Once More….

Cathay Pacific B777*ceci n’est pas un avion

The photo above is not the actual Boeing 777 carrying Lindsay from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on her way to Thailand, at least as far as we know, but it might as well be. Three years ago we were waiting to hear that she had arrived safely in Africa. Now, after getting her messages that she had arrived in LA from Boston and boarded her flight for Hong Kong, we have to wait about another twelve hours before we can reasonably expect to hear from her again.

With all three of our girls away, either at school, or way away, as in Asia for the next six months, we officially have an empty nest (just don’t tell the cats). This opens a new chapter, some of which I don’t expect to be markedly different from the previous, but which presents some of its own opportunities. I suspect it will take a little while for us to establish a new rhythm, a new pattern of life with mostly just the two of us again after more than twenty years with children of various sizes in the house.

Meanwhile, Lindsay has picked up her blog again, and we can expect to hear all kinds of interesting things about life, work, and travels in Thailand and other parts of southeast Asia.

Skwerls!

(c) Lillian Stokes, 2009
In the latest battles of the bird feeder wars between humans (i.e. me) and gray squirrels (i.e. them), the skwerls definitely have the upper ha- um, paw, greedy little cusses that they are.

I honestly don’t know, perhaps in a fit of impending middle-aged softening of the head, but a few years ago I started hanging a bird feeder or two. Joking (or not) aside, I like to see the various birds that come out – chickadees, blue jays, cardinals, other little birds I haven’t identified, since I’m not a serious bird person. We also have bunches of mourning doves that hang around, which I also don’t mind but they’re not as much fun to see as the others. The one I really don’t like to see, though, is the bushy-tailed gray vulture a/k/a the gray squirrel. They make a mess, they scare off the real birds, they hog the bird seed (especially the sunflower seeds), and they destroy bird feeders. So far we’re 1-for-4, with the latest in our arsenal being the Brome Squirrel Buster Mini. Without sounding too violent, though, I was thinking about something with an anti-squirrel missile launcher, but they seem to back-ordered or something.

After watching “Raccoon Nation” on Nature a few weeks ago, I wonder if our efforts to thwart squirrels is having the similar, unintended consequence of creating a race of uber-squirrels. Yikes, there’s a thought.

Battening Down

So all up and down the East Coast people are preparing for or, by now, feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy. By the time the storm reaches northern New England it will be a tropical (or post-tropical) depression, but I expect it to cause plenty of headaches anyway. In our area we are expecting rainfall of 2-3 inches with locally higher amounts and winds of 40 mph with gusts to 60. Local weather forecasters have said we may see gusts as high as 70 mph, not hurricane force, but strong enough to cause trees to lose limbs or fall altogether.

Even though it’s late October in southern Maine, a lot of trees still have their leaves, which may result in more downed trees and limbs and more power outages. Power outages, along with some localized flooding, are our primary concern. We’ve already gotten our local emergency response team up and going, and tomorrow morning we’ll assess conditions and decide whether to activate our local emergency shelter.

It’s tempting to pooh-pooh a lot of the hype. Goodness knows there’s plenty of it, but there’s no sense in ignoring the weather forecasts and taking sensible precautions. So part of our day has been taking things down outside, putting porch furniture away, and finally putting the storm windows down (oh, the joys of an old house). Oil lamps are full, we have water and non-perishables should we need them, and are otherwise just expecting a couple of really wet and windy days.

Stay safe, everyone.

Change of Season

Summer is over. You didn’t get the memo?

Leaves are changing color in our part of Maine, agricultural fairs will be held over the next few weeks, and there is a decided shift in the local produce at the grocery store – more pumpkins and apples, less corn and zucchini.

I had hoped to take an early fall motorcycle ride with my friend Mark today, but the weather wasn’t very cooperative. It turned out to be a beautiful day by early/mid-afternoon, but a fun ride in the mist, drizzle, or rain is just not my idea of, well, fun. So I got my grocery shopping done earlier than I thought I would and marked the change of season with a change in the dining room candle. So long Hydrangea, hello Mulled Cider.

Zzzzzzzz……….. sknx! Hmph? What?!

Yes, I know it’s been a while, and it seems to have become a more or less constant condition. Still, the last few weeks have been busy, and I expect the coming summer to be full of its own comings and goings. A couple of comings and goings to note: middle daughter is home from college for the summer (yay!), eldest is moved into an apartment with roommates but we’ll still get to see her a couple of times this summer (yay, but also a harbinger of changes to come), and, though neither a coming nor a going, our youngest is itching for the school year to be over.

I did want to mention the end of a good friend’s blog, however. (Can’t link to it since it’s gone.) After more than a decade at it, my long-time friend Brian has decided to take a break from the grind of finding interesting and amusing things on the Internet to share, often with insightful comments about them. I’m not sure what, if any, plans he has to resume any kind of creative online presence but I appreciate both his efforts and the need to take a break.

Summertime will be full of softball tournaments, at least one college visit, side trip to Washington, motorcycle rides, hiking, gardening and grilling, family times, and, oh yeah, I still have to work at least some of the time. Maybe I will find time along the way to share; maybe you will, too.

Planning Ahead

Tomorrow morning: Coordinate roadside cleanup
108 hours from now: Drive to Baltimore
7 days from now: Drive home
9 weeks 2 days from now: 24th wedding anniversary
11 weeks from now: Tour Maine and New Brunswick by motorcycle
12 weeks from now: Turn 49 years old
4 months 1 week from now: Go to my second ever Rush concert
7 months 8 days from now: World ends, at least according to the Mayans.

Oh, right, there’s a presidential election in there somewhere. So much for ending on a high note.

Depth of Field

We had an unusually mild winter (though unusually mild winters in the Northeast seem to be more and more usual) and very warm weather early in the spring. Though the periods of very warm weather haven’t persisted they have been enough to get the flowers and other plants thinking summer thoughts, just like the rest of us. Over the weekend we have put together and used a new (smaller) charcoal grill, brought the Adirondack chairs out of storage and put them on the porch, gotten cushions for them, and put two little side tables out to more or less complete our outdoor living room.

Sitting on the porch this morning I noticed how trees and bushes are greening up, obscuring the view we have all through late fall and winter. Without leaves and greenery we can see farther. New foliage closes things in, and in another month, the distance we can see will have been reduced considerably. And even though we’ll still be outdoors, and will still hear the traffic before we see it, it will feel more enclosed, and hopefully we’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy it before fall comes and our view opens up again.