Saturday, December 24, 2011

Yuletide Greetings

One of our previous holiday kards.
For a larger view, click on any reindeer's nose.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Jalapeño Chip on the Shoulder

My favorite flavor potato chip is jalapeño. The best ones I've ever had are the Poore Brothers brand out of Arizona. When we first moved to Maine, that was what I missed most. At first the only jalapeño chips I came across were hard to find and jalapeño/cheese flavored. Eventually a couple of the smaller companies had jalapeño as one of their flavors, so I could get a fix when I really needed to. But then our local supermarket started carrying the Kettle Brand jalapeño! Kettle makes a very good chip and has my second favorite flavor, Spicy Thai. So, even though some other bigger labels are now making jalapeño chips, Kettle is my local favorite.

Today at our regular supermarket Kettle Brand potato chips were all on sale at 2 for $5. All except jalapeño. That was 50% off, reduced to clear! Argh! Carrie grabbed a clerk and we voiced our displeasure and requested they keep it in stock.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"What does not destroy me, makes me stronger"

We had a very strengthening holiday weekend.

Wednesday morning we were up early in anticipation of needing to clear the driveway of accumulating snow due to the storm moving in. There was about 3 or 4 inches at this point. It was wet snow, so I needed to stop the snowblower to clear the clogged discharge chute. Restarting the blower, the pull cord snapped. The snow was still wet snow, so I still had to clear the discharge, but now I had to keep the blower running while I did so. Not as dangerous as it sounds as I could disengage the blades while keeping the motor running. However I had to keep a grip on the safety lever on the handle. You let go of the snowblower and it automatically shuts off. But the lever was diagonally opposite where the chute was, so a bit of a stretch and I was doing it one handed. A longer than anticipated time to do the driveway. Snow was still coming down, so by the time I was done there was another inch already on the part I first cleared.

In case you're wondering what Carrie was doing, she had a shovel and was doing touchup and clearing spots I couldn't use the blower on.

I had to work that day, so while I drove the hour and a half crawl in to work, Carrie first tried finding somebody to repair the snowblower. The machine is too big to fit in either of our vehicles, so we needed a housecall. The earliest anybody would get to us was Friday.

Carrie got to work to find somebody to plow the driveway. We expected about 12 inches on top of which the street plowing was sure to pile it in front of the driveway and I would need to get my car off the street. She did get someone who agreed to come out in a couple of hours. That was around 10:00 in the morning. A couple of couple of hours went by and she tried getting a hold of them again. Eventually they called her and Carrie now expected them at 5:30. Still plenty of leeway as I normally get out of work at 5:00 and was going to be driving slowly home afterwards.

As I pulled up to our driveway in the dark, I saw Carrie shoveling snow. I put on my hazard lights and got out to help. We cleared enough to get my car off the road.

The plower called later on saying they would be here in 15 minutes. They finally showed up around 7:30. And did a lousy job.

During the day, between calls, Carrie noticed her truck had a flat. She got out the jack and spare tire and started to change it. But for some reason, her jack would not lift the truck high enough for the spare tire to have room to be put on. I asked if it could wait until morning for me to tackle it.

Thanksgiving morning I got out my car's jack and used it on a piece of wood to raise the truck off Carrie's jack. I intended to put hers up on some bricks to get enough height to put the spare on. But the truck decided to shift forward, bending my jack and falling off it. Adrenaline rush as it topples in front of my eyes and I know I cannot catch it in my bare hands as much as my impulse tells me to. Argh! Guilt because it's Carrie's truck!

Carrie's jack caught the truck frame in a different spot before the wheel hit the cement floor. Whew! So I had to use the 2 jacks in a series of careful lifts to get the truck high enough and another series to lower the truck back down. My jack still works, but it's a lot more difficult to raise and lower it along the new bend. I went back inside and changed out of my now filthy clothes.

Every Thanksgiving since we moved to Maine, Kemmer has come up to visit and this year was no exception. The drive up from Massachusetts was pretty easy until she got off the highway and noted how the roads could use another plowing. As she signaled her turn into our driveway she hit an especially slick spot and spun, almost into a tree. The poor plowing job left enough snow in the way to stop her car before reaching the tree. With the help of a neighbor we dug and pushed the car out of the snow bank and she got safely into our drive.

We didn't wait too long to head out for our dinner. Carrie had won a free Thanksgiving Dinner for two at the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn. We figured to get a plush meal for three at the price of one. The main course of turkey was actually turkey loaf! Other parts of the meal seemed equally fabricated. They actually had some fresh vegetables and fruit for salad makings that was almost the only thing that wasn't extremely disappointing. It was buffet style and my first round I loaded up on meat and starch. My second round had fruit and veggies.

They had live music there. After my stint working in a mall I can usually tune background music out, but the faces Kemmer kept making about it made me alert to it as well. And it was pretty bad.

Kemmer and Carrie had a girls day out to go to a couple of farm stands' last sales and a visit to the Cora Shriner Temple's special christmas tree show. A very loud, crowded, and uninteresting bunch of trees it was.

Back at home, Carrie started a fire in our wood burning stove with a chimney we'd just recently gotten cleaned, only to have all the smoke pour into the house.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Guess Who's Coming to (Avoid Ending Up as) Dinner



Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Today is our 20th wedding anniversary. People who have seen us together can attest that we are very happily married. Some people marvel at how happily in love we have stayed. One of the reasons is that there so many things we both like. Following is a list, in no particular order, of a small number of them. In honor of the anniversary, that number is 20.

  1. Sedona
  2. Japan
  3. Hellboy
  4. Usagi Yojimbo
  5. Whose Line Is It Anyway?
  6. Monty Python
  7. Seasons
  8. Dia de los Muertos
  9. Cats
  10. Gerbils
  11. Tonari no Totoro
  12. Casa Blanca
  13. Books
  14. Ethnic Music
  15. Road Trips
  16. Big Yards
  17. Trees
  18. Gargoyles
  19. Indian Cuisine
  20. Artisan Bread

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Hallowe'en


We used these two figures one year for a Hallowe'en photokard. Carrie converted them from store bought figures to be us. She added glasses and hair, even giving me a ponytail. The dog on top didn't make it onto the kard though. It was intended to be Miriam, our dog at the time.

We definitely miss the Dia de los Muertos celebrations we got to see when we lived in Arizona.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

WTF?*



It's not fair! We had over a month of fall creeping up on us. Does winter show the same restraint? No! In less than a week from my last post a nor'easter sends us




from this... ........................... ... to THIS!





Beauty spots still exist, but the peak has probably been cut short. Temperatures are predicted to be in the low 50's later this week so, really, this snow won't be hanging around. We'll shovel and sand the driveway and wait to see what autumn has left to show us.






In the meantime, Happy Hallowe'en, everybody!




*Wha'hap'n To Fall?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Leafing Home


Throughout September and into October fall was slowly sneaking up on us. You could see an overall color shift in the foliage: dark kelly green becoming more olive-toned, as if the trees were tarnishing. This is a view of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. There's an observatory at the top of the left tower.





Then: FWOOOM!!! Everything deciduous in our neighborhood turned color overnight! Red! Scarlet! Orange! Gold! Maroon! And the yellows especially abound, from the brassy maples to the butter-pale witch hazels. As for brown: we got 'em. And as Keith would say: who knew browns could be bright? Caramel, mahogany, and frequently multiples from above blending on the same leaf!





A lot of it faded pretty fast. Going...



...going...




...gone.




But there are still a lot of beauty spots to be found by just driving down almost any random street. These pictures were taken on the shores of Lake Auburn.







These trees are in Freeport, just a little way down from the When Pigs Fly bakeshop.











Some trees near Bates College are just getting started.











We will doubtlessly find more as we continue to explore Maine!






Saturday, October 1, 2011

Samurai Slate

Many many years ago I came up with an idea for a 20 to 30 minute video I wanted to do featuring a private eye character called Samurai Slate. It was going to be filled with lots of word play and visual puns somewhat akin to the movie Airplane. Logistics to make this happen were just more than I could, or was willing, to undertake, so it never happened.

But I was making mini-comics around that time, so I decided to use the main character for one. I didn't use the same storyline as I'd planned for the film, and I don't have any notes about it in my files that I can find, so it is lost forever.

I do, however, still have the original art from the mini-comic. You can read it on Facebook here.

I realized recently that he was the perfect vehicle for the kind of comix I want to write right now, so my newest postkard, mailing out this weekend, brings him back for a new adventure. If you aren't on my mailing list and want to see the new comic, let me know your address.

Sam was named partially as a nod to famous fictional private eye, Sam Spade, and partially after my former roommate, Shannon Slate. Shannon even had a trench coat. And enjoyed odd adventures as seen in the photo of him below.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How much island would I land on if I could land on Wood Island?

Last weekend on September 17th we celebrated Maine Open Lighthouse day once again. This time we opted to go to one of the island lighthouses, which meant travel by boat.


Wood Island is not very far from shore, so we were quickly there. That's our boat making a quick getaway to gather up more tourists. The only problem was that the boat dropped us off at the point closest to shore rather than closest to the lighthouse.

We had a boardwalk to travel on, so it wasn't a difficult hike, just a long one. But it was pretty much the only option as the shore nearest the lighthouse was not very boat friendly...


...as you can see here.


The lighthouse was pleasant enough looking and it was a fine day to be out and about.


The stairs were quite narrow and steep. Railings had only just been put in. You can see they haven't even been unwrapped yet.


It didn't have the most spectacular fresnel lens we'd ever seen, but they are always interesting to look at. And, it was the first green lighted one we've seen.


We did get to see the lighthouse from sea as the boat did a circuit of the island on our way back in.


To enlarge any photo, find the lighthouse in it and click on its beacon.



Sunday, September 18, 2011

San Andreasphault

As happy homeowners (well, us and the mortgage company) we decided each year we'd do one major home-improvement project. Last year we had the wood burning stove reconnected. After a winter of our snowblower picking up rocks from our increasingly rutted gravel driveway it was pretty clear our next priority was to have it paved. We collected quotes, I got the professional opinion of a man reparing a parking lot, and Cooper Paving was hired.

Monday, September 12th at 7:00 AM an energetic team of half-a-dozen or so gentlemen arrived. They stripped down the old gravel, sand and abundant weeds then laid down a bed of pulverized stone. Then they put down the asphault, taking special care to slope it to access our garage, front porch and entry to the road.



"It followed me home. Can I keep it?"







It's kind of strange, looking so clean and new.






We like special touches so we were delighted when the installers agreed to sprinkle in some loose turquoise nuggets we had. Posh, neh?








Monday, September 5, 2011

A September to Remember


Summer's not over, yet we're seeing a few leaves starting to get their autumn colors. So where did the summer go? We have been busy, but not posting a lot. Partly because we've been busy, partly because I've concentrated on mailing out my PostKards since I don't have a camera. What I've posted here are photos off Carrie's camera, Kemmer's phone, and my scanner.


We went to Old Hallowell Days out in Hallowell. We were disappointed in the "big" church sale, but had some luck in the Library book sale. And the parade had a giant puppet as seen on the right. That night we stopped by Sheila and Fred's place on the river for a close up view of the fireworks shot over the river.


As you may have guessed we added a new cat to our household, Persephone. Named for this goddess of the underworld mostly because she likes to be down (in the sunken living room, down the cellar stairs) or under (under the bed, under the couch). Not that she's shy, she just likes to attack from under cover, or have a more three dimensional playing area. She is young. Officially she was listed as a year old, but we think she was a few months short of that. She has grown since we got her and is fitting in well with our household. She and Qwill play once in a while, when Qwill is willing, but otherwise she is almost always begging us to play with her. She isn't a cat who likes to be held, but we'll see if she stays that way come winter.


Kemmer came out to visit us twice! The first visit we showed her the Sabattus Pond public beach area. Not very big, but not very crowded. She's thinking that maybe she'd like to live there when she retires. Not an ocean beach, which she prefers, but near us, which we like. Second time we went on a trail that follwed the Androscoggin river. Interesting tree trucks were seen on the shore. Almost spider like with the long roots as seen to the right here.

We survived Hurricane Irene. Power was out for almost two days, but since Carrie had the foresight to freeze numerous containers of water the only food we lost was some cornmeal that got wet from melting ice. Our yard is full of sticks and leaves and I anticipate a few more rounds of pick-up-sticks before I can safely mow.

How's your summer been?



Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ancient Art 'n' Facts

Many moons ago, I was helping out a guy who owned a print shop. He decided he wanted to publish comic books and I helped him actually get one out before he got distracted by another project idea. I helped him out in many of these projects, mostly with some design work, for which he printed my own projects for free. For a while he was poised to be one of the first to enter the PC computer game field. I not only designed many of the characters for the various games he wanted to do, but he let me start to develop my own idea, Koyote in the Land of the Dancing Cactus.

Above is a scene from that project, which never did get completed. But I do remember playing around with the saguaro cactus form to try and make distinctive characters. It was to be a simple quest kind of thing, with the cactus scene being the ultimate goal.

One of the characters I was asked to design was Dr. Attitoad. I have no recollection as to what he was about. I do remember going to the library to see how Beatrix Potter's Mr. Toad was constructed and sketching various possible body basics until I got one I was happy with. My sketch book also shows some sketches of real toads, mostly their heads and eyes.
After I got the body down, I played with costumes. Maybe he was supposed to be Sherlockian as that seems to be the type of clothing I was trying out on him. Below left is the final version.







On the right is my Hanged Frog tarot card. Back when I was doing KARDZ, the Funny Animal Tarot, I got involved with a number of tarot groups, which lead to a number of tarot people seeing some of my work. Cynthia Giles, who had written The Tarot: History, Mystery, and Lore (a highly recommended book) asked permission to put this image in her new book, The Tarot: Methods, Mastery, and More. I suspect that I drew the card because I didn't want to waste the earlier design, but changed it to a frog to avoid any conflict.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Family Afar

Last month I got a call from my uncle Bud back in Illinois. Aunt Jean had been hospitalized for having fainting spells. Investigation revealed that her heart was only operating at 25% capacity. At the age of 92 this is ominous. I decided that if I wanted to talk to her without a Ouija board I'd better get out there soon. Since Ross hadn't been back to the aulde sod in 33 years I took him along. So it was on Saturday, June 4th, we flew from opposite sides of the country to meet at Ohare airport in Chicago. Both flights went remarkably well, with Ross getting a surprise upgrade to first class! Our timing was perfect with me landing just before a thunder storm broke and Ross landing after it left. One rental car later we were on the road south to Pontiac, IL. I was feeling good enough that the 2 hour drive passed easily. Pontiac has 4 motels so I was optomistic about room availability, never guessing there was a baseball playoff that had every room booked for Saturday night! A sympathetic clerk recommended the tiny burg of Chenoa, just 10 miles down the road. Yup, there was room at the Super 8!


Sunday morning we returned to Pontiac and went to Uncle Bud and Aunt Fern's condo. We chatted until it was time to go to lunch at the Rose Garden in Streator.




We were met there by Cousin Gayle and her husband, Tim. One minor itch was scratched when I had a pork tenderloin sandwich. I grew up eating these. In the Phoenix area I knew of only 2 places that had them. In Maine they are totally unknown, so yeah: it was a big deal! After lunch UB & AF took us on a drive to see the local beauty spots. Pontiac had been a site selected by the Wall Dogs who did a number of murals for local businesses.







Supper was pizza with Cousin Reid and his wife, Denise. We overnighted in Pontiac, the playoffs being over.






Monday morning we headed north to Sterling. Cousin Donna was at Aunt Jean's nursing home before us. Aunt Jean was frail and somewhat vague, but in good spirits.





When it was time for her lunch we left for ours. Cousin Donna took us out and showed us some place from our past: our grandpa's old place of work and the house our dad built where we lived as babies.











Inspired to go on with the roadshow we drove on to Clinton, IA. There we saw our old house and visited Eagle Point Park.






Turning east again we zipped through the rolling fields and made it to Aurora, IL before stopping for the night.


Tuesday morning was breakfast and becoming reacquainted with rush hour traffic in a high population area, but we made it to the airport in time to make it comfortably to Ross's flight. Ticket and security lines were long enough to devour the 2 hour gap between Ross's flight and mine so there was not even a thought about sight-seeing.