Friday, December 30, 2016

Winnie's Sewing Bag

Sewing Needles

These are some of the items in Winnie's sewing bag, saved in case we may need them. There was a time, some of us remember, when clothing wasn't quite the commodity it is today. I recall seeing my grandfather and great grandfather for that matter, wearing old, worn sunday clothes as work clothes, out in the garden. Shoes that would no longer shine, shirts that had already been mended many times before, often became work attire, before being relegated to rags.

I think the clothing was meant to wear a long time, and meant to be mended, Cobblers repaired boots and a family member would have a basket of sewing to do during "down" time.

I will confess that my sewing skills are quite limited, and it is not a chore I relish, but it is something I think about, living in a world where it is "cheaper" to make the shirt that is so poorly made to begin with that it cannot be mended, and is simply replaced again and again. The truth is, I'd rather be reading a book, or riding my bike than fixing a torn hem, but I can't help wondering, is it really cheaper to have our clothing made half way around the world, of poor quality, shipped to us on a freighter, to only last for a brief time before being added to a land fill, or sent back to the contry from which it was produced, by freighter, as rags?

Might it be cheaper, in the long run, to pay more for a durable garment, and keep a needle handy when a seam needs repair? I wonder?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Farm Puzzle

When You're Not in the Barn...

What else would you do when you're not in the barn, right? Work on a puzzle of a farm scene. In no time at all, Bev had this put together, and I learned what a passion she has for puzzles...although I might have guessed. It is just such an easy metaphor, that I will leave it alone. 

Doats or Gucks?

Ducks Grazing With he Goats

As the saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do," or something like that. For much of the year, when the pond has open water instead of ice, Mr. and Mrs. Duck spend most of their time there. They will come up in the yard on rainy days and dig around in the mud for tasty tidbits. With snow on the ground, the goats found enough bare grass to spend most of the morning grazing, with the ducks in tow, but what were they grazing for?

If their winter barn-mates the goats were face down in the snowy grass, perhaps that was just good enough for the ducks!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Snow Melt

Snow Melt

A mild day provided for a bit of snow melt, and a wonderful bike ride in the afternoon. The sheep took advantage of some of the grass beneath the melting snow,and worked the yard most of the afternoon.

The omnivore's dilemma continue as the sheep remain in borrowed time. Back in the day, there would probably have been no choice, the sheep would have gone to the butcher this past Fall, because they are both about a year old at this point. Bev and I are both looking the other way, talking a little about their wool. One of the sheep, Pickles, was bottle fed by her former owners, and she is one of the friendliest animals, and will often greet me in the morning. Stinka, on the other hand, acts more like a sheep, wanting as little to do with humans as possible.

I'm as close to being a vegetarian again as I've been in years. Enjoy the days when you can find a little grass, sheep--there may be only a handful for the next couple months. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Snow Shoes and Simple Tools

Simple Tools

The LL Bean snow shoes were a gift from Mom, because Beverly mentioned she had her eye on these at a local antique shop. Hanging above the wood stove, this picture reflects my thoughts on simple tools. I was splitting wood using an axe and a hand  axe. The wood was well-seasoned, and was already split into larger pieces. I like to split some of this wood into kindling. I was amazed after awhile at the pile I'd created, nearly filling a wheel barrow. I also felt a huge sense of accomplishment at the tangible product of this work with simple tools. I knew exactly how the kindling fir into the process of starting a fire in the wood stove, and the tools were simple with low maintenance.

This is the same sense of satisfaction I get fro cutting hay in the summer with a hand scythe--it is a great deal of work, but the moving parts are very manageable, even for someone like myself, who is not always the handiest person around. It is a very different reality,  being outside, with simple, effective tools creating a wheel barrow of kindling, or bales of hay.

I love my computer and electronic switches, but there is a certain rhythm and reason, cause and effect, to these hand axes and scythes that is very comforting.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sunset on Christmas Day

Sunset on Christmas Day

Sunset at Kennebunk Beach

No, this is not a view from out the back door of Alewive Pond Farm, but a walk along Kennebunk Beach as the sun set on Christmas Day. There were people kicking a ball around in the sand and a small pack of dogs roaming from one group of people to the next. Whenever an owner would whistle for their dog, the whole bunch would respond. I asked Bev to take this picture, even though we knew her iPhone 5 wouldn't capture all the subtle colors in the sky--particularly the violet in the northern part of the horizon (not in the picture). Bev mentioned that she has dozens of pictures of the sunset on the beach, many more dramatic, of the homes on Lord's Point, trees, cloud formations, and rocks at low tide. I was surprised to learn of all these photos, nd really the walks they represent. I am often riding my bike while she is walking, and it felt like it was a new discovery.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Twas the Night Before...

Several weeks before Christmas. my mother and sister were in town to attend Prelude events, shop, and soak up the Maine weather, because Florida is so dismal in December. After watching Santa arrive by lobster boat, we walked around town. I stopped into a shop called The Hut, and spotted a necklace I liked but couldn't decide on at the time. It was sterling silver, and made by the jeweler Devon Dowd who owned the shop .

I returned Christmas Eve, in a cold drizzling rain, after dropping a load of firewood at my son's house. It was easy to find a parking space, and few people were about because of the rain, or the early hour. I found the necklace quickly, and asked about this bike. She mentioned there was a place she often went to, to look for old cast-off things. I told her, when I managed the Knennebunk Transfer Station, people would come in with clean-outs, that often contained old photos, and items that were clearly important to their owners, at one time. They would be dumped out on the tarmac and I would charge for their disposal. I couldn't stop thinking about the stories in all these photos, broken lamps, mason jars, ornaments, wall hangings... Did they all have stories? Were there duplicates of these photographs? Were the people in the photos still alive? Did the living relatives of these peeoplepeople in the photos know about these captured moments? Would they care?

It made me happy to have the necklace in the bag, and see this bicycle adorned with Christmas lights, as I walked across the road, in the rain.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Teta Beck's Knitting Basket

Teta Beck's Knitting Needles

While knitting a hat, Bev's daughter was looking through her Grandmother's (Teta in Arabic) knitting bag, and realized that no one had sorted it out since she died, many years ago. It seemed fitting, just before Christmas to stumble across this lift gift of needles, yarn, patterns, and the many memories related to Teta and her bag.

Teta's bag, was several feet from my great grandfather's Morris chair, next to Grandmother Winnie's sewing kit, with great grandmother Ruth's weaving loom, sharing the room with Uncle Levan's Farm set, Mom's oil painting, Uncle Harold's oil painting, and around the corner from the desk with PopPop's decoy duck... We are surrounded by the gifts our family members shared with both of us, and I'm feeling grateful to live with these things close to me in my life.

Merry Christmas to everyone and many thanks to the warms spirits who continue to share their lives with us.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Holiday Guests

Holiday Guests

 Two years ago, there was a wicker bench, with a quilt made by her grandmother, on top of it. It seat in front of the fire, so if either one of us wanted a chair by the fire, we could move Bo the cat, out of our upholstered char and onto the wicker love seat.

Late one night, before bed, about this time of year, I watched the shadows of the fire moving about on the blanket, and started to think of my own Nana, sitting on an upholstered chair, at the Daniel Bishop house. There was white embroidered lace on the arms of that chair, and she would often be doing something with her hands--mending, sewing, something.

I imagined the shadows on the quilt as a movie of vague memories, from both our pasts, playing out in this one place, in front of the fire. These were the spirits filling the house during our holiday, like guests meeting for the first time, and being old friends, nonetheless. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ginderbread Tradition

 Traditional Gingerbread House

Each year, Bev has made a gingerbread house from her own patterns--one year it was a lighthouse, another year a farm with silo. This year, it looks like a fantasy cottage from the Maine Woods. It was a fun project this year with my Mom, sister and son, pitching in to make this creation. Each year, it is my job to "dispose" of the house post-Christmas. I generally gain 5 pounds and schedule a trip to the dentist shortly thereafter. My taste for the gingerbread and goodies is often the butt of jokes around the house, but I notice the chocolate covered pretzels that were on the roof have already been removed...and it wasn't me. Just sayin'.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Weave-It Circa 1930s

Grandma Ruth's Weave-It

Weave-It wooden loom and original box

Circa 1930's, Weave-It, made by the Donar Company in Medford,  MA was a wooden loom that squares were woven on, then later sewn together. Bev has several blankets that were made by her Grandmother Ruth. As she was weaving a square, she recounted how her Grandmother spent a great deal of time weaving, using the Weave-It, and sewing together blankets. Although the blankets have been used for over 50 years, they are still usable and in good shape. Part of our conversation was how many lives are touched by these hand-made items. She reported that the last time she was at the Lexington Ski Club Lodge, one of the throws her Grandmother wove was still being used.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Pond Ice

Frozen Lunar Landscape

The wind and subzero temperatures that blew in for a brief, early visit, made some of the most interesting patterns on the ice. In the morning, it looked like a lunar landscape and we almost forgot, at least for a couple minutes, just how cold it felt with the wind. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Uncle Levan's Farm Set

Uncle Levan Dickinson's Farm Set

Uncle Levan Dickinson made this farm set for my mother when she was a young girl. When I was young, we would set up the farm set with my father's beautiful Lionel trains. During a recent visit, my Mom had the opportunity to set it up again, and she recounted the story of how she had purchased some of the farm animals at a store in Salem, NJ, as a child. She was traveling with her Grammy and Grmpa Munson, and her Nana Dickinson had given her some traveling money. She thought she might have bought the geese and turkeys on that outing. Uncle Levan made the farm out of packing crates, and you can still see the labels on the inside when you turn the buildings upside down.

Uncle Levan may have never imagined that his farm set would be stored with care and set up with love, and shared with new generations of family. Thank you, Uncle Levan for this lasting Christmas gift!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Ducks Are in the Barn

The Pond is Frozen

For the better part of a week, the ducks have guarded a small opening in the ice, rarely coming to the barn for food because it meant a trek across the ice. This was the first morning when the ice finally covered the entire surface, and the ducks, Mr. and Mrs. had no choice but to join the other animals in the barn. They have made the adjustment to their wading pool at the front of the barn, without difficulty, and made a couple new friends in the process. Not to worry, Spring and open water are just around the corner! 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Build It and They Will Come

Let the Gingerbread House Begin

My son, Justin and sister, Sharon looking rather stoic, as Ma and Pa Kettle in the kitchen putting together the gingerbread house. The trick, of course, is to try to get as many of the goodies on the house as you can, before they get eaten!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Santa in Kennebunkport, Maine

Santa Arrive by Lobster Boat in Kennebunkport

Santa arrives for Kennebunkport's annual Christmas Prelude celebration. I was at Federal Jack's restaurant with my Mom and sister, who arrived from Florida that day. This is one of those activities that if you live here, you might not do unless someone visits, and insists on Christmas Prelude festivities. All good.

Just in case you're reading this Santa, I'd like a new pair of Kinco gloves  that doesn't smell like Eddie the buck, a book by David Whyte, an automatic choke for ny 2002 Honda Elite (and someone else to install it), happiness and understanding for my family, and whatever is on Bev's wishlist. Thanks. We'll leave the cookies in the usual place, and there is hay in the barn if the reindeer need a boost.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Barberry in Vase


Barberry from the hill descending into the wetland area. Beautiful red berries on a thorny branch, and just perfect for a metaphor. Go ahead, reach out for the berries!

Venus and the Moon

 Moon Talking With Venus

In the Southern sky, across the pond, it looked like Venus and the crescent moon were having a conversation--secrets were being shared, neighbors were being filled in on the day's activities. This chat has been going on since the beginning of time and will continue for eons, and there will still be stories to share, across the pond, in the night sky, as we near the Winter Solstice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Eddie and Pumpkin

 Eddie and Pumpkin--Goat Love

It's that time of the season, at least for our goats when we have a male goat around for a couple weeks. As bucks go, he is pretty civilized, but certainly adds an extra odor to barn chores, barn clothes, and the air around his stall-- this musty smell seems to be very attractive to does...

Goat love is fleeting, a day or two every 3 weeks they are interested in the buck, the rest of the time he has his space to himself, and works on his hygiene!  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pickles at the Door

 Pickles at the Door

Sheep at the door yard  

It is livestock like Pickles the sheep that is really the omnivore's dilemma. We got two sheep in the early spring with the understanding that they are very stand-offish. It will be easier to send them to the butcher than the goats, which was tearful. As it turns out, Pickles was bottle fed, and acts more like a sheep dog, than a barn animal--she is always the first to greet you in the morning, likes to have her head rubbed, and will eagerly let us brush the stickers out of her coat.

I am closer to becoming a vegetarian again than I have been in a long time. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

First Snowy Morning

First Snowy Morning

It always seems to sneak up on us, that first morning when the ground is covered with a dusting of snow. It is the change from one thing to the next, the patio furniture needs to get in, last minute garden cleanup, is there time for another load of hay to be put up in the barn. I am sad to see the warmer weather come to an end. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Mucking Out a Stall

Mucking Out a Stall

Wagon in the barn with a pile of soiled hay on it

As the weather gets chillier and the threat of snow grows greater, mucking out the main stall becomes more and more immanent. There is a great sense of accomplishment when it is done, and a rythm that can be developed shoveling up the soiled hay and carting it to a pile where it will compost. It is sometimes best to focus on what will grow in the compost, and be reminded that this chore will not be done until spring.

By the way, Santa, a tractor with a bucket would make this job a breeze...wouldn't it? 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

From the Cranberry Bog at Nest's Farm

Pechakucha and the Cranberry Bog

From the cranberry bog up the street at the Nest Farm and the puchakucha in Cape Porpoise last week come the cranberry wreaths for this year's Thanksgiving! Last week at the Pechakucha held in Cape Porpoise at Atlantic Hall someone described her cranberry wreath business. A quick trip to the cranberry bog up the hill at Nest's Farm and voila, cranberry wreaths for Thanksgiving. If you stop at Nest's Farm for cranberries get a gallon of the Maine Apple Cranberry juice-- you'll thank me!

Friday, November 18, 2016

In the Cellar

For Tomorrow's Table

Jars of preserves on a shelf

Green tomato relish, heirloom yellow pear tomato preserves, that are sweet and delish with goat cheese on a cracker, or right out of the jar by the spoonful, and grape juice concentrate from the concord grapes that grow by the side of the road, stored in the cellar for a snowy, blustery February day, when we will reflect on the garden and the warmer days of summer to come!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Weaving on the Farm

 Spinning Dreams

small table-sized weaving loom

This is what often happens on our farm weaving, the weaving of our dreams or perhaps the dreams of someone ease's that have been discarded or misplaced. We might weave with Angora wool sheep wool or simply the stuff of stories. There are many half-finished projects around here!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Fall Sun

On the Front Porch

Praying Mantis on the porch

It has been a glorious year for this praying Mantis who is enjoying the last days of warmth in the sun on the front porch. He or she has completed their part of life's cycle and is enjoying the last of the sune.

Thank you Steve for the great pic!

Friday, November 11, 2016

November's Garden Tomatoes

Tomatoes Still

tomatoes on a cutting board

The last 4 tomatoes from the garden pulled in weeks ago before the frost. Fresh garden tomatoes in Maine November 11. We will enjoy them, and think of summer again.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fall's Long Shadows

Long Shadows

Pond at Alewive Pond Farm
Alewive Pund Farm

Long shadows this morning with Indian Summer balm. You could feel the autumn chill like rivulets of air, or roots spreading out here and there, not yet able to take hold of the passing summer, but close. The long shadows made for crisp colors.

Long Shadows

Pond at Alewive Pond Farm
Alewive Pund Farm

Long shadows this morning with Indian Summer balm. You could feel the autumn chill like rivulets of air, or roots spreading out here and there, not yet able to take hold of the passing summer, but close. The long shadows made for crisp colors and a sharper contrast. It occurred to me that you could look out at the pond and it would never be the same, as the seasons and lighting changes it is different moment to moment, and somehow that is a very calming thought. Some reminders of constant change are less soothing--this felt like a meandering stream moving by, or the spring that feeds the pond.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Meet Piccadilly an Icelandic Sheep

Piccadilly (Pickles) is the most recent addition to our farm. She is an Icelandic sheep, like Stinka our other sheep. Icelandic sheep are hardy, can be used for fiber, wool or milk, and can thrive on a diet of just grass, although ours are fed a diet of hay with a little grain.

Bev has dreams of hooking a rug one day from pickles and Stinka :-)