flowers.

Click on the photo for a larger view. Something you can do for any of the pictures we post here, but this one needs it more.

What's Up Dock?

On our Tuesday together, Carrie and I took Pandora to the Freeport docks. We then went off to the Freeport Beach. It doesn't sound very exciting, but we are enjoying our little explorations of this area so very different than the desert southwest.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Housing Around

We sold our house in Mesa! It's a big relief not to have to worry about either it (will somebody break in and strip the place?) or the real estate market (how low can it go?), but we weren't happy about the price we got for it. We had hoped to get enough so that we could buy a house here in Maine without having to get a loan, especially with THAT market the way it is now. It didn't happen.
Keith sez he's seen houses in the Casco Bay area going for $200-300k that fit the one inflexible, non-negotiable condition we have: that it have two bathrooms! That's about what we expected. According to a news story I heard: the housing bubble that's affected the rest of the country didn't get so extreme in Maine, that only 1 house loan in 400 is in danger. No desperation deals for us, it seems. Well, we're not ready to do anything more than look now, anyway. We've got a year-long lease on this house, and Keith having two part time jobs might not make us ideal candidates to the banking industry. In the meantime we compile our wish list. So far we'd like things like: 5-200 acres of land; a forest, stream, pond and/or mountain on the property; a barn or other garage-type building; a Victorian style house with a tower; 3-4 bedrooms; a fireplace or wood burning stove; a finished basement and/or attic; etc.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The secret word is "stamps"

The US Post Office will be releasing a set of 20 stamps next year honoring vintage TV shows. Their choices are partially based on what properties they could get the rights to use rather than the most deserving. There are several on the list I don't think should be there (most notably I Love Lucy which already had a stamp for it and another for its star) and several I am quite excited about. I'm sure you can guess at least one of those.

Anyway, these are the shows and they are tentatively scheduled for a September 2009 release:

Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Dinah Shore Show
Ed Sullivan Show
George Burns & Gracie Allen Show
Hopalong Cassidy
The Honeymooners
Howdy Doody
I Love Lucy
Kukla, Fran & Ollie
Lone Ranger
Perry Mason
Phil Silvers Show
Red Skelton
Texaco Star Theater
Tonight Show
Twilight Zone
You Bet Your Life

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Also on Tuesday we stopped by to see Herbie, the largest elm tree in New England at 110 feet high and 20 feet around. It's also pretty old with an approximate age of 235 years.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Light of My Life

Carrie's job has her working some saturdays instead of tuesdays. Today, I also have a day off. We decided to go to Ft Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth and see the Portland Head Light. It was a bit cold and overcast, but fun nonetheless. Pandora, as you can see in the photo, certainly agreed.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow often walked from Portland to visit this lighthouse. The Keepers were his friends and it is believed he sat here for inspiration on his poem, "The Lighthouse."

And if you want more history tied in to this place, it was commissioned by George Washington in 1790!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gone Postal

While I was in Arizona I designed a few postmarks that were used for special events, including three for the annual ARIPEX stamp show held in Mesa last February. The only compensation I ever ask for doing these is the actual rubber stamp used for the cancellations after they are done with them.

In the mail recently were the three cancels from the ARIPEX show sent by the Mesa PO's special events person, Sue Rohde. Sue also enclosed a note thanking me as well as an official R2-D2 mailbox bank. Sue probably remembered how much fun I had with the real R2-D2 mailboxes especially as I took lots of pictures of myself and Carrie dressed up next to them!

And as a further boost to the happy feeling this package brought me, Sue writes: Your cancel artwork was definitely a hit. Never, in my 15 years in Mesa have we had requests that even came close to the number we had with those.

Wow. Thanks Sue!

Foggy, foggy days

Okay, a light fog is when things in the distance look fuzzy. A medium fog is when you neighbor's house looks fuzzy. A heavy fog is when your porch looks fuzzy. When your spouse looks fuzzy you're not wearing your glasses! We've had a couple days of medium fog, something that I experienced only once in 30 years in Phoenix. Out on errands yesterday I heard somebody say it was dreary. While it can make driving tricky, I like fog. It blurs the edges of things, putting the world into soft focus and making reality also seem indistinct. Mundane features may seem more eerie or romantic. And while I have yet to see a sea monster or a Victorian lady (etc.) step out of any fog I've been in, the potential still seems to be there...

Today is Keith's and my 17th wedding anniversary! A blessing on Aphrodite for bringing us together and Hera for her continuing patronage. All the rest of the world may envy us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Dark North

Arizona is far enough south that it doesn't need daylight savings time. On those summer days when it was light from 5 in the morning to passed 8 at night I'd have been happy to have given some away! Moving north I knew we'd be seeing the effect of the change in latitude to the amount of daylight we had. Sure enough, getting off from work at 5 in the evening it was around sunset in October. Now with daylight savings in effect I'm driving home in the dark. Not my favorite thing to do since it makes the day seem longer. I can't adjust my hours because they're determined by the milk delivery schedule, as proven today when we were finished with our assigned work by 1, but I was nickel-and-dimed until 5 by tasks cropping up whenever a truck came in.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

That's Entertainment!

To the north of our house are a pair of narrow cement slabs with cement steps at the far end of one. This was obviously where a mobile home had been parked some time in the past. The previous tenants had planted 3 varieties of sunflowers in the dirt in between, thereby turning a white elephant of an architectural feature into a rather nice flower bed. We enjoyed the big yellow, sun-like heads, the medium brown-maroon ones, and the dainty pale yellow ones, but now they are uniformly dead and grey.


We're seeing more and more bird and animal activity in that area. Cardinals, blue jays, downy woodpeckers, squirrels, and chipmunks come to chow down on the seeds and entertain both us and the cats. Ghost sits on the shelf by the window making kitty-wants-to-hunt "Aaak-aaaak-aaaaaak!" noises when she sees something or mournful Daddy-I-want! meows if she doesn't.

Time of the Season

Frosty mornings are something we didn't have to deal with back in the desert. Carrie bought an ice scraper while still in Arizona in anticipation of her need. I still have mine from a couple of decades ago when I was living in Massachusetts.

Another thing to get used to again is Daylight Savings Time. Arizona didn't do it and I very much agree with that. I think it's an outdated concept from the days of regimented factories when they needed sunlight to illuminate the work areas. We are moving more and more to a 24 hour global economy and would be served just as well with a standardized single world time zone. But I don't see that happening any time soon. So to speak...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

X Marks the Spot

A good pic for the season is Weevil's x-ray from his vet visit. He did urinate for us (more than once) and we got a sample in to the vet's this morning. We should hear more from them later.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Hallowe'en!

The Love Bug

Weevil went in to the vet's this morning. Carrie and I had noticed him spending a lot of time going from litter box to litter box without actually seeing him produce anything. He didn't do anything for the vet either. They said he might have a bacterial infection and gave us some medicine. In the meantime, he's sequestered with his own litter box so we can try and obtain a sample and turn it in to the vet's tomorrow.

It's a little disconcerting for me so soon after the loss of my Selena. With her gone, Weevil is now our oldest at about 13 years old.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Advancing Autumn

I can pretty safely say that the local foliage has passed its peak. The maples that have been providing the reds and pinks for the landscape are now bare. There are still some crimson oaks and scarlet sumacs, but overall the pallet has been reduced to oranges, yellows, golds, browns, and greens. Do you feel sorry for me, yet?
No? Okay, how about if I tell you that it's getting cold? We've had several mornings of frost where the otherwise squishy Maine terrain has been hard under foot. We've even needed to scrape our windshields! My clever plan to cover my windshield with a sheet resulted in the past nights being either cloudy or rainy: no frost. There's been snow up in the mountains, and I met a neighbor who told me last year every storm that came through dumped a foot of snow leaving drifts up to 7' high! The predictions for this year aren't so dramatic, still: it can be cold without snow.

Belting out of tune

Got my car back from the mechanic this morning. I would have gotten it yesterday if they'd bothered to call me when it was ready. As I requested, they just stopped the squealing belt, though it needs more work. I would have had them do more work if I hadn't wanted my car back quickly so I could do other errands.

Next free work day the car goes for a brake check. They are starting to make noise again.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Carma Dogma

Carrie and I took Pandora for a ride yesterday when we brought Carrie's truck to a mechanic recommended by my Freeport bosses. We took her again this morning when we brought my car in. My car needs at least one belt tightened as it screams like a banshee until it's warmed up. Poor thing.

Belts and brakes were the 2 things I had our Arizona mechanic looking at before I left that state, and those are the 2 things that I needed taking care of once I got out here. Guess they figured they didn't have to do a good job as I wouldn't be able to come back in and complain.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

2 handed bridge

We poked around Brunswick today, including checking out the historic footbridge.

Carrie doesn't always approve of my need to climb...

Carrie loves Keith!!!

Leaves of Absence

Autumn has arrived and the summer rains have made the foliage spectacular.