Sunday, August 15, 2010


Thank You, Jimmy Buffett

It's been over a year now that I left the subtropics for the subarctic. I can't help, occasionally, to ponder on all the 'who's' and 'what's' I left behind in the Lone Star State. It was an easy decision to return to Maine where I was needed. It was a heart-breaking process to say good-bye to my home and 'family' of 26 years.

In the true American spirit concerning converting lemons into lemonade I want to share with y'all the priceless gifts Maine has laid at my feet. According to statistics, Maine is the most forested state in the U.S. so I am always surrounded by green--which happens to be my favourite colour. It is deafeningly quiet so hearing myself think is never a problem. The over-all population is just over a million people and they are concentrated to the south of where I live. (Remember, Maine is roughly the size of Arkansas.) There were more cars in Houston than there are people in Maine. I can, if I choose, go days without encountering another human being--or a car. Every night and early morning in the non-snowy months there is a Wagnerian chorus of bullfrogs and crickets to entertain me. The days are filled with bird-song sonatas. In Texas I was serenaded by sirens, trains, car horns, and landing jets. I sleep on bed linens that have wafted dry in the pine scented open air--with no complaints from the neighbours. Did I mention that my nearest neighbours are deer, raccoons, red squirrels, the occasional moose, and elusive bob cats? Black bears and coyotes come to call after the snow has fallen but they're fairly respectful of my space. There are the rolling jagged peaks of the upper Appalachians everywhere I turn instead of miles and acres of asphalt and concrete. Every clear night is an astronomer's dream. I had forgotten there was more up there besides the Moon, Venus, and airplanes. I used to take all this grandeur for granted. Shame on me! But I suspect that the residents of Eden took it for granted until they had something else to compare it to.

Life is a mysterious and comical journey. I moved to Texas (Galveston Island) with two suitcases and being acquainted with only a couple of people who fell by the wayside soon after arrival. By the time I left Houston two and a half decades later I had a jumbo moving van filled to capacity and a 'family' of friends that gave tangible poignancy to departure. All but a handful of my 'children' were from somewhere other than Texas. Illinois, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Louisiana, Canada, India, Nebraska, Great Britain, and Michigan were their points of origin but they all converged seamlessly around my kitchen table. They were and are my crazy quilt of warmth and affection. How often I have gathered them up and wrapped them close about me when Maine hasn't been able to comfort me in the chilly darkness of my isolation. Come to think of it, all my ex-es live in Texas but none of them were from there. Texas gave me everything a person could want and need from life. Maine is teaching me to appreciate it. I am a happy camper.

So thank you, Jimmy Buffett, for those prophetic words that come back to me when I walk through the trees in search of the forest:

"It's those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes-
nothing remains quite the same;
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
if we couldn't laugh we would all go insane.

These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes-
nothing remains quite the same;
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands
if we couldn't laugh we would all go insane."

Here's hoping that all my Gentle Readers find a good, hearty laugh just around the corner!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Torches And Pitchforks Not Required

Listen. my children, no need to mourn,
Or be downcast or feel forlorn.
The time has come to blow the horn!
And meet the returning Lord Wellbourne!

My apologies to anyone who has ever, remotely, enjoyed poetry.

I would like to say that I've been circumnavigating the planet in search of adventure and cheap thrills. I'd like to say that but I can't. More's the pity.

Several weeks back, while my mother and I were enjoying the company of our neighbours around a delightful dancing fire in our outdoor fireplace, we received a phone call from my sister-in-law announcing their annual visit. Upon ending the conversation and putting down the phone my mother began listing all that would need to be accomplished before this blessed event came to pass. The Normandy Invasion had fewer objectives.

Until they arrived this past Saturday evening, I was giving serious thought to turning this house and grounds over to a research facility or at the very least to anyone in need of space with an immaculate, quasi-sterile environment. I have washed thirty-five windows--inside and out--which, as far as I'm concerned, means I washed 70 windows. As well as the standard vacuuming and dusting every conceivable nook and cranny, I steam-cleaned every carpet, rug, and square inch of upholstery. I stripped and waxed all tile and hardwood surfaces. About an acre. All mattresses were turned and disinfected, all linens were washed and hung outside to dry and air. Fresh flowers cut and arranged. All the grounds mowed, raked, weeded, edged, and manicured, lawn furniture scrubbed, trees pruned. The house exterior itself was power-washed to remove cobwebs, wasp nests, and any residue deemed 'unworthy'. All walls and ceilings were wiped down and all draperies changed out. The fur-children were not exempted from this orgy of grime-icide. Each had to be brushed three times a day rather than the usual twice-daily regimen. Baths, new flea collars, and pedicures. I utterly refused to sweep the driveway or dust the rafters in the garage. Somehow, the logic of eradicating pine needles in the drive or dust bunnies 20 feet up over the car's bedroom escaped me. I just couldn't wrap my mind around how this would enhance their vacation. I blame this temporary lapse in understanding and anarchy on the oven cleaner fumes. Or was it Lysol?

The visit, which concluded today at 2 pm, was very successful and pleasant all things considered. It was, miraculously, free of drama and distemper. My mother gave me full credit and *gasp* praise for all my efforts (even though "I'd let her down with the rafters").

I was charming, gracious, witty, even generous. I was so mellow on the herbal infusions I made up of chamomile, Valerian, lime flower, primrose leaves, lavender, and a wee bit of basil from my paternal grandmother's ancient and ever-thriving medicinal/kitchen/spell garden. I'm going to bottle this stuff. I've been experimenting with the combination when I wasn't plotting She-Who-Should-Be-Euthanized's demise. There were heart-felt regrets at parting and all ended well and drifted off into gauzy memory.

So, Dear Hearts, I am at liberty once again to walk amongst the warrens of dust bunnies when they inevitably reappear. The kitties are tentatively emerging from their places of self-imposed exile and soon all will be as it was. I plan to keep the jug o'happy juice close at hand. And I earnestly promise not to go away for so long without so much as a "Save Me!" shout-out to you.