Monday, May 31, 2010

The Month of June

A Child's Calendar

In keeping with tradition, here's John Updike's take on June. 


The sun is rich
And gladly pays
In golden hours,
Silver days,

And long green weeks
That never end.
School's out. The time
Is ours to spend.

There's Little League,
Hopscotch, the creek, 
And, after supper,

The live-long light
Is like a dream,
And freckles come
Like flies to cream. 

Mule Days in Photos

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend Addendum

Oh, how could I forget? (Thanks, Mom, for the reminder.)

The other thing Memorial Day represents in my life is opening up "camp".

I'll be talking more about "camps" another day. But, essentially, it is not uncommon for Maine families to have a "camp" elsewhere in the state. Typically a rustic (though I've seen plenty of "camps" that I'd die for as my primary home!) cabin in the woods, on a lake or by the ocean, the camps are often passed through generations and serve as hubs for family activities for many, many years.

My family just so happens (thanks to the foresight? of my great grandfather) to have the coolest family camp ever -- more on that another day! And, while I'm not there to help open it up this year, I know my uncle (and whomever else he can round up!) is busily getting camp ready for the summer. (Here's hoping, as we always do, that the mice didn't get the best of everything...)

Memorial Day Weekend: Mules and Memorials

{my family enjoying typical East Coast Memorial Day parades over the years}

On the East Coast, historically (in my life), Memorial Day represents the blooming of lilacs, the official a-ok time to plant your garden, the time to pull the white things out of the closet, the beginning of grilling season...and, of course, huge Memorial Day commemorations and parades in every town.

This Memorial Day weekend, I'm in California - the other place where we hang our hats -- and, here in the Eastern Sierra, Memorial Day seems to be less about memorials and more about mules.

While I must say I'm a traditionalist and really think Memorial Day should be about, well, commemorating US men and women who died in service, I must say that celebrating the mules is pretty cool, too.

{my mom and my eldest daughter enjoying Mule Days in years past}

Every year during the Memorial Day Weekend, more than 700 mules compete in 181 events at the Bishop Mule Days Celebration in Bishop, California. There is no way to actually describe Mule Days. It is part mule show, part test of skills, and part wild west.

Situated on the Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop, California, Mule Days has become an international world class event. Crowds are estimated to be about 30,000! Highlights of the Celebration include the longest running non-motorized parade (my family is full of generations of parade lovers, so this stuff matters to us) on Saturday morning, Steer roping and penning, an event normally reserved for quarter horses, and the Packer's Scramble – the wildest, noisiest and funniest event of the weekend. There are also barbecues, country dances and an arts & crafts show. All taking place at the foot of the beautiful Eastern Sierra.

We've had the chance to partake in Mule Days several times -- it is a hoot! Looking forward to sharing it this year with some East Coast friends and Baby R.

What are you doing this Memorial Day Weekend?

On Monday, I'll be sharing a bit more about Mule Days. Yeehaw!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sharing Your Kids' Words of Wisdom

So, we all have 'em -- amazing, hilarious, wise-beyond-their-years quotes by our little ones. Right? 

Well, now is your chance to share these tidbits of wonderfulness with the world.

B. Toys (see my entry yesterday) launched this super cool website where you can enter your kids quote and it automatically creates a fun (and beautiful) card (See the image above? That's one I created.) that than appears on their site -- and you can forward to friends and such.

So, what are some of your favorite kid quotes? Why not share it with the world?

Too Good To B. True?

In case you haven't figured this out about me, I'm a wee bit picky about what my kids play with.

I like toys with what I deem LPV (long play value).

I really despise noisy toys (which really means I despise toys with batteries).

I really don't like plastic toys.

And, I get really cranky with all the packaging (in part because I can't remove half of it!) that comes with most toys.

But, as you might know, historically, it hasn't been easy to find really good toys. Moreover, it takes a lot of training to get the major gift givers (aka grandparents) to see eye-to-eye on this. (I'm pleased to report that my Mom has made much progress in this area. At Christmas she was so pleased to have found baby Rose a toy telephone that makes noise without batteries. I have come to realize that it is impossible for grandparents to comprehend, let alone accept, the "no noise" rule, so I'm letting that one slide.)

Recently, I went on a last minute search (which is never a good idea if you are picky) for a couple of little gifts for my daughter's first birthday. I went to Target, well, because I could (For those of you who know me, I have a weakness for Target which makes me ignore all my anti-big box store values.).

Of course, I found the cutest little keys--just perfect for my girl. They were super fun colors and grown-up looking (which, I thought might deter her from using our keys and car remote). Sigh. Should I just ignore my usual toy standards?

Well, good news -- I didn't have to! I'd hit the toy jackpot.

{Baby R enjoying her Funkeys. I love the photo on the left -- it looks like she's contemplating 
what road she's going to travel next.}

As it turns out, the "Funkeys" are manufactured by B. Toys -- a small toy company started last year. The company not only makes super cute, super fun and super hip-looking toys, they are also a company we can feel good about.

B. Toys is owned by long-time (since 1897!) toymaker Battat, a family-run company based in Montreal. While Battat owns the company and distributes the toys, the creative, environmental and charitable direction is led by chief toymaker (what a cool title, huh?), Gisela Voss.

B. Toys' mission is to create toys that inspire individuality -- and they are doing it in a eco- and child-friendly way....just check out some of these B. Toys features:
  • Good Plastic (Ha. got your attention, didn't I?). Any plastic used in the packaging is made from the most recyclable plastic out there -- #1! And, the plastic used in B. toys are phthalate-free and bpa free.
  • Less (or Reusable!) Packaging. The packaging for B. toys is made from recycled materials that can easily be recycled again...and printed with soy inks and water varnishes.Some toys come in pretty re-usable bags instead of other packaging. And, some packaging (like that on the keys I purchased) is designed to be easily reversed (to hide all that silly stuff that manufacturers include) to become a gift box. Brilliant!
  • Toys that Give Back. B. Toys is giving ten cents for every toy sold to Free The Children. Started 15 years ago by a 12-year-old, Free the Children has now built over 500 schools in communities around the world, providing education (the only way out of poverty) to 50,000 children every day. 
Well, today, B. Toys launched their website. I am here to tell you it is THE coolest website I've seen in a very long time. You just look at the webpages and feel a magical world come alive. And, there are all kinds of bells and whistles that not only let you explore the toys in-depth, but also allow you to share some of your own creativity (I think I'll write a whole separate blog on this!). B. sure to check out B.Toys site. You won't b. disappointed.

Seems to B. that toymakers are moving in the right direction with toymaking. Thank goodness! Way to go B. Toys!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Strange Side of Maine

I like to paint this picture of perfect Maine. 
The funny thing is, Maine really isn't perfect, and that's exactly what I like about it! 

Maine is full of all kinds of weirdness and mystery. 

If you are intrigued by this kind of'll be excited to learn about this blog I just discovered. Strange Maine. Found in 2005, Strange Maine is a nexus for conversation about Maine's unique strangeness. History. Mysteries. Legends. Check it out.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Crafternoon: The Perfect Family Hat

So, I decided after knitting and felting bowls for 6+ weeks now that I needed to branch step it try knitting something new.

A hat.

Okay, all you experienced knitters, stop laughing at me.

I decided to turn to Halcyon Yarn (a local favorite) for some inspiration. (If you haven't discovered Halcyon, you must check it out online, via catalog or in-person. They have beautiful fiber of all sorts and all the imaginable equipment for all-things-fiber-related.) Naturally, the hat pattern with the title "Family Favorite Hat" caught my eye.

 {photo from Halcyon Yarn}

Who wouldn't want to knit a favorite hat? A quick view of the instructions confirmed that I more or less had the skills needed. (I should point out that this hat would be my first purling experience...) The pattern recommended Debbie Bliss Como yarn (which I happen to know is super soft and wonderful), but I had on-hand some Wool Ease Chunky Yarn (Color: Indigo) from LionBrand that I was eager to use.

Truth is, I'm not much for practicing. I set out to knit this hat--my very first hat--as a gift. Bold, huh?

Well, I did it. I knit my hat. What do you think? (Lousy photos, I know!)

I must say it was really quick (one evening!) -- and fun. Purling? Well, it wasn't as scary as I thought.

Too many mistakes for a gift, so I'm going to follow my Mom's advice and knit in a variegated yarn ("it hides mistakes" she always advises) next time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Oh Fiddlesticks! I Missed the Fiddleheads

I'm guessing that nearly every region has their own early spring delicacy. You know, the tender something or other that appears in the early part of spring. Die-hards will wait with great anticipation and then descend upon these wild delicacies (and keep their whereabouts top-secret) as soon as they appear from the earth.

In Maine, in case you didn't know, the early spring delicacy are Fiddleheads, the young coiled leaves of the ostrich fern. Nearly all ferns have Fiddleheads, but those of the ostrich fern are unique and can be identified by the brown papery scale-like covering on the uncoiled fern. These ostrich ferns emerge in clusters on the banks of rivers, streams and brooks in April and May.

Truth be told, until recent years, I thought Fiddleheads were disgusting -- in appearance and in taste. Too earthy. But, now, I love them. I love them for their earthy flavor, in fact. And, for the last few years I've been wanting to learn to harvest them on my own (instead of buying them in the local market). There is an art to it, I'm told. But, alas, I missed my window of opportunity again this year. Next year, for sure.

I like my Fiddleheads steamed a bit, then sauteed in butter and garlic. Yum. But, Fiddlehead lovers cook them all sorts of ways...they even pickle 'em so they can be enjoyed throughout the year, not just in those few spring weeks.

What's the spring delicacy in your region? And, if you are in Maine, what's your favorite way to eat Fiddleheads?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Doormats that Give Back

Not to worry, I'm not straying from my fish theme. Honest. Read on, you'll see.

Down East 
Doormats at the New England Producst Trade Show

(photo from The Maine Float Rope Company)

Historically, Maine lobstermen have used float-rope to tether together multiple traps on the ocean floor. 

Unfortunately, this float rope sometimes entangles whales, typically leading to injury and death (of the whales). So, not too long ago, new regulations (seems Maine's fisherpeople are often dealing with new regulations that change the way they do their work) were put in place that require lobstermen to replace float-rope with sink-rope. Good idea, for the whales, at least.

But, what about all that no-longer-in-use float rope? We're talking about hundreds of thousands of pounds of rope.

Well, thanks to the clever-ness of Maine-r Penny Johnston, all that "wasted" rope is getting put to good use--doormats! The Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation purchases the turned-in-float-rope from Maine lobstermen (this gives financially-strapped lobstermen both an incentive to switch out their rope, and a little welcome financial relief). Then, Ms. Johnston's company, The Maine Float Rope Company, collects the rope and turns it into colorful and virtually indestructible doormats. All from the coast of Maine!

Now, this is a doormat you can feel good about. It is cool-looking; recycled; indestructible--and it was created out of rope that is no longer putting whales at risk. If that isn't enough to sell you, you'll be happy to know that a portion of the proceeds from the doormats are given to organizations that benefit Maine's lobstermen and whales.

Man, Maine-rs are such clever people. Seriously.

Do-Over Dinner: Spaghetti Squash and Orange Spiced Salmon

(photo from

Okay, I'll admit, the title of this recipe sounds disgusting.

But, honestly, it is delicious. My family loves it -- thereby classifying it as a "do-over-dinner" and, anyone else I've ever made it for always asks for the recipe.

The original recipe came from Cooking Light, many years ago. But, I've adapted it some.

Spaghetti Squash with Orange Spiced Salmon
(Serves 4)

What You Need:
  • 2  tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1  teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons of grated orange rind
  • 4  (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skinned
  • 4  teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 salmon fillets, skinned (of course, be sure to get sustainable salmon)
  • 1 large spaghetti squash (about 3 cups of cooked spaghetti squash)
  • Cooking spray
How to Make
  1. Cook spaghetti squash. This can be done in microwave or crockpot. But, I find the easiest way to do is to split the squash lengthwise; scoop out seeds; place open-side down in a baking dish; add about 1/4-1/2 of water to baking pan; cook at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Test for done-ness by piercing squash with fork.
  2. Preheat over 450 degrees.
  3. Prepare large baking dish with cooking spray.
  4. Mix first four ingredients in a small bowl -- this is your sugar/spice mixture.
  5. Mix spaghetti squash with half of the sugar/spice mixture (I usually add a little butter, too, if I'm using the spaghetti squash right after it has been cooked.)
  6. Put spaghetti squash mixture on bottom of baking dish.
  7. Arrange salmon fillets on top of spaghetti squash mixture. Brush salmon with Dijon mustard. Sprinkle remaining sugar/spice mixture on top of salmon; add grated orange rind.
  8. Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes (or until fish is flakey)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Know Your Fish

So, have you noticed a theme here this week? ;)

In all likelihood, you'll see this theme re-occurring from time to time. After all, as I have already told you, I love all-things-fish.

And, because I love fish, I'm also pretty keen on wanting to know which fish are the "best" to eat -- meaning which fish won't harm me (too much mercury) and which fish are fished in a sustainable way.

Fortunately, a couple of great organizations have done all the legwork--all you have to do is download or printout one of the sustainable seafood guides listed below ...well, and, then, make the right choice off the menu, at the sushi bar, at the fish market, etc.

Yea,  I know, some of those fish that aren't good choices are the really yummy ones. But, hey, you wouldn't want to be the one responsible for eating the last Chilean Sea Bass, would you?

Sustainable Seafood Guides
Several organizations have put out sustainable seafood guides, including the Environmental Defense Fund, Marine Stewardship Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, etc. I think my favorite is the one produced by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. You can order (or download/print) a guide specific to your region of the United States -- and they even offer an app if you are one of those iphone users!

Monday, May 17, 2010

A New Kind of "Farm Share"

For two decades now, many farms have been participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) -- aka "farm shares".

In recent years CSAs have gained great popularity (dare I even say trendy?) -- which is a good thing, in my opinion.

Here's the general concept. A farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. A share typically consists of a box of vegetables or other farm products (though one of my favorite local Maine farms actually issues your share in the form of a credit to be used on what you want at their farm stand or at the farmer's market). Interested consumers purchase a share and in return receive their "share" of seasonal farm goods throughout the season. It's a win-win, really. Consumers get super-fresh and local food direct from the farmer. Farmers receive money when they need it most--before the product is ready for "market".

My parents participated in a CSA; I've participated in a CSA (when it works for our family). If you haven't participated in one, you should think about it! (Need help finding a CSA opportunity in your area? Click here.)

Well, if you live in Maine, you can now participate in a CSF - Community Supported Fisheries. For $20 a week, you'll have fresh-from-the-boat fish delivered from Port Clyde Fresh Catch (yup, the folks I talked about yesterday) to centrally located pick-up spots in sixteen communities. Get your share today!

Wow - a CSF and a CSA -- what a killer combination. I'm having dreams about fresh fish on the grill served up with local produce....aren't you!?

It Doesn't Get Any Fresher

(photos from Port Clyde Fresh)
At the very tip of the St. George peninsula in Midcoast Maine, you will find the small fishing village of Port Clyde. Port Clyde sits at the confluence of Muscongus and Penobscot bays, providing key access to a myriad of fishing grounds.

In Port Clyde (if you live there year-round, that is), it is all about the fishing -- and it has been for some 200 years. Historically, when the fish were running, the village's church bells would ring, calling all the women in the community to the fish factory where they would clean and package the fresh catch.

Today, Port Clyde's fishing heritage prevails--albeit on a much smaller scale. A dozen fishing vessel make up Port Clyde's fleet, catching haddock, flounder, cod, pollack and hake. Determined to preserve their heritage and the resources they depend on, the fisherpeople of Port Clyde community have developed the Port Clyde Fresh Catch™ brand to bring you fish and shrimp harvested from the icy waters of the Gulf of Maine using environmentally sustainable fishing methods.

So, now, with the click of your mouse or a quick call, you can have the freshest catch delivered to you, no matter where you are. Check out Port Clyde Fresh Catch™.

Not interested in cooking your own seafood, but want the good stuff? Look here to see where Port Clyde Fresh Catch is being served in Maine and beyond!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Some of My Favorites-- Maine Style

Thank you to those of you who shared your favorite children's books with me (either here on Maine-ly Home or on Facebook). Seems we share some favorites in common -- and, yet, I now also (thanks to you!) have a few new ones to check out.

I love children's books. I have collected them for years. In fact, many years ago, I decided that wherever I travel (and there was a time in my life when I traveled a lot -- and far and wide!), I'd seek out a local children's books. It is a fun collection. (If you know how to read Tagalog -- the language in the Phillipines -- let me know. I have a book with lovely pictures that I've made up the words to.)

I'll let you in on a little secret...

I've also always dreamed of writing a children's book. I even purchased some books and took a class to teach me more about the children's book writing and publishing process. But, dream sidelined for now. Instead, I read children's books to my children everyday.

Despite the huge collection, I do have a few super favorites-- and, big surprise, they are either about Maine and/or written by Maine-rs. Here's my list:

  • Pretty much anything written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey. I especially love Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine. My husband and I actually contemplated buying (we lived up in that area of Maine for a spell) the general store in the town where One Morning in Maine is set. McCloskey isn't from Maine originally, but spent summers there beginning in the 1940s and died in his Deer Isle home in 2003. I especially love Blueberries for Sal as the "kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk" of blueberries hitting the bottom of the pail is so a part of my childhood. I am pleased to report, however, that, unlike Sal, my bear encounters didn't happen until I was an adult.
  • Miss Rumphius, written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. It is a wonderful story about the author's aunt who was told as a young child that she must do something to make the world more beautiful. Miss Rumphius travels the world looking for the answer. And, in her old age, she determines that spreading beauty seed-by-seed was the right approach. The illustrations are wonderful--and, if you live in (or have traveled to) Maine in early summer, it is pretty easy to believe that Miss Rumphius has been there. To this day, when we drive down a road with hills of lupine, my daughter says, "Looks like the Lupine Lady has been here." (On a side note: I just discovered that there is a blog called The Miss Rumphius Effect. The blog reviews poetry and nonfiction for young readers through the middle grades. Check it out!)
  •  Dahlov Ipcar's Lobsterman. It's the story of a day in the life of a lobsterman's son, working alongside his father. Ms. Ipcar is a local writer and illustrator (our local library boasts a glorious mural painted by her!) and has, in fact, just re-issued a number of her books in limited editions. A year ago I stood in line, many months pregnant, just to have the chance to meet her and have her sign a copy of her re-released edition of My Wonderful Christmas Tree (oh, how beautiful!). Interested in meeting Ms. Ipcar and having one of her new edition books signed? Here's a listing of some upcoming signings.
  •  E.B. White's Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. Classics, really. My husband and I love to dine at the Inn which was once E.B. White's farmhouse in Brooklin, Maine.
If you can't find these books through your local bookstore, you'll see I've provided, in most cases, a link to Islandport Press, an independent publisher in Northern New England. They "strive to tell good, accessible stories that give authentic voice to real people."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Five Ways to Celebrate Children's Book Week

Looking for a way to celebrate Children's Book Week? Here are a handful of ideas:
  1. Make a bookmark.  Seems I'm always looking for a bookmark and frequently find myself improvising with a found object, a scrap of paper, a hairband, etc. And, yet, it would be so easy to make a bookmark. I'm thinking something out of felt, ribbon --ooh, maybe even something knit? (I'm seeing a Crafternoon in the making) Better yet, why not put a little crafter to work on this? There are a million possibilities for this, but here's an easy printout template for your child.
  2. Visit your local library. I go through phases of visiting my local library. And, every time I get back in the groove, I'm so glad I did. How about you? Have you been lately? The library in my hometown in Maine has a wonderful children's room, complete with a mural by one of my favorite authors Dahlov Ipcar.
  3. Buy a new book at your local book store. I'm guilty of buying books from chain bookstores, but I try really hard not to. It's not that I don't like the big guys, it's just that I'm a big fan of small, independent bookstores. And, sadly, they are dying breed because the big guys are driving them away. I'm super proud that in Bath, Maine there is a lovely, independent bookstore called The Bath Book Shop. It's small, but Connie, the owner, will gladly order any book you want, if she doesn't have it in stock.
  4. Swap a book. Looking for something new to read? Why not organize a casual book swap with neighbors? Invite everyone to bring a book (or more) to swap. Consider donating the extras to your local library.
  5. Read to a child. If you have a child, take time to snuggle up and read together. Maybe read two books - your favorite and his/her favorite.

Monday, May 10, 2010

You Tell Me

So, I'm curious -- what is your favorite children's book? And, why? Please share.

Bookin' It

So, I wonder, did you know that this is Children's Book Week? (Who does come up with all these recognition weeks? I'm thinking we are due for a "National Blogger Appreciation Day".)

In all seriousness, this week, May 10-16, is Children's Book Week. Since 1919, Children's Book Week has been celebrated nationally in schools, libraries, bookstores, clubs, private homes -- any place where there are children and books. In the 1940s, the Children's Books Council assumed responsibility for administering this week - which now also includes writing contests, awards, and events.

To show my support (and because I love, love, love children's books), this entire week on Maine-ly Home will be devoted to talking about children's books in some fashion or another.

Stay tuned!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Myth About Mother's Day

I've always thought that Mother's Day was about honoring your mother.

And, for years, I believed that one honored their mother by making her breakfast in bed, making her homemade gifts, spending the day with her, etc.

But, now I know the truth.

The truth, for example, that breakfast in bed = stress listening the mayhem of preparation and a messier kitchen to clean-up later.

I love my children more than anything and, honestly, spending time with them is a true gift. And, well, homemade gifts are precious.

But, I'm thinking (am I alone here?) that every once in a while the real way to honor a mother...the real way to show her how much you appreciate her - is to...well, give her the day off. :)

To all those mothers out there, I hope Mother's Day is wonderful -- however you choose to spend it.

My Mom Rocks

I have one of the best mom's on the planet. No lie.

But, I'd be lying if I told you that my Mom and I have always gotten along.

There was a handful of years, well, I wished she'd disappear. Really and truly. And, I'm guessing by how mean I was to her, she might have wished the same. (Man, I should get huge therapy points for admitting this all online, right?)

But, thankfully, my Mom didn't disappear. She's stood by me...and behind me...the whole time.

Thank you, Mom, for being a wonderful role model, teacher, partner-in-crime, mediator, crafty co-hort, laugh instigator, fashion advisor, seamstress/original prom dress designer, 24/7 counselor-on-call, grandmother to my two and the other six...and friend.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Me & My Mom

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Let's Save the Post Office

Isle Au 
Haut Post Office

 (Photo from Island Institute's website).

It is no secret to most that the U.S. Postal Service is struggling. They claim that part of their failure is due to the growing use of electronic communications (guilty) over traditional mail -- and in response, they threaten changes like reduced delivery service.

For Maine island communities, however, the potential loss of mail service has been a constant threat for years, simply because their volume of mail is so small.

Well, if you have ever lived in - or even visited- a small town then you know that a small town's Post Office is an important (dare I say, critical?) part of the community. In these small communities, a Post Office not only provides a venue to/from the bigger world, but also a place to connect with the community at-hand.

Believe it or not, regardless of where you live, you can help ensure the Post Offices on Maine Islands don't close. And, it's really easy -- all you have to do is buy your stamps by mail from these island post offices. Selling stamps by mail is one way these institutions can maintain their income and, therefore, remain in business.

The Island Institute (a membership-based community development organization focusing on the Gulf of Maine, particularly the fifteen year-round island communities off the Maine coast) has been helping these Maine island Post Offices grow their stamps-by-mail initiative. Learn More about the island communities at The Island Institute -- and consider ordering your stamps by mail following the instructions below or on The Island Institute's website.

How to Order Stamps By Mail

To support a Maine island post office, download and print the order form. Once completed, mail the form to one of the island post offices. Address your envelope as follows:

Cliff Island...04019
Long Island...04050
North Haven...04853
Swan’s Island ...04685
Cranberry Isles...04625
Isle au Haut...04645
Peaks Island...04108

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Laughing for a Living

On many days, I think I'm pretty lucky to have the job I have. But, I'm telling you, my friend Katie has it made--she laughs for a living. Seriously.

Convinced that the world would be a better place with more laughter, Katie started The Levity Project--a social movement creating change through public acts of play, laughter, and celebration. With a mission of helping to decrease negativity, stress and fatigue in our society, The Levity Project aims to infuse public spaces with a lighter and more buoyant energy.

I had the privilege (though I didn't think so at the time) to attend one of Katie's Laughter Yoga sessions in Bath, Maine. Really, it was my worst nightmare. Laughter under pressure in front of other people? Eek. What a way to tap into my social anxiety issues. Anyhow, I wanted to be a good friend, so I went. And, I brought along a friend who shares my anxieties about this kind of situation. (About five minutes into the yoga session I whispered to the friend I'd brought along, "Are you going to kill me?" And, she said, "Yes." Oh no, social anxiety and losing friendships.) I left an hour later, lighter and more relaxed than I'd been in...well, a long time. Good stuff. No, great stuff. And, I've put some of those laughter yoga moves into place since then to help me through some tough times.

To celebrate World Laughter Day 2010, Katie went to New York City. Can you imagine trying to ignite a laughter event in the middle of Grand Central Station -- especially the morning after the terrorist attempt at nearby Times Square? Well, she and the other Laughter Yoga instructors did it. Laughter everywhere. Check out the awesome video on

Laughter Yoga might not have made it to your neighborhood yet. But, look for it -- and, if you find it, try it. Or, better yet, why not become a laughter pioneer in your neighborhood -- get trained by Katie. Learn more.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hooray for the Teachers

Although some would argue that every day should be Teacher Appreciation Day, this is actually the official Teacher Appreciation Week. Did you know?

As is the purpose of these sorts of designations, I've been thinking a lot over the last few days about the teachers in my sister, aunts, friends...and, of course, the various teachers who have influenced me in my learning (school and otherwise!) -- and now, those that are in my daughter's life. I'm feeling grateful for all those wonderful teachers in my life.

In a time, when things are tougher than ever for teachers (cuts and all), it seems that a little extra thanks is in order (and likely needed!). I hope you'll take a moment this week to say "thank you" (in whatever way feels right to you!) to the teachers in your life.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Weekend in Pictures

Six years ago I reluctantly put aside my film SLR for a simple digital camera. Last week I took the plunge and purchased a digital SLR (Nikon D3000 with two lenses). This weekend I took it for a little test drive. Not my best photography, but I had a ball trying it out.

My weekend in pictures...and a few words.

surprised a pair of eagles. captured a father/daughter moment. reminded that the fences of the west are not the fences of the east. stopped in our tracks by deer. celebrated cinqo de mayo with a pinata hung from tow truck. spied on a rabbit hiding under a pinon tree. discovered a giant rock that looks like an owl.  experienced snow, high desert and a lifetime of history in an afternoon drive. witnessed our baby eating cake for the first time.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Month of May

When my older daughter was in Montessori preschool, each month the kids would learn a John Updike poem about the new month.
 I am hear to tell you that a small gaggle of three and four year olds reciting John Updike is absolutely priceless. "By John Updike", they'd say in unison (and great pride) at the end.

Hearing these poems each month brought us great joy--not only seeing our daughter recite poetry--but, also hearing the lively, celebratory and season-appropriate prose by Mr. Updike. The poems are included in a lovely book called A Child's Calendar (available in both paperback and hardcover). Each poem is accompanied by a lovely illustration (by Trina Schart Hyman) that depicts the corresponding activities of a Vermont family.

I highly recommend the addition of A Child's Calendar to your library -- and, better yet, why not start having your family recite (or at least read) a poem each month.

In the spirit of the first day of May, I'd like to share Mr. Updike's poem "May".

By John Updike

Now children may
Go out of doors,
Without their coats,
To candy stores.

The apple branches
And the pear
May float their blossoms
Through the air,
And Daddy may 
Get out his hoe
To plant tomatoes
In a row,

And, afterwards,
May lazily
Look at some baseball
On TV.